It's a rare weekend off and we are taking the opportunity to enjoy life outside of KG. Of course that doesn't mean that we're not cooking. Alex had a craving for pumpkin pie so at the moment the warm scents of butter and sugar, rum and pumpkin are permeating the house. Half the reason he wanted the pie was for the smell. It wakens the appetite as it slowly escapes from the oven. Your stomach twitches and your tongue salivates long before you are actually conscious of its perfume. It makes this warm autumn afternoon feel rich and full with the promise of warm pie and cool whipped cream.
As always, cooking at home is a challenge. Our pantry is never fully stocked and I was lucky to even have enough butter for my crust and a can of organic pumpkin for the filling. The can has probably been in the cupboard since last fall but I suppose that's what cans are for. The only sugar in the house was raw so my piecrust was speckled and slightly pebbled as I rolled it out. The filling was cobbled together from what I had on hand, the pumpkin, three eggs, Goslings Rum, ginger, maple syrup, a few twists of black pepper, a splash of key lime juice and half of the carton of cream which had originally been destined for whipping. Not the most orthodox filling in the world but tasty nonetheless. I used a handful of small forks and spoons on a layer of foil for my pie weights and baked the pie in my oven on a cast iron griddle. Time, and my husband, will let me know if the pie is a success.
A special treat arrived in the mail this week, confections from Recchiuti's. We had a Green Box and a box of Fleur de Sel Caramels and they sent along a sample of their new bittersweet chocolate bar with cocoa nibs. The chocolates were quite good and had a wonderful texture to them, creamy and melting without being sticky or cloying. The flavors were good. Although there were times we would have wished for a bit more assertiveness, the pairings were solid and the chocolates of very high quality. The chocolate bar was complex, bitter, crunchy and nutty and I enjoyed it immensely, albeit in small doses. The Fleur de Sel Caramels were simply divine. At room temperature they were soft and melting against my tongue with a pleasant chewiness that was neither too firm nor too soft. The salt must have been folded in at the very end because the individual crystals were clearly present offering their sharp saltiness and crunchy textures as an interesting counterpoint to the buttery caramel. I would definitely order those again. I must confess that I have not read their book yet, it's in the pile to be read soon...
I can recommend another book for the chocolate lover or anyone who like to work with chocolate, Fine chocolates, GREAT EXPERIENCE, by Jean-Pierre Wybauw. We got our copy from Matt at Kitchen Arts and Letters (212-876-5550). It is a book that has some great techniques and flavor combinations within it's pages. The photography is beautiful and it makes chocolate making seem simple and approachable. It doesn't come cheap, $89.95 as I recall but if you love chocolate it is definitely worth the price.
And while I'm thinking of chocolate, the other night we drank a wonderful wine by Ken Wright. It was the 2003 Pinot Noir, Carter Vineyard. The wine was an adult version of childhood decadence as it tasted like liquid Tootsie Rolls with fresh raspberries. It was smooth and rich on the palate and definitely opened and evolved as we drank it. There were hints of coffee and leather in the finish and it lingered on the palate, as any fine wine should.
So beeps the timer, it's time to go defend my pie. Otherwise it will be devoured straight from the oven without the required resting period for it to reach it's prime. Sundays at home are a time for resting, reading, mulling over the week past, planning for the future and spending time with the ones we love whether they have two legs or four paws.