I have been wanting to post here for days– since Thankgiving– er, Evacuation Day dinner– was so successful.  Since then I have been constantly composing blog posts in my head while cooking, eating, grocery shopping, dog walking.  It is kind of overwhelming all this inspiration, and a little stiffling, ironicly.  Oh, and then there is my job… that takes up some of my mental capacity as well.

I wont even try to explain how to make everything we feasted on for the holiday dinner– but I will say it was an amazing success.  Thanks to everyone who helped– even Tlacuache who got in trouble for nibbling on things before they were ready.  And those who did the dishes– you are my hero.  Also thanks to the special guests– those who came the long way from the troubled state of Arizona, and those who joined us because they COULD NOT return to their homes in Arizona, for fear of having their education disrupted and families torn apart by backwards and cruel policies and institutions.   

I think we found the right balance between traditional foods and experiments, as well as healthy vs. especially indulgent.  We had turkey– the largest one I had ever roasted (18 lbs– I know, I’m a light weight)– that was prepared simply (dry brined, rubbbed in butter mixed with orange zest and fresh thyme) and stuffed with my families’ never written down recipe for Pennsylvania Dutch stuffing, topped with a very rich giblet and white wine gravy. 

We also had a cornbread stuffing, black eyed peas, candied yams, roasted cauliflower smothered with dijon and cheddar cheese, and succotash with sauteed jalapenos.  We had a new and delicious green bean dish, as well as a spinach and baby lettuce salad with Texas Rio Red grapefruit segments, dried cranberries, Pure Luck goat cheese, local pecans, roasted beets, and honey mustard vinaigrette.  Now that is a salad!

But we cannot forget dessert.  Pumkin pie with gingersnap crust (thank you Spoon!) was rich and nicely spiced.  A brown butter poached pear tart disappeared in minutes. 

Finally, a pie I should really make for Christmas dinner too (and at least three other holidays a year) chocolate pudding pie

Turns out this is also an endangered recipe, as the reprinted version has been changed!  So I will share it with you today.  It is nothing like those awful overly sweet french silk pies you get in bakeries these days.  It is really not like any of the chocolate pies I have ever had in a restaurant or bakery.  It is extra chocolately (more so than the original recipe, as that is how we Schafer’s have always made it), but not as quite rich as many chocolate desserts.  It is pudding in a pie– two of my favorite things!  I would omit any sugar from the crust, as you want the contrast with the filling.

I promise my next post will not be pie!  In fact, I have a wonderful Gumbo recipe ready to write about.  Believe it or not, this gumbo is very authentic Louisanna style gumbo, but I have made it with deep fried tofu instead of chicken, shrimp or andouille.  It is a wonderful base for both vegetarian or traditional gumbo.  It is the perfect thing to eat in the cold rainy fall or winter.  Especially if you follow it with some pie… or pudding.

Chocolate Pudding Pie

adapted from Betty Crocker c. 1956

Cook and cool single 9″ Pastry Pie Shell (see my last post)

For the filling….

Mix in saucepan:
1 1/2  cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2-1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. all purpose flour

Stir in gradually:
3 cups whole milk

and

4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it thickens and boils. Boil 1-minute. Remove from heat.  Be careful not to overcook during this step– sometimes it is hard to tell when it is boiling because you are stirring and it is thick, so pay attention.

Slowly stir half the mixture into:
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten

It is good to have help, or an electric mixer, as this is a crucial step and the eggs will cook too fast on you if the mixture has boiled too long, or you dont mix it fast enough.  Then add this half back into the saucepan. Boil 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Blend in:
1 tbsp. butter
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla

Turn off the heat and keep stirring so the mixture cools down a bit. Pour into cooled baked pie shell. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Take chilled pie out of refrigerator 20 minutes before serving.  Top  with lightly sweetened whipped cream. 

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