Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Someone is thankful for buttermilk

Since 2002, I have only been at my family's house for Thanksgiving once. While they mind, I don't care as much. I mean, I miss them, but mostly I like to get together and create connections with new people during Thanksgiving. I went to an interesting Canadian Thanksgiving one year and had amazing, foodie-prepared Vancouver food (drool), and I've had these very quixotic, collective gatherings of twitchy graduate students (I kid because I love) with really interesting food results. Mostly, I just like getting together with people and eating, and enjoying company, something that my TT'd ass does less often than I should.
I was fortunate enough to get invited to two Thanksgiving meals, but I went to the one held by a colleague in a close by neighborhood. It was a vegetarian feast- with seitan veggie shepherd's pie, two amazing salads, real mac and cheese (caramelized perfectly in the oven), and two pies. One brought by Lefty Cook.
I made this amazing sweet potato buttermilk pie, closely following Deb's Smitten Kitchen recipe. I think I used just a little bit less sugar, and I skipped some extra butter she put in. I didn't really understand the egg separation and beating, though. She recommended that we separate the yolks and whites, and then beat the whites to soft peaks. I did that, and the end result was a really puffy pie, that finally cooled to regular proportions.

Puffy pie: fresh out of the oven

I have no complaints with the end results, and neither did the rest of the Brooklyn Thanksgiving party. (The host was amazing and gracious, the company and conversation wonderful, and we played Trivial Pursuit. I was the good natured loser).

Sweet Potato, Buttermilk Pie:

before pre-baking

Deb's Flakey, All Butter Crust:
1 1/4 c. of all-purpose flour (more for dusting the counter) I used King Arthur white
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted, straight from the fridge butter (in memory of MN, I used Land o' Lakes)
about 1/2 c. cold water, with some ice cubes in it

Mix together the flour, butter, salt, and sugar with a pastry cutter. But if you're low rent like me, just a knife and fork and incorporate (not cream) the butter in the flour. You should be making little crumbles. When everything gets to be about the sizes of small peas, then start adding water, about 1 Tbs at a time, and mix with a wooden spoon. You may need to add more than a 1/2 cup, but do it a little at a time. Too wet sucks (I made mine too wet). Also, don't add the ice cube.
When it can be made into a ball, wrap it up with saran wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours (or overnight).
Preheat the oven to 325.
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin (I just bought mine the night before at a Morton Williams in midtown) on a clean, floured surface. When it gets the right thickness (about 1/8"?), carefully place the dough in a pie plate and trim/crimp the edges with a fork. Wrap the crust in foil on top, and place beans or posh pie weights on top of the foil and bake for 12 minutes. (This step is hard but if my fool self could do it, so can you.)

Low rent pie crust weights

Remove beans, pierce a few times with a fork, and bake for another 10-12.
(if you have extra dough, which you probably will unless you pie pan is deep, save the dough to make into little leaf art patterns on the pie. Or just feed it to an artist or something).

For sweet potato filling/custard:

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)
1 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, pinch of cloves, and some ground ginger)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons all-purpoe flour
3/4 cup full- or lowfat buttermilk
1 pre-baked pie crust (bought or made)
Vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Peel and chop 2 medium sized sweet potatoes. Steam in one of those basket steamers (place in a larger pot with about 1 1/2 of boiling water) about 15 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork.

Then smash it all up with a fork (or a potato masher, but this is the Bed-Stuy version)

Measure out 1 1/4 c. of sweet potato puree. Eat any extra. Add the spices, sugar and salt.

Beat the 3 eggs, then add to the sweet potatoes. Add the flour a little at a time until well incorporated. Add buttermilk and mix until smooth.

Pour the sweet potato custard into the prebaked crust. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until the center is firm and set, 35 to 40 minutes.

(in oven)

Remove and cool completely. Serve with vanilla Ben and Jerry's (both of these items made the commute from Bed-Stuy to Crown Heights).

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