Muslim Bean Pie
I’ve been eating bean pies since discovering them as a teen. I’ve never made one and I’ve never actually found one in a bakery that may have been fresh-baked. The bean pies I craved and ate were from the “Muslim” vendors in Harlem. A few years ago I noticed that the neighborhood Pathmark sold bean pies which was an exciting discovery since they were notoriously hard to find. Even now people I talk to about this dish have either never heard of or tasted it or they find it an unusual element to be in a baked good.
I never thought I’d ever make a bean pie however since playing around with beans in soups, spicy sides with rice, in chili’s, and pureed as humus, sweetening them up for a dessert was a natural progression.
I’ve also been perfecting my pie crust and am envious of those bakers who can make and handle delicate pie dough with confidence and vigor and never, ever tear it (how’d they do that?).
The flavor of this pie was spicy and robust, just the way I like my flavors and it is deceivingly simple to make. If you believe that a bean pie cannot be a delicious treat, think again. I’m here to promote the protein infused bean in this sweet and satisfying dessert!
Muslim Bean Pie Recipe Yield = 2, 9″ shallow pies
2 C all-purpose flour
1 ½ t salt
6 T butter, cold
4 T vegetable shortening
¼ C ice water
Combine the flour and salt and use a cheese grater to grate the butter and shortening into the flour mixture; mix together to form pea-size grains; add ice water in small amounts while continuing to mix; flour mixture should not be too wet to make it sticky; turn out onto a floured surface, mix until no longer sticking; separate in half and form two small disks; wrap in plastic and refrigerate until filling is prepared.
Roll out chilled dough and place into pie plates; place parchment paper and weights into each to prevent shrinking and blind-bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 F degrees; let cool.
1 19 oz can Cannellini beans, rinsed (or 1 ½ cans of 15 oz size beans)
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
½ C butter
1 t fresh minced ginger
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
½ t allspice
2 T flour
2 C sugar
2 T vanilla
Place all pie filling ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, may need to do in batches to prevent overflow; pour mixture into cooled, blind-baked pie shells and bake at 350 F degrees for about 55 minutes until filling is firm.
Some of the comments I’ve received about this bean pie:
From David: It was delicious but a little thick and less creamy than the first one with more of a rich taste. I enjoy eating both just as much as you enjoyed making them for me to eat (ha ha) thank you for that experience of enjoyment.
From Richard and Hope: the pie was very good—I don’t think it was too sweet. But I like sweet so you may not be able to go by me. Hope says there’s a little after taste, but she still likes it. It reminded me of sweet-potato pie but with a slightly different taste.
A Note About Progresso Beans
I do like to educate myself about the food I put into my body and I have to admit that I’m a bit unsure of the company Progresso and the processes they use to grow their beans. I mention this because their beans are super creamy and tender and I look for them especially when making my vegetarian and turkey chili since no other bean I’ve tried has come close to having a similar texture or flavor. Every successful business has entered the lives of and created a relationship with their customer, I suppose this has occurred between Progresso and myself. I’ve decided to trust their product for now.
Roasted Duck with Ginger & Chinese Spice
I haven’t made duck in YEARS so of course I forgot how to do it. When I crave duck I venture down to Mott St. for succulent roasted duck with Asian spices from Big Wong. Fresh duck is not the easiest thing to find or to cook.
Or so I thought…
I was able to find fresh duck breast through Fresh Direct which I NEVER use after a not-so-pleasant customer service experience however I was recently sent an offer I found too good to pass up and they had fresh duck in their meat department.
I don’t know about others but ordering groceries online is a magical experience for me. You go through the selection process sifting through beautifully arranged food images, apply your payment and the groceries appear at your door at a time you choose. No waiting on line, marching up and down aisles or darting around moving shopping carts. Nice!
I wonder about super-sized stores such as Fresh Direct and Amazon. How are their products stored? In particular, the perishable items? How humungous must these places be to store all these wonderful products and have them delivered at a moments notice? Fresh Direct is a wonder world of deliciousness for foodies like me.
I wanted to do this right so I looked around for cooking methods and roasting times and temperatures and got a variety of instructions. I’ve roasted delicious chickens so I know how to do this. What was consistent in the articles I found was the step to cook the duck on top of the stove, skin-side down first in order to render the fat and then roast the duck in the oven for the remaining cooking time, again skin-side down.
I wanted to keep things simple so I cooked the duck in my oven using the broiler to crisp and brown the skin of the duck. I baked the duck in the oven, skin-side down, for 30 minutes and then finished the cooking process in the broiler, skin-side up for another 20 minutes since the heat comes from above. I often add my oven-roasted meats during the final cooking time to the broiler to sear and brown the skin giving it ultimate roasted flavor!
I didn’t want to overcook the breast and wondered if it were anything like chicken breast which I always cook for a much shorter time than other chicken parts to maintain its juiciness but thought otherwise since the meat was so dark.
(I have to rethink this since I slightly overcooked my duck breast.)
Although well-done, the resulting flavor was out of this world and I may never have to wrestle with the crowds in Chinatown again.
Here’s the recipe and process.
Roasted Duck with Ginger & Chinese Spice
2 duck breasts (free roaming)
2 T dark soy sauce
2 T mirin sauce
2 T katsu sauce (can use another Asian sauce such as hoisin)
1-2 T minced garlic
1-2 T minced ginger
¼ C chives, finely chopped
1 ½ t Chinese Five Spice
Process: wash and dry duck breast; slice the skin to better absorb spices and render fat; combine all other ingredients to make a rub; rub onto the duck breasts and let marinate for a few hours; preheat oven to 400 F degrees; add duck skin-side down to oven and bake for 20 minutes then remove and turn skin-side up and broil for another 15 minutes; let stand covered before slicing and serve.