Saturday, November 14, 2009

Good Friends, Good Pie, Good Life

Tonight, my wife and I had some friends over, mostly to revel at our new crib. I've been so excited about cooking lately, though, that I woke up really resolved to prepare something outstanding for them. I think they were all expecting that we would just order a pizza or something, but instead this is what they got:

Homemade Pizza with Fresh Basil and Oregano
Roasted Chicken with Gravy
Braised Kale and Spinach
G√Ęteau au Citron (French Lemon Yogurt Cake)
Pecan Pie

The pizza came out OK. It was kind of soggy in the middle, but I think I can fix that with practice, and maybe less cheese and more dough in the center.

Did you catch that part in the menu about the pecan pie? For those of you following the plot, you'll remember that for Thanksgiving, I'm making beer, cranberry sauce with port and cinnamon, and pecan pie to bring to my in-laws. I did my test pecan pie tonight. It was damn good.

The only thing better than putting all of your heart and soul into preparing a meal is getting to share it with friends. Tonight was no exception. We had new friends and old friends all sitting around the table together, perhaps for the last time before our little guy comes into the world. I'm sure they'll be far less time for pie baking once he's born (and for blogging for that matter). But like I said when I started this blog, let's just see what happens.

Anyway, as promised, I've taken pictures. These dishes certainly didn't come out perfectly. I've actually never made a cake from scratch before. So, not surprisingly, my lemon cake doesn't quite look like Orangette's.

I was following Orangette's Lemon Cake recipe. It really just looked too good not to try. Plus, I think we should just admit at this point that I am somewhat obsessed with that site. I love the writing and I love the cooking. Reading Orangette, for me, is sort of like how the little bee girl in that Blind Melon video must have felt when she discovered that there was a whole field full of other people dressed in bee costumes who understood her. Only in my case, I'm not wearing a bee costume. Instead, I'm biding my time before I can get the equipment necessary to make my own sausage.

Back to Lemon cake... So, I followed the recipe on Orangette, and for a first try, it was really very good. It was very moist, relatively easy to make, and was everything that I love about cake and nothing that I don't. As advertised, it was simple, but elegant in its simplicity. Except for one thing. I think I used too much lemon juice.

The recipe calls for lemon juice from 2 lemons, so perhaps my lemons were bigger than average lemons. It occurred to me, also, that if I was in a lemon squeezing competition against Molly Wizenberg, chances are I would win. In other words, perhaps I've over-squeezed my lemons. So, I would say that if you're making the yogurt cake, squeeze 2 lemons per Molly's recipe, but if you've spooned the juice all over the cake and there is still some leftover, don't be afraid to leave some left unused. Unless, of course, you really love lemons. This was pretty tart though. Not bad, but a little more tart than you look for in a dessert.

The recipe that I want to share with you tonight is the pecan pie. Thanks to Melinda for sending me some recipes. Here's what I ended up doing:

Pecan Pie

3 eggs (do not beat, just stir)
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup white Karo corn syrup
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
About 6oz. of halved Pecans
1 Graham cracker pie shell

Spread pecans into an unbaked pie shell. Pour in mixture of sugars, corn syrup, butter, and vanilla. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes then lower temperature to 325 degrees for 35 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.

That's just the pecans spread into the pie crust.

This is what it looks like after you pour in the mixture. Notice that some of the pecans float to the top. So, don't worry if you haven't filled up the pie crust with pecans. I just used 6 oz. because that is how much came in the bag that I bought.

There is the completed masterpiece. I know I told you to let it cool completely before serving, but I couldn't resist. I had a hot gooey piece before it cooled. The only thing that happens is that the pie isn't set, and it can be somewhat liquefied. I was able to live with that, but you should make it in advance under normal circumstances.


  1. I have a fantastic recipe for sweet potato pecan pie that I would be happy to share with you.

    -Love ya,