Sunday, November 4, 2007

Failure and Redemption

I'm just now getting around to writing about Thursday's dinner, things have been a bit hectic around here. Also, I wasn't so sure I wanted to share with you yet another failure. But it wasn't all failure, so for the sake of impending Thanksgiving dinners everywhere, I'll share with you orange dinner number 1,548 - Sweet Potato Soup with Pumpkin Pie for dessert. Clearly, I'm only eating orange foods these days. Maybe now that it's getting deeper into November, I'll branch out. Maybe.

So, I came home on Thursday, and immediately set about figuring out my
new! improved! pumpkin pie plan. I had these delicious spice cookies, and I felt that they would make a delicious and more interesting version of the graham cracker crust. So I promptly whipped one up, popped it in the oven and set about reinventing pumpkin pie filling. About 10 minutes later, I pulled out these delightful looking treats. All of the crust had crept back down the sides and pooled at the bottom and the whole mess was slightly blackened. So after a few heart-wrenching moments and a phone call to my mom, I decided to scrap the whole bunch. Which made me wince, because I can't bear throwing out perfectly good food, but then again, you might argue that a burnt solid mass of cookie crumbs does not qualify as perfectly good food. With the filling already mixed, I didn't have time to experiment with another crust and went for the old standby crust I've been making since I was twelve. With my trusty crust, I managed to turn out some slightly sad looking little pies, which people kindly proclaimed "interesting." What they really meant was: This doesn't taste like what I'm used to, and I am so much in shock I cannot possibly give you my actual thoughts on whether or not this is tasty. After eating a few of them myself I can tell you that they are indeed, tasty, but not very related to the standard Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. Which is good to know if you plan on making this ever. Considering the fact that I managed to peel my thumb and burn a finger during the making of this meal, it really is a godsend that I managed to fix the sweet potato soup recipe so that it is no longer a sweet potato broth. See I told you it wasn't all failure.

1 recipe crust - see below
1 can packed pumpkin puree
2 T + 1 t maple syrup
1/3 T molasses
1/4 C brown sugar
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t cloves
1/4 t cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
1 C whipped cream (I felt this was a little much, maybe try 3/4 cup?)
2 eggs
Mix all ingredients together. Pour into pie crust. Cook at 425 for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 cook for 40-50 minutes more.

1 C flour
1 T sugar
pinch salt
1/3 C butter
4-6 + T of ice water
This is a million times easier with a KitchenAid mixer. Cutting shortening/butter in by hand is no fun. So, mix together dry ingredients in the mixer. Add butter (still cold from the fridge, make sure it's not warm or room temp) in small chunks (I tend to cut my in tablespoon sized slabs). Mix until the whole mixture has a coarse sand or pebbley consistency. And this is where it gets hard. Add water. The amount you need varies based on where you live, the weather, the mood of your crust. You'll need to learn to add enough that it all holds together as a dough, but not so much that it's a wet mess. Go slowly, mix carefully. I don't measure anymore. I pour straight from my Brita of ice water into the mix (while the mixer is running) and see if it becomes a ball.

1 c onion diced
1 leek (cleaned by soaking the rings), sliced
1 carrot peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
2 large sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into 1/2" or 1/4" cubes)
2 garlic cloves minced
1 large regular potato (same as above)
salt and pepper
1/4 C white wine (or vermouth)
4 C chicken broth (or veggie, if you want it to be vegetarian)
1 C water for thinning (at the end, if needed)
butter/olive oil
sour cream (for topping at the end)

1 recipe buttered pecans (see below)
Add a few T of butter or olive oil to a large pot. Add the onion, carrots, leek, garlic, bay and salt and pepper. Cook over medium until vegetables are soft and translucent. Use the wine or vermouth to deglaze. Then add the potatoes (sweet and regular) and cover with chicken broth. Simmer for 20 minutes or until a fork goes into the potatoes easily. Remove the bay leaves. Puree mixture in a blender (I use an immersion blender). It may take a while to get smooth. Check the consistency, if it's a bit thick or lumpy, add the cup of water, and reblend until it's smoother. Pour in a bowl, and top with a big dollop of sour cream and some buttered pecans.

Add a few T of butter to a skillet on low-medium. Add the pecans (maybe a bit under a cup) and stir until well coated. Let cook about 5-10 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Not that I've ever done that. No not an expert chef like me!

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