Sunday, June 20, 2010

A very sexy story of PBGV love...and pie.

I don't think I ever taxed you poor readers with the somewhat salacious tale of trying to breed my dog, Grady. But today is your lucky day! Ha ha. My story starts last November, the week I was to leave for my 20th college reunion, the week I was ultimately struck down by the swine flu. This was also right before I moved into the new house, and in the midst of all of this, I was driving back and forth to a little village near Ormstown, Quebec, trying to make some PBGV babies! But that was easier said than done. Lord knows they were both willing, but they just weren't connecting, if you know what I mean. Finally, we took them to the vet, and she detected some physical strictures in the female that made it impossible for them to do the deed the old-fashioned way.

So the vet did two artificial inseminations, and amazingly enough, even though we were at the tail end (har, har) of her season, it worked! Three weeks later, they did an xray, and they saw at least four viable embryos. However, at some point after that, she must have spontaneously aborted, because she didn't carry the litter to term. It was mysterious and disappointing, but the breeder told us that it was quite common in her lines for the bitch to lose her first litter, but then go on to have healthy puppies the next time around.

So at the beginning of June, the breeder contacted me to let me know that Bianca was in season, and that she's like to try again to breed her to my Grady. But this time, she wanted to take the happy couple back to her house near Ottawa and do the A.I.'s herself. So one Sunday, we all met at the approximate halfway point, which is Cornwall, Ontario, for the doggie swap. She kept Grady and Bianca for the week, and I will spare you the gory details, but we are hopeful that all the lurid activities that occurred behind the velvet curtain will finally yield a litter of little PBGVs come August! Keep your fingers and paws crossed for us!

But what does this have to do with FOOD, you may rightly ask? Well, the route to Cornwall, ON takes you right through the Akwesasne Reservation, and on the res, there is a fine little diner called the Bear's Den. I always stop when I'm passing through, because they make a chocolate cream pie there that I'm overly-find of. But my roommate's favorite is their coconut cream pie. In fact, we weren't more than a few miles down the road before she had finished her slice-to-go, and demanded that I turn around so that she could go buy a whole pie to bring home! I was eager to get back home (it was a school/work night), so I didn't want to backtrack, but I promised that I would soon make her a homemade coconut cream pie. I found a recipe that looked excellent on Epicurious, and I read through all the reader comments, and chose to make some key changes that yielded a pie that Cyd declared the best coconut cream pie she'd ever had!

First of all, I made 1 1/2 times the original amount of filling, as other reviewers recommended, and as they also reported, it perfectly filled a deep-dish pie plate. When I increased the filling, I did not increase the sugar, and I used four whole eggs and five tablespoons of flour. Then I substituted a can of coconut milk (=1 2/3 C), and the rest whole milk to make a total of 2 1/4 cups. I also added a pinch of salt, and omitted the coconut extract. When the custard had finished cooking, I removed it from the heat and added the vanilla and also a tablespoon of butter. I chilled the filling over an ice bath until it was cold to the touch before putting it into the cooled crust and getting it into the fridge. That REALLY cut down on the time it took to set. I think we cut into it about four hours after I made it, and it was PERFECT. For the whipped cream topping, I used powdered sugar instead of granulated, omitted the coconut extract, and swapped out 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. WHEW! I think that's it. Ok, I realize now that my pie barely resembles the original recipe--tee hee--but it turned out GREAT! I hope you agree. My version of the recipe follows...

Coconut Cream Pie
(Source: adapted from Bon App├ętit, September 2002)
Yield: Makes 8 servings (I would say 6...ha!)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons (or more) ice water

1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 can (1 2/3 cups) coconut milk
1/3 plus 1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter

2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1 1/4 cups chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For crust:
(Ok, I confess--this time, I cheated and used a refrigerator crust, pricked all over with a fork and blind-baked for 12-15 minutes at 400 degrees, then set aside to cool completely.)

Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening; using on/off turns, cut in until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle four tablespoons ice water over mixture. Process just until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic. Chill one hour.

Roll out dough to a 14-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Fold overhang under. Crimp edges decoratively. Pierce bottom of crust all over with fork. Freeze crust 15 minutes. (Can be made one day ahead. Keep frozen.)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line crust with aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil. Bake until golden and set, about 10 minutes. Cool. (Crust can be made one day ahead. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature.)

For filling:
Whisk 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Bring milks and flaked coconut to simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Gradually add hot milk mixture to egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return to same saucepan; cook until pastry cream thickens and boils, stirring constantly, about four minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in vanilla extract and pat of butter. Transfer pastry cream to medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface to prevent formation of skin. Chill until cold, at least two hours and up to one day (or chill it quickly over an ice bath, as I did). Transfer filling to crust. Cover; chill overnight (if you get it cold in the ice bath, you can chill it for just four hours before serving).

For topping:
Toast coconut in heavy small skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about three minutes. Cool completely.

Using an electric mixer, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in medium bowl until peaks form. Spread whipped cream all over top of filling. Sprinkle evenly with toasted coconut. (Can be prepared four hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Serve cold.


The Cookbook Junkie said...

This post really has me wondering. I mean, how exactly ...? Did Grady get a plastic cup and some doggie porn??

JoyBugaloo said...

Um...close. How do I describe this delicately? There is no cup, but there is a vinyl sleeve of some sort (not unlike a pastry bag...ha ha), and having the in-season female nearby is all the porn he needs. There must be some, ahem, manual assistance from the breeder, then after the "collection," a big syringe hopefully makes the "magic" happen.

Sorry, probably TMI, but you asked! Thank God I've never witnessed any of this in person. I don't want to think of my baby boy like that. ;-)

jsgrant said...

I hope Grady becomes a big old papa! How fun pbgv puppies! Weee!!!!

Bec said...

Did you use regular or light coconut milk? I've been wanting a recipe that doesn't involve coconut pudding from a box and I think I'll try this one!

JoyBugaloo said...

I used regular coconut milk, but I see no reason why light wouldn't work. The custard (and resulting pudding) just won't be as rich. Good luck! Let me know if it all turns out...