Monday, November 30, 2015

Brown Butter Sea Salted Cookies

As much as I would have loved to host the Thanksgiving family dinner this year, I have always longed to be able to run the Turkey Trot in the town where I live. Not that running a 5k was going to mitigate all of the holiday meal calories consumed (more than likely it would take an Ironman Triathlon for that), but a fresh air, running for a good cause start to the day felt good. Really, really good. Not even having to navigate around all of the strollers, walkers, dogs on leashes, groups walking 5 across, or the threat of an overcast, waiting to rain sky could spoil this Thanksgiving first. Already I am thinking ahead to next year, trying to figure out how to manage the possibility of hosting my favorite holiday meal and running this race. Because of course, I don't want to have to choose between the two.

And for the first time in years or I should say decades, I didn't succumb to the lure of all of those Black Friday sales or the endless number of emails offering all of those savings over the Thanksgiving weekend. That too felt good, surprisingly good actually. Over the years, but even more so recently, I have come to realize there is something to be said for savoring all of the sentiments of Thanksgiving for as long as possible. At least for a couple of days more.

Earlier this fall one of my best friends texted to tell me she had just tasted the ultimate, absolute best, most incredible cookie ever. The discovery of 'the' cookies sold by the Brown Butter Cookie Company occurred while she was on vacation in California. While she was savoring every bite of these cookies, I was left wondering 'so what does such a cookie taste like?' Not that I doubted her (okay maybe I did just a teeny tiny bit), but this was a rather significant claim. Fast forward to this past week when an unexpected, most generous gift of these cookies arrived. It took me all of ten seconds to tear open the box and taste one of these cookies. In a single bite, I learned what the ultimate, absolute best, most incredible ever cookie tasted like. After devouring one of the brown butter sea salted shortbread cookies, I thought 'okay now I need to find the recipe for cookies thousands are willing to drive hours to buy and many more thousands are willing to pay $1.00 per cookie for'. So I embarked on the search for this buttery, sweet, salty shortbread cookie. The looming holiday cookie season was an added incentive.

What I found on this search were a myriad of recipes all claiming to taste just like the ones sold at the Brown Butter Cookie Company. Ha! Like most shortbread cookie recipes the most significant difference amongst them is in the flour to butter ratio. These copycat recipes were no different. To make this slightly more challenging, this cookie had a tenderness to it I didn't think could be achieved by simply using only the recommended all-purpose flour. So I had a few decisions to make before attempting to replicate them. Or rather to get as close to them as possible.

For some unscientific, unable to explain from a culinary perspective reason, 6 ounces of unsalted butter and 12 ounces of flour made sense to me. Less butter or more flour just didn't seem right. But the browning of the unsalted butter would be key to the success of this cookie. Too light and the browning flavor would get lost, too dark and it would overpower the sweetness of the cookie. After listening to the which flour to use debate going on in my head, I decided to use a whole wheat pastry flour. If it didn't work, I would have wasted a stick and half of unsalted butter, 1/2 cup of light brown sugar, a teaspoon and a half of vanilla, some sea salt, some fine red Hawaiian sea salt, and 1 1/2 cups of the whole wheat pastry flour. Hardly the end of the world in terms of ingredient cost. Culinary ego and self-esteem were a completely different matter. Okay, yes I know, this is only a cookie.

This is a two bowl cookie recipe. The flour (the whole wheat pastry flour), the sea salt, and the baking soda are mixed together in one bowl. The browned butter, light brown sugar, and vanilla are mixed in another. And then the still warm browned butter mixture is stirred into the flour mixture just until combined. At this point you want the cookie to rest for anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes (I waited 20 minutes but a 30 minute wait would not be too long) to enable the flour to fully absorb into the butter as well as to allow the dough to cool slightly. As a side note, whole wheat pastry flour is not as fine as all-purpose flour, thus it is slower to absorb the liquid (the browned butter/brown sugar mixture) due primarily to the fiber it contains.

There are two benefits to using an ice cream scoop to form the cookies. In addition to creating uniformed sized cookies, it prevents the dough from being overworked and toughened. After removing the dough from the ice cream scoop, it is quickly rolled into a ball, placed on the baking sheet, and pressed down ever so slightly before being dusted with a very light sprinkling of fine Hawaiian red sea salt. Hint: A little of this salt goes a long way.

On a silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet, the cookies are baked fro 13-15 minutes in a preheated 325 degree (F) oven (my baking time was 15 minutes). After transferring the baked cookies to a cooling rack, allow to completely cool before eating and/or packaging. Remember wait time is all relative. 

The cookie baking stars were aligned on the day I made these Brown Butter Sea Salted Cookies. These were definitely the dense, buttery, salty, melt in your mouth balls of deliciousness I hoped they would be. If the brown butter sea salted cookies from the Brown Butter Cookie Company can sell for $1.00 a cookie, these would be worthy of a 95 cents each price tag. Seriously.

These Brown Butter Sea Salted Cookies will definitely be making an appearance on all of my Christmas cookie platters. However, don't think of them as just another holiday cookie. No, these are kind of cookie you will want to bake year round. Once you taste them you will understand why they shouldn't be relegated to a single month a year. When the cookie connoisseurs in your circle of family and friends first see this rather simple, unassuming cookie, they may look at you and wonder what all of the fuss is about. But trust me, one bite and they will find them hard to resist. This is one incredibly delectable, decadent shortbread cookie. If you haven't noticed, browned butter is one of my favorite things. Fine red Hawaiian sea salt is now added to that list.

Brown Butter Sea Salted Cookies (inspired by a recipe shared by Jason Hill)
Makes 15 cookies

12 Tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed 
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (recommend Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Hawaiian red sea salt, finely ground

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F). Line a 12"x18" baking pan with silpat or parchment paper.
2. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low-medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring frequently until the melted butter is a deep golden color (approximately 8-10 minutes).  Remove from stove and pour into small-medium sized bowl.
3. Add light brown sugar and vanilla, stirring until brown sugar dissolves and is fully incorporated into the browned butter. Set aside.
4. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and sea salt.
5. Pour butter/brown sugar mixture into the dry ingredients. Fold until combined, being careful not to overmix. 
6. Allow the dough to cool slightly and rest for 15-30 minutes before shaping into balls.
7. Using an ice cream scoop first and then your hands to make one inch bowls. Place on prepared baking sheet. Press down on each cookie ever so slightly. Very lightly sprinkle with red Hawaiian sea salt.
8. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Be careful not to over bake.
8. Transfer cookies to cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before eating or packaging.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Baked Ricotta with Blistered Tomatoes

My most favorite of all holidays is just days away. As Thanksgiving approaches the food-asphere is stuffed with simple, complicated, traditional, and trendy recipes; sage advice from cooks everywhere; reminders of the rules for entertaining etiquette; a myriad of table setting ideas; and, of course, let's not forget the wine pairing recommendations. Makes one wonder how the Pilgrims ever managed to get that mythical, yet legendary meal on the table (Spoiler alert: It isn't what we were taught.) Unless one thrives under pressure (at least one for certain, but probably all of my former administrative assistants can tell you what it feels like to work with someone possessing such a quality), by now you have probably made 98% of your Thanksgiving dinner menu decisions (those of us who have second guessing tendencies always needs to leave some room for a last minute change or addition). For some of us, this meal means making multiple trips to grocery stores and food emporiums to get everything needed for that good as or hopefully even better than the dinner made last year. Yet, in spite of all of the time, planning, endurance, and love going into the making of this meal, the food is merely the backdrop for this holiday.

So I am not going to mess with your Thanksgiving dinner plans with this blog post. I am not going to tempt you to switch out your cranberry sauce for this Spiced Cranberry and Dried Fruit Chutney, or persuade you to replace your favorite creamed spinach recipe with this Boursin Spinach Gratin, or have you consider substituting your pumpkin pie recipe for this Brûléed Pumpkin Pie with Caramel Swirl, or even suggest you add a Potato Leek Gratin to your holiday table. No, I am not. Instead, I am going to focus all of my energies on sharing a recipe for an appetizer you are going to need for all of your impromptu or planned gatherings in the weeks and months ahead. Yes, you really, really need this Baked Ricotta with Blistered Tomatoes recipe in your life.

Nothing takes the chill off of a cold night better than a warm appetizer and glass of wine. Well, okay, maybe there are a few other things.

The savoriness of the ricotta, goat cheese and herbs and the sweetness of blistered, caramelized baby heirloom (or cherry) tomatoes become the perfect bite when spread on a crostini baguette.

This absolute deliciousness begins with whole milk ricotta (don't even think of making a 'lighter' substitution here), chèvre (or goat cheese), fresh thyme, finely minced garlic, sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and an egg.

Thyme was my herb of choice but you could also use fresh marjoram. In the summer or in the warmer parts of the country, you could substitute freshly sliced basil for the thyme. While some will say fresh herbs are more flavorful than dried, there are some herbs you can use in either fresh or dried form without sacrificing all of the flavor. Thyme and marjoram are two of them, however, basil is a fresh only herb. In general, follow a 1:3 dried to fresh to dried ratio if making this substitution (1 teaspoon of dried to 3 teaspoons of fresh). Side note: 1 Tablespoon equals 3 teaspoons.

If you are not using your own homemade ricotta, use a high quality whole milk ricotta (my personal favorite is made by BelGioioso). The higher quality the ricotta, the less the liquid there will be when allowed to drain for thirty minutes before mixing with the other ingredients.

The drained ricotta, chèvre (or goat cheese), and egg are mixed until creamy in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. After blending in the minced garlic, chopped thyme, sea salt and black pepper, the mixture is ready to be spooned into a dish generously brushed with olive oil. Take a lesson for me and choose a baking dish allowing you to easily invert the baked ricotta onto a platter.

At this point you can cover your baking dish and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to put into a preheated 375 degree (F) oven. It takes only 40 minutes for the cheese to puff up and very lightly brown.

Baby heirloom and cherry tomatoes are always in season. Extra-virgin olive oil, light brown sugar, fresh thyme, and dry vermouth are all you need to caramelize these tomatoes. But before sharing just how easy it is to make these blistered tomatoes, let's talk about the vermouth, the dry vermouth. Something we can thank 18th century Northern Italians for creating. Borrowing from Cook's Illustrated description, 'the base of a dry vermouth is white wine, presumably not of particularly high quality; fortified with neutral grape spirits which slightly hike up the alcohol level; and, 'aromatized' with 'botanicals' such as herbs, spices, and fruits.' Relatively inexpensive due to its' low alcohol content, dry vermouth is also called extra-dry vermouth. As a side note, if you ever see a recipe simply calling for vermouth and recommending white wine as a substitute, they are really recommending the use of dry vermouth. Save the sweet stuff red or pink stuff for the Manhattan, Negroni, and Rob Roy.

In a heavy skillet, heat a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil before adding the baby heirloom or cherry tomatoes. Cook, swirling often, over medium heat until the tomatoes begin to blister. or slightly split. When adding the dry vermouth, remove the pan from the heat (remember there is alcohol in it). After stirring the dry vermouth into the tomatoes, return to the heat and add the light brown sugar, sea salt, and fresh thyme. Immediately lower the heat and continue to cook until the juices from the tomatoes, the dry vermouth, and the brown sugar become slightly syrupy. Some of your tomatoes may have fallen completely apart, however, if all of them do, then you 'blistered' them too much before adding in the other ingredients.

The tomatoes can be made midway through the ricotta baking process. If they are done before the ricotta has baked and allowed to rest slightly, remove them from heat and gently reheat before getting ready to serve.

Slice up a fresh baguette into 1/2 inch slices or brush your baguette slices with some extra-virgin olive, season with salt and pepper, and bake in a 350 degree (F) oven for 10-15 minutes (or until they are lightly golden brown). While the baked ricotta is resting, you can throw a sheet pan of prepared baguette slices into the oven.

Baking time on the ricotta, goat cheese, and herb mixture is approximately 40 minutes (it will puff up slightly and have some light brown coloring along the edges and on top). After removing from the oven, allow it to rest for approximately ten (10) minutes before inverting onto your serving platter (again trust me when I say choose a baking dish amenable to inverting).

Top the baked ricotta with your blistered tomatoes and surround with your bread of choice. Garnishing with thyme is optional. While meant to be served warm, this Baked Ricotta with Blistered Tomatoes is still delicious and equally addictive as it comes to room temperature.

My list of all of the things I am thankful for this year continues to grow daily. Unexpected kindnesses, the support and encouragement of family and friends, new friendships, enduring friendships that continue to strengthen over time, and my new appreciation for being healthy are just some of them. And in the words of Thornton Wilder 'We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.' It is with a very grateful heart that I wish all of you a most happy and filled with blessings Thanksgiving.

Baked Ricotta with Blistered Tomatoes (inspired by the Runaway Spoon's recipe for Baked Ricotta and Goat Cheese with Candied Tomatoes)

Baked Cheese
15 ounces whole milk ricotta (recommend BelGioioso whole milk ricotta)
4 ounces chevre or goat cheese, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme (or marjoram or basil)
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
Generous grinding of black pepper
Generous sprinkling of sea salt (or kosher salt)
Extra-virgin olive oil for preparing baking dish

Blistered Tomatoes
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
12-14 ounces baby heirloom tomatoes or cherry tomatoes (mixed colors if possible)
1/4 cup dry or extra dry vermouth
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 sprigs of thyme
sea salt

Baked Cheese
1. Place the ricotta in a colander lined with cheese cloth. Allow to drain for at least 30 minutes, pressing down to extract the liquid.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F). Brush inside of a 2 cup baking dish with olive oil.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the drained ricotta, goat cheese, and egg until smooth. Beat in herbs, pepper and salt. Taste for seasonings.
4. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake for 40 minutes or until lightly browned and puffed in the center.
5. Allow the cheese to cool for at least 10 minutes. Invert on serving platter.
Note: The baked cheese mixture can be prepared several hours in advance before baking. Remove from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before baking.

Blistered Tomatoes
1. While the cheese is baking, heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. 
2. Add tomatoes, stirring frequently until the skins of the tomatoes begin to split.
3. Briefly remove from heat, add vermouth, then return to heat. 
4. Add brown sugar and herbs, stirring until sugar has melted.
5. Add a generous pinch of sea salt.
6. Lower heat and cook gently until liquid is reduced to a syrupy coating. Note: Some of the tomatoes will begin to fall apart, but not to worry.

1. Spoon the blistered tomatoes over the baked ricotta.
2. Serve with crostini or a sliced baguette.

First snowfall at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Honey and Butter Baked Pears with Cream

For those of you (like me) who don't rank pears up there as one of your favorite fruits or would rather go hungry than eat one, hang in here. But for those of you who love pears, consider this to be your lucky day. For those of you (like me) who have never understood how a bowl of fruit served at the end of a great meal comes even close to qualifying as a dessert, stay with me. But for those of you who discovered the sumptuousness of a fruit dessert years ago, add me to the list of those who envy your food genius.

Yes, I am fully aware we are entering the holiday season. Otherwise known as the weeks of overindulgence, a rationalized eating and drinking bender, and the over-consumption of all foods rich or sweet. So why in the midst of this seasonal food orgy would I even try to convince you to serve a fruit dessert at any one of the dinner parties you will be having in the weeks ahead?  No, contrary to the opinion of a few or for sure at least one, I have not yet lost my senses. Rather I have finally wised up. This newly found, better late than never, wisdom came after taking a single bite of these Honey and Butter Baked Pears with Cream.

This recipe came from one of Denmark's most respected chefs, restauranteurs, and cookbook authors Paul Cunningham. The simplicity of this baked pear dessert is rivaled only by the complexity of its' flavors. Butter, honey, fresh thyme, bay leaves, and some (sea or kosher) salt, and oh let's not forget the little more than a splash of heavy cream, turn anjou pears into a dessert worthy of going on my last meal list. 

Slow roasting the pears at a relatively high temperature caramelizes and causes them to become more deeply flavorful than you think is possible. They ascend to a level of flavorfulness reserved only for those best kind of unexpected surprises. 

There are at least ten kinds of pears, but for this dessert the anjou pear works best as it one holding up well in the baking or roasting process. I used a Green Anjou pear, however, you could also use its' red cousin, the Red Anjou even though there is a slight difference between the two of them. The Red Anjou has been described as being slightly sweeter, milder, and having with hints of sweet spice. However, the citrus notes in the Green Anjou may better compliment the thyme and bay leaves.

While shopping for the pears I came across a slightly smaller version of the Green Anjou Pear. Instead of using eight regular sized Anjou pears, I ended up using eleven of the smaller ones. Coring the pears after they have been peeled and halved lengthwise helps them to retain their beautiful shape. Using a melon baller makes this easier, but a small teaspoon would work as well.

After placing the pears on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, each half is filled with butter, lightly seasoned with salt (I used sea salt), and sprinkled with fresh thyme leaves. Instead of using fresh bay leaves, I used dried ones. By keeping them whole and simply laying over the pear halves, the butter and honey will absorb their flavor.

Drizzle all of the pears with the honey before placing them in a preheated 400 degree (F) oven. The recipe called for a half-cup of honey, however, 1/3 cup seemed to work well. To compliment the citrus notes of the Green Anjou pears I used an Orange Blossom Honey. 

Pure magic happens in the hour these pears roast in the oven. The subtle flavors of the thyme, bay leaves, and honey are infused into the pears as they caramelize. Turning the pears every fifteen (15) minutes helps to ensure their even caramelization. The baking time for the smaller sized pears was an hour exactly. Which means it may take slightly longer for regular sized pears to become tender. 

The sheer beauty of this dessert is merely a prelude to what your palate will experience. Meant to be served as soon as or shortly after the pears come out of the oven, the taste of the warm pears served with heavy cream is nothing short of pure bliss, a most elegant end to any meal. My perception of fruit desserts has now (or should I say finally) undergone a significant paradigm shift. And all it took was a bite of these Honey and Butter Baked Pears with Cream.

I am feeling compelled to get on a plane to Amsterdam and personally thank Paul Cunningham for generously sharing this recipe. But then I would give some of you cause to believe I truly have taken leave of my senses. Deliriousness has a way of fostering impulsive, irrational thoughts.

With pears now in season, it could not be the more perfect time of the year to make this dessert. As hectic as the holidays can sometimes be (at least in my world), a relatively simple to make dessert may be the best gift you can give to yourself. And if you are looking for a perfect end to a dinner with friends, the Honey and Butter Baked Pears with Cream should make it memorable.

Honey and Butter Baked Pears with Cream (inspired by chef Paul Cunningham's recipe as shared in the December 2015 issue of Saveur magazine)

11 small or 8 regular sized (green or red) Anjou pears, peeled, halved and cored
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes to evenly distribute amongst pear halves
Sea salt or kosher salt
5 sprigs of thyme, plus more for garnishing
2 bay leaves (dried or fresh)
1/3 - 1/2 cup Orange Blossom Honey (recommend Savannah Bee's Orange Blossom Honey)
Heavy whipping cream (18-19% fat content), chilled creme fraiche, or double cream

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Line a large 12'x17' or 12'x18' rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Arrange pears cut-side up in a single layer. Top each pear half with butter and season lightly with salt.
3. Scatter thyme leaves evenly over the pear halves. Lay the bay leaves over the pears. 
4. Drizzle pears with honey.
5. Bake pears, turning every 15 minutes to coat in butter and honey. Bake until pears are tender and have caramelized (approximately 1 hour for the smaller pears. Baking time for regular sized pears may be slightly longer.)
6. Transfer baked pears to serving dish and/or place 3-4 pours in small bowls. Pour about a tablespoon of cream in each bowl. Garnish with a small spring of thyme. Serve immediately.
Notes: (1) This dessert is recommended to be served hot out of the oven. However, if there are any leftover pears, you can reheat in the microwave before serving again. (2) When lining the baking pan with parchment paper, ensure paper comes up along sides of pan as the butter and honey will seep under the paper. Not only will you lose some of that deliciousness, but it makes for a messier clean-up.

"Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse." Henry Van Dyke

Monday, November 16, 2015

Brown Butter Coconut Pie

"To me, empathy and compassion are among the bravest of emotions..and faith, the bravest of convictions." Gerard De Marigny The distance between where I live and Paris, France is a little more than four thousand miles. Yet, in those moments following the tragic events occurring in Paris this past Friday, the distance seemed negligible. Watching the coverage of the chaos and confusion caused by unspeakable, unfathomable attacks, I, like so many others around the world, was overcome with feelings of sadness and heartache. The tragedy in Paris was yet another instance where my faith in and hope for humanity was tested. The ability to recover from dark days such as these seems to require all of us to dig a little deeper into our resiliency reserves. But recover we must. Not just for our own sake, but for the sake of others and the generations to come. And going forward being brave may also mean having the strength and courage to repeatedly take leaps of faith, especially in times of uncertainty and fear. 

Making a pie on Friday may have been a bit serendipitous. The day seemed to call for some comfort food. With my sources of comfort often including things made with chocolate, caramel, or coconut, this pie seemed to have a destiny of its' own.

And this wasn't just any pie. It was a pie often described as being impossible or having magical qualities. The basic concept behind 'impossible pies' is that you mix some ingredients together in a bowl or blender, pour into a pie plate, and bake. The result is a custard-like pie that forms it's own version of a crust.

There are many versions of an impossible Coconut Pie out there. Taking inspiration from one of Nancie McDermott's recipes in her Southern Pies cookbook, I created my own version of this pie. A pie that some attribute to the American South due to the plentiful availability of coconuts coming to New Orleans and Charleston from French Guiana in the late 1800s. And in a bit of irony, this particular pie has sometimes been called a French Coconut Pie.

After assembling all of the ingredients for the pie, I thought 'maybe it should be made with browned butter'. As good as a pie may be made with melted butter, one made with browned butter (beurre noisette) would have to be....great? Because dark, golden brown, rich, nutty browned butter makes savory dishes taste better and elevates everyday desserts to a gourmet level.

The sweetened coconut is added after all of the ingredients are mixed together. But before adding the 2 cups of coconut, I wondered what should a cup of coconut look like or weigh. The 14 ounce package of sweetened coconut said it contained 5 1/3 cups of coconut. In my flour/sugar measuring world, I thought 'this is not possible'. After a quick search, I discovered a cup of sweetened coconut weighs only 2.6 ounces. Which also meant I learned it really was possible to fit 5 1/3 cups of coconut in a 14 ounce bag. 

Once all blended together, the entire mixture goes into a lightly buttered or vegetable oil sprayed pan. Before placing the pie plate onto the lower rack in a 350 degree (F) pre-heated oven, put it on a baking sheet. Your oven will thank you. The original recipe said the baking time ranged from 35-45 minutes. My baking time was closer to 70 minutes. Whether this was due the smaller surface area of the bottom of my 9" pie plate or not, I would suggest you begin checking for doneness at 35 minutes but do not fret if your baking time extends to 70 minutes. The Brown Butter Coconut Pie is done when the top is golden brown and fairly firm throughout.

The Brown Butter Coconut Pie is delicious served either at room temperature or chilled. I haven't decided which one I like best.

I couldn't resist piping on some lightly sweetened whipped cream and toasted coconut. 

The only thing impossible about this Brown Butter Coconut Pie is to stop yourself from eating it. This creamy, crispy, buttery, and coconut-ty pie is hard to resist. Coconut lovers will be beside themselves, non-coconut lovers will become converts.

Even if everyone is expecting a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, make this one too. It may turn out to be one of the best unexpected surprises of the meal. Just make sure to cut and hide a slice of this Brown Butter Coconut Pie for yourself to enjoy after all of the dishes are done and put away or the next day. And in those moments as you are savoring this pie, remember nothing is impossible.

Brown Butter Coconut Pie (slight adaptation to Nancie McDermott's Amazing Coconut Pie recipe as shared in Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes, From Lemon  Chess to Chocolate Pecan)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and browned (or just melted), then cooled slightly 
3 eggs, room temperature, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups (5.2 ounces) shredded, sweetened coconut (recommend Baker's Angel Flake Coconut)
Optional: Garnish with lightly sweetened whipped cream and toasted coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Lightly grease or spray a 9 inch glass or ceramic pie plate with butter or oil. Set aside.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
3. Add oil, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Stir until well combined.
4. Stir in the coconut.
5. Pour filling in prepared pie plate.
6. Place pie plate on baking sheet and place on lower oven rack. Bake 55-70 minutes or until pie is puffed, golden brown and fairly firm throughout. Note: Baking time will vary based on size of pie plate.  Pie plates with a larger bottom surface will cook faster (e.g., pyrex pie plate), while those with smaller bottom surface will cook longer.
7. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving. Note: Store pie in the refrigerator.
8. Optional: Pipe lightly sweetened whipped cream along edges of pie and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Fall photos of the Aspens in Rocky Mountain National Park and Breckenridge, Colorado.