It’s Pumpkin Time!

It’s almost time.  It’s getting close. I can smell the pumpkin pies, can you?  If you haven’t prepped your pumpkins you’d best get started.  I have been making homemade pumpkin pies from scratch for my family Thanksgiving dinner since 1987.  Yep, that’s almost 30 years, 3 decades.  Wow, time flies when you’re having fun.

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I’ve a little process I go through. Around the start of October when I first spot the pretty pumpkins in the grocery store I bring them home.  They will last at least 2 or 3 weeks before you have to cook them.

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They set the festive stage for the holiday season by dressing up the table prior to Halloween.

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By mid to late October they’ve been cooked, pureed, bagged and frozen to await there use in the season’s culinary delights — from pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin brownies, pumpkin loaf and the ultimate Turkey Day favorite. . .

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Autumn Pumpkin Pie!  The filling is pure pumpkin and it’s topped pecan nutty, butter, sugar and flour mixture all baked in a crispy homemade crust. You know, I think I just better do a test run this weekend. It has been a year…

“Flag Cobbler: Born For The Fourth of July”

Nothing spells celebrating America’s independence better than a red, white and blue dessert–well, at least from a culinary standpoint. With berries at their peak season they’re just too tempting to resist.  Over the years I’ve made my share of patriotic desserts but the last two years King Arthur Flour has tempted me with the amazing red, white and blue creations that come out of their kitchen.

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So when I saw this year’s American Flag cobbler I dusted off my pastry cutter and went to work.

Last year this American Flag pie with a blueberry, strawberry and rhubarb filling created culinary fireworks at our home.

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Here’s the original recipe; I did not change much as they were pretty spot on.  My version is gluten free; the difference is in the crust as there was no flour in the pie fillings.  I used their pie filling enhancer which thickens wonderfully.

Recipe & Ingredients

Crust

My favorite double pie crust (gluten free)
coarse white sugar, optional (I didn’t use)

Blueberry Filling

1 pint fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Pie Filling Enhancer
1
 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Strawberry Filling

2 quarts (or 8 cups) strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 (for softer filling) to 3/4 (for stiffer filling) Pie Filling Enhancer
1
/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preparation

Ready to roll?

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To make the bottom crust, stars, and stripes: Divide the pastry in half. Roll one piece into a generous 9″ x 13″ rectangle, and place it into a lightly greased 9″ x 13″ pan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

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Roll the other piece of dough into a 6″ x 13″ rectangle. Cut six 3/4″-wide x 13″-long strips; these will be your flag’s white stripes. Use a star cookie cutter to cut small (about 1 1/4″) stars from the remainder of the dough. Place the stars and stripes on a baking sheet, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 425°F while the crust is chilling.

Prick the bottom crust all over with a fork. This will help keep it from puffing up too precipitously. If desired, for sparkle and crunch, brush or spray the stars and stripes with water, and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar.

Place the bottom crust on a middle oven rack, and the stars and stripes on a lower rack. Bake the stars for about 15 minutes; the stripes for 20 minutes, until set and barely browned. You want them to be fully baked, but still be fairly light-colored. Remove them from the oven.

Bake the bottom crust until it’s a light golden brown, about 18 minutes. Check it several times; if it’s puffing up, deflate it with a fork or the sharp tip of a knife. Remove the baked crust from the oven.

To prepare the blueberry filling: Place the blueberries in a bowl. Whisk together the sugar and enhancer. Toss the blueberries with the sugar mixture, then stir in the lemon juice.

To prepare the strawberry filling: Whisk together the sugar, enhancer, and salt, and toss with the strawberries. Set aside.

To assemble the cobbler: Spoon the strawberries over a bit more than 3/4 of the bottom of the pan, leaving a rectangular space in the top left for the blueberries.

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Spoon the blueberries into the bare space.

Bake the cobbler for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake for an additional 30 to 45 minutes, until the berries are bubbling. (mine took an hour total)

Remove the cobbler from the oven, and lay the six stripes atop the strawberries, leaving a long edge of berries showing at both the top and bottom. Trim the stripes where they meet the blueberry filling.

Arrange the baked stars over the blueberries.

Notes:

  • Watch the stars and stripes carefully as they will burn easily.  I removed the stars after about 12 – 15 minutes.  Some were a little thinner than others and cooked more quickly.  The stripes took about the full 18 minutes.
  • Make a few extra stars and 1 extra stripe; just in case they break
  • Check your cobbler after an hour, mine was done.  Oven temperatures vary so adjust as necessary
  • Check PJ Hamel’s blog version for additional tips
  • Leftover dough scraps — you can roll them, dust with sugar and bake for an additional treat or I made a mini cobbler to  have as a taste tester:)  I used additional fruit for that.

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And yes, it was delicious!

Serve lukewarm, or at room temperature. Store any leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of days; freeze for longer storage.

Happy Easter

Happy Easter Y’all!! 
Bunny
Enjoy your time with family and friends!

 

 

Banana Pudding Cheesecake

Happy Easter y’all!  Summer’s coming and this is generally the last of my spring flings before I turn the tables to leaning out.  It is a delicious one and the perfect dessert to wow your family.  The banana pudding flavor lightens up the cheesecake (sort of) making it the centerpiece of your Easter table.

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The claim to fame for this recipe goes to  Southern Living March 2012.  I made a few changes to make it gluten free and a tad healthier.

Recipe & Ingredients

1 1/2 cups finely crushed gluten free vanilla wafers*
1/2 cup chopped pecan
1/4 cup butter, melted
17 vanilla wafers
2 large ripe bananas, diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely crushed vanilla wafers

Garnishes: sweetened whipped cream, vanilla wafers, sliced bananas tossed in lemon juice

*These can be hard to find; any similarly shaped gf vanilla cookie will do.  I used Ginny Mini Butter Crisp and found them at my local Whole Foods

Preparation

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Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together first 3 ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. Press mixture onto bottom of a greased and floured 9-inch springform pan.

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Stand 17 vanilla wafers around edge of pan (rounded sides against pan), pressing gently into crust to secure. Bake 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes).

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Combine bananas and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 1 minute or just until sugar has dissolved.

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Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer 3 minutes or until smooth. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

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Gently stir banana mixture into cream cheese mixture. Pour batter into prepared crust.

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Bake at 350° for 45 to 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove cheesecake from oven; gently run a knife around edge of cheesecake to loosen.

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Sprinkle top of cheesecake with coarsely crushed wafers. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 8 hours.

Garnish:  beat 1/2 cup raw cream with a little powdered sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.  Place dollops around outer edges of cheesecake.  Top each dollop with a vanilla wafer and banana slice dipped in lemon juice (to prevent browning).

New Year’s Ham

Fresh or smoked?  They’re both delicious in their own way.  I had smoked in mind this year but when the Jag returned from his trek to the grocery store he was proud of himself for picking out a fresh ham.  “I thought that’s what you wanted, I know how you like to do everything from scratch.”  Fresh it will be.

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The ham cut comes from the rear leg of the pig and there is something really special about the flavor of a fresh ham done right. Most people are used to the pink, smoked variety which is cured or smoked and has a salty smoky taste. It is fully cooked and just needs to be reheated. Often called a city ham.  A fresh ham is one that hasn’t been smoked or cured, is raw pork and must be completely cooked.

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I put the rub on either the night before or the morning of — depending on the time we are eating.

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Sure is pretty.  In the oven it goes. . .

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Some people have a really good feel or eye for when it’s done.  I don’t like to play guessing games with my dinner use a meat thermometer.  That little inexpensive device has saved me countless dollars in meat.

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Let the ham rest for about 20 minutes before slicing.

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The sides?  Here in the south it’s black eyed peas and collards.  No New Year’s day is complete with these good luck foods and I’m not taking any chances.  Happy New Year!

Recipe & Ingredients

1, 10 pound bone-in fresh ham
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
15-25 whole cloves
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons gf butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Place all spice ingredients in a small bowl and mix well to combine.  Rub over the entire ham, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.  Take the ham out of the fridge at least one hour prior to cooking.

Score the ham.  Cut a diamond like pattern on the fat side of the ham. There are several videos online if you’ve never done this before.  I find a box cutter works best.  Place the cloves in the scored ham.

Place the ham in oven (fat side up) and bake for 30 minutes.  Turn the heat down to 350 degrees without opening the oven door and cook for 1 1/2 hours longer.  Combine the melted butter, maple syrup and Dijon mustard to make a glaze.  Baste the ham every 20 minutes with the glaze cooking for approximately 1 hours and 20 minutes longer.*

Keep an eye on the thermometer mid way so that you do not overcook the ham. You will find varying temperatures in recipes.  I like to take my ham out when it is 145 degrees; it will continue to cook as it cools and I do not like dry ham.

*the ham will take between 18 – 20 minutes per pound.

Pumpkin Nutty Cheesecake

Holy pumpkins Batman!  It’s time for cheesecake. . .

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Cooler weather not only brings out my sweatpants but my desire to bake. Now I tell myself I don’t need these sweets but the urge to splurge (in moderation of course) generally wins over pre holiday season.  Justification:  it’s homemade.

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Well, you could use canned pumpkin but I always prefer the real deal.  Plus they make the prettiest fall deco on your table.

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Prepare crust and place in fridge to chill before baking

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at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 40 minutes.  Allow to cool; refrigerate for several hours or overnight

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When removing from springform pan first gently run a knife along the sides before releasing.  Place on a serving plate then proceed with garnishing.

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Enjoy a “moderate” slice or two!

Recipe & Ingredients

Crust
1, 7 oz package Pamela’s gluten free gingersnaps
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons grass fed raw butter, melted

Filling
3, 8 oz packages organic cream cheese, softened
1 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups fresh pumpkin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup raw gf cream

Nut Topping
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup organic brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Garnishes
Orange slices and whipped cream

Preparation

Crust
Process gingersnaps in a food processor until fine crumbs.  Mix with melted butter and brown sugar.  Press firmly and evenly over bottom and up the sides of a lightly buttered 9-inch springform pan.  Chill.

Filling
Beat cream cheese until smooth.  Gradually add sugars beating until mixed.  Add eggs, one at a time beating until just blended.  Add pumpkin, spices and 1/4 cup heavy cream.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Prepare Topping
Combine melted butter, sugar and nuts.  Remove cake from oven and sprinkle with topping; bake an additional 10 minutes.  Cool cheesecake; refrigerate several hour or overnight.

Garnish
Take the remaining 3/4 cup of raw cream and place in a small stainless steel mixing bowl.  Beat until slightly thickened; add 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Continue beating until stiff peaks form.  With a pastry bag pipe around the cheesecake (one mound per serving size) and top each with an orange slice.

Servings:  16 “moderate” slices or 8 large ones