Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Chocolate Cream Pie

“You know what I love about cooking?  I love that after a day where nothing is sure-- and when I say noting, I mean nothing—you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick.  Its such a comfort.”
 Quote from the movie “Julie and Julia”, during a scene in which Julie Powell is making a chocolate cream pie after a rough day at work.    

Chocolate Cream Pie
(The original recipe calls for a chocolate wafer crust, but I changed it to include a graham cracker crust, like the one in the above-mentioned movie)


1 2/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter melted 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt   
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
7 ounces semisweet chocolate finely chopped
3 tablespoons cold butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Serves 8 - 10
Set oven to 350°F.


Pre-Make The Crust:

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar until all the crumbs are moist.  Mixture should be crumbly.   Transfer mixture into an 9-inch pie pan and press the mixture evenly to the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Bake crust 7 to 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool. 

1.  In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt together thoroughly. Then whisk in the whole egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the milk until it is thoroughly combined.

2.  Using a large saucepan (heavy bottom) over medium-high heat, bring to a boil the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk. Remove from the heat. While constantly whisking, slowly (very slowly) drizzle  the hot milk into the egg mixture. Continue whisking to avoid scrambling the eggs. Return all the mixture to the pan. Continue to cook over medium heat, constantly stirring.  Allow mixture to come to a boil and thicken.  This should take 3 to 5 minutes.

3.  Remove mixture from the heat.  Then add in the chocolate, and let sit in the mixture for a minute. Also add the butter and vanilla.  Whisk the mixture together until everything is thoroughly blended and the chocolate is smooth.

4.  Pour the filling into the prepared and cooled pie crust.  Smooth the surface of the filling over with a rubber spatula. Use plastic wrap to completely cover the whole surface, so that a “skin” will not form.  Be sure the plastic wrap is touching the filling.  

5.  Cool pie in the refrigerator until it is completely set, which will take about 2 hours.  Top with whipped cream (store-bought or homemade, recipe below) and serve.

Whipped Cream Topping:

1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In an electric mixer with a whisk attachment (or using a bowl with an electric hand mixer) whip together the cream, sugar and vanilla on a medium-high speed, until peaks begin to form.  Spread topping over pie.

Dad's Chicken-Fried Pork Chops

Our family would have pork chops probably once a week, or at least once every 2 weeks.   We always used pork SHOULDER chops.  They had better flavor because of their good fat marbling.  They tended to come out more scrumptious—crispy fat, and tasty meat.  Other cuts would often be too thick or too dry and tough, because the center of the meat was so un-marbled and dense.   The ones we selected were often oblong, and we would cut them in half either before or after cooking.   We almost never used any other cut. 

Dad's Chicken-Fried Pork Chops

2 to 4 pork shoulder chops, about ½ inch thick
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup corn starch
Salt and pepper to taste
Enough cooking oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet

1.        Heat a heavy bottom skillet between medium and medium-high heat (cast iron is best).  Cover bottom of pan with oil.  
2.       Place the flour and corn starch in a container large enough to hold a pork chop.   Blend the 2 dry ingredients together thoroughly.   Corn starch helps to create layers and a more crispy crust.   
3.       Roll the raw pork chops in the flour/corn starch mixture, until well coated.  Set aside on a plate or other safe surface to rest.  This will let the flour stick to the meat better.  
4.       Place flour-coated chops in the hot skillet and allow to cook for 5 to 7 minutes.   Do not move or lift the chops during this time.   Some people believe it will prevent sticking, but this is not true.  Moving the chops too soon will cause the soft flour to peel away from the meat and stick to the pan.   You should allow the flour to turn into a crispy skin before you move the meat.  
5.       When edges of the chops are golden-brown, flip them over.  Cook an additional 5 to 7 minutes.  If additional cooking time is needed for a slightly different cut of chop (thicker, etc.), please do so.  Look for signs that the meat is done—both sides should be golden brown and NO pink or red juices (or under-cooked blood which looks thick and white/pale grey) should be seeping from the meat.  Center of meat should be firm.  Bottom should be golden brown.  
6.       When chops are done, remove from the pan and transfer to a paper towel to drain.   Serve with your favorite sides like:

Mashed Potatoes:
Milk Gravy: