Saturday, November 18, 2006

Thanksgiving Afters


Dorothy used the Nonesuch condensed mincemeat by Borden and reconstituted it with a teaspoon from a small flask of Christian Brothers Brandy which appeared to me to last all through my childhood until as a teen I finished the half bottle mixed with various fruit juices. I survived. Not only the drink but also the pies and with an intact liking for mincemeat. Yes, I am aware that this places me in a minority. Again. But I do.
I have tried several recipes for Mincemeat, including ones that do include meat. The one I return to since I first acquired the recipe a quarter century ago is in "Great Britsh Cooking: A Well Kept Secret" by Jane Garmey (Random House 1981) It is readily available still in paperback from the usual suspects. In my experience it has only excellent recipes. Naturally I make changes, many of which are reflected below. I don't peel my apples, she does. I use ginger root instead of powder. She calls for brandy which I replaced with a dark rum which I preferred. That of late has been too hard on my blood sugar so I am trying a single malt Scot's whiskey (which does not bother my glucose). Ordinarily I consider that too good to be wasted by admixtures of any description. But what the hell. If you make it, do make enough to keep for next year. Already good, it will be much improved.

Mincemeat

1 cup beef suet, shredded
1/2 cup fruit mix
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup currants
1 cup Thompson raisins
1 wineglass dark rum
3 medium green apples, diced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup marmalade
1/4 tsp nutmeg, grated
3/4 cup almonds, chopped
1 slice ginger root, smashed
1 cup brown sugar

Mix all in a large bowl.
Cover with a cloth and
leave in a cool place overnight.
Next day Mix thoroughly
pack in sterile jars and
seal in hot water bath
for 5 minutes (sea level)
Make at least 3 weeks
ahead of time.
Keep it for a year for the best flavor.

Pastry is the reaction of flour and fat to heat. Gluten is a valuable ingredient in flour if you are making bread. Well developed gluten encloses gases released by the yeast as bread rises. Without the gluten the dough would pass the gases, so to speak, and collapse. But in pastry well developed gluten makes the crust as tough as shoe leather. Work quickly and lightly when mixing and rolling pastry. Roll the dough in one direction only to give the gluten as small a work out as possible. Use pastry flour or flour that is low in gluten (a soft wheat, not a hard wheat) and free of the most glutenous parts of the wheat grain. Keep making it and before very long you will receive accolades for your pies. Here's my current implementation. It freezes well for other times of the year. The lard does make a difference to the flakiness of the crust, while butter provides flavor. There are many other fats that work as any basic cookbook will show.
Pie Pastry
Yield: 3 Pies
-ml- Lard to make it flaky,
Butter to make it tasty.

1/2 cup lard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
2 tbl ice water, approx.
21/2 cups flour

Cut lard and butter into flour and salt
until the texture of coarse meal.
Add just enough ice water to
gather the pastry in a ball. Chill.
Cut in thirds.
Roll one third out for each crust.
Prick all over the bottom
for a crisp pastry.
This makes pastry for
a one crust pumpkin

and a two crust mince.
Dorothy would say "All our pies are pumpkin" in that particular way that people use to signal they are quoting. I remain ignorant of the source to this day. So all my pies are not pumpkin. Neither were Dorothy's.
The special features of this recipe is the flavor given by the molasses and the coarse, slightly lumpy texture of the filling. If you insist you can use pumpkin instead of another squash.
But why would you do that when the sweet flavor of a delacottia is available?
Del once had a pumpkin that was a runner-up for the largest pumpkin category at the county fair. It was on the porch in good time for Halloween with a scary face carved in the street side. But Del couldn't see wasting all that pumpkin. He cut a slab of about a half square foot out of the back and boiled it up for dinner. That squash lasted he and the large family he was sharing the house with for pies and vegetables all winter long. It wasn't until February that blue fuzzies appeared on the pumpkin meat because the temperature warmed up.
Pumpkin Pie Filling
Yield: 6 Servings
1 squash
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbl molasses
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp ginger 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
Cook butternut, acorn, or other squash.
Preheat oven to 400°f.
Place 1½ cups squash, in chunks, in a bowl.
Add remaining ingredients and mix.
Keep texture coarse. Pour into single crust.
Bake 40 minutes

--ml
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3 comments:

  1. My grandpa used to say the same thing about pies, only he would say it as a joke -
    Man to Waitress: Do you have pumpkin pie?
    Waitress: All our pies are pumpkin.

    Then he would laugh, but I have no idea why.

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  2. Thanks Matt. That suggests to me that it might be a vaudeville catch of the 20s or 30s which entered the vernacular like "Outta sight" did in the sixties. But any way, At least one other person -- your Grandpa -- noticed.
    --ml

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  3. My grandmother says, "All our pies are pumpkin here," every Thanksgiving, and she laughs as if we're supposed to get the joke or something. So I finally decided to look it up, and this is the only page I found in my search for "all our pies are pumpkin." Thank you, now I know she got it from somewhere else, not from her aging mind.

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