A savory pumpkin pie.

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Can you believe it? Thanksgiving is almost here!

I was impressed at how quickly holiday spirit happened this year. Only one day after Halloween, radio stations started to play Christmas music, candy canes showed up at the grocery store, and my email inbox bulged with the blogosphere’s proliferation of Thanksgiving recipes; I blame/thank all the people strung out on pumpkin spice lattes. The holidays are a happy time (come on, who doesn’t like an excuse to overindulge or to get presents) and, even after too many glasses of eggnog, I always wish they would stay around longer.

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Because the pumpkin spice latte craze and winter celebrations are here to stay, I’ve been experimenting with creative takes on traditional holiday fare to keep November interesting.

Consider the pumpkin pie. Creamy, cinnamon and nutmeg spiced, the pumpkin pie’s a Thanksgiving staple I want to like. But I can’t get over its often overly sweet filling or soggy, bland under-baked crust; most pumpkin pies are too disappointing to even call pies. So when I found a recipe for savory pumpkin pie from Nigel Slater, a Brit who most likely does not celebrate Thanksgiving and (thankfully) is not familiar with disgraceful American pumpkin pies, I got excited.

Nigel calls for puff pastry in place of pie dough, a choice that yields perfectly crisp, golden, anti-soggy crust, and I love how just a pinch of cinnamon and salt brings out pumpkin’s natural sweetness. In short, savory pumpkin pie actually tastes like pumpkin. (Yes!)  I’m thankful this pie will earn a annual spot on my Thanksgiving table.

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Savory Pumpkin Pie

From Notes from the Larder: A Kitchen Diary with Recipes by Nigel Slater.

Serves six as a side.

  • 2 and 3/4 lbs peeled and seeded pumpkin
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Thick slice of butter
  • Generous pinch of cinnamon, salt, and pepper
  • 13 oz puff pastry
  • Egg, lightly beaten, for brushing
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Prepare two baking sheets, one with foil and the other with parchment.
  2. Cut pumpkin in to uniform, small cubes and steam for 15 to 20 minutes, or until flesh is tender.
  3. Remove from heat and transfer to foil-lined baking sheet. Toss with oil, butter, cinnamon, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 30 to forty minutes, until the pumpkin begins to lightly caramelize. Remove pumpkin from oven and mash with a fork. Maintain oven temperature.
  4. Lightly flour a cool surface, cut pastry in half, and roll out each piece to a 9 x 14 inch rectangle. Lay one rectangle on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Leaving a margin on the corners, pile pumpkin on the pastry. Brush pastry margins with egg. Lay second piece of pastry on top and press edges firmly to seal. To prevent splitting during cooking, make 3 slits on the top of the pastry. Brush pie with egg, then freeze for 20 minutes. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Christmas ‘shrooms.

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Fog falls on red clay.

It is snowing in Georgia,

silent Christmas day.

Christmas lights

Happy Christmas!

I woke up this morning to the sound of father-Santa wrapping last minute presents. It was early, and still dark outside, but heady scents of hazelnut coffee and Grandma Lorena’s English Muffin bread turned down the sheets and got me out of bed. I gave my dad a kiss on the cheek and went for a run before anyone else was up. It was drizzling and cool. Through lit windows, I noticed people gathering around Christmas trees or plucking presents from garage hiding spots. It was a wonderful experience of the Christmas sentimental-voyeuristic spirit.

going to grandmoher's house

And to think that just a week ago, in the midst of finals, I was debating how long I could re-wear my last clean pair of underwear.

I decided not to grace you with any recipes from that time because, well, it would have looked like this almost-published entry:

Tasks like making dinner have become foreign gobbledygook that my brain (which is currently the consistency of mashed potatoes) has trouble comprehending. As a result, I eat my food raw. I don’t use bowls. Who has time to wash bowls? A couple days ago, I invented the bowl-less salad; or, in laymen’s terms, I ate a whole head of lettuce, turkey leg style.

Because this sounded too much like a weird Renaissance Fair episode of the Twilight Zone, I had pity on myself– I turned in my anthropology thesis, took an exam, and got back home to Georgia.

Oh, to eat food on a plate.

1-DSC_0009whole wheat rosemary flatbread

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Wonderful creations have come from the kitchen since returning home, namely my mom’s mushroom soup. Nothing is more civilized than a creamy, meaty mushroom soup drizzled in black truffle oil, topped with a poached egg, and served with homemade flatbread. This soup is ridiculously flavorful, easy to make (especially with my new Christmas immersion blender(!)), gluten-free, and vegetarian friendly. And it’s light; you won’t feel like you just consumed a quart of cream as you might with a cream-based soup.

Kelly’s ‘Shroom Soup

serves five.

1 lb  mushrooms, roughly chopped
1  onion
2 cloves of garlic
16 oz.  beef or vegetable stock
pinch of anchovy paste
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp  cayenne pepper
1/4 c  cream cheese
1 c  2% or whole milk

In a medium stock pot, sautée mushrooms and onions on medium heat until golden. Add garlic just before caramelization finishes. Add stock, anchovy paste, salt and pepper, and cayenne. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Continuously stirring, add cream cheese and milk until there are no lumps. Turn to low heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. With a handy dandy immersion blender or food processor, blend soup until mushrooms become subtle bits of flavor. Garnish with truffle oil and serve with poached egg and bread.