Friday, November 02, 2007


Yesterday we invited our friend Craig to lunch. Although I already had the menu planned, I knew as soon as I got up yesterday morning that I’d made the right choices. It was definitely cooler, so my menu of warming pumpkin soup followed by grilled sausages and another new recipe, a PUMPKIN SAVORY TART, courtesy of another blog, MSADVENTURESINITALY, would be just right.

The soup had been made on Tuesday, so all I had to do was gently reheat it, then add a little cream right before serving. The pumpkin savory tart had sounded so yummy when I read it on Sara’s blog, and it lived up to my expectations.

I’d roasted the pumpkin in the oven to soften it so that the rind could be more

easily removed, but I hadn’t cooked it all the way through so that it could finish cooking as per the recipe directions. Even so, I found that it took a little longer than the 15-20 minutes listed. Eventually I covered the skillet to finish cooking the pumpkin, and the next time I make this tart (and there WILL be a next time!) I’ll cover the skillet after a few minutes.

Because there’s no Crisco in Italy, I treasure my Crisco sticks (so easy to bring when I come back from the states!). Saving my Crisco stash wasn’t really the main reason I decided not to use it for my pie crust though. When we first arrived here other expats had told me I could use strutto as a substitute for shortening, and I’ve used it several times. The first time I used the strutto though, the true nature was evident as the pie baked and the unmistakable scent of pork wafted through the house. In the states we’d call strutto LARD, and after that first use I knew that strutto would be good for crusts used for savory tarts and quiches, but maybe not quite right for that lemon meringue pie!

This pumpkin tart seemed to be the perfect excuse to use a strutto-based crust, so that’s what I made. I had plenty of time to make the crust while the onions and diced pumpkin simmered in the skillet, and once the tart was in the oven the house was filled with warmth and wonderful aromas! Here’s the recipe:

Pumpkin, Pine Nuts and Pancetta Savory Tart
500g pumpkin, roughly cubed
100g smoked pancetta, chopped
3 eggs
1 small yellow or white onion
Handful pinenuts
Savory pastry sheet (such as for a quiche)

In a small frying pan, cook the chopped pancetta until crisp. Take off heat.

Preheat oven to 350F (180C) Place the savory pastry dough in a 9” pie pan.

With 1 T. of the oil from the pancetta, chop the onion and sauté. While the onion is cooking, roughly cube the pumpkin. When the onion starts to turn translucent, add the pumpkin chunks. Cook about 10-15, until the pumpkin will break down easily with spoon but is not mushy. Mix in pancetta until evenly distributed.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a splash of milk until frothy. Grate in a small amount of parmigiano and mix, adding fresh ground pepper.

Spoon half of the pumpkin mix into the baking pan. Pour egg mix over, and then spoon the rest of the pumpkin mix in. Sprinkle a handful of parmigiano and some pine nuts on top, and bake for about 40 minutes

Oh, since I had some cream on hand I used that instead of the milk to beat with the eggs.  And you could also use sausage instead of pancetta....

I’d been itching to try the apple pie Jerry had posted…it adds orange zest and a bit of orange liqueur, and to say that it smelled heavenly while it baked would be an understatement! I used Granny Smith apples, which turned out to be just a little too juicy….I should have added a little flour or cornstarch to the apples, but I’ll know better for the next time.

Perhaps I used just a bit too much zest, but I thought the orange flavor was too sharp, and in the future I’ll cut it back a bit, or maybe just serve the pie with a really good vanilla bean ice cream. Try it for yourself…..

Apple Pie With a Kick

For the filling:
6 or 7 apples, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. finely grated orange zest
2 tbsp. Grand Marnier
1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
9” Single Pie Crust

Combine all the filling ingredients (except the butter) in a bowl and mix well. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Dot the filling with the butter and then put the pie in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375º

For the crumb topping:
1 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces

While the pie is in the refrigerator, mix all of the topping ingredients together, rubbing the butter into the flour/sugar mixture until you have a very crumbly topping.

Once the pie has chilled, sprinkle the topping evenly over the pie.
Bake the pie in the centre of the oven on a baking sheet to avoid any spills. Bake for 70-75 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.

So….are you inspired to bake up some warming comfort food this weekend?

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At 11/05/2007 04:16:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did I miss the "Warming Pumpkin Soup" recipe???...shame on me! You are a fantastic cook...maybe a blog..."Cucina di San Venanzo"?

Your friends in California

At 11/07/2007 12:25:00 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

the recipe for the pumpkin soup is in the post before this one entitled "Let's Get Cooking!"


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