Category Archives: PIES

KENTUCKY DERBY WALNUT AND CHOCOLATE PIE…FOR DERBY DAY AND BEYOND

1907996_284906375011003_4427021404753604595_nIn the city of Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday of May each year the horserace known as the KENTUCKY DERBY is held.  It’s pretty much become a national event but no where is it more celebrated than in Louisville.  I remember going there 3 days after the event a few years ago to visit clients and remember all the decorations and banners that were still up for the “RUN FOR THE ROSES”.  In true A FOOD OBSESSION style I came home with a few new food ideas and some local cookbooks.  I also made my way over to the BROWN HOTEL to have the American classic sandwich, the HOT BROWN, named for it’s location of birth.  A Hot Brown is a broiled open faced sliced Turkey breast sandwich on thick white bread with Mornay Sauce, Parmigiano, Tomato and Bacon.  It’s amazing.  That trip introduced me to another Louisville cuisine creation, the DEBRY PIE.  Let’s get something out of the way first.  Unless you buy one from Kern’s Kitchen, the business which invented it in 1950 by Walter and Leaudra Kern at their Melrose Inn , Prospect , Kentucky, you cannot call it DERBY PIE.  In 1968 they smartly trademarked the name and while there’s no crime in creating a pie that is similar, you can NEVER call it DERBY PIE. So there you go.  Instead call it anything you like, but since it’s part of Kentucky Derby food culture  I will call it KENTUCKY DERBY WALNUT AND CHOCOLATE PIE.  Whew. Now I’m safe.  The Kern’s have sued over 25 times to protect there trademarked name so remember, you don’t want to be the next victim.  LOL.  The pie is sort of a mashup of a southern Pecan pie with chocolate and a Toll House Pie, sort of.  The recipe I use came from the Washington Post:

SERVINGS: 6 – 8
INGREDIENTS
  • One 8- or 9-inch unbaked pie shell
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely ground
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Fresh whipped cream for garnish(optional)
  • 2 tablespoons Kentucky Bourbon

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have an 8 or 9-inch pie plate at hand.

Place the unbaked pie shell in the plate. Sprinkle the bottom of the pie shell evenly with chocolate chips.

Whisk together the eggs, 1 cup of sugar and flour in a mixing bowl. Gradually mix in the butter, then add the nuts and vanilla extract and bourbon. Carefully pour mixture over the chocolate chips, in a circular motion so it does not disturb the chips. Bake for 1 hour, until the filling is set.

Should be served warmed up…top with the Whipped Cream, over even better, which a good Vanilla Ice Cream….a drizzle of hot chocolate sauce, maybe whipped cream too, up to you.  It’s delicious..and it’s fantastic all on it’s own, it’s rich.  HAPPY KENTUCKY DERBY DAY!!!

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MY PIZZA CHIENA, THE SOUTHERN ITALIAN PIZZA RUSTICA, MY VERSION

{4F8CC669-34CC-4732-9E5D-2A5CCED9AE0C}05212011_Movie_Godfather1_slideshowSpring, Daylight Savings Time, Easter, Warmer weather, NO MORE WINTER…these are a few of my favorite things at this time of the year.  However one thing above all is my most favorite…and it’s the PIZZA CHIENA or PIZZA GAIN or PIZZA PIENA or PIZZA RUSTICA. We called it the second one in my house..2 generation ItalianAmericans usually from Napoletana ancestry use the Napoletana name for this pie.  PIZZA CHIENA.  CHIENA is Napoletana for the word PIENA, which means FULL.  Let’s stroll back to the real old days.  Lent in Catholic countries was a very serious affair.  No Meat or Dairy was consumed for 40 days.  This pie is an exhuberant celebration of all the foods that were “forbidden”.  It’s special.  It’s rich.  It’s wonderful.  SIDEBAR HERE:  This is my version of this pie, it’s not THE version of this pie because that doesn’t exist.  However it’s made in kitchens where the tradition is kept, that’s the “right way” to make it because it’s a personal family or regional tradition that you are keeping up with.  I’ll say that my version is a close one to that which my maternal grandmother made.  Her kitchen style was a blend of Avellino and Naples, she lived in both those towns, with a heavy dose of influence from my grandfather’s town in Matera, Basilicata.  My own research on the PIZZA CHIENA NAPOLETANA shows that our family’s version only deviates slightly.  Ours included sliced or chopped roasted Sweet Fennel Pork Sausage in addition to the cured salumi.  We encase ours in the southern Italian short crust pastry known as PASTA FROLLA with the addition of some black pepper to the dough.  Delicious.  Some call this pie (pizza) a type of quiche.  The difference is the cheese is dense in this pie, not a smooth custard.  All the cured meats give a little bit of their flavors up to the Ricotta and/or Basket Cheese that the base along with a heavy dose of cracked Black pepper.  It’s amazing.  TANTE MILLE GRAZIE (A thousand thanks) to my family for teaching me this wonder of a dish.  Again, there’s no SET ingredients, but a core that is constant and from that you have some wiggle room.  My ingredients are Eggs, Ricotta, Diced Mozzarella and Provolone, Cracked black pepper, Diced DRY sausage, roasted sweet fennel sausage, sweet sopressata, sometimes prosciutto cotto.  Let get into my kitchen and make this Pizza which “can only be made after 3pm on Good Friday”.  Mom’s words, not mine.  Fantastic way to remember those who we’ve lost…It’s like having them next to me as I make this.

 

SERVES:  LOTS                       TIME: 5 HOURS (included dough making and resting)

 

Pasta Frolla

4 c. flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2tsp. salt

1 3/4 cup shortening or Lard

1/2 c. water (iced)

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. vinegar

Blend flour, sugar, salt and shortening. Mix water with egg and vinegar; add to dry ingredients. Divide into 2 balls. Wrap in Plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Then.  Roll out each with a rolling pin. Yield (top & bottom) crusts.  Makes enough for an 11 X 13 pan.  Use one for the bottom, and one for the top.  Pasta Frolla can be TEMPERMENTAL but patches back up easily for any screw ups.  I have plenty when I make this but the end product always is great.

Credit for this crust goes to fellow StatenItalian Gloria Delio Glickman.  I tried her Pasta Frolla once and have used it ever since!

FILLING:

6 Sweet Fennel Sausages, roasted until cooked, then sliced or chopped.

1 cup diced Sopressata

1 cup diced Dry Sausage

1/2 cup Cacciatorini sausage or 1/2 cup Prosciutto Cotto or 1/2 cup Salami

1 lb. diced Mozzarella (here I use PollyO type, WHOLE MILK, it holds up better in the baking, trust me. )

1/2 lb Diced Provolone (Auricchio or the same quality type of Provolone that’s FROM ITALY, not the American made one.)

6 beaten eggs

1/8 cup GRATED PECORINO ROMANO

1 1/2 tbs. cracked black pepper (my personal addition. you can scale back if you wish…why would you though? LOL )

3 lbs. DRAINED RICOTTA

Mix the eggs with the ricotta till smooth.  Now blend the meats and cheese with the grated cheese.  Fold that mixture into the ricotta mixture till well blended.  Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Pour the mixture into the pan you’ve layered with one of the dough.  I roll to about 1/4 inch.  Needs lots of flour on the table/board. Then lay the other dough over the top.. Cut around the sides and crimp the top and sides together. Trim any excess.  Decorate with a cross or other decoration you chose to make with excess dough, or leave it plain   Now do what Grandma did…Poke 5 holes in the top..i do it where you can’t see it.  These holes signify the 5 wounds of Christ on the Cross.  In our home this pie is made after 3pm on Good Friday.  So much historic and cultural significance you can’t help but love it!!  Bake in the middle rack for at least and hour and 1/2 or until the a knife inserted in the CENTER comes out clean.  Let the pie rest and don’t you dare cut into it until 12:00am Easter Sunday morning.  Mom’s rules. She’s gone now 19 years but these Easter cooking rules she taught me still hang tough in my mind.    Writing this recipe and story down is like they are all here around my kitchen table.  Having “American” coffee or Espresso (demitasse), Wine, the big meal, and knibbling on this Pizza Chiena along with the other Easter traditions.  Makes it special.  Enjoy making my recipe!!

SIDEBAR:  Let this fully cool down before cutting it.  Can be served at room temp, cold, or lightly heated. GREAT dish on a buffet.

 

 

TOMATO, ASPARAGUS AND RICOTTA CROSTATA…

0002 I’m calling this a CROSTATA simply because it is one, an Italian BAKED tart or pie.  Pretty simple. This egg, cheese and vegetable CROSTATA is not much different than a QUICHE but I’m going with the term CROSTATA because of the cheeses I used in this, RICOTTA,MOZZARELLA, and PARMIGIANO.  There are a million ways to prepare and enjoy the seasonal tomatoes out right now, mostly eaten raw because they are just so delicious.  Don’t stop there!  This cheese tart topped with sliced seasonal tomatoes and some Asparagus really shows off their delicious flavors.  Arrangement of the vegetables is up to you.  I was feeling creative and came up with this pattern but i realized after I did it that pieces will miss out on the ASPARAGUS so just be creative!! 003 My mise en place for the crostata.  I used Polly-O because that was the best available.  It will be even better when you use the ricotta in tins, or fresh ricotta, but DON’T STRESS, just use a good brand of Ricotta.  Organic/Farm eggs will also make a difference as will local ripe and fresh vegetables.

004 The asparagus roasts beautifully. 007 The tomatoes and cheeses brown and caramelize wonderfully.  This is a fun dish, looks great and tastes great,  warm or room temperature!

The idea is reminiscent of the frittatas my Mom would make with the seasonal vegetables from Dad’s home garden.  It was farm to table long before it became a food industry buzzword, really hipsters, it’s simply how food has been prepared and served since the beginning of time. Until Kraft came along…!! If you do not have your own garden try a local farmers market OR even in the supermarkets, like where I live in New Jersey..there’s a designated area in the produce department for LOCAL vegetables. There’s also the Organic section so during the growing season you can by-pass trucked in factory farmed produce from far away areas.  The taste difference is worth it.

for a 9 inch PIE PLATE which will serve 8 people:

TIME: 2 hours             SERVES: 6-8

1 basic PIE CRUST ROLLED AND PRESSED INTO A 9 inchPAN

2  CUPS DRAINED RICOTTA

3 BEATEN LARGE EGGS

1/8 CUP FRESHLY GRATED PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO

2 TBS HEAVY CREAM

1/8 CUP SMALL DICED MOZZARELLA

KOSHER SALT

FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER

2TBS. DRY PLAIN BREADCRUMBS

1 GREEN ONION, FINELY CHOPPED

8 RIPE 1/8 inch TOMATO SLICES

8 PEELED AND BLANCHED ASPARAGUS SPEARS

EXTRA BREADCRUMBS, PARMIGIANO, SALT AND PEPPER FOR FINISHING

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat the Ricotta and the eggs together in a large bowl.  Add 1/8 tsp. Salt and1/4 Tsp.Ground black pepper. Mix.  Fold in the mozzarella and the Parmigiano and Green Onionsand cream. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on the bottom of the crust.   When it’s well blended pour it into the pie crust.  Place the pan on a foil covered baking sheet.  Now top the crust with the tomatoes and Asparagus.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove and rotate the pan. Now top with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, about 2 tbs. of Grated Parmigiano and 1 1/2 TBS of breadcrumbs. Bake for 15minutes longer OR until the center of the Crostata is set.If you are not sure, insert a smooth blade or toothpick and when it comes out clean you are done!

Here’s a simple pie crust for you:

2 cups sifted All purpose Unbleached flour
1 stick unsalted butter (at room temperature)
½ cup ice water


 
Mix the butter and flour togetherwith your fingers or two knife blades . Add the water slowly to the flour and butter mixture, mixing until the dough is formed. Roll this into a smooth ball and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Remove.  Let it sit out for 5 minutes, Then on a floured board roll out to 1/8 inch thickness and make sure the bottom and 3/4 of the sides of the pan are covered.  That’s it!

006  Isn’t that beautiful?  The Ricotta served to make it a bit lighter in texture than the typical custardlike quiche filling.  The Italian cheeses and black pepper give it a nice flavor and the Green onion  is really nice as a background.  The caramelized tomato and asparagus just finishes it off nicely.  Enjoy this one!!!  Let it sit for a good 15 minutes before you cut into it.

008

 

S’MORES PIE…THE KIDS’ DESSERT IN A GROWN UP FORM

006

 

Let’s start out by saying that S’mores are not my favorite dessert and I hate when kids have them in their hands.  Don’t judge me.  They make a big mess, admit it.  Think about that party, BBQ, outdoor meal where you indulged your kids or friends with a stick, a Jet Puffed MARSHMALLOW and some GRAHAM CRACKERS and a piece of HERSHEY’S CHOCOLATE.  What happened next?  Kid got burned?  the flaming marshmallow ended up in a floaty pile of molten sugar on your couch or rug? Chocolate fingerprints all over the walls?  Are you getting it?  OK…I surf alot of Social Media, especially the food-centric sites and of late I’ve been seeing this S’MORES PIE thingy.  My oldest just had some oral surgery done so she , for the time being, can only eat things that are sort of soft.  I thought I’d break down and turn the dreaded S’MORES in to a pie.  I accomplished my mission and as happy as I was that my kids were loving a Sunday night dessert, IT MADE A MESS.  The counter was covered with sticky shrapnel from the cake spatula, the plates, etc.  Delicious for this type of sweet dessert but I have not changed my opinion.  There will still be a ban on Grill/BBQ made individual S’Mores as long as I’m around.

MAKES 6-8 slices                    TIME: 2 1/2 hours

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY:  low

1 GRAHAM CRACKER 9 TO 10 INCH CRUST

1 CUP HEAVY CREAM

1 /2 TSP. SUGAR

1/2 TSP. GOOD VANILLA EXTRACT

PINCH OF SALT

1/2 STICK (1/2 CUP)

12 OZ. GOOD MELTING CHOCOLATE

ENOUGH MINI MARSHMALLOWS TO COVER TOP OF PIE

DOUBLE BOILER OR STAINLESS STEEL BOWL FITTED OVER A SAUCEPAN WITH 1 INCH OF WATER BROUGHT TO A BOIL then BROUGHT TO A SIMMER  ON LOW

In the bowl over the steaming water, add the butter into the bowl. Let this melt, then add the salt, sugar, vanilla, and cream..Whisk till blended.   Then add the chocolate and whisk  until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is shiny and smooth.007  Now let this cool to room temperature then into the fridge it goes for close to 2 hours, you must let it set.  Remove from the fridge and turn on your broiler.  Add the marshmallows evenly to the top of the toy.

008  Place the pie on a baking pan and remove the top rack of your oven.  When the broiler has heated the oven place the piceon the middle rack.  DO NO LEAVE YOUR SPOT.  As SOON as you see the pie browning rotate it and only let it stay in for no more than a minute or so,  you should see the browning then remove the pie.  Let it rest for a good 5 minutes or you will surely burn the insides of the mouths of anyone who is waiting to eat this.

 

Slice and serve, it should be melt-y and rich.  I don’t trust a “perfect”slice of this.  It’s rustic and the slices shoud/need not be perfect.

Have fun with it and enjoy!!

 

10965_1151469789308_1304531591_30356921_1242298_n  That’s what you want!!!