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.”

Thanks image.png

I am sure that tomorrow your tables will be disappearing beneath a multitude of traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Until we came to the U.S., this holiday had not been 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!”

Four years ago 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. Today, 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 pumpkincomes 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!

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!

50 Comments Add yours

    1. Thank you so much, for reblogging, dear Edward.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. SAM VOELKER says:

    Very good allegory —and recipes~!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, dear Sam, but it’s not an allegory – it’s a true anecdote. I didn’t want to mention the name of the Rabbi because the wide readership is not familiar with it. In the Jewish circles, however, the Kotzker Rebbe is famous for his sense of humor and many pithy sayings.
      Best wishes to you and your family for a very happy Thanksgiving!

      Like

      1. SAM VOELKER says:

        Thanks for the rest of the story, this makes it that much better~!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am pleased you like it, Sam.

        Like

  2. The story is as teaching as always, Dolly! Thank you! This Platchinda is very new to me, but wonderful. As its like Baklava its definitely mine.Lol Thank you very much, and celebrate a great Thanksgiving! Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am also a great baklava fan, Michael, but it is so un-dietetic! Contrary to placinda, which is totally dietetic because I now make it with sugar substitute so my husband can have it,
      Thank you for your kind wishes, dear friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thats true, Dolly! With one little piece of baklava, i am feeling to do extra workout. Will try to make placinda. Sounds great, and definitely better for health.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Just took mine out of the oven. Let me know how your turns out.
        Have a wonderful day, dear friend!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Will try to get a good result. Thank you, Dolly!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Good luck, Michael!

        Like

  3. ShiraDest says:

    “…I eat in order to have another chance to thank the A-mighty for offering me this…”
    🙂
    Nice! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is attributed to the Kotzker Rebbe who was famous for his sense of humor and wit.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. CarolCooks2 says:

    I love baklava and now this… it sounds wonderful dear Dolly and a dish which brings happy memories of times past is, even more, delicious…Happy Thanksgiving xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Carol!

      Like

  5. A lovely story about the difference. I understand your feelings about your late father

    Like

    1. Thank you so much, Derrick. Your empathy is truly appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, GP!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. GP Cox says:

        Thank you so much, Dolly!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. -Eugenia says:

    Thank you for sharing your lovely story, Dolly! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, dear Eugenia!
      Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving to you and yours!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Same to you, darling!

      Like

  7. Timelesslady says:

    It looks delicious. I would love to try it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear friend; I am so glad you like it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Timelesslady says:

        When I was out shopping I bought a butternutsquash/pumpkin, and some Meyer Lemons. I would have to order the sumac, unless I can find it somewhere, and after reading about the taste thought the lemon would be a good substitute if I grated the peel into zest. I hope to try this soon. I love desserts that are good for you too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I sprinkled sumac there mainly for decoration purposes, and in terms of taste, lemon zest should do the job.
        Good luck making it, darling, and please let me know how it turns out!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Timelesslady says:

        I will!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    L’CHAIM! DELICIOUSLY “SQUASHED”!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging, Jonathan! Love your sense of humor.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m sorry for your loss, but what a sweet memory you have of your father. I’m grateful for people like you coming to America and enriching us with your cultural traditions. A great example is this interesting twist on pumpkin pie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thank you, Jeff, for your lovely comment and for your understanding and compassion.

      Like

    1. Thank you so much, dear Carolyn!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Rupali says:

    Emotionally beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Rupali!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on koolkosherkitchen and commented:

    With Thanksgiving a few days away and Chanukkah coming right after it, I will be repeating both series of recipes, one by one.
    Happy Thanksgiving, Beautiful People!

    Like

    1. Thank you, dear friend, but I am wondering why you are calling it a strudel? In my book, strudel is rolled, rather than layered.

      Like

      1. A_Boleyn says:

        It actually reminds me of the Romanian placinta which can be rolled or flat like baklava or burek. I guess I use the term placinta and strudel interchangeably. They’re made with fresh dough unlike baklava which is made with the dry/phyllo dough. 🙂

        https://aboleyn01.wordpress.com/2016/03/12/placinta-strudel-redux/

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you so much for the link! We call those ‘vertuta’ (rolled). Bessarabian / Moldavian placinta is always flat, and that’s where we, in Odessa, got it from. I suppose I got lazy un America – I use phyllo dough for all of these.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. A_Boleyn says:

        My mom made fresh phyllo for her placinta/strudel but for baklava she bought the dried phyllo. I still don’t have the hang of the fresh dough but every few years since she passed, I give it an attempt. 🙂

        There are so many things you can make with phyllo. This was one I copied from a local Greek restaurant.

        https://a-boleyn.livejournal.com/145469.html

        Liked by 1 person

      4. This is lovely, thank you for the link. As you would imagine, in Russia we didn’t have ready-made frozen phyllo dough, or any other dough for that matter. So I have learned to make it, but as I said, just got too lazy in America.

        Like

  12. purpleslob says:

    May his memory be a blessing for ever! I’m so tankful we took you in as well!! ❤

    Like

    1. Amen! Love you right back, my dear purple person! 😻

      Like

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