Category: pineapple

Pineapple pie for my mom.

Each year for Mother’s Day, I ask my mother what she’d like me to bake for her. I do this same thing for not just Mother’s Day & Father’s Day, but people’s birthdays. I think it’s kind of nice to have an entire dozen cupcakes or cake all to yourself, don’t you? Anyway, usually, for both her birthday and Mother’s Day, she mentions a specific type of cupcake, or she gives me an idea that she’d like translated into a cupcake (like last year’s Boston Cream cupcakes), or she requests something that’s very exact: flourless chocolate cake, molten lava cakes, panna cotta, etc. But this year she said to surprise her. I had a few ideas, but the one that stuck out was this pineapple pie from Patty Pinner’s book Sweets: Soul Food Desserts & Memories. My mom loves pineapple- but I never, ever bake anything with it because I don’t much like it. So I thought, why not make her something all for herself with pineapple?

I’ve had a fairly long & happy relationship with this book. My friend Xenia first told me about it almost two years ago, and I bought it mainly for the Dr. Pepper cake she mentioned. But there were so many other recipes that jumped out at me that I never even made that cake. Also, the book is filled with some of the most charming family stories/anecdotes I’ve ever read. I’ve made a few things out of the book (two types of cookies, maple syrup pie, lemon ice cream) and all were wildly successful, but my one attempt at a pecan pie was a major fail. However, as usual, I remain undaunted. And why not? Pineapple pie is not pecan pie and one failure does not mean I can never make a good pie ever again. Plus, like I said, I have made quite a few successful desserts from recipes out of this book. I can’t judge all the pies in it on just one failure that was probably my fault somehow anyway. So on that note, I decided I’d make my mom the pineapple pie for Mother’s Day and hope for the best. I crossed my fingers and toes with this one- first off, I was still a bit scared since my last pie attempt, and two, I never ever bake with pineapple or even eat it, so I was a bit unsure of the results. As you can see below, I didn’t need to be.

It’s a real shame I don’t like pineapple, because this pie looked and smelled amazing. I’m including a Martha pie crust recipe, but you can use any one you like. For this pie, you only need one crust though, so be sure to halve it unless you want to use the extra crust for cutting out shapes, etc. Which would be super cute, actually.

PIE CRUST (from Martha Stewart)

Makes 2 9-inch pie crusts

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons margarine or chilled vegetable shortening
  • ¼ cup ice water

Directions:

  1. Hand Method: In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt. Cut the chilled butter and margarine into 1-tablespoon bits and add to the flour. With a pastry cutter, work flour and shortening together until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the ice water little by little pressing the pastry together into a ball. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
  2. It is very important to work the pastry as little as possible. Don’t overhandle. A secret to light, flaky pastry is to keep the mixture cool, add as little water as possible, and mix only as much as necessary.
  3. Food Processor Method: Put flour and salt in bowl of machine. Cut butter and margarine into flour. Process a few seconds until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drop by drop add the water, processing very briefly. The whole process would take 20 to 30 seconds. Wrap and chill the pastry for at least 1 hour.
  4. If pastry has been chilled for a long time, let it sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before rolling.
  5. Lightly flour a pastry board, marble counter, or kitchen counter. Divide the pastry in half. Pat each piece of pastry into a flat round. Lightly flour the rolling pin. Roll pastry in one direction only, turning pastry continually to prevent it from sticking to the surface.
  6. Using pie plate as a guide, measure rolled-out pastry — it should be slightly larger than the pie plate and 1-8-inch thick. Fold rolled pastry circle in half so you can lift it more easily. Unfold, gently fitting the pastry into the pie plate, allowing pastry to hang evenly over the edge. Do not trim the pastry yet.
  7. Fill the pie with filling. Then roll out the second crust in the same manner as for the bottom. Fold circle in half and with a sharp, pointed knife cut little vents in a decorative pattern. Place folded pastry on one half the pie. Unfold, pressing top and bottom pastry together. Trim edges with scissors, leaving a ½-inch overhang. Fold bottom pastry overhang over top and press firmly to seal. Crimp rim, using fingers or the tines of a fork, or use this website to do a fancy decorative crust.

I know, I absolutely suck at pie crusts. Unlike SOME PEOPLE

Making this pie, specifically the crust, I was reminded of one of the coolest things about moms. Moms don’t care what your present is, what it looks like, if you made it or bought it or stole it. They just care about the thought behind it; that you thought enough and remembered them enough to give them something. And that goes for when you’re 5 all the way up until you’re 50. Your mom still doesn’t care what you give her, as long as it’s from the heart. And that’s what makes moms so awesome.

And it’s a good thing too… ’cause seriously, look at my friggin’ pie crust. It blows! I crushed part of it taking the pie out of the oven and the rest I just have no excuse. I’m a cake girl, guys, not a pie girl. I can’t help it. So thankfully my mother saw all the good things about the pie (which there are many, admittedly) and didn’t even notice the uneven crust. ‘Cause moms rule.

She gave it, and I quote: “Ten thumbs up.” It was creamy, custard-y, and perfect. I have to say, I’ve redeemed my pie-making skills with this one.

PINEAPPLE PIE (from Sweets: Soul Food Desserts & Memories by Patty Pinner)

Ingredients:

  • 1 9″ pie crust, ready to go
  • 1 20-oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Prepare the pastry for a 9″-inch single-crust pie. Set it aside.
  2. In a bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the eggs and mix well. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt and nutmeg. Add to the sugar mixture and mix well.
  3. Stir in the drained pineapple, milk, sour cream and vanilla extract. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the pie is lightly browned.
  4. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold.

Ignore the messed up edges, there. Please. For the love of all things pastry. Just focus on the filling, or the all-around effect of the pie. Hah.

Pineapple is actually an anti-inflammatory food, too. Of course I don’t know if the sugar & everything else in the pie helps with that, so you might wanna just eat pineapple alone if that’s something of interest to you. The rest of you can just eat the pie. Oh- and see? I got my clear Pyrex pie dish. Now I’ve got the classic pie plate to go with my fancy shmancy ones. Don’t think this is the end, though. There are more in my future. I have tons of pie plates and cake stands on various wishlists all over the interwebs.

On that note, this Mother’s Day was a little hard for me; it’s the first without my Nana. I still miss her everyday, and I know my mom does too. I also know, or rather I don’t know but I can imagine, that the first Mother’s Day without your mom must be a straight up shit day, even if you are a mom to the coolest person alive (me- hello?). So I hope she got a lot of enjoyment out of having that entire pie to herself. No sharing. Just her, a pineapple pie, a fork & some whipped cream. Yes, a pie is just a pie. A pie can’t change the world, or bring back a dead loved one. But a pie can bring happiness, even if only briefly, and so I hope that that’s what my pineapple pie did. I always hope that’s what my baked goods do. If I can make someone smile with a cookie, or a cupcake, or a jar of homemade jam… then I’ll take it. It’s better than making someone cry. Although I can do that really well, too, it’s not something I’m always proud of. I’d much rather make someone happy. But it does depend on the person/situation *wink*

And before I go, let me just wish a happy mama’s day to all those amazing mamas I know; you’re all phenomenal & I hope you have a beautiful day. And most important, I want to say a big thank you to my mom, and all the strong/independent/crazy women who came before me, who were the mom’s of the family long before my mom came along, all of whom contributed to my DNA and therefore made me who I am today. Which is a pretty awesome person, if I do say so myself. Happy Mother’s Day.

Holy Habaneros!

WOW. It’s September!? Where did the time go?

I never imagined back in February when I first read Molly Wizenberg’s book, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, that in just a few months I’d relate to it so deeply. Literally, about 5 months after finishing it, my life was turned into a chapter from the book. Of course, in the book, Molly chronicles the loss of her father, and I lost my grandmother. But to me it doesn’t matter. When you lose someone who is such a big part of your life, then you can’t possibly be bothered with labels or monikers or anything. It transcends a word like ‘mother’ or ‘father’ and becomes an emotion. A piece of you. A part of your life that’s so much more than just an ambiguous noun or description such as “grandmother.”

So it wasn’t long ago when I spotted the book on my shelf & , remembering what it was about, opened it up again. I started re-reading it, in sporadic blips, a little bit each day. Laughing along with her at some parts, and tearing up (okay, fine- even crying a little bit) with her at others. I wanted to high five her when she wrote:

When your father dies, especially if he is older, people like to say things such as, “He was lucky. He lived a long, full life.” It’s hard to know what to say to that. What often comes to mind is, “Yes, you’re right. He was seventy-three, so I guess it was his time. But did you know him? Did you see how he was? He bought wine futures seven months before he died. He saw patients the afternoon he was diagnosed. He wasn’t finished.

Needless to say, you get that even more when it’s a grandparent, not to mention one who’s over 90. I mean, I have friends who lost parents who were 30+ years younger than that, so I realize she did indeed live a very long life. And yes, she was lucky to have been healthy. And sure, I’m aware of the cycle of life & that this is the ultimate result of everyone’s life. But in reality, those who knew my grandmother knew she was not ready to go. She had no intentions of dying. She was not sick. She wasn’t tired of living. She had a lot to live for. She wasn’t one of these old ladies or men who said “God please take me now.” Nuh uh. Not her. She was present in the here & now. She watched Lady Gaga on American Idol (& loved it). She read about Beyoncé in the July issue of W magazine. Every fashion magazine I subscribe to, I’d pass on to her when I was finished & she’d read them. Speaking of, she read books, magazines & the newspaper every day. She was planning outfits she was going to wear in the winter & fall. She was polishing the lock on her Louis Vuitton bag a few days before she died, because God forbid she went out somewhere & someone thought she looked like “a rag bag.” She wasn’t finished. She was probably just as angry that she had to leave us as we were. What happened to her was a random, unfair, terrible thing that could happen to anyone, at any time, at any age; a fast moving intracerebral brain hemorrhage. It was not related to her health, or lifestyle, or medicine, or anything else. It was not expected. And the fact that she was 93 & “lived a long life” means nothing to me & is of no comfort in terms of her being taken from me so quickly. I took care of her, spent my entire life with her, was with her practically since I was born. I made sure she took pills when she started to forget, took her to the doctor and made sure she was happy & comfortable & had the best quality of life a 93-year-old could possibly have. She was my godmother, my grandmother, my friend, my biggest supporter (other than my parents, of course), my ally, my defender, and the list goes on. The loss of her presence in my life goes beyond losing a grandparent.

I’d been keeping busy, my hands & my mind working overtime in the kitchen. Pickles, jams, jellies, sauces, salsas, canned peppers, the list goes on. I was a lunatic for making things. I couldn’t stop. Slowly, things got a little better. I slowed down a little. With the coming of the fall, baking started again, and I finally got into the groove of cooking normal sized dinners. I allowed myself to relax. I’m trying to let myself be excited about Halloween, my favorite holiday, since all the stores are full of the decorations & candy already. But really, the sadness remains. It’s going to be a year of firsts for me, and each one is going to be rough. I let myself be sad, and I let myself have a good cry, but I’m really trying to be positive & enjoy life like she did. However, I still can’t sit down for a few minutes with nothing to do, unless it’s to write an e-mail or a blog post, or watch a TV show or movie, or sew, or read something I’m really into… because if my brain isn’t working it starts to slowly go there. And there is the place I don’t want it to go. So instead of that… I make things like Habanero jelly. Not that I’m avoiding my grief, but I’m trying to avoid the melancholy that accompanies remembering she’s not here. I’d rather think of her in happy times & not be so sad. It’s difficult- and it hasn’t even been two months.

So yes. Clearly, this post is about my crazy need to create things & those super-hot little fiery orange peppers that were hangin’ around in my garden this year- Habaneros. Habanero’s are pretty prolific, so of course I ended up with a lot of them. I wound up making three different recipes to use up all those little balls of fire I harvested. While none of the following three recipes are from Molly’s book, they’re all equally excellent. And easy.

The habanero chilli (play /ˌhɑːbəˈnɛər/; Spanish: [aβaˈneɾo]; Capsicum chinense) is one of the more intensely piquant species of chili peppers of the Capsicum genus. It is sometimes misspelled (and mispronounced) habañero—the diacritical mark being added as a hyperforeignism.[1][2] Unripe habaneros are green, and they color as they mature. Common colors are orange and red, but white, brown, and pink are also seen. Typically a ripe habanero is 2–6 centimetres (0.8–2.4 in) long. Habanero chili peppers are rated 100,000–350,000 on the Scoville scale.[3]

The exact origins of the pepper are unknown, but some speculate that it originated in South America and migrated north to Mexico and the Caribbean via Colombia; an intact fruit of a small domesticated Habanero was found in Pre-ceramic levels in Guitarrero Cave in the Peruvian highlands and was dated to 6500 B.C.[4] Upon its discovery by Spaniards, it was rapidly disseminated to other adequate climate areas of the world, to the point that 18th-century taxonomists mistook China for its place of origin and called it “Capsicum chinense”—the Chinese pepper.[5][6][7]

The Habanero is often mistakenly referred to as the hottest pepper in the world; that honor currently belongs to the “Butch T” cultivar of Trinidad Scorpion.

Colombia and parts of the United States including Texas, Idaho, and California. While Mexico is the largest consumer of this spicy ingredient, its flavor and aroma have become increasingly popular all over the world.

Habaneros are an integral part of Yucatecan food. Habanero chilies accompany most dishes in Yucatán, either in solid or purée/salsa form.

The Scotch bonnet is often compared to the habanero since they are two varieties of the same species but have different pod types. Both the Scotch bonnet and the habanero have the characteristic thin, waxy flesh. They have a similar heat level and flavor. Although both varieties average around the same level of heat, the actual degree of “heat” varies greatly from one fruit to another with genetics, growing methods, climate, and plant stress.

The habanero’s heat, its fruity, citrus-like flavor, and its floral aroma have made it a popular ingredient in hot sauces and spicy foods. Habaneros are sometime placed in tequila or mezcal bottles, particularly in Mexico, for a period ranging from several days to several weeks, to make a spiced version of the drink.

Wikipedia

Okay so now let’s get down to brass tacks. I LOVE hot sauce. Tapatio, Cholula, Tabasco, Frank’s Red Hot; you name it, I love it. I put it on french fries, chicken fingers, sometimes burgers or corn on the cob or even pizza. I make hot chicken subs with it (coating fried chicken cutlets with plenty of hot sauce, then putting them on toasted hoagie rolls, covering them with mozzarella & broiling them for a few minutes… yum). I love Buffalo wings. I love salsa or barbecue sauce with a little kick. I like Cajun spicy shrimp & chicken. I’m definitely one of those people who likes some heat, unlike Jay who is hot sauce phobic. He won’t admit it, but he really doesn’t like things that are too hot (except for me- HAHA… kidding) or spicy. He has a more sensitive palate to it I guess, because things that I find somewhat mild he finds pretty hot. He likes mild Buffalo wings or hot sauce, nothing too crazy. Whereas I’m willing to try just about anything with a kick and most of the time I’ll love it. So sadly, I’m the only one around here who really likes the hotter side of things.

The first harvest of 4 Hab’s… the next week gave me 6 more!

..

When I bought my Habanero pepper plant, which was totally on a whim, I brought it home & planted it and then thought, “What am I going to do with this thing!?” It’s not really the kind of pepper most people want to happen upon in their salsa. Habanero’s rate as one of hottest peppers on the Scoville scale at a whopping 100,000–350,000! Just to put that in perspective, a Jalapeno is about 2,500 – 8,000. Habanero’s are pretty intense. There are only 5 things hotter on the Scoville, one of them being 100% pure capsaicin (the element that makes peppers hot) and another is law enforcement grade pepper spray. Think about that for a second. Yeah. Exactly.

Funny thing is, they’re unassuming little things. Small, cute little orange peppers that all but beg you to try them. Even a little backyard creature around here was fooled- one was bitten off the plant and then tossed aside right near it with one teeny little bite mark. I feel bad for that poor rabbit or squirrel. I hope they had some sour cream or whole milk laying around to soothe the burn!

So basically, I was at a loss as to what to do with my Habanero’s. And as they grew & grew, I started to think more about them, and when I realized I’d get way more than one or two this season, I started to really think. There are tons of hot sauce recipes out there, and they’re all awesome sounding. Especially one by Rick Bayless. But I wanted more than just a hot sauce recipe that would make 8 jars of super hot sauce that only I would eat. Plus, isn’t that what everyone would do with hab’s? So cliched. But then… then I found out about this Habanero jelly from the meaning of pie. Habanero jelly, made with sugar. Hot & sweet? Sounds good to me. Not too much crazy mouth-burning heat? Sounds even better, as I can give it as gifts. I quartered this recipe and used quilted 8 oz. jelly jars, which gave me a total of two jars (or 16 ounces). Don’t ask about the math or how that worked out like that. It just did.

Upside down jars..

Right side up jars!

All labeled & ready to go…

HABANERO JELLY (courtesy of the meaning of pie)

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup habanero pepper, seeds and stems removed (please wear gloves while doing this!)*
  • 1 apple, peeled and cut up**
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1-½ packets Certo liquid pectin (6 oz.)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:

  1. In a large pot of simmering water, sterilize six 8 oz. jars. Leave the jars in the water until you are ready to use them. You will need tongs or other long grabbing device to remove them from the hot water.
  2. Place the habanero peppers and apple in a food processor. Add the vinegar and process until fine.
  3. In a heavy, non-aluminum saucepan, combine the processed peppers and apples, water and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook for one minute (it takes about 15 minutes to get it to simmering and an additional minute to get it to boiling on my stove). Take abundant care at this stage. You need to be present to adjust your stove as the syrup bubbles. It can quickly boil over which is not only exceptionally dangerous, but very messy.
  4. Meanwhile, pour boiling water over the lids and screw bands in a small bowl. Leave them in the hot water until you are ready to use them.
  5. After the syrup has boiled for one minute, remove it from heat and stir in the pectin. Then, return to heat and boil one minute longer.
  6. Remove the mixture from heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Using a wooden spatula or other tool, skim off any foam or white film that accumulates on top. Use a light hand when doing this, as a large proportion of the peppers tries to get stuck in the foam. Removing too much of the pepper bits will reduce the heat of the jelly. Stir in chopped rosemary.
  7. Ladle the jelly into sterilized jars. Wipe the rims of the jars and dry the lids and screw bands. Seal the jars. Place sealed jars upside down on a towel. Leave them inverted for approximately 20 minutes and then turn them upright. To distribute the peppers and rosemary equally, turn the jars occasionally until the jelly sets.
*I quartered the recipe, so I used about 2 habaneros, the full recipe would need 8-9.
**With the apple, I literally peeled it, cored it, halved & then halved it again and used one quarter of it.
 
 
 
 

The coolest thing was that the peppers & the rosemary both came from my own garden (yes, the photo up there is my hab plant, and those perfect little habanero’s are actually mine!). What a feeling of accomplishment that is.

After making that jelly, I brainstormed another. I ended up with 6 more hab’s not long after and I needed to use them up. I decided to make something even sweeter, a little tangy-er, a little more like a salsa/jelly hybrid. I decided after doing some research to use pineapple. Pineapple & habanero is a fantastic combination. Of course, the pineapple did not come from my garden, it came from Dole. I’m not giving that recipe because it needs a little work & a little tweaking. It was delicious, but needs something else. But if you’re a habanero fan who likes to make jellies, you can probably figure out how to make it without my instructions. Anyway I still had a habanero (actually two) left over, so I made some hot pickle chips, except I didn’t make them into chips, just halves. What can I say? I had to. I had to make pickles. One jar I cut off the ends, the other I left them on. I’m curious to see the difference in texture, since I’ve always read that the blossom ends left on make a mushy pickle. Hmm. We shall see!

Marc’s spicy pickle chips recipe can be found here!

One little phrase of valuable advice: when cutting hot peppers, wear gloves. Thick gloves. Do not cut hot peppers without gloves on. And if you’re really sensitive, wear goggles. No shit. I also recommend you have unflavored vodka nearby just in case you get any pepper on your body. Alcohol dissolves the capsaicin (so do fats, like high-fat sour cream & whole milk, which you could also use). Regular hand soap will not help you. Trust me on this one. If you do happen to get it on your hands or arms, soak ‘em in vodka or milk for a while, rinse, repeat, and then wash them. You shouldn’t smell the pepper smell or sense a ‘burning’ anymore. Also, thoroughly clean your blender/food processor. The last thing you want is to make a smoothie or grind up some almonds & get a nasty surprise.

I haven’t tried the rosemary Habanero jelly yet, but supposedly spread on a Triscuit with cream cheese, it’s divine. My mother tells me the pineapple-habanero one is terrific with tortilla chips; surprisingly sweet as well as hot.

As far as the pickles.. well… They’re really hot (and aren’t mushy, either). Tears came to my dads eyes. So unless you really love hot stuff, it might be a bit much. Maybe use half a hab in each jar? The sugar really balances the other two of these recipes out, so give them a shot with all those Habanero’s you probably have ready to go in your garden! I promise, you won’t need to drink a half-gallon of milk afterwards.