Stinque Recipe Challenge

I’m off tonight, so commenter mellbell is taking charge:

I certainly can’t compete with our resident chefs blogenfreude and promnight when it comes to savories [eds. – oh please], but give me some flour, butter, sugar, and eggs, and I’ll whip up something sweet. And when The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports rolls around (or even when it’s, say, eight months away), that something sweet is Derby Pie.

As with any pie, the key is to begin with a good crust, like so:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 (or so) tablespoons ice water

Cut the butter into half-inch cubes and divide them into two piles. Combine the flour and salt in a food processor. Add one half of the butter and blend to a fine crumb. Add the second half of the butter and pulse until some small clumps remain. Add the ice water and pulse five or six times or until the mixture holds together when pinched, adding more ice water as needed.

Knead the mixture into a ball, flatten it into a disc, and place it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.

Now, on to the star of this picture, the filling:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon bourbon (or vanilla, in a pinch)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pecans (walnuts are not an acceptable substitute!)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (use the highest quality bars you can find)

Get things going by preheating the oven to 350 degrees, removing the eggs from the refrigerator, and prepping the pecans and chocolate. The easiest thing to do with the pecans is to dump them in the food processor and pulse until you see few or no whole pieces. (Then, if you’re really meticulous, sift them over the sink in your least porous strainer to remove all the dust and tiny bits.) Place the chocolate bars lengthwise on a cutting board and chop them widthwise (use a paring knife to cut small strips and they should cleave into the desired half-inch pieces).

Melt the butter and set it aside. Beat the eggs with a hand mixer until they’re light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and corn syrup until well-blended. Then beat in the cream, bourbon, and salt, followed by the cooled melted butter. Fold in the pecans and chocolate with a rubber spatula.

While all this chopping and mixing has been going on, your crust has been firming up in the refrigerator, and is now ready to be rolled out and placed in the pie dish. For a gooey pie like this, blind-baking the crust for about 20 minutes before adding the filling is optimal (but optional).

Pour the filling into the pie crust (making sure to let the pie crust cool a bit first if you go the blind-baking route) until it’s lapping at the edges.

Gently (it’s kind of soupy!) place the pie in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the center still moves slightly (it’ll keep cooking after you remove it from the oven).

You can top the pie with whipped cream or ice cream, but it’s also just dandy by itself. Enjoy!


Wow – makes me think I could bake something decent.

Good god! I’m hungry now. But too lazy to go through all that. Nicely done!

My teeth are aching just looking at that sweetness…wow, what a lot of work, mellbell! Gorgeous pie!

And really, only one tablespoon of bourbon? I always thought that it had at least a cup or two of bourbon (or maybe that’s just how the college roommate’s semi-alcoholic now ex- from Lexington made Derby Pie).

@SanFranLefty: Looked at Julia’s recipe for lobster thermidor today … it’s staggeringly complex, but I am strangely attracted ….

@blogenfreude: Isn’t lobster thermidor just a fancier lobster version of Oysters Rockefeller?

FYI, Trader Joe’s newest item in the frozen section is frozen langostina.

What this means for me is that now instead of having black bean burritos for dinner five nights in a row I can mix things up with a lobster burrito or two.

@SanFranLefty: In a few weeks a Trader Joe’s will open at 72nd and Broadway – I expect you to tutor me as to what I must buy there.

And Julia’s recipe? It’s a bit more involved than Oysters Rock:

Servings: Serves 6


Kitchen Supplies:
Covered, enameled or stainless steel kettle with tight-fitting cover or stainless steel saucepan
enameled or 4-cup stainless steel saucepan
1/2-quart enameled
Wooden spoon
Wire whip
3-quart mixing bowl
12-inch enameled or stainless steel skillet
Shallow roasting pan or fireproof serving platter
Steaming the Lobster:
3 cups dry white wine or 2 cups dry white vermouth
2 cups water
1 large onion , thinly sliced
1 medium carrot , thinly sliced
1 stalk celery , thinly sliced
6 sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. thyme
6 peppercorns
1 Tbsp. fresh or dried tarragon
3 live lobsters , 2 pounds each
1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. cream
1 Tbsp. dry mustard
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup whipping cream
4 to 6 Tbsp. more whipping cream
Pinch cayenne pepper
Sautéed Lobster Meat:
4 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup cognac
Final Assembly:
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Swiss cheese
2 Tbsp. butter , cut into bits

Steaming the lobsters: Simmer wine, water, vegetables, herbs, and seasonings in the kettle for 15 minutes. Then bring to a rolling
boil and add the live lobsters. Cover and boil for about 20 minutes. The lobsters are done when they are bright red and the long head-feelers can be pulled from the sockets fairly easily.

While the lobsters are steaming, stew the mushrooms slowly in the covered saucepan with the butter, lemon juice, and salt for 10 minutes.

The sauce: When the lobsters are done, remove them from the kettle. Pour the mushroom cooking juices into the lobster steaming juices in the kettle and boil down rapidly until liquid has reduced to about 2 1/4 cups. Strain into the 4-cup enameled or stainless steel saucepan and bring to the simmer.

Cook the butter and flour slowly together in the 1 1/2-quart saucepan for 2 minutes without browning. Off heat, beat in the simmering lobster-cooking liquid. Boil, stirring, for 1 minute. Set aside. Film top of sauce with the cream.

Split the lobsters in half lengthwise, keeping the shell halves intact. Discard sand sacks in the heads, and the intestinal tubes. Rub lobster coral and green matter through a fine sieve into the mixing bowl, and blend into it the mustard, egg yolks, cream, and pepper. Beat the sauce into this mixture by driblets.

Return the sauce to the pan, and stirring with a wooden spoon, bring it to the boil and boil slowly for 2 minutes. Thin out with tablespoons of cream. Sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon fairly heavily. Taste carefully for seasoning. Set aside, top filmed with a spoonful of cream.

Sautéing the lobster meat: Remove the meat from the lobster tails and claws, and cut it into 3/8-inch cubes. Set the skillet with the butter over moderate heat. When the butter foam begins to subside, stir in the lobster meat and sauté, stirring slowly, for about 5 minutes until the meat has turned a rosy color. Pour in the cognac and boil for a minute or two, shaking the skillet, until the liquid has reduced by half.

Final assembly: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Fold the cooked mushrooms and two thirds of the sauce into the skillet with the lobster meat. Arrange the split lobster shells in the roasting pan. Heap the lobster mixture into the shells; cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and dot with butter. The recipe may be prepared ahead up to this point and refrigerated.

Place in upper third of 425-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until lobster is bubbling and the top of the sauce is nicely browned. Serve immediately on a platter or serving plates.

mellbell, I’m afraid you used the title that must not be named. I’m positive the Derby Pie police from Kern’s Kitchen will be contacting you soon. They are extremely anal watching for infringement on their trademark for the title Derby Pie and have the lawsuits to prove it. Kern’s Kitchen is almost as psychotic about Derby Pie as Churchill Downs is about the Derby itself, which puts them in the Disney category of lawsuit-happy companies.

No Derby Pie here. This is just a recipe for a plain chocolate-nut pie.

@blogenfreude: Jesus, that will make the opening of the Whole Paycheck at Columbus Circle in 2004 look like a little girl’s tea party with her dollies. Too bad New York has liquor laws almost as bad as Pennsyltucky and Jersey and you won’t be able to buy cheap vodka and Good Times beer.

So this means no more road trips to the TJs in Westfield NJ? Or did they finally open that store in Brooklyn they were promising ages ago?

My biggest TJ’s tip is to always check the sodium content on anything in the frozen aisle. I normally don’t buy anything frozen other than the crabcakes and the cooked shrimp. But the non/alcoholic beverages, snacks, cereals, nuts are the must-have items. The langostina was this week’s new item, three weeks ago it was the 99 cent dried seaweed sheets snack. I am now going through about four of those a week. Habanero-seasoned pistachios are another must-buy.

Mr. SFL’s sister lives in the exurbs of Denver which weirdly enough doesn’t have a TJ’s, and four times a year she and her husband drive down to RML’s town of Santa Fe, which has the closest TJ’s to Denver, they spend the night, go shopping in the morning and fill up several ice chests and the back of their Subaru with non-perishables, and then they drive back up to Denver. She also fills up a suitcase with non-perishables every time she comes to Cali to visit family. Mr. SFL has had several job opportunities in Denver in recent years, and one of the many reasons I’ve given for not moving there (besides the altitude, having to take another bar exam and being too far from the ocean) is that there isn’t a TJs there.

ADD: I see from the TJ’s website that there are stores in Chelsea, Union Square, and Brooklyn. So maybe the opening of the new store won’t be such a clusterfuck.

@SanFranLefty: Someone told me that there will be no alcohol sold at the new store – some sort of law about only one store in the chain being allowed to sell in NYC. I has a sad ….

@blogenfreude: Yes, that was the drama over Whole Paycheck when it opened in NYC – they tried to get special dispensation so that they could sell wine at Columbus Circle and the one over by Union Square.

Really, once you live in California, the liquor law promised land where you can buy unlimited beer, wine, and hard liquor 24/7 in everything from Safeway to TJs to Walgreen’s to Rite Aide, it’s hard to go back to wonky East Coast states (or FSM forbid, Texas or the South). How on earth JNOV was able to move from CA back to PA is beyond me, if nothing else for that reason. I don’t give a shit how good the coffee is at Wa-Wa, Pennsylvania wins for most fucked up liquor laws. (Except Lubbock County, TX).

@SanFranLefty: I still haven’t seen anything quite like New Hampshire’s state owned drive-through liquor stores.

Live Free and Drive Drunk.

@SanFranLefty: I remember a trip to LA in the mid-80s – walked into a Ralphs and was stunned – you could buy liquor and eggs and … anything else.

Wow, now I have to add Lobster Thermidor to my list of things to eat before I die.

One reason I miss living in Boston is my current inability to walk over to Legal Seafoods for a dozen raw and a dozen Rockefeller, washed down with two gin martinis. Staggering home was not a problem. Getting behind the wheel of a car is a whole other kettle of fish.

Oh, yeah: I’m still mad at TJ’s for discontinuing the roasted red pepper & goat cheese pizza (12 years ago?). Apparently it wasn’t a big seller in the mid west, so the rest of us have to suffer.

@SanFranLefty: Wawa coffee = shite. Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is good. But Desert Sun coffee = heaven (and fair trade! Woot!).

Someone axed me for a recipe for something today. I told him I used 4.7 grains of Universal powder with a 125 grain semi-jacketed hollow point bullet up top for a home made .357 self-defense cartridge.

“Woo-eee! Baby girl!” he said after putting five of those through my snub nosed revolver. “That’s what you call ‘snappy’ there, bud,” I told him. Small revolvers don’t soak up recoil like larger ones do.

My great-grandmother made the best pecan pie. The only one I would eat. I haven’t had it since she died in ’91.

But now for some reason, all I can think about is getting my hands on some kolaches even though my Irish grandmothers never made that. Must be a general homesickness craving. I can’t find a bakery out here that makes them.

Man…all that needs is a big cup of strong black coffee and the Sunday paper. Mmmmm.

Here it’s going to be “Saigon street market-style beef sticks” on the grill and a salad.

Nothing near as ambitious as yours, Blogenfreud (or mellbell) — I’m feeling lazy tonight.

@pinkoscum: Hey – all I’m doing is defrosting blintzes – that’s as high as I’m aiming.

Looks awesome, mellbell! And I like the mug too.

@SanFranLefty: @karen marie: TJ’s greatest weakness, IMHO, is the fact that smaller, non-warehouse-sized stores + new products all the time = items that you’re addicted to constantly being discontinued. I love that place, but every time I walk in I feel like I have to steel myself against the potential disappointment of finding a beloved item gone forever.

@flippin eck: Oh my Gawd, the gnashing of teeth and the wailing that went on in the SFL household last summer during The Great and Unexplained Ak-Mak Shortage of Aught-Nine was truly horrifying. The Ak-Maks are back, praise FSM, but after I located a Walgreen’s on the Peninsula that was carrying Ak-Maks we were making special trips.

My philosophy now is if I try something and like it, next time I go I buy five of them. I have enough habaenro pistachios to last me through the Zombie Apocalypse. (Or an earthquake).

If you take a few shortcuts (Pillsbury crust, Ghiradelli chocolate chips, Diamond pecan chips), it’s really not all that much work, and the payoff is enormous.

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