Friday, November 21, 2008

"I Hate My Husband Pie" And Other Wisdom from "Waitress"

Last night I settled in for the evening with the Sundance-flick "Waitress" starring former Mouseketeer Keri Russell and was pleasantly surprised at how great she was as a down-on-her-luck pregnant chick, married to a loser with no end in sight. Russell's character, Jenna, has been squirling away money so that she can leave her husband and finally enter the big pie contest, which judging from her reputation in the small town, she would most likely win. But fate hands her a twist when she turns up pregnant and accidentally falls in love with her gynochologist (the adorably hopeless Dr. Pamatter, played by Nathan Fillion). The movie follows Jenna as she tries to navigate through her unwanted pregnancy and unconventional affair as she create pies in her head that fit her mood. Pies like "Pregnant Miserable Self Pitying Loser Pie" are common in her fantasies and they include "lumpy oatmeal with fruitcake mashed in." She thinks about pie the way a killer might contemplate a murder... obsessive and deadly, but thoughtful and meticulous. And of course the whole damn movie made me hungry for pie. I couldn't help rooting for Keri Russell's character and wondering how her big pie of life would turn out. Of course, I would eat mine a la mode.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I love my... food processors

No one should own more than one food processor. But I do. As a foodie on a budget, I find that many of the kitchen gadgets I covet are usually out of my price range. That requires the all-important "first-time" buy and then the inevitable "upgrade" buy. My first primitive food processor was a Pampered Chef Food Chopper. It's great for coarse cutting and preparing small amounts of food, but once you start using more than a cup of ingredients or frozen food, it becomes really cumbersome to use.

Naturally, it was time to upgrade to the 3-cup food chopper from Hamilton Beach. I rarely use this one now that I've made my next upgrade to the big-girl processor, especially since it shorts out the outlet in my kitchen.

Now I almost always use my Black & Decker 10-cup food processor which is great for just about everything (small amounts of nuts don't do too well, I usually use the chopper for that). I recently had a picnic with some friends and I purposely made salsa AND hummus just so I could use my food processor twice. There are a lot of electronic kitchen gadgets that I think are made to empty your wallet and clutter your kitchen cupboard but since it takes me approximately a year to cut anything (I get dizzy watching the chefs on Food Network chop), using a food processor is the next best thing!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Messes and Successes

This weekend I hosted Gourmet Friends and made the Double-Decker Pumpkin-Caramel Pie (courtesy of my buddy Rachael Ray's magazine)and the filling turned out pretty well. But the topping? Not so much. As the preparation below suggests, I melted the caramel and then added it to the whipped cream. The only problem was, the caramel was too hot so the whipped cream went back to its liquid state. Tip for those who try it - skip the caramel all together. I ended up using what was left from whipped cream in a can and filled it in with the rest of the melted caramel topping. Yum!


1½ cups of crushed chocolate graham crackers

5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 egg white
3 whole eggs
2¾ cups heavy cream

One 15 oz. can pure pumpkin puree
½ cup light brown sugar

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp salt 28 caramel candies
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, for grating

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2) In a small bowl, stir the graham cracker crumbs and butter until combined. Press mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Freeze until set, about 15 minutes.
3) In a small bowl, beat the egg white and lightly brush on the pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes and let cool.

4) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the 3 whole eggs, 1 cup cream and the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt until combined. Pour into the pie shell and bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool slightly, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
5) In a bowl, microwave the caramels with ½ cup cream at high power until melted, about 1½ minutes. Stir until smooth then let cool to room temperature.

6) Using an electric mixer, whip the remaining 1¼ cups cream until soft peaks form. Drizzle in the caramel and beat until well blended.

7) Spoon the caramel whipped cream on top of the pumpkin filling and refrigerate until completely chilled.

8) Before serving, coarsely grate the chocolate on top of the pie.