Hello All! I’m sorry I’ve been missing from my blog for the last few weeks. It’s been a busy and exciting month. My art show opened last week (I’ll share more in a moment), my mom and sister visited, and immediately following their trip, two of my best friends from college came to stay with me. There’s been a lot of touring San Francisco and catching up to do, so I haven’t been able to squeeze in Illustrated Bites (I know… excuses, excuses.) All of that is a lot of fun, but I’m glad to be back on a normal schedule and regularly blogging again.
Lately, I’ve been enjoying experimenting with the new-to-me spice, star anise. Star anise has a wonderful licorice-y flavor that pairs well with tomato sauces, and is great for braising meats. It was once only common to eastern cooking and has medicinal uses in traditional Chinese medicine, where it’s used to aid digestion and as a warming herb. I was actually first introduced to the spice by a roommate that was studying to be an acupuncturist.
It has become more common in western kitchens as a substitute for anise. I really enjoy throwing a pod into boiling rice to add an unexpected flavor. I also really enjoyed this recipe for roasted sweet potatoes with star anise, from the Kitchn. The Kitchn has several other recipes featuring star anise that I’m looking forward to trying.
I know I’ve been writing a lot about my Illustrated Bites art show, but if you’ll bear with me once more, I would like to share some images of work from the show. I hope you enjoy seeing them, I sure had a great time putting it all together!
As much as I hate to admit it, autumn is here. I realize that for most of the country, this summer was a particularly hot one and the cool weather is a relief. But here in the Bay Area, we hardly got a taste of summer. It’s not that I dislike fall, but I really miss the warm weather of the south. The weather here was foggy and cool June through September and the promised indian summer never came. Now, the rains have returned, which ends any hope of warm weather.
Since there’s no use fighting it, I decided to embrace the autumn weather by making my favorite seasonal dessert, pumpkin pie. If anything is going to get me exited about the fall, it’s pumpkin dishes. There’s something about the earthy sweetness of pumpkin that is just so comforting.
Before I get to the pie recipe, I wanted to share a few other things I’ve been working on and some ideas for the blog. I’ve been quite busy lately with sign painting, screen printing, and illustrating. I recently finished up my end an exciting project with Justin “Scrappers” Morrison for the Maui Time. I’ll share more when the project is finished and in print but for now, here’s a little peek:
Also, as some of you may know, I work as a sign painter in San Francisco at New Bohemia Signs. I’ve wanted to incorporate more sign painting into Illustrated Bites for a long time. My new and exciting plan for doing that is to create food-related signs and do occasional give-aways here on the blog. In conjunction with that I’ll also be selling some signs online. This new project was inspired by a sign I recently painted for my lovely friend, Emily.
So, yeah…I made a pumpkin pie AND it was awesome. I will admit that this pie was pretty labor intensive because I made it completely from scratch but it’s TOTALLY worth it. The good news is that this recipe made enough filling for a second pie, so it’s sort of a two for one deal. My sweetie’s folks were in town and his mom helped me though the process, which made a world of difference in the workload (Thanks Nancy!) I highly recommend getting someone to lend a hand when you make this.
Step one: Pick up a pumpkin. I used a sweet pie pumpkin I bought at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market. Slice the pumpkin into wedges and scrape out the guts. Use a paring knife to cut the flesh away from the rind. Don’t worry if you leave some flesh on the rind, it’s pretty hard to get it all.
Step two: Steam the pumpkin. Put all the pumpkin flesh in a pot with about a half a cup of water. Turn the heat to medium and cover.
Step three: While the pumpkin is steaming, make the pie crust. It’s easiest if you have a food processor.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 8 pieces
- 3 tablespoons ice water
- Combine flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse. Add the butter and process until the butter and flour are blended.
- Place the mixture in a bowl and sprinkle in the ice water. Mix with a spoon and then gather into a ball. If it is too dry add a little more water; if it’s too wet, add a little flour.
- Wrap in plastic, flatten into a disk and freeze for ten minutes.
Step four: While the dough is in the freezer, puree the the steamed pumpkin. The pumpkin should be steamed until it’s soft, and easily punctured with a fork. Puree throughly, until there are no lumps. It will be easiest to do this in small batches.
Step five: Take the dough out of the freezer and sprinkle the countertop with flour. Unwrap the dough and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough with light pressure from the center out. Add flour as needed.
Step six: When the dough is about 10 inches in diameter transfer it to your pie plate. Press into the plate and tuck the excess edges into itself and pinch for the crust. Return to the freezer while the oven preheats.
Step seven: Preheat to 425 Degrees F. Find something to weigh down the crust while it bakes. I used a cast iron skillet but you could use tinfoil and a pile of dried beans or rice. Anything that will lie flat. Just make sure to butter the side that will be in contact with the pie crust.
Step eight: Puncture the bottom of the crust with the fork and put the weight on the crust. Bake for 12 minutes. Then take it out of the oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees F then carefully remove the weight and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- pinch ground cloves
- pinch salt
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 2 cups light cream or whole milk
Step nine: Beat the eggs with the sugar, then add the spices and salt. Mix in the pumpkin and the milk. Warm this mixture in a sauce pan over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Get it hot but not boiling.
Step ten: Pour the mixture into the the crust and bake for 30-40 minutes until mixture shakes but is still moist. Cool on a rack and serve at room temperature.
Extra credit: Homemade Whipped Cream
I told you this was an intense recipe!
- Half pint heavy whipping cream
- 4 teaspoons powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whip the cream with a whisk until peaks form. Again, this is much easier with a partner to take turns with. When the cream is stiff, fold in the vanilla and powdered sugar. Viola! Whipped cream.
Phew, that’s a monster. Anyways, you’ll feel great once it’s done and it’s so delicious you’ll forget it took like, three hours. If you’re like me, as it cools down and the winter rains start, you’ll look for any excuse to spend an afternoon in a warm kitchen. I hope you enjoy. Please let me know if you tackle this beast, I want to hear all about it!