Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bourbon Pecan Pie

To my American friends, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Full of traditional foods like turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and that quintessential southern favorite - pecan pie.

I hate pecan pie. Especially that yucky goo that tastes like sugar and cornstarch. Blech.

This pie made me eat my words. And boy, was it worth it. 

Mr. S requested the pie this year, and I decided that if pecan pie ever was worth eating, it was probably way back in the old days. So I dusted off my antique Joy of Cooking and discovered this:

Any recipe that uses the word "piquant" is worth making. 

So with my trusty assistant, the inimitable Bean, we made a pie. And then burned the dickens out of it. I blame Bean.

But how can you be mad at this face for long?

So we tried again. And this time it was gobsmackingly delicious. I'm not kidding. 

Make. This. Pie. 

Just because it's Tuesday. Just because it's sunny. Just because you feel like it. I will NOT let a whole year go by before we taste this goodness again. 

Start out with a big bowl. Toss in the sugar, corn syrup, eggs, melted butter (that is slightly cooled so you don't cook your eggs), and salt. 

You need to par-bake your crust. So toss it in the oven for 5 minutes or so. 

Shhhhh. Don't tell, but I'm using Pillsbury crust. They didn't pay me to say this (but if they want to send me a free pallet-o-pie-crust I wouldn't turn them down) Pillsbury is bar none the BEST pre-made pie crust out there. And it's probably better than half the ones I've made from scratch. 

Next, add a bit of bourbon to the bowl. We're using the Costco brand of bourbon. It's delicious. 

Now, the pecans. Mmmmm.

Some I've broken up, some left in their halves. Gives a bit of variety!

Into the pie crust and into the oven. 

Pull it out at 40 minutes. Not a minute later. Pay no attention to what it looks like and whether you think it looks done or not. It's done. Get it out of the oven before it burns!

And beware - once it's cut into, it won't last long. 

Bourbon Pecan Pie
Not really adapted from the Joy of Cooking

1 9-inch pie crust 
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 c light corn syrup
1 c white sugar
1/3 c melted butter
1 c pecans, halves and pieces
3 tbsp bourbon

Roll your pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate. Place a piece of parchment over top of the crust and use pie weights to hold the crust so it doesn't bubble. Do not poke with a fork. Bake at 500 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove and let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, syrup, sugar, and butter. Whisk in the bourbon. Stir in the pecans. Pour into par-baked crust and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

For some reason, there's always a push around this time of year to discover alternatives for the typical Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. 

I think these folks are nuts. I love pumpkin pie. It's a turkey day staple. But that doesn't prevent me from wanting other pumpkin-based desserts around this time of year.

So with my trusty can-o-pumpkin and smiling sidekick - off to the kitchen!

I'm going to make this in a pie plate, because I think it's prettier than a plain glass baking dish. You can use an 8x8, 9x9, or a deep dish pie plate. Up to you.

Pieces of stale bread in the pie plate. 

Milk, half & half, sugar, and salt - in a pot on medium low heat. Just dissolving the sugar. 

Off the heat - add pumpkin to help cool. Then more cooling. 

Eggs and spices go in a large bowl. 

Whisk all those liquids together. 

Pour into bread. Let soak.


Eat warm, with ice cream. Yum! Or the next day, cold out of the fridge after The Bean finally goes down for a nap....

My. That went quickly! Perhaps there is something to this pumpkin pie alternative stuff.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

1 loaf stale bread (French or Italian - a fluffy white bread with a good crust)
1 c. half & half
1 1/2 c. milk
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 c. canned pumpkin
5 eggs
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or spice mix listed below)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8x8 square dish or a deep pie dish. Cut the bread into bite size pieces and mound in baking dish.

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, half and half, sugar and salt until the sugar is dissolved (don't let the mixture come near a boil! this will be quick). Remove from heat and whisk in pumpkin. Allow to cool. In a large bowl, crack the 5 eggs. Add in the spice and gently whisk in the cooled milk & pumpkin mixture.

Pour the custard over the bread cubes, allowing it to soak in well. Because I had left my bread cubes out overnight and they were super stale, I had to pour in half the mix, then come back 2 hrs later once the bread had absorbed it all and pour in the rest. If your bread is less stale, you might only have to wait 10-20 minutes or so.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until slightly puffed up and still jiggly in the middle. Serve with ice cream.


So I don't have "Pumpkin Pie Spice" - but I've got everything that goes in it!

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cheat
Makes 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg