There’s an age old expression, “You can take the girl out of the East Coast, but you can’t take the East Coast out of the girl.”*
Having lived in Seattle for the last five years there is lots that I love about it here. I love the mountains, I love the job market, I love the people, I love the polar fleece (except at nice restaurants…why on earth do NW folks think that’s okay??). But there are times when I miss the East Coast and all its straightforwardness, its bluntness, its unapologetic attitude, and its history. As much as I think I’ve become a “west coaster” I recently had someone interrupt me mid-conversation to ask where I’m from. When I said, “East Coast….well, outside of Boston,” they gave that all-knowing little exhale of breath and said, almost sympathetically, “that explains it.”
I also miss the food. If you’re a regular reader of Shut Up and Cook you’ll know there are just certain things you can’t get out in Seattle like you can back East. There are no fried clams, no chicken finger subs (no good subs for that matter period), no good duck choo chee, and no good chicken pies.
So this Monday night, as the days get darker earlier, and the wind whips around outside, I found myself missing the East Coast just a little bit more than usual. And nothing is more East Coast than good ‘ol fashioned Perfect New England Pumpkin Pie.
If you’re afraid of making pies…don’t be. They aren’t as hard as you think they are, and people will be so impressed you made a pie from scratch you’ll already have bonus points at the outset. Plus…pie comes at the end of dinner…which usually means the end of a wine bottle (or three)…so everything tastes good. Particularly a pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon custard baked in a perfectly flaky, buttery crust. The secret ingredient here is just a touch of maple syrup…and it does make a difference.
Make this when you’re missing those up tight-East Coasters, their pearls, and their judgment. Because admit it, sometimes you do.
Perfect New England Pumpkin Pie
FLAKY PASTRY (from my Grandmother’s kitchen on Cape Cod)
Makes 2 doughs, top and bottom, enough for 4 pumpkin pies
4 C Flour
1 3/4 C Shortening
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 C ice cold water
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tsp salt
Mix shortening and dry ingredients together. In small bowl, beat water, egg and vinegar together. Add to dry
“goop” (her words, not mine). Blend w/fork till everything is moistened.
W/ hands, mold dough into 4 balls.
Wrap in good old fashioned wax paper and chill 15 minutes or more.
Roll out for crust and proceed with appropriate pie making precautions.
PUMPKIN PIE (adapted from the Butt’ry Shelf Cookbook, Mary Mason Campbell 1968)
Makes enough for 1 pumpkin pie
Have ready an unbaked 9″ pastry shell w/ high crimped edges.
Mix in bowl:
1 1/2 C pumpkin cooked or canned (be sure to get the unseasoned, unflavored kind if you go the canned route)
1/3 C brown sugar
1/4 C white sugar
1 TB Vermont Maple Syrup, no other
1/2 Tsp salt
1 1/2 Tsp ginger powder
1 Tsp cinnamon
1/2 Tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 Tsp powdered cloves
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/ 1/2 C cream
Pour into prepared pie shell. Bake on one level up from botton rack in hot oven (400) 50-60 minutes until knife point inserted comes out clean. At about 20 minutes, if necessary, add a bit of foil around the crust so it doesn’t brown too much. You can pull the foil off to finish the crust to a nice golden brown in the last ten minutes.
Enjoy with black coffee and a bit of homemade whipped cream flavored with nutmeg.
*Okay…perhaps it’s more like a 5-minute old expression, but it’s true.