Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pumpkin Juice

Harry and Ron soared above the train, flying past dancing clouds and beautiful landscapes. Harry's shirt stuck to his back as the heat from the sun bored down upon them. Maybe eating all of those toffees from the car wasn't such a great idea after all. The thoughts of glistening glasses of pumpkin juice must be torture!

"The toffees had made them extremely thirsty and they had nothing to drink. ...He had stopped noticing the fantastic cloud shapes now and was thinking longingly of the train miles below, where you could buy ice-cold pumpkin juice from the trolley pushed by a plump witch." (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling, Chap.5)

Pumpkin juice is one of those curious drinks that piques the interest of all, wizard and non-magic folk alike. I had actually planned on waiting to make the pumpkin juice recipe until Halloween, but obviously I just couldn't help myself.

One tiny setback that occurred when trying to make this was the fact that I actually could not find a pumpkin to cook; At least not the type that you should cook. So I did what any resourceful cook would do...Head straight for the baking aisle! Luckily the local grocery store almost always carries canned pumpkin in the winter months. So canned pumpkin it is!

While visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter over the summer, I got the amazing opportunity to try all of the treats from the wizarding world. One of those treats being pumpkin juice. Every since then I have been dying to try to make it own my own, well that and butterbeer. So I added a few things to this recipe in an attempt to mimic the pumpkin juice I had in the Three Broomsticks. Happy cooking!

Trivia Question: What did Dumbledore leave Ron in his will after his death?

Pumpkin Juice
 1/12 cups canned pumpkin or (1 small pumpkin, known as sugar pumpkin or pie pumpkin)
2 cups apple juice (I used Apple Cider)
1 cup white grape juice (I used White Cranberry Juice)
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/2 and 1/4 teaspoon of Wassail spice blend (I used the Biltmore brand)

Directions for the canned pumpkin: Take the pumpkin and spoon it into an empty apple juice container and add the juices. Cap the container and shake until well combined. Strain through a fine mesh colander into a large bowl. Transfer the strained juice back into the original jug. Add the spices and give it one last good shake and Voila! You have homemade pumpkin juice.

Directions for the Cooked pumpkin:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the pumpkin in half pole to pole and scoop out the seeds. Don't worry about the stringy fibers; they are hard to remove and won't affect the results, place the pumpkin halves face down on a baking sheet and roast 45 minutes to 1 hour until soft. Remove from the oven.
2. When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and discard the skin. Place the cooked pumpkin in a large fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and push the pumpkin through using a rubber spatula. Scrape and mash as you push; it will take several minutes. Discard the pulpy mass left in the sieve. Stir the sieved pumpkin in the bowl to evenly distribute the juices, and then measure out 1 cup.
3. Place the cup of sieved pumpkin in a pitcher along with the apple juice, grape juice, and pineapple. Stir vigorously until the pumpkin is completely dispersed. Chill the juice until it's very cold.
4. Before serving, stir the juice well, as the pumpkin will settle to the bottom. Fill crystal goblets with ice cubes and pour the juice over the ice.

Makes 5 cups.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Custard Tart

Professor Snape would really love to see Harry and Ron expelled after crashing Mr. Weasley's flying car into the Whomping Willow. But Dumbledoor reminds Snape that that punishment is for Professor McGonagall to decide. Dumbledoor then distracts Snape by leading Snape to the Great Hall by promises of Custard Tarts being served. (See Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 5. From, the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook)

Mmm...Custard! The age old, brittish treat! and why wouldn't it be? After first having the custard in Knickerbocker Glory, I fell in love! There just isn't anything else like it! I absolutely LOVE this comfort food. This recipe had a lovely butter, flaky crust, filled with the creamy loveliness from the custard.
I have to admit that if you have never made a homemade pie crust or tart crust...then you have no idea what kind of mess you are able to make. I had flour everywhere! the counters, my face, and my clothes. It really was a very comedic sight. As we all know, flour is easily cleaned up, so don't let this stop you from making a delicious dessert! Using a food processor to make the crust just simplifies the recipe completely. Store bought crust has nothing on this!

(this is pretty much what it looks like, just a bit more homemade.
I would have had my own pic on here but I accidentally erased it.)
Harry Potter Trivia -  Who is Harry's Godparent?

Tart Crust
1 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 Cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. For the crust, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the flour mixture. Pulse until the mixture resmbles coarse yellow meal without any white powdery bits remaining, about 15 puses. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Beat the egg yolk with the cream and vanilla and pour in into the frour-butter mixture. Toss with a spatula until the dough clumps together. If the dough is dry add 1 more tablespoon heavy cream (better too wet than too dry). From into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on a floured surface to an 11-inch circle. (if it is too stiff for rolling out, let it first rest on the counter for 10 minutes.) Fold it into quarters, brushing off excess flour with a pastry brush after each fold, and then unfold it into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Ease the sides gently into the pan and press the dough gently against the sides. Use the rolling pin to roll the overhang off of the pan.

3. Freeze the tart shell for 10 minutes. Line the pan with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights. (uncooked pinto beans work well, and are inexpiensive) Bake until the dough is dry and set, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights, reduce the heat to 350 degrees F, and continue baking until the crust is golden, another 8 minutes.

4. Prepare the custard while the crust is baking. Heat the milk and cream in a small saucepan until hot but not simmering (do not boil). In the meantime, whisk the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until smooth. Temper the yolk mixture by slowly pouring in 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture while whisking vigorously. Pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan and continue to coook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the wooden spoon scrapes up thickened bits of custard. Do not let the mixture simmer or boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.

5. Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Pour the hot filling into the hot crust and bake until the custard puffs up and is still jiggly when you move the pan, about 15 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool. The custard will set up as it cools. Cool completely before serving.

Serves 8