Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Edna Lewis and Tyler Pie

Chef has 316 cookbooks and counting.  They fill this giant shelf and spill out into various lesser shelves throughout our home.  For his New Year's resolution, Chef has resolved to make one thing out of every cookbook in his collection.  On Saturday, we had the best New Year's Day dinner I have ever eaten, and he closed the meal with a perfect pie recipe from this cookbook. 

If you are from the South and do not know Edna Lewis, well don't worry I won't tell anyone...but you better go here and buy this book, The Taste of Country Cooking.

She is the grand dame of southern cooking, an extraordinary woman...and absolutely beautiful don't you think?   Her story is fascinating.  Edna Regina Lewis was born in 1916 in Freetown, Virginia which was founded by her granddad and 3 other families of freed slaves.  Soon 8 more families joined their farming community.  Edna grew up in a large family with many generations living under one roof.  She ventured from Freetown as a young woman and held a variety of careers, from being a dress maker for Marilyn Monroe to New York City chef with a pheasant farm on the side.  In other words...
a bad ass.

Here is a quote from Alice Water's forward in the 30th anniversary edition of her groundbreaking cookbook first published in 1976. "Edna Lewis had an irresistible generosity of spirit.  She was far more than the doyenne of Southern cooking.  She was, and remains, an inspiration to all of us who are striving to protect both biodiversity and cultural diversity by cooking real food in season and honoring our heritage through the ritual of the table."  

Chef chose a recipe from this brilliant woman's cookbook to begin his resolution for the year...which makes perfect sense.  Her food philosophy resonates completely with his.  Presenting Tyler Pie, our first desert for 2011.  Here is the recipe and a little ditty about it from Edna.  One of the best things about this cookbook, besides the seasonal food of course, is that it is full of fascinating stories.  Make this custard pie.  I dare you.  You will not be sorry, and it is soooo easy.

Tyler Pie
There are many recipes for Tyler pie or pudding.  This recipe has been around Lahore one hundred years, and I suspect it is pretty close to the original, since Tyler was born in Orange County.  The women of Freetown each praised the perfection of their Tyler pies.  It was served throughout the year along with seasonal pies.


Pastry for 2 8-inch pie pans (I am not going to include a recipe for this, but I am sure you can find one or make it easy and use store-bought pie crust)

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of flour
  • 1 cup (1/2 lb) of slightly melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 cups milk 
  1. Chill the pie pastry until you are ready to fill it.  
  2. Beat the eggs well.
  3. Mix sugar, flour and salt.
  4. Add sugar mixture to eggs and mix well.
  5. Add in butter, vanilla, and lemon extract. Stir.
  6. Add milk.
  7. After one final stirring pour the mixture into your pie crust pans.
  8. Bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees about 30 to 35 minutes

No comments: