Greek Pumpkin Pie

This version of pumpkin pie, incorporates winter squash or pumpkin, with gently cooked onion, feta, spearmint and filo, traditional Greek foods. Well the pumpkin is a little unusual but I have frozen winter squash left from last year. There are versions that are sweet as well as savory. I plan to make it again and will add half a cup of golden raisins, and ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper not so traditional but I think the flavors will compliment. Aleppo pepper is offered by Nichols and is a Syrian hot sweet paprika that is coarsely ground. I use a lot of this in my cooking, it’s a gentle intensely flavored pepper not widely available in this country. The coiled design is traditional but if you are in a hurry cook it as you would Spanakopita with a few layers of filo, then filling topped with 6-8 sheets of filo.

4 cups baked or canned Pumpkin or Squash, pureed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ large onions sautéed in olive oil

¾ lb. feta cheese ,crumbled

1 ½ tbls. dried spearmint,

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 heaping tablespoons dry breadcrumbs or panko (see preparation notes)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1lb filo defrosted and allowed to sit out of refrigerator for one hour

1 10” Spring form pan coated with olive oil

Preparation: I used Sibley Squash which is not as moist as fresh or canned pumpkin. If you are using pumpkin try to pour off any visible liquid and include breadcrumbs which will be unnecessary with many squash.

Sauté onions finely chopped (a whirl in the food processor is fine) in olive oil for about 8 minutes at medium heat. Combine pumpkin, cooked onion, cheese, spearmint, crumbs, salt & pepper and taste. Note: eggs are added last so you can safely taste this mixture and check seasoning. Last stir in eggs.

Turn oven to 350 degrees and have a rack in center

Unwrap package of filo, and cover sheets with a tea towel.

On a clear work surface take first filo sheet, place it horizontally in front of you and very lightly brush with olive oil. Sheets do not need to be evenly coated. Place a second sheet on top of first and make an even strip of filling 2” above the lower edge and filling to the left and right margins. I used a scant ½ cup for each strip. Fold filo over the filling and roll over lightly brushing each turn with olive oil until you have completely rolled your first coil. Place this along the inside edge of pan. Lay each coil next to the last end and work to center until the pan is filled. Should you have extra filling wrap separately in filo and bake. If it looks as though you’ll run short start using a little less filling as you finish. Mine did come out exactly even with these amounts.

Lightly brush top of pie with olive oil and place in preheated 350 degree oven. Cook for one hour and check. If dough is still looking pale continue cooking and check at ten minute intervals until nicely browned. Carefully remove the pan ring, first running a knife blade along edge.  Allow to cool for twenty minutes and then transfer to serving plate. Run a spatula all under pie to loosen before transferring. This recipe runs rather long because these steps will be new to most readers. If  you have access to sheep milk feta buy it,  as it produces a superior result. this pie served with a little salad is an adequate dinner and also a good side dish. This is good hot or cold. Reheat in a warm oven. A microwave does no favor to filo based dishes as they lose the delightful crisp quality and begin to steam.

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Unsweetened Pumpkin Tart – The Citrouillat

Unsweetened Pumpkin Tart – The Citrouillat
It was in the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook that we first encountered an unsweetened pumpkin pie. While this tart contains a bit of butter it’s far less rich than Alice’s with a cup of heavy cream and rich crust.
This recipe is from our old website and I will begin adding these to this blog.

Pastry
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
3 tablespoons melted butter or oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add yeast to lukewarm water with 1/4 cup flour. Stir and let sit in a mixing bowl until bubbly, about ten minutes. Mix 2 tablespoons butter and egg into yeast mixture. Gently add flour and salt to the yeast mixture. It should have the consistency of a soft dough. Do not knead because you do not want to develop the gluten. Form into two balls one slightly smaller than the other. Roll out the larger piece and place in an oiled 10” springform pan or ceramic tart dish. Brush with some of remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Cover loosely with a damp kitchen towel. Set dough for top crust aside until you are ready to fill the tart.

Pumpkin Filling

2 pounds pumpkin or winter squash, peeled and diced in 3/4inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons instant rice or 1/4 cup cooked rice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese

Sprinkle pumpkin or squash with salt and cook in a steamer for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain steamed pumpkin in a colander while onion is cooking. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet set on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is tender and translucent about 5 minutes. Add pumpkin, thyme, sage, and pepper. Adjust heat to medium high and staute, stirring occasionally until pumpkin dice barely begin to break apart. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir in rice and cheese and place filling in shell. Lightly roll out the top crust and cover, pinching the edges well together, brush with remaining butter. Cut a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes on the medium rack until golden brown. Let sit on a cooling rack for ten minutes before serving. Serve warm or cooled as a picnic dish.

Usually I substitute winter squash for pumpkins since most have a richer flavor and are drier than pumpkins. Nevertheless, there’s always room in the garden for a few pumpkins. Create a nice mound of loose soil. Scoop out the center and plant your seeds. The depression in the center makes water just a little easier since it doesn’t run off the slope.

Pumpkin Regatta

Happy Halloween! As a garden writer, my email sometimes brings strange and wondrous things. This has been a bumper year for pumpkins in Western Oregon but here’s a bit of fall fun that sounds like a blast. Just follow this link to read about a pumpkin regatta.

Stuffed Pumpkin “Smiling Jack”

Smiling Jack Stuffed Pumpkin

Tomorrow is Halloween and we have a porch full of squash and pumpkins. We’ll be offering trick-or-treaters mini pumpkins along with candy.

Stuffing

1 5 to 7 pound pumpkin
1 # Country “breakfast sausage”, ground turkey, or
crumbled veggie burger
1 large onion, diced
1 cup long grain brown rice
1 3/4 cups water or stock
2 cups chopped kale or mixed greens, freely mix spinach, chard leaves, parsley and mustard greens
1 tablespoon candied ginger, chopped (I use Nichols Baker’s Cut)
½ cup golden raisins or dried cranberries
/2 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1/3 cup chopped roasted chiles
1 medium apples, peeled, cored, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

I’ve played around with this recipe several times and encourage you to do the same. This makes more than enough to fill any but the thinnest shelled pumpkin.
Take a large lidded skillet and cook sausage slowly and gently so it release as much fat as possible. Break it up as it cooks into small pieces. When done mop up any fat with one or two paper towels, pressing down lightly on sausage or turkey to release fat. When meat is defatted add onion and gently cook about 5 minutes when it should turn translucent. Add rice and stir for a couple minutes then add liquid and cover with lid, turn stove top temperature to low. After ½ hour add remaining ingredients without stirring. Cook for another thirty minutes, stir ingredients together and stuff pumpkin. Cook stuffed pumpkin for one hour twenty minutes in a 350 degree oven. A couple of indications of being fully cooked is a little juice emerges around the lid and the rind has a slight give when touched.

Your pumpkin should be carefully washed and dried before the lid is cut free. Scoop out all the seeds and loose fibers from inside the pumpkin. Once it is stuffed place it on a cookie sheet. I make a sort of sling with two straps of folded foil that I use to move the cooked pumpkin to a platter. The foil keeps the base from over cooking and helps me avoid any tendency to klutz during one of those tense critical moments in the kitchen. I also wrap the stem in a couple layers of foil, shiny side out so it doesn’t burn. If you’re feeling artistic and in the spirit of Halloween it can even have a face. Just carefully cut the design and peel away the skin leaving the gold orange flesh glowing beneath. Slice into wedges to serve.