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Winter Banana Pudding

I love banana pudding.  I’ve always loved banana pudding, it holds a very special place in my heart.  Unfortunately, bananas don’t fit into my eat-seasonal-eat-local lifestyle, so they don’t often show up on our counter (which makes it hard when I’m low on potassium amIrighthoneyweshrunkourselvesfans).  Every once in a while, though, we make some concessions for what we like to consider sometimes foods.

Growing up, banana pudding was usually a summer treat.  Summer banana pudding has whipped cream on top, as opposed to the meringue that tops winter banana pudding.  Banana pudding has this amazing ability to make people feel 10 again.  It always brings me back to laying at the swamp house, listening to our family friend Capt’n Fred talk about how Rosemond women made the best banana pudding there ever was.  It makes me feel like home, so even though you could definitely argue that it isn’t a pie I thought it deserved a place on the menu this month.  Plus, it has a meringue.  And I made it in a pie dish.  So there, haterz.

This is the perfect opportunity to announce to you, friends, family, pie lovers, that my friend Rachel and I have co-founded the first annual B’Eat More Pie Festival.  You’ll remember that last year we competed in the Cville Pie Fest, and that experience left us wanting to do something similar for Baltimore.  The festival will be taking place on September 11, 2011 in Baltimore.  We are SO excited and think it has great potential.  If you’re in the area (or want to travel for pie), we expect to see you there!

Winter Banana Pudding

Pudding:

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup sugar

3 tbsp corn starch

1 tbsp butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Meringue:

6-7 egg whites

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 box vanilla wafers

6-8 bananas

Start with your pudding.  Over medium heat, scald milk (don’t boil it).  Mix together sugar and corn starch.  When the milk starts to foam a little slowly stir in the sugar mixture, a little at a time.  Continue to stir the milk mixture until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  Stir in butter and vanilla extract.

In a pie dish lay down a layer of cookies.  Top with a layer of sliced bananas.  Top with half the pudding.  Add a second layer of bananas and cookies.  Top with pudding.

Whip egg whites, extract, and cream of tartar until stiff.  Spread over pudding, making sure meringue goes all the way to the edge of the dish, forming a seal.  Cook under the broiler for 7-10 minutes or until golden.

Refrigerate for 2 hours.

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Stewed Pork Pie

One of the most fun parts of celebrating National Pie Month this way is that we’ve been able to share the pie love with our friends.  This Saturday we had friends over to help us eat this stewed pork pie and a winter banana pudding, so I had the opportunity to get creative.  The coolest thing for me about doing such a focused month o’ pie has been the challenge offered by creating and photographing very similar recipes.  The challenge has been really great for getting my creative juices flowing.  That, and we’ve been eating a lot of pie.

I knew that I wanted the style and feel of these pork pies to be very different from the Smokey Chicken Pie we had last weekend.  Even though the flavor and ingredients were so different, it was important for the pies to be visually different because a savory pie always sort of looks like a savory pie.  So instead of a traditional pie format I opted for cup pies.  Cup pies are personal pies baked in a cup cake pan.  The end result was both fun and delicious.

Stewed Pork Pie

1 lb pork loin roast

2 red potatoes, diced

3 medium sized carrots, peeled and diced

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 tbsp herbs de provance

1 tbsp butter

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp pepper

3 garlic cloves

1 medium sized red onion

1 egg, whisked

In a crock pot or dutch oven combine all ingredients except the red onion.  Cook under medium heat for 4 hours.

Start your pie dough. Sift dry ingredients. Using your hands, work in shortening. Cube butter and work it in. Continue to blend until the consistency is that of course cornmeal. Stir in the water, a little at a time until your dough forms a ball. Divide in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

After 4 hours, check the temperature of the pork.  It should be between 160 and 170.  Put the temperature to warm.  Slice your onions and stir in.  Using two forks, gently pull the pork apart so that it shreds.  Allow to simmer in the juices for another 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the fridge. Roll it out on a floured, non-stick surface (like a sil-pat). Roll it out so it is 1/4″ thick.  Cut in 4 x 4 squares.  Oil a cupcake pan and place a square in each hole.  Fill with the pork mixture.  Pinch the edges together and fold over.

Brush each pie with egg wash.  Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool slightly and remove from pan.  Serve.

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Black Bottom Pie

Usually, Valentine’s Day isn’t a big deal. I try and make a nice dinner, maybe something special. It’s usually grits. I said it. I think grits are sexy. Anyway, I’ve never made a big deal about it. I’m pretty sure last year we ended up watching this show about two guys who should have died on an island after they got shipwrecked. But this year I wanted to do something a little different. This has been a particularly hard winter, I’ve been in a funk and the idea of doing something special just because was really appealing.

So today I worked from home and planned a really sweet night in. I made a nice dinner, complete with both chocolate dipped strawberries and black bottom pie. I chilled a bottle of cava. I put on a fancy dress. I built a fire on a night not remotely cold enough to warrant one. I shaped twizzlers into letters saying things like “I love you” and “D <3 E.” I cut out paper hearts. And I built a fort in our living room.

And I have to say, I’m so glad I did. I needed this. I know Dan loves me every day. I know that everyday I’m incredibly lucky and that everyday I have someone special and kind to come home to, someone that loves me. I celebrate that every day. But it was so refreshing to carve out a little extra special time for us. No, I don’t need an excuse to bake my husband a pie and lie around and snuggle him. But I won’t turn down the opportunity.

Black Bottom Pie

Dough:

2 1/2 cups flour

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup shortening

1 stick butter

1/2 cup water

Filling:

2 cups milk

1 tbsp flavorless gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp corn starch

1 tsp salt

4 egg yolks

Chocolate layer:

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chocolate

Custard Layer:

4 egg whites

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp almond extract

Topping:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Chocolate for shaving

Start with your pie dough. Sift dry ingredients. Using your hands, work in shortening. Cube butter and work it in. Continue to blend until the consistency is that of course cornmeal. Stir in the water, a little at a time until your dough forms a ball. Divide in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Remove half of the dough from the fridge. Roll it out on a floured, non-stick surface (like a sil-pat). Roll it out so it is 1 foot x 1 foot wide and 1/4″ thick. Drape the crust over the rolling pin and transfer it to the pie dish. Press into the pie dish. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.

Combine gelatin and cold water. Set aside. Scald milk. Set aside. Combine egg yolks, sugar, salt, and corn starch. Stir in yolks, fully incorporating. Spoon a ladle-full of milk into egg mixture. Stir it in completely. Stir in a second ladle-full. Pour egg/milk mixture into the remaining milk. Over medium heat, stir constantly until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (5-7 minutes). Stir in gelatin. Set aside.

Melt chocolate in a medium size bowl. Stir half of egg/milk mixture into the chocolate. Stir well so there are no lumps. Add vanilla. Pour into pie dish. Refrigerate.

Add almond extract to the remaining custard. In a mixer, whip egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar until stiff. Fold into remaining custard. Spoon into pie dish on top of the chocolate.

Refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Whip cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff. Spread onto pie. Shave chocolate on top for garnish. Chill for 1 hour before serving.

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