baking sweet memories with my daughters, part 1: chocolate pecan tart, pie #42 of 52

it has always been a hope of mine that my two daughters will embrace the art of home made food.  to me, a well made meal is an event and when shared with family, there isn’t much out there that can top it. over the years, both of my girls have shown a desire to bake, mostly cookies with the occasional cake thrown in.  but with all of these pies i have been baking, i have wanted to spend an afternoon baking a pie with each of them.  this last week, i finally got that wish.  alix was home for a visit and to help her sister get packed for the big move west and i took advantage of the time to bake a tart with alix.  when asked what kind of pie she would like to make, she chose chocolate pecan-you can’t go wrong with chocolate and when you add pecans, it’s even better!

we quickly mixed up a batch of tart dough using the food processor and alix pressed it into the pan with her fingers-no rolling pin required!  be sure to use a tart pan with a removable bottom to make cutting serving the easy.

using my foolproof method for partially baking a tart/pie shell, alix lined the shell with a large coffee filter and filled it full of marbles-my choice of pie weights.

while the tart shell baked, we mixed up the filling.  for a smooth filling every time, it is important that the ingredients are combined in the proper order.  otherwise, the custard separates in the oven and it the chocolate will float to the top.  to emulsify the filling, the brown sugar is whisked with the melted butter and chocolate mixture, the cinnamon and vanilla.  then the eggs are whisked in one at a time.  the final addition is the corn syrup.  be sure to scrape that bowl as you go.

alix whisking in the corn syrup-gotta love the action shots!

toast the pecans if you like and then chop them up and fill the shell with them.

pour the custard over the chopped nuts
decorate it with pecan halves

baked to fudgy perfection!  let it cool completely before removing it from the pan or it may crumble

chocolate pecan tart
serves 8
for the tart shell, use half of the recipe for tart dough from pie #39.  freeze the second half for another time and partially bake the tart shell at 325 for 20-25 minutes.  the dough should no longer look glossy and it will not have begun to color.  remove the weights and proceed with the recipe.
1 cup pecan pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs
3/4 cup corn syrup
pecan halves to decorate the tart, at least 1 cup
preheat the oven to 350.  toast the pecan pieces on a baking tray until fragrant, about 5-7 minutes.  place the pecans in the partially baked tart shell.  melt the butter and the chocolate together by placing them in a microwave safe bowl and using the lowest power setting.  place the brown sugar in a mixing bowl with the vanilla and cinnamon.  whisk in the melted chocolate and butter.  whisk in the eggs, one at a time.  be sure to scrape the bowl between additions.  finally, whisk in the corn syrup and pour the custard into the prepared tart shell.  carefully arrange the pecan halves on the top of the tart.  bake until it puffs up and is almost set in the center, about 30-35 minutes.  allow the tart to cool completely before removing it from the pan or cutting.
as always, if you bake one, send me a photo and i will post it here.  may the power of pecans be with you…

a taste of fall: pear frangipane tart, pie #41 of 52

while i am sad to see summer come to a close, i am looking forward to the arrival of fall produce.  as much as i love visiting the farmers market in summer, i find the trips downtown in the fall almost magical.  the sight of so many apples and hard squashes…the thoughts of applesauce and butters and pies…mmmmmm, that’s all i can say about it.  while it is still very warm, with many days still 80+, it is no longer too hot to make baking impossible.  the arrival of pears from colder climates made a pear tart irresistible.
not all pears make nice tarts.  the best ones are those with a slightly soft texture that hold their shape when baked.  for this reason, i generally use d’anjou pears that are a tad under ripe.  for this tart, i had to choose between bartlett and bosc-neither being a favorite of mine.  i went with firm, under ripe bartletts so that they would not turn to mush when i poached them.  poaching is important for this type of tart-it prevents discoloration and ensures that the pears are soft when the tart filling is completely baked.  it also prevents the pears from releasing excessive amounts of juices onto the top of the filling and that enables the filling to bake properly.  the poaching liquid includes wine and the beauty of this tart is that you could use any type of wine and alter the taste of the pears to your liking.  i used marsala because that is what was convenient but you could easily use chardonnay, sauternes, port, champagne or any other white  wine.  however, there is no reason that you couldn’t use a mild, fruity red and give the pears a pink tint. 
freshly poached and ready to be sliced. after removing the pears, place the pot of liquid back on the stove over low heat.  the poaching liquid is reduced down to 1 cup and used as a syrup to drizzle over the slices as you serve them.

the tart shell must be prebaked first.  then, mix up the frangipane filling, spread it into the tart shell and layer the sliced pears around the top in a spiral.

once the tart has been baked and allowed to cool completely, remove it from the pan and cut it into wedges.  drizzle it with the syrup and you have an elegant fall dessert.

pear frangipane tart
serves 8-10
tart dough
half batch of tart dough from pie #39, second piece can be frozen for future use.  place the dough into a greased tart pan with a removable bottom.  with your fingers, carefully distribute the dough around the bottom and sides by pressing it and pushing it into place so that it is an even thickness throughout (no rolling pin required!!!).   place the shell on a sturdy baking pan.  line the shell with a coffee filter or parchment paper, fill with weights and prebake it at 325 degrees until the dough no longer looks shiny and appears opaque when you lift up the paper/weights, about 25-30 minutes.
poached pears
3-4 pears, peeled, halved with cores removed
3 cups water
1 cup wine
1/2 vanilla bean
1 star anise pod
3 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 lemon, squeezed-juice and fruit both added to the mix
1/2 cup sugar
combine the ingredients in a large pot.  over medium low heat, simmer the pears until they are soft but not yet mushy, about 20 minutes.  remove the pears to a dish to cool.  remove all of the aromatic ingredients from the liquid and return the pot to the stove over medium low heat.  allow the syrup to reduce and concentrate to just 1 cup.  chill the syrup
frangipane filling
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces almond paste
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup all purpose flour
in a mixing bowl, cream the butter, almond paste and the sugar until light and fluffy.  add the egg and mix to incorporate.  sift the flour into the batter and mix just to incorporate.  
assembling and baking the tart
remove the weights from the tart shell and spread the frangipane filling evenly in the shell.  cut the pears into 1/4″ thick slices and using the photo above for reference, carefully arrange them in a spiral around the top of the filling.  bake in an oven preheated to 350 until the filling sets, approximately 50-55 minutes.  brush a small amount of the syrup over the tart while it is still hot to give it a shine and allow it to cool completely before removing it from the pan.  cut into wedges and serve it with a drizzle of the syrup.  if you would like to really indulge yourself and those you are serving this too,  serve it with some vanilla or buttermilk ice cream.
as always, bake one and send me a photo, i promise to post it here.

scuppernongs, a native american fruit-pie #40 of 52

i can remember the first time i heard someone talk about scuppernongs-i thought they were nuts.  just say the name out loud and you may understand.  it hardly sounds like something that anyone should be eating.  years later, the trend towards native plants and foods makes this recipe somewhat relevant.  the scuppernong,  a bronze muscadine, is the only native grape found in north america and are easy to grow.

all muscadines have thick skins.  you need to separate the pulpy insides from the skins by squeezing them.  the skins are then simmered until soft and the pulp is then run through a food mill to remove the large seeds which are inedible(they aren’t poisonous but are a little like gravel if you end up with them in your mouth).  the recipe can be made with either the red or green (also called bronze) muscadines but remember, only the green ones are called scuppernongs.  the flavor is a bit musky in comparison to grapes  and they will take on other flavors easily so be careful not to overdo it when adding additional ingredients to the pie.  since there aren’t too many options for using the fruits, this recipe is a lot like everyone you will find online and that is about as good as it gets.

scuppernong pie
1 (9″) pie serving 8
enough pie dough for a double  crust pie
1 quart scuppernongs
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon zest
egg wash and crystal sugar, if desired
separate the skins from the pulp of the fruit.  place the skins in a sauce pan with the water and simmer until tender, can take as long as 30 minutes.  allow the skins and the liquid to cool before using.  run the pulp through a food mill to remove the seeds-this can also be done by hand; just pick out and discard the seeds.  combine the sugar with the starch and zest.  in a bowl, combine the skins, the cooking liquid, the pulp and the sugar mix and stir.  preheat the oven to 350.  roll out the bottom crust, line the pie plate with   it and pour in the filling.  roll out the top crust and cut a hole in the center to vent the steam.  brush some egg wash around the edge of the bottom crust, place the top crust on with the hole centered and seal the edges.  flute the edges if desired, brush egg wash over the top and sprinkle crystal sugar over the top of the pie.  bake until boiling in the center, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  allow it to cool completely and set before cutting.
and there you  have it, scuppernong pie.  will i make it again, don’t know but i would like to try making some scuppernong jam and perhaps i may even try to grow some.  and as always, if you bake it, send me a photo, i will post it here.

plum galette, pie #39 of 52

what a dreary day-we needed the rain and i am happy it has finally arrived but does it have to be so dark and grey too?  enough of the whining, this pie can brighten your rainy day without a lot of work.  galettes are a quick and easy pie because they aren’t supposed to look perfect.  it is a great go to recipe when you need a dessert that seems a little more elegant than usual without the hassle of classically prepared pastries.

plums bake up quick too but this can be made with peaches, apples, berries or pears.  make the dough from scratch using the recipe below but freeze half of it for another day and use it to make a tart or more galettes.

plum galette
serves 4
2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cold milk
Place the flour, powdered sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl and blend to combine.  Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  In a food processor this will be accomplished by pulsing the mixture.  Add the egg yolks and the milk and mix until the dough combines and forms a smooth dough.  Divide the dough in two pieces, shape into 4” disks, freeze one for later and chill the other before using.
plum filling
4 black plums
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 of a vanilla bean-seeds only, pod reserved for another use
halve the plums, remove the pit and cut into thin wedges.  in a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and rub them together with your fingers until completely mixed.  toss the plums with the sugar mix and allow them to macerate while you roll out the dough.
preheat the oven to 350.  cut one disk of dough into 4 equal pieces.  shape each piece into a round disk and roll them out to 7-1/2 inch circles.  place the dough circles onto sheet pans lined with parchment 
paper.  arrange the pears in a circle on top of each round of dough leaving a 1″ border around the edge.  fold the edges up over the top of the plums to form a loose and free formed pie.  drizzle a spoonful of the collected juices over the center of each galette.  if desired, brush the edges with some water and sprinkle with additional sugar, but you can leave it plain as i did too.  bake for 25-30 minutes or until nicely golden around the top and the juices are bubbly.  allow them to rest on the pan for 10-15 minutes before serving and if you want to really go all out, serve them with some vanilla ice cream.
as always, bake one and send me a photo, i will post it here.  now if you will excuse me, i am going to go and find some other song to play incessantly in my head-the carpenter’s(rainy days and mondays) are killing me…

summer berry pie, #38 of 52 pies

in what is quickly becoming a never ending game of catch-up, i am trying to get all of the pies posted…wish me luck, please!!!

on that note, i also found myself trying to keep the pie simple.  that is not hard to do when berries are in season.  a quick trip to the store and i had plenty of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries to make a pie that was as delicious as it was easy to prepare.  by not stressing over the crust and just folding it in towards the center, the result was similar to a rustic galette but with a lot more fruit.  one more note, if you find yourself with frozen berries (whether you picked them or bought them), go ahead and use them in this recipe.  measure the fruit while it is still frozen and then let it thaw before using it-frozen fruit will drastically increase the necessary baking time and can mean a burned crust.

summer berry pie
1 (9″) pie serving 8
pie dough for a single (9″) pie shell
2 cups blueberries
1 cup blackberries
1 cup raspberries
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons rosewater
crystal sugar
preheat the oven to 350.  roll out the pie crust so that is it about 1-1/2 to 2 inches larger than needed to line the pie plate.  place the crust into the plate and allow the excess to hang over the edge.  combine the berries in a bowl.  in a separate bowl, rub the sugar, cornstarch and lemon zest together with your fingers and completely combine them.  toss the berries with the sugar mixture taking care not to mash them and then scrape the filling into the pie shell.  gently lift the excess dough up and drape it on top of the fruit pleating it as needed to make it fit.  sprinkle crystal sugar over the pie crust and bake until it is bubbly in the center, about an hour and 15 minutes.
as most berry pies are, this will be runny while it is hot.  be sure to let it cool to room temp before trying to cut it.  and as always, bake one and send me a photo i will post it here.

tomato pie with caramelized onions and fontina cheese, #37 of 52 pies

for gardeners, tomatoes are the holy grail.  every gardener you meet will have a favorite; hybrid or heirloom, red or yellow, sweet or classic flavored.  the choices are abundant.  in our garden, there are mostly heirlooms and they range in color from striped reds, purple and yellow.  there are cherries and slicers of all sizes.  at least that is what the tags promised.  what the tags do not tell you is that if your summer is extremely hot and dry, you won’t be picking much and what is there, the squirrels will get before it ripens…and if you are as lucky as we are, you will also get a dose of fusarium wilt in the bed to really make it difficult.

getting off to a late start hasn’t helped much either.  we had a cool and wet spring that caused us to put the plants in the bed later than we wanted but it also looks as if a couple of those hybrids we planted might make it and produce a few fruits for us.  meanwhile, my tomato sandwich obsessed husband has had to satisfy his yen for white bread slathered with thick slabs of tomato and mayonnaise by purchasing tomatoes at the farmers market and i have had to cancel my plans to stand in the garden and stuff my face with cherry tomatoes  still warm from the morning sun…

decent tomatoes can be had if you are willing to pay for them and pay you will!  i found some kentucky heirloom tomatoes at my local supermarket for $4.99 per pound and while pricey, they had nice flavor and made it possible to bake this pie.  this recipe isn’t totally original but i did make some changes to it to punch up the flavor.

a red and yellow striped heirloom tomato from the supermarket.  it not only looked like it was home grown, it tasted like it too.  a little sweet and not very acidic, these are one of the varieties that will have you cutting it into wedges and eating it as if it were a peach.

 taking the time to caramelize the onions will add lots of flavor and so will the use of fresh herbs.  we have a lot of basil, oregano and sage in the garden and they made a flavorful addition to the pie.

tomato pie with caramelized onions
and fontina cheese
adapted from
serves 6-8
1 (9″) pie shell-home made or purchased and partially baked
2-3 large or 3-4 medium sized ripe tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons bacon fat (or olive oil)
1 large onion, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/3 cup fresh herbs-measure them first then chop them
salt & fresh cracked pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cup freshly grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
preheat the oven to 300 and prebake the pie shell using the instructions to pie #29 but do not bake it completely since it will be returning to the oven(partially baking the pie shell-it should just barely have color and the bottom crust will no longer appear shiny when you lift out the weights).  turn the oven up to 350.  cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out as much of the juice and seeds as you can.  dice them into bite size pieces, place them in a strainer which is set over a bowl and place a weight on the tomatoes-you want to remove the juice without pureeing the tomatoes so do not use a heavy weight, just one that causes enough pressure to remove the juice.  while the tomatoes drain, heat the bacon fat in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onions.  as they begin to color, stir them to allow even caramelizing.  add the garlic and the herbs once the onions have caramelized and saute them for a minute or two.  remove the onion mixture from the heat and place it in a mixing bowl.  measure out 3 cups of tomatoes and add them to the onions.  toss them to combine them, season with the salt and pepper and then scrape the filling into the partially baked pie shell.  in a clean bowl, combine the mayonnaise and the cheeses to form a thick topping.  carefully spread the topping over the surface of the filling.  bake until golden brown on top, about 45-50 minutes.
and as always, if you bake one, photograph it and send it to me, i will post it here!  

vegetarian moussaka pie, #36 of 52

a trip to the farmers market yielded these beauties.  i love tiny eggplants-they are so tender and mild in flavor compared to the big ones.  we grilled some and the rest became the inspiration for this pie.

traditionally, moussaka is made with ground meat but in my attempt to cook more vegetarian meals, i chose to substitute some wheat bulgur.  to increase the flavor of the filling, i cooked the bulgur in vegetable stock.

i roasted slices of the eggplant in the oven and this both softened them and eliminated some of the juices that may have made the filling soggy.

the bulgur was sauteed with onions, garlic and herbs from the garden to make a flavorful substitution to meat.

i layered it all in a 4 cup casserole dish which was lined with some homemade pie dough that was mixed up using an expeller pressed non-hydrogenated vegetable fat-great for my low cholesterol diet.

a thin custard of ricotta cheese and egg whites (a lighter version of the traditional bechamel sauce) was poured over the filling.

a sprinkle of traditional spices over the custard was topped off by the casual folds of the excess dough

fresh from the oven, it was a filling meal that we didn’t feel guilty for eating-chock full of whole grain and veggies and a lowfat custard made it a good choice for my low cholesterol diet.

vegetarian moussaka pie
serves 4 as an entree
1/4 cup wheat bulgur
4-6 finger sized eggplants (4-5 inches in length, 1 1/4″ in diameter)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onions
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
3/4 cup diced tomatoes-fresh or canned
salt and pepper
1/3 cup part skim ricotta cheese
2 egg whites
1/2 cup milk
a pinch each of cinnamon and allspice
enough pie dough to line a 9″ pie shell
preheat the oven to 350.  cook the bulgur according to the directions on the package using vegetable broth or water.  slice the eggplants into 1/4″ slabs and lay them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  bake the slices until they soften and dry a bit-10-15 minutes.  remove them from the oven and set aside.  in a saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until soft, add the garlic and oregano and continue to saute for another minute.  add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper then set this aside as well.  in a mixing bowl, mix the ricotta with the egg whites and whisk until smooth.  add the milk, cinnamon and allspice and whisk to combine.  line a 4 cup casserole with the pie dough allowing the excess to hang over the outside.  lay half of the eggplant slices over the bottom of the dish.  top this with the bulgur mix and cover the filling with the remaining eggplant slices.  whisk the custard and pour it over the filling in the dish.  carefully lay the excess crust over the filling so that most of the filling is covered.  bake until golden brown and the custard is set, about 50 minutes.  let it rest on the counter for 15 minutes or so before serving.  a green salad completes the meal!
need a recipe for pie dough?  try this one from pie #18.  and as always, bake one and send me a photo-i will post it here!

lavender-vanilla panna cotta tart, pie # 35 of 52

my life has been such a blur lately.  days pass by in what feels like minutes.  we watched both of our daughters cross the stage this summer, one from high school and the other from college.  we hosted celebrations with family members.  the carport never looked so festive.  there was a trash can turkey at one party and a barbecue at the other.  the girls beat a pinata to death and we all ate way too much!  somewhere in there, i went off to new york city and phili for media training and suddenly, my book has landed in nashville.  so, knowing very well that i am going to only get busier, i am even more determined to finish this 52 week challenge.  to prove the point, the 4 pies that needed to be made, are all done and have been for some time, all i need to do is get them posted here.  damn, blinked and lost another hour…

panna cotta has never been something that i just had to try.  but in an effort to keep this challenge interesting and varied, i decided to try it in a tart.  then i needed to make it different from every recipe i saw out there-that was the challenge.  a walk through my garden fixed that-with a hand full of lavender blooms and a fig tree full of ripe fruit, i had my inspiration; infuse the panna cotta with lavender and vanilla bean and serve it with fresh figs…

i decided to use buttermilk in the filling as well.  since it isn’t a good idea to heat buttermilk for long periods of time, i infused some heavy cream with lavender blossoms and vanilla beans.

 to make the crust, i toasted some almonds and chopped them finely and added them to a buttery crust dough.

 my absolute favorite trick for prebaking crusts-use large coffee filters.  if you can get them from a coffee shop or restaurant, you will not have to buy a huge quantity of them.  however, you can used several smaller ones to do the same job.  the filters are so strong that you can actually lift them out with your weights in them and not have to worry about it tearing.  but if you use marbles like i do, spoon them out just to be safe.

lavender-vanilla panna cotta tart
1 (6″) tart serving 4-6
tart dough
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
2 tablespoons almonds, sliced or slivered
2 tablespoons water
preheat the oven to 350.  toast the almonds until lightly golden, about 5 minutes, cool them completely before proceeding with the recipe.  place all the ingredients except the water into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine and cut in the butter.  when it resembles a coarse meal with bits of almonds in it, add the water and pulse it until it comes together.  press the dough into a greased 6″ cake pan so that it is 3/4 of the way up the sides.  make sure the dough is distributed evenly around the pan.  line with a coffee filter, add pie weights and bake it until it is completely baked and lightly golden, about 30 minutes.  cool completely before making the filling.
panna cotta filling
1/4 of a vanilla bean
1 tablespoon lavender blooms-dried
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoon gelatin
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
fresh fruit for garnish
place the vanilla bean, lavender and cream in a very small sauce pan and heat until it almost simmers.  remove from heat and allow to steep for at least 5 minutes (can also be done in the microwave but be careful since it is quick to boil).  soften the gelatin in the water while the cream steeps.  strain the cream into a bowl and add the gelatin, stir to melt it-if needed, gently heat the mixture in the microwave to melt it.  with a whisk, gently whisk in the buttermilk and the sugar and then pour the filling into the prepared crust.  refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.  serve with your favorite fresh fruit, berries work best with the flavors in this recipe but you can also use figs or peaches.  if a sauce is desired, sweeten an extra cup of fruit and puree in a blender for a quick coulis.

sugar pie, honey bunch; #34 of 52

in my quest for pies, i came across a recipe for hoosier pie, also called sugar pie.  it’s easy to see why it would be called sugar pie; sugar is one of only 4 ingredients in the filling.  i guess the hoosier part is some state’s way of saying, hey that’s our state pie!  well, what ever…it’s about 147 degrees outside with a humidity level near swamp stages and the simpler this weeks pie is, the better it is for all of us.  so grab the best of motown cd and crank up the four tops, it’s time to make some sugar pies!

prebaked mini pie shells mean a quick baking time for the pies.  the  quicker it is, the less it heats the house up…

 hard to believe but 4 ingredients is all it needed:  heavy cream, brown sugar, flour and vanilla.  the topping is optional but i think it added a little something something to it.

mini sugar pies
makes 8 mini pies
1 package frozen mini pie shells (need 8 shells)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla-use good quality since you will taste it
crumb topping, recipe follows
place the  pie shells on a sturdy baking tray and prebake them according to the directions on the package but lower the temperature to 325 to reduce the amount of browning.  turn the oven temperature up to 350.  in a mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar and the flour by whisking them until blended.  whisk in the cream and vanilla.  divide the filling evenly between the pie shells, sprinkle them with the topping and bake until almost completely set in the center, about 18-20 minutes.  can be served warm or chilled.
cinnamon pecan topping
makes 1/2 cup
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons chopped pecan pieces
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
combine the ingredients by rubbing them together with your fingers or a whisk.
so, i’m off to see the wizard-he’s currently residing just outside manhattan.  i will be back but in the meantime, check this out-my book!!!  and as always, if you bake them, they will eat them…but do send a photo, i will post it here.

kiss my grits; a pie fit for a southern belle, #33 of 52

after making more than 30 pies so far in this challenge, i decided to try something that i could also serve in the cafe.  for the last 7 years, i have made many pies and every now and then, i need something new for the showcase.  but what?  what flavor could i use?  would it be fruit or would it be custard?  i decided to look around me and see what the common ingredients were and go from there.  well, that’s when i saw the big bag of grits and it was enough to make me go, hmmm.  a quick google search revealed to me that  paula deen had beat me to the punch!  so i tried out her recipe but i had to make a change-i didn’t have any quick cooking grits at home.

on the left are the old fashioned yellow corn grits that are lurking in the cupboard in my kitchen and on the  right are some quick cooking white grits that are now keeping those yellow grits company.  the main differences arethe size; the yellow grits are more coarse which means longer cooking times and of course the white grits have been parcooked hence the name quick cooking grits.

i decided to cook them in milk, which according to my grits research is a traditional italian method for  cooking them.

and they cooked and cooked.   is it any wonder i went out to the store for quick cooking grits…

the first pie was not up to my expectations and this is the second pie.  i changed several ingredients in the recipe, omitted the flour and my pie came out nice and creamy and if you didn’t know it was grits, you might think it was coconut (but not flavorwise).

the biggest changes i made were to increase the amount of grits in the pie and to cook them in milk.  for the vanilla, i used a portion of a bean and added a pinch of fresh lemon zest.

sweet grits pie
1 (9″) pie serving 8-10
1 partially baked (9″) pie crust (i cheated and bought one) for instructions on partially baking a pie shell, follow the directions from pie #29 but do not bake it completely since it will be going back into the oven.
6 tablespoons quick cooking grits
1 1/3 cup milk
small piece of a vanilla bean, split 
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
preheat the oven to 325.  place the grits into a pot with the milk and vanilla bean and over medium low heat, slowly boil the grits until they are soft and the mixture looks a bit like a porridge.  pour the grits into a heat proof bowl and whisk in the butter and sugar.  whisk in the eggs, half and half and lemon zest and pour it into the partially baked pie shell.  place the pie on a sturdy baking sheet to make it easier to handle and bake until set, about 50 minutes.  can be served warm with whipped cream or cold-either way is extra tasty!
this weeks round-up
looky here, a brownie pie!!!  this comes to us from nick of the kitchen, sophomoric and all i can say is well done!  you make a baker proud!!!  and to all of you out there, if you bake one, and email me a photo, i will post it,  just look above for proof!  may the force be with you…