Pumpkin Tart

Growing up in an Italian-Canadian family, Thanksgiving was never really a huge holiday in our home. My mom would maybe make a turkey — but there was no delicious stuffing or pumpkin anything on our table. I remember watching American movies and TV shows with their Thanksgiving tables laden with platters of delicious-looking food and wishing we could have some of that. We eventually introduced some canned cranberry sauce and grocery store pumpkin pie to the menu. Over the years, Thanksgiving has become somewhat of a family tradition for us; there’s turkey, stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce and this delicious pumpkin tart. The only thing missing from our table is that sweet potato casserole with the marshmallows on top. Haven’t tried that yet.  Maybe next year?

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 2-3 tbsp ice water

For the filling:

  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 300ml can condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a nine-inch tart pan with cooking spray.
  2. Using a food processor, pulse the pecans, flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon together.
  3. Add in the butter, one cube at a time, until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add in the ice water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough just comes together. Be careful not to add too much water or your crust will be soggy.
  5. Press the dough into the prepared tart pan. Bake crust for 12 minutes. Allow crust to cool while you prepare the filling.
  6. Increase oven temperature to 425F.
  7. Make the filling: In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until smooth.
  8. Next, add the pumpkin puree, condensed milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt.
  9. Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake for 15 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350F and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes.
  10. Allow tart to cool completely before removing from pan.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Strawberries have always been my favourite fruit. I think this may have something to do with my early childhood obsession with Strawberry Shortcake. For my fifth birthday, I received a Strawberry Shortcake doll as a gift. She had strawberry blonde hair and a plastic face that smelled like strawberries.  I spent hours combing that doll’s hair and smelling her face. It was a little creepy. My first cookbook was “Strawberry Shortcake’s Cooking Fun” by Michael J. Smollin. It included recipes for things such as Whizzer Fizzers, Apple Snackwiches, and Custard and Pupcake Cookies. I never actually made any of these recipes, cause in the 1980s Italian-Canadian kids didn’t really eat apples and cheddar on crackers or peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I now love all these things. I also love crumbles. They’re easy to make and you can use any combo of in-season fruit. Here, I’ve used strawberries and rhubarb. This crumble can be served warm or at room temperature. I’m sure one of Strawberry Shortcake’s Whizzer Fizzers would also pair nicely with this dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 8 cups sliced strawberries
  • 4 stalks rhubarb, sliced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour, 1 cup of brown sugar, baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt.
  3. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers. Add the egg.
  4. Press half the dough into the prepared baking pan and refrigerate.
  5. Add 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and almonds to the remaining half of the dough. Place in fridge while you make filling.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, rhubarb and lemon juice. Mix in 1/2 cup flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, ginger and vanilla. Stir until all the fruit is coated.
  7. Spread the strawberry mixture evenly over the chilled crust. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the fruit.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
  9. Cool completely before slicing.

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Apple Bacon Crumble aka “The Valentina Special”

So, my best friend, Valentina, calls me up one Friday night.  She’s all excited because she’d just come up with a genius idea for my blog.  It involved bacon.  She had my attention.  Val’s idea was for an apple pie that had a candied bacon lattice top.  It sounded crazy (mostly because Valentina is a little nuts — that’s part of her charm); but she was definitely onto something.  After some experimenting, I came up with this recipe.  It’s sweet with a subtle saltiness…and it’s named after Val because she told me that if I used her idea I had to mention her name in the blog post.

Ingredients: