Pumpkin not only option for holiday pies

Two recipes from the 'Savor the South Cookbook' series from the University of North Carolina Press

Sweet Potato Pie with Ginger and Orange

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This Thanksgiving, instead of pumpkin pie, why not make a sweet potato pie instead? You'd be using a fresh vegetable, instead of a canned one. And from the ones I've tasted, sweet potatoes seem to have had a very delicious season.

This fine pie comes from a very fine new book, "Buttermilk" by Debbie Moose. There were other recipes I was drawn to as well, including Cinnamon Spice Muffins, Buttermilk Herb Rolls (that would be welcome on a Thanksgiving table) and Jan's Buttermilk Pound Cake, which would be a terrific addition to any holiday and a wonderful hostess gift. All made special with the tangy, tenderizing magic of buttermilk. Another reason to give thanks.

Debbie Moose writes: "Sweet potato pie at Thanksgiving is a Southern tradition, but many sweet potato pies simply echo the flavors of pumpkin pie. I decided to make something different by using buttermilk, fresh ginger and sweet orange."

That's the sweet surprise of this pie. Unexpected lovely flavors. I followed Debbie's advice and roasted the sweet potatoes, but you could boil them, too. I liked this pie better the next day, when it was cold from the fridge. But that's just me.

-- Miriam Rubin

  • 1 9-inch piecrust, unbaked
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I used light brown)
  • 1 teaspoon peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine table salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch pie pan with the crust.

In large bowl, whisk brown sugar, ginger, orange zest and salt until blended.

Add buttermilk, sweet potatoes, eggs and melted butter. Use electric mixer to blend all ingredients until mixture is smooth.

Pour mixture into piecrust. Bake directly on oven rack for 50 to 55 minutes, or until edges have puffed up slightly and center does not feel liquid when tapped lightly with a finger. Cool completely on wire rack. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Makes 6 or more servings.

-- Adapted from "Buttermilk: A Savor the South Cookbook" by Debbie Moose (University of North Carolina Press, 2012, $18)

Crispy Pecan Pie

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I never feel that Thanksgiving has really happened unless there is pecan pie. Every year I make various versions, with dark brown sugar, sometimes bourbon or brandy, often dark corn syrup, maybe some heavy cream in the mix. I am obligated, or I've made it my obligation to bring two pecan pies to my sister-in-law's house, where we gather to celebrate the holiday.

This year, I think I'll make this version. It has a firmer filling, without the goo factor of corn syrup (which I love, actually) and it bakes up into a beautiful pie. I just wish it wasn't on the counter right now, gently calling my name.

The recipe comes from a sweet new cookbook, "Pecans" by Kathleen Purvis, who is also the food editor of the Charlotte Observer. She has other versions of pecan pie in her book, including Chocolate-Maple Pecan Pie and Classic Southern Pecan Pie, along with recipes for salads, more desserts and main dishes.

She writes, "Many old Southern recipes add cornmeal to pecan pie filling. It gives a consistency that is a little less gooey and lets the pecans stand out a bit more."

-- Miriam Rubin

  • 1 9-inch piecrust, unbaked
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yellow or white cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine table salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dust a 9-inch pie plate lightly with flour and add the piecrust, easing it into the bottom. Turn the edge under and crimp to create a border.

Spread pecans evenly in crust bottom. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, cornmeal, water, vanilla, salt and melted butter. Pour over pecans in crust, spreading to cover pecans completely.

Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake 20 to 30 more minutes (mine took 20 minutes), until puffed, firm when lightly touched and the crust has browned at the edges. Cool completely on wire rack before cutting. Refrigerate leftovers.

Makes 8 servings.

-- Adapted from "Pecans: A Savor the South Cookbook" by Kathleen Purvis (University of North Carolina Press, 2012, $18)

Miriam Rubin: mmrubin@gmail.com or on Twitter @mmmrubin. University of North Carolina Press will publish her book "Tomatoes" in 2013.


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