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Monday, November 28, 2011

Mocha Chiffon Pie

 I'm in love with chiffoning. I am a nouveau chiffoner. Chiffon me baby! Chiffon me!
 This pie is an adaptation of my Pappy's Coffee Chiffon Pie. I added half and half and chocolate and the result was this beautiful cloud of creamy goodness resting in a crisp and buttery crust.
I decorated mine with Hagelslag. That's Chocolate Jimmies to most of us Americans. If you can get good Hagelslag, it is a revelation. None of these little waxy bits we sometimes get on our ice cream. No, Hagelslag is real chocolate and melts in your mouth.

I will share Pappy's original recipe first, so you can see where I have changed it. I have to say, I'm mystified by the lemon juice in his preparation. I didn't miss it at all.

Pappy's Coffee Chiffon Pie
1 packet Knox gelatin
3/4 cup strong coffee (cold)
4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup hot coffee
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Soak gelatin in cold coffee. Beat egg yolks slightly. Add 1/2 cup sugar, salt and hot coffee and cook over boiling water until thick like a custard. Add gelatin and lemon juice. Cool slightly. Beat egg whites until stiff. With remaining sugar, fold into the custard and put into a baked pie shell and put into icebox to set.

My Mocha Chiffon Pie
One pie shell, baked and cooled
1 packet Knox gelatin
3/4 cup cold water plus 1 tbsp. Medaglia d'oro instant espresso
3/4 cups sugar, divided
4 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup half & half plus 1 tsp. Medaglia d'oro instant espresso
1 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Dissolve the gelatin and 3 tsp. instant espresso in 3/4 cup cold water. Set aside.

Add the egg yolks, half & half, 1 tsp. instant espresso, salt and 1/2 cup sugar to the top of a double boiler. Cook over briskly simmering water, stirring constantly. Once this mixture has become hot, stir in the chocolate pieces. Continue to cook until it thickens into a custard. Stir in the gelatin mixture and remove to glass bowl and place in the fridge to cool. Stir periodically as it is cooling.

When the custard has cooled at least to room temperature, beat the egg whites with 1/2 tsp. vanilla. When soft peaks have formed, beat in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form and the egg whites are glossy.

Fold a small amount of the egg whites into the custard mixture to lighten it. Fold in remaining egg whites until well incorporated. Mound into a baked and cooled pie shell. Sprinkle with Hagelslag, if desired. Chill until set.

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Families Recipes - Pappy's Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

 A page out of our family's history.

Some time ago, my Grandma Betty gave me my Pappy's old cookbook. He was a chef in a restaurant hotel in Seattle in the 1930's. Over the years, my mom has commented on the light and luscious pumpkin chiffon pie that Pappy used to make for the holidays. Here is the page in his book that shows this pie. I thought that he had typed the recipes in the book, but my mom said he didn't really type. The recipes are clearly for the restaurant and some of them are for very large quantities. Maybe the hotel issued this book to him. I will ask Grandma Betty when I see her next. 

I tried making a chiffon pie when I was in my 20's and it never set. Having good success with other pies, I just let it go. Somehow gelatin that was not Jell-o seemed too advanced for me. I'm delighted to say that my first attempt at this pie was very successful. I made this for my mom and grandma to enjoy and remember Pappy at Thanksgiving. 

The great thing about success with this technique is that a whole new world of chiffon pies is now open to me. The flavoring possibilities are endless. In fact, there are at least a dozen variations on this pie in Pappy's book. I'm excited to try them all - lemon, pineapple, chocolate, coffee, orange! Yum!
 Because we have some frail elders in our family, I wanted to make sure I used the most excellent eggs possible. These four beauties came from the backyard chickens of my friends, Paula and Laura. No possibility of salmonella here!
 The yolks were a gorgeous orange and the whites stood at attention!
This pie is light as air, smooth as silk and subtly spiced. 

I hope you consider investigating your family's holiday traditions and recipes this holiday season. I know that there was so much I took for granted until my elders began to leave us. I am  grateful to still have my grandma and to have become the keeper of my family's cookbooks.  It is an honor.

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
1 prepared crust
1 envelope Knox gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs (I used four because they were smaller than commercial eggs)
1 1/4 cups pumpkin
1/2 tsp. ginger (dry, ground ginger)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sugar (divided)

Soften the gelatin in the water and set aside. 

In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, combine the egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, pumpkin, milk, salt and spices. Cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin. Pour the pumpkin mixture into a bowl and place in the fridge to cool. Stir from time to time as it cools. (Mine took about an hour.)

When the pumpkin mixture has cooled, beat the egg whites. When soft peaks form, beat in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until glossy.

Fold one scoop of the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture to lighten it. Fold in remaining egg whites. When combined, mound into the prepared pie crust and chill until set. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Random Food Fridays - Potato & Chickpea Curry with Easy Cheater Garam Masala

I am a curry novice. I love curry a whole bunch. With Madelyn's tutelage, I learned that curry could be easy. I mean, it can be so darn complex tasting that I viewed it as some kind of special alchemy. Little did I know that a very passable Thai Curry could be thrown together with prepared curry paste and a can of coconut milk! Bada Boom! Bada Bing! 

You may recall my one New Year's resolution for 2011 - Make beans from dry and no more cans! So far, I've been 100% canned bean free. I've been doing a lot of searches for recipes to use beans up and add some variety to my lunches. In one search for chickpeas, I came across this post at As I read it and spied Campbell's Tomato soup on the ingredient list, I was intrigued. I recalled that the last time I ate tikka paneer and garlic nan with Miss Paula at Pooja Indian Grill, it was remarkably like eating grilled cheese with tomato soup, only deconstructed and spicy! I thought, why not give this crazy idea a try!

I had a hard time finding garam masala, so I made some from the spices I had on hand. I understand that whole, toasted and freshly ground spices are far superior. But I really wanted to make this from pantry items to see if I liked it before going all out. This simple recipe has given me a good result and the confidence to move forward with my curry curiosity. The only changes I made to the recipe were to slice the onion instead of dicing and I added about 1 1/2 cups frozen peas. Surprisingly, this was not very hot, so I added some generous shakes of Tapatio hot sauce. I imagine it would have been more authentic with more cayenne, but hey, how authentic can you be with a can of tomato soup!

Easy Cheater Garam Masala
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
dash cayenne pepper

Mix and store in an air tight container.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Random Food Fridays - Steamed Eggs & Kale

One of the reasons I started posting RFF is that some things are just rediculously good, but they are so simple that writing up a recipe seems almost a little condescending. I like to share because sometimes I've discovered really yummy things somewhat late in life. Maybe there are others like me, who are trying to eat more greens and they've never tried this combo before. I've done plenty of omelettes and fritattas, but those scramble the eggs. These steamed eggs offer the rich, warm yolk as a perfect sauce for the greens.
I will also confess that I have never mastered the art of poaching eggs, although I like them very much.  This is a sort of greens-assisted, safety-first poached egg. I've had good success every time.

Although there is no recipe, I'll tell you what I did. I added about a tablespoon of water (from my morning kettle) to a small saute pan. (Do you have a special egg pan?) I heated the pan over a medium-low heat, then I put in a generous handfull of leftover steamed kale. (It was simply stemmed, chopped and steamed until tender.) Once the pan was warm, I made a little opening in the kale and broke in two eggs. I seasoned with salt and pepper and put on a lid. For my perfect eggs, it looks like 4 minutes on the #3 setting of my stove. You will have to experiment with your stove. I'm delighted to report that this dish is so easy, I can be trusted to make it before daylight and coffee on a weekday morning and still make it to work on time! Enjoy your breakfast veggies!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Black bean, Pork & Winter Squash Stew

This is an experimental model. I think it came out pretty darn good. Miss Paula came by and helped me with the spicing and took a good portion home. I'm glad she did. This is not something Mr. Dwayne would enjoy, and I can't seem to make soup in batches smaller than a full pot.

The inspiration for this stew came from half a butternut squash languishing in my fridge. Also, the cool weather has made me positively crave beans. I'm looking forward to my lunch tomorrow! Yum!

Black bean, Pork & Winter Squash Stew
3 tbsp. peanut oil
1 lb. pork (I used boneless sirloin chops)
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. coriander
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
3/4 cup sweet corn kernels
1 7 oz. can diced green chiles
2 cups winter squash, peeled and cubed
2 cups diced tomatoes in their juice
1/2 chopped cilantro
5 cups cooked black beans (2 cups dry)
2 cups bean cooking liquid or broth

Garnish suggestions - avocado, sour cream, cilantro

If using dry beans, soak beans overnight. Drain and rinse. Either add to a crock pot with 6 cups water, or add to a stock pot on the stove with 6 cups of water. Simmer until tender. (The crock pot does a great job of this while you are at work!) My 2 cups of dry beans and 6 cups of water finished with 5 cups of beans and 2 cups of liquid. You may use canned beans to good effect, but may need to reduce the salt.

Wash, dry and cut the pork into 1/2 inch cubes. Combine all spices, salt and sugar and stir into the pork. Let stand while you cut up the vegetables. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot. Add the pork and brown, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, onion, sweet corn, green chiles, squash, tomatoes and cilantro. Bring to a simmer. Add the beans and bean juice or broth and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the pork is tender. Taste for seasoning and serve. Makes way too much for me!