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Filtering by Tag: dessert

Rich "Pumpkin" Pie

Sarah West

This is not a delicate pumpkin pie. It is pie that walks the line between sweet and savory, dessert and main dish; a pastry that you might be tempted to call a meal. It is also (as a lifelong fan of pumpkin pie) the best version I've ever tasted. I made it the first year I grew 'sweet meat' squash - a variety that was developed in Oregon in the early 1900's for its ability to produce meaty, well-storing squash in our relatively cool growing season - and I've never gone back. I have a sweet tooth, you see, but also an aversion to empty calories. This pie is the ultimate answer: a pie that entertains you like a dessert but feeds you like a steak.

'Sweet meat' is perfect for pie because of its clean-tasting flesh - lacking the grassy bitter flavors some find so off-putting in winter squash - and saturated sweetness. Indeed, some individual 'sweet meats' are so sweet you barely need to add sugar. However, any squash or pie pumpkin will do. This recipe takes variable squash sweetness into account - let your own taste be your guide when deciding how much sugar to add.

Since this pie is not about the crust (in fact, its author, Carol Deppe, recommends going without), I leave that part up to you. If you enjoy making crust, use your best recipe. If you don't, save yourself the trouble and use something pre-made.

Makes one 9-inch pie

3 cups baked, mashed winter squash meat
1 cup duck eggs (or chicken)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 - 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (or make your own blend with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and a pinch of clove)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pie dough

1. To prepare the squash meat, choose a variety with starchy (as opposed to watery or stringy) flesh, such as sweet meat, kabocha, hubbard, or pie pumpkin. Cut in half and bake, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet in an oven set at 350-degrees. Bake until tender. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature, then scrape the cooked meat out into a bowl. If it seems overly watery (it should be no wetter than a baked sweet potato), place in a cheesecloth-lined colander and let drain for several hours. Store leftover meat in the freezer, or make it into squash soup!

2. Combine the squash and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Taste, adding more sugar until it's as sweet as you like it. Stir in the spice mix, vanilla, and salt. In a small bowl, briefly beet the duck eggs to "scramble," then add to the squash mixture and beat with a mixer on low for a few seconds. Add the cream and blend everything into a smooth batter.  

3. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Line a 9-inch glass pie pan with the crust dough, crimp the edges, and weight (if you don't have pie weights, a layer of parchment or foil topped with an inch-thick layer of dry beans works just as well). Bake the dough for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to turn golden.

4. While the crust is baking, pre-warm the batter by placing the bowl with the squash mixture inside another bowl filled with hot water, stirring occasionally. Refresh the hot water and continue stirring now and then until the squash mixture is lukewarm. This shortens the baking time and helps to insure that the edges and the center of the pie cook more evenly. Pour mixture into the crust shell, stopping when the filling gets within a quarter of and inch from the top of the crust, to allow room for expansion.

5. Place the pie pan in the center of the oven and bake 45-55 minutes, until the filling puffs up like a cake, from the edges to the center, and has a thin golden crust over the top. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool. Store in the refrigerator until serving. This pie tastes best after a day of rest, meaning you can check it off the list the day before Thanksgiving. 

Based on a recipe from The Resilient Gardener, by Carol Deppe.

Pear Tarte Tatin

Sarah West

This twist on the classic apple tarte tatin accentuates the pear's natural syrup by enveloping it in rich caramel. Frozen puff pastry means you can devote all of your concentration to getting the caramelized pears just right. Serve warm, or let sit for a few hours so the flavors can find their way into the pastry.

Serves 8


4 (2 1/2 pounds) Bosc pears, peeled, halved and cored
1 Cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 Tablespoons light corn or brown rice syrup
1 sheet puff pastry

1. Set oven to 375-degrees. Sprinkle sugar evenly over bottom of heavy 9-inch cake pan with 2-inch sides. Scatter butter cubes over sugar, then drizzle with corn rice syrup. Arrange pear halves in the sugar in an attractive circle, round bottoms at the edge, pointed tips at the center, and the hollow core side up with the rounded bottoms down on the sugar. Place pan in oven and bake for about 2 hours and 45 minutes, until they become candied orbs. Don't turn them or touch them, just leave them in the oven.

2. Cut a 9-inch circle from the puff pastry and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in the same oven (at 375-degrees) for about 15 minutes, until the pastry disk is golden brown and puffed up like a pillow. Remove and let cool.

3. When the pears are cooked, the sugar has started to become caramel, and the juices from the pears have become part of the sugary caramel, remove the pan from the oven and place directly onto the stovetop burner. If the pears have lost too much liquid, pour a little warm liquid (apple cider or pear juice, if you have them, or just water) to help the caramel along. Over low heat, cook the syrup just a few minutes until big soapy bubbles form and the syrup becomes a true amber caramel. Remove from heat immediately.

4. Place the puff pastry pillow directly on top of the pears, domed-side down. It should fit snugly within the diameter of the cake pan. Place a clean sheet pan lined with parchement over the tatin and very carefully - but swiftly! - invert. Tap the pan to be sure all of the pears have dropped down, then carefully remove the cake pan.

Based on a recipe from Prune, by Gabrielle Hamilton.