World’s Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe

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Well, my little monsters, since thanksgiving is only a few days away, I thought I should share with you a delicious holiday recipe from my good friend and talented chef, James Moore: (www.cooklikejames.com).

 

“There are tons of pumpkin pie recipes, and in November all of the food shows and magazines are filled with both classic and innovative recipes. I think I’ve tried all of them – most started with canned pumpkin, and then the ingredients vary  – some use heavy cream, others swear by evaporated milk, some are heavily spiced with cinnamon and cloves.  I love pumpkin pie, but have never found what I would call the BEST pumpkin pie until recently. I was watching an episode of America’s Test Kitchen (the leader in test perfected recipes) called “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving”. The ingredients and the method were quite original and I couldn’t wait to try it. There are a few extra steps, but well worth it. If you don’t want to make your own crust, you can use a Pillsbury Ready Made crust. Feel free to alter the amount of cinnamon (I used Penzey’s Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon), but the fresh ginger is key to the pie’s flavor”.

 

 

Fool Proof Pie Crust  

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 tablespoon sugar

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cold, cut into two pieces

2 tablespoons vodka, cold

2 tablespoons cold water

Pumpkin Pie Filling

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

3 large eggs plus 2 large yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon is best)

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon table salt

For the Crust:

1. Process 3/4 cup flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but 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 the mixture into a medium bowl.

2. 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.

3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 400 degrees. 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. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. 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.

4. 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. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. 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. Remove pie plate and baking sheet from oven.

6. For the Filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.

7. 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 ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Re-whisk 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 degrees and continue baking until edges of pie are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

 

 

 

 

“Globe trotting with Loree Rodkin” (Part 2): Valentino’s White Fairy Tale Love Ball, Chateau de Wideville, Paris, Summer 2011

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The first leg of the trip starts in Paris; both Loree and myself are here to attend Valentino’s White Fairy Tale Love Ball at his castle: Chateau de Wideville. Loree checks in the Maurice (www.lemeurice.com) on Rue de Rivoli, a stunning 5 star hotel next to the Louvre coined “The Hotels of Kings” and I am staying at my good friend Eric B’s (www.theblinddesigner.com) incredible penthouse apartment, right behind the Louvre, with 4 balconies overlooking all of Paris: from the Louvre to the Seine and Eiffel Tower, to the Île de la Ville…just incredible!!! The irony is that my friend Eric is blind and yet has the most desirable views in Paris. Looking out from the balconies reminds me of one of my favorite Disney movies I was obsessed with when I was a child: The Aristocats. The views of all the Parisian roofs and chimneys, along with all the iconic landmarks, is a site like no other…I want to live here!!!

It’s fashion week in Paris and everyone, who’s anyone, is in town; so the days prior to the big event are a marathon of social events, fashion shows and dinners in all my favorite spots in Paris. Most of my time is spent with my 2 favorite Parisians: Eric B, my host and an incredible interior designer (a considerable achievement considering he is blind!) and the very handsome and talented opera singer: Vincent Simonet. They are both so much fun and terribly naughty at the same time…just what the doctor prescribed! I even spent time with my LA contingent: Wolfgang & Gelila Puck along with the very talented fashion designer Monique Luhllier and her sweet husband Tom Bugbee at one of my favorite bars in Paris at the Hotel Costes…yeah, the one with the crazy, over-the-top, semi-drag-queen host-ess with the most-ess.

 

Balcony #1: Rive Gauche & Eiffel Tower

 

Balcony #2: The Louvre back entrance

 

Balcony #3: Île de la Cité & Notre Dame

 

The day of the event Loree, in white Chanel Couture, my “girl” Tamara Beckwith, in vintage Ralph Lauren, and the lovely Ann Crawford, all share the ride to Valentino’s castle, a 45 minute drive out of Paris.  The invitation called for “White Dress”, so watching Loree, who I’ve never seen wearing anything but black in over 27 years, dressed in white was a treat in itself…she was glowing like a “reluctant angel” at the wrong ball!

When you arrive at Valentino’s castle, your breath stops and your jaw drops at the sheer beauty of his Parisian estate. Valentino, like just a handful around the world, has the most extraordinary taste in everything that is anything! Like his clothes have proven for over 40 years, his talent and impeccable taste go beyond fashion and into interior decoration, art, architecture and antiques, just about anything with a visual value…even the people he surrounds himself with have to be beautiful! I want to come back as Valentino in my next life…sans the orange “faux” tan!

An amazing tent was built next to the castle to host the big event where they created a Russian winter wonderland theme, complete with snow falling from the ceiling, a landscape of snow dusted pine trees, moss-covered floors, dining tables named after a fairy tales with fabulous winter centerpiece decorations, massive carved ice bars serving up russian Vodka…a total visual feast!!!! Of course, this evening wouldn’t be complete without the “AAA” crowd (as you can get a sample just from the invite) and an army of gorgeous super-models well placed around the room! Tamara Beckwith was responsible for organizing our table which included all my favorite people: Omer Karacan and Alasdair Dundas, Loree Rodkin, Giorgio Veroni and the eastern-block power-house: Goga Ashkenazi, right next to me…that in it self was an experience: she is one tough broad to keep up with!!!

The evening was a plethora of “ou la la’s” and “I thought you were married…” and “more Vodka, please”; and just when the party was getting fun and the vodka kicked in and the dancing started, my very own fairy tale god-mother, Loree Rodkin (still glowing in white), got bored…which means: “Wheels up”! The alternative, hitchhiking back from the castle to the city in black tie and smelling of vodka, is highly discouraged.

Before I know it, I’m back in the SUV sobbing (slight exaggeration) on my way back to Paris. The day after I found out that the surprise performance was Brian Ferry, one of my favorite…more sobbing!!!!!!! Even so, for one night I felt like Count Herbert von Kashanov of Beverly Hills attending a Roman Polanski version of Anna Karenina’s Russian Ball.

Turns out it was good I got dragged out early…I hear some people got snowed in!

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Valentino’s Chateau de Wideville, Paris

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Valentino and the stunning Natalia Vodianova

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My two gals: Tamara Beckwith and Loree Rodkin

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Trouble & Trouble: Giorgio Veroni & Alasdair Dundas

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Loree Rodkin and the fabulous Omer Karacan

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Our table was named “Bianca Neve” or Snow White.

Globe Trotting with Loree Rodkin, Summer 2011 (Part 1)

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Besides being one of the coolest and most successful jewelers in the world, Loree Rodkin has been my close friend for almost 27 years! The way we met is right out of a fairy tale book: it was in Monte Carlo at a Gala dinner hosted by, non other than, Prince Ranieri and Grace Kelly at the Palace! It was 1987 and I was in Monaco with Joan who was filming her mini-series for ABC named, of all things, Monte Carlo, while on hiatus from Dynasty.

We were invited to one of Monaco’s most prestigious yearly events: the Monte Carlo Celebrity Tennis Tournament, benefitting the Princess  Grace Foundation for the Arts, and after a week of hilarious tennis matches between celebrities from all around the globe, most of whom had never held a tennis racket before, the event comes to a close with an over-the-top, black tie, sit-down dinner at the Palace.

Just imagine sitting at a grand table in a royal palace with Prince Ranieri & Prince Albert as our hosts, along with Sean Connery, George Hamilton, Rob Lowe, Catherine Oxenberg, Roger Moore, Malcolm McDowell, Robert Wagner, Dudley Moore, Sherry Lansing, Linda Evans, Sophia Loren, just to name a few of the 200 guests; it was magic!!!! I was seated between 2 ladies whom I never met before: Loree Rodkin and Virginia Madsen…it was love at first sight! Loree, or as we lovingly call her: “The Dark One”, was with her then boyfriend Judd Nelson; along with her was this young, stunning blonde, with piercing blue eyes: Virginia Madsen. Loree at that time , was a very successful manager whose clients included: Brad Pitt, Robert Downey Jr., Virginia Madsen and Lauren Holly. I instantly fell in love with Virginia, whom I thought was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen; though, sadly, at that time I was so shy that all I did was blush…and I mean red as a pepper! Regardless, I knew, right there and then, that I would be friends with these 2 ladies forever. That night we all went on to get in serious trouble for stealing Sean Connery’s limo on our way out of the Palace for a quick dash over to the Casino, where one of the funniest man alive: George Hamilton, was waiting for us in the private Black-Jack room, for an all nighter of gambling, cocktails and laughing hysterically…the croupier was NOT amused!

So back to the present! Traveling with Loree is a very unique experience; you see: ” she’s a germaphobe, she only eats sweets, she gets bored very quickly, and she will leave a hotel room at the slightest sign of any type of odor, a hair in the bathroom, an ant in the floor, a speck of dust, bad linens, bad Feng Shui, undesirable location, ugly staff and the list goes on and on…”. So I’ve learned how to maneuver around these small hurdles by not unpacking immediately after entering my hotel room, instead waiting a half an hour until the coast is clear; I choose restaurants with large dessert menus, I try to pick only really fun parties, the ones she won’t want to leave within the first 15 minutes and I carry a bottle of anti-bacterial gel and a can of Raid in my bag in case the unthinkable happens: like running into a spider or touching something dirty, which is usually followed by a resounding: “Eew”.

Nonetheless, traveling with Loree is a total pleasure; we are 2 peas in a pod and seem to like all the same things! She’s hilarious (unless she’s bored), she will stay out till the sun comes up (only if the party is beyond amazing or a young, tattooed super model is flirting with her), she’s generous to a fault, charismatic (in a dark sort of way) and has an endless amount of fabulous stories, involving huge celebrities, that are always a crowd pleaser…or shocker.

We are both “life-lovers”, hopeless romantics and never pass up the opportunity to meet new people, visit new places, wear a new outfit or act like two 16 year olds, always getting into trouble and loving every minute of it!

The next several posts will chronicle a 6 week summer marathon with Loree through Paris, St. Tropez, Cap d’Antibes, Barcelona, Istanbul, Mykonos and London…fasten your seat belts!

Loree and I in Istanbul

 

On our way from St. Tropez to the Hotel du Cap in Cap d’Antibes for lunch…