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Pecan Pie

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.

fun in the park

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.

Jimmy on the Q

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.

~ Eva

P.S. Full credit to J of C, here’s the recipe:

Pecan Pie
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.

A few weeks ago, Deanna sent an email to B., Janelle and me.  The email said,

Anyone ever tried this?

This sparked a flurry of emails between us (none of us had), but especially between Janelle and me.  I’ve been off work this past week (Olympic madness) and decided now would be a great time to experiment with bread.  We had some technical difficulties with National Chocolate Mint Day, so I decided to share my progress so far.

The contenders are Jim Lahey’s bread, and a sourdough “rye”.

I started the starter for the sourdough rye on Monday.  My selection of bread cookbooks seemed to include only 1 sourdough rye recipe, Beth Hensperger’s “Sour Poppy Seed Rye” from Bread for All Seasons (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1995) at p. 80.  Much as I love Hensperger’s recipes, I wanted a truly sour sourdough.  Hers, start to finish, was at best a 3-day recipe.  I turned to The Joy of Cooking but failed to locate the “Sourdough Rye Bread” recipe printed on p. 605 (75th Anniversary printing).  Sigh.  I really don’t need any more cookbooks.

Undaunted and with little experience, I decided to make it up.

Day 1
Mixed 1 C dark rye flour with ¼ tsp yeast (Fermipan) and 1 C room-temperature milk.  Mixture was less runny than I thought it would be, more like a paste.

Day 2
Hmm the “starter” doesn’t seem to have started.  Still paste-like, no bubbles.  Turn to Joy of Cooking and decide to help starter along by stirring in 1 C unbleached flour, 1 C lukewarm water, and 2 tsp yeast.  No “sour” smell yet but rye gloop is quite lumpy.  Stir vigorously.

Day 3


Whee!  Bubbles and a sour smell!  Can’t decide whether to cover (Hensperger’s advice) or leave uncovered (Joy of Cooking) so opt for a tinfoil cover that I variously remove and replace throughout the day, depending on the whim that strikes me at the time.  A crust forms, which, following JOC advice, I stir down.

Also, I start Lahey’s bread.  It sits, soft and doughy, in the bottom of the bowl. Am sceptical that a good bread can be made from ¼ tsp of yeast and a whopping 1 ¼ tsp of salt, but I don’t modify the recipe.

Day 4
Add ½ C each unbleached and rye flour, plus 1 C tepid water to sourdough starter.  Notice the JOC recipe and that it says not to let the dough rise for too long, because it will be heavy because yeast eats rye very quickly.  Am now quite nervous.  Decide to plough on ahead.

Lahey’s dough has risen the entire 18 hours and has bubbled up beautifully!  Very sticky and therefore a bit difficult to get out of the bowl.

Lahey's bread, all bubbled up.

He says, “When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.”

When I poke my dough after 2 hours, it readily springs back.  2 ½ seems to be the trick. I turn it into my ceramic slow cooker insert (the only thing I own that’s both heavy enough and large enough) and bake for a total of 60 minutes.

It’s beautiful:

coming out of the oven

And it tastes divine!  A perfect crust, the kind I thought only bakeries in Europe could accomplish.  A nice, elastic snap to the interior.  The entire loaf is devoured in a matter of minutes by the men watching hockey in my living room.  Immediately start another batch.

Day 5
Feed the sourdough starter with 1 C unbleached flour and 1 C tepid water.  JOC says I should make bread between 4-8 hours after feeding the starter. Have not yet decided on the rye ratio.  Will keep you posted.

Janelle was going to try her own Lahey bread experiment (after much harassing from me).  I can’t wait to hear about it.  🙂

xx Eva

Oops, I took a bite out of it before putting the gravy on it!

Oops, I took a bite out of it before putting the gravy on it!

Because what you need right after Thanksgiving is a big ol’ roast beef and pastry roasted in fat.  Of course, we are celebrating American National Food Holidays because, sad to say, it seems that Canadians just aren’t as inspired by food as our friends to the south (trust me, I looked – we got nothin’).  So their turkey day isn’t for another month and in that context, it makes perfect sense to have roast beast and pudding as the days grow shorter and colder and we all start to get a yen for comfort food.  Incidentally, the Brits, who originated this delectable delicacy, (duhhhh … Yorkshire!) have their Yorkshire Pudding Day, more sensibly if you ask me, on February 1st.

It’s an incredibly versatile pastry, serving equally well as a conduit for gravy (their primary purpose), a musical inspiration and a marine transport.  Really, it’s a British icon traditionally served with Roast Beast.

The basic premise is that you heat a pan with some fat in it (using a hot oven), throw some sloppy, runny batter into the pan, toss it back in the oven and wait for a bit.  You can find out all about that here.  I didn’t use that recipe though.  I used the one from the Boston Globe cookbook ’cause it looked simpler but I couldn’t find an online version so you can look it up if you’re really that keen.  My roast beef wasn’t done roasting yet ’cause I was busy making jambalaya in my new copper pot that I got for an early birthday present and that was the number one priority, so I didn’t have drippings from the roast, but what I did have was the fat I had skimmed off my ham stock that I had thawed out to use in the jambalaya, so I used that in the pan for the yorkshire puddings.  Looked disgusting, but I was sure it would turn out great and it did.

Hog fat in a muffin tin

Hog fat in a muffin tin

They were really big muffin tins, but I'll admit, the puddin's didn't rise spectacularly well

They were really big muffin tins, but I'll admit, the puddin's didn't rise spectacularly well

Ate my yorkshire pudding on the side of my jambalaya in the company of P and D and a nice Chianti. May have, as it turns out, been too much starch for me.  In any event, then I made gravy with the drippings of the (sadly overdone) roast beef (this is what happens when you have to go put a baby to bed in the middle of making two dinners at the same time) which I made better by adding lots of red wine and shitake and chantrelle mushrooms.  It was a really pretty gravy.

Real Brown Gravy - the chunks are delicious mushroomy bits

Real Brown Gravy - the chunks are delicious mushroomy bits

Right now P is re-creating Angel Food Cake day with a trio of toppings for the leftover cake.  This blog is going to be really bad for our diets!

From top: My brown butter banana rum sauce w/blueberries, with praline ice cream, and with (yech!) vanilla icing out of a tin.

Clockwise from top: My brown butter banana rum sauce w/blueberries, with praline ice cream, and with (yech!) vanilla icing out of a tin.

‘Til next time 🙂