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For me, pecan pie is more about when it’s eaten than the pie itself, or even the recipe. I’m somewhat famous for my pecan pie, but to be completely honest, I just use the Joy of Cooking recipe, except that I use scotch or bourbon instead of vanilla or rum. Makes for a yummier pie.
I think the reason that I’m famous for my pecan pie is that it comes out on rib night. We’ve already discussed rib night a bit on this blog: when we shared our BBQ sauce recipe.
We had rib night last night, in honour of my brother-in-law Mikey, who’s in town for the first time in four years. Jim really wanted to do it up for his brother. Friday night was spent brining the ribs and making his world-famous BBQ sauce in anticipation of the big event. You know you have to brine the ribs, don’t you? Well, we do in our house at least. You take a bunch of baby back ribs, and immerse them in a mixture of beer, water, salt (a lot of salt), pepper, onions and garlic. Make sure they’re fully immersed, or else turn them a lot. Brine overnight at least.
Saturday dawned hot and sunny. Some of the crew went out golfing first; I had a wonderful day in the park with my sissy and my nieces. Then we moved it to the back yard and I put up a kiddie pool, which we all waded in.
At some point, I wandered inside and baked four pecan pies. In case you’re wondering, the Joy of Cooking recipe fills two store-bought deep-dish pie shells. I guess they’re not as deep as the homemade version – and unlike Deanna and Ian, I was not making my own on a hot, sunny Saturday.
Golfers started showing up around 5:00-ish. Then Jim had to steam the ribs before barbequeing them. You know that too, don’t you? Pour a beer and some water into a shallow pan or two, just to cover the bottom of the pan. Add in some thick slices of lemon and onion, and some chunks of garlic. Place the ribs on top of the whole mess (in one layer – very important) and then cover with tin foil. Steam in a 300° oven for 2 hours, or until the meat starts to pull away from the bone. Then barbeque over low heat, basting liberally with BBQ sauce, until nicely caramelized. Then serve.
So, there were ribs, coleslaw and some grilled corn on the cob, and the inevitable trip to the store for ice cream, and then pecan pie. It was a day of family and friends and happy chatter.
Of course I’m famous for my pecan pie.
P.S. Full credit to J of C, here’s the recipe:
Brush 2 deep-dish pie shells with 1 large egg yolk. Bake according to recipe or package directions.
Preheat oven to 375°F and place rack in the middle of the oven.
4 large eggs
1 C (packed) dark brown sugar
3/4 C golden corn syrup
1/3 C melted butter
1 T scotch or bourbon
1/2 tsp salt
Stir in 2 C whole pecans.
Pour the filling into the pie shells and bake until the edges of the pie are firm and the centre seems set but “jiggly” (40-45 minutes).
Cool on a raised rack at least 1 hour before serving.
[Ed. Note: Still without camera. So sorry!!! My mom was supposed to return my card reader to me today but now it turns out she can't find it. Ack! I can't plug the camera into the computer because it just so happens that this particular model of MacBook Pro and the particular model of Canon camera that I own don't get along with one another. Just these two. Go figure! So then my daddy-o stopped by my office with my mom's card reader but it doesn't have a slot for a CF card which is what my camera uses. By the time I learned of this incompatibility issue, I had already foolishly turned down Dea's kind offer of a loaner camera. Argh. I promise, come hell or high water, that I will have pictures up before Lima Bean Day and I will update all my posts with pics!!!!]
I swear, there is an association for everything these days. I googled “pecans” and the 4th hit was the National Pecan Shellers Association. Of course I had to look. Especially when their website address is “ilovepecans.org”. This is what I learned there (and I believe everything I read on the internet, but most especially when Wiki agrees):
1. Pecans have more antioxidants than any other nut which makes them good for your heart and could help lower your cholesterol levels.
2. Pecans have lots of good stuff in them like vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and stuff like that.
3. Pecans have a rich history – you can go to the website to read about it.
4. You can make just about anything with pecans.
I got P to buy pecans on the weekend in preparation for today, and then I forgot that I got him to do that and so I bought pecans while I was at the store, so now I have LOTS of pecans. At first I thought, pecan pie. It’s the perfect, classic American dish after all and it would use up all my pecans. But following closely on the heels of Peach Cobbler Day, I just couldn’t do it. Plus, I was thinking I should eat more pecans given what I have now learned from the Pecan Shellers and if I made pie, I would have to give it away. So this is what the pecan plan turned into:
Candied Maple Pecan & Rocket Salad
1. Combine in small, heavy bottomed saucepan: 1/4 c. pure maple syrup, 2 tbsp. water, 2 tbsp. brown sugar, 1 tbsp. butter, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp red chili flakes, 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper. Heat on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches hard crack stage (300 – 310º). Pour over 2 – 3 cups of pecan halves in large mixing bowl and, moving quickly (and really carefully so you don’t burn yourself!), toss the pecans until they are thoroughly coated in the sauce.
2. Spread pecans on greased non-stick baking sheet (trust me, you need to grease it) and bake at 350° for approx. 10 minutes, watching carefully to make sure they are toasting and not burning. The transition from good “nice and toasty” to bad “yucky burny” can happen in the blink of an eye! Pull from oven and transfer to a large platter or wide shallow bowl so that the pecans can cool.
3. Make up your salad while the pecans are cooling. Put fresh, young rocket (also known as arugula) in the bowl. If you are feeling adventurous, add some other good mesclun greens – like mustard greens, baby butter lettuce, even baby (really really baby – infants really) bok choy. Sprinkle with some fresh berries – like raspberries, or blueberries, or small local strawberries, or a combination thereof -, some slices of apple or pear and some chevre. Toss in the pecans like they were croutons. Serve with or without dressing.
4. If with dressing, do this: 1/3 c. grapeseed oil, 1/6 c. apple cider vinegar, 1/6 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice. Season with a small clove garlic crushed (not minced – just want a hint o’ garlic – it should sit on the bottom and the flavour should seep up), 2 tsp. dry mustard powder, 2 tbsp. either honey or maple syrup, pinch tarragon, s & p. If blending, add garlic after you have blended.
Pecan & Yogourt Dessert
P has this yogourt that he really loves. It’s pear and french vanilla flavour. At first I thought it was gross because, for me, it is too sweet. But today I realized that pecans are the perfect balance! I put some pecans in a bowl and put some of the yogourt over them and gobbled it all up. Delish!
Pecan Hot Porridge Breakfast
Make oatmeal like you would normally following the directions on the oatmeal package, except use fresh squeezed apple juice instead of water and add the following to the pot before cooking (amounts to taste): cinnamon, brown sugar (or honey or maple syrup), berries, pecans. Perfect, stick to your ribs breakfast
That’s all she wrote folks. Enjoy your pecans!
I called Jim at work at around 4:15, just to let him know I was ducking out with my dear friend Karen to share a Friday-afternoon beer. “So,” I said, “have you thought about what you want in your ravioli? Sausage? Goat brie? Butternut squash and roasted garlic?”
“Not squash!” Jim managed to interject.
We had to stop for groceries, including flour to make the pasta dough with. We couldn’t find any chicken or turkey sausage. “Just grab a package of ground turkey,” I said to Jim, “we’ll make our own.” “How?” he asked. “Don’t worry,” I said, “I have a litre of duck fat in the freezer. We’ll make it work.”
It was after 7 p.m. when we staggered in with our groceries. Then we had to clean the kitchen. Andrea called while I was cleaning – just as she set off the smoke alarm with her steak frites. She was opting for an easy (but delicious) dinner.
Who starts ravioli – from scratch no less – at 7:30 on a Friday night? Well, me.
Brie and Roasted Garlic Filling, step 1:
First, I turned on the oven to 350°F. I cut the top off of a head of garlic, drizzled with some olive oil, and wrapped it in tinfoil. Then I roasted it until it was soft (about 40 minutes; I took it out just as the pasta dough was ready). I also chopped up about ½ C pecans and toasted those until slightly browned (okay, until 1 second before burnt – I forgot about them as usual).
I started out with Mario’s recipe for pasta dough: 3 1/2 C all-purpose flour and 5 large eggs. Make a well in the flour, use a fork to mix the eggs in and then knead.
My eggs promptly tried to escape and run across the counter. It took two of us to wrestle those suckers into submission. Guess they make the eggs bigger in Marioland because I had a dry, gross mess on my cutting board. I added another egg. Once I had a reasonably cohesive mass on my cutting board, I asked (ordered) Jim to throw the rest of the slightly eggy flour away so I could knead the dough. He threw away more than a cup.
Next time, I’m starting with 2 1/2 C of flour and adding in what I need.
I then kneaded the hell out of the very firm dough for 10 minutes. At about minute 8 I determined that my dough was drier than Mario’s suggested “springy and slightly sticky.” I drizzled about a tsp of olive oil on the counter and kneaded that in too. It was the perfect solution, if I do say so myself. My dough transformed from slightly dry to silky smooth. It was still very firm, though. And not sticky at all.
I forgot to pick up saran so I put my dough under an inverted bowl for half an hour. Then we swept the flour, laughed at my flour-covered yoga pants, and tried to scrape dried flour and egg off of my wooden cutting board.
At the same time, Jim was tackling the sausage. He mixed together:
- 1 lb lean ground turkey thighs
- 4 cloves crushed garlic
- 2 minced shallots
- 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp thyme leaves
- 1/4 C duck fat
- salt and pepper
Despite my suggestion, he did not add some grated parmesan.
Brie and Roasted Garlic Filling, step 2:
I threw the toasted pecans into the food processer and ground to a fine meal. Then I squeezed in the garlic and blended well. Then I chopped an entire round of Comox Brie into chunks, and processed that in with a little salt and pepper and half a tsp of olive oil. I didn’t bother to cut away the rind. Far from being impossibly gooey, it had the texture of, well, sausage. Perfect for stuffing pasta.
I stopped at Ming Wo twice yesterday. Once on the way to work. They weren’t open yet (despite advertising that they open at 9:00 a.m.). Once on the way home (we were 10 minutes too late). Thus, no crimping pastry / pasta wheel. Oh well, a fork would have to do.
We rolled out our pasta to the thinnest setting. Then we laid it on the counter and filled it. I actually prefer hand-shaped ravioli to ravioli in a press. You can do a much bigger ravioli – like a poofy ravioli cloud – instead of just a little ravioli pillow. It’s all about preference. Make sure you crimp the edges with a fork if you don’t have a wheel. Allow the ravioli to dry a bit, uncovered, while the pasta water (liberally salted) boils.
Our raviolis were so darned big, we “only” cooked four of each kind, each. That was way too many.
Before I dumped the ravioli in, I put about 1/4 C butter in my big-assed saucepan and began browning it. Then I tossed in about 2 tsp sliced fresh sage. Jim heated up some home-made tomato sauce (that’s a recipe of Mario’s I’d feel guilty about sharing. Go buy his recipe book).
We cooked the brie-stuffed pasta until it floated, and the turkey-stuffed pasta for about 4 minutes (the meat was raw after all). I scooped a little pasta water into the bubbling brown butter, then lovingly placed the brie clouds into it. Then plated, sprinkling liberally with parmesan.
Et voila: roasted garlic and brie ravioli with brown butter sage sauce, and turkey “sausage” ravioli with tomato sauce.
I hate to say it (so did Jim, but he admitted it), the brie ravioli won hands down. It was soooo rich and decadent, I could die. The turkey “sausage” ravioli was excellent, in a hearty, stick-to-your ribs kind of way. More of a Tuesday night dinner than a Friday.
Did I mention we plated at 10:45 p.m.? Needless to say, I woke up this morning to a trashed kitchen.