Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mavis Webb's Southern Pecan Pie

Over the past few weeks, food bloggers have been posting their favorite pie recipes like crazy.  It's almost as if Thanksgiving marked the beginning of pie season.  It's understandable.  Pies are meant to be eaten with company, unless of course, you happen to have a large pie-loving family.  Personally, I only bake pies when I know there will be enough mouths around to eat them.  There is nothing appealing about a soggy week-old pie.

Everyone has been professing to have the "best pie you have ever eaten", or the "pie that will change your life".  Bloggers have been revealing their families' pie secrets.  Everyone seems to have had a pie baking grandma.  Not me, the only thing I remember my grandma making was tea.  As I was reading these blogs, I agreed that every pie sounded wonderful, but I kept thinking to myself, "how could this be the best pecan pie on earth?  I have the recipe for the best pecan pie on earth!"  Actually,  it is not my original recipe at all.

In the early 80's we moved from Santa Cruz, California to San Antonio, Texas for business reasons.  It was there I met this lovely "blue-haired" lady named Mavis Webb.  Mavis worked in our office.  She had a sweet and gentle southern demeanor.  Mavis had a way of speaking that was different than the usual office banter.  She's say things like, "bless your little heart" or "time to circle the wagons".  She looked a bit like SNL's church lady, bouffant hair and all.  Mavis was like the office mom; and that office mom could bake!

I recall the day that Mavis introduced me to her pecan pie.  Pecan pie had always been a favorite of mine.  One bite of her pie, and instantaneously, my idea of the perfect pecan pie was changed forever.  Every bite transported me to pecan heaven.  Her pie did not have a heavy, gooey, dark middle  with a distinct layer of pecans on top.  No, Mavis Webb's pie had a slightly lighter texture than other pecan pies, and the flavor was homogeneous.  What was her secret? .... Pecan meal... Pecan meal is the main ingredient that set Mavis's pie above all others.   I asked Mavis for her recipe and the next day, she brought in her pie recipe typed up on a 3x5 Mavis Webb personalized recipe card, along with a BIG sack of pecans from her backyard.  Not only did this woman make the best pie in the world, but she grew the pecans!  OMG!

I dusted off this recipe and made this heavenly pie for Thanksgiving this year.  Thanksgiving has come and gone, but this recipe is one to consider to top off any holiday meal.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spiced Cranberry and Cherry Compote

I intended to post several of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes all month long, but life got in the way,  and as you can see, it never happened.  I'm somewhat disappointed in myself, but I will chalk it up to a learning experience.  Next year, I will get an earlier start.  After all, this is my first year of blogging and I'm just getting the kinks out.

So not to be totally disappointed, I'd like to share a quick post with you, spiced cranberry and cherry compote.   I just whipped up a batch for Thursday's feast.  If you haven't decided on your cranberry sauce yet, you might give this one a try.  It has a fresh taste, a bit tart, with a nice zip of spice.  It's also great on a turkey sandwich and goes nicely with a holiday ham. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mexican Chicken Soup, Simple and Delicious

I'm always on the lookout for a good soup recipe.  This time of year, I tend to make soup on Sundays.  I do this for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the as the days get shorter, I burn out earlier.  It's quite a phenomena.  Not having to think about dinner on a Tuesday or Wednesday night is a real gift.  I tend to like soup even more the second time around.  I'm not a fan of leftovers, but soup is an exception.   Another reason why I like to make soup on a Sunday, is because football makes dinner planning difficult.  Actually, it makes planning anything difficult.  As you might guess by that remark, I am not a fan.  Paul is.  Enough said.

This Mexican chicken soup has become one of my absolute favorites.  It's got a spicy kick, it's hardy, and its just plain good.  Oh, and I forgot, it's easy to make.  Once again, I bow down to Ina Garten for coming up with this creation.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Slow Cooker Pot Roast: Nostalgic and Ridiculously Easy Comfort Food

There's a chill in the air.  The days are getting shorter.  Time to dust off some of those recipes I wouldn't think of making in the summer.  I was looking for some old fashioned comfort food.  I didn't feel like fussing and if I could get 2 dinners out of 1 night of cooking, even better.

My mom used to be big on comfort food.  The first time Paul came to dinner at my parents house in New York, my mom made her famous pot roast.  Well, it was famous in our family at least.  I think she was trying to impress him.  My dad met Paul in California a few months earlier and he must have given mom a favorable report when he returned home.  Up to that point in time, my dad couldn't stand never particularly took to any of my boyfriends.  I was home from California for the holidays, and Paul was in the city on business.  I told my parents that Paul was coming out to Long Island to pick me up and we were going out to dinner.  My mother said, "nonsense, he'll come here for dinner!"  My dad said, "your mother will make a pot roast".   The rest is history.  That pot roast is the most talked about pot roast in the history of pot roast!  When Paul visits my mom who will be 92 in February, he always asks her, "do you remember the first dinner you ever cooked for me?"  She smiles, takes his hand, kisses it and holds it against her cheek.  You see, she doesn't remember much of anything anymore.  He reminds her, "you make me pot roast!"  She smiles and says, "I know that, I wanted to see if you remembered."

Now that you know my pot roast story.  I have a confession to make.  I was not a big fan of mom's pot roast.  I always wanted to like it, but it just lacked something.  I think I didn't like mom's pot roast because it simply wasn't cooked slow enough and she didn't cook with wine.  Slow, low, and pour on some wine....that's the secret!  

This recipe is the easiest thing in the world to make.  You dump everything in the crock pot, plug it in, return 6-10 hours later....and you will have the richest, tastiest, pot roast ever....definitely not your mother's pot roast.  If you love braised short ribs, you'll really love this dish.