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Pumpkin Pie relegated to a narrow "Halloween/Thanksgiving/Winter holidays" window? I think not! Works for me, fall-winter-spring, and breakfast-lunch-dinner.


Pumpkin pie gets a headstart at my house, and always disappears quickly. This particular pie involves a small experiment, a substitution of coconut milk for evaporated milk that I’ve been meaning to try. I love getting people to cook, or cook more, or cook differently, and one issue that can get in the way is: The Stuff. The ingredients, the components, the list of what’s needed  before the cooking can begin, or proceed, or get finished. Whenever I can offer an a), b), or c) choice to cooks, I love to do it.  When I looked in my pantry for the evaporated milk I usually use in pumpkin pie, I noticed unsweetened coconut milk on the same shelf, and decided to find out whether I could subsitute coconut milk for evaporated in this pie. I did so, and was pleased with how it worked. No difference in flavor, no “coconutty!” sensations, as the flavor of coconut milk is a general richness rather than a strong taste. Using coconut milk in place of dairy products means that a given dish can become vegan, and accessible to people who for whom dairy products present problems. (Canned unsweetened coconut milk sometimes separates as it sits on the shelf. If that’s the case, stir with a fork to bring the contents of the can together into a smooth, thick creamy liquid; then measure and use in the recipe.)

Since I’m on the subject of what will work in place of what, let me share a solid-gold source for cooks who like to know what’s what and how ingredients work and can be interchanged. The Food Substitutions Bible 2nd Edition is a superb culinary reference book by my friend David Joachim. I’ve received review copies of both the original version several years back, and the second edition just published this month. It’s a book I count on, both as I cook and as I write about food. For details, check out David’s website here:

Nancie’s Pumpkin Pie

1 unbaked 9-inch piecrust


3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups pumpkin puree

3/4 cup evaporated milk, or unsweetened coconut milk

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup

2 eggs, beaten well


Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a small bowl. Stir with a fork to mix everything well, and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin, evaporated milk or coconut milk, honey or syrup, and eggs. Using a fork, a whisk, or a wooden spoon, stir to combine everything well. Add the sugar mixture and stir until everything comes together into a thick, smooth filling. Pour into the piecrust and bake at 350 degrees F until the pie is puffed around the edges, and the filling is firm and set — a little jiggle in the middle will work. Place on a cooling rack or folded kitchen towel and cool to room temperature.

About the Author
Nancie McDermott is a food writer and cooking teacher, and the author of ten cookbooks. Her passion is researching and celebrating traditional food in its cultural context, and her beloved subjects are two seemingly different places with much in common: the cuisines of Asia and of the American South. Nancie gained her Southern kitchen wisdom as a Piedmont North Carolina native,and her Asian culinary research commenced soon after college, when she was sent to northeastern Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer.

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