Category Archive: Thanksgiving


  1. Vanilla Pumpkin Pie

    Here we are – the weather has changed, a crisp air hangs in the sky and Thanksgiving is tomorrow! It’s a holiday that swings open the arms of  home to invite in everyone that can fit at the table. We gorge ourselves to the brim with chat and turkey with all the trimmings until we can’t possibly fit another bite… but then comes the pie.

    pastry, dough, pie, crust

    Pumpkin pie is one of those sacred American dishes – you simply must have it on Thanksgiving. No ifs, ands or buts about it!

    The culinary rules say that since dessert is the last thing to cross our pallets, it had better be impressive, with flavour that beats out everything you’ve eaten thus far in the meal. Never to be an afterthought, I have added a vanilla pod to the mix to ramp up the warming aromatics that make this pie utterly deserving of centre stage. I think this Vanilla Pumpkin Pie is just the ticket to round out the most generous of holidays.

    VANILLA PUMPKIN PIE

    INGREDIENTS

    One Quantity Basic Pie Crust (See my post on Short Crust and follow directions for Basic Pie Crust)

    425g solid pack pumpkin puree
    2 large eggs
    250ml double cream (or a combination of double cream and evaporated milk)
    180g caster sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 vanilla pod, seeds stripped for use
    1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

    METHOD

    First thing, preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f.

    Pumpkin pie is terribly easy because all you do is mix your spices and vanilla seeds together with your sugar in a bowl, stir in the pumpkin, then stir in lightly beaten eggs and leave it to infuse while you make the pastry. Try not to incorporate too much air as you want zero bubbles with any baked custard (yes, that is what this technically is). Don’t throw away that vanilla pod case, by the way! Put it in a jar of sugar and use this in whatever you like – it’s great in pancakes, cakes, cookies, even a cup of coffee.

    Cover the pumpkin mixture and pop it in the fridge to infuse while you sort out your pastry for the pie crust.

    Roll out chilled short crust pastry and line a fluted 28cm pie tin. Pop it in the freezer for 15mins to relax and chill. Or if you, like me, have zero room for anything in your freezer (not even ice), pop it in the fridge for 20mins. It should be completely firm when it comes out. Keep the scraps of dough for patching after blind baking.

    After chilling the pastry until firm, line it with a round of crumpled parchment paper big enough to hang over the edges once filled with baking beans. Push the paper into the corners well and fill with baking beans to the rim. Blind bake the pastry at 200°c/400°f for 15 minutes or until the sides are set up. Then remove the beans with a large spoon and the cartouche and bake for another 5-10 minutes until lightly golden with no grey patches of raw pastry left behind. You want a nice crisp bottom to your pie. If the pastry has ballooned up, use the back of a metal dessert spoon to gently rub the pastry until it settles. If the pastry isn’t cooperating, you can also pierce the pastry with a fork in the center of the bottom, which will let the steam escape and allow you to do the spoon trick. Lower the temperature of your oven to 160°c/325°f.

    Now patch up any cracks with scraps from the raw pastry and pour in the pumpkin mixture until it is full as you can make it without slopping over. As this is  a sort of custard, you don’t need to worry about it rising, so leave about a half cm or a quarter inch of pastry at the top. Bake this for 40-50 minutes until the center of the filling moves only slightly when jiggled but isn’t liquid at all. Allow it to cool completely to room temperature. If serving the next day keep it in the fridge over night and take out a couple hours before serving for it to come up to room temperature. I often pop my pumpkin pie in the oven for 5-10 minutes just before serving to crisp the pastry again and take the chill off.

    Serve with a generous dollop of vanilla whipped cream.

    Recipe adapted from Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie.

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  2. Vanilla Pumpkin Pie

    Thanksgiving is a holiday that  swings open the arms of home to invite in everyone that can fit at the table. We gorge ourselves to the brim with chat and turkey with all the trimmings until we can’t possibly fit another bite… but then comes the pie.

    pumpkin pie

    Pumpkin pie is one of those sacred American dishes. You have to have it on Thanksgiving, no ifs, ands or buts.

    The culinary rules say that since dessert is the last thing to cross our pallets, it had better be impressive, with flavour that beats out everything you’ve eaten thus far this meal. Never to be an afterthought, I have added a vanilla pod to the mix to ramp up the warming aromatics that make this pie utterly deserving of centre stage. I think this Vanilla Pumpking Pie is just the ticket.

    VANILLA PUMPKIN PIE

    INGREDIENTS

    One Quantity Basic Pie Crust (See my post on Short Crust and follow directions for Basic Pie Crust)

    425g Solid Pack Pumpkin Puree
    2 Large Eggs
    250ml Double Cream (or  a combination of double cream and evaporated milk)
    180g Caster Sugar
    1/2 Teaspoon Table Salt
    1 Vanilla Pod, seeds stripped for use
    1 1/4 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
    1 Teaspoon Fresh Grate Ginger
    1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves

    METHOD

    First thing, preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f.

    Pumpkin pie is terribly easy because all you do is mix your spices and vanilla seeds together with your sugar in a bowl, stir in the pumpkin, then stir in lightly beaten eggs. Try not to incorporate too much air as you want zero bubbles with any baked custard (yes, that is what this technically is). Don’t throw away that vanilla pod case, by the way! Put it in a jar of sugar and use this in whatever you like – it’s great in pancakes, cakes, cookies and biscuits or a cup of strong coffee.

    Cover the pumpkin mixture and pop it in the fridge to infuse while you sort out your pie crust.

    Roll out chilled pie crust and line a fluted 28cm pie tin. Cover with cling film and pop it in the freezer for 5-10mins. Or if you, like me, have zero room for anything in your freezer (not even ice), pop it in the fridge for 20mins. It should be completely firm when it comes out. Keep the scraps of dough for patching after blind baking.

    pie crust

    After chilling the pastry until firm, line it with a parchment paper cartouche ( a round piece of paper used in cooking), crinkled so it can be pushed into the corners well, and fill with baking beans to the rim. Blind bake (without filling) at 200°c/400°f for 15 minutes or until the sides are set up. Then remove the beans with a large spoon and the cartouche and bake for another 5-10 minutes until lightly golden with no gray patches of raw pastry left behind. You don’t want a soggy bottom! Lower the temprature of your oven to 160°c/325°f.

    Now patch up any cracks with scraps from the raw pastry and pour in the pumpkin mixture until it is full as you can make it without slopping over. As this is custard, you don’t need to worry about it rising but it could souffle if cooked at too high a temperature or for too long. So leave about a half cm or a quarter inch of pastry at the top. Bake this for 40-50 minutes until the center of the filling wobbles only slightly or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

    Serve with a generous dollop of vanilla whipped cream.

    Recipe adapted from Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie Recipe.

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  3. Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be Perfect

    It’s Thanksgiving week. Some of you will be celebrating “Friendsgiving” while others fly across country or ocean to join family. I have done my fair share of both. Some will be the family others fly to. It’s all about getting together.

    I remember my first Thanksgiving here in London seven years ago. I was living as a lodger so had no kitchen, but I was utterly homesick so I had to do something. I asked my English cousin if I could cook at her flat and was grateful she said yes. The kitchen was tiny and we didn’t eat until 10pm as I remember, but it was wonderful. There were only six of us around the table but we still cooked a whole turkey. Three Americans and three Brits. I made the cranberry sauce last minute while my husband, then boyfriend, tried to explain cricket to our American guests.

    IMG_8942

    One of the Americans that year was a dear friend of mine from the University of Oregon. She was doing her MA at the LSE. Just yesterday she wrote to ask for my cranberry sauce recipe from that year. This made me so happy. The memory of that day is not just mine. It’s a shared memory. A feast is special because it has to be shared.  Who cares if it’s not perfect, it brings us together! It’s Thanksgiving, not “Perfect Food Day”.

    (more…)

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  4. Vanilla Pumpkin Pie

    My goodness how time flies! I can’t believe my last post was in September! I have been getting all sorts of experience in the food, including a fabulously beautiful trip to the Amalfi Coast where I ate my weight in pizza, pasta and gelato. Definitely put this on your bucket list. Visit Positano, you will not regret it. The beauty almost hurts your eyes.

    IMG_8595

    I have worked a month as a chef at Kome, a marvelous pop-up restaurant and catering company with food crossing the divide between Korean and Mexican flavours. Then a few more work experiences starting with 10 Greek Street in their pastry section,  a few days with Southerden bakery right near me in Peckham, followed by a life changing week at Restaurant Story with Tom Sellers, who I owe a lot to for nudging my towards starting a career in food. Check out some of the snacks I helped make while I was there:

    Crispy cod skins with emulsion and gin botanicals

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    Eel flavoured take on the Oreo with vinegar dust, delicious I swear!

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    And the beautiful Egg with salmon roe and egg emulsion

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    You would not believe the amount of prep work that goes into making these little snacks. Now just imagine how much work goes into creating one of their main dishes. Snacks of the Sea for example (I think they like the word ‘snack’…

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    Or Almond and Dill (I got to make the dill oil!)

    IMG_2769

    There are 10 courses on the tasting menu with 6 additional snacks and every dish is magical. The Story team is so talented and they are more dedicated than most, hence the Michelin star. They are also some of the most thoughtful and humble. I am so lucky to have learned some of the magic. Phew, it’s almost emotional!

    In between all that I have done some exciting private catering and before you know it here we are in November. Very little sleep but a whole lot of fun!

    Anyway now that I’ve swiftly updated you all with the new notches in my CV, on to an updated version of one of my favourite foods in the whole world… pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner (OMG I HAVE NOT EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT THIS YET) and the only thing that could possibly make us feel better about the flames bursting from our pockets as our wallets spontaneously combust is to eat delicious things like pie. So here we are:

    Vanilla Pumpkin Pie

    Damn I miss home this time of year. The crashing of pans followed by the clinking of glasses and catching up with my American family… This time of year is when London really does feel a bit sad in comparison. Y’all just don’t know what Thanksgiving means! And you’re missing out…

    At home, Thanksgiving is the time when we invite our whole family including every possible cousin within a 100 mile radius around our table to gorge on my mother’s fabulous turkey and stuffing. We break out the old linens, the silver, the china and we try our best to pay homage to the past generation’s parties through a balance of grandeur and generosity fit for such an important occasion. In a world where Christmas is often quiet and close, Thanksgiving makes up for it by swinging open the arms of the home and inviting everyone in we can fit. We gorge ourselves to the brim with chat and turkey until we can’t possibly fit anymore… and then comes the pie.

    Pumpkin pie is one of those sacred American dishes. You have to have it, no ifs, ands or buts. However, sometimes it can be more of an after thought to all that turkey and stuffing. So, I’ve opted to shake it up a bit, adding a vanilla pod to the mix to ramp up the warming aromatics that make this pie so deserving of centre stage. It’s one of the acts, not an encore! The culinary rules say that since dessert is the last thing to cross our pallets, it had better be impressive, with flavour that beats out everything you’ve eaten thus far this meal. I think this Vanilla Pumpking Pie is just the ticket.

    INGREDIENTS

    One Quantity Basic Pie Crust (See my post on Short Crust and follow directions for Basic Pie Crust)

    425g Solid Pack Pumpkin Puree

    2 Large Eggs

    284ml Single Cream (or Evaporated Milk)

    180g Caster Sugar

    1/2 Teaspoon Table Salt

    1 Vanilla Pod, seeds stripped for use

    1 1/4 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

    1 Teaspoon Fresh Grate Ginger

    1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves

    METHOD

    First thing, preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f

    Pumpkin pie is terribly easy because all you do is mix your spices and vanilla seeds together with your sugar in a bowl, stir in the pumpkin, then stir in lightly beaten eggs. Try not to incorporate too much air as you want zero bubbles with any baked custard (yes, that is what this technically is). Don’t throw away that vanilla pod case! Put it in a jar of sugar and use this in whatever you like. It add extra oomph to pancakes especially.

    Cover the pumpkin mixture and pop it in the fridge to infuse while you sort out your pie crust. Ta dah!

    Roll out chilled pie crust and line a fluted 28cm pie tin. Excuse the horrible lighting/sharpness of this photo… I have been playing with a new lens. Cover this with cling film and pop it in the freezer for 5 minutes or the fridge for 15 if you, like me have zero room for anything in your freezer, not even ice. Keep the scraps of dough for patching after blind baking.

    IMG_8859

    After chilling the pastry until firm, line it with a parchment paper cartouche ( a round piece of paper used in cooking), crinkled so it can be pushed into the corners well, and fill with baking beans to the rim. Blind bake (without filling) at 200°c/400°f for 15 minutes or until the sides are set up. Then remove the beans with a large spoon and the cartouche and bake for another 5-10 minutes until lightly golden with no gray patches of raw pastry left behind. You don’t want a soggy bottom! Lower the temprature of your oven to 160°c/325°f.

    IMG_8861

    Now patch up any cracks with scraps from the raw pastry and pour in the pumpkin mixture until it is full as you can make it without slopping over. As this is custard, you don’t need to worry about it rising but it could souffle if cooked at too high a temperature or for too long. So leave about a half cm or quarter inch of pastry at the top. Bake this for 40-50 minutes until the center of the filling wobbles only slightly or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

    IMG_8893

    This is definitely one to practice before Thanksgiving since it’s so delicious and a perfect dessert to follow any special autumn meal. Serve with a generous dollop of whipped cream or for even more excitement, cinnamon ice cream.

    Recipe adapted from Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie Recipe

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