Pecan Pie

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My dad loves pecan pie. Except he doesn’t like it for the reasons most people probably like it. He just likes the nuts. “I don’t want all of that goop,” he says.

This year, I made him his own special pie with extra pecans, less goop and mild sweetness. His eyes lit up at the 3 hefty cups of nuts. It was also the first time I’ve liked pecan pie. Usually the sweetness gives me an instant cavity. Not really. Well, probably.

If you like normal pecan pie skip this recipe. If you like pecans like Ryan Mackey, then this is for you. We tried to come up with a name for this pie. I looked at my dad and suggested, “Daddy’s Double Nuts?” At the thought of this he turned toward me revealing the front of his sweatshirt which said, “Everyday I’m Musselin.'” He didn’t like the name…

1 pie

Ingredients

  • 1/2 recipe any double-crust
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups pecan halves

Roll out your single pie crust. Slide it into a 9-inch pie plate, crimping the edges. Put in the freezer while you make the filling.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with an electric hand mixer (or with strong hands and a mighty whisk) until frothy. Stir in the maple syrup, brown sugar, butter, vinegar, orange juice and salt. Mix in the pecans. Pour the filling into the pie shell and smooth the surface with a spoon. Bake for 45 minutes, until the crust is golden and the center is mostly firm.

Cool for 1 hour before serving. Serve heated or at room temperature.

Smashed root veggies with caramelized leeks

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While going through the photos on my computer I found pictures of my Thanksgiving feast.  How dare I not post about what is arguably the greatest food holiday!  This year for Thanksgiving I broke away from the Castle/Mackey clan and flew to Burlington, Vermont.  My best friend goes to school at University of Vermont and has the cutest apartment downtown.

While cooking my first turkey without parental supervision probably would have been a right of passage, we chose not to cook a turkey.  I know, I know…Thanksgiving without a turkey?  Whitney and I aren’t huge turkey fans.  I usually eat a small piece and smother it in mashed potatoes and gravy until it isn’t recognizable.  Whit agreed and we chose to spend the twenty bucks we would have spent on a turkey, on cheese.

The best part about cooking Thanksgiving dinner with only your best friend and minus a turkey is that it was effortless and inexpensive.  The two of us picked out extra side dishes to make up for the loss of meat.  We woke up in the morning and broke into our various cheeses we purchased and watched “Castle” until it was a reasonable time to start cooking–we lasted until about 10:30 and then got antsy and started cooking.

 

Watching Castle and eating cheese
Watching Castle and eating cheese

This post is about the smashed root vetetables with caramalized leeks that we made from a recipe in Martha Stewart’s “Living” magazine.  The root vegetables were earthy and hearty.  They were similar to mashed potatoes, but had more texture and flavor.  I would never replace mashed potatoes with these root veggies, but it was an excellent addition to round out our veggie meal.

Serves 8:

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4), peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3/4 pound turnips (2 small), peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 pound parsnips (about 4), peeled and cut into chunks
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 pound leeks, trimmed, sliced 1/4 inch thick, and rinsed well (2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Place the potatoes, turnips, and parsnips in a large pot; cover with 2 inches cold water.  Season water with salt.  Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer the root vegetables until they are tender and breaking apart, about 30 minutes.  Drain.

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Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium Dutch oven (this is what Martha recommends, but I just used a normal skillet) over medium high heat.  Add leeks, and cook until golden, about 15 minutes.  Add root vegetables, and stir to dry out, about two minutes.  Add milk and cream, and stir to break up vegetables.  Heat until hot; season with salt and pepper.

Leeks
Leeks before caramelization

The vegetables can be refrigerated 1 day in advance and reheated.  When reheating, add more milk to reach the creamy consistency.

Cornbread, Sausage & Pecan Stuffing

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I had always been curious about cornbread stuffing. I’m loyal to traditional stuffing, but couldn’t there be both?

My cornbread stuffing tasters were party-goers at a potluck I went to. It was a reunion for the group of people I went to Italy with last summer. Last time we had dinner, I made this wretched caesar salad. I used a recipe for the dressing that I have made so many times, so I thought it was foolproof; boy was I wrong. I sometimes overlook certain steps in recipes because I think they are silly. It turns out that rinsing the anchovies and patting them dry is very, very, important. The dressing was so fishy…I got a lot of flack for it from my friends. I learned my lesson, but I knew I had to show up with a note-worthy dish in hand to redeem myself.

It was a hit! This is a recipe I will absolutely revert back to. The cornbread is sweet, which balances the savory herbs and sausage.

Now when I see that group of friends they remember my excellent stuffing and, thankfully, not my fishy dressing.

8-10 servings//Adapted from Bon Appetit 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more to grease the pan
  • 1 lb. day-old cornbread, broken into 1 1/2″-2″ pieces (9 cups)
  • 1 lb. breakfast sausage links, casings removed
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 cups of 1/4″ slices celery
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped toasted pecans (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs

Arrange racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat to 250 degrees. Butter a 13x9x2″ baking dish; set aside. Arrange the cornbread in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Bake, stirring often until it is dried out. This takes about 1 hour.  Let cool. Transfer to a very large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up into 1/2″-1″ pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with cornbread but do not stir.

Heat 1/4 cup butter in the same skillet; add onions and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to brown, about ten minutes. Add to the cornbread mixture.

Return the skillet to heat. Add vinegar; cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, for 1 minute. Pour into a bowl with cornbread.  Gently fold in 1 1/2 cups broth, pecans, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Add salt and pepper. Let it cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk 1 1/2 cups broth and eggs in a bowl. Fold gently into cornbread until thoroughly combined.  Be careful not to mash the cornbread. Transfer to the prepared dish, cover with foil, and bake until the temperature reads 160 with a thermometer or when the top is golden brown and hot (about 40 minutes).