Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm Drowning in Turkeys

So, it's Thanksgiving and work is just a tad bit busy.  And by busy I mean 1,000 pounds of stuffing and turkeys EVERYWHERE. I don't think I'm even going to want to look at a turkey for my own Thanksgiving meal.  Luckily I managed to make 2 delicious bourbon pecan pies (I doubled the recipe) to bring to work and share with my wonderful, hard working co-workers.  Actually, this is the second batch of pecan pies I  made as the first was not up to snuff and I had to give it another go.  But anyway, if you're in the market for a delicious, sweet, gooey, boozy, pecany pie, then search no more.  End of story.

Bourbon Pecan Pie
1 9" pie shell, unbaked
4 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 Tb. butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tb. bourbon
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. pecans (I prefer them whole, but you can chop them if  you like)

Put a sheet pan in the oven and pre-heat to 400 degrees.
Whisk eggs until thoroughly mixed.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except pecans, and mix completely.  Stir in the pecans.  Pour the mixture into the pie shell  and place on the hot sheet pan in the oven.  Reduce the heat to 350 degrees.  Bake until the pie is set and lightly puffed, about 40 minutes.  Let cool completely.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My New Favorite Pumpkin Pie

I've always loved pumpkin pie, or pumpkin anything, for that matter.  In fact, I've always lamented the fact that pumpkin is a seasonal item when I'd like to enjoy it year around.  I've never felt the need to stray from the classic recipe with canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar and spices.  But when I saw this recipe for Pumpkin Cream Pie on the Martha Stewart website, my heart skipped a beat.  Gingersnap crust, pumpkin custard and a mountain of fluffy whipped cream...what more do I need??!!  I think this will be my new go-to pumpkin pie!

A sprinkle of nutmeg on top of the whipped cream is perfect.

I'm sensing a new Thanksgiving tradition!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Can't Get Enough Sweet Potato

Just because I'm obsessed with sweet potatoes right now...

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

If there is anything I love more than sweet potato pie, it's pecan pie!  Now I can enjoy two loves together in one delicious pie.  This is an Emeril Lagasse recipe you can find on the Food Network website.  I think it would make a unique addition to any Thanksgiving celebration.  Be sure to use a 10" pie pan, or else you won't be able to fit all the gooey, sweet pecan filling on the top!

You had me at sweet potato pecan...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Apples and cheddar, oh my!

Although I've never been the biggest fan of apple pie, I remember when I was a child hearing about pairing it with cheddar cheese and even then I was intrigued.  I couldn't help but put a thick slice of cheese on my pie and pop it into the microwave until it was gooey and dripping down the sweet apples.  What could really be better than melty, cheesy goodness ON TOP of your dessert?!  Come on, it's a no brainer!

When it comes to making apple pie I think I resist going with traditional, all-American apple pie.  Remember my cranberry-apple crumble pie?  I just don't want to make a plain old apple pie because I kinda couldn't care less about them.  So I thought an apple pie with a cheddar crust would be just traditional enough, with just enough of a recipe twist to keep me interested.  I found this recipe for Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust on the Gourmet website.  The smell of the baking cheddar dough is like Goldfish crackers, but then you can smell the sweet apples and cinnamon and it all just works!  I love the contrast between the sharp, savory flavor of the dough and the sweet, juicy apples.  I used Honeycrisp, which is one of my favorites.   They were so juicy, in fact, that my filling probably could have used an extra tablespoon of  flour.  But the dough was so sturdy and crisp due it didn't get soggy, even the next day.

If you're like me and looking for something just a little different, I highly recommend this pie.  Nearly no extra effort if involved, and it makes apple pie just a little more special.

Butter, shortening and sharp cheddar in the crust.
Form the dough into two disks and put in the refrigerator.
Pile in the apples!  
The finished pie, crust flecked with cheese!
Hello, delicious!
Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb extra-sharp cheddar (preferably white), coarsely grated (2 1/2 cups)
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening (trans-fat-free), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 lb Gala apples (3 medium)
1 1/2 lb Granny Smith apples (3 medium)
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

Make the crust:
Stir together flour, salt, and cheese in a large bowl (or pulse in a food processor). Add butter and shortening and blend with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Drizzle 6 Tbsp ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful: If dough doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, 1 Tbsp at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated. Do not overwork dough or pastry will be tough.
Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide in half, then form each half into a 5-inch disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

The the filling:
Put a foil-lined large baking sheet in middle of oven and preheat oven to 450°F.
Peel and core apples, then slice 1/4 inch thick. Toss apples with sugar, flour, lemon juice, and salt until evenly coated.
Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining disk chilled) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Roll out remaining piece of dough into an 11-inch round.
Transfer filling to shell. Dot with butter, then cover with pastry round. Trim edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges together to seal, then fold under. Lightly brush top crust with milk, then cut 5 (1-inch-long) vents.
Bake on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 375°F and bake until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes more. Cool to warm or room temperature, 2 to 3 hours.

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Little Sweet Potato

Sweet potato pie is one of those things I absolutely adore, but don't often have.  Thanksgiving is usually all about the pumpkin and pecan pie, poor sweet potato is usually not given a second thought by most folks.    Whenever I've eaten sweet potato pie in the past, I always find myself wondering why the hell I don't make/eat it more often.  When thinking about Fall pies I could make for the blog, I knew sweet potato had to be on the roster, but I wanted something a little different.  For many people, myself included, sweet potatoes served with marshmallows is forever entwined with Thanksgiving.  I wanted a pie reminiscent of that iconic combination.  I have seen recipes for sweet potato pie topped with marshmallows and broiled, but I wanted to elevate the level just a touch, so I went with Italian meringue.  This type of meringue is made by whipping a hot sugar syrup into the egg whites, resulting in a fluffy, shiny, delicious form of heaven in a pie topping.  Coincidentally, when you make home made marshmallows, you start with an Italian meringue.  So there you have it, pie full of sweet potato flavor, accented simply with orange zest and vanilla and crowned with a beautiful, snowy meringue.  My little sweet potato is all grown up, and delicious!

Sweet Potato Pie with Italian Meringue
1 9" pie shell, unbaked
1 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potato (I roasted mine)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 whole egg
3 egg yolks, save whites for the meringue
Juice and zest of one orange
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Place a sheet pan on the lowest rack of your oven and pre-heat to 400 degrees.  Place the sweet potatoes in a mixer bowl and mix on medium speed until well mashed.  Add the sweetened condensed milk and mix again, scraping the bowl often.  Add the eggs, vanilla, orange zest and juice and mix again until well combined.  Scrape the filling into the pie shell and place on the pan in the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake another 20 minutes, until the pie is set and puffed.  Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Italian Meringue (from
3 egg whites, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 Tb. corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
Place egg whites in a mixer bowl.   Whip the whites in mixer until soft peaks form.  Whip in the salt.  Stir sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Attach a candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat to medium-high and boil without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush, until thermometer registers 240°, 6-8 minutes. Remove pan from heat.  Slowly pour hot sugar syrup down side of bowl into whites and beat until meringue is firm and glossy. Continue beating until cool, about 4 minutes.  Spread the meringue over the top of the cooled pie, being sure to connect it to the edge of the crust.  Bake the pie in a 450 degree oven until nicely toasted to your liking, about 3 to 6 minutes.  Watch carefully, it can burn fast.

When I finally settled down a beautiful slice of this pie, my mind was pretty much blown clean outta my head!!  This pie is everything I wanted it to be.  Decadent and rich, with a deep sweet potato flavor brightened by the orange juice and zest, and the meringue is soft, sweet and toasty delicious on top.  This pie rocks my world.  Nuff said.

The filled pie ready for the oven.
It's puffy fresh out of the oven.
But it'll flatten out as it cools.
Pile on the beautiful meringue and make decorative swirls.
They will brown nicely after a few minutes in the hot oven.
Thanksgiving perfection.
I love you, my little sweet potato.