October Unprocessed…Pumpkin Pie


“The home dining table is our last remaining tribal gathering place. Sitting face-to-face, elbow-to-elbow over hot steaming plates of simple food, we nourish our bodies and feed our souls.”  
Graham Kerr, Gourmet Chef

What better way to begin the Thanksgiving weekend than to start with this meaningful quote. For me the Thanksgiving meal is a true reflection of the tribal gathering place. A meal that centres around the gathering of family and friends at a simple table with dishes that are made with love and rich in tradition, culture and family history. Food is just so much better when created and eaten with those important in your life.

This theme also fits well into the Unprocessed Challenge. Putting aside time each day to eat together at the table means significant social and health benefits for everyone in the family. I even notice a difference in my energy when I take the time to break for lunch and eat with friends rather than eating at my desk just to get a little bit extra work done. Caring about what and how we eat is something we all need to pay more attention to. Taking ownership and feeling pride in the food we make and creating time to eat together is very gratifying.

Thanksgiving is synonymous with pumpkin pie. So we’ve tackled the challenge of making pumpkin pie from scratch including making our own pumpkin puree.

Sugar Pumpkin Puree
To make pumpkin puree, look for sugar pumpkins. This variety of pumpkin is sweeter than pumpkins used for jack-o-lanterns. You can use any size sugar pumpkin. For pumpkin pie, you usually need about 1-1/2 cups to 2 cups of pumpkin puree. To make exactly this amount, you’ll need a sugar pumpkin that weighs about 3 pounds. If you do have extra pumpkin, it’s delicious in muffins, stirred into oatmeal and makes super scrumptious soups and stews.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Wash the outside of the pumpkin and remove the stem. Cut the pumpkin in half. Remove the stringy fibres and seeds. Don’t forget to save the seeds to make roasted pumpkin seeds! Cut the pumpkin halves into 3 wedges each. Place the wedges, cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet or baking pan. Add about 1 cup of hot water to the baking sheet or pan. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Pierce the pumpkin with a fork to determine tenderness. Let cool slightly.
Once pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh or remove the skins. Puree in a food processor until smooth. Place pumpkin puree in a fine mesh sieve, coffee filter or cheesecloth to remove some of the excess water. That’s it! You’ve got gorgeous richly coloured orange pumpkin puree. You can now use this in your favourite pumpkin pie recipe or try ours.

Pumpkin Pie or Tarts
This recipe will make one 9 inch pie or six 4-1/2 inch tarts.  

Pecan Crust
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
4-5 Tbsp ice water

Place pecans in a food processor and pulse until they are a coarse crumb texture. Add flour, brown sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Add butter and process for about 10 seconds or until butter is pea-sized. With the processor on, add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together in a soft ball.
Shape dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.
For the pie: Roll the dough out into a circle slighly larger than a pie dish. Transfer the dough into the pie dish, pressing gently with your fingers so the dough takes the form of the dish. Cut off any excess dough hanging off the edges.
For the tarts: Cut the disc into six fairly similar sized pieces. Roll each piece into a circle slightly larger than the tart shells. Transfer the dough to the tart shell and gently press the dough into the dish so it takes it’s shape. Cut off excess dough so the crust is flush with the tart shell.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice

In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, brown sugar, maple syrup, evaporated milk, eggs and spices until smooth. Pour into pie shell or tart shells.
For the pie: 
Bake in a 425°F preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking for about 35 minutes or until pumpkin is set when lightly jiggled.
For the tarts:
Bake them on a baking sheet in a 375°F preheated oven for 30 minutes or until pumpkin is set when lightly jiggled.
Cool pie or tarts on a rack. Chill. Enjoy with whipped cream and a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon.

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