chess pie

title page southern chess pie

Oh Pi Day- the most delicious contribution from mathematics since Avogadro’s Number.  Get it?  Avogadro sounds like Avocado?

What kind of food nerds would we be if we didn’t celebrate?  And celebrate we did.  I hosted a Pi Day bake-off at the office, and while I may have fudged the scores a bit because of Bakeoff Rule #451 (Though shalt not win thine own bake-off), I think I can spill the beans here: my Chess Pie won!  

Now y’all, I thought I was up a creek without a paddle attachment when I realized that my roommate had taken the stand mixer.  But this classic southern Chess Pie is not only scrumptious, you can also make it with a fork.  No fancy mixer needed here!  Although you can, of course, use a Kitchen-Aid to make your life easy and breezy.

For the Filling:

2 cups sugar
2 tbs cornmeal
1 tbs flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup milk
1 squeeze of lemon or 1 tbs white vinegar (you could also replace milk + lemon/vinegar with buttermilk)
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the Pie Crust: Use your favorite!  I’m really not the baker in this friendship, so I would go with any of Julia’s pie crusts.

 

Preheat the oven to 425° and bake your pie crust in a pie pan (you can line with foil and fill with beans, or you can not) for ~5 minutes.

pre baked crust

In a large bowl, stir together sugar, cornmeal, flour, salt, melted butter, milk, lemon/vinegar, and vanilla.  Then lightly beat your eggs and add them to the mixture.  Ok, are you ready for the hard part?

Stir.

add your eggs and stir

Pour into your pie crust.

pre-baked pie

Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes.  After about 10 minutes, wrap the edges of the crust in foil so the edges don’t get too brown.  Once your Chess Pie has cooled completely, enjoy a slice.  Or two.  And then take it to your Pi Day bakeoff and win because it’s basically cheating to make a pie out of butter and sugar.

out of the oven

If you want to mix it up, you can add baking chocolate, lemon, raspberry, or top it with whipped cream or powdered sugar.  You can vary it all you want, but this pie will always be delicious and old-fashioned.

post-baked pie

xoxo,

Liz

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coconut cream pie

coconut cream pieHappy Pi Day, Hungry Texans! In celebration, I wanted to share a Lovett family favorite. We fell in love with this pie during childhood trips to Emeril’s Delmonico in New Orleans, and it wasn’t long before Big Daddy perfected it and this coconut cream pie became the dessert de résistance of every dinner party.

I took a couple creative liberties with Daddio’s classic – 3 mini pies instead of one big one (it’s the closest I could get to 3.14!) & adding coconut oil to the crust, but the core is the same and the proof is in the pudding…or in this case, the coconut custard!

Try it for yourself!coconute_pie_crust_ingredients

Coconut Crust

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
½ tsp table salt
1 tbl sugar
6 tbl cold unsalted butter, cubed
¼ cup coconut oil
2 tbl vodka, cold
2 tbl cold water

Coconut Filling

Coconut Custard

2 ¼ cups whole milk
¾ cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for the egg whites
3 egg yolks
¼ cup cornstarch
1 ½ tsp vanilla
2 cups toasted coconut
1 tbl butter

 

For your crust (which you can make a few days in advance if you’re feeling crafty!), start by pulsing sugar, 1/2 of your flour, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and coconut oil. Pulse, pulse, pulse and then add the rest of your flour. Remove from the food processor and transfer into a bowl. Trickle your water and vodka (vodka helps prevent pie crust from getting goopy & too sticky!) on top of your mixture and combine gently with a spatula. The coconut oil will give it a little bit of a crumblier texture, but it should get pretty smooth.

Next, press your dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes in the fridge (or a quick 15 in the freezer). When you’re ready to bake, roll your dough out on a well-floured surface. I divided and rolled my dough into thirds for three itty bitty pies. Fold your dough into your lightly greased pie pan and then mold the crust to the pan (don’t forget to poke it!). Bake at 425 until golden brown. I admittedly could have used some pie weights for these itty bitty pies (my crusts won’t win a beauty contest!), but if your crusts start to rise, I recommend smooshing them down with the back of a spoon while they’re still warm.

Pie Crust Steps

Now, for the custard. This custard’s super simple and quite similar to the custard we made for our Mardi Gras King Cake. Start by heating your milk and sugar in a small saucepan until it starts to simmer. While your milk is heating, whisk your egg yolks together and set aside. When your milk is the desired temp, pour a little bit into your egg mixture to temper the eggs (we want to make sure we don’t scramble our yolks!). Stir, stir, stir, and then combine the egg and milk mixture completely.

coconut Custard

Return your milky-egg mixture to the heat and bring to a boil. Once it boils, add in your corn starch. Stir completely and then remove from heat. Allow mixture to cool slightly and then stir in vanilla & coconut! Let your custard cool completely before even thinking about filling your crusts (no one wants a soggy crust!). Once your custard has cooled, fill your crusts and refrigerate until ready to serve. Right before you’re ready to serve, top with whipped cream (or a meringue if you’re into that…these Hungry Texans prefer heavy whipping cream over egg whites, thank you very much!). Slice and enjoy, or if if you’re making the personal size – grab a fork and forget about swimsuit season!

custard filled crusts

three little pies

You’d be (coco)nuts not to love this pie!

xoxo,

HungryTexans

red beans & rice

Red Beans and Rice Hero

Nothing says NOLA like red beans and rice. I know it’s sacrilege, but believe it or not these red beans and rice have no bacon, sausage or any hints of meat. They’re slow cooking, flavor-packed, and will make your kitchen smell like a French Quarter cafe. The real secret to these is time (you’ll also need a little thyme).

You’ll need:

Ingredients_Red Beans & Rice

 

Kosher salt
1 pound small red beans, rinsed and picked over
3 tbl butter
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 small bell pepper (I used orange), seeded and chopped fine
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Ground black pepper
3 cups veggie broth
6 cups water
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, plus extra for seasoning
Basic White Rice

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Your beans: Start by soaking & brining them — combine 3 tablespoons of salt with 4 quarts of water. If you’re a planner, you can soak your beans for 8-12 hours over night the night before. I am not that on top of things, so I erred on the side of the quick soak. To prep your beans with the quick method, rinse your beans then combine them with salt & water in a large, covered dutch oven. Bring the water to a boil and then remove from the heat and let them rest for 1 hour. Drain your beans and then start making them tasty!

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Melt your butter in a large dutch oven & add your onion, celery, and peppers. Cook until your vegetables are soft (~4-5 minutes) and then add your garlic.

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Add your spices (thyme, paprika, bay leaves, cayenne, and pepper) & let the flavors start to meld for a few minutes.

Add your beans, broth & water, and bring the mixture to a boil. Once your mixture reaches a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for an hour. Stir in your vinegar and continue cooking for at least 30 more minutes. Honestly, I kept the beans on low heat for at least two additional hours. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.

xoxo,

HungryTexans



king cake

king cake hero

Sharing King Cakes during Mardi Gras season is a cherished Gulf Coast tradition, but it wasn’t until college that I realized King Cake folklore isn’t universal. Jaws dropped when I explained there’s a prized baby Jesus baked inside! There are competing interpretations of what it means to eat the slice with the baby. In some circles, he or she who finds the baby is declared King or Queen for the day while in others finding the baby means bringing the King Cake next Mardi Gras. Any way you slice it, King Cakes are fun for all. Even if you don’t buy the King Cake superstitions, who can object to a giant, glorified cinnamon roll? Not us!

A homemade King Cake isn’t the easiest feat, but you should try it once! Especially if you’re nowhere near the third coast.

You’ll need:

Dough Ingredients

Dough
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup buttermilk

Custard Ingredients
Cinnamon Filling
1 cup milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
5 yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Cinnamon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons raw sugar

Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
2 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
purple, green and gold colored sugars for garnish
traditional King Cake baby, penny, or trinket

Start by making the dough. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer & mix for 15 whole minutes. I know this seems like a crazy long time, but alas! it works and your dough will be a silky ball after 15 whole minutes. Transplant your ball into a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap and leave to proof for ~2 hours. Note: your dough would be much happier proofing in an environment resembling the Gulf Coast (~80 – 90 degrees) than a drafty DC kitchen, but we made do!

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While your dough is proofing, make your filling. To make your cinnamon filling, start by combining your milk & sugar in a small saucepan. Stir rigorously to dissolve all the sugar. Once the milk & sugar mixture starts to boil, lower the heat slightly. Combine your cornstarch, vanilla, and egg yolks in a measuring cup & then add some of your warm milky mixture to the egg mixture (temper your eggs). Then, add your tempered eggs to the hot milk mixture, slightly elevate your heat, and continuously whisk your mixture until it begins to boil & the mixture resembles a thick custard. Remove custard from heat, cover & place in the fridge to chill. Once chilled, stir in cinnamon. 

Custard Steps

To make your cinnamon sugar mixture, combine all ingredients!

Once your dough is proofed, you get to play with it!

Dough A

 

  1. flour your work surface
  2. flatten your ball of dough
  3. cut into two equal parts
  4. roll out each part into a rectangle
  5. spread your cinnamon filling liberally on each rectangle
  6. sprinkle your cinnamon sugar generously on each filling covered rectangle
  7. cut each rectangle in half (hot dog-style)Dough B
  8. roll each rectangle pinching the seems to form a cinnamon-filled snake
  9. braid your cinnamon-filled snakes so that you have two braids
  10. place braids on a parchment lined baking sheet & pinch ends of each braid with the other braid’s end until you have a circle

Now leave this to rise. Should rise for 90 minutes to 2 hours, although mine didn’t get greatly larger in size (it should double!).

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown!

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To make your icing: cream cream cheese until soft, add powdered sugar, milk, vanilla & pinch of salt. Add powdered sugar until your icing reaches desired consistency. I went with a thin icing to drizzle over my cake through the tip of a Ziploc turned piping bag.

Once your cake cools, drizzle with icing and decorate with yellow, green, and purple colored sugars (you can make these yourself with a few tablespoons of sugar and a few drops of food coloring!). If your trinket’s plastic and could easily melt, we recommend slipping it into a seam after your cake has cooled. If you’re using something heartier like a penny, you could pop it in before your cake goes in the oven. To each her own!

laissez les bon temps rouler,

HungryTexans

 

a hungry texans super bowl

Super Bowl Hero

Hopefully one day soon we’ll get to root for one of our teams on the grid iron as they vie for victory in the Super Bowl (go Texans! go Redskins!), but until then these Hungry Texans would rather spend our game day munching on Super Bowl snacks on snacks on snacks.

Dipp-ability & cheesiness are award-winning characteristics when it comes to Super Bowl snacks. Whether you’re hosting your own Super Bowl party or looking for a dish to bring to a friend’s look no further than these delicious dips & apps!

Jalapeño Poppers

Red, White & Blue Nachos

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Pineapple Salsa

Ninfa’s Green Sauce/Tomatillo Salsa

Those snacks are perfect munchies for the Big Game, but if you’re looking to round out your menu with something a little heartier, we recommend crab cakes (in honor of the Ravens, “crab cakes & football that’s what Maryland does!“), veggie chili, or some Chicago-style DC half smokes.

Finally, to satiate your Super Bowl sweet tooth, whip up a batch of these One Bowl Brownies! If you’re a 49ers fan, we recommend using Ghirardelli cocoa powder for good luck!

Wishing you all a super Super Bowl!

yay, sports!

Hungry Texans

 

ninfa’s green sauce

Ninfa's Green Sauce Hero

Every Houstonian knows Mama Ninfa is an institution, and this green sauce know doubt helped her emerge as a Tex-Mex queen! I found this Houston Chronicle newspaper clipping for Mama Ninfa’s famous green sauce and didn’t skip a beat before I tried to recreate this famous salsa. The secret that’s not clear from the recipe below, is that this recipe is really good for three unique salsas/dips! With proper pauses, you can stretch this recipe from one creamy green dip into creamy green dip, avocado tomatillo salsa, and tomatillo salsa. All three are delicious in their own right, so use this recipe for one or all three!

Ninfa's Green Sauce Ingredients

Green Sauce Newspaper Clipping

You’ll need:

3 medium green tomatoes, coarsely chopped
4 tomatillos, chopped
1 -2 jalapeños, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves
2 tbl olive oil
3 ripe avacados
¼ c cilanto
1 tsp salt
1 ½ c sour cream (less if you go for more than one of the salsa varietals)

 

 

Combine your tomatoes, tomatillos, jalapeños, garlic & oil in a small pan. Bring to a boil & then simmer for 15 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft.

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For salsa 1: let all these ingredients cool to room temperature & then mix in a food processor adding your salt, cilantro, and lime. Remove as much of the tomatillo salsa as you’d like to enjoy.

For salsa 2: add your avocados to the tomatillo mix & combine in the food processor. This is another reasonable point to pause! Scoop aside some avocado tomatillo salsa & enjoy.

For salsa 3: the most decadent, Ninfa’s-esque, creamy dip, add your sour cream & combine. Depending upon how much salsa you’ve removed already, modify the amount of sour cream you add to reflect the proportions remaining in the bowl of your food processor. Add sour cream to taste & to your desired level of creaminess.

Enjoy any of these three salsas with tortilla chips, as enchilada sauce, or taco toppers!

 

spinach artichoke dip

Spinach Artichoke Dip_Title

Dips take deux with this Spinach Artichoke Dip. I made this for the Texans v. Pats playoffs game a few weeks ago (these Hungry Texans will get our vengeance on those Boston Boys’ team one of these days!), but it will certainly be seeing a return appearance on our Super Bowl spread.

Spinach Artichoke Dip Ingredients

You’ll need:

1 package frozen spinach, thawed
1 can artichoke hearts
8 oz cream cheese
½ c parmesan (usually we prefer the real stuff, but jarred parm is a-okay for this!)
2 tbl crushed garlic
1 c sour cream
¼ c cottage cheese
Hot sauce & pepper to taste

Start by thawing your spinach and wringing out as much of the excess liquid as you possibly can. Place spinach, artichokes, and garlic in a food processor & pulse, pulse, pulse until they’re thoroughly chopped.

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Then add & mix in your cream cheese.

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Then add & combine your sour cream!

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Then add your cheeses. Full disclosure, I usually add way more mozz, but when I set out to make this dip I got home from the store only to realize we had about 2 tbl of mozarella in the fridge (oh, rats!). I ended up adding the sprinkling of mozz I had, but the cottage cheese I substituted in worked great, so feel free to get creative with your queso!

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Next, season to your desired level of kick — I did a few shakes of each pepper & hot sauce — and give it all a final few whirls around your food processor (taking time to scrape the sides and ensure it’s all combined!).

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You could start dipping away now, but I think this dip’s better hot, so fill a square pyrex dish with your dip & bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes or until the top starts to get the littlest bit golden and crusty.

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Enjoy with your favorite dippers and root your team to victory!

Go Texans!
Hungry Texans

pineapple salsa

pineapple salsa_title

The Baltimore Ravens & San Francisco 49ers have two weeks to prepare for the big game in the Big Easy. While the teams practice kicking, throwing, and clobbering, these Hungry Texans will be hard at work prepping a Super Bowl menu full of culinary “touchdowns”. This pineapple salsa will brighten any Super Bowl spread, and it’d also make a killer topping for fish tacos!

salsa ingredients

 

Start with:

1 whole pineapple, diced
1 jalapeño, diced
½ red onion, diced
¼ cup cilantro, diced
juice of one lime

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Chopping and a little time are the only tricks to this recipe. Finely dice all of your ingredients and then combine. With a juicy pineapple the flavors meld quickly, but give your ingredients at least 30 minutes to marinate together before diving in & starting scoop with your favorite chips!

A Hungry Texans Inaugural Feast!

Hungry Texans Seal(1)Ah, America.  It’s a good time to live in DC, a district buzzing with excitement for the 57th Inauguration.  The Secret Service is in their dry-run stage for Monday’s big event, but we’ve already put together our Inauguration menu fit for the president himself.  Sure, we could have gone with a red, white & blue theme or made 12 versions of apples pie (trust us, we could have).  But we think this POTUS is just about the cutest thing since President Bartlett, so we decided to draw on inspiration from Obama himself.  A man who governed in food-loving Chicago, steals away to his native Hawaii for vacations, and now calls our very own DC his home.  A president who escapes the White House for crowd-drawing trips to Ben’s Chili Bowl and Komi, and, with his lovely Michelle, has reinstated the important White House garden (the produce from which is used not only in the family’s own dinners, but also donated to Miriam’s Kitchen- go WH!)  Yes, I’d say we’ve got quite the foodie president on our hands.

So we created a menu that incorporates many of the POTUS’s foodie roots- from the Windy city to the Big Island.  To escape the crowded Mall (or before you head to a ball), try this Hungry Texans Inaugural Feast!

Inauguration Feast

Featuring:

Chicago Style Half Smokes

Hawaiian Deep-Dish Pizza

Coconut & Pineapple Cupcakes

inauguration dinner hungry texans

We The Pizza.

hawaiin deep dish pizza

Continuing our Obama-inspired menu, we drew from POTUS’s island roots and decided to make a Hawaiian pizza- fresh pineapple, thinly sliced ham (proscuitto would be delicious as well), and two varieties of mozzarella make Hawaiian pizza one of the most popular in the States.  And then we got crazy and paid homage to his Chicago life ALSO, throwing those Hawaiian toppings on a traditional cornmeal deep dish crust.    Check out our recipes for homemade pizza crust and marinara sauce also!

You’ll need:
Deep Dish Pizza Crust
6 oz. shredded mozzarella
2 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese
6 slices of thinly sliced ham or proscuitto
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup sliced pineapple
2 cups marinara sauce

Start by rolling out your pizza crust to a 13-inch circle.  Rub the inside of a spring form pan with olive oil and set the crust inside the pan, working it two inches up the side of the pan.

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Layer on the shredded mozzarella and the sauce on top.  Seriously people- cheese FIRST.  Sauce SECOND.  The cheese sort of melts into the crust and creates this gooey perfection.

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Now, layer on your toppings.  We were looking for a traditional Hawaiian pizza, but obviously you could use a variety of other toppings:

  • Pepperoni
  • Assorted cheeses
  • Roasted bell peppers
  • Kalamata olives
  • A bevy of cured meats
  • Shrimp
  • This list could literally go on forever.

Bake at 425° for 20-30 minutes, or until, you know, the pizza is ready.  If you don’t know when a pizza looks gooey and crispy and perfect, then shoot us an email and we’ll come to your house and tell you.  We charge in pizza slices, if you catch my drift.

Love,

The Hungry Texans