Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Which Pumpkin Pie?

Decisions, decisions, decision, varying mostly for labor intensity for getting a pumpkin pie. I wanted to find a pretty pumpkin pie picture that I wouldn't get into copyright problems over. My image is two colored ovals and arced text that I used Microsoft Word's Word Art feature for creating.

The easiest way to get a pumpkin pie is buy it at a bakery or grocery store. Pay your bucks and take it. Might be iffy trying to buy one on Thanksgiving day itself, so buy the day before. The alternative to the easy way depends on the energy you want to expend and time you want to allot for acquiring ingredients and preparing the pie. Two main components of the pie are the pie shell and the filling, with the filling subdividing into canned and scratch pumpkin.

Pie Shell
A pie shell for pumpkin filling should be flour-dough. You can make one from a scratch recipe, which calls for flour, fat (butter or shortening), water, and elbow grease using a rolling pin and pastry blender. Or you can buy a refrigerated shell that you unroll and lay into a pan. Or you can buy a frozen shell that's already preformed into an aluminum pie pan. Either option usually comes in sets of two. A crumb-crust shell is not suitable. A flour shell acts as a liner during baking, not so for a crumb crust. Least work—the frozen pie shell.

Pumpkin Pie Filling
The pumpkin pie filling can be fresh pumpkin that you extract the meat from—cutting the rind off, removing the pulp, and shredding or grating the meat. A jack o'lantern from Halloween works, if it's not moldy. Or you can buy a pumpkin at the store as the BIG EVENT approaches. You can buy canned pumpkin. The fresh-pumpkin approach is very labor intensive, but tends to be less expensive than the very convenient canned pumpkin. YMMV. Least work—the canned pumpkin.

I pretty much knew about cinnamon and nutmeg, just would need to look up quantities. Saw recipes that also called for allspice. What the heck is allspice? The about.com explanation looks pretty thorough.

Candidate Recipe for Convenience
One recipe I encountered lately was in the Parade Sunday paper insert. Looked convenient to make, but the small, 6-point font bugged me. You McCormick people! Really???? 6-point font? Alienating a lot of older folks who have baked pies and might be turned off at the effort required to READ the ingredients and process? Well, I had torn out the recipe anyway, but decided to look for it online. Voila! Bigger font, and numbered steps at the Signature Pumpkin Pie Recipe. The big conveniences are the pre-formed pie shell, canned pumpkin, condensed milk, and McCormick's Pumpkin Pie spice. (You'll pay for the convenience of having all the spices in one jar.) The only additional ingredient is eggs. Hmm, I might make this pie, but maybe not this Thanksgiving Day.

For the record, over the years, I've made pies with scratch pie shells (cheap to make, but a lot more effort than pre-made shells.) I've used fresh pumpkin only, just because I've liked knowing the filling came from a pumpkin I acquired. I don't recall having used condensed milk, but maybe because I haven't baked a pumpkin pie in a few years and don't remember.

Which Pumpkin Pie?
For me this Thanksgiving Day, none of the above. I'm baking mini-cupcakes that have chocolate chips, chocolate cake mix, cherry pie filling, and three eggs. The recipe will be a variation of the Lucky Leaf recipe for Cherry Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake. Besides using chocolate cake mix instead of white, I'll also deviate from the recipe by making mini-cupcakes instead of a bundt cake.

November 26, 2014—
Visit "McCormicky-Libbyish Pumpkin Pie" about the hybrid-recipe pie that I DID bake.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Gluten-Free Waffle Grid Tortillas

The waffle grid comes from using a waffle-cone maker, but not the cone shaper. These tortillas, made with rice flour, are thin and pliable, like crepes. They stick to themselves with a mild PostIt stickiness. The stickiness makes for keeping rollup shapes together, making them good for rolling up fillings. The sesame oil provides an aromatic flavor.

My pixstrip shows the following images:
  1. Equipment and utensils
  2. Ingredients
  3. Bowl with mixed ingredients, cooling in fridge, then out of the fridge
  4. Tortilla-baking process by using the waffle cone maker
  5. Finished gluten-free, no-added-sugar, waffle-grid tortillas
Equipment and utensils (spray oil being a bridge from equipment to baking process)
  • Waffle cone maker
  • Mixer (I used an electric hand mixer.)
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Rubber spatula(s)
  • Plastic spatula
  • Mixing bowl(s)
  • Cooling rack
Ingredients and mixing
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 C rice flour (available in Asian store or ethnic part of a supermarket(
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Spray oil for appliance surfaces, about every fourth tortilla
  1. Beat the egg.
  2. Add the salt and beat more.
  3. Add the oils and milk and mix more.
  4. Carefully add the flour, which has a very fine consistency. (The batter will be very thin.)
  5. Cover the mixing bowl with food wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator.
  6. After an hour, take out the batter, remove the food wrap, and remix the batter for a few seconds.
Process completion (baking, etc.)
Prepare the iron as instructed with your appliance. Because I've used mine a few times, I've only wiped the cooking surfaces with a clean, warm, damp kitchen rag for cleaning preparation, sprayed the cooking surfaces, and plugged the cord. Heating time is a minute or so.
  1. Spray oil onto both waffle cone maker surfaces and heat it.
  2. Scoop batter (1-oz cup or 2 tablespoons) onto the horizontal surface. (Pouring slightly towards the back makes for easier clanshell closing.) Close the lid and press down with fingernails for about 15 seconds to ensure the lid stays closed, then time for another 45 seconds. The hold-down instruction might not apply to other appliance brands.
  3. Open the clamshell to check for tortilla doneness (light to medium brown color).
  4. Use spatula to lift the tortilla onto the cooling rack.
  5. Roll the tortilla now or later.
  6. Continue the batter dispensing and baking process until you use up the batter. (Use spray oil about every fourth tortilla.)
The recipe makes about 15 tortillas, 5-6 inches wide (~53-58 calories each, depending on nonfat or whole milk). Suggested fillings for microwaving in these disks: cheese, cheese and spinach, cheese and broccoli. Mmmm, cheese.
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