Placinda – Flaky Pumpkin Pie

A prominent Rabbi picks up an apple, pronounces the appropriate blessing, and bites into it. One of his students also picks up an apple, mutters a blessing, and takes a bite. Then he stops and asks:

“Rabbi, what is the difference between you and me eating an apple? We both say the same blessing, yet I can feel something emanating from you that I cannot define.”

“That, my son, is because you recite the blessing in order to eat, – says the Rabbi, – and I eat in order to have another chance to thank the A-mighty for offering me this beautiful, juicy, and sweet apple.”

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I am sure that, come tomorrow, your tables will be disappearing beneath a multitude of traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Until we came to the U.S., this holiday wasn’t a part of our yearly celebration roster. It was my father, may he rest in peace, who made it our family tradition. Every year, we had to have a turkey with all the fixings, and my father would raise a glass in gratitude. He always concluded the holiday dinner by saying,”G-d bless America for taking us in!”

Last year he was already too weak to go out and to come to my house for dinner, so I cooked the turkey (just the turkey breast, please click here) with my father’s favorite stuffing (please click here) and all the fixings (please click here), packed it all up and brought the entire Thanksgiving celebration to his apartment. This year, there is emptiness not only at the head of the table, but also in my heart, even though I am sure that my father is now in a better place. Still, when I serve Placinda for dessert, I will hear my father’s voice: “G-d bless America for taking us in!”

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Placinda, AKA Placinte, or, in German, Platchinda, is a flaky pie. It could be filled with anything you want, and its closest relative is Mediterranean Baklava, but this particular style, sometimes called Platschenta and filled with pumpkin, comes from Bessarabian Platchta – blanket, and that’s exactly what it looks like. Until we came to the U.S., it held no particular significance to us; we just loved it as a great dessert.

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Take a butternut squash, peel it, and dice it to about the size of a bean. I’ve seen people grating it, but then you know how it is, everybody’s grandmother has the original recipe! You should get about 3 –  3 1/2 cups of it.

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You’ll need a cup of brown sugar, some cinnamon, and a sprinkle of allspice. Add all this to your diced pumpkin and mix well. I do know how to make flaky dough, but phyllo is so easily available!

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Oil a deep baking pan and start lining it with individual sheets of phyllo, making sure they overhang the pan by a couple of inches (about 5 cm) on all sides. Double-line the bottom. Now you have to spread the filling gently – don’t break fragile phyllo sheets! – but evenly and cover it with flaps.

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The blanket comes last – 2 – 3 more phyllo sheets on top – and isn’t it pretty, misted with oil and sprinkled with sumac? Send it to the oven for about 45 – 50 minutes and go do something else. I am sure you still have plenty of things to do!

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Light, fluffy, creamy and crunchy at the same time, here is my father’s favorite Placinda – flaky pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for a wonderful father I had been blessed to have, to learn from and to love for many years. I am thankful for his kindness and his smile, for his sense of humor and his sense of responsibility, for all the memories that will always be with me!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 butternut squash, finely diced (about 3 1/2 – 4 cups)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 8 – 10 phyllo or other flaky dough sheets
  • A sprinkle of sumac

PROCEDURE

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Peel and dice squash into bean-size pieces. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice, mix well. Put aside.
  • Spray deep baking pan with oil. Line with phyllo sheets, making sure they overhang on all sides by 2 inches (5 cm). Double-line bottom of pan.
  • Gently spread filling, cover with flaps, place 2 – 3 phyllo sheets on top. Mist with oil, sprinkle sumac.
  • Bake for 45 – 50 minutes until light golden. Cool and cut in pan.

Happy Thanksgiving – enjoy!

 

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77 Comments Add yours

  1. My condolences on the loss of your father, Dolly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, dear friend! I am sorry to wax emotional, but then the whole reason for me to start this blog was to cope with the loss of my father. I am finding the strength to live through every holiday of this year, to cook, to write, and to cherish my memories!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. NO! Don’t apologize!! You need to honor your loved ones, and you’re doing that!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I am generally not inclined to wear my feelings on my sleeve, so to speak.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Thank you, friend! Hugs right back to you!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. george-b says:

    This is “plăcintă de dovleac” 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, that’s what it is, but my computer does not have all the booheekies on top of letters. In Yiddish, T very often became D.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. george-b says:

        I never understood why the keyboard on computers both desktops and laptops do not have the features of the mobile, android keyboard…for all the characters, and special phonems. The only way is to use google translate, or for each time you write, to leatn by heart the special commends…too hard, too inconvenient, and….archaic! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. But Google translate is an idiot! I generally assume that those who know the special characters, will understand, and those who don’t – it won’t help them anyway.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. lilyandardbeg says:

        I can’t be bothered to use them (diacritics) unless it’s for professional reasons 😉 And when I use 2 languages on my phone simultaneously I send funny texts…

        Liked by 2 people

      4. That’s why I don’t use any language but English on my phone, and I am constantly amazed at my son who switches back and forth effortlessly.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. george-b says:

        🙂 🙂 🙂 true, but what about Japaneze, Chinese and Korean. What about Greek or Russian? I used to avoid internet posts generated by idioms I didn’t understand….but not anymore: I can translate everything and avoid the undisirable…so the benefit is compounded: fast best translation and from any kind of written idiom…extraordinary I would say!

        Liked by 2 people

      6. This is a challenge, and I love challenges! Should I offer something in Russian or Ukrainian and see how Mr Google will handle it?

        Liked by 2 people

      7. george-b says:

        Sure, why not…

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Here goes, from a contemporary author Darya Dontsova: Познакомишься с кучей потрясающих людей, с творческими личностями, вынырнешь из болота нудных семейных обязанностей.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. lilyandardbeg says:

        You can download an app (basically a keyboard with any diacritical marks) -but it takes a bit of getting used to (and you can’t look at the physical keyboard or you’ll get confused)- but people generally understand anyway.
        Software used for translations (any language, I think) has the ‘on screen keyboard’ option as well.
        But just to warn you:some people find it pretentious when you use the correct diacritical marks for the foreign word whilst using another language 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      10. Alex, I don’t even want to download Russian and Ukrainian keyboards; I use translit.ru when I need to. It is way too confusing! As to the machine translation software, as per my son (the expert!), it is designed to translate the most common functional language, without any creativity and/or sophistication involved. My son brought me a little book called “Chinglish” from China, full of delightful samples of Google Translate gems.

        Liked by 2 people

      11. lilyandardbeg says:

        I love ‘failed translations’-especially the Chinese ones 🙂 We need laughter in life (especially if we want to live long and happy lives) 🙂 And the software, even the most sophisticated, is just for forms (to save time)…no self-respecting interpreter/translator would rely on anything but their brain 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      12. You are making an assumption here; you realize that, right?

        Liked by 2 people

      13. lilyandardbeg says:

        🙂 yep

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Hope you will all enjoy a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. annwjwhite says:

    I lost my father in 95 and still miss his voice. Condolences and a hug.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! A hug right back to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. lilyandardbeg says:

    It’s a wonderful post. Made me a bit sad, but also – it’s good that your Father is present here, even after he’s gone. He is in your blog and possibly – in everything you do. Maybe now it’s good to be thankful for the time you were blessed enough to have had together. x

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s what I am trying to do, and I thank you for understanding.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. lilyandardbeg says:

        I do think about your Father sometimes (when I started following your blog I read the ‘about’ page and I found it strangely appealing) – our parents live in us, we’re their legacy (so it’s kind of fair not to be horrible, even if just for their sake)

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I am nothing like my father but strangely enough, my son is, in many ways. However, it was my mother, may she rest in peace, who was a powerhouse, and my son got that quality too, from her, so in effect, he got the best of both!

        Liked by 3 people

  6. lilyandardbeg says:

    I’ve had a go at the text by Darya Dontsova (I’ve never read anything by her, I haven’t checked the context either) as I do like challenges (just remember my Russian is very, very bad) ‘you’ll meet amazing people, artistic personalities, you’ll get away from mundane domestic chores’
    I haven’t used anything but my very rusty Russian and checked ‘потрясающих’ in my old dictionary. I don’t think literal translations work (thus no ‘mud’ in mine). I don’t know if the register is right (it seems informal, but it’s just a sentence-and not really a language I know well enough) -I’m curious to know what you think, though. And don’t worry if it’s really bad, I won’t get offended 🙂 Just couldn’t resist!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s really good, but it’s the second part that comes out funny in Google translate. You have expressed the gist of it, but there is a metaphor which is translatable into English (it’s not “mud”) that creates an image. I won’t tell you what it is because the challenge is for George, so let’s see what he comes up with! Darya Dontsova is, probably, the most famous of the contemporary ironic mystery genre authors. It’s not just “light reading” – it’s featherweight. I chose this text purposely, as it is in modern Russian but without slang. The first part of the sentence is fairly easy, but Google manages to mangle even that. Metaphors and other literary devices, though, always come out ridiculous in machine translation.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. lilyandardbeg says:

        I couldn’t stop myself…I had to try 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Did you do Google as well? Did you have a good laugh?

        Like

      3. lilyandardbeg says:

        I did-well, it’s not that bad…better than nothing I guess (though really confusing, that’s why I didn’t want to use it before I used my-very poor-Russian).

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Your not-so-poor Russian is very good. The first part of your translation for better than Google, grammatically, even though it should’ve been easy for Google as well. In the second part, though, once you realize that болотo is “swamp” rather than “mud,” you get the metaphor “surface from a swamp of dreary household chores.” It’s not the most original metaphor in the world in any language but obviously, Google is not designed to convey images.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. lilyandardbeg says:

        Ah-see, without the context (I don’t know the book) I assumed that the register was rather informal (thus I didn’t want anything with a more formal idiomatic phrase). My Russian is poor, when I speak it I sound funny -and can’t find the words when I need them (they all come later). But I try to read a bit in Russian now 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Believe me, you haven’t lost anything by not knowing the context. In terms of language acquisition and usage, reading improves writing fluency, but does very little for speaking. Speaking, in turn, is connected to listening and, of course, practice in a target linguistic environment. If I am repeating what you already know, I apologize. Most of this is Stephen Krashen’s theory “Natural Order of Language Acquisition.”

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Such a great recipe and loving tribute to your father. My mother in law LOVED Thanksgiving. She passed away the Sunday after, and we are convinced that she waited until after the holiday before leaving this world.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is so special, and a great memory!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. After I read your story I started to write about my mother in law and this holiday. It was her favorite time of year,

        Liked by 2 people

      2. You write very well, whether it’s stories or recipes, and I do miss your posts.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Thank you. I miss writing them too. I keep hoping things will settle down.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. With H-shem’s help, things usually do settle down eventually.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. True. Now I am in a new battle with the school district. I finally hired a parent advocate. I feel like the mother from gehenom.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I think we had this conversation already: you are the kind of a parent every conscious administrator dreams of, but not every administrator is conscious! Parent advocates usually know how to approach authorities. I’ve worked with a couple of them. Good move!

        Liked by 2 people

      7. I am very glad I finally decided to do this. She was such a help and I find that school districts listen better when it is not the actual parent.

        Liked by 2 people

      8. True, and I am glad You found a good one.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Yes. I usually try to go as far as I can on my own. But, now that my husband is also not well, I think it is time to outsource. Plus, Raizel is “almost normal.” Getting her needs met is trickier that Yaffa’s. It is more subtle.

        Liked by 2 people

      10. Refuah Sheleima to your husband! I’ve always suspected this “almost normal” definition, and I am really glad you have a trustworthy advocate to fight for you.

        Liked by 2 people

      11. Thanksgiving has given me some inspiration.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. That’s a great start already!

        Liked by 1 person

      13. I am writing now and having fun. But now, I have to put Yaffa to bed.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Good night, Yaffa! Good luck writing!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Tali says:

    Sounds so easy to make and delicious. I like the addition of the sumac. It’s an interesting.twist. A must try for me. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. randyjw says:

    Aw. Sad post. Thanksgiving is a difficult holiday without family, especially when it was celebrated previously together. This year seemed even more so, for some reason.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My husband has been saying for years that I go crazy before every holiday because I miss a large extended family around the table. This year, every holiday is especially difficult, but I am trying to cope by making all my father’s favorite dishes and then posting them. I am already psyching myself for Chanukkah. Thank you for understanding!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. randyjw says:

    I love Chanukah and Sukkot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stay tuned for some delicious recipes!

      Like

  11. If this is the pumpkin pie you suggested I take a look at, you were not kidding about different! It looks and sounds divine. I have never used sumac so I can’t even imagine it’s taste, smell, or what it would add to the pie, but the recipe makes me wonder about gluten and phylo, since I would like to try it.

    It has been years since I have enjoyed a Thanksgiving surrounded by friends and family as well, so my heart hurt for both of us as I read the introductory story.

    G-d bless America, indeed – and I hope America will continue to bless immigrants, despite the hate-mongering actions of the man who would be king. If you need another repost, the timing for this – as is – couldn’t be better. We need to put a human face on this “secure the borders” issue as often as possible right now, lest his fear infect the country.

    I had to laugh as I read through the comments when I got to the “translation” section. I’m always interested in what others pick up and comment upon in posts. It depends on where our thoughts have been otherwise, evidenced by my suggestion of a repost.

    On another note: I dated a man for several years and got to know his parents. Both were immigrants. His mother was from a wealthy family in Puerto Rico who wouldn’t approve her marriage, since his father was from Russia. They came here to be together.

    HE was the emotional one in that family – his sleeves were often wet from tears when he was touched. The mother had a will of iron and, like you, cooked instead. Her flan was the stuff of angels – and I believe she decided I was a keeper when I jumped for joy the first time I saw it on the table – passing up the chocolate cake she made as well!
    xx,
    mgh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s it, and sumac has a light lemony taste and adds a touch of color. If you could imagine evaporated and powdered pomegranate juice, it’s close. I have not seen GF phyllo dough, although I’ve seen recipes where paper-thin GF crepes are made that are used for that purpose. Since we did not have ready-made phyllo dough in Russia, I did learn to make flaky dough, but I have never tried to make it GF. There is so little dough in each slice of Placinda that the amount of gluten is negligible, unless one is allergic or has celiac disease.
      I might reblog it, thank you for the suggestion. I’ve been reblogging, rather than creating original posts too much, I feel, and that’s because I’ve been quite busy with student papers this semester – more than usual.
      I love flan; it is heavenly, but I have not been able to find a non-dairy alternative. The search continues, though!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Food sensitivities are often the mother of invention! I am cognitively sensitive to milk, so must avoid it when possible as well. I reserve it for recipes that would be difficult or expensive to make without it.

        I use the GF crepe solution frequently – but they are not flaky – so I doubt it would be the same pie with that alternative.

        I no longer cook from books much, but I did purchase several from an author with celiac kids and a tight budget, Nicole Hunn’s Gluten Free on a Shoestring series. She posts many of the same recipes online, so I knew that I wanted them in a form that didn’t require computer, printer or binder.

        I have just started reposting older articles – and the “audience” seems completely new and appreciative. So I wouldn’t worry about your reblogs. Many won’t have seen them – and few have time to dig through archives. Although I always provide many links to related content on my site, VERY few click them.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I wish my pancreas were “cognitively sensitive” to milk… You have a point about reposting; I’ll have to think about it. It still feels like cheating, though, or, perhaps, self-cheating? I have several recipes to post but no time to work on those posts. As to links to related content, I think food blogs are somewhat different in that in order to use something in a recipe, you need to use the link to see how that “something” is made. I might be wrong – what do I know?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No, I believe you are right. People are more likely to be eager for more recipes than more information. 🙂

        What I call “cognitive allergies” are an interesting phenomenon – not allergies in the conventional sense, they exacerbate cognitive challenges (which has fanned the “defined diets” controversies since symptoms do often abate when certain foods are removed from the diet).

        Never much of a milk drinker before, attempting to get enough calcium by drinking three glasses a day is what led to my ADD diagnosis at 38. It rendered me practically useless! I could no longer pretend that something was NOT very different about my brain. Even now I must watch carefully.

        Gluten was actually easier to give up – after several months, my intestines complained when I “cheated.” Now that it has been several years, I can tolerate a bit – but since my body has shown me it is not good for me (and I’ve listened to the science experts in the field), it’s easier to choose to eat another way. Perhaps the same for you?

        Still, I can’t seem to allow ice cream leave my life forever – I’m simply very careful about when I indulge. I’m fuzzy for a few days afterwards.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I have seen a correlation between diary products and attention deficit, and I have observed a positive effect when we remove dairy. products from lunch menu, so this comes as no surprise. I don’t think it is the same with a pancreatic reaction, though.
        I have never been a big fan of ice cream, and I actually find non-dairy ice cream much more to my taste. Have you tried those?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. No, your reason to avoid it is much more severe.

        A relatively recent book “The Devil in the Milk” by Dr. Thomas Cowan explains how the A1 – A2 factor may well be part of either of our problems with milk. You would probably find it as fascinating as I did, in any case. Well supported, btw, with a great many references. It also goes into the political/economic history of how it happened that much of America’s milk supply comes from “the wrong kind of cows” and what it would take to upgrade the milk that most people believe is actually good for them.

        I have tried to get used to many of the frozen yogurts, which don’t seem to bother me nearly as much, but the ones I seem to like best have a great deal of added sugar, which I try to avoid as well.

        Still, my taste buds yearn for the full-fat original versions of vanilla and coffee, and sometimes I indulge them.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Thank you for the reference to Dr Cowan’s book; I’ll definitely look into it. If your taste buds want to have a good time once in a while, I believe you really should give them a chance.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I do get “off the wagon” sometimes, when I find really good juicy pears at the farm market. Then my husband slices them for me paper thin – that’s his specialty! – and I poach them in Cointreau or Sambuca, and then bake some Brie on top. Pure decadence, and I love it!

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Poached pears are one of my very favorite desserts! I’ve never tried them your way, but I will now.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I will definitely keep this in mind for Thanksgiving which, by the way, is my favorite holiday. 🙂 My grandmother’s palacsinta though were large, thin pancakes made one at a time, then eaten w/ sugar. She would stand over the stove cooking and serving them hot for the rest of us. Only after we’d had our fill, would she sit down to eat. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, so she just made the layers, and you guys gobbled them up without any filling – we did that too, but ate them with jam, not sugar. Our version is closer to Romanian, though, rather than Hungarian.

      Like

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