Archive of ‘eggs’ category

Buttermilk Chess Pie & Celebrating National Pi Day with John Boehner & the Pentaverate

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Last week was a horrible week.  It’s been rough on a very personal level – bad news was in the air and I’ve had to watch people I love get put through the wringer.  My mind has been inundated with images of human devastation and suffering that has made my heart ache.  It’s hard to feel so powerless to help others.  When I start feeling overwhelmed by the misery, I remind myself that I am one person so I do what I can (Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders), tell the people that matter to me that I love them.  And then I retreat into the kitchen.  I cook for the ones I love and try to find reasons to laugh - usually by mocking the absurd and ridiculous which helps me cope.  That’s what this post is about.

I love food holidays like National Pi Day.  First of all, the act of making pie on Pi day seems more credible to me than most other food holidays.  So many of them seem absurd.  Like a group of politicians got together, got drunk, and started trying to figure out how to save the world with the kinds of plans that seem to make so much sense when you’re under the influence of alcohol – you know like the time that I was sure that if we just could give the world a Coke and teach them how to sing in perfect harmony, we could all live in peace together.  Except I thought that rum and Cokes would be more appropriate because that’s what I was drinking and I sure as hell felt peaceful.

Anyway – I like to think that food holiday discussions go something like this:

Scene: Secret GOP Meeting where the margaritas & salsa are present in copious quantitites.

John Boehner: You know what will create more jobs?  A tax cut for the manufacturers of sunless tanning products.

Mitch McConnell: Dude – You & Lindsey Lohan keep them in business just with your purchases alone.  Joe!  Quit hogging the margaritas!

Joe Biden: S’up.

Mitch McConnel: Joe – seriously, you are the only person I know who gets quieter when they drink. And why the hell is he here?  This is a secret GOP meeting.

John: Everyone knows that Joe makes the best margaritas.

Mitch: Noted.  Alright people – we need to figure out how to solve the budget crisis.

John: Screw the budget crisis.  You know what I love?  Marshmallow fluff.

Rand Paul: {passes out in bowl of salsa}

Mitch: Somebody needs to cut Rand off.  Anyway – what we were talking about?

John: Making tomorrow National Marshmallow Fluff Day. That will stimulate the economy.  Marshmallow fluff for all!

Mitch: Sounds good to me.  March 16 is now National Marshmallow Fluff Day.  Joe – pass the margaritas.

Joe: S’up.

Mitch: Dude – you’re freaking me out.

This type of scenario makes perfect sense.  To me, at least.  For example – March 10 is Blueberry Popover day.  Obviously the Blueberry Popover lobby is a strong force to reckon with.  And March 24 is National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day.  When the Pentaverate is finally exposed for the evil, power-hungry organization that it is, we’ll finally find out that CEO of Raisinets has been cloistered away with the Colonel (with his wee beady eyes) and that they plan to take over the world using a gum wrapper, fried chicken and candy that looks like rabbit turds.

I’m also a fan of Pi day because I am married to a man that can recite pi to 15 places without batting an eye.  And he’s wearing his pi shirt today.  Any day that makes nerds happy makes me happy.

Mainly though, I like Pi day because it gives me an excuse to make a pie.  And pie is made of awesome sauce.

The buttermilk chess pie in Nancy McDermott’s book, Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes, From Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan, caught my eye at first glance.  I love southern pies, mainly because they take the mundane, everyday ingrediants that Southerners would have on hand and turn them into something elegant and delicious.  It doesn’t hurt that I have ready access to Cruze Farm’s Buttermilk.  Ten out of ten people agree that it comes from happy cows and angels.

I’ve been testing quite a few different pie crusts lately, looking for my holy grail recipe.  This is going to be a long process so I can’t award any winners yet, but I’m very fond of the recipe for a butter/shortening crust that I tried from Nancy’s book.  I’d love to be able to use leaf lard for my crusts but I haven’t found a local source.  Until then, I’m going to stick with butter.  I like this crust recipe because it’s predominantly made with butter but has just enough shortening to up the flakiness factor.

The verdict on this pie?  I put a forkful in my mouth and sighed.  This pie is so good that it could end scary partisan rhetoric and balance the budget.  This pie is so good that it could create a world where Joe Biden could mix margaritas with John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and yes – even Rand Paul – all while crooning in a peaceful harmony.

This is a damn fine pie.  Eat a piece, hug the ones you love and donate if you haven’t already.

 

Buttermilk Chess Pie

Yield: Makes two 9-inch pies

Ingredients

  • Pastry for two 9-inch single crust pies (see below)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 5 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 9-inch pie pans with crust and crimp the pie edges decoratively.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and flour, using a fork to stir them together. Add buttermilk, eggs and vanilla, stirring well. Add the butter and stir to blend everything together into an even filling. Pour the filling into the pie crusts, dividing evenly between the two.
  3. Place the pies on the bottom shelf of the oven. Bake until the edges puff up and the centers are fairly firm, wiggling only a little when you nudge the pans. This will take 40-45 minutes.
  4. Place pies on cooling rack and let cool to room temperature.

Butter/Shortening Piecrust

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold & cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, very cold
  • 3-5 tablespoons ice water

Cooking Directions

  1. Put flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and put them in the freezer for at least 10 minutes
  2. Put the flour mixture in the workbowl of a food processor, fitted with a metal blade. Add butter and shortening and pulse to cut the fat into smaller pieces. These pieces should be about the size of small peas (some can be smaller than that)
  3. With the machine running, slowly pour the water through the feed tube. The dough will begin to come together into a ball. When it does, turn the food processor off immediately. Do not let it form a complete ball. (This took 4 tablespoons of water for us)
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently shape it into two disks about 1.5 inches thick. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.
  5. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit for 10 minutes. On a floured surface, roll out one of the dough disks into a circle 1/4 inch thick and 10 inches wide. Transfer this (carefully!) to a 9-inch pie pan.
  6. Press the dough gently into the pan and trim the excess dough away, leaving about 1/2 inch of dough beyond the edges of the pie pan. Fold the edges up and over and crimp them decoratively.
  7. Refrigerate crust until needed - this can be up to 3 days.

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Pan-Crisped Deviled Eggs Salad & Welcoming Spring

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It’s been beyond gorgeous here in Knox Vegas.  A purple carpet of crocuses have already taken over my neighbors’ lawn, incited a bee orgy and faded quietly away.

Bulbs are coming up everywhere I look with some already in bloom.

Forsythia is blooming all around, causing me to break out in my usual tirade against the people who prune them into little squares or balls.  Why, for the love of all that is holy, do people plant a shrub that is notorious for it’s sprawling growth habit and then prune it to within an inch of its life?  They look ridiculous – like the Iggy Pops of the shrub world have been shaved, shorn and popped into 3-piece suits with Dexter Poindexter glasses.  And I’m going to stop now before I start ranting about people who top trees and prune crepe myrtles into little stubs.

Birds wake us up every morning in the noisy mating ritual.  And since I live in the city, our favorite mockingbird has been sitting outside our bedroom window every morning, doing his best impersonation of a car alarm.  It’s beautiful – this music of springtime.  Sometimes he gets really creative and throws in a firetruck siren.

The air feels soft, warm and moist.  You can almost hear things growing.  When I walk through the lawn, I can smell the crush of violets, wild onions, parsley, catnip and other herbs that have escaped their garden confines and help me disguise the fact that we have all of 3 blades of real grass growing in our “lawn”.

East Tennessee is getting the Crayola haze – everything looks a bit misty and colored by my favorite colors in the crayon box.  It’s almost a cliche how green things look but I know it’s only going to get more breath taking

It’s been in the 60s every day and as I stand outside on my concrete patio, feeling the warmth of the sun soaking into my feet, I’m looking forward to the fresh peas that I’ll be harvesting from my garden in the next weeks.  That is, if dogwood winter doesn’t get us.

Spring is teasing us, murmuring to us with a husky come hither tone but I’m trying not to be too tempted by its siren song.  East Tennessee Spring has suckered us in before, teasing us with her husky warm breath before slamming the door in our face like a petulant lover.

I think of the spring several years ago where Marcus and I decided to eat only local fruit. We were blessed with an early spring and we watched our strawberry patch flower more profusely than it ever had before.  That was the same strawberry patch we coated in row cover fabric & plastic, finally resorting to sticking actual lamps in the bed to coax it through the 12 degree night.  That was the summer we refer to as the Melon Summer.

I am a sucker for anything that involves, includes, alludes or even hints of deviled eggs.  They’re like the cupcakes of the egg world.  I’ve actually heard people squeal out loud at parties when they realize deviled eggs are being served.  I’m actually chagrined that I don’t have a proper platter for serving deviled eggs.  My excuse is that my kitchen is in a crazy state of transition and there’s no room for it but the Southern woman in me weeps at my disgrace.

But as awesome as deviled eggs are, imagine them crisped up a bit and caramelized around the edges.  Imagine a tiny bit of resistance on your teeth before you bite down into that buttery, sun-shiny yellow of a yolk.  And imagine a deviled egg that’s been souped up – Spring-style with garlicky overtones and the greenness of parsley.  When I bite into these eggs, it reminds me of my lawn with all of its wild onion and parsley seedlings.  These yolks taste like a dandelion should taste – all buttery and full of springtime.  And if you scatter them on a carpet of fresh greens dressed with a piquant vinaigrette?  Dogwood winter – do your worst.  Spring is here to stay in my kitchen.

PS – As I hit publish on this post, I’m giggling because there’s a winter storm warning in the mountains tonight.  BRING IT DOGWOOD WINTER!!!!

Pan-Crisped Deviled Eggs Salad
Serves 2
Adapted from The Splendid Table’s How To Eat Supper

EGGS:
4 large eggs, hard-cooked and peeled
1/2 scant teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons minced onion
1 1/2 tightly packed tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 1/4 teaspoons mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

DRESSING:
Leftover egg stuffing
1 1/2 extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/4 tablespoons milk
1 1/4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Salt & fresh-ground black pepper

SALAD:
4 generous handfuls mixed greens

Cut eggs in half lengthwise.  Remove yolks and place the yolks in a bowl and set whites aside.  Add mustard through vinegar and mash and mix thoroughly.  I usually use a regular fork for this.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the mixture into the hollows of the reserved egg whites.  Make sure you don’t mound them up, the mixture should come to the top of the whites but not  above.  You will have some of the yolk mixture left over.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat.  Place eggs stuffed side down in the pan.  Cook for around 5 minutes or until browned.  Mine cooked for just over 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with 1/8 tsp of salt and a few grinds of pepper as they cook.

While the eggs are sauteing in a large bowl, mix the leftover egg yolk mixture with the dressing ingredients.  Whisk together thoroughly.  Toss the salad greens with the dressing.  Divide greens onto two plates.  Remove the egg halves from the pan (4 halves per plate) then serve.

Please click here for a printable recipe!