Saturday, May 07, 2016

Black Bottom Lemon Pie

Black Bottom Lemon Pie | Nothing in the House

I first came across this recipe in a copy of the 1932 Woodward and Lothrop Cookbook and Kitchen Guide for the Busy Woman in the library of Sandy Spring Museum in Sandy Spring, Maryland, where I was doing fieldwork at the time. The cookbook, written by Mabel Claire, was of local publication, as Woodward and Lathrop was a Washington, D.C. department store, first opening in 1887. The implication of the subtitle, according to author of The American History Cookbook Mark Zanger, was that these recipes were for the woman who worked outside of the home, kept no garden, nor had much stockpiled in the way of stored, preserved food. She was likely a city-dweller, and was also living in the midst of the Great Depression. Hence, this collection offers recipes that are generally quick and thrifty, calling for a modest number of ingredients and none too fancy. The cookbook does make up for this frugality by offering innovative recipes, as evidenced in the lemon-chocolate pairing in this Black Bottom Lemon Pie.

The classic Black Bottom Pie features a chocolate bottom layer, covered with vanilla custard, and sometimes topped with whipped cream. This version is said to have originated in southern California, first appearing in print in the 1928 Los Angeles Times. I couldn't find much about the origins of Black Bottom Pie with a lemon layer, but four years later, Mabel Claire included it in her cookbook, calling it a "New taste thrill-- chocolate in lemon meringue pie. It's a gourmet treat." Today, the pie has been popularized by Emily and Melissa Elsen of 4 and 20 Blackbirds, who offer it in their Brooklyn shop and include a recipe in their cookbook.

Here, I stuck closely to Claire's version, adding some cornstarch to thicken the yellow custard, and including more specific directions-- particularly for blind baking and refrigeration (the original did not call for it). What I certainly kept, and what may be the most ingenious part of the recipe is the lattice meringue, a style I've never found elsewhere.

Black Bottom Lemon Pie | Nothing in the House

Black Bottom Lemon Pie
Adapted from The Woodward and Lothrop Cookbook and Kitchen Guide for the Busy Woman

2 ounces semisweet chocolate
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon peel 
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

For the crust:
1. Prepare half of Nothing in the House pie crust as per the directions, reserving the leftover egg for an egg wash and saving other half of the recipe in the freezer for a future pie. Chill dough at least one hour before rolling and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Prick crust with fork all over the bottom. Place pie pan in the freezer for 1 hour to set before baking. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Remove crust from freezer, line with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Blind bake crust for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove paper and weights and brush with egg wash. Return crust to oven and bake for 5-8 more minutes more or until fully baked, puffed, and golden brown. Let cool while you prepare the filling.

For the filling:
1. Melt chocolate over hot water in the top of a double boiler.  Spread evenly over the bottom of the baked and cooled pie shell and set aside.

2. In the top of a double boiler, beat egg yolks until thick. Add lemon juice and water, mixing well to combine. Stir in lemon peel, 1/2 cup of sugar, and cornstarch. Cook over hot (not boiling) water, stirring constantly until thick, about 15 minutes. Remove from water and heat and let cool.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until frothy. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar gradually, beating constantly until stiff glossy peaks form. Fold half of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture until combined and pour over chocolate bottom in pie shell.

4. Spoon remaining egg white mixture into pastry tube and make a lattice design on top of the lemon filling.

5. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned. Let cool to room temperature and chill in refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!

Related recipes:
Black Bottom Pie
Lemon Chess Pie
Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Meringue Pie Cake
Levon Helm's Lemon Icebox Pie

Friday, April 22, 2016

Katharine Hepburn Brownie Pie

There's a photo of me from the fourth grade: I have my hair curled (it was then in its pre-pubescent stick straight stage) and piled high on top of my head. I'm wearing a blue blazer and turtleneck, and holding a wooden tennis racquet, with over-sized sunglasses completing the look. The occasion was a class biography project in which we were to impersonate one of our heroes and I, in case you haven't guessed from my surely obvious costuming, was Katharine Hepburn.

At some point prior I had graduated from Shirley Temple movies to those of Hepburn and Grant, Hepburn and Tracy, Hepburn, Hepburn, Hepburn. This little obsession was perhaps prompted by my mother and grandmother, who presented Kate as the feisty, whip smart, and athletic alternative to the other silver screen starlets my classmates were ogling over (likely via a certain "classic movie" issue of the very '90s pre-teen rag, American Girl).

Me as Katharine Hepburn, 4th grade
I admired Katharine for all of those reasons my elders saw her as an alternative role model. As a nerdy tomboy, I identified with Kate's Bringing up Baby shenanigans, leopard in tow, her cunning smarts that bested Spencer Tracy in Desk Set, and her take no guff attitude in Pat and Mike. I also just found her hilarious. Subsequently, I devoured her autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life, with abandon, and upon learning that as a child, she lived as a boy for the summer, with her parent's buy-in, considered doing the same. Six or so years later, then a sophomore in high school, I got in a heated argument with my honors English teacher who insisted that Katharine and that other Hepburn, Audrey, were sisters. I told her she was wrong, exclaiming, " I know for a fact-- I've read Me!," "So have I," she countered. Well, someone was lying and it wasn't me. 

Later in college, my older friend Ben who worked at Houghton Mifflin for his first job out of school, sent a spare copy of Ruth Reichl's bright yellow Gourmet Cookbook to my group house in Ann Arbor. The first recipe I discovered and ever made from there was Katharine Hepburn's brownies, sourced allegedly from the Hepburn family by a friend of food writer Laurie Colwin's. I've worn that page (688) out, so much that the cookbook now opens directly to it.

The recipe makes the best brownies-- fudgy and dense, they're the only ones I ever make. They're also incredibly simple-- fitting I think, for Kate-- a woman who appreciated luxuries, no doubt, but wouldn't let her get to carried away about them, always tempering her approach with that stubborn blue-blooded New England practicality.

Here, I have Hepburn's brownies the pie treatment, altering the recipe just slightly (I reduced the sugar by 1/4th of a cup) and using it as the filling in a pie crust. It's a Chocolate Chess Pie, essentially, but the richest one you ever had. The added salt and bite of the crust balances that out a bit, and of that, I think Kate would approve.

Katharine Hepburn Brownie Pie

Nothing in the house pie crust, halved
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Prepare half of Nothing in the House pie crust as per the directions, reserving the leftover egg for an egg wash and saving other half of the recipe in the freezer for a future pie. Chill dough at least one hour before rolling and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in fridge until ready to use. 

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt butter with chocolate over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla, beating until well mixed. Stir in flour and salt just until combined.

3. Pour filling into chilled pie crust and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool, then serve just warm or at room temperature. 

Related recipes:
Berger Cookie Pie
Chocolate Almond Cake
Chocolate Chess Pie
Cranberry Chocolate Chess Pie

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie | Nothing in the House

Somehow I've managed to keep a pie blog for 11 years without featuring Key Lime Pie. I've had Key Lime Pie Popsicles, Florida Citrus Pie, and Bill Smith's very similar Atlantic Beach Pie, but have up until now failed to include a straight recipe for the classic American dessert thought to have originated in the Florida Keys around 1890 (at least so says John Egerton and Nancie McDermott; in the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John Mariani dates it as early as 1856). It's due time to rectify this omission.

Key Lime Pie's history is closely linked to the history of sweetened condensed milk, which Gail Borden began producing just before the Civil War. The canned product found particular traction, in those days before pre-refrigeration, in areas where fresh milk was not readily accessible. Such was the case in southern Florida.

The original Key Lime Pie recipe was likely inspired by another classic pie-- In 1947 the New York Times called it "the equivalent of a lemon meringue pie made with the small, juicy key limes" (Food Timeline). The small, green-yellow citrus fruits, though, were plentiful in the Florida Keys, and were combined with sweetened condensed milk to create a dessert initially distinctive of the region.

Key Lime Pie | Nothing in the House

While the original recipe called for pastry crust, graham crackers are now standard, with some variations employing vanilla wafers, gingersnaps, or occasionally, Ritz crackers. Whether the pie should be topped with whipped cream or meringue can still be a point of contention, though the majority of Key lime pies today opt for the cream.

This version, adapted from Alison Kave's First Prize Pies, is a fairly standard recipe, adding an ample dose of lime zest for extra zing. I think it's the perfect combination of tart and sweet. It's best if you use the smaller Key limes, generally available in the winter months, bought in bulk mesh bags at most grocery stores. If you can't find them, though, regular limes will certainly do.

Key Lime Pie | Nothing in the House

 Key Lime Pie
Adapted from First Prize Pies

For crust:
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
5 Tblsp. unsalted butter
1 Tblsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

For filling:
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup Key lime juice (from 20-25 limes or 5-6 regular limes)
4 large egg yolks
Zest of 4 Key limes or 11/2 regular limes
1/4 teaspoon salt
Key lime slices, for decoration (optional)
Whipped cream (optional)

For the crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour graham cracker crumbs in a bowl and stir in melted butter, sugar, and salt until well mixed.

2. Pat the buttery crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan, pressing mixture into the bottom and sides to form a pie crust. Place in oven and bake until crust is lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. Place on a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature before adding the filling.

For the filling:
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice and zest, egg yolks, and salt until blended and frothy. Pour the filling into the baked and cooled pie crust and bake for 15-20 minutes until the filling has just set and bubbles begin to appear. 

2. Remove pie and let cool on a wire rack at room temperature for 20 minutes before refrigerating. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to set. Serve with lime slices and whipped cream, if desired. Enjoy!

Key Lime Pie | Nothing in the House

Related recipes:
Atlantic Beach Pie
Florida Grapefruit-White Chocolate Pie
Key Lime Pie Popsicles
Lime Bundt Cake
Lime and Raspberry Italian Meringue Pie

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lime Bundt Cake

It seems we've turned the corner. Though I'm generally a fan of winter, there is something that happens on that first warm short-sleeved day when we remember what we've been missing the past four months.

On the first day of spring, I was driving west through the mountains on the way back from the Appalachian Studies Association Conference in charming Shepherdstown. In the higher elevations, there was a light, blustery snow which turned to a cold rain as I neared home. I was exhausted and my head was spinning from the whirlwind of ideas and work shared at the conference. I kept coming back, in particular, to the presentation from my friend and filmmaker Tijah Bumgarner about the multiple emerging alternative narratives in Appalachia in the aftermath of the master narrative of coal. Her work on the diverse narratives and changes in the cultural landscape brought on by artists, writers, and filmmakers working in the region prompted me to consider how we are essentially also (re)creating or reimagining another distinct narrative through the work of the West Virginia Folklife Program. This is inevitably being created in the context of our oral histories, documentation, and programming that makes space for and gives voice to the everyday creative and cultural expression of West Virginians.

Certainly, I've been circling around that idea since I started here in November, and in a broad sense since I started studying and working in folklore, but framing it in the context of a narrative, or even as a distinct "text," helped me to conceive of the potential meaning-making and interpretation of this work. It's a helpful lens for me, former English major and teacher that I am, and brings more intention to my everyday tasks.

So while the first day of spring had us in a brief relapse in terms of weather and found me in a state of fatigue from a long week, it also brought a new perspective, not only from the conference, but in the active focus of my work. I've moved from a place of forging relationships and infrastructure, to being able to build on those contacts so that I can now step out into local communities with at least some known points of reference.

I had the day off on Monday, which provided the space to crystalize all I took in and settle back into my daily life in Charleston. Baking, as I've said before, is that process that grounds me in place. After so much socializing over the weekend, I didn't want to go out, so set on making something from what I had on hand at home. That turned out to be limes leftover from the Atlantic Beach Pie I'd made for Pi(e) Day, and other basic ingredients, coming together in this Lime Bundt Cake. I used some 1/3 coconut flour I'd received from Arrowhead Mills, and because I didn't have buttermilk, substituted in coconut milk leftover from another Pi(e) Day creation. I don't see why you couldn't use all coconut flour in this recipe if you wanted to go gluten-free. The cake was both moist and dense, tasted surprisingly of Fruit Loops, and offered that hint of green for the turn of seasons.

Lime Bundt Cake
Adapted from Life in the Lofthouse

For cake:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons lime zest
3 eggs
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk

For glaze:
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 Tablespoon full-fat coconut milk
Lime zest and shredded coconut (optional)

1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour bundt pant and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, and lime zest on medium speed until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add lime juice until incorporated.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine flours, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add this dry mixture to wet mixture, alternating with the coconut milk.

3. Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan and spread evenly. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

4. Remove cake from oven. Let cake rest 10 minutes in pan, then invert to a cooling rack. Let cake cool completely while you prepare the glaze.

5. For the glaze: Whisk together powdered sugar, lime juice, and coconut milk until smooth and no lumps remain. When cake is completely cool, drizzle glaze on top. Garnish with lime zest and shredded coconut, if desired. Slice cake and serve.

Related recipes:
Atlantic Beach Pie
Key Lime Pie Popsicles
Lime and Raspberry Italian Meringue Pie
Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy Pi(e) Day 2016!

Photo by Chris Chen from Pi(e) Day 2013 at The Dunes, Washington, D.C.

Happy Pi(e) Day! I hope you are enjoying the mathematical excuse of the day to gather with friends around the 2piR circular revolution that is PIE. I plan to celebrate this evening via a pie potluck with a few neighborhood pals here in Charleston's East End.

Here's a look at some past Pi(e) Day celebrations in D.C., North Carolina, and Texas and if you're looking for that special 3.14 recipe, you just may find it in the Nothing in the House recipe archive.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Beef Picadillo Pie with Mashed Potatoes

I was first introduced to picadillo-- the spicy beef dish traditional to Spain and other Latin American countries-- by the folks at La Mano Coffee Bar in Takoma, D.C. Shortly after they opened in fall of 2013, I stopped by for a coffee and quick lunch bite and tried their beef picadillo hand pie. It was heaven, with juicy tomatoes, ample spice and a touch of sweetness in a flaky, buttery crust. I've craved it ever since. Eventually, I worked up the courage to email them and ask for the recipe, a request which co-owner Anna Petrillo graciously obliged.

I've been making that beef picadillo pie often lately, finally settling on a somewhat adapted recipe that works well as a main course as well as a potluck contribution. While some picadillo includes raisins and olives, I veer towards spicy and tang rather than sweet and salty. Gordy's Thai Basil Jalapeños are perfect for that extra kick, and the addition of the crust and mashed potato toping provides the antidote to the heat.

Anna included a few additional tips with her recipe, which I'll include here:
I did not grow up eating picadillo, but I have always enjoyed dishes that start with a base and can be modified to one's own tastes and depending on what's in the cupboard. Over the years I have had many versions of picadillo made by friends, during traveling, and in restaurants. Everyone has their own take on it. I think the important points to remember for this are:

1) Make sure you mince up the ground beef into as small as chunks as possible as it's cooking ("picadillo" means "mince") so the meat can absorb and be coated with the spices and sauce.
 2) Try to create a balance of all the main flavors: 1) sweet, 2) salty/tangy, and 3) spicy. Tomatoes, olives, and raisins seem to be common elements but it's fun to experiment with ratios or look for items in your pantry that you can throw in to create those flavors. I've made it with all types of brined items like anchovies and olives, different types of vinegars or wine, and different spices like thyme, tumeric, bay leaf, etc. 
For a hand pie, because you're only getting three or four bites, and it all has to stand up against a salty, buttery crust, you want a lot of flavor packed in the meat. So I go heavy on all the flavors. It also helps if you let the mixture sit overnight to allow the flavors to blend. The meat mixture is also delicious just with rice and beans or tortillas if you don't want to use it as a stuffing. Good luck!

Beef Picadillo Pie with Mashed Potatoes
Adapted from La Mano Coffee Bar

Nothing in the House pie crust, halved

For the beef picadillo:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 shallots, minced
1 ounce ginger root, finely grated
1 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
1/4 cup chili powder
1 teaspoon salt (more, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or allspice (optional)
1/2 Tablespoon Sriracha (optional to taste)
1 large can (about 25 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup capers
1/4 cup Gordy's Thai Basil Jalapeños (or other pickled jalapeños)
1/8 cup vinegar
1/8 cup lime juice
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional, to taste)
Egg wash (leftover 1/2 egg and 1/2 Tablespoon whole milk or cream)

For the mashed potatoes:
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 Tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
1 cup whole milk or heavy cream
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Pepper, to taste

For the crust:
1.  Prepare half of Nothing in the House pie crust as per the directions, reserving the leftover egg for an egg wash and saving other half of the recipe in the freezer for a future pie. Chill dough at least one hour before rolling and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in fridge until ready to use. 

For the beef picadillo:
1. Brown ground beef in olive oil (if needed) until cooked through and no more pink remains. Add the onion, garlic, and shallots, cooking over medium high heat until onions are softened and translucent. Mix in the ginger root, oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, fennel seed, chili powder, and salt 1 teaspoon salt. Add in the cinnamon or allspice and Sriracha, if using. Cook for another few minutes until spices are fragrant. Use a large spoon to break up the meat chunks until finely chopped. 

2. Add in crushed tomatoes, capers, jalapeños, vinegar, and lime juice. Simmer 20 minutes or until the liquids are reduced, continuing to break up meat chunks. If the mixture seems too dry, add some water.

3. Add chopped cilantro leaves and 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, pre-dissolved in small amount of water. Simmer 1-2 minutes until the mixture is a little thickened. Taste for salt, adding more if necessary. If too tangy, add sugar, to taste. Once cooked, allow mixture to cool to room temperature before filling pie crust.

For the mashed potatoes:
1. Peel potatoes and cut into quarters. Place in a pot, covered with water and 1/2 Tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil over low heat until potatoes are soft and tender when pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes and return to the pot or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

2. With the mixer, immersion blender, or a potato masher, mash potatoes until smooth. Add butter, stirring quickly to melt. Mix in milk or cream, then add salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Scoop beef picadillo filling into refrigerated pie crust, filling just to the beginnings of the crust flute (you may have some leftover filling). Mound mashed potatoes on top. Brush crust with egg wash. Place pie in oven and bake for 30 minutes until crust is browned and filling is bubbling. Serve warm and enjoy!

Related recipes:
Frito Pie
Gordy's Cherry Pepper Spread Galette
Heirloom Tomato Hand Pies with Bacon, Cheddar & Thai Basil Jalapeños
Pimento Cheese and Tomato Pie
Tomato, Bacon & Jalapeño Pie

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Kimchi Bloody Mary

This past weekend I attended the Appalachian Storytellers edition of the Blind Pig Supper Club at Claxton Farm in Weaverville, North Carolina. One of my favorite dishes on the star-studded menu was Louisville chef Ed Lee's Pork Schnitzel with Gravy, Chow Chow, Kimchi Purée & Ham Salt. What made it particularly good was the balance of the sweet and thick chow chow with the fine, spicy hot kimchi. More affirmation that I really need to make it to one of his restaurants some day.

The specific taste of Lee's kimchi purée was familiar and I realized that it was this Kimchi Bloody Mary that it reminded me of. I developed this recipe for the gals at Gordy's Pickle Jar, but it's inspired by the amazing kimchi bloodies at the D.C. Korean restaurant Mandu-- a brunch favorite no longer convenient now that I live in West Virginia. This recipe is a close second and is still one of the best bloody marys I've ever had, topping the list along with Mandu's and my friend Mike's homemade version we had in the Lost Creek Farm sauna this New Year's Day.

The recipe works best with Gordy's spiced and briney Bloody Mary Mix, but if you can't source that where you are, substitute your favorite mix, whether store bought or homemade.

Kimchi Bloody Mary

1/2 cup of kimchi, processed in a food processor until very fine
1 1/2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lime (reserve other half for garnish)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped very fine
1 1/4 cup Gordy's Bloody Mary Mix (or your favorite mix, store bought or homemade)
1 squirt of Srirachi sauce, to taste (optional, as Gordy's mix is already spicy!)
3 ounces vodka
1 cup ice cubes

In a blender, combine all ingredients, reserving the ice. Divide ice into 2 glasses and pour drink mixture over ice. Serve with a lime wedge. Cheers!

Related recipes:
Colcannon Pie
Gordy's Cherry Pepper Spread Galette
Heirloom Hand Pies with Bacon, Cheddar & Thai Basil Jalapenos
Mayday Cocktail