Archive for October, 2010
My friend Janice Cole writes a delightful and unique blog, one you will want to visit often. Here is where you’ll find it:
Not only will you find excellent recipes from a superb food writer and great smart cook, you will also be able to befriend and follow the Three Swingin’ Chicks. I’ll let you discover Janice and her girls by clicking over to her blog for a visit. I’m here today to talk about Janice’s wonderful, simple, rewarding apple pie recently posted there. Had I only read the headline “20-Minute Apple Pie” out in the world, I’d have passed it by with a snort and a “yeah, right!”. But it was from Janice and it came with a most tempting photograph; and this being pie month, I knew I had a job to do…
I picked up a few Granny Smith apples and a box of frozen puff pastry from the grocery store, and the following night, I turned on the oven, set out the puff pastry to thaw, peeled and sliced the apples, mixed up the spice-sugar mixture, and put it all into my trusty cast iron skillet. Twenty minutes was all the prep time needed, indeed, and cooking time was only 35 or 40 minutes, the last few minutes perfumed by that fine fall fragrance of baking apples and cinnamon. It browned handsomely, even in my gas-fired oven, which doesn’t always provide for me in that department, and the pie came out juicy and divinely delicious. If you know or read Janice Cole, you won’t be surprised that her recipes are excellent, but you’ll be grateful, as am I, and you will stock up on frozen puff pastry and keep a bowl of tart apples on the dining room table, both as centerpiece and as ticket to a busy-night, easy-as, A-is-for-apple pie. And while it cools down just a little bit, you can click over to check up on the girls, those three swingin’ chicks at Janice’s place on the web.
Janice Cole’s 20-Minute Apple Pie
from “Three Swingin’ Chicks”
Janice writes: “This pie is topped with a puff pastry crust over an apple crisp-style filling made with tart apples, raisins, brown sugar, and spices. Serve it topped with cinnamon ice cream or with plain yogurt sprinkled with cinnamon.
4 medium to large tart apples, peeled, sliced
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus additional for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 sheet puff pastry (from 17.3 oz. pkg.) thawed according to package directions
milk to brush over crust
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Heat oven to 425ºF. Spray a 9×2-inch deep dish casserole or pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Toss the apples, raisins, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in a large bowl. Pile the apple mixture into the casserole.
Lay the puff pastry over the top of the casserole and trim away the excess pastry with a small knife or scissors. Brush the pastry with milk, sprinkle with granulated sugar and lightly dust with cinnamon. Lightly score pastry with knife to decorate, if desired, and make a small vent hole in the center.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the apples are tender. Cool 30 minutes on wire rack to serve warm, or cool completely.
Serves 6 ”
This recipe comes from Janice Cole’s blog, ”Three Swingin’ Chicks” http://threeswinginchicks.blogspot.com/ . Used with permission. Copyright Janice Cole 2010, all rights reserved.
If they’d let me have another couple of dozen pies in the cookbook, I would have blessed Southern Pies with a whole entire chapter on sweet potato pie. It’s always been one of my favorites, and since I discovered the easy delights of eating a baked sweet potato for lunch, my delight in anything sweet-potato has only grown with the years. Sweet potato biscuits, sweet potato pancakes, sweet potato muffins, and why have I never seen a sweet potato scone? Note to self: after the pie book gets a good solid launch of course… For a devotee of the sweet potato like myself, Chapel Hill, NC is a mighty fine place to live. This is because I can stroll through the Carrboro Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings, and buy myself a big bag of superb sweet potatoes grown by Mr. Stanley Hughes of Pine Knot Farms in Hurdle Mills, NC. In addition to his pastured pork, free-to-hunt-and-peck chicken, collards, broccoli, tomatoes and more, his beauregard and o’henry sweet potatoes make people happy and keep them coming back, along with his country sausage, of course. Check out Mr Hughes at http://www.carrborofarmersmarket.com/Pine_Knot_Farms.shtml Right up the road from the Farmer’s Market sits Crook’s Corner Restaurant, where brilliant and highly praised Chef Bill Smith serves up extraordinary Southern-inspired dinners, which my family and I have been cherishing on a regular basis since we moved here at the end of the last century — love saying that, though of course I mean 1999. Generous soul that he is, when I asked him for a pie recipe for my cookbook, he shared his father’s signature dessert, sweet potato pie. It’s a marvelous version of the classic dish, with cinnamon, allspice and cloves to brighten it and sweetened condensed milk to keep it silken yet substantial. This recipe makes a deep dish pie, which I tend to cook in my ceramic pie plate which holds a particularly generous amount of filling. Here I used a standard piepan, and had enough left over to make a small batch of tartlets, made by lining a mini-muffin tin with piecrust dough. I also made a little pyrex dish of sweet potato pie sans crust, just so I would have something to enjoy while the pie and tartlets cooled. After all, I did the measuring, stirring, and stove-tending all by myself. Not that it was difficult or demanding; I just don’t want to wait for my sweet potato pie.
Crook’s Corner Chef Bill Smith’s Daddy’s Sweet Potato Pie
1 9-inch unbaked piecrust
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 /4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract, or vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the flour, spices, baking powder and salt in a little bowl and use a fork to mix them well. In a medium bowl, lighten the sweet potatoes by beating them well with a whisk, an electric mixer, or a big wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, and stir well each time to mix them evenly. Add the sugar and beat to mix well. Add the sugar-and-spice mixture, the sweetened condensed milk , melted butter, and lemon or vanilla extract. Mix everything together evenly and well. (If using a mixer, use low speed.) Pour the thick filling into the piecrust. Place in the 350 degree oven and bake until the filling puffs up (especially around the edges, and is firm enough that it jiggles only a little at the center, 40 to 50 minutes. You can test it by inserting a wooden tooth pick or a bamboo or wooden skewer or even the blade of a paring knife in the center; it should come out clean, no filling sticking too it. (That would mean it needs longer cooking time to cook through to the center.) Place on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel, and cool to room temperature.
This pie recipe is adapted from Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes, from Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan, (Chronicle Books, October 2010). Copyright: Nancie McDermott, all rights reserved.
Right in the middle (or last third rather) of Pie-a-Day month, here I am on a work trip to the Mississippi Delta. That means no pie baking for me, until next Monday. My plan was to “bank” some pies, baking enough before I left so that I would have photos with me and could do the posts from my hotel room. But that was just a teensy bit optimistic, and in fact it was all I could do to pack and head for the airport in time to catch an early morning plane from NC to Memphis. There I picked up a rental car and zoomed down to Greenwood, Mississippi, for the first portion of the Southern Foodways Alliance’s annual symposium. It’s a one-day field trip focusing attendees on a particular aspect of Southern food and culture, including lots of feasting, conversations, information, education, and fun. This year’s subject is Lebanese food and culture in the Mississippi Delta, where immigrants from Syria and Lebanon have been lived and worked since the late 1800′s. Fascinating, moving presentations all day long, and spectacular tastes of the subject matter made for a memorable day. Technical difficulties keep me from showing you photographs from today, but here are next best things: Links to the people and places that made it such a fine day.
At Viking Culinary Center in Greenwood:Culinary demonstration and Q&A with author and chef Anissa Helou
Talk by Mary Louise Nosser of Vicksburg, MS
At fantastic bookstore, Turnrow Books, presentation by Jimmy Thomas, Editor of New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, entitled : “Mississippi Mahjar”. Turnrow’s kitchen’s Richard Byrd prepared tabbouleh, hummus, and warm pita bread (bread from Chef Donald Bender); and Richard also shared his delicious little pecan tassies. mmmmm
Blogpost by artist and historian Amy Evans Streeter, on the people and places that made today so delicious for me and my fellow attendees of the SFA Delta Divertissment
Hot tamales, warm hospitality and delightful tales and stories from Pat Davis, Sr., son of Abe Davis and owner of Abe’s Bar-B-Q in Clarksdale, MS
Spectacular feast of traditional Lebanese dishes (hummus, stuffed grape leaves, kibbe) and magnificent PIE!!!, at Chamoun’s Rest Haven in Clarksdale, MS, hosted by owners Chafik and Louise Chamoun, and attended by members of the Clarksdale Cedars Club
NPR’s Kitchen Sisters get the story on Lebanese food in the Delta
And here is a blog post featuring today’s pie, from Chamoun’s Rest Haven in Clarksdale: we had chocolate and coconut cream—fantastic!
Okay, that’s today, and this is just the pre-show! Am I lucky or what? Yes, I am. See you tomorrow, with more notes.
It’s too late for figs here in Piedmont North Carolina, the late summer season having passed us by — though with warmer than usual days popping up now and then, it can be difficult to tell. They come and go quickly, and by the time we’ve eaten them fresh off the tree, or wrapped in proscuitto or chopped up and mixed with toasted cumin for a delicious salsa, or canned a few batches as fig preserves or fig jam, they are gone for the year. Fresh market still had some beautiful deep purple mission figs and greenish-reddish-brownish brown turkey figs, and chopped up coarsely and tossed with sugar, flour, a bit of cinnamon, a splash of lemon juice and bits of butter, they made a fine pie. The color and flavor remind me of the muscadine pie from last week, but they have their own figginess and distinctive quality as well. Just wonderful as is, but a scoop of vanilla ice cream or plump cloud of whipped cream would stretch the juicy filling just a tad bit further and would not be turned down around here. To prepare the figs, cut away and discard the stem end and a very thin slice of the blossom end; then halve them lengthwise and crosswise to make generous chunks.
Nancie’s Fresh Fig Pie
Pastry for a double-crust pie
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups very coarsely chopped fresh ripe figs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons lemon juice, or cider vinegar or white vinegar
1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into bits
Heat the oven to 375 degress F. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt, and stir with a fork to mix well. In a medium bowl, combine the figs and the sugar-flour mixture, and toss gently to mix them evenly. Pour the figs into the piecrust, and mound them up toward the center in to a little pile. Pour lemon juice over the figs, and dot with the bits of butter. Cover with the top crust and press the sides together to seal them well. Trim and fold the edges under firmly; then crimp to seal the pie, or press the edges down with the tines of a fork to seal them and make a pretty design. Use a fork or a knife to make steam vents so that steam and juicy filling can escape as the pie cooks. Place in the 375 degree F oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake until the filling is thick and juicy and bubbling out around the top of the pie, and until the crust is golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and cool to room temperature.
Copyright Nancie McDermott, October 2010, all rights reserved.
My friend Martha Hall Foose is a chef, author, teacher and storyteller. She combines homegrown Mississippi Delta smarts with professional culinary education, work in France, and world travels, and her writing and teaching open windows into the kitchen for her readers and students. Her book, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook won the prestigious James Beard Award for 2009, and it belongs on your bookshelf and kitchen counter if you love Southern cooking or just want to know more about it from a brilliant writer-cook. Martha’s Sweet Tea Lemon Chess Pie is luxuriously rich, perfectly paired with her cream cheese pastry, which is simply patted into the pie pan with no need to roll it out. You’ll find it in my pie book, and also in the just published treasury, The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, because she is so generous and her pie is so good.
Martha Hall Foose’s Sweet Tea Lemon Chess Pie
Adapted from The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook
Cream Cheese Piecrust
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1/4 pound, 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
For the piecrust, combine cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer until they are evenly combined. Add the flour and continue beating a low speed just until the dough comes together into a ball. Press and pat the dough into a pie pan, building up a thicker top edge of the crust. Set the piecrust in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
Sweet Tea Lemon Chess Filling
3/4 cup warm, freshly brewed strong orange pekoe tea
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornmeal
Zest of one lemon
1 cup (1/2 pound, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 large egg yolks
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl or pitcher, combine the tea, vanilla, lemon juice and vinegar and stir well. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornmeal, and lemon zest, and stir with a fork to mix them together well.
In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until it is fluffy. Add the sugar-flour mixture gradually, and continue beating to combine well. Add the egg yolks a few at a time, mixing well each time. Add the tea mixture and beat to combine everything evenly and well. The filling will be soft and liquid, not thick, and may seem curdled, but don’t worry about that.
Pour the filling into the piecrust. Bake until the top and crust are handsomely browned, and the pie is fairly firm throughout, with just a little jiggling in the center, about 50 minutes. Place on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and cool to room temperature. Chill two hours or more before serving.
From The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, Edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge; University of Georgia Press, 2010. All rights reserved.
Though not equal to the grand dame of Southern piedom, pecan pie, peanut pie has long had a loyal and enthusiastic following, and it quickly earns a place of honor anytime it’s given a chance. Peanut pie is another variation on the chess pie theme, with coarsely-chopped dry-roasted peanuts stirred into a sugar-butter-eggs mixture. Baked until the nuts create a handsome textured covering for a sweetly silken filling, it makes for a salty-sweet flavor that was cherished long before salted caramel came into its current vogue on the sweet culinary stage. You’ll find peanut pie throughout the South, wherever peanuts are grown, but the state of Virginia has a particular affection for this fine confection. One place to enjoy this classic is the Virginia Diner in Wakefield, Virginia, about sixty miles southwest of Richmond on Route 460. Family-owned since 1929, the Virginia Diner serves up homestyle Southern cooking everyday except Christmas, and is particularly famous for its classic peanut pie. A visit to their website at http://www.vadinerrestaurant.com/ will give you a virtual taste of their cooking and ambience, and may cause you to look for your car keys if you are homesick for good old-time Southern food. They serve their signature peanut pie warm with both whipped cream and a scoop of vanilla ice cream; I like peanut pie with whipped cream or just plain, speaking for myself. Like its fellow pies in the chess pie family, peanut pie will puff up and seem dry around the edges, and be fairly firm all the way through once it is done. The puffy quality fades away, but no matter, the finished pie evens out to a beautiful and tasty state.
Nancie’s Peanut Pie
1 unbaked piecrust
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons molasses, or 2 additional tablespoons dark corn syrup
1/4 cup butter, melted (1/2 stick/4 tablespoons)
*1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts (if unsalted, add about 1/4 teaspoon salt)
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Stir with a fork to mix them together well. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs well. Add the dark corn syrup, molasses, and melted butter and stir with a fork or a whisk to mix them together evenly. Add the sugar mixture and stir to dissolve the sugar and combine everything together evenly and well. Stir in the chopped peanuts and mix well. Pour the filling into the piecrust. Place in the 375 degree oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat and bake until the filling is puffed up all over, fairly firm throughout, and crust and filling are nicely browned, 40 to 50 minutes. Place on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towl, and cool to room temperature.
*Note on Peanuts:
You can leave them whole, but most recipes suggest coarsely chopping them. You can do this with a cleaver or a chef’s knife, or use a rolling pin or large unopened can to crush them. First place about 1/3 of the peanuts inside a sturdy resealable plastic bag. Have them at the bottom of the bag and lay bag on its side. Leave it unsealed. Roll over the peanuts with the rolling pin or unopened can, so that many of the nuts are crushed, or partly crushed, while a few remain whole. Pour into a small bowl and set aside until needed.
This pie is an heirloom well worth dusting off and setting out in a place of honor at today’s table. Made with a dedication to thrift and flavor, it uses the thick, sturdy hulls of the muscadine grape, which is native to North America and still thriving both out in the wild, and in domesticated varieties tended on backyard grape arbors throughout the South. You’ll find them referred to as slipskin grapes, since a firm squeeze on a plump, ripe grape causes the juicy seed-filled grape to pop right out. Though muscadine skins are too tough to chew up when eating the grapes out of hand, thrifty and flavor-conscious cooks figured out how to make use of them along with the grape pulp. They separated skins from pulp, and then cooked the pulp just enough to squeeze out and discard the big round seeds. Then pulp and hulls were cooked with sugar, a bit of flour, and butter, to make a thick, juicy pie.
Between the steps involved in preparation, the shortness of their season in early fall, and the challenges for most cooks of even finding these heirloom grapes nowadays, the practical pie has faded from its status through the first half of the 20th century as a common Southern home dessert. They’re out there, though, so look for muscadine grapes in farmers’ markets and at roadside stands throughout the South, as well as in grocery stores and specialty food stores, through the first half of the fall. For this pie, I found deep purple muscadine grapes at the local Whole Foods market, from a commercial grower in Georgia. Look for the lovely golden-hued scuppernong grapes as well; they will work just fine, being simply a delicious grape version within the muscadine grape family.
Here’s a look at some steps in the process. You can skip to the end if you’re ready for the recipe.
Nancie’s Muscadine Grape Hull Pie
Pastry for a double-crust pie
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups muscadine grapes (about 2 pounds), rinsed
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or cider vinegar or white vinegar
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into bits
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place bottom crust into a pie pan, with the edge of the piecrust hanging over the edge of the pan by about 1 inch. Mix the sugar, flour and salt in a small bowl and stir with a fork to mix them well.
Holding it over a medium bowl, squeeze a grape with its stem end down, so that the pulp pops out and falls into the bowl. (If the pulp doesn’t pop right out with only a squeeze, cut the stem ends off the grapes and discard the ends. Then squeeze the grape and the pulp should pop right out.) Set the hulls aside in a bowl, and place the grape pulp and juices into a medium saucepan. Add 3 tablespoons of water to the pan and bring it to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cook until the pulp has soften and begun to break down, so that the seeds can be easily separated, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl let cool until you can handle them. Work through the bowl of pulp, extracting and discarding the large round seeds.
Add the grape hulls to the saucepan, and continue cooking to soften the hulls, for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar mixture. Pour the grape filling into the piecrust . (Do not overfill it. Reserve any excess and make a small pie in a custard cup, or cook just the fruit as a simple pudding to eat with cream.) Scatter the bits of butter over the pie filling, and cover with the top crust. Press hard all around the pie to seal up the crust. Crimp the edges or press them with the tines of a fork to seal it well. Make slits in the top of the pie so that juices can bubble up and steam can escape. Place the pie on a baking sheet lined with foil, so that any juices have somewhere to go besides the bottom of the stove.
Bake the pie at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees, and continue baking until the filling is thickened and bubbling hot, and the crust is nicely browned, 40 to 50 minutes. Set the pie on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel, and let it cool completely.
For a do-ahead, pleasing and simple to make pie, lemon icebox pie — well, I almost said “…takes the cake!”, but I will make that… has little competition. Lemon juice, grated lemon rind, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks make a devinely bright and intense filling, and the egg whites decorate the pie beautifully, while adding the soft sweet flourish that meringue provides for just a bit of extra work. If you don’t make meringue this time, freeze the egg whites for a future meringue, or a batch of macaroons. A baked pie shell makes an equally good base for this pie.
Nancie’s Lemon Icebox Pie
1 graham cracker piecrust
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind, or finely chopped lemon zest
3 egg whites
3 tablespoons sugar
Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, the egg yolks, the lemon juice and the lemon rind in a medium bowl. Use a fork or a whisk to mix everything together evenly and well. Pour the filling into the graham cracker piecrust, and bake at 325 degrees F. for 25 minutes, until the pie is firm and set.
Set aside on a cooling rack or folded kitchen towel and cool to room temperature. Then cover and chill until serving time. If using whipped cream, make it and add it to the top of the pie within about 2 hours of serving time; the closer to serving time, the better.
If you are making meringue, set pie aside while you prepare it. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the egg whites in a medium bowl, and use an electric mixer to beat them at medium speed until they are bubbly, about 1 minute. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until they turn white and thicken up like pure cream. Add about 1 tablespoon of the sugar and continue beating until they swell up and begin holding rounded shapes. Add the rest of the sugar gradually, while beating the egg whites. Continue beating until you have a rich thick, shiny meringue which holds curly little peaks. Spread on the pie, making sure to seal it to the edges of the crust all the way around. Mound it up in the middle and use the back of a spoon or a butter knife to pull out little curls and swirls, or whatever pleases you. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the meringue is handsomely browned. Cool to room temperature; then cover carefully and chill until shortly before serving time.
My friend Carol Thomason Price told me about her mother’s stellar reputation as a cook, and for that I am deeply grateful. Mrs. Betty Thomason generously shared two of her recipes with me, one for classic chess pie, and the other for this chocolate chess pie. Luscious pleasure, it’s heavenly just as it is; and with a good-sized cloud of barely-sweetened whipped cream on the side, perfection. Keep unsweetened chocolate on hand in your baking pantry, and you will never be more than a few minutes away from the rewards of this marvelous deep-flavored pie. Consider making it into small tarts by lining the cups of a mini-muffin pan with pastry, pinching up a small rim about the surface of the pan, and filling them a good 3/4 full. They should bake off in 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your pan and your oven. Watch for that puffing up and slight cracking, and test the center of a tiny tart — When a knife blade comes out clean, no filling sticking to it, they’re ready to come out of the oven, cool down, and disappear, leaving only smiles.
Betty Thomason’s Chocolate Chess Pie
1 unbaked 9-inch piecrust
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick; 4 ounces)
1 square (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla, and salt, and stir with a fork to beat the eggs and mix everything together well. Cut the butter into 3 or 4 chunks, and chop the chocolate into 4 chunks. Combine them in a medium saucepan and place it over medium heat. Cook, swirling or stirring often, until the chocolate and butter melt, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir them together into a smooth sauce. Remove from the stove, add the sugar and stir well to dissolve it into the chocolate mixture. Add the egg mixture and stir with a fork or a whisk until everything comes together into a smooth, dark, shiny chocolate filling. Pour the filling into the piecrust and bake in the 325 degree F oven, until the pie puffs up, the surface cracks, the crust is nicely browned, and the filling is fairly firm all the way through, 35 to 45 minutes. You can test by carefully inserting the tip of a sharp knife, or a toothpick, into the center of the pie. It should come out clean, even though the filling may still be tender. Place the pie on a cooling rack or folded kitchen towel and cool to room temperature.
This recipe comes from Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes, from Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan by Nancie McDermott (Chronicle Books, October 2010). All rights reserved.
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: http://www.davejoachim.com/books.php
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.