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Pear & Pecan Pie

apple pear pecan pie 6 This Christmas we bounced all around the northeast visiting family from every branch of our tree. We started in Wilmington and visited Morehead City, Virginia Beach (twice), Lansdale PA, and Lorton, VA. We saw all of our parents, most of our siblings, both of our nieces, and in an experience that was more rare than the Southern snow storm I’m currently watching from my window, the whole of my mom’s immediate family, all in one place.

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apple pear pecan 10 For the first time since I was the tallest cousin (read: many years), all of us- my grandparents, my mom and her five siblings, their partners and children, were all in one place. We all traveled, from places as far flung as Zanzibar, to a beautiful beach house in Virginia to eat, drink, laugh, and be together. It was amazing.

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apple pear pecan pie 4 I’m often asked, especially since the debut of The American Cookbook, where I was trained, how I got into cooking. The short answer is that I’m self taught, but the long answer is that I come from two families that are more passionate about food than they are about most anything else. I come by it naturally because I was raised in a culture of food.

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apple pear pecan 11 For months (months) leading up to this trip there was a family email thread wherein we debated the intricacies of the trip- most importantly, the meals. By April we’d already decided who would cook each night, and by September there were spreadsheets going around detailing who was bringing the tomatoes and who was bringing the chili paste. More than anything else about this whole trip, this whole Christmas, I was excited to cook with my family. To share what I’ve learned, to stand around the stovetop cracking jokes and eating out of the pan. To be together enjoying our favorite thing.

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apple pear pecan 16 Dan and I were responsible for dinner the second night we were all there, and it was a fantastic day of cooking. After a leisurely morning and the first of many meals featuring pork roll, Aunt Jill and I made a pear and pecan pie using all the tools included in our first taste of The Besh Box. I was lucky enough to have a Besh Box land on my doorstep shortly before Christmas and I knew it would be the perfect project for my crazy, picky, food-loving family. A subscription based kit, each Besh Box features ingredients, tools, and recipes to help you expand your kitchen horizons. The holiday kit included everything from a pastry knife to Louisiana pecans.

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apple pear pecan pie 3 Of all the meals we cooked and ate during that week, this was my favorite. Along with the pies we made samosas, chicken tikka masala and garlic naan, a project that was truly communal. One Aunt stirred the masala pot while another pulled samosas out of the oven. My mom and two of my cousins totally took over the frying and seasoning of the naan with assembly line precision that would put Henry Ford to shame. Dinner was family style, of course, on a long table that sat all of us. There were toasts and stories and it was perfect.

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apple pear pecan 7 One of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that it doesn’t always matter what you’re making or even how it tastes. What matters is the experience of making it, the act cooking and feeding. Like serving your closest friends a breakfast that will hit the spot or slicing apples next to your Aunt, catching up and being together and making together. My favorite meals are always those that remind me that cooking is so much more than making food, and food is so much more than nutrients.

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apple pear pecan 8 Pear and Pecan Pie

6 pears
1/2 stick of butter
1 vanilla bean
2/3 cup brown sugar
Dash of ginger
Dash of cinnamon
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup fresh pecans
1 tbsp salted butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

Pie crust (recipe here)

Peel and slice your pears.  Melt butter in saute pan.  Add in pears, sugar, and spices.  Let simmer for twenty minutes or so, until pears are very tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.  Stir in flour, remove from heat.  Set aside.

Heat oven to 375F. Toss pecans in melted butter and brown sugar. Spread over a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until toasted.

Prepare your dough.  Divide in two and roll out bottom crust. Spoon filling into dough,and top with pecans. Roll out remaining pie crust and spread over the pie, pinching the edges to seal.  Whisk together honey and egg.  Brush onto the top of the pie crust. Cut five or six slits in the top crust. Bake at 375* for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

 

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Lovely Internet 1.24.14

1.24.14

1. This sweet post, by my lovely friend Amber, made my heart warm.

2. Raise your hand if Cool Runnings was your favorite childhood movie? Amen. This is for you, then.

3. The 50 Best Southern Foods

4. The perfect cup of coffee at home.

5. The Fancy Toast Trend (and the person behind it).

6. I am a sucker for a good list. Damn you, Buzzfeed, for drawing me in with your inane lists. This is how they get you.

7. Michael Pollen on nutrition. The message is amazing (worth it).

8. I broke my cold beverage travel cup last month and I’m seriously considering just ordered this to replace it.

9. The Salt.

10. Duck confit without the fat (in honor of all the duck fat I rendered this week).

For more tidbits from Elena the person, follow me on twitter (@elenabrent or @biscuitsandsuch), instagrampinterest or facebook. Follow along with MissElenaeous for thoughts on everything other than Southern food.

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Country Ham, Grits, and Eggs with Red Eye Gravy

country ham 3 Sometimes, after a long night of celebrating your husband’s birthday, you need a breakfast that is more than a breakfast. A breakfast that is comforting, delicious, and yeah, a little greasy. A little salt and meat and coffee that goes a long way.

country ham 2 We had an incredible group of friends with us last weekend, and it was my great pleasure to feed them. I love feeding people, it’s one of my personality traits that comes from all sides of my family- the desire to nurture and nourish, the love of hosting, the inherent food pushing. We cooked and ate so much that it was a whirlwind, but this may have been the meal I loved cooking the most. Some of my closest friends from across my 27 years of life, all sitting in my kitchen drinking coffee and laughing and enjoying each other as I stirred the grits, fried the eggs, browned the meat, whisked the gravy. It was a perfect morning, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world (even with the hangover).

country ham Red eye gravy is a simple combinations of drippings, usually from country ham that’s been fried in a skillet, and black coffee. The combination (plus a bit of butter), creates a thin gravy that adds depth and richness to the grits, eggs, ham, and everything else it touches. It’s unlike anything else on the breakfast menu.

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Country Ham, Grits, and Eggs with Red Eye Gravy

serves 8

16 slices of country ham

8 eggs

2 cups dried yellow corn grits

6 cups of water

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 stick butter

1 cup black coffee

Salt and pepper

In a large pot, heat salted water to a boil. Stir in grits and cream, and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer, stirring frequently, until thick.

Melt a pat of butter in a large skillet. Fry the ham for 2-3 minutes on each side or until browned. Place in a warm oven to keep temperature. As you’re frying your ham, heat another pat of butter in a second skillet. Fry eggs over easy or to preferred yolk runniness, also placing in a warm oven to keep. Add more butter to the pan as necessary to keep the eggs from sticking.

When your ham is cooked melt remaining butter in pan and stir in coffee. Whisk thoroughly, incorporating any drippings from the ham into the gravy. Plate each dish with grits, two slices of ham, and an egg. Drizzle gravy over everything and serve hot.

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