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Entries in pumpkin (10)


Balance with Pie

Every time I'm looking for a life metaphor, I turn to pie. Dessert pies, fruit pies, pizza pies, shepherd's pies...there's something about the filling and container — separate but harmoniously working together — that acts as a vehicle for me to understand where I'm going, where I've been and where I'm at.

And where I'm at feels a little cobbled together right now — kind of like this specific pumpkin pie I'm bringing to you today (in time for Halloween and Thanksgiving).

This pumpkin pie represents balance. Right now I feel like I'm performing some kind of balancing act. I'm sitting (metaphorically, yet again) on a fence. One foot is on one side of this fence, where exists my "old" or normal way of life. The other foot is dangling into new territory.

I'm scared of this new territory. I don't know what's down there. So, with this pie, I relied on something I knew that works. Something familiar: butter. I made a butter crust.

And then, for the filling, I threw caution and probiotic yogurt into the mix for the "new" me filling. Daring! And weird. And potentially gross and terrible. But, honestly, the result was delicious.

And so I sit here, eating my balance pie, thinking maybe this fence isn't such a bad place to be...for now.

Yes, I feel unstable and uncertain about my direction. But maybe I don't have to give up everything old (BUTTER!), but can take what works (BUTTER!) and bring it with me into whatever is waiting on the other side.

Now, if I could just get down....

Want some of your own balance pie? Here's how to make it. Feel free to improvise...that's what this is about.

For the Crust:

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup coconut sugar (you can use regular sugar)

1 stick of butter

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 tbsp balsamic glace (optional)

For the Filling:

1 small roasted sugar pumpkin, yielding 2 cups of pumpkin puree

3 eggs

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 cup plain kefir or drinkable yogurt 

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

pinch of salt

1 tbsp vanilla extract or 1/2 of the insides of a vanilla bean

2 tbsp rum or bourbon (optional)


For the crust:

In a food processor, mix together the flour, sugar and butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. I like to cut the butter into pieces before I add it to the food processor. This allows it to blend more easily.

Pour this mixture into a large bowl and form a well in the center. Into this well, add the eggs, egg yolks, salt and balsamic glace.

A note on the balsamic glace: This is optional. I was looking for something to add a bit of sweetness, but also a touch of a bite. I also wanted something sticky. Glace is very thick - almost like molasses. In fact, molasses would be a good substitute if you don't have glace. You can make your own glace with balsamic vinegar. Just simmer 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar on your stove top until only 1/8 cup remains. Ta-da! Glace.

Incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry until a dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Form it into a ball and wrap it up. Refrigerate the dough for about an hour before using.

Meanwhile, make the filling:

If using a sugar pumpkin, roast it in the oven. Heat your oven to 400°F. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the guts and seeds. Hang on to the seeds to roast them later on if you like!

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the pumpkin halves, cut sides down on the sheet. Roast for about 35 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft and the skin starts to peel away.

Remove the pumpkin from the oven and allow it to cool. Then peel away the stem and skin. Place the pumpkin meet in a large bowl and mash with a whisk.

Increase the heat of your oven to 450°F.

In a food processor or with a handheld mixer, beat the eggs and butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin purée, spices, salt and mix thoroughly.

Add the kefir (or yogurt), rum, and vanilla and mix. If the filling seems too dense, you can add more yogurt 1/4 cup at a time until you achieve your desired consistency. It should look and feel like cake batter.


Roll out the refrigerated crust on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. If using mini pie tins, grease them with a little cooking spray. If you're using a large pie tin or spring form pan, line it with parchment paper.

Place the rolled out dough into your pie molds. Fill the molds to the top with pumpkin filling. If you have extra dough, feel free to cut them into shapes and place these shapes on the top of the filling.

Place the pie(s) in the oven and bake at 450°F for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325°F and bake for another 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean. Sometimes this takes longer than 45 minutes. Don't panic.

Check on the pie every now and again. If the crust is getting too dark, place some foil around the edges to protect it from the heat. I usually have to do this, and it's not a problem.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Pumpkin pie is best when set, and in order for it to do that it needs to cool a bit.


Fry, Bake, Sautée, Dress, Marinate, Grill and Roast a Pumpkin

Just in time for your Thanksgiving preparations, we bring to you our ULTIMATE PUMPKIN GUIDE (did you hear an echo?)! 

I produced this for Colavita as an Olive Oil Guide. The Olive Oil Guide is a seasonal quarterly that offers healthy recipes (well, we do stick a fry recipe in there...) based around one seasonal ingredient. This season's special ingredient is.... PUMPKIN.

Within the pages of this magazine, you will find recipes that instruct you on grilling, frying, roasting, sautéeing, baking, dressing, and marinating with pumpkin and pumpkin parts.

They are all delicious (I should know, I personally tested them). One of my favorites is the glamorous cover recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes:

You can also watch a short instructional video here:

Other highlights include Pumpkin Marinated Chicken:

And a very handy-dandy chart on how to replace butter with heart-healthy olive oil in your recipes:

Colavita is also running a contest in conjunction with this pumpkin recipe book. You can learn all about it on Facebook, but you can win a trip to that's pretty cool.

Download the full recipe book here, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!



A Plethora of Pumpkin Recipes – Our Second Online Magazine!



It's time! For two things: Thanksgiving and (even more exciting) our SECOND online magazine!

This magazine delivers you all our featured pumpkin recipes PLUS a very exciting new one. I haven't even posted it on the blog, that's how special it is.

What is it? Maybe you should flip through the magazine and find out, huh? I dare you....I DOUBLE mini pumpkin cheesecake dare you.

Yes, I do.


Two Standouts from Levain Bakery

Lately, we have been feasting on a conglomeration of pumpkin-related foodstuffs. This will (may?) be the last pumpkin-related post until I post the PUMPKINS OF GLORY online magazine with bonus recipes.

Because who doesn't want bonus recipes? And pumpkins of glory?

But to eeeeease us back into normal food, I am going to report on a bakery. A bakery in my new neighborhood, the Upper West Side. A bakery called Levain Bakery.

"Levain" is a leavaning agent used in place of yeast to make dough rise. Do you remember when I experimented (and failed) in trying to grow my own? Levain is old school. This is what bakers did before they could buy mini packets of "Active Dry Yeast" on the shelves on Fairway. Thank goodness I was not one of those bakers. I'd have to find new employment as a blacksmith or a tallow maker. Although why I think I'd have better luck with tallow is beyond me.

Anyway! We were talking about a bakery named after a bacteria culture, so let's get back to it.

Old school bread making using levain seems like it should taste better. And bakeries that rely upon these techniques should in my opinion produce tastier bread. Levain Bakery is successful in this regard.

I walked into their tiny 74th Street location and was immediately overwhelmed by the appetizing selection. The kind attendant behind the counter asked if he could help me. My response, "I need a minute."

In fact, I needed a minute to wipe the tears of carbohydrate desire from my eyes as I perused the options behind the glass which included oversized puffy brioche, thickly sliced pumpkin bread, cinnamon rolls, chocolate stuffed brioche, powdered sugar thingies, and etc. Holy levain!

The attendant approached me apprehensively once more, "Do you need another minute?" I couldn't tell if he was making fun of me (likely), so I rattled off my request for two plain brioche and 2 slices of pumpkin bread.

These days I always get two: one for photographing and one for eating.

I thought the brioche would pair nicely with the pumpkin butter, and I was correct. The slightly sweet taste and ever so light and fluffy texture was a perfect match for the hearty sweet and spicy butter (you can read more about that here with recipes).

As for the pumpkin bread, I thought smearing pumpkin on pumpkin might be a little much - even for me. So I chose a cream and raspberry jam combination, which when you mush them together make a lovely pink color. This raspberry creaminess was an excellent topper for the the dense bread.

This pumpkin bread was thick – about an inch and a half. It was moist – no dry crumbling here! And it was spiced just right with a hint of clove (I'm guessing, but I think I'm correct) that I happened to love with pumpkin flavor.

I may have a new favorite bakery. But just to be sure, I'm going to have to eat through the rest of their admirable options. And of course, tell you about them. In the meantime, if you can, take the 1,2 or 3 train up to 72nd, and walk on over the Levain Bakery. I'll meet you there, but I might need a minute. Or two.

Levain Bakery
167 West 74th Street  New York, NY 10023
(212) 874-6080


Pumpkin Butter Makes Everything Better

We are returning to pumpkin-related recipes today with a winner. First, a qualification of sorts: I don't know much about preserving, canning, jamming and related topics. I occasionally scan the internet for ideas, getting really exciting about making things like fig and lavender jam. Make it, and then exhaust myself on the whole process.

But this? This is so easy even a pumpkin could do it. This pumpkin butter can be eaten in one of two ways:

1. Directly out of the pot once it's cooked.

2. Saved in your fridge in an air-tight container and slathered on just about anything (I recommend all manner of carbs, especially a nice brioche from Levain Bakery).

And I highly recommend you experience both of the above. The spices and mild sweetness in this pumpkin butter make it an ideal pairing for something slightly sweet. For example, poured warm over vanilla or cinnamon ice cream. OR a bread with a sweetness to it, like brioche. The airy and chewy texture of brioche creates a perfect base for this hearty butter.

Or you could just eat it out of the container with a spoon. It's that good, I promise you. Here is how you make it:

What You Need:

1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree (you can use canned or make your own like I did with these instructions).
3/4 cup apple cider
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

What You Do:

Throw all the ingredients in a small pot over medium heat and mix well.

Bring the mixture to a boil for 1-2 minutes and then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Let everything simmer together for about 30-40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.

The pumpkin butter will start to thicken gradually.

When the pumpkin butter is thick enough, remove from heat and allow it to completely cool (unless you have ice cream on hand, in which case I would encourage you to eat it immediately). Divide into jars and store in the refrigerator.