As I mentioned earlier this week, I’ve been on a lucky, dinner-party streak. For a recent gathering of friends at my house, I had the good fortune of being solicited by McCormick Gourmet. They’re doing something called the McCormick's Dinner Party Chain, which involves encouraging people to dine together. Now, that’s just the kind of thing I’m all for. If you want a chance to win your “dream dinner party,” you can click on their Facebook page, for a chance to, er, spice up your life (sorry, but I couldn’t help it). The company was also kind enough to send me a few gift cards, salad spoons, other kitchen implements, along with a massive, rotating spice rack, to get my own dinner party going.
My first course was an action-packed spring salad (I’ll get to that later in the week) and the entrée was my favorite sage-and-apple pork roast with a white-wine sauce. The dessert was the masterful work of Santa Maria, and that’s where the spice rack came in handy.
She’s perfected a spicy pumpkin-custard recipe that has four distinct advantages. First, it’s amazingly delicious, a smooth and scrumptious mix of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Second, it’s very convenient—she makes it with regular milk, and not the condensed stuff (which may or may not be in the back of one’s cupboard; fresh milk, on the other hand should always be in the fridge). Third, it’s healthy, as desserts go—think of it as a pie without the piecrust. And it can be made with kids (that's Pinta, above, helping her make it).
Of course, the trick when having a dinner party is to smother it with whipped cream. This, of course, may negate that third advantage, but it’ll make everyone happy.
Crowd-Pleasing Pumpkin Custard Dessert
- one 15 oz. can pumpkin
- 2/3 cup 1% milk (or whole or skim)
- 2 eggs
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1/2 t nutmeg
- 1/4 t ginger
- 1/4 t cloves
- 1/4 t salt
- ¼ cup sugar
Combine all the ingredients in a 9-inch pie or tart dish. Or use individual ramekins. This will probably make about twelve, three-inch ramekins.
Bake approximately 30 minutes in oven at 350 degrees. Let cool 10-15 minutes. Garnish with whipped cream.