Pies about...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Butternut Squash Bread Pudding, not in New Hampshire.

This weekend I had some friends visiting from New York. We very nearly went to New Hampshire, but, at the last possible moment before the border, did not. Instead, we cooked dinner: chili, salad, biscuits, and bread pudding for dessert.

For the cake in the bread pudding, we used a butternut squash quickbread I'd made wednesday night. Recipe follows after the bread pudding recipe.

1/2 to 1/3 medium sized cake, diced or cubed (about two cups)
2 eggs
1/2 cup, brown sugar
1 cup milk
3 tbl butter
1 apple, cored, peeled, diced.
Vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg (all to taste).

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
Combine eggs, milk, sugar, and spices. Beat vigorously for a bit.
Into a small loaf pan, dump the cake cubes and the diced apples.
Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Dot with butter and press down with a spatula.

Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes, then 350 for 30, or until golden brown on top.

Butternut Squash Bread

1 small butternut squash, roasted and pureed. (Somewhat less than two cups)
1 egg, beaten.
1 cup milk.
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt.
2 tbl, olive oil.
1/3 cup brown sugar.
2 teaspoons baking powder
Ginger, quite a bit.
Nutmeg, to taste.
Vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon.

Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.
Combine milk, sugar, oil, and egg with squash, and spices, then add the dry ingredients. In a greased and floured pan, bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and resilient when poked.

Combine flour, s

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sweet Potato Tarte Tatin a la 2007/2008 Boston Celtics

This is a pie about the Boston Celtics.

Right now, everyone talks about the big three: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen. Walking to work, it's completely impossible not to see at least three pictures of the big three.

People keep asking me: Are you excited? Are you excited? The big three? Big ticket? The truth? Whatever Ray Allen's nickname is? Think there'll be a championship? Are you excited for the new season?

Well. Um, kinda. It'll be nice to win a few more games. But I miss Delonte West, a lot. And I miss Al Jefferson. I can't stop thinking, every time someone gets an offensive rebound, whether Al is getting one, somewhere, too. And I hate seeing pictures of the three guys, and only the three guys. Where is Tony Allen? Where can I buy Kendrick Perkins merchandise? Will someone please interview Rajon Rondo one time?

So this is a pie which appears, at once, to be the mere blending of three elements: Apple, sweet potato, corn meal. Upon closer reflection, however, this pie is far more complex, far more involved. Without butter, maple syrup, eggs, spices, and care- the apples, sweet potato, and cornmeal would just be a big pile of crap. With the accompaniments, each element is able to shine in new and unexpected ways.

What I'm saying here is: Don't ignore your bench, motherfuckers.

It's made in the style of a Tarte Tatin, but includes sliced sweet potatoes along with the apples. It's sweetened with brown sugar and maple syrup, and enriched with vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Instead of the traditional puff pastry crust, this pie is finished with a rustic, barely sweetened cornbread.

Sweet Potato Tarte Tatin a la 2007/2008 Boston Celtics.

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled.
2 large or 3 medium apples, peeled.
1 cup of butter
1 cup of milk
1 cup of yellow cornmeal
1 cup of white flour
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup, brown sugar
1/3 cup, grade B maple syrup
2 teaspoons, vanilla extract
2 teaspoons, baking powder
2 teaspoons, cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon, nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon, salt

Slice your sweet potatoes and apples into either rounds or half moons. The easiest way to do this is to cut a flat bottom on the sweet potatoes, and then, resting on that bottom, cut down the length of the potato. For apples, cut off each side, then slice downward.

Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 1 tbl of the maple syrup with the milk and beaten egg. Melt 4 tbl of butter, allow to cool briefly. While the butter's cooling, assemble dry ingredients: Combine 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Pour cooled butter into milk, watch it clump up all cool-like, then add dry ingredients. Stir until dough forms, put into fridge for a bit.

In a large, heavy, cast-iron skillet, on low-medium melt the rest of the butter. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and the rest of the maple syrup. Allow to bubble until dissolved. Layer, in a spiral pattern, in the butter and sugar (Carefully!), half of the sweet potatoes. Then the apples. Then the rest of the sweet potatoes. After all is in, press down gently with a spatula.

Wait for at least 15, but 25 is better, minutes.

Turn off heat, drop cornmeal dough over the last layer of sweet potatoes, spread over the rest with spatula...bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, take out of the oven to cool for about 5 minutes. Place a large platter over the top of the skillet, and carefully carefully, flip the skillet over.

Give it a few wiggles and taps, then remove. And look! Just LOOK!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I live alone mock-cheddar cheese soup.

The boyfriend and I were talking about mock-apple pie. A strange, old-timey phenomenon, mock-apple pie is ground ritz crackers, sugar, and apple pie spice in a pastry shell, which people swear tastes just like apple pie.

This, of course, leads to two questions: Why substitute for something available, year round, from all supermarkets, everywhere. Apples don't even need refridgeration; people stored them in cellars, like potatoes. It is damned hard not to have apples when ritz crackers are widely accessible. Unless you live, maybe, on some remote micronesian island without agriculture or accessible harbors.

Tonight I made a soup, which I realized was, exactly, straight on, dead ringer for cheddar cheese soup. There is no cheddar cheese in it. Yet, the ingredients of this soup are only available in places that cheddar cheese is also available. Also, it contains mostly cruciferous vegetables, and a buttload of garlic, so it helps that I live alone.


1/2 large yellow onion, minced fine.
2 small red potatoes, also minced.
1 bag, frozen cauliflower
1/2 cup, canned pumpkin.
1 can, cream of mushroom soup, condensed.
Chili Powder
2 tbl red wine.

To the bottom of a large soup pot, drizzle enough oil of any kind to cover. Add onions and potatoes, and cook on medium, stirring occasionally, until bits start to stick. Add red wine, scrape bottom, and stir. Add garlic, to taste. When no bits remain stuck to the bottom, and your kitchen smells somewhat like standing right next to a guy in an apron with a picture of sausage on it on a rush hour train, add four cups of water and the frozen cauliflower. Cook until no cauliflower remains frozen. With a stick blender, puree like crazy. Cook for twenty minutes on low, add can of cream of mushroom soup, a buttload of chili powder, and the pumpkin. Cook for a while longer, maybe 15 minutes, then puree again, until creamy. Really go at it.


See? You'd really think there'd be cheddar in there.

but there isn't.

A mystery. A paradox. A hearty soup.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Unsupervised Chocolate Cake.

This cake has three major influences, all of which came together, when I was fifteen, into a cake that a person...well, probably shouldn't eat. These influences are, in order:

1. The revelation that melted chocolate will seize up and get nasty if cold liquid is added to it, but that if it's heated with liquid, magic happens.
2. The war cookbook: dedicated to General MacArthur, this book was my joy of cooking. Except, instead of telling me how to make an omelet or how to debone a chicken, it focused on instruction of patriotic young housewives in making do without eggs, butter, fresh milk, or tin cans, without ever denying their family a hot, nutritious, home-cooked meal.
3. For the first time in my life, I was often home alone. My father lived on the west coast; my brother was away at college, and my mother, on friday afternoons, would drive out to the western part of the state, to pick him up. So I was left to my own devices.

This is the result, a decadent, crisp-outside, fudgey inside, strange-ass chocolate cake.


Unsupervised Chocolate Cake, or The Cake that Shouldn't Be.


2 and 1/4 cups white flour.
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon, salt

1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
2/3 cup milk
3 rounded tablespoons, mayonnaise
1 teaspoon, vanilla
1 dark chocolate candy bar.
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 stick butter

Set a large mixing bowl over a pot of water, to create a crude double boiler. Put over medium heat. Preheat oven to 375. Grease and flour a nine-inch square cake pan, like a motherfucker.

Combine all dry ingredients, except 1/4 cup of the flour and set aside.

Break up your chocolate bar, and put it, milk, sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, the rest of the flour, and the butter over the double boiler. Stir, keeping the milk from boiling, until the mixture is thick, the butter is melted, and the chocolate is incorporated. Remove from heat, add mayonaise to hot mixture, stir very well, add flour mixture, dump into cake pan and bake until it doesn't jiggle at all. (Possibly 45 minutes, maybe longer- it doesn't matter, there're no eggs in it. Serve hot hot hot with a spatula. Or, serve covered in cheap canned chocolate frosting, powdered sugar, or generic cool whip.

The texture will be about 1/3 cake, 1/3 brownie, 1/3 pudding. Do not be upset if the sides crisp and the middle is somewhat gooey, but not flowy. That's success, not failure. Absolute success.

Until you realize that you're eating a cake which is mostly held together with mayonnaise.

Then you'll just have to deal with it.