Pumpkin Pie to Pictionary

We had a holiday potluck at work yesterday and I decided to use it as a way to test out one of the pumpkin pie recipes I'm thinking of using for Thanksgiving. After looking online I decided to test Cook's Illustrated's recipe.

From their website:

The crust:
1 1/4 c. AP flour
1/2 t. salt
1 T. sugar
6 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 c. cold vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
2 T. cold vodka
2 T. cold water

Process 3/4 cup flour, salt, sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until dough starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds (there should be no uncoated flour).

Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

I made two batches of the crust. One went into the fridge and the other went into the freezer - that's the one that I will use for Thanksgiving!

The filling:
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. whole milk (I used 2%)
3 large eggs and 2 large yolks
1 t. vanilla extract
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 of a 29-ounce can drained cadied yams
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. maple syrup
2 t. grated fresh ginger (hard to grate!)
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 t. salt

Not going to lie, pies are freaking hard to make! Maybe I should have used real "pie weights" instead of rice... Nevertheless here are the instructions I followed. Might I add that I also had tonnns of dishes and surfaces to clean afterwards...

Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 400°F. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. DIFFICULT!! I need to YouTube the proper way to roll out dough without being a complete dunce. I'm considering changing my Facebook name to Duncely Olerich in exchange for $2200. Thoughts? I got an offer to do it...

Continuing on... Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. (I did NOT have a 1-inch overhang. Oops?) Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Gotta keep the fats cold!

Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Using thumb and forefinger, flute edge of dough. (Fun part!) Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.

Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. (Why would I use dirty coins around something I'm going to eat?? Yeah I know there's the tin foil but still... Wouldn't the penny smell at least blend in somehow?)

Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake 5 to 10 additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. I did the full 10. When I removed the pie plate and baking sheet from the oven, the crust was super puffy, which I don't think is desirable. Next time I'm going to leave the pie weights and foil on and bake for 20 mins - then remove and bake for only 5 mins uncovered.

When the pie shell was baking, I combined the pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan. While that came to a boil, I whisked the cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in a medium bowl.

The truth is that I might have left the saucepan contents at a "sputtering simmer over medium heat" for more than the recommended 5 to 7 minutes. While it simmered, I stirred constantly and mashed the yams against the sides of the pot. The goal was to wait until it was thick and shiny (10 to 15 minutes) but I don't think it ever quiiiite got there...

Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of spatula to press solids through strainer. Rewhisk mixture and transfer to warm prebaked pie shell.

Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300°F and continue baking until edges of pie are set, 20 to 35 minutes longer. I kept it in for the full 35.

This is what I thought the pie was going to look like when I took it out of the oven! Luckily it wasn't quite so devilish! I let it cool overnight, covered. The pie didn't get as much love as these gluten free pumpkin mini cupcakes, with an AMAZINGGG creamy cranberry macadamia goat cheese frosting.

Our potluck was a success!

We played games afterwards... Gotta love team bonding!


HAHA peg leg!


Dollar Scoop Night!

Oh hey there Baskin Robbins...

I love getting ice cream on Tuesday with my roommates! A scoop of Gingerbread Man ice cream for a buck :) quite a festive flavor....

And might I add that the Baskin Robbins attached to Subway smells SSsooOoOooo good. What if they made a mix between a meatball sandwich and sundae on accident??


Berkeley Eats and Sweets

Saturday I went with Katie and Nick to Berkeley to explore College Ave and eat our way over Shattuck.

After a pit-stop in Belmont at Nick's, we drove across the bridge and up the East Bay and in to Berkeley. We parked at the Rockridge BART station (free on weekends!) and began walking towards Cal, stopping in cute shops along the way.

For lunch, we ate at Manpuku (2977 College Ave, Berkeley). We ordered five different rolls, and the total after tax was under $21! Super cheap... and the sushi was good too! We got an imitation crab CA roll, a roll with eel and mango, a shitake mushroom and spinach roll, a spicy white tuna roll, and the fancier one was... um... I forget. But it had lots of avocado on top!

Grabbing hot tea and water
Check out the tuna!

Mixin in the wasabi - a must!

$20 bucks never looked so tasty.
We walked up the street and found this cute candy shop! (Sweet Dreams)
We enjoyed looking at their scocks and tasting fudge!
Next stop was Ici Ice Cream, a must-try in Berkeley's cold dessert arena.
Ici is a self-proclaimed "one of a kind ice cream shop." They make their ice cream, sorbets, candies and cookies in the shop in small batches. They pride themselves on their local/fresh/quality ingredients. (ie. all dairy is certified organic, fruits/nuts/chocolate exceed organic standards, no artificial preservatives, etc). Mary Canales, former pastry chef at Chez Panisse (ONE DAY KATIE!) left her 9-year tenure and opened Ici a little over 4 years ago.
We had our choice of 11 flavors of ice creams/sorbets/sherbets: Pear Ginger Sorbet, Earl Grey, Kirsch Cherry-Fudge Swirl, Vanilla, Lemon Vanilla, Meyer Lemon Sherbert, Chocolate, Brown Sugar-Porcini, Brandied Allspice, Coconut-Rum, Candied Cacao Nib.
Ice cream elves in the back of the shop doing their small-batch thang
The three of us decided to enjoy our picks in Ici's hand rolled, chocolate-filled-tip, cones. Seriously, don't even consider going with a cup. The cones were soooooo good. It tasted like a cookie.
After Nick reassured me Candied Cacao Nib would be tasty, I chose a scoop of that!
I ordered one of their peanut butter bon bons too. I thought the inside was deliciously peanut buttery, but the hand-dipped, bittersweet chocolate casing was a little too rich for my tastes. Gimme that milk chocolate haha...
We went into a lot of shops.... Including this Hat Shop ;)
After we went up and down College Avenue we decided to go to Shattuck area, specifically to check out a highly-recommended cupcakery. Apparently Nick and Katie had been here before and remembered that it was sort of in an off-the-beaten path upstairs building thing. It makes sense when you see it. (1510 Walnut Street Suite G, Berkeley).
Such a cute shop! I like how open it is
Chocolates and Vanillas... standard.
Here's the good stuff. What would you choose between Sweet Potato, Cookies and Cream, and Peanut Butter Cup??!?
I went with PB Cup... of course. That frosting is SOO AMMMAZZINNNGG.
We continued walking around and ended up at The Cheeseboard Pizza Collective (1512 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley). So it has 1647 reviews. But why you might ask?
From their website I learned that The Cheese Board (not the pizza part - yet) was founded on November 6, 1967 by two people as a privately owned business. In an effort to treat customers in a way that they would want to be treated, the owners decided to let all workers having equal power, as well as equal wages (= pay cut for owners). "The Cheese Board began making pizza on Tuesdays for lunch in 1985. Gradually this expanded to Wednesday lunch and Friday evening. In 1986 the Cheese Board acquired the space vacated by Pig by the Tail Charcuterie... This space was used to create and sell pizza three week day lunches (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) and Friday Evening. On Saturdays this space was used as a bread outlet for the main Cheese Board. Some Collective members worked at both sites."
They serve one type of (vegetarian) pizza a day. $2.50/slice or $20/whole pie. QUALITY ingredients.
"In 1990 six members of the Cheese Board Collective formed a committee to seek out new members to form another collective–The Cheese Board Pizza Collective–which would allow the pizza operation to run full time...Pizza eventually brought in new members, expanded its hours and now is open six lunches and five evenings each week. The Cheese Board Pizza Collective is run as its own business, but Pizza and the Cheese Board are under the same financial umbrella and operate under the identical corporate by-laws."
While Katie and Nick went to the bathroom I watched the assembly line. These collective people were fast! One man was handling all the pizza ovens, another was slicing and adding "finishing touches," and a girl was acting as cashier and boxer-upper.
The line might be reeeeally long, but it moves quickly!
Our time in Berkeley was really fun! Usually I avoid Berkeley because I got lost driving there once and the East Bay really confuses me. I hate being lost. However, I'm glad I gave it another shot because after all the walking around we did, I definitely saw spots that I want to come back too... Ici that means you. (And Chez Panisse - for a known-in-advance (?) special occasion OBVIOUSLY).
We headed back to the car and drove south to San Jose. We split for about 45 mins to prepare for a pretty amazing, quickly thrown together, Harry Potter Party (watched the 6th movie in anticipation for the 7th on 11/19!)



Missing them...

Can't wait til April!

WUSSing around San Diego

On Tuesday I arrived in San Diego for a SAS conference called WUSS. I won't go into the specifics of the conference (just imagine lots of coding and semi-colon usage) but it was really fun and I learned a lot! I'm particularly excited about this new concept and want to find ways to incorporate the (more efficient) code into the things I'm working on!

When I arrived in SD I drove to Salon 5th on 5th Avenue in Hillcrest. I purchased a cut/color Groupon from them and I'm glad I got to use it! Note: best shampoo/head massage evvvvver.

Then I drove to USD to pick up Nicole. We decided Mexican good would be a good choice for dinner so we drove a couple of blocks towards Old Town an ate at Casa Guadalajara...

The place has such a fun decor -very Dia de Los Muertos.

And guess what? It was happy hour! Buy a drink and you get access to the (sort of lame) happy hour buffet. Chips, salsa, plain cheese quesadilla triangles, and a fried chicken-y thing.

Not pictured: our yummy yummy yummy seafood enchiladas! Then Nicole and I went to the hotel in Mission Bay. Check it out!

First official work trip! :) I was excited...

I didn't take a lot of iPhone pictures, but above you'll see some food I munched on before the half-day class started. Each day I thought the food was really good! Especially at the networking dinner Wednesday night! (oh hey crab cakes)

I also got to see a lot of San Diego while I was there (besides trips to and from USD haha).

Wednesday night I hung out with Nicole before her dance practice

Blah blah blah... I'll write part 2 later!!