Banny’s Famous Chocolate Pie

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What’s in a name? The name of this post might have drawn you to this recipe, wondering who someone named “Banny” was. Or maybe it was the pictures, worth a thousand words. Either way, you’re going to get the story, as every good recipe should have a story behind it. Banny was my great-grandmother, a tough, outspoken, petite woman of the South. You know, the type to fuss at the preacher man for not getting by to see her more often. Banny was also a dedicated woman, loyal to her faith and her family, even when it wasn’t easy. I have few things of hers today, a few jewelry pieces my mother gave me, a pair of fancy red gloves. I will probably inherit some of her old clothes my mom keeps in a cedar chest. And I still have her smell. Smells are easy memories. But perhaps the thing I have the most is her recipe for chocolate pie.

It was one of the first pies I made, and it is, at the same time, both one of the best and one of the most difficult. Perhaps that’s what family gives us: delight and joy in the midst of serious effort. Her chocolate pie takes time to cook – the pudding filling is real, not some jello-based faux pas. The pie shell must be baked ahead. The meringue must be whipped, perfectly, and remember, Banny would have made meringue with a true hand mixer, an old-timey metal contraption with a crank and two mix-hands that whirred into each other, slowly. And then it must be baked again to seal the meringue on top and finish the perfect, beautiful topping that is a chocolate meringue pie. I am proud of this pie, each time I make it, because it is a piece of my past, a piece of a strong woman who knew what it took to create something beautiful. I hope you do, too. Enjoy.

 

Ingredients

Pie filling:

2 1/2 tbsp. flour (all purpose)

2 egg yolks

3 tbsp. cocoa

2 cups milk

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 deep dish pie shell

Topping:

2 egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

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Directions:

1. Pre-cook pie shell at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until golden.

2. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, putting the whites into a small bowl, and the yolks into a nonstick pot (or the top of a double boiler; I find either works).

3. Add the rest of the pie ingredients to the pot (the flour, cocoa, milk, sugar and vanilla). Cook on medium heat until pudding “consists.” (These are the original directions; this word mainly means until the pudding starts to thicken.)

4. Pour the chocolate pudding into the cooked pie shell.

5. Prepare the topping by beating the egg whites until stiff, then adding the sugar and vanilla. Pour the meringue topping over the chocolate pudding layer and spread evenly.

6. Cook on 350 for about 10 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown.

7. Allow to cool, then refrigerate to make sure it solidifies well. Keep refrigerated. Best enjoyed either slightly warmed or cold.

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Matthew’s Take: The chocolate pudding portion of Banny’s pie is the best I’ve ever eaten. What makes it even better: This pie is part of our family history. When you combine the chocolate pudding with a golden crust and the creamy, slightly crunchy meringue, you get one of the best desserts you’ll put in your mouth. This recipe gets my highest marks for taste. I will warn you that it’s not the simplest of pies to make, but just take that as an opportunity to bake and enjoy something uniquely special.

Molly’s Take: Clearly, this pie is one of my favorites. The strategy of baking the pie shell first, as well as the limited amount of time the pie actually spends in the oven, ensures that the shell itself doesn’t burn as easily as it tends to do in many pies. So you end up with a perfectly done pie shell, a creamy, chocolate pudding center, and a toasted, sweet meringue topping. I like this pie warmed or cold. It’s truly a treat.

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Foodie Travels: Kim’s Kitchen, Stanley, N.C.

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Remember a time in your life when something you loved suddenly was gone? What if, one day, it came back?

That’s the experience I’ve had with Kim’s Kitchen Family Restaurant in Stanley, N.C. I grew up eating Kim’s Kitchen food with my family. Mom and Dad even delivered my favorite meal, the Kim’s cheeseburger basket, to me in Alabama, South Carolina and other parts of North Carolina. Then, in 2013, Kim’s Kitchen closed, as owners Kim and Clyde Millman pursued retirement and opportunities to travel together.

Four long years passed without a delicious Kim’s cheeseburger, the best burger I’ve ever had because of its fresh, hand-pattied beef, melted cheese and soft bun. It’s a generous sandwich, with one juicy patty and any toppings you like. I’ve talked up the Kim’s burger everywhere I’ve lived, and any other cheeseburger I’ve eaten has come with a side comparison to the measuring stick that I enjoyed at her restaurant.

Earlier this year, my family heard that Kim’s would reopen in the coming months. It felt like a dream, but not as much of a dream as actually visiting and enjoying a cheeseburger on day one of the renewed Kim’s Kitchen.

 

We’re so glad you’re back

It was almost surreal for this foodie to watch Kim greet her loyal customers as they streamed through the doors on re-opening day. My parents and I walked to a corner table and pulled up three chairs in what felt like a flashback to 1997 or 2007. But it was 2017, and it was real.

Not much has changed as far as décor goes. The wood-colored walls, the tables and chairs, the front counter, the kitchen window, the swinging doors to the dining area. All just as we left them several years ago.

Kim always walked around the restaurant to visit with her diners, and that hasn’t changed either. She stopped at our table and hugged me as we awaited our lunch, and then she proceeded to give out hugs all around the restaurant. “We’re so glad you’re back,” customers kept saying. Kim and her staff shared the same sincere sentiment in each conversation. If the first day of a new era of Kim’s Kitchen was an indication, the revived local dining icon hasn’t missed a beat.

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That’s the taste

When our order came to the table, the anticipation reached its highest peak. I ordered the sandwich I enjoyed so many times in the past: cheeseburger with lettuce and mayonnaise and a side of fries. In fact, that exact order with those toppings has become my standard test of the cheeseburger a restaurant makes, anywhere I go. I figure if they can’t make a solid basic cheeseburger, there’s not much hope for the remainder of the menu.

Dad ordered his favorite cheeseburger toppings, too: chili, mustard and onions, with a side of broccoli casserole (you can get fries, or you can enjoy one of the restaurant’s other side items with your sandwich). Mom had her customary chicken filet sandwich with fries.

Dad took a bite. “That’s the taste.” Those were the first words out of his mouth after tasting his first Kim’s burger in several years. Well said, Dad. Soon afterward, I took my first bite and felt the same way. The cheeseburger was just as delicious as I remembered.

Mom said later that she could’ve accompanied me and Dad and just watched us enjoy our meal. It would have been worth it, she said, just to see the smiles on our faces. We were home because Kim is home.

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What you’ll find at Kim’s

Kim’s is about the cheeseburger for me, but there’s so much more on the menu. You can enjoy a wide variety of sandwiches with accompanying sides of fries, onion rings, potato salad and more. There are also salads and daily specials of meat-and-three-style plates. And ask about the dessert specials that are available.

Just as important as the food, though, is the hospitality and tradition at Kim’s Kitchen. The Millman family has invested more than a quarter of a century in the Stanley-area community. For that reason, walking into Kim’s feels like walking into a dear friend’s house. And now it feels like that good friend has come home after moving away for several years.

I can’t wait to enjoy my next cheeseburger, and I hope to see you there. After all, it takes both outstanding restaurateurs and outstanding customers to build a legendary #FoodieScore spot, and that’s just what Kim’s Kitchen has become over all these years.

 

Kim’s Kitchen

106 Mariposa Road, Stanley, N.C.

Corn Casserole, a Thanksgiving family favorite


My grandpa Lee Quinn always made a corn casserole for our Thanksgiving feast, and it’s a dish we continue to make in our family. One of the joys of food is that it can symbolize memories, and corn casserole will always remind me of my grandpa.
The beautiful thing about corn casserole is that it jazzes up a side dish (plain whole kernel or cream corn) that otherwise lacks excitement. When a meal includes turkey, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole and a variety of pies, how can you get excited about little yellow kernels of corn?
When corn comes in a casserole, it feels more festive and, truth be told, all of that cheese, cream and butter just make it taste better.
Here’s the recipe for our corn casserole. Thanks, grandpa, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Ingredients

1 can cream corn

1 can whole kernel corn

2 eggs

1/2 cup cream

1/2 stick melted butter or margarine

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Steps

Mix all of your ingredients and pour into a greased casserole dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Light, Sweet & Creamy Egg Custard Pie

If you search for an egg custard pie recipe on Pinterest, you’ll have a hard time finding a good, old-fashioned recipe that includes a crust. When I first searched for a recipe, years before Pinterest was a thing, online recipes were mostly just egg custards. There was no pie shell – you know, the part that makes it a pie. I had a hard time, but I finally found this recipe.

It’s one I’ve stuck with for years, because it turns out delicious every time. It won’t be cakey and it won’t look bubbly on top; it’ll be a smooth, creamy custard inside a perfectly baked pie shell. And! I’ll also share a few tricks to fix two problems that I’ve ran into with custard pies before. Those are: burnt pie crust on the top, and pie crust getting soggy on the bottom/not staying on the bottom where it should be. (I’ve had an egg custard once where the pie crust melded with the pie, floating up during baking. You don’t want that.) Here we go!

Ingredients:

1 deep dish pie crust

3 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups milk

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 egg white (for brushing the crust)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Beat the eggs in a small container, then mix eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla well. Slowly blend in milk. If it looks a little frothy, like in the photo below, that’s okay! photo 3
  3. Brush the inside of the pie shell with one egg white – this prevents the pie filling and the shell from melding together and either getting a) soggy or b) mixed together like a messy cobbler.
  4. photo 2Pour into the pie shell. You will definitely want a deep dish shell, because this old-timey recipe makes a lot of pie filling! And those “regular” pie shells have certainly gotten smaller over the years. Sprinkle the top with a little nutmeg.photo 1 (2)
  5. Bake for at least 45 minutes, then cover it with a sheet of tin foil. Then, continue to check the pie at intervals of 15 minutes. The tin foil is the trick to keep the top crust from burning. (As you can see in the photo below, I didn’t do this early enough, but it did stop the crust from getting any darker.)

So when is the pie done? It’s tough to tell with an egg custard. Most people tell you to shake it, but an egg custard will always will be wiggly. Here’s my method: with a towel or oven mitt, pick up the pie on the right side and tilt it slightly to the left. If the entire middle of the pie moves to the edge and looks like it’s going to pour right out of the pie – it’s not done. But – if the middle is holding together and the pie has been cooking for more than an hour, it’s done. Here’s what it should look like. 🙂

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Molly’s take: I hadn’t made an egg custard in a while, so I was nervous about making it as part of an anniversary gift for my husband’s parents. When it came out of the oven (finally!) and we tried a small slice to make sure it tasted right, it was absolutely delightful. My only regret is not making two so we could have eaten the other one! Is this pie easy? Sure, it’s easy to mix up the ingredients and put it in the oven. But it takes a while to make a good egg custard pie. Remember, you’re cooking a lot of eggs and milk into something relatively solid. And you have to put tin foil on the pie to keep it from burning. And you have to check it often. But the end result is absolutely worth it. Now it’s time for me to go make another one…

Matthew’s take: The egg custard is a pie I’ve rarely seen among others at church and other social gatherings over the years. But the egg custard pie is a long-standing tradition in the Tessnear family. It goes back at least as far as my dad’s grandmother on his mother’s side. I grew up eating my mother’s egg custard pies, and this edition was as creamy and tasty as any egg custard pie I’ve ever eaten. Don’t expect to fill up your stomach with an egg custard pie slice. Egg custard is not about quantity. It’s about consistency and taste. The lightness of it makes it a great dessert option following a heavy and filling meal. I give the egg custard pie an A+ for taste, but I would warn you that it’s not the easiest pie to make if you’re not patient, and it will never be the prettiest pie you’ve ever seen from a bright colors standpoint. But you’ll love this pie if you enjoy light desserts and trying a recipe you rarely find on the table.

Family-Favorite Roasted Potatoes

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Potatoes are full of possibilities. You can bake them or cut them and make fries, wedges or homemade chips. You can shred them and make hash browns or mash them and make homemade mashed potatoes.

Matthew’s favorite way to prepare potatoes is to roast them in a stovetop pan.

It’s also a favorite of Molly’s mom, who requests the potatoes at nearly every family gathering.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can follow all of the steps until you put the potatoes in the pan and then mash the potatoes, add milk or cream and butter and have delicious homemade mashed potatoes.

This recipe can incorporate your favorite potato, Idaho, red or otherwise, and you can also bake the potatoes in the oven, instead of cooking them in a pan.

Ingredients

3 cups of peeled potatoes

a dash of salt, pepper and/or garlic salt, depending on your taste

a dash of olive oil

Step one:

Cut your potatoes. The smaller the potatoes, the faster they will cook in all stages of this recipe.

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Boil your potatoes in a pot on the stove until the potatoes are fork-tender. You can boil the potatoes in a microwave, but it will take much longer.

Step three:

Drain your potatoes in a colander or around your pot lid over a sink, being careful to keep your potatoes in the pot.

Step four:

Turn your burner to medium-high heat and put your potatoes in the pan on the stovetop. Cover your potatoes with a light coating of olive oil (or vegetable oil if that’s all you have). Top with a sprinkling of salt and pepper to your desired taste. Let your potatoes roast until you start to see sides browning, then take a spatula to mix the potatoes and move them to position them for browning on other sides.

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Reduce your heat to low and cover your pan with a lid to allow your potatoes to steam and thoroughly cook. You will get a slight browning on the potatoes while they are covered, too, but this part of the process is mostly to soften and moisten the potatoes after you’ve just browned them in the pan. The browning process can remove much of the moisture in the potatoes, and the roasting process with the lid on helps replace that moisture.

Step six:

Remove your potatoes from the pan. It’s not likely you’ll have much grease after roasting the potatoes. Enjoy!

Molly’s Take: We love this simple method of making roasted potatoes. They always come out hearty and flavorful and so versatile. One of my favorite things to do is have the potatoes for dinner with salmon or burgers or the like, then the next morning have them wrapped in a tortilla with cheese, your favorite breakfast meat, and maybe even a few onions. they’re delicious, inexpensive and a great addition to any meal. If you ever need a side dish that is filling, not bad for you, and tasty, these potatoes are your MVP. (Most Valuable Potatoes)

Matthew’s Take: Not only is this my favorite method of preparing potatoes, it’s my favorite way to eat potatoes. These go great with burgers, with salmon, with grilled chicken, with fried chicken tenders, with almost anything. If you cut the potatoes into small pieces, they’re a great breakfast potato, and they can even be used as leftovers in breakfast tacos or burritos. They pair great in a tortilla with eggs, bacon or sausage and cheese. These potatoes get an A+ for taste, an A+ for ease, an A for cost as a plain ole bag of potatoes isn’t usually expensive, and they get a B for presentation. You can jazz up the presentation by topping with a little light cheese or carefully ensuring you have the perfect browning on all sides. (You can do that by browning in the pan more than roasting with the lid on, but you may lose some of the moisture.) I hope you enjoy these potatoes as much as we do.

$5 S’mores Dip for the Family

What do you need to make this s’mores dip? Three ingredients and a cast iron pan. That’s it! This is by far one of the easiest desserts you can make. We found a similar dessert on Pinterest, but decided we wanted to make it even simpler by using regular marshmallows instead of cutting the giant marshmallows into smaller pieces. It just made sense! Here’s a look at your ingredients.

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OK, so s’mores are messy, right? And sometimes it’s hard to find a summer family dessert that everyone will like. But if everyone likes graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate? You’re set! Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients:

1 cup milk chocolate chips (about $2)

1/2 bag of marshmallows (97 cents at our local market)

1 box of graham crackers (about $1)

Instructions:

1. Take out your cast iron pan and pour the chocolate chips in the bottom as evenly as you can.

2. Cover the chocolate chips with about half a bag of marshmallows, or more if you want extra marshmallow on top. We found that leaving a little space between some of the marshmallows is fine, because they’ll expand and melt together.

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3. Cook in a preheated 450-degree oven for about 7 minutes. Don’t burn them! Just cook until the marshmallows are golden brown on top.

4. While that’s cooking, break your graham crackers into dippable pieces. (Usually into quarters.)

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5. Remove from oven, place the hot cast iron pan on a towel so it won’t burn the surface you put it on, and start dipping!

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Molly’s take: This dip is AMAZING. Five reasons you should try it: It’s easier than making actual s’mores, which take a lot of assembly. It’s less messy, because you’re not squishing out the chocolate and the marshmallow every time you take a bite. It’s super, dirt cheap – -all the ingredients can be purchased for just a few dollars! You don’t need to be a baker to do it–just pop in the oven for 7 minutes and you’re done. And, it’s an utter delight to your tastebuds. BONUS reason: It’s ultimately share-able and proven to bring a smile to people’s faces.

Matthew’s take: Anybody can make this dip. Bachelors. Families. Kids can even make it with adult supervision on the oven part, especially with how hot the cast iron pan gets. You could even make this dip by your fire while you’re out camping. As Molly said, this dip is better than the traditional s’mores because it’s less messy, easier to assemble and easier to eat. I give this dip a triple A+ for taste, presentation and cost. It simply doesn’t get much better than this.