Awhile back, a few of us got involved in a Twitter conversation about Food Secrets. By Food Secrets I'm talking about a version of Food Fight Club, and the first rule of Food Fight Club is you don't talk about Food Fight Club. You know what I mean. The stuff no one wants to mention. The bag of Oreos under the bed, the bag of Cheese Doodles no one else in the house knows about but you, the Slim Jims in the back of the underwear drawer. The Double Stufft (yeah spelled that way) Oreos, The Chili Lime Chips. You get my drift. No matter how organic, made from scratch, non processed we are, the itch is always there. Whether you cook in old school clay or are performing molecular gastronomy miracles, turn down that Ding Dong.....go ahead...I dare ya.
Well, I'll go first. Here's my dirty little secret, the thing that if you were to search my larder behind all the Indian spices, and dal and exotic flours you will find this.
Yes this. Am I proud? No. Do I always have it? You bet your ass.
It started as a joke years ago in LA. We were having a dinner party and I needed a quick, fast dessert. I grabbed a pack of instant chocolate pudding. A musician friend who was a guest that night was over the moon about it. He raved about childhood pudding memories. I had obviously hit some sort of twisted sweet spot there, and so I kept buying it and keeping it in the cupboard ...just in case. Okay, if we're really being honest here I'm never without this stuff.
So why am I talking about it here? Well, this weekend it all came out in a mad rush. I was cooking my last group of food requests for my friend who was having treatment for thyroid cancer. He was finishing his radiation isolation and was going back to his regular vegetarian diet. The special requests were for Black Eyed Peas, cornbread, and a pumpkin pie.
The black eyed peas Indian style I had been making for him pretty regularly. For the pumpkin pie and the cornbread I decided to go waaaaaaay back to my Great Grandmothers' Native Daughters of the Golden West Cookbook. This book features pioneer California recipes with directions that call for stuff like "a hot fire" and "fresh squirrel." We're talking old school cooking. I decided to make the pumpkin pie recipe from the book along with the cornbread.The pie crust recipe is extremely simple. Very few ingredients, sort of typical for the times.
It comes together very easily.
Chocolate Cream Pie
Here's what to do:
In a large bowl sift 2 cups of pastry flour.
Measure it, add in:
1/2 tsp of salt
Cut in 1/2 cup of cold shortening ( 1 stick of butter)
Mix it together until it looks like a fine meal
Add in :
1/3 cup of ice water a bit at a time.
Mix it with a knife or spatula until the dough cleans the bowl (not my words that's what Vessie Orr who came up with this says to do.)
The idea is to use as little water as possible.
Roll the dough about 1/8 of an inch thick on a lightly floured board.
Place it in you pie pan...and you get the idea.
Well, after making the pumpkin pie which is one crust, I had enough for a second crust left over. Of course cooler heads would have said stick that thing in the freezer. Use it later. But I wasn't listening to that cooler head. I was looking at the picture on the back of the Instant pudding box... you know the part that says..."or pie filling" "Hmmm," I thought. I've got crust and I've got "or pie filling." I'm making that freakin' pie. Like now.
I poked the pie crust with a fork all over and stuck that pie shell into a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes until it was a nice pale, golden color. It was done.
As far as the "or pie filling" part goes I used two small boxes of Chocolate Fudge Instant Sugar Free pudding mixed for 2 minutes with 2 and 3/4 cups of low fat milk. Instant "or pie filling"!
I poured the pie filling into the cooled pie shell and popped it into the fridge.
As far as the whipped cream topping, I had to make my own whipped cream stabilizer since the cake shop down the road was all out. It turned out to be pretty easy.
Here's what to do for 2 cups of whipped cream:
Dissolve 1 tsp of gelatine in 2 Tbs of cold water for five minutes.
Whip the cream in a chilled bowl with 1 tsp of sugar until it just starts to fluff up.
Place the gelatine mixture in a small pan (double boiler) over boiling water until it dissolves completely. Let it cool a bit then pour it all into the whipped cream at once and continue beating it until the whipped cream is in stiff peaks.
Ice the pie with the whipped cream.
Our guests loved the pie and the next day this was all that was left
Believe it or not the whipped cream kept its' shape and density. Who knew. Vessie Orr meets Rachel Ray. So, there it is, my guilty little instant pudding secret. What's yours?
Coming up next, I go back to healthy roots with a great new way with eggplant. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori