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Coconut Cream Pie

National Pie Month has been, in many ways, an amazing challenge.  It’s challenged me to make and edit essentially the same photograph over and over.  It’s challenged me to experiment with new ingredients, new techniques, new flavors.  I’ve loved every delicious minute of it.  Not to mention that I am now able to make amazing custards almost effortlessly.

For my final sweet pie of the month I made a coconut cream pie, the request of a reader.  I was dubious because I’m not a huge coconut fan, nor am I a huge custard fan.  I knew I’d want something different, something to add a twist to the overall flavor of the pie.  So I decided to add a chocolate creme/graham cracker crust.  It was a great decision.  It added a layer of flavor to the pie that was so different from, yet perfectly complimented, the custard and the meringue.  It was the perfect way to end this month o’ pie (sweetly).

Coconut Cream Pie

Filling:

3 egg yolks

2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup shredded or shaved coconut

1 tbsp butter

Crust:

10-12 chocolate creme cookies

4 graham crackers

1 stick butter

Meringue:

5 egg whites

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 cup sugar

Coconut shavings for top

Filling:

Heat milk in a medium saucepan.  Bring close to a boil.  In another bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch.  In a third bowl, whisk egg yolks.  When milk is hot, spoon 1 ladle-full into the eggs.  Whisk together.  Return egg/milk mixture to the milk and stir.  Slowly stir in the sugar and cornstarch.  Stir until it thickens.  Cut the heat and add butter and vanilla extract.

Crust:

Combine oreos, graham crackers, and sugar in a food processor.  Blend until crumbs.  Melt butter.  Toss butter and crumbs together, press into pie dish.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Scoop custard into pie dish.

Meringue:

Whip egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar until stiff.  Fold over custard, making sure to seal the edges of the meringue to the pie dish.  Top with coconut.  Bake at 350 for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Chili & Cornbread Pie

A few weeks ago when I announced this month o’ pie on twitter and the like I got a lot of feedback, requests, and suggestions.  My friend Mattie told me that she had just made a tamale pie– a chili pie with a cornbread crust.  Immediately I was hooked.  I’d been thinking of making a pie this month with a biscuit crust, but knew cornbread would be exactly what we wanted in the throws of late February (especially considering the unexpected snow).

This pie was delicious, heartwarming, and completely welcome in this latest cold snap.  The recipe I’m providing is a little different from the one we tested.  Originally I had thought a bottom crust was in order, but instead of acting as the pie-like anchor I was hoping it would it really sucked up a lot of the moisture from the chili.  So no bottom crust.  And it’s obviously the dead of winter so I used frozen/preserved ingredients but I’ll be keeping this recipe in mind for a cold, rainy day in the fall.  With fresh jalapeños and tomatoes? Amazing!

Chili & Cornbread Pie

(enough to make 1 deep dish pie)

Chili:

1 lb ground beef

1 onion

1 large can whole peeled tomatoes

1 cup frozen corn

1 can black beans

1 can kidney beans

1/4 cup pickled jalapeños

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp chipotle

1 tbsp salt

4 cloves garlic

Cornbread crust:

1/4 cup pickled jalapeños

1/4 cup white cheddar cheese, sharp

1/4 cup orange cheddar cheese, sharp

1/4 tsp sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

1 cup flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

2 tsp baking powder

1 cup milk

1/3 cup canola oil

Begin by browning the beef.  Combine in a crock pot with all the remaining ingredients (including the juices from the beans/tomatoes).  Cook for 4 hours on low, tasting occasionally and adjusting the spices to your preference.

To make the crust, chop jalapeño and shred cheese.  Mix dry ingredients.  Slowly mix in milk and oil.

Scoop your filling into a large pie dish, stopping about 1 inch from the top.  Spread cornbread topping over the chili evenly.  Bake on 375 for 25 minutes.

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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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