A Bold Return: It’s never too little, It’s never too late

The Boring Bit:

OH HAYY!!! After months of dealing with blogger abandonment guilt due to a schedule that has been beyond busy, I AM BACK.

And I’m back!

Oh, the shame of it all. Looking at your blog and knowing it has been literally months since you have posted. I have many good excuses for having neglected my cozy kitchen, both online and in the flesh, but I have truly missed writing weekly about something nourishing that I cooked or baked. Thus, with a new zest for feeding myself and loved ones I begin again.

I had a cwazy summer. One internship, two TAships, moving house from Guelph to a new city, lots of illness, picnics, long dresses, and so much fruit. Exciting events included teaching myself to knit, watching SO MUCH summer olympics, crying over the Channel4 Paralympics commercial and then the Paralympics (superhuman doesn’t even begin to describe them), discovering the wicked youtubeing foursome of Hanna Hart, Jenna Marbles, Daily Grace, and Mamrie Hart, did I already mention picnics?, a four day weekend in the magical land of Haliburton, Ontario, a birthday visit to Northern Ireland, and getting to see some of my oldest and best friends. I am getting back into music in a big way; listening a lot more, and trying to learn guitar again. I’m going to have to repay my neighbours with gf baked goods.

Picnicing 2012: The Goods

Not that this is an excuse for blog neglect, but summer and early fall isn’t really an intense cooking time for me. My diet has consisted mostly of raw salads, berries, green smoothies, iced soy lattes from Dark Horse on Spadina (DARK HORSE I LOVE YOU), items from Fresh (their ginger dressing slays me), and sunshine.

That is until I went to Northern Ireland, which turned out to be Starch Festival 2012: The Potato Edition. During one meal, there were literally three different preparations of potatoes. THREE. Not that I’m complaining. I loves me some potatoes.

Other British blessings include Tesco, home to the best damn gf bread in existence: Genius. And it really is Genius. Its amazing for sandwiches, toast, peanut butter, Coleraine cheddar (that city makes good cheese), fancy shmancy sunflower seed butter, or just slice by slice straight out of the bag, this bread is up for anything you could possibly throw at it.

Gluten Free Sandwich Heaven!

Happily, there is a less wonderful, but still sandwich worthy version of Genius provided by the North American company Glutino. It can be found in the gf freezer section at health food stores, and a number of grocery store chains in Canada including Loblaws.

In other news, I had to leave my favourite dishwashing man friend in Northern Ireland so that he could finish his degree in history, and I have begun my MA in Art History. Cooking isn’t as much fun without a cute boy to fry potatoes for you, but what is love without patience? Education is a very attractive quality in a man friend, and his thesis is going to discuss liminality, which is an intrinsically sexy subject.

Enough stalling, this is a cooking blog, not one of the Weeknds music videos (which are SO SAD). Lets get to the goods.

The Exciting Bit:

PUMPKIN PIE PEOPLE. PUMPKIN PIE. 

 I grew up in a house where pastry was not something that was “done.” I was told that we were a family of warm handed people, and only people with cold hands, like my amazing grandmother, were fit for pastry making. Pastry is the boogie man in my kitchen, and I think when I became gluten free, I gave up hope that I would ever be able to put on my frilly green polka dotted apron and produce a pie for my loved ones. Thanks to the always reliable Gluten Free Girl, Ms. Shauna Ahern herself, I have been proven so wrong. This Canadian thanksgiving I was absolutely determined to go all out and produce a made-from-scratch pumpkin pie. Home roasted pumpkin and all. Here are the fruits of that labour.

DISCLAIMER: I found this to be a time consuming project with a lot of steps. There’s the pumpkin to roast, the gluten free flour to combine, and the pastry making and rolling. Have patience, and try doing the steps on different days. Combine your flours and roast your pumpkins on one day, and then make the pastry and bake your pie the next. You can always just use tinned pure pumpkin. I promise at the end of it you will be so incredibly satisfied and it will have been worth splattering your kitchen in pumpkin goo.

2nd DISCLAIMER: The filling and pastry recipes are taken entirely from Ms. Shauna Ahern. Below are the links to the recipes on her site, if you’d rather skip my babbling, and get the details from the expert.

Pumpkin Pie:

http://glutenfreegirl.com/fresh-pumpkin-pie-gluten-free/

Pastry:

http://glutenfreegirl.com/were-having-a-pie-party/

Pastry: 

350 grams All Purpose GF Flour*

½ teaspoon kosher salt

230 grams (2 US sticks) unsalted butter

½ cup ice-cold water, plus a few splashes more

*I used the Ahern’s version of All Purpose Flour: http://glutenfreegirl.com/gluten-free-holiday-baking-2010/, but I am going to try using William & Sonoma’s Cup4Cup, as well as the multi grain muffin flour mix, for my upcoming apple and sugar pies, and I will let you know how they work out!

 Roasted Pumpkin:

1 large sugar pumpkin

Olive oil (not extra virgin)

 Preheat the oven to 350. Cover a large cookie sheet in aluminum foil, and grease with olive oil. You could also use spray on olive oil or butter. I won’t judge you. Cut the stem off the pumpkin, cut the pumpkin in half, and scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff. I ended up with pumpkin in my hair, on the walls, and I think it’s permanently glued on my counter. ‘aint nothing wrong with pumpkin finger painting. It reminded me of my childhood and gutting pumpkins in the cold with my family :)

You can also save the seeds for roasting if you can divorce them from the pumpkin goo! Place the pumpkin cut side down on the cookie sheet. After 40-60 minutes in an oven, it should be fork tender. Let it cool, and scoop out the flesh. If I have scared you, don’t forget: there is no shame in tinned pumpkin.

Fresh Roasted Pumpkin in Technicolour

 

Pie Filling: 

2 large, local eggs

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese

3/4 cup fresh cream

2 Tbsp real maple syrup

2/3 cup sugar

2 cups roasted, pureed pumpkin

 

Flava:

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp fresh ground ginger

1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

Pastry Instructions: Pastry Assemblage Two Ways

 Food Processor Version: Cut your butter into cubes and put them in the freezer for 15 mins to an hour. Place the flour into a food processor with the salt. Pulse until the flour is fluffy and aery, like a pie destined cloud. Add the butter cubes. Pulse until the mixture looks like sand, with visible pieces of butter (Ms. Ahern recommends ten times). Then add 1/2 cup of ice water. Pulse five times. If there is still loose flour, add more water, but no more than 1/4 cup more. It needs to be able to come together into cohesive balls of dough. Dump the dough onto a clean counter, sprinkled with gf flour or just plain old rice starch. Form into two balls of pastry. Wrap in saran wrap, and place in the fridge for 30 mins.

The “I don’t have a food processor” or “I hate cleaning my food processor” Version: Put your butter in the freezer for 2-12 hours. I put mine in overnight. An hour before you’re going to assemble your pastry, put a large bowl and a metal cheese grater in the freezer, and if you have a pastry board, that should be getting its chill on as well. You could also take this opportunity to put beaters in the freezer for your filling.

Take your frozen butter, grater, and bowl out of the freezer. Unwrap your butter and grate it into the bowl. The reason that this method is so magical, is that it creates tiny nubs of frozen butter, which will become covered in flour, but hopefully won’t melt until they go into the oven. Once they’re in the oven, they have the opportunity to melt in between layers of flour, creating a flaky, tender pastry crust.

Once you have your giant mound of grated butter, add in your flour in two parts, mixing with a spatula in between. Just like in the food processor version, it should look like sand. Drizzle in your 1/2 cup of ice water. Now, I will admit that it took more than 3/4 of a cup of ice water for my dough to come together. I was still happy with my crust. The key after you add in the initial 1/2 cup of water, is to add extra water in a little bit at a time, and only add enough for the dough to come together. How much water it takes will be specific to your dough. Like people, every dough is different! Now dump your flour/butter/water crumble out onto a clean, floured counter, or your frozen pastry board, form into two balls, wrap in saran wrap and put it in the fridge for 30 mins.

 

Pastry Wrangling a.k.a. The Rollout 

You should now have two cohesive balls of flour that have had time to relax in the fridge. Calm pastry is happy pastry. You only need one of them for this pie, because pumpkin pie doesn’t require a top layer of pastry. The good news is you get to make two pies, or you can freeze the other ball of dough for later. This part is the messy bit. I will warn you, rolling out pastry for me felt more like a culinary version of crocodile catching, with bits of flour and pastry flying everywhere, and lots of “NO STAY TOGETHER.” GF Pastry can do a death roll. Don’t let anybody tell you different.

It’s best to do this part as quickly as possible. Take out your saran wrapped ball of dough from the fridge. Resist the urge to squeeze it and treat it like play-doh…you don’t want the butter to melt. Flour your rolling pin. Flour your hands. Heck, flour the cat, they’re going to end up covered in flour anyway. Unwrap your pillowy ball of dough onto your thoroughly floured surface. Now slowly and patiently roll out your dough using small strokes of your rolling pin. Apply gentle pressure as you roll the pin away from yourself, then move the dough around. Send the dough love. Is it sticking? Use more flour if you need to, your kitchen may already look like Pollock painted in pumpkin and flour all over your walls, what harm will a little more rice starch do? Now, once you have dough that will fit the circumference of your pie pan, lift it up gently and place it in the tin. Don’t worry if it tears, just patch it up with scraps from the edges. This is one of the great things about gf pastry; it won’t toughen up on you if it tears. It took me three tries to get this part right. If you get it into the tin in one piece, that my friends, is an accomplishment. Now crimp the edges of your pie dough, either with a fork, or with your fingers. There’s no sense in leaving the pie dough that you lovingly wrangled looking unfinished.

 

Successfully Wrangled Pie Dough

The filling: 

 Preheat your oven to 425. Take your beaters out of the freezer (remember, you were super organized and put them in there when you were freezing your cheese grater?) Beat the eggs until fluffy. Then add everything else. Ladle the filling into your pie crust carefully. Wish it good luck and put it in the oven to bake for 40-50 mins. To test that it’s ready to come out into the world, insert a toothpick into the center and check that it comes out clean, like you would if you were testing cake or muffins. Check on your crust after 20 mins, and then again after 30. If it’s starting to get too brown, cover the crust in aluminum foil.

Ready for the oven! Excuse the harsh kitchen lighting.

I had too much filling from this recipe, so I put the extra pie filling into ramekins, placed them in a roasting pan filled half way with boiling water, and baked them at the same time as the pie. Pumpkin pie pudding? YES PLEASE. Because of this experiment my Dad decided that the pastry part of pumpkin pie is unnecessary.

Now the hardest part: WAIT UNTIL YOUR PIE IS COOL! Then break out the whipped cream and enjoy with people you love.

A Plate of Love and Pie

 

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