For some time now, I’ve wanted to make a little cookbook for my grandchildren.
Today I present to you the first Noni Doni cooking column. I’ll periodically publish some of my favorite recipes, some of which I’ve been making since I was a teenager.
It feels weird to write about something so light and easy, when here in Shasta County we are experiencing some of our darkest days.
But I believe that if there’s any time when we need to indulge in something as seemingly frivolous as recipes, this is it. I also realize that this column will not be everyone’s cup of tea. That’s OK. There are plenty of other things to read here on A News Cafe; something for almost everyone. Enjoy!
I found this recipe in the R.S.V.P section of a 1978 Bon Appetit magazine. The R.S.V.P. section was my favorite part of the magazine: Readers were invited to request from Bon Appetit recipes its readers had tasted and loved at various restaurants around the world. Then Bon Appetit staff would contact the chefs and implore them to share their coveted recipes.
As much as I loved that R.S.V.P feature, I did have some reservations (ha!). For one thing, I always suspected that many chefs didn’t disclose their actual recipe, but a version of it, on their quest to not share a family secret or something.
People. It’s just food!
Second, sometimes the readers who made the requests were rather nauseating, and it seemed as if they had secondary reasons for writing.
“Dear Bon Appetit, my husband and I just returned from our home in Paris, and we’re still dreaming about that most divine 4-Michelon-star cafe that served mock pate de foi gras on a bed of saffron-infused Czech mushrooms (foraged that morning!) perched atop an herbed, accordioned phyllo bed. The chef created this dish especially for me, (because he remembered I was a vegan). I hope you can convince Chef Pierre to share his special recipe, so I can have my cook replicate it for my private party in Nantucket for Metropolitan Opera board members.” Merci! Sincerely, a royal reader.
But most of the time the reader requests were from true lovers of food and cooking, people who really did find an awesome recipe at some restaurant in some far-flung place that they truly wanted to make.
So it was when one Bon Appetit reader wrote to the magazine and said she’d eaten at Frolics Restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri, where she’d enjoyed the most delicious dessert called Platte County Pie. She asked for the recipe, and lo and behold, the restaurant shared it.
Platte County Pie is studded with chocolate chips and nuts, and the result is basically what would happen if a giant chocolate chip cookie and a pecan pie fell in love and had a baby. When I refer to a pecan pie, I’m not necessarily talking about the pecan part of the pecan pie, but the texture of the filling around the pecans.
I baked Platte County Pies a lot more often when I was younger, back when I was just as pissed off about extra pounds as I am now. The thing is, I look at photos of myself from that time in my life and I didn’t look like I had a weight problem. This makes me wonder whether 20 years from now I’ll look back at how I am now and think I looked fantastic. Scary.
Back to the Platte County Pie, a super rich dessert. I don’t want to know its calorie count. Why go there?
I’d almost forgotten about Platte County Pie until recently, when Pat, a friend I’ve known for decades, asked about it. She said that it was one of her favorite desserts that I’d occasionally bring to our potlucks back then. She asked for the recipe. Of course, I shared it with her. Today, I’m sharing it with you.
Originally I’d copied the recipe from Bon Appetit onto a little recipe card. (Remember those?) The card is so messed up and stained that it looks like something from the 1800s, rather than 1978. You can see where I’ve made notes when I wanted to increase the volume. Aside from all the markings on the recipe card, one of the things that most surprises me is how tiny my handwriting was then.
I believe the original recipe called for pecans, but I prefer walnuts. Plus, I bumped up the vanilla from 1 teaspoon to 2 teaspoons because 1 teaspoon of vanilla is a why-bother. Also, the recipe says to put the batter in an unbaked pie shell. Instead, I bake it in a tart pan or quiche dish, so it’s not such a thick slice (see photo above). A more shallow tart pan or quiche dish means the slices aren’t so tall, which makes it pretty much a health food.
Finally, Platte County Pie is best served at room temperature, or even slightly warm. I’ve sometimes baked it many hours earlier, covered it, then popped it in a low oven a few minutes before serving time. Top each slice with vanilla ice cream. You’ll swear you’re in heaven, or Kansas.
Platte County Pie
½ cup flour
1 cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
½ cup melted butter, cooled
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
1 cup chocolate chips
1 unbaked pie crust
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Beat eggs on low with a hand or stand mixture until they’re a unified color and slightly frothy. Add the flour, sugar and salt. Beat for about 2 minutes on medium speed. Add vanilla, melted butter, nuts and chocolate chips. Fold the mixture thoroughly until everything is incorporated.
Pour batter into your chosen unbaked pie crust. Bake for about 40 minutes to 1 hour in the lower part of the oven, or until the top of the Platte County Pie is light golden brown.