There were three generations of women in Amanda Morris’ kitchen for her Guest Food Editor shoot. Her mom, Emily Buskirk, was there in person. Her daughter, Ansley, 7, was in school, but nonetheless present in spirit. As Morris tells it, “I love to bake and Ansley loves to help. As soon as she could walk, when I went into the kitchen, she would go get her apron and come to help.”
It’s a reasonable assumption that Morris behaved similarly as a youngster. Buskirk was an early “foodie.” Among other things, she did a seminar with Martha Stewart in the early 1980s, when the now-famous titan of the home arts was a Connecticut caterer. As well, Buskirk was cooking fresh-and-healthy long before it was fashionable.
“When I would take a dish to a potluck,” she says, “it would often come home uneaten. It was ‘too healthy.’”
Morris comes by her food enthusiasm naturally — almost genetically. A 1996 graduate of Auburn University who worked in development for her high school alma mater, St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, in Bradenton, she is now a stay-at-home mom of Ansley and Matthew, 3. She prepares a family dinner almost nightly and describes herself as “one of the few in my generation who thinks that cooking is more than picking up a rotisserie chicken from Publix.”
Morris’ friends know her as “the cake queen” and for sugar cookies, both beautifully decorated for every occasion. Her baking skill even played a role in her romance with Rob Morris, now her husband and the owner of fleet management company Certified Fleet Services.
“I showed up at his door with a six-pack of beer and a fudge pie,” she says.
Yet another proof of the “Settlement Cookbook” theorem: “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”
For Thanksgiving, Morris will prepare traditional dishes, including this pumpkin chiffon pie recipe that she got from her mother. It is built on a streusel-enhanced, store-bought crust and decorated with leaf shapes cut from pastry scraps and brushed with egg wash.
Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with Praline Crust
For the crust
1 refrigerated pie crust
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
For the filling (adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (1 tablespoon)
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin (from a 15-ounce can) or fresh pumpkin puree
3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Process pecans and brown sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add butter, and process until combined. Press firmly into bottom only of the piecrust. Place on a baking sheet, and bake until darkened and firm, 11 to 13 minutes. Let cool five minutes.
2. Make the filling: Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a bowl. Let stand until softened, about five minutes.
3. Combine pumpkin, egg yolks, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, milk, salt and spices in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until mixture begins to thicken, about eight minutes. Do not boil. Remove from heat. Stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Let cool completely.
4. Beat egg whites with a mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Whisk one-third of beaten egg whites into cooled pumpkin mixture. Gently fold in remaining whites. (Filling can be refrigerated and covered overnight.) Spoon into pie shell, and refrigerate for at least one hour (may also be frozen, covered up to a month). Garnish with freshly whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.
For the crust:
1 refrigerated pie crust, rolled out and fit into 9-inch pie plate
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (or 1 cup graham cracker crumbs and no ginger snap crumbs)
1/2 cup ginger snap crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients and press into piecrust. Place pie plate onto baking sheet and bake for five minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
For the filling:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate morsels, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Stir in melted chocolate. Stir in vanilla and then flour. Fold in pecans, if using. Pour into prepared piecrust, place on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
Amanda Morris shares "the family secret" to making an ordinary store bought pie crust anything but ordinary. To see the video, click here.