Friday, June 24, 2011

Even lucky boys have bad days

Gargantuan "Irish" cheesecake
Today Owen boarded a plane to Boston and he will not be back until midway through August. During the time he is gone, he will visit Ireland with his grandfather, spend time on the beach in New England with his cousins, and go to Africa with his mother. He has no idea how lucky he is.

pepperoni lasagna
Day before yesterday he and I got our shots and pills for Africa, then Owen chose his farewell meal from Guy Fieri's cookbook. He chose pepperoni lasagna and Irish cheesecake -- "because it's Irish and I'm going to Ireland!"

I could not imagine a more ridiculous meal. I kept my mouth shut.

Yesterday I cooked the meal and while I was cooking he came down with a blazing fever from the shots. He lay on the couch whimpering while the rest of us ate his lasagna and Irish cheesecake. He left this morning without tasting a morsel.

How was the lasagna? Big, rude, unwieldy. I would not make it again.

How was the cheesecake? It contained Bailey's, melted semisweet chocolate, sugar, cream, eggs, and two pounds of cream cheese. It was grotesque, absurd, and delicious. But my husband remarked, and I agree, that you can't beat a plain cheesecake with a graham cracker crust and some cherry pie filling on top. These super-sweet, chocolatey cheesecakes lack tang. Tang plus richness is what makes cheesecake great, not just richness.

An inadvertently artful shot
On another subject, this is a bean pie I made the other day using a lovely book called Southern Pies by Nancie McDermott. I wrote a story about oddball regional pies and felt I had to try baking the oddest recipe I could find. According to McDermott, the bean pie was developed in the 1930s "as part of the nutritional teachings of the Nation of Islam." To make it, you mash some navy beans and stir them up with eggs, sugar, melted butter and spices then bake the fragrant custard in a pie crust. I thought no one would touch this funky pie, but everyone in the family liked it. I think they may have liked it more than they liked the Irish cheesecake.

10 comments:

  1. Hey Jennifer. Very curious about that bean pie. Is the recipe online? Years ago I had a sweet bean cake for dessert at a Portuguese restaurant in East Providence. The Portuguese also make tartelettes with a sweet bean filling, and they are also very good (pasteis de feijao).

    Oz

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think it sounds great. It seems like the beans would replace a lot of the cream or milk that would be in a custard pie. I'm curious to know. What was it teaching about the Nation of Islam?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oz -- Nancie McDermott has a blog with some recipes, but bean pie isn't on it. Here's a recipe that's different in its proportions, but contains identical ingredients: http://www.muhammadspeaks.com/pie.html
    Margaret -- According to Wikipedia, bean pies were deemed more nutritious, less decadent, I guess, than completely frivolous custard pies.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You can't eat pastry in Asia without running into red bean filling so this pie sounds good to me...the lasagna not so much...looks like it would take a day to digest....

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love Asian bean pastries -- this pie was less intensely beany than the Asian desserts I've tried, though vaguely similar in texture.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the link Jennifer!
    Oz

    ReplyDelete
  7. Agree with you about the simple, delicious 'traditional' cheesecake...with the cherry filling on top. Yum. And the bean pie is fascinating. Thanks, Jennifer!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Speaking of bean desserts, I recently ran across a recipe for black bean brownies on Heidi Swanson's blog. I was intrigued, but not enough to try it.

    McDermott's prequel to the pie book, "Southern Cakes," is also a wonderful little book. I highly recommend it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I want Southern Cakes. I have to get it. I interviewed Nancie McDermott and she was charming.
    A few years ago I made Heidi Swanson's black bean brownies. They were odd. Not great, but not bad.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Jennifer, what a sweet treat to find your kinds words about my book and our conversation, and this most wonderful photograph of my bean pie recipe making itself at home in your world. I adore the photo, I treasure the shout-out, I loved our conversation, and I think your blog is a hoot. The goat-milking post alone is worth the 'drive' over from my world to yours, and then there's the web-love, which I cherish. So glad to be on this ride with the Tipsy Baker.

    ReplyDelete