Emily Loves Food

Pecan Pie

Sweet, short crust wrapped around gooey, slightly bourbon-ey caramel, studded with toasted pecans. Totally sweet, totally indulgent, total perfection.

You know, I had never tried Pecan Pie before I made this. It’s another one of those Southern American delicacies that has never reached this corner of the Southern Hemisphere. There’s not much to say about it either: Alabama invented it, probably around the early 1900s, and it’s stayed the same ever since. Though when I was trying to find an appealing recipe, there does seem to be a lot of variation: though many use corn syrup. Now, corn syrup isn’t something we really get here, other than in speciality cooking stores. And I’m loathed to buy a tub of liquid glucose.

So this one uses Golden Syrup – Corn Syrup’s dark brown British (and Australian, and New Zealand) cousin. If you’re making this in America, and can’t find Golden Syrup (as I understand, it’s not easy to come by) then substitute in traditional corn syrup. Done. Easy.

I made the pastry by hand too, though of course you could just plop in a pre-rolled sheet and that would work just as well. Though sometimes it’s cool to make your own pastry – you know, if you’ve got a spare 10mins before you’re due to start pie making (and of course, half an hour to chill the dough.)

Anyway, it’s nearing the end of my semester one. Thank goodness. I’ve had a tough assignment which has caused me to but head with the tutor, which makes it even harder and I 100% cannot wait for the holidays to roll around. In fact, it’s frustration born of that assignment which prompted me to do some therapeutic baking and make this pie.

Perhaps it’ll help comfort you too?

 

pecanpie

 

Pecan Pie – Makes 1 24 cm pie

Prep time: 30mins  Cook time: 40-45mins

 

Pastry:

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 125g butter, chilled, chopped
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon chilled water

Pie:

  • 70g butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup golden syrup
  • large pinch of salt
  • 1 cups chopped toasted pecans (some whole ones set aside)
  • 1 to 2 tbs bourbon
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

To make the dough, stick the butter, flour and caster sugar in a food processor, and pulse a few times, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and water, and blitz until the dough just starts coming together.

Pour the crumbly mixture into a zip lock bag, and knead from the outside to bring the dough together. This will prevent you adding too much flour to the dough by trying to pull the mixture together on a bench top, and also prevent the crumbs spilling everywhere and getting stuck in awkward places. Like under the kettle. Once the dough has come together in a ball, now you can turn it onto your work surface and knead a couple of times. Be careful not to over handle it. Shape it into a disk, stick it back in the plastic bag, and pop it in the fridge to chill for 30mins.

Preheat the oven to 190c, and have ready a 24cm removable bottom tart dish. Or whatever you like to bake your pies in.

Once chilled, very lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to about a 5mm thickness. Drape the dough over the rolling pin, and lower it into the tart dish, pressing the dough into the corners. Trim the excess, and patch up and holes. Give the bottom a few pricks with a fork to prevent ballooning, lay a sheet of greaseproof paper over the top, and fill the centre with baking beans.

Pop in the oven for 18 mins, then remove the baking beans and allow the bottom to crisp up for a further 5 mins.

Remove from the oven, and turn it down to 160c.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. In a saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, golden syrup and salt, and bring to the boil. Make sure you keep stirring frequently, to ensure the sugar dissolves and to prevent any sticking on the bottom. Once boiled, remove from the heat and stir in the pecans (leave some whole halves aside for placing on the top, if you wish) and vanilla.

Pour a little of the hot mixture into the beaten eggs, whisking in to temper the mixture. Use a fine whisk to prevent the nuts getting caught – if you don’t have one, use a fork. Add more of the mixture, little by little, whisking consistently. Once you’ve transferred about a third of the sugar mixture to the egg mixture, return the whole lot back to the saucepan, and stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tart shell, and dot the whole pecan halves on top. Pop the pie in the oven – be careful, the filling will be quite runny. Bake for 40-45mins, until the filling it set (it should still be slightly loose, and maybe a bit bubbly). Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for 30mins before serving. To reheat, just pop it in a warm oven for 15mins.

Chocolate Lamingtons

Lamingtons. A Kiwi and Aussie classic – light vanilla sponge, dipped in chocolate icing and rolled in coconut. Totally delicious, no tea party would be complete without them.

Hand over my heart, I had never made Lamingtons before in my life. Which is a bit like an American saying that they’ve never made Pumpkin Pie. I love eating them, but whenever I’d gone to whip some up in the kitchen, there’d be some obstacle in the way. We wouldn’t have enough coconut or icing sugar, or the eggs in the fridge were reserved for something else.

And this is still partially true – these lammies weren’t made in my kitchen. They were a collaborative effort, bought into fruition in Emma’s kitchen (and photographed in her sun room.)

Last year, when Emma was staying with me, I received a text – all exclamation marks and smiley faces – that she had got an A on her latest assignment. And because I needed to pick up something for dinner from the supermarket, I dipped into the bakery isle and picked up some celebratory lamingtons while I was there. Once home, I stacked them up, one on top of the other, until there was a five-lamington-high tower in the kitchen, with a little paper flag that said ‘you got an A’. And ever since them lamgintons have been a symbol of success.

This summer, we both had work experience to complete – and last friday, we had both completed it. So it seemed fitting that we indulge in a couple of these chocolate, coconutty morsels. So I headed over to Emma’s little farm after work, and we pulled out the butter and the bowls, and made them. It was surprisingly messy. I’m sure these is a more elegant way to do it – we were wondering how on earth the bakeries get an even coating of coconut, without wet spots and fingerprints – but the result was delicious.

I highly recommend you get stuck into this recipe on a rainy day, where you just need a little  delicious something to brighten your mood.

 

lammie

 

Chocolate Lamingtons

Prep time: 15 mins (+ cooling time)  Cook time: 30 mins

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups self-raising flour (or plain flour + 1 1/2 tsp baking powder)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups desiccated coconut
  • 3 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tbs butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

Preheat the oven to 180C, and line a 20x30cm lamington or swiss roll pan with non-stick baking paper, leaving an overhang on all sides.

In the bowl of  stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar for at least three minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each new addition. Add the vanilla, and give a quick beat to combine.

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, and add half the flour, folding in with a rubber spatula. Follow with half the milk. Repeat the process until the mixture is just combined. Don’t overbeat, as this will remove the air bubbles and toughen the mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, and smooth the surface. Bake for 30mins, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to stand in the pan for 10mins, before removing to a wire rack. Allow the sponge to cool for a few hours (or if you’re short on time, pop it in the fridge for 30mins).

To make the icing, sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl before adding the boiling water and butter. Stir until smooth. Place coconut on a plate alongside your icing bowl.

Cut the sponge evenly into 20 pieces. Using a fork, lower the pieces into the icing, ensuring it is evenly coated. Shake of the excess, and roll in the coconut, before placing on a wire rack over a baking tray (to catch any drips). Repeat with the rest of the sponge.

Allow to set for at least an hour. Then dig in.

 

Coconut Chicken and Noodle Salad

Fresh, tasty, cool. Fuss-free food for when it’s too hot to be in the kitchen, but you still want to eat something tasty. The chicken is poached in coconut milk and lemon grass, tossed together with some Hokkien (or udon. or spaghetti), fresh veggies and coriander, and then topped off with a zesty dressing. Super healthy. You’ll love it.

Believe me, it’s hot here right now.

It’s averaging around 26C, but the humidity is intense. The air is like soup, your body is sticky and you constantly feel like you have a wee bit of a hangover.

It’s not too bad when there’s a breeze going, but when there’s a light drizzle, the clouds are heavy and grey and the air is stagnant it’s almost unbearable.  I’ve got the windows pushed right open, but you’d swear they were screwed shut for the amount of air flow that’s moving through. Give me a dry 35C over a humid 25C any day.

In other news, Emma and I are going to America in June. Hitting the big smoke. We’ll be travelling around California and heading over to Vegas for a couple of days – it’ll be our winter university break come June, so it’ll be fantastic to escape the horrible cold. At this stage we’re turning a blind eye to the fact that we may be heading into unbearable heat. Let’s just not think about that.

So it’ll be another chance for my to chow down on fish tacos and pumpkin pie, buttermilk pancakes and exciting candy. For me to hit up Urban Outfitters, to go to the amazing zoos and Disneyland and Denny’s. The latter being an unexpected highlight from my time in America previously. We have Denny’s here, but it’s pretty dingy and dirty and has nothing like Fit Slams for breakfast.

Anyway, back on track. This is easy, super healthy, super tasty. Just make it.

 

chickencoconut

 

Coconut Chicken and Noodle Salad

Prep time: 15 mins  Cook time: 15 mins + at least 1/2 hour cooling time

Dressing:

  • 2 tbs lime juice
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbs mirrin
  • 2 tsp brown or palm sugar
  • 1 tbs peanut oil

Salad:

  • 1 400ml can coconut milk
  • 1/2 can water
  • Good shake of chilli flakes
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, roughly chopped OR 1 tbs minced lemongrass OR 1sp lemon zest
  • 2 large/3 smallish chicken breast fillets
  • 150g hokkien noodles or similar
  • 1/2 capsicum, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • a good handful snow peas, sliced
  • a good portion of  a telegraph cucumber, seeded and sliced
  • a good handful chopped fresh coriander

In a small screw-top jar, combine all the dressing ingredients. Shake well, and set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, water, chilli flakes, lemongrass and chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the mixture to simmer for 8 minuets, then remove from the heat and allow to cool for at least half an hour. When you remove the chicken from the heat, it will not be cooked through: don’t panic, it will continue to cook in the warm coconut milk as it cools.

Once the chicken has cooled, discard the cooking liquid and thinly slice the chicken. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, and be sure to refresh them in cold water to prevent them from sticking.

In a serving bowl, combine the chicken, noodles, capsicum, carrot, snow peas, cucumber, coriander and dressing. Get your hands in there and toss to combine.