Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving has arrived, and with it, delicious fall flavors. The night before Thanksgiving, my mom and I always get together to bake pies. This endeavor has evolved over the years, although we still use Libby's recipe from the back of the can of pumpkin. (What? I still find it to be the best tasting recipe. Maybe that's just because I grew up with that taste? Also, I am in the camp of cooks who prefer recipes that use evaporated milk vesus condensed milk, which I feel adds an odd flavor.)

Growing up, my mom used frozen pie crusts, which I always thought to be chalky and flavorless. I usually ate around it in order to reach the irresistible pie filling. In college, I learned how to make decent pie crusts from scratch, and after I taught her this skill, we never went back to frozen. (Although I am still open to experimentation when it comes to crust. The best I've made so far combines shortening and butter. If anyone has an excellent crust recipe or secret, please share!)

Our family can be rather competitive when it comes to baking. One year, my brother (who also loves to cook) and I held an apple pie cook-off, which was officially declared a tie. Our two recipes were so different, it was like comparing apples and oranges- although we were really comparing apples and apples. This year, we are baking traditional pumpkin as a joint effort, and, since my brother claimed the apple, I am going to do a pear pie with a streusel topping. The recipe needs to be tweaked a little, but I will post it later.

In the meantime, we celebrated the holidays at work yesterday with our annual Pumpkin Potluck. Every dish revolves around the surprisingly versatile squash we so often relegate to pies only. My contribution was the following smooth, delicious soup. If you like mushrooms, you will love it! There's nothing better than a hot bowl of comforting soup when the weather is cold and damp. Enjoy!

Curried Pumpkin Soup

½ lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
½ c. chopped onion
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
½ tsp. curry powder
3 c. vegetable broth
1 can (15 oz.) solid-pack pumpkin
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 T. honey
½ tsp salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/4 tsp. Ground nutmeg

In a large saucepan, saute the mushrooms and onion in butter until tender. Stir in flour and curry powder until tender. Stir in flour and curry powder until blended. Gradually add the broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add the pumpkin, milk, honey, salt, pepper and nutmeg; heat through. Serves 7.

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