Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tis the Season

I didn't mention this yesterday because I wanted to have something to write about today, but after I finished cooking all that food (yes, I know that's like nothing for some people, but to me, it's a whole lot) Sunday, I did a trial run of Tofu Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving (we're going to family in New Jersey. If all goes well, I'll be bringing Tofu Pumpkin Pie and Raw Apple Pie. My mother is bringing a huge salad and Cranberry Crumble (both vegan) and my grandmother will bring a fruit platter. I'll have plenty to eat just from what's coming in our car. Holiday traffic, I laugh at you! I have the desserts! - That's all that counts, really, isn't it?)

When I first started looking into the whole vegan thing, there were several dishes I found approximately 473829 recipes for. Macaroni and cheese, butternut squash soup, pesto sauce and pumpkin pie are a few of them. Lucky for me, I love all those things. I mentioned the multitude of pumpkin pie recipes to my friend Sarah and her reply was something like "Fuck them. I have the best pumpkin pie recipe EVAR. I make it every Thanksgiving for a whole load of omnis and no one ever knows it's vegan until I tell them, and when I do, they say they like it better than regular." This sounded like my kind of pie.

The recipe calls for "1 can (16 ounces) pureed pumpkin". I've been on a natural, real foods kick, so I wanted to use a real pumpkin and puree it myself and somehow could not find a pumpkin at the regular supermarket that wasn't a jack-o-lantern pumpkin. In November! I didn't have time to go to the farmer's market, so I made the test pie with canned pumpkin. This probably means I should make the real pie with canned too, since I already know how it'll come out. Bah.

It also requires "1 9-in unbaked pie shell (buy a frozen one with no offensive ingredients, or use the classic Betty Crocker recipe substituting vegetable shortening or soy margarine)". I obviously wanted to make my own, so I searched bettycrocker.com for pies until I found Ms. Crocker's recipe and made the appropriate substitutions.

I have to give Sarah credit; the pumpkin pie filling is definitely one of the best I (and my testers) have tasted. My brother doesn't even want to look at Entenmann's now (which is a good thing!). However, after leaving the pie in the oven for an hour, the pumpkin was starting to crack (you can see that pretty well in the picture of the slice below) and the crust turned out to still be kind of raw (oddly, my brother prefers it that way), so I guess I'll have to experiment with the crust a bit to get it to bake at a lower temperature (the baked crust wants to be done at 475, but this pie bakes at 350).

Tofu Pumpkin Pie

Unbaked One-Crust Pie Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

1 can (16 ounces) pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 package (10-12 ounces) tofu, any kind does but firm if you can get it

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap flattened round of pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.

While waiting for pastry to cool, blend tofu in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend well.

After 45 minutes, roll pastry, using floured rolling pin, into circle 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side and being careful not to stretch pastry, which will cause it to shrink when baked.

Pour blended mixture into a 9" unbaked pie shell. Bake for approx. 1 hour. Filling will be soft, but will firm up as it chills.

Chill overnight and serve.

Per serving: (1/8 Pie, filling only) 122 calories, 0.9g fat, 4g protein, 0mg cholesterol, 49mg sodium, 26g carbs.

I made the pie exactly as written above, but Sarah says: "I usually reduce the sugar, and you can also mess around with the spices. Try allspice, but maybe leaving out the cloves." I also ended up with a bit of extra dough (which probably wouldn't have happened if my board wasn't so small; I'm ordering a pastry mat today in the hopes of getting it by Thanksgiving), so I stuck some vegan chocolate chips in it and made a nice, crispy cookie.