I can't begin to imagine where she gets that quality.
So now we have a fun new trick. I ask her what we should create, and she tells me the ingredients she wants to use, and a general idea of format.
Our first big one was "Pumpkin Slimers." We had a little pumpkin out on the front step, and she really wanted to cook with it. I couldn't convince her that curried pumpkin soup was a good idea, she really wanted "Slimers." While she worked on scooping out the pumpkin, I questioned her about what she had in mind for a Pumpkin Slimer. It took a while to get a description of the format out of her. She said the filling is pumpkin, eggs, sugar, milk, honey and cinnamon, and we should make the crust out of flour, butter, salt, sugar and milk. No problem — that's easy enough to translate into a pie.
"Nooooo, it's not a pie," she tells me.
She described little burritos, and if we had more time that day, I would have figured out a dessert empanada application, but alas. I suggested lining muffin tins with the crust, and we were in business.
For the filling, we roasted the pumpkin. She was skeptical about this step, as that took what felt like an eternity to a four year old. I thought she would lose interest, but we used the time to make the crusts.
She was really insistent on the ingredients — my pie dough recipe does not include milk, but ice water. It turned out fine with milk, though. Who knew?
Grandma Edna's Perfect Pie Crust, with Anna's Modifications:
3 cups flour (I use Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cup shortening (I was able to convince her that this would be better than butter)
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoons ice water (I snuck them in)
2 tablespoons milk
Without overworking, roll out dough on lightly-floured surface. Prick holes throughout (Anna loved this part) and bake at 450º for 10 minutes, until lightly golden.
For the filling, I looked up recipes in my favorite The Bon Appetit Cookbook, and really loved the "Spirited Pumpkin Pie" recipe from it. (I highly recommend this book, whenever I have an ingredient I want to use, I go here first to see if there is some wonderful recipe for it. I've been delighted with every recipe I've tried.)
Here's what Anna & I came up with:
PUMPKIN SLIMER FILLING
1 small pumpkin, roasted & pureed (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs
1 cup whipping cream (I use this in my coffee every morning, so it's always in the house!)
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla extract
Whisk it all together, adding one ingredient at a time (that worked well for Anna), then poured in to the little crusts. Bake at 375º for 20 minutes, then reduce temp to 325º and bake until centers are just set.
I'm so sorry I didn't take any pictures of the Pumpkin Slimers. We took them to my brother and sister-in-law's house for dinner with the fam, and they were a big hit. Anna was so proud, as was I. The real success, though, was the birth of a new era in our cooking together.