By Beverly Barbour
Scary Halloween pumpkins turn into heavenly pies
You don't need a magic wand to transform pumpkin into pie. But, you do need to work a little kitchen magic if you are going to turn a smiling pumpkin into pumpkin puree and then into pie. The real secret is not to just fall for any pumpkin that flashes you a toothy grin, instead choose a double-purpose pumpkin to make your jack-o'-lantern and later pies, cakes and cookies and breads. Look for a variety called "sugar pumpkin" as it is specially bred for cooking and grows well everywhere, even in northern North Dakota where the season is short and the nights cool.
HOW TO TRANSFORM A JACK-O'-LANTERN INTO A PIE
For best results use a sugar pumpkin or any other pumpkin bred for baking.
1. Be certain that the pumpkin is still fresh and clean.
2. Do not use a pumpkin that has been greased with petroleum jelly to keep it from scorching.
3. Cut the pumpkin in half; remove the seeds and the stem.
4. Place each half cut-side-down in a greased roasting pan or on a greased cookie sheet.
5. Roast at 375°F until tender when poked with a long tined fork or slender knife (30 to 60 minutes.)
6. Cool and scoop out the flesh. You may need to puree it in a food mill, food processor or blender, adding a very tiny amount of water if needed to achieve the smooth texture of canned pumpkin.
MARY'S SUGAR PUMPKIN PIE
Mary Helland of Devils Lake, ND, swears this is the best pumpkin pie she has ever made. Serve as is, or topped with whipped cream flavored with a bit of rum, or cinnamon ice cream. Or, try the Pecan Topping recipe given below.
1/2 cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine sugars, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in pumpkin, creams and vanilla. Bake for 10 minutes; lower temperature to 325°F for 40 minutes or until set. (A silver knife inserted in center will come out clean.) Makes 6 to 8 servings.
PECAN TOPPING FOR PUMPKIN PIES
Bake your pies ahead. Just before serving sprinkle with this topping and broil four minutes. Couldn't be easier.
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
Preheat the broiler. Cut butter into brown sugar until mixture is crumbly. Add the nutmeats and mix well. Sprinkle this topping evenly on a baked pie and place so that top of pie is about 3-inches beneath broiler. Broil for 4 minutes.
FROZEN PUMPKIN PIE
So easy a child can make it, said Bonnie Bean when she gave me this recipe from her mother-in-law, Mrs. Arthur Bean of Siloam Springs, AR.
1 cup pumpkin puree
Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Fold in whipped cream. Line pie crust with ice cream and cover with pumpkin mixture. Freeze for at least 2 hours before serving. Makes a 9-inch pie with enough leftover for another small pie.
SOUTHERN PUMPKIN, SQUASH OR CARROT PIE
I think this recipe originally came from the old (and best) "Joy of Cooking." The card has brown spots and the word "good!" so you know, it's a winner if you like an old-fashioned filling.
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
In a double-boiler combine pumpkin with evaporated milk. In a bowl completely combine brown and white sugar with salt and the spices. Stir into the pumpkin mixture. When combined, stir in syrup and the beaten eggs. Place over simmering water and cook, stirring, until mixture is thick. Cool slightly and then stir in vanilla and nutmeats. Top with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
GET A HEAD START ON THANKSGIVING, FREEZE THE PIES AHEAD.