By Genevieve Mollitor
Why, hello there folks. It’s that time of year again. Leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping, and some of the year’s most celebrated holidays are on their way.
While the history of the holiday is a bit different than what Americans are taught in school, and modern nations’ relationships with their native populations still need to be greatly worked on, Thanksgiving still remains my favorite holiday of the year. It holds good memories in my heart of extended family getting together to enjoy stuffing ourselves full with a delicious feast, hoping somebody would shoot a blow dart at one of Macy’s massive parade balloons on TV, and the inevitable walk to 7-11 just for the sake of getting out of the house. I also genuinely appreciate the tradition of giving thanks on this day because I feel it gives us a good opportunity to reflect on our past year and look at the positives things in life. And, *cough*, this year it’s also on my birthday…
To be honest though, I don’t really like Turkey. It’s dry, too big for Japanese ovens, looks like the godfather of chickens… But most of the other food is tasty beyond belief, and so today I’d like to share with you my make-shift pumpkin pie, using the good ole kabocha found in your local supermarkets 🙂
About 1 quarter of a kabocha – usually they are sold about this size in plastic wrap at the supermarket.
350ml condensed milk れんにゅう練乳 – normally sold in tubes, but you can sometimes find cans
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp of cinnamon – add more or less for personal taste on spices (I like to add a lot)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger – optional as it’s not always easy to find and raw ginger is only recommended if you have a blender
pie crust – some supermarkets sell pre-made puff pastry in the frozen section in packages labeled パイシート ; you can also make your own crust (I’ll add instructions below)
- Steam your kabocha in a pot or microwave until soft. Let it cool. *don’t forget to remove the seeds beforehand*
- Prepare a 9in pie tin or any other similarly sized tin (rectangular is ok) you can find. Butter or oil the tin and fit the bottom and sides with the pie dough.
- Pre-heat your oven to 215 degrees Celsius. (You can adjust to 210 or 220 depending on the strength of your oven.)
- Go back to the kabocha and take off the green skin. Mash up the orange part as best as you can in a bowl. (You can do whatever you want with the skin, it’s pretty tasty eaten on it’s own.)
- Add all the other ingredients and mix it all together. If you have a fork, a potato masher, or a hand blender, those work best for mixing.
- Taste the mixture and add more spices or sugar a little at a time until you reach your perfect ratio of mm-mm good and heck-yeah!
- Pour the mixture into the pie pan and stick it in the oven.
- Bake for 15 min, then reduce the temperature to 180 degrees C and continue baking for about 40-50min. (Check to make sure a knife or chopstick comes out clean once your timer goes off at the end.)
- Let cool for at least 30 min!!! This type of pie is best served when it has had the chance to cool, for some it even tastes better the next day or two after having had time to hang out in the fridge or on a cool table top.
- Slice and enjoy on its own or topped with some whipped cream!! *If you can find Cool Whip or clotted cream in Japan, they’d also taste awesome with the pie*
Depending on the size of your pan and/or kabocha, you may have a bit of leftover pie filling. If you have left overs, maybe you can try pouring it into a mug and microwaving it for a mug pie? Also, if your pan is full up to the brim with pie filling, I recommend placing some foil or baking paper under your pan to help with clean up in case of spill overs and drips. You can also use this recipe with canned pumpkin, steamed butternut squash or acorn squash as well. *I recommend about 2 cups worth of steamed squash.
How to make butter pie crust
You will need: 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup butter chilled and cubed, 1/2 tsp salt, 5-7 tablespoons chilled water
Add flour and salt to a bowl and mix. -> add the butter and mix into the flour with hands until your butter is less chunk and more crumble -> add 5 tablespoons of water and continue to knead by hand, add more water only if you need to -> the pie dough should feel soft, but not wet -> chill in the fridge until it gets stiff (approx 30min) -> roll out the pie dough and fit evenly into the pan 🙂 *Wine and large sake bottles are great substitutes for a rolling pin, or you can just flatten and squish with your palms and fingers*