I love square dancing. I actually grew up doing more contra dancing (which I also enjoy) --my parents would take my brother and I to them when we were little, and once we even had one in my dad's studio behind our house. I remember sneaking up to my bedroom to put on a dress so I could "twirl" like the big girls. I have since contra danced in Michigan and Maine, Maryland and Vermont, but when I moved to North Carolina a couple of years ago, I veered more toward square dancing than contra, and when I moved back to DC in June, I was super excited to find a burgeoning square dance here, organized by the DC Square Dance Collective. One year after the first event, the dance has now has turned into quite a phenomenon, as the largest square dance in the country, and a huge all-ages party on a Saturday night.
I can't remember who approached who, but somehow with the organizers we arranged for Tarts by Tarts to sell at the March dance, which happened this past Saturday at St. Stephen's church. And what a dance to pick! It was a completely packed hall, with the Horse Flies playing, Nils Fredland calling, the first anniversary of the DC dance, and 435 people who came out to swing and do-si-do and do (as my friend Jamie calls it) that grand ol' right and left!
For the occasion, Kari and I decided to dish up some Southern-inspired treats for all the ladies and gents. Here's our March square dance menu:
buttermilk cake doughnuts with cinnamon & sugar
sweet potato doughnuts with molasses glaze
assorted doughnut holes
chocolate chip cookies
salted oat cookies with white chocolate
popcorn with sea-salt, dill, and nutritional yeast (vegan)
apple fried pies
pecan-bourbon pie by the slice with whipped cream
almond flour coconut layer cake by the slice (gluten-free)
I'll be tellin' y'all more about the fried apple pies in a separate post, but I'd like to share the recipe for the pecan-bourbon pies, as it is corn-syrup free but still tastes "traditional"! Once again this comes from Nancie McDermott's Southern Pies. I'm going to have to take a break from her recipes soon or she might think I am stalking her! In any case, here it is...
Adapted from Nancie McDermott's Southern Pies
Makes one 9-inch pie
1 lb. (2 c.) dark brown sugar
3 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. bourbon, optional (I used Bulleit)
1 1/2 c. pecan halves
1. Prepare Nothing-in-the-house pie crust recipe as per the instructions. After chilling in the fridge, roll out crust and fit in a 9-inch greased and floured pie pan. Flute edges.
2. In a medium saucepan, mix sugar and flour well. Cut butter into 4 chunks and add to the saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir constantly to combine butter with the sugar and flour mixture. Once butter is melted and all is well combined, remove from hear and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, mix milk, eggs, vanilla and bourbon, if using. Stir well with a whisk until evenly combined. While stirring, slowly pour the warm sugar mixture into the milk-liquid mixture. Stir until well combined. Pour the filling into the pie crust and sprinkle the pecans evenly over the top.
4. Place the pie on the bottom rack of the oven and bake 40-50 minutes until the filling puffs (mine puffed quite a bit!) and center is firm and only slightly wiggles when nudged. It should be nicely browned and may develop "cracks". Once done, remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with a healthy dollop of whipped cream.
We had such fun meeting all the happy dancers...the only drawback was that it was so hard to just watch and not join in on the swingin'! I did manage to sneak out for a dance or two, while Kari graciously woman-ed the table. Thanks to all who came out and snagged some of our cookies & doughnuts, pies & cake, entertained us with stories of wild parties and the salty days in the Coast Guard (you know who you are, dance ranger!), helped us move the table to the front of the hall at the end of the night, and to organizer Bradley Kennedy for helping us set-up the whole occasion! Belles of the ball, all of y'all.