Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pecan Pie... another attempt

This blog, I've come to realize, is really just for my own record keeping of my experiments.  For those of you who actually read this (which I know there aren't all that many) this is yet another attempt to find the perfect pecan pie.  I have a work Christmas potluck tomorrow and I saw an opportunity to work on the pie.  I figure you guys don't really need another picture of a pie.  This one turned out kind of on the darker side.  So in previous attempts, the chess turned out kind of runny and was really quite a mess.  So this time I added a little flour to it in the hopes that it might thicken it up.  So without further adieu, here's what I did tonight. 

Pecan Pie #5

1 cup pecans
1 bar 85% chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup dark maple syrup, plus a little drizzle
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
2 oz. Amaretto
1/4 cup melted butter (1/2 stick)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs, well beaten
1 egg white
1 8" pie shell

Preheat oven to 350.

The chess: Combine the sugar, flour, and salt in a mixing bowl.  To it stir in maple syrup, molasses, honey, Amaretto, melted butter, and vanilla extract.  Make sure the mixture is not hot from the melted butter when you add your eggs or they'll scramble.

Put the pecans in a saute pan and roast them for a few minutes, moving them around in the pan every few minutes.  Keep a close eye on them.  Burning them is a bad thing.  When they start to smell good, they're done.  Drizzle a little maple syrup and let it reduce on medium-low to low for a few minutes.  Again, keep a close eye on it so as not to burn anything.  When it's reduced to a beautiful candy like consistency, remove it from the heat.

Pour the chess into your pie shell.  I ended up not using all my chess mixture because it would have overflowed.  Drop the chocolate and pecans in and stir them a little so that they're evenly distributed.  Brush the crust with your egg white and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 50 minutes.  Let cool on a cooling rack for a few hours.

Tomorrow night Noah is coming over and we're going to fry some chicken (Thomas Keller's recipe) and we're going to taste test the Dogfish Squall IPA against the Dogfish 90 Minute IPA.  Should be fun. 


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I'm a great lover of beer, and a great lover of GOOD beer.  I especially adore IPAs (that's India Pale Ales for you non-beer-connoisseurs).  They're hoppy, bold, and sweet, tangy and full of character.  To me, drinking a good IPA is akin to drinking a good cab-sav.  They're great with just about anything big and bold, from a steak or fried chicken, to even a spicy curry.  And there are a handful of IPAs that I've tried lately that have been really quite good.

Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA

I was perusing my local Kroger one day when this lovely beer just jumped off the shelf and into my cart.  While definitely not my favorite IPA in the world, it does stand up and get your attention.  Really, this is a very artfully crafted beer, as I have come to expect from Sam Adams.  This beer is brewed using hops from the 48th latitude, otherwise known as the "hop belt" in Germany, England, and America.  If you find this in your grocery store, and like IPAs, I'd highly recommend picking up a 6 pack.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
This is another beer you can find in the grocery store.  Of course, for me, if it has the name "Dogfish Head" it ends up in my cart.  Man I love this brewery.  This is my second favorite IPA in the whole world.  It's smooth and bold and full of flavor.  After a hard day of work, this is how I relax.  So yummy.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

The 60 minute beer is yummy.  The 90 minute is divine.  This is even bigger and even bolder than the 60 minute, and at 9% alcohol it'll knock you on the floor if you drink too many of them.  Fantastic, fantastic, FANTASTIC beer.

Now it's important to note that there is also a 120 minute IPA that is about 18% alcohol.  Yes...  18%.  I've never seen one, and I've ALWAYS wanted to try one.  Oh MAN what I would give to try one.  If anybody reading this knows where I can get my hands on a 4 pack please let me know...  

Ok, now for the list of beer that's sitting in my refrigerator that I haven't tried yet.

Dogfish Head Squall IPA
This badboy is another 90 minute, but different in some way.   What that is for certain, I don't know yet.  The guy at the liquor store told me the there's little difference between the regular 90 minute IPA and the Squall 90 minute IPA.  The Squall is a little cloudier and has hints of cannabis.  I said, "Cannabis?  Well shit, I may need to buy two!"  I have a 90 minute IPA sitting in my fridge, and I'd like to try them side to side to compare them. 

Dogfish Head - Chateau Jiahu

Another one that I have no idea about.  It looks tasty though.  I'll let the guys from Dogfish cover this one:  "Let's travel back in time 9000 years.  Preserved pottery jars found in the Neolithic villiage of Jiahu, in Henan province, Northern China, has revealed that a mixed fermented beverage of rice, honey and fruit was being produced that long ago - right around the same time that barley beer and grape wine were beginning to be made in the Middle East!  Fast forward to 2005.  Molecular Archeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology calls on Dogfish Head to re-create their second ancient beverage and Chateau Jiahu is born.  In keeping with historic evidence, Dogfish brewers used pre-gelatinized rice flakes, Wildflower honey, Muscat grapes, barley malt, hawthorn fruit, and Chrysanthemum flowers.  The rice and barley malt were added together to make the mash for starch conversion and degredation.  The resulting sweet wort was then run into the kettle.  The honey, grapes, Hawthorn fruit, and Chrysanthemum flowers were then added.  The entire mixture was boiled for 45 minutes, then cooled.  The resulting sweet liquid was pitched with a fresh culture of Sake yeast and allowed to ferment a month before the transfer into a chilled secondary tank."  Also, at 10% alcohol, this is no lightweight either.

So throughout the course of writing this blog I've been sipping on this:

This is the craziest shit I've ever seen in my liquor store.  So, ok...  normal bourbon is 80-90 proof, about 40-45% alcohol.  This shit is 125 proof, 62.5% alcohol.  Sipping on this is like getting punched in the face by Chuck Norris.  It's very similar to moonshine in taste and in color.  And it burns.  Oh dear god does it burn.  So if you want a punch in the face and want to get drunk fast, this is your ticket. 


Friday, December 10, 2010

More Pecan Pies: The Chocolate Experiment

So, this update is more for my own records than anything else.  I'm continuing my work on the ultimate pecan pie.  I was disappointed with my pecan pies at Christmas and decided they needed some work.  Also, there's a family gathering tomorrow night so I'll have lots of input.

So I made two pies tonight.  The first is a Honey Bourbon Pecan Pie, and the other is an Amaretto Pecan Pie.

I have all these ingredients...  what should I do with them?

Honey Bourbon Pecan Pie

1 9" pie crust
1 cup pecan halves
3.5 oz (1 bar) 70% cocoa (I used Lindt)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup agave syrup
1/2 cup melted butter
3 eggs
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz. Bourbon
1 egg white

Preheat oven to 350

Combine sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, eggs, salt, vanilla extract, and Bourbon in a mixing bowl.  Add the melted butter in slowly, stirring constantly so as not to scramble the eggs.  Roughly chop the chocolate so it's about the same size as your pecans.  Add the pecans and chocolate pieces to the mixture and pour into pie crust.  Brush the edges of the pie crust with the egg white and sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.  Let cool completely before cutting into.

 Amaretto Chocolate Pecan Pie

1 9" pie crust
1 cup pecan halves
3.5 oz (1 bar) 70% cocoa (I used Lindt)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup dark Karo syrup
1/2 cup melted butter
3 eggs
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz. Amaretto
1 egg white
A drizzle of maple syrup

Combine brown sugar, Karo, eggs, salt, vanilla extract, and Amaretto in a mixing bowl.  Add the melted butter in slowly, stirring constantly so as not to scramble the eggs.  Roughly chop the chocolate so it's about the same size as your pecans.

Toast pecans in a saute pan on medium heat, keeping a close eye on them so they do not burn.  When they start to brown and smell delicious, drizzle enough maple syrup on them to coat thoroughly and cook for about 5 minutes. 

Add the pecans and chocolate pieces to the mixture and pour into pie crust.  Brush the edges of the pie crust with the egg white and sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.  Let cool completely before cutting into.

And here's a picture of the two of them together:

Ugh, and I should have done these on a baking sheet.  For starters it would have made it a lot easier to get them out of the oven...  but also, I guess some of the filling dripped down on the burner and made a mess of my oven.  Like I don't have enough to do this weekend as is...  crap...  At any rate, I'll let you guys know how they turn out tomorrow....


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving in Retrospect

Sorry it's been a couple weeks since my last update.  Been too busy to blog, what with Thanksgiving craziness, and holiday gigs lined up one after the other (I'm a musician, did I mention that?).  This was the first TG that I my mom didn't do the cooking at our house.  She left it in my capable hands (yeah, and my sister helped a little...  I guess...).  Here was the menu:

Pecan Pie (old family recipe)
Bourbon Pecan Pie (new recipe)
Pumpkin Pie (old family recipe)
Eggnog Pie (old family recipe)
Pumpkin Bread (old family recipe)

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry Relish
Yams (not sweet potatoes)
Oyster Dressing (not stuffing)
14 lb Fried Turkey, brined for 12 hours ala Alton Brown

Here are some pictures:

Me, prebaking the crust for the Eggnog Pie

Whole mess of Pumpkin Bread goodness.

Cranberry Relish

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Oyster Dressing

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Pumpkin Pie

The spread...  drumsticks were a little underdone...  more on that in a minute...

Me and the wife relaxing on the porch while waiting for the potatoes to cook.
So for my first attempt at frying a turkey, it wasn't half bad.  I had a some problems getting my oil up to temp.  I dropped the turkey in the oil at a low temp (~250° F) because I heard it would reduce the risk of boil over.  Well, when the turkey dropped it SIGNIFICANTLY lowered the oil temperature (we're talking about 100° drop) and it took 30 minutes to get up to 350°, my target temp.  And by that point my skin was starting to blacken.  Things I would do differently next year?  Leave the lid on while frying and drop it at a higher temperature.  I had a fire extinguisher in hand the whole time, so if anything had happened I could have managed it.  It would have meant no turkey, but that's better than a burned down house.

But anyway, I took the turkey out at 30 minutes, the skin was a nice dark brown.  It was MOSTLY done.  The only parts that didn't get done were the drumsticks, surprisingly...  which nobody ate obviously.  But the white meat was fantastic!!!  My sister, who hates turkey, said it was the best she'd ever eaten.  But to me it wasn't perfect.  In fact, nothing this year was perfect.  I felt like I was just scrambling to get everything done.  Oh well.  I learned something for next year.

How did my mom do it by herself for so many years?  Man.  What an exhausting day.