Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Very Special Treat -- Lisa's Coconut Cream Pie

As most of you devoted readers know, I am writing this blog as a companion project to our forthcoming cookbook -- Glass Onion Classics -- which should be on the shelves in May.

Many folks have helped with this cookbook -- the farmers who have shared their valuable time to enable my telling of their stories; my partners (Charles and Chris), who created most of the delicious recipes; my invaluable editor Suzanne who thankfully never tires of attention to every last detail...

But here I would like to personally thank Lisa Maki, a dear friend who has helped tremendously with the recipe testing for the final chapter -- Sweets! Appropriately, one standout recipe in this chapter happens to be Lisa's Coconut Cream Pie. I am happy to share that with you along with the GO recipe for pie/tart dough. Of course, you could just buy a frozen shell from the grocery, but if you have the time why not make your own from scratch. The difference will be delicious. And trust me, Lisa's pie deserves that little extra effort, as it is an outstanding dessert!

Lisa's Coconut Cream Pie

I met my good friend Lisa first as a customer at the GO. She had a neighboring startup business, and they basically thought of us as their personal corporate cafeteria. At the time I had no idea what a talented cook Lisa happened to be, but many Sunday suppers later I felt just as enamored of her food as she did of ours. And I coveted her Coconut Cream Pie recipe! She claims that a west coast restaurant inspired hers, but I think it totally belongs to Lisa. I've only restaurantfied it slightly -- using my go-to custard technique as I know it's foolproof.

1 unbaked frozen pie shell (see recipe below)
2 large eggs
1 13 1/2-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 cups flaked coconut, toasted

Whipped Cream, for garnish (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line pie shell with a sheet of tinfoil. Spread rice or beans across the pie shell, mounding them up a bit on the sides and going more lightly in the center.

Place pie shell on baking sheet. Bake until edges are dark golden brown and center has just begun to golden. Check crust's progress at 30 minutes, but total baking time should be about 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool with tinfoil and weights still in place. Once cool remove weights and reserve the weights for another day. Reserve crust until filling and meringue are both made. The crust can be baked off one day in advance, wrapped and held at room temperature.

To make filling, combine eggs in a medium bowl and gently whisk. Keep near the stovetop as you work on the rest of the recipe.

Combine coconut milk, cream, vanilla, and salt in a large pot. Mix the sugar and corn starch together in a medium bowl. Add a half cup of coconut milk mixture to sugar mixture and whisk to combine. (This is a slurry!)

Heat the coconut milk mixture over medium heat until steaming but not simmering. Add the sugar mixture to the coconut milk mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken. The time for this mixture to thicken may vary as it is all dependent upon the corn starch reaching a certain temperature, but it will be obvious. The mixture will subtly thicken and then quickly become very thick. At this point it will be at a rolling boil and pulling away from sides of the pot. Remove pot from the heat.

Slowly drizzle a cup (using a ladle is helpful!) of the hot mixture into the eggs, whisking as you do so. (This is called tempering and should prevent the eggs from scrambling if done very carefully. But do not fret if your egg whites cook just a bit -- the mixture will be strained during final stepping, eliminating any unsightly lumps.)

Next, slowly pour the warmed eggs into the hot mixture in the pot, whisking as you do so. Return the pot to the stove over medium heat. Cook, whisking, until the mixture begins to gently boil. Remove from the heat and strain through a chinois or other fine meshed strainer into a medium bowl. It can be helpful to use a ladle to push the custard through the chinois. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set the medium bowl full of custard in this larger bowl to chill. As custard chills a slight "skin" will form on surface; vigorously whisk to eliminate. Once cool, stir in 1 cup of toasted coconut.

Spoon custard into reserved pie crust, spreading with rubber spatula to evenly distribute. Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours or overnight. (This will insure that the custard fully sets, and the pie is easy to slice.)

Remove from refrigerator when ready to serve. Cover entire pie with Whipped Cream (see recipe below) and garnish with remaining 1/2 cup of toasted coconut.

YIELD: 8 servings

P.S. Lisa covers the pie with whipped cream before slicing (as described above), but if you will not be serving the entire pie in one serving you can simply garnish each slice individually with whipped cream and toasted coconut.


1 cup heavy cream cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Whip cream until soft peaks form using a whisk or electric mixer. Sift in powdered sugar, add vanilla, and continue whipping until moderately stiff peaks form.

Pie/Tart Dough

Even if you happen to be intimidated by pie dough, please do not skip this recipe. I am here to rest your fears and give some realistic advice. First, the actual making of the dough happens to be relatively easy with the help of the trusty food processor. Second, achieving the end result of a beautiful, golden brown pie crust to fill with your favorite ingredients relies on nothing more complicated than freezing your formed crust in its pan, which protects against shrinking during the blind baking process. Forming the pie crust is the last step in this recipe, and then you will be ready to move on to our specific pie and tart recipes. Finally, if your first batch of dough does not come out to your liking -- please try again. There are subtle nuances to knowing when your dough has reached that perfect consistency, and over time you will become an expert.

1 pound butter, cut into pea size pieces
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup water

Freeze butter for 30 minutes. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and run until combined. Gradually, add cold butter (while running) until the mixture resembles wet sand. Gradually, add water (while running) until the mixture balls together. (Your dough may require more or less water – so it is important to add gradually.) Remove dough from food processor. At this point it should be holding together nicely, but you might need to knead it with your hands to form a solid ball. Divide ball into 3 equal pieces if making dough for pies or divide into 2 equal pieces if making dough for tarts.

Wrap balls in plastic wrap and flatten to form approximately a 4” wide disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using. Dough can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to one week or frozen up to one month. Simply allow to come to a pliable temperature before using.

Once ready to use, roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin. Roll with light pressure from the center out. Combat moderate sticking by dusting liberally with flour. If dough seems excessively sticky it is probably too warm and should be returned to the refrigerator for another 15 minutes. (You can drape it over the back of a pie plate if you need to put it back in the refrigerator.)

Continue to roll out the dough, dusting with more flour as necessary. Stop several times to turn dough (as if winding a clock) so that all sides receive equal attention. You might also flip dough over or at least dust other side to make sure there is no sticking on the backside! When the dough is about 1/4-inch thick place pie or tart pan on top to check for accurate size. Your disk of dough should be about 10 inches in diameter.

To transfer the dough from the table to your pan, simply fold it in half and then in half again so that you have a triangular piece. Place this in your pan with the pointy end at the center of the pan. Unfold and press into pan. At this point there are slightly different techniques depending on your goal of pie or tart.

To finish your pie: press dough firmly into the bottom and sides of the pan. Some crust should be hanging over edges of pan; trim with scissors so that only about 1/4-inch hangs over. Using a fork, press dough into rim of pan; this technique is decorative but also helps to prevent shrinkage during baking, in my opinion. Wrap again in plastic and freeze crust for at least one hour but up to one week in advance.

To finish your tart: press dough firmly into the bottom and fluted sides. There should a good amount hanging over edges. Trim with scissors or simply roll your rolling pin over the top of the pan. The sharp edge of the pan should trim dough neatly.

This next step is an extra precaution I have invented to deal with shrinkage of crust during baking. Take excess dough (that you just trimmed from outer edges) and roll out onto floured surface until about 1/4-inch thick. Cut dough into strips that are about 1-inch in width. Press these strips into dough that is embedded in fluted edges of pan. Line the entire edge of pan with this "reinforcement". The dough should be pliable enough to adhere to one another, and the two pieces will ultimately form one piece during baking. Discard any remaining dough. Wrap and freeze crust for at least one hour but up to one week in advance.

Yield: 3 9-inch pie crusts or 2 9 1/2-inch tart crusts

P.S. From here you can move on to any pie/tart recipe. I do blind bake all of my crusts, meaning that I bake them until golden brown before adding any sort of filling (even if further baking is required after filling.) I include this process in all of our pie/tart recipes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Secret to GO Cole Slaw

Just last week I met two very nice customers who loved their first meal at the GO. They especially loved our cole slaw, which I describe as a classic rendition.

"But there was something special in it..." the gentleman said.

Ah, I realized he had hit upon the secret ingredient -- our GO pickle relish. We drain our housemade pickles and puree them in the food processor to make a pickle relish that adds beaucoup deliciousness to our cole slaw, potato salad, and other dishes.

So, per this gentleman's request I am sharing the recipes for our cole slaw and housemade pickles to let you in on our little secret!

GO Cole Slaw

1 head of green cabbage
1 serving slaw sauce (see recipe below)
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Remove outer leaves from cabbage. Cut into quarters and cut out core. Cut each quarter in half (not lengthwise) and then thinly slice each of these chunks lengthwise.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings; about 2 quarts

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plus tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon hot sauce

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

P.S. The slicing directions might seem a bit complicated, but we are trying to insure you end up with easily edible pieces of cabbage. At the restaurant we use an electric slicer, which makes things simpler! But this method should yield a relatively fine slaw.

P.P.S. You can go totally GO and make your sweet pickle relish from our Housemade Pickles recipe (see recipe below). Simply drain the pickles and pulse them in a food processor or blender until they are roughly pureed.

Housemade Pickles

My partner Chris refers to these as "Holy Crap Those Are Good Pickles." These pickles really are outstanding, and on top of that they are super easy to make. You should make these all summer long when local cucumbers are dirt cheap and delicious. At the GO we serve them as a side, and we also puree them for homemade pickle relish. The have just the perfect amount of sweetness to seduce the palate without overwhelming it.

10 cups sliced cucumbers, peeled on 3 sides and sliced ¾-inch thick (about 5 medium cucumbers)
1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion (about ½ medium onion)
3/4 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper (about 1/2 medium pepper)
1/4 cup sliced carrot, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds (about 1 small carrot)
½ cup kosher salt
4 cups cider vinegar
4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seed
½ teaspoon celery seed
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine cucumbers, onion, pepper, carrot, and salt in a large bowl or storage container. Let sit for one hour. Rinse thoroughly with cold water. Return to a large bowl or storage container.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Pour liquid over vegetables, cover, and refrigerate. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

YIELD: About 2 quarts

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Happy New Year from the GO!

As we all know (or as every publication tells us) we should start the new year off with lighter fare. While this adage seems a bit tired, I suppose that even the strongest palate needs a break after a heavy holiday season. On this note, I would like to share the GO's vinaigrette recipe. This is a staple at the restaurant -- always dressing our Straight From the Garden Salad and oftentimes dressing seasonal specialty salads like green beans in the summer or roasted beets in the winter.

If you have never made your own salad dressing, it can be quite liberating to turn your back on expensive bottles and scary preservatives. Besides, surely you need some task to fill the void left by all that holiday baking.

House Vinaigrette

This is really a classic French vinaigrette, and that’s all nice lettuce needs. Here at the restaurant, we use a hydroponic Bibb lettuce from Wes at Kurios Farms, located in nearby Moncks Corner. When available, we also use his black cherry tomatoes and gorgeous cucumbers.

¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Creole mustard, or other whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 medium garlic cloves)
2 teaspoons minced shallot (about 1/2 medium shallot)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
¾ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Combine vinegar, mustard, garlic, shallots, and lemon juice in a food processor or blender; blend thoroughly. Gradually add olive oil and vegetable oil while machine is running. The mixture should emulsify -- come together -- into a relatively thick consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

YIELD: 1 cup

P.S. Now is the time to break out the nice olive oil – we cut it with vegetable oil so you don’t have to break the bank -- but the flavor of the good stuff really stands out!