It’s time for some truly authentic Yankee cooking!
I’m proud to share my favorite Yankee recipes–starting with these amazing Durgin-Park Boston Baked Beans!
These are so simple to make and very inexpensive, too! Perfect for our Yankee Traditions video series just beginning on the “Miss Rita To The Rescue!” YouTube channel!
If you’ve ever heard of Boston, you may have heard it being referred to as “Beantown”.
And–although most people from around here never refer to Boston as Beantown (really…never ever!)–baked beans have been a staple at Bostonian tables for generations. And for good reason! Beans are nutritious, hearty and inexpensive to prepare. With a pound of dried navy beans, a chunk of salt pork, some molasses and a few other simple ingredients, you could appease a large family on a cold Saturday night–the traditional bean eating night.
I’m not old enough to remember when Saturdays were regular bean cooking days, but I do recall preparing baked beans for special occasions–such as Easter–and, of course, seeing beans offered as a side dish on every New England menu, including at Durgin Park. Baked beans are especially good as a compliment to scrambled eggs or served for with boiled hot dogs for supper. Yes, hot dogs are boiled or steamed in New England and served on open topped buns, too! We’re weird, I know…
If you’re not from Boston you might be wondering what exactly Durgin-Park is. I’m sure you’ve figured out it isn’t a park at all, but a restaurant. A very old New England restaurant.
Actually Durgin-Park was the second oldest restaurant in Boston–second only to the Union Oyster House, which has been serving food since the days of the Revolution! And, up until a few months ago, Durgin-Park served up old New England favorites–lobsters, chowder, Indian Pudding, Yankee Pot Roast and, of course, baked beans to the masses for more than two centuries!
Back in the 80s, Durgin Park distributed their famous recipes as a souvenir, which is where I got my recipe. I don’t dare change anything about the original recipe for fear of being accused of making improvements on an already perfect thing. My only adjustment is to use my new mini Dutch Oven instead of a traditional (but messy) bean pot.
One pound of dried navy beans, soaked overnight
1/2 tsp of baking soda (for the parboiling)
1/2 pound of salt pork (or thick cut bacon if not available), cut into chunks
1/3 cup dark molasses
1 tsp dried mustard
1/2 of a medium sized onion, peeled but not cut
1 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper
4 tablespoons of sugar (I prefer brown sugar, but the recipe does not specify)
3 cups of hot water to start plus more as beans cook
Begin preparing the beans the night before by soaking them in water. You may need to add more water halfway through the soaking process as the beans rehydrate, so check them before you go to sleep. Don’t try to use canned beans for this recipe or to rush the soaking and parboiling process, because we Yankees will know if you did!
In the morning, rinse the beans and boil them with the baking soda for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse the parboiled beans and set aside.
Dice the salt pork into chunks and peel and halve the onion (do not chop). Put half of the salt port in the bottom of the pot along with the onion.
Add the beans to the pot and cover with remaining salt pork.
Combine salt, pepper, dry mustard, molasses and sugar with 3 cups of hot water and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture over the beans. Cover your pot.
Bake your covered Dutch Oven (or bean pot, if you have one) in a preheated 325 degree oven for six hours, checking about every hour or so to see if the beans need water
Top off the beans as needed throughout the baking process
Remove the onion and salt pork bits (or not…up to you!) and serve!
As you may have heard, March 14 is National Pi Day, which is a celebration of the all things Pi.
π (which is generally represented by the greek letter) is pronounced Pi in English, of course. The symbol for π is commonly used to represent the irrational number 3.14159. The never ending number is generally rounded to 3.14, which is also today’s date, March 14th. And that, my friends, is how Pi Day came about.
If it’s been a while since you worked with the number π or calculated circumferences of circles (which was Pi’s original use), you might be thinking:
“Math hurts my head. Can’t we just celebrate Pi Day with regular ole pie?”
I’m all for that idea!
So today–in celebration of all things Pi–I am re-blogging a delicious recipe from my friend Natalie at The Genetic Chef.
By the way, Natalie–a fellow New Englander with roots in Peru and Italy–is a first class chef and posts the most envy-worthy photos of food you will ever see. Check out her blog here: The Genetic Chef
Natalie’s recipe for Ultimate Key Lime Pie is phenomenal and the perfect dessert for Pi Day!
What are Key Limes?
Because I am stuck in New England, getting my hands on fresh Key Limes this time of year is difficult. Like most people, I only have fresh Persian limes available to me, which makes my Key Lime Pie is a bit of a misnomer.
Key Limes, as the name suggests, are a hybrid lime cultivated in the Florida Keys. Now I suppose I could use bottled Key lime juice, but I’m pretty sure my niece–who requested my Key Lime Pie–wouldn’t really know the difference.
Key limes are indeed different than the limes you usually find in most grocery stores. They are smaller and seedier than their Persian relatives. Key limes are also more acidic–basically tart-er–than the Persian variety. The special tartness of the Key limes might be why the original recipe did not require you to cook the filling. The acid from the Key limes was originally used to thicken the canned milk. Since Key Lime Pie was often prepared by fishermen at sea, there is a great benefit of not having to cook this pie. But for the modern cook, relying on the acid to thicken the filling without cooking is just not reliable or safe.
Why make Key Lime Pie?
The original recipe for Key Lime Pie often included a meringue topping similar to Baked Alaska, but I prefer whipped cream on mine. I guess I prefer the whipped cream topping because of the very memorable scene in Nora Ephron’s film Heartburn, where Meryl is topping her Key Lime Pie with whipped cream when she confronts her cheating husband–spectacularly played by Jack Nicholson–and then proceeds to go into labor! Anyone else remember that one?
Key Lime Pie
Ingredients for the crust:
9 whole graham crackers (usually one sleeve), crushed into crumbs or the equivalent
5 tablespoons melted butter
Ingredients for the pie:
2 -14 ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
2 whole eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup Key Lime juice or equivalent (read my note above)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
Ingredients for the whipped cream topping:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
I’m using my old school Table Talk Pie tin! Guess I’m not getting the deposit back!
Press your graham cracker crumbs up the sides of the plate
Bake the crust for 10 minutes
The filling must be super smooth!
Pour the filling on to the baked crust
Cook filling for no more than 10 minutes!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray pie plate with non-stick spray or grease with butter
Combine the graham crackers and melted butter in a bowl and pour into pie plate. Spread the cracker crumbs with your fingers or the bottom of a glass until they evenly cover the bottom and sides of your pie plate.
Bake crust for 10 minutes in preheated oven and set aside. Keep your oven on.
While your crust is baking, combine the milk, sour cream, eggs, juice and salt and whisk until silky smooth.
Pour the filling onto the baked graham cracker crust and carefully put the pie into the oven. Cook for ten minutes. You might be tempted to cook this for longer than 10 minutes, but don’t. Yes, the filling will still be a bit jiggly in the center.
Once cooled, pop the pie into the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Just before you are ready to serve, mix up the whipped cream with the confectioners sugar. Add a drop or two of vanilla, if you’d like. Whisk until the cream is thickened with soft peaks.
Remove pie from fridge and cover with whipped cream. Garnish with a twisted lime slice if desired. Natalie suggests freezing the pie for 30 minutes before cutting, if you want a more dramatic presentation. Or you could smoosh the finished pie into Jack Nicolson’s face and go into labor like Meryl did. It’s up to you!
Perhaps you may think there is no earthly way to improve upon a Cinnabon.
But I’m hear to tell you it’s possible and I’ve done it, too!
How could I improve on what could be the most decadent food on the planet–the Cinnabon? By adding bacon, of course!
Tell me who doesn’t like bacon? Or maple flavoring? By combining bacon and maple with my already over-the-top Cinnabon-style Buns I have managed to create the perfect mashup!
And the cool thing is this recipe doesn’t require that much extra work! Just sprinkle crumbled bacon on the filling before rolling and substitute maple for the vanilla.
The results are simply divine!
ICYMI (In case you missed it) I posted my original Cinnabon-style recipe on my blog before. You can find it here: Cinnabon-Style Cinnamon Buns
The recipe below includes the additions that make them Bacon-y and Maple-y. But, hey, if you don’t like bacon…just leave it out!
For the dough:
1 packet (or 2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
4 cups of flour (I like King Arthur the best!)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
For the filling:
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Six slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
For the cream cheese icing:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened (half of a regular sized brick)
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon maple flavoring or maple syrup (the flavoring gives a more intense maple flavor, but the syrup does fine, too!)
1/8 teaspoon of salt
Dissolve the yeast in the room temperature milk. Allow it to proof about 5 minutes; proofing occurs when you see some little bubbles in the milk.
In a large bowl, combine 1/3 cup of softened butter and 1/2 cup granulated sugar and mix with your hand mixer until incorporated. Add the two eggs and mix. Then add the salt plus the yeast milk. Once your wet ingredients are well mixed, begin adding in the flour one cup at a time, mixing after every cup until all four cups are incorporated.
Remove the dough from the bowl and kneed lightly to make sure all the ingredients are well incorporated. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover it with a moist cloth. Allow it to rise to double the size, which will take about an hour.
Make the filling by combining the brown sugar, cinnamon and softened butter together. The filling will be grainy, which is fine.
Once the dough has doubled in size, remove it to your work area and roll it out to about 12 by 16 inches. The dough should be somewhat stiff, not doughy like bread and about 1/2 inch thick.
Spread the filling on top of the dough, leaving a one inch end of just dough and about 1/2 inch edge on the other sides.
Sprinkle the bacon crumbles all over the cinnamon filling.
Begin rolling the dough from the short end and rolling somewhat tightly until you reach the dough only end. Expect some of the filling to spill out on either side, but it might be good to keep the ends even when rolling. Do this with your hands. (You can roll them lengthwise, but when I did that my buns didn’t have room to rise and they practically jumped out of the pan.
Cut the rolled dough in half and line both halves up side by side as a guide. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch slices. I ended up with 8 Cinnabon-sized slices when rolled from the short side, which was perfect. Make sure they are not crammed into the pan!
Place the slices–cut side up–into a well greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for about 30 minutes.
Put your risen buns in a 350 degree preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Check them after 20 minutes to make sure they do not over bake. You want them to be golden brown and you want to be able to smell the baking cinnamon. They will be a bit puffed up, but they will deflate a bit when cooled.
While the buns are in the oven (haha!), assemble the icing by first mixing the butter with the cream cheese and maple syrup or flavoring. Then add the confectioner’s sugar slowly, mixing and then beating until light and fluffy. Do make sure you use a hand mixer for this…I made my icing both ways and the mixer icing was much creamier!
Allow the buns to cool for about five minutes then spoon a heaping portion of icing on each of the buns and use a butter knife or cake spatula to spread it out across each of the buns. This is an easier way to ensure all the buns get the same amount of icing.
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I’m here to help, so feel free to reach out!
A little more about me:
I blog about my beloved Cricut machines, FOOD, corgis and, of course, my wonderful 13 year old son–affectionately known as MO online–who is on the Autism Spectrum.
I am a Boston native (Shout out to Somerville!), but I was raised here on the North Shore of Boston. After a few years away, I was drawn back to Peabody and I own a beautiful old home in the Emerson Park section. MO and I have always lived with corgis. Maybe you’ve seen us around town with Ted E. Bear? He’s super cute!
After many years in the corporate world, I decided to stay home and raise MO. While raising a child with Autism is tough work, I do also find time to take care of my home and do lots of crafty things.
Back in 2012, I was introduced to these amazing machines called a Cricut. When I couldn’t find help on how to use it, I decided to create my own helping groups on Facebook. Today I am the founder of four Facebook Groups called “Cricut Newbies & Pros”. In 2014, I was invited to join the Cricut Product Expert program and I am very proud to help people to maximize their experience with these awesome machines!
I craft a LOT!On January 1, 2019, I began a Cricut Access Challenge, which has become a regular feature on my blog and in my groups. If you’d like to see all of my projects from my challenge, you can find the index at this link: Cricut Access Challenge Project Index
No need to worry about cutting THIS lasagna perfectly!
I also love to cook and craft other things, too. I am enjoying cooking with a Dutch Oven especially, which includes baking bread and frying! I’m hopelessly old fashioned and I love to cook all those Italian and New England recipes from your childhood. If you are interested in my recipes, you can find them all here: Recipe Index