I’m sure I told Tony we were having quiche for dinner. Maybe not. Otherwise why would he shrug when I asked how it liked it: “It’s not sweet enough,” he said. “Your apple pie is better.”
It’s was quiche, for heaven’s sake, not dessert! And it was darn good. I rate it among my all-time favorite quiches, although that may be the pumpkin talking. Yes, I had to do something with all that pumpkin I lugged home last week. In fact, I bought two more — an orange Hubbard and another Cinderella — so I’ll be eating pumpkin all fall.
My favorite way of eating it now is to roast half-inch-thick slices until brown on the bottom and soft all through. I usually eat it as a side dish or straight from the fridge as a snack.
Last week as I pondered quiche for dinner, my eyes fell on the plate of roasted pumpkin and carton of mushrooms in the refrigerator. Why, yes, those would do nicely. I rolled out the pie dough and sauteed mushrooms with sherry while the shell baked. I lined the baked shell with a layer of roasted pumpkin slices, then mushrooms, then shredded Gruyere cheese. Eggs beaten with milk and a pinch of nutmeg were poured over all.
Let me tell you, the combination of pumpkin, mushrooms, sherry and nutmeg may be good enough to get me through the second — or is is third? — wave of Covid. The quiche was comforting, filling and everything I need right now. Maybe you, too.
I saved a few calories with nonfat milk, and it didn’t ruin the texture or flavor. I used the largest pie plate I have, a 10-inch deep-dish Fiesta. If you don’t have one, use a deep-dish 9-incher, adjusting the around of pumpkin and mushrooms to fit. Keep an eye on it and remove it from the oven when the center no longer wiggles when gently shaken.
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. raw pumpkin, seeds and strings removed
Olive oil spray
2 tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
3 tbsp. dry sherry
1 cup milk (skim, 2 percent or full-fat)
Pinch of fresh-grated nutmeg
1 9- or 10-inch deep-dish, blind-baked pie shell (see note)
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere or other Swiss cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the tough skin of the pumpkin with a sharp vegetable peeler, and cut the meat into half-inch-thick slices. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet sprayed with olive oil spray (or lightly brushed with oil). Spray or brush the top of the squash pieces with olive oil. Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, until squash is tender and undersides are brown. Set aside.
Heat a wide, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl in the 2 tablespoons olive oil. When hot, add mushrooms and sauté until softened (about halfway done). Add onion and cook until limp, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook a minute longer. Add sherry and stir and cook until liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and nutmeg; set aside.
Arrange a single layer of pumpkin slices in the bottom of the baked pie shell. Scatter mushrooms evenly over the squash. Sprinkle cheese over the mushrooms. Pour the egg, milk mixture over all.
Bake in the lower middle rack of the oven for about 20 minutes, until the center is set when the quiche is gently shaken. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges. Makes 6 servings.
Note: To pre-bake (blind bake) the pie shell, roll and fit the pastry into the pie dish as usual, crimping the edges. Prick all over with a fork. Line with foil (bottom and sides) and weight with 1 cup dry beans or pie weights. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights. Bake 5 minutes longer. Cool.
What I cooked last week:
Fresh cream of tomato soup with thyme; roasted sliced pumpkin; pumpkin and mushroom quiche; Japanese pork curry with basmati rice (with Tony); bacon and tomato sandwiches with pesto; Cuban sour orange pork pot roast with olives, cubed potatoes and carrots; more roast pumpkin.
What I carried out:
Gyros and onion rings from Papa Gyros in the Wallhaven area of Akron (pretty good); a Coney dog and diet root beer from B&K Root Beer in Cuyahoga Falls; an egg roll, fried cheese wontons and pork chow fun (a stir fry with wide noodles) from China Star in Akron.
Your pumpkin battle brought a smile to my face! I have been there before. But when it works, it is more than worth the travails. I’m told it has everything to do with the type of pumpkin.
When you are ready to experiment with Thai curries, I highly recommend two resources: (1) recipes and technique from fun cooking vids at www.HotThaiKitchen.com; and (2) spices, veggies, pastes, etc from Paing Family Asian Groceries at 986 Brown St in Akron.
Paing Family specializes in groceries for the large Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Thai communities in Akron. It is a complete source for specialty foods for that part of Southeast Asia. You will find those special Thai pumpkins there.
I’ve been having great fun lately grinding Thai curry pastes and cooking up classic Thai dishes. With these two resources, every dish (so far) tastes as good as it did in Bangkok!
I want to come to dinner at your house! Thanks for telling me about Paing Family Asian Groceries. I will visit the next time I’m downtown.
From Noreen C.:
Your pumpkin disaster reminded me of mine. When my kids were young, my husband took the kids to my in-laws’ for an entire glorious day. Silly me, instead of putting my feet up and opening a book, I decided I’d try my hand at making an authentic gingerbread house. I had been inspired by the Akron Tree Festival.
Well, several hours later, with the kitchen in a total mess, I had several pieces of unusable gingerbread. They were odd-shaped and terribly warped. I could have cried over my loss of time and the great clean up that needed to be done. Never again.
Hey, the kids are grown and we retirees have nothing but time on our hands during this pandemic. Maybe it’s time to try again. I’ve been thinking about it.
I wonder if your problem with the stuffed custard pumpkin was due to using a regular pumpkin instead of a kabocha-type pumpkin also commonly referred to as squash in many parts of the world.
Kabocha squash/pumpkins are available in our Asian markets this time of year as well as our grocery stores and our local farms although the grocery stores and farms label them as squash.
I’m also able to buy pie pumpkins which are much smaller than normal pumpkins. They also have a sweeter-tasting flesh than regular pumpkins and usually cost around 2 for $5 or $3 each.
I either steam or roast my pie pumpkins then mash roughly or puree, then freeze so I’ll have a nice supply of filling for pies and other baking/cooking projects that call for pumpkin, in my freezer.
Honestly. If I were you, and if you’re able to find a smaller-sized kabocha pumpkin/squash in one of your Asian markets which would most likely be the closest in taste to the smallish green pumpkin/squash Thai street vendors use, I’d say, give your pumpkin and coconut custard attempt another go.
Kabochas are the squash used in the photos I’ve seen of the dessert. I’m not crazy about the texture, though, and being naturally contrary, decided to use a different variety. Obviously, that was a mistake.