Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pecan Pie

A sumptuous trifecta of homemade Crust, Pecan filling, and hand whipped Cream
Last weekend we went out to the Stables and planned to spend the day with the horses.  While there I noticed that the mature Pecan trees had dropped their bounty.  As you can imagine, my focus quickly went from our horse Gypsea to... "What in the world can I do with these nuts?"

I had to come up with something, and quick. Thanksgiving was less than a week away, and we were hosting dinner at our house!  
I decided to start and finish the meal with my latest find... We started with an appetizer tray that featured Brined and Roasted Pecans and the "Finisher" was this wonderful Pecan Pie.

Part One: Tender and Flaky Crust


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
7 tbsp unsalted butter, cold
1/4 cup +/- ice cold water

Using a cheese grater to cut in the butter has forced my pastry cutter into retirement.
This is such an easy technique, with great results.

  • Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl
  • Using a cheese grater, grate the cold butter over the top of the dry ingredients.
  • Carefully work the ingredients into a coarse texture using the tips of you fingers - DON'T OVERWORK DOUGH!
  • Add just enough ice water, about a 1/4 cup, and with floured hands, squeeze and push and work mixture together until it just picks up the flour in the bowl.  If too dry - add just a couple more drops of ice water.  If too wet - sprinkle just a little more flour.
  • Roll out the dough on a dry floured surface until just bigger than the pie pan.
  • Transfer dough to the pie pan and carefully lift edges and press the dough into the corners of the pan.  Trim around the perimeter and crimp the edges with a fork.
  • Refrigerate the dough while making the filling. 

Part Two:  Pie Filling


3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
1 cup ground Roasted Pecans
1 cup medium Pecan pieces (not roasted) with a pinch of salt.

Note the air bubbles in the pie filling prior to baking.
The bubbles, eggs, and the two types of Pecans produce a truly delicious dessert.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Whisk the eggs vigorously in a mixing bowl until air is incorporated as evidenced by very small air bubbles.
  • Add the granulated sugar and continue to whisk until the sugar begins to dissolve.
  • Then add the corn syrup and whisk until the mixture is a consistent color.
  • Add the vanilla extract and the melted butter and continue to whisk.
  • Fold in the ground roasted nuts and then the Pecan pieces - mix untill fully incorporated.
  • Add Filling to crust - Be careful to leave some room for the filling to rise.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes.
  • After the 40 minutes, reduce heat to 325 degrees F and bake an additional 30 minutes.
  • Give the pie a "jiggle", if the center is set, you are good to go.  Otherwise, leave in a few more minutes and test again.
As the pie cooks in the oven the filling rises - Don't overfill your crust prior to baking!
Part Three:  Hand Whipped Cream


1 cup high quality cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

  • Put a metal mixing bowl and a whisk in the freezer at least a half hour prior to making the whipped cream.
  • Put all ingredients into the cold bowl and whisk until soft peaks form.
  • Place a dollop of the cool cream over the top of a slice of the pie - serve immediately. 

Recipe Links:

Here is the original video with chef Frank Brigtsen that inspired this dish.
Here is a maple and brown sugar variety that will provide some material the next time I make this dish. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy as a Clam Chowder

Photo: Shaw
Foraging for Clams is a great way to spend some time outdoors with family and friends.  Sometimes the tide, the weather, and some good luck grace your experience.  Last weekend was one of those times. 

Photo: Shaw
We had a friend visiting and wanted to share some of the "local" experience.  I checked the tide charts and it looked like we needed to be in place just prior to dawn.  My sister made us a fabulous breakfast, sans toast, then we were on our way... 

Photo: Shaw
Prep Time:  15 Minutes
Cook Time:  45 Minutes
Servings:  6 to 8 servings


2 to 3 pounds little neck clams, washed
3 cups water, divided
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 tbl butter
2 tbl flour
1 1/2 pounds russett potatoes, peeled, and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh chopped parsley and oyster crackers to garnish


  • Place washed clams in a large soup pot and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover tightly, and cook for a couple minutes, until the clams open. Remove the clams to a bowl and reserve. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve. 
  • In large saucepan, over medium heat, cook the bacon in the butter until almost crisp. 
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the onions. Sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Whisk in 2 cups of cold water and the reserved clam juice, slowly at first. Bring back to a simmer and add the potatoes. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  • While the potatoes are simmering, dice up the clams. 
  • Stir in the clams, milk, and cream. Reduce heat to low, and cook until just heated through. Do not boil. 
  • Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.
  • Serve hot. Garnish with parsley and oyster crackers.

    Recipe Links:

    Here is the link to the classic New England Clam Chowder recipe that provided the inspiration for this dish.

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