the gifts of thanksgiving, and a recipe: pumpkin pie, the 2012 edition

The day after Thanksgiving was a beautiful day. We had no plans on that Friday – no errands to run, no school for the kids to attend, and no work to hurry off to. And, because of the abundance of leftovers in the fridge from the day before, there were no meals to cook.

After a lunch of turkey and dressing and green jello salad, we pulled the boxes of Christmas decorations out of storage and Sam unpacked our new artificial tree. Our old tree had two things going against it – first, the lights quit working on the bottom section two Christmases ago, and second, it was getting droopy. And while I love the smell of a fresh cut tree, my fear of the house catching fire due to spontaneous combustion of a crispy, dried out evergreen takes precedence any day. Hence, a new fake tree.

The kids and I unpacked the ornaments, and while I found high branches on which to hang the more fragile ones, Maddie and Oliver searched the lower branches for the perfect spot for each ornament they were in charge of hanging. The cats perched on a nearby chair, watching with anticipation as the sparkly objects were hung just out of reach, or so us humans thought. We took little breaks to warm our hands by the fire, because even though it was 68 outside, the house was chilly. And also because having a fire burning in the fireplace is a must when decorating the Christmas tree.

Later that evening, I cuddled on the sofa with the kids, the three of us covered with Oliver’s red blanket, and we watched Elf together. Maddie and Oliver snuggled together, laughing at the antics of Buddy the Elf and smiling when Zooey Deschanel’s voice filled the room with Christmas carols. The lights on the Christmas tree twinkled and gave the living room a warm glow. And I thought about how lucky we are to have each other.

Thanksgiving – the day itself and the days that followed – were filled with moments like these, moments of feeling incredibly blessed.

To me, that’s the beauty of Thanksgiving. It’s the one holiday of the year where the focus is not on material gifts — no baskets filled with foil-wrapped chocolate eggs, or plastic jack-o-lanterns overflowing with sweets, or stockings overflowing with gifts from Santa. On Thanksgiving, we can simply be grateful for those beautiful people who surround us.

On Thanksgiving, there are gifts, but they are ones that are less tangible and infinitely more valuable — they are the gifts of love and family and friendship.

And, of course, good food.

*  *  *  *  *

Even after prior bouts of recipe testing, I was at it again in the days before Thanksgiving this year. In an eternal recipe competition with myself, in attempt to best my own recipes, I’ve come up with the 2012 edition of the Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie.

I made two of these beauties for last Thursday’s feast. I always make them the day before, saving Thanksgiving morning for more pressing matters — like the turkey, the Parker House rolls, and my Waldorf salad. I used my all-butter pastry crust, and together, the combination is a winning one.

So this is the final edition, the easiest and best tasting pumpkin pie recipe I’ve got in my repertoire. And finally, I think I’m done.  I’m done with the pumpkin pie testing.

Well, at least until next year.

Yield: 1 9-inch pie.

Pumpkin Pie with Molasses

The molasses flavor in the pumpkin pie is subtle but it adds a nice dimension to the pie. And while blind baking the pie crust seems like an extra step, I think it really is a necessary step. There’s not much worse than a beautiful slice of pumpkin pie with a limp, raw bottom crust.

Ingredients:

Pastry dough for a single-crust, 9-inch deep dish pie
3/4 cup (150 grams) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup half-and-half
1-1/2 tablespoons molasses

Directions:

Blind Bake the Crust:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place oven rack in middle position.

On a well-floured surface, roll pastry dough into a 12-inch circle with a thickness of approximately 1/8-inch. Gently fit the dough into your pie plate, taking care not to stretch the dough, and trimm overhang to 1/2-inch. Crimp the edges with your thumb and finger or with the tines of a fork. Refrigerate the pie crust for 15 minutes.

Line the pie crust with parchment or nonstick aluminum foil (nonstick side down) and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or pennies. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully remove pie plate from oven, and then remove foil or parchment and pie weights.

Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Prepare Pumpkin Pie:

Whisk together sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a large bowl. Add in the eggs, egg yolk, pumpkin, vanilla, half-and-half, and molasses. Whisk the ingredients together until well blended.

Pour pumpkin pie filling into the still warm pie crust. Bake pie for 60 to 65 minutes, or until set in the center. Cool on a rack; serve with sweetened whipped cream.

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27 Responses to “pumpkin soup with gruyère”

  1. 1
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    HeatherChristo — October 28, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

    this looks so good! beautiful pictures 🙂

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

      Thank you, Heather.

  2. 2
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    Liz the Chef — October 28, 2010 @ 4:20 pm

    You are so brave! I have yet to tackle a “real” pumpkin…Your photos are lovely. Where did you learn to take such great shots? I need a class for certain.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

      This was actually my first go at a real pumpkin – and it was fun! As for the photos – I’ve been learning as I go. I’ve never taken a course, but I’d love to!

  3. 3
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    kateiscooking — October 28, 2010 @ 4:41 pm

    Beautiful photos! I hope I escape work in time to make this tonight. We’re supposed to have the first freeze of the year and this sounds like a perfect antidote!! Kate@kateiscooking

  4. 4
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    Kare — October 28, 2010 @ 4:55 pm

    Man, there is nothing like the process of cooking and baking to just put you into that near-nirvana-like zone, eh? I LOVE that. And this soup looks scrumptious – I love a good pumpkin soup, and love the idea of the gruyere (and the hearty splash of white wine).

    Good luck on your two-week work project – ugh, I’d be feeling the blahs too. Hope it goes by quickly for you.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 8:02 pm

      Kare – Ah, yes – you noticed the wine. Wine and gruyere – what could be better?

  5. 5
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    bunkycooks — October 28, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

    I am feeling the funk, too. I think it is the coming of cold weather combined with personal/work stuff. Cooking does make things better and gets the other stuff off your mind.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 8:02 pm

      Gwen – Cooking is such a blessing. I’m just hoping to squeeze in some time for it in the upcoming weeks. I think I’m going to need it.

  6. 6
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    Kristina @ spabettie — October 28, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

    I know exactly what you mean… I get to feeling antsy or upset or frustrated… and I want to be in the kitchen… kneading or chopping or stirring… creating.

    gruyere is one of my favorites… and this looks so good…

    I also love your photos – the sage leaves especially… so pretty!

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

      Kristina – I just love gruyere too. In fact, it was all I could do to stop myself from eating the wedge of cheese before it went in the soup. 🙂

  7. 7
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    Susi — October 28, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

    That looks like a wonderful and comforting bowl of soup! Love the addition of gruyere (one of my favorites) and your pictures are spectacular!

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 8:00 pm

      Susi – Thank you so much for the photography compliment. I was playing with a new lens (my birthday present), so these photos were a lot of fun for me.

  8. 8
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    Jennie — October 28, 2010 @ 6:43 pm

    What you said about wanting to make the soup more than wanting to eat it—that’s what I love most about being in the kitchen. The one place where you can control the chaos swirling around. I totally get your October funk, but think about November, right around the corner, and all the fun that follows.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

      Controlling the chaos is the key. Being in the kitchen, controlling that ingredient in my hand or in the pot – that is the key for me. And I cannot even begin to describe the excitement I have about November. Well, after November 16th, that is. Until then, it’s nothing but hospital for me.

  9. 9
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    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — October 28, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

    Great post! I know exactly what you mean about craving the cooking process. Sometimes just getting out my big wooden cutting board and chopping some veggies starts to melt away my stress.

    Love this soup, too… Pumpkin and gruyere sounds like a perfect combo.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

      Jen – Yes! Chopping board and knife, and the stresses of the day melt away. I just wish I had more time for it. And anything with gruyere is fabulous. 🙂

  10. 10
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    Kim - Liv Life — October 28, 2010 @ 11:26 pm

    I DO know what you mean!! I actually skipped our homecoming game too, though I didn’t cook at thing. The soup looks wonderful. Hang in there!

  11. 11
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    Liren — October 29, 2010 @ 2:38 am

    “I just wanted to make it.”

    Boy, do I understand what you mean. However, I’m sure it tasted lovely – pumpkin and gruyere make sense together! In our family chaos, we haven’t been to the pumpkin patch yet, but if we make it this weekend, I would love to tackle this soup.

  12. 12
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    Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle — October 29, 2010 @ 10:35 am

    I can certainly identify with your state of mind. Eight months into an injury that has limited most aspects of my life; long work days and dealing with a difficult daughter…sometimes the kitchen is my refuge from all of it…even if I’m not hungry!

    Something about soup is so soul satisfying…the results of your efforts look beautiful and sound perfect for that.

  13. 13
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    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — October 30, 2010 @ 7:37 am

    MJ I absolutely can relate to this post. Sometimes when I have SO MUCH on my plate that I don’t know where to start, I find myself in the kitchen making something that, you know, could wait. Cooking and baking are exactly the release we need from time to time and if it results in this type of delicious soup, well it’s totally worth missing a game for, right?

  14. 14
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    Renee (Kudos Kitchen) — October 30, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

    This soup looks great and I totally LOVE the gruyere and pumpkin combo. Don’t you just love that soup is comforting to eat AND make? Sounds like you had a wonderful afternoon in the kitchen!

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  16. 15
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    Jennifer — October 30, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

    This sounds awesome. It’s been cold and rainy here and would be perfect. I have those blah days and there’s absolutely nothing better than comfort food.

  17. 16
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    Belinda — October 30, 2010 @ 11:57 pm

    We had a blast with your kids and can’t wait to have them again in November. So glad you had a quiet afternoon and evening to do something fun and relaxing for yourself!

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