Winning Walnut Pumpkin Pie from Salina Journal’s 2017 Smoky Hill Currents Holiday Edition

Barry and I were judges for the 2017 Salina Journal holiday cooking contest. Great opportunity to taste some regional recipes and to meet other judges who enjoy cooking and are involved in food related endeavors.
The recipe that stood out to me was a pumpkin pie entry that was topped with a walnut streusel and a turkey cut-out made from leftover dough. Not only was it striking in appearance, the texture was super creamy and the spices enhanced the overall flavor. Truth be told, I went back for quite a few samples and was determined to make this recipe for one of our Thanksgiving pies.
Luckily the 2017 Smoky Hill Currents Holiday Edition arrived last Sunday. Just in time for today's pie baking. Have to admit that I'm not usually a fan of sweetened condensed milk but in this recipe I believe it leads to the creamy texture.
And, I would be remiss to not mention that "the" pie was the overall contest winner. Discovered as I read the cookbook that Eileen Thibault, Salina. submitted the recipe. In addition she submitted several other winning recipes that appear in the Smoky Hill edition.
As you can see below, I opted for the simpler leaf garnish on my pie.

Contact the Salina Journal for extra copies of their 2017 cookbook.


Winning Walnut Pumpkin Pie -- Eileen Thibault, Salina
1 pie crust
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin (I used homemade processed pumpkin puree)
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
------
Walnut Topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. In mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, egg, ginger, nutmeg, salt and 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. 
  3. Pour the mixture into the pie crust and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the Walnut Topping: Combine brown sugar, flour and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Then, cut the cold butter into the sugar-flour mixture and stir in the chopped walnuts. 
  5. After 15 minutes baking time, remove the pie and reduce the heat to 350°. 
  6. Sprinkle Walnut Topping over the pie.
  7. Return pie to the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted into the center of pie comes out clean. (Adjust time as needed for your oven. I did cover the edges of my pie crust near the end and actually baked it only about 30 additional minutes and thought even then it was a bit browner than I'd prefer!)
  8. Serve when cooked or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  9. And, of course, sweetened whipped cream is always a wonderful accompaniment to pumpkin pie!
Recipe without the photos . . .
Winning Walnut Pumpkin Pie -- Eileen Thibault, Salina
1 pie crust
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin (I used homemade processed pumpkin puree)
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
------
Walnut Topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. In mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, egg, ginger, nutmeg, salt and 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. 
  3. Pour the mixture into the pie crust and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the Walnut Topping: Combine brown sugar, flour and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Then, cut the cold butter into the sugar-flour mixture and stir in the chopped walnuts. 
  5. After 15 minutes baking time, remove the pie and reduce the heat to 350°. 
  6. Sprinkle Walnut Topping over the pie.
  7. Return pie to the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted into the center of pie comes out clean. (Adjust time as needed for your oven. I did cover the edges of my pie crust near the end and actually baked it only about 30 additional minutes and thought even then it was a bit browner than I'd prefer!)
  8. Serve when cooked or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  9. And, of course, sweetened whipped cream is always a wonderful accompaniment to pumpkin pie!

Voth's Quick & Easy Peppernut recipe as published in KANSAS! Magazine, winter 2017 edition

The story I wrote about Peppernuts for KANSAS! magazine. winter 2017 just arrived in the mail. The story covers those dainty, big-flavored cookies made in both commercial kitchens (The Peppernut Factory, Tecumseh; Main Street Cafe, Durham); Prairie Harvest, Newton) and home ovens (Jason Kohler, Abilene; Rhoda Frasier, Concordia; Diana Jost, Burdick) + a recipe from cookbook author Norma Jost Roth (a sampling of her work includes Peppernuts, Plain and Fancy, Mennonite Foods & Folkways from South Russia, vol. I and vol. 2 and Food, Feast & Fellowship from Jost Family Kitchens)
The winter issue of KANSAS! is dedicated to food and includes a listing of the top twenty local eateries in Kansas, a story about Liberal Pancakes & Lindsborg Waffles and much more. 
Below is the lead in and the recipe that Mrs. Voth used to take on the road. By the way, this dough really is easy to work with and the recipe is quick to make!
Now in her 90s, Norma Jost Voth is as excited about peppernuts as she was back when she was researching Mennonite foods and folklore for her books. Born and raised in Hillsboro, she now resides in California but still values her Kansas roots. Sharing family history has always been important to her, and over the years she has recorded many people’s folklore. Currently she is working on her own family history.
Although her books are full of peppernut recipes, this is one of her favorites. It is quick and easy, and the dough can be shaped and baked immediately, without chilling overnight. “It’s the one I made when I went on book tours,” she recalls.

Quick and Easy Peppernuts

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 large egg
2 tablespoons white corn syrup
½ teaspoon anise oil (not anise extract)*
3½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger

DIRECTIONS
  1. In a mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter together until creamy. Beat in egg, syrup and anise oil.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices. Gradually add to creamed mixture. Beat well.
  3. Take small amount of dough and on lightly floured board roll into dime-sized ropes. With sharp knife dipped in flour or cold water, slice rope into ¼-inch pieces and place on greased (or sprayed) baking sheet. A simpler method of cutting is to hold small portions of rolled dough in left hand, and with kitchen scissors dipped in cold water, snip off small piece of dough directly onto greased (or sprayed) baking sheet. Allow enough space for peppernuts to expand slightly.
    Dough that is ready to roll out. 
    Dough rolled pencil thin.
    Dough snipped with kitchen scissors.
    Snipped dough arranged on sprayed parchment paper.
  4. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for approximately 7 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. These peppernuts are very crisp and will last a long time if kept in airtight containers.

Recipe taken from Mennonite Foods & Folkways from South Russia, Volume 1, by Norma Jost Voth (Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 1990) pp. 379–80. Reprinted with the author’s permission.

*Anise oil is a pure essential oil extracted directly from the herbal plant anise or anise seed. Anise extract is made by combining a small amount of that essential oil mixed with alcohol to create a less intense flavoring.
The recipe as it appears in KANSAS!
Recipe without photos . . .
Quick and Easy Peppernuts
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 large egg
2 tablespoons white corn syrup
½ teaspoon anise oil (not anise extract)*
3½ cups sifted all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
  1. In a mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter together until creamy. Beat in egg, syrup and anise oil.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices. Gradually add to creamed mixture. Beat well.
  3. Take small amount of dough and on lightly floured board roll into dime-sized ropes. With sharp knife dipped in flour or cold water, slice rope into ¼-inch pieces and place on greased (or sprayed) baking sheet. A simpler method of cutting is to hold small portions of rolled dough in left hand, and with kitchen scissors dipped in cold water, snip off small piece of dough directly onto greased (or sprayed) baking sheet. Allow enough space for peppernuts to expand slightly.
  4. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for approximately 7 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. These peppernuts are very crisp and will last a long time if kept in airtight containers.
Recipe taken from Mennonite Foods & Folkways from South Russia, Volume 1, by Norma Jost Voth (Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 1990) pp. 379–80. Reprinted with the author’s permission.

*Anise oil is a pure essential oil extracted directly from the herbal plant anise or anise seed. Anise extract is made by combining a small amount of that essential oil mixed with alcohol to create a less intense flavoring.

Apple Cider Brined & Smoked Turkey Breast

We are experimenting with recipes for smoked turkey breasts in anticipation of Thanksgiving . . . and just because smoked turkey breast makes great lunch sandwiches. This turkey breast is bursting with smoky flavor, incredibly moist, and super tender too. This recipe ia a variation of one found in a Southern Living Magazine.

Apple Cider Brined & Smoked Turkey Breast
4 cups water
4 cups apple cider
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 (approx. 4”) fresh thyme sprigs
2 (approx. 4”) fresh rosemary sprigs
10 fresh sage leaves
1 entire garlic bulb, cut in half crosswise
4 cups ice cubes
1 (5 3/4- to 6-lb.) turkey breast (Barry deboned ours)
Olive oil 
Favorite barbecue rub (such as Rendezvous Famous Seasoning®, Eat Barbecue Zero to Hero (a sweet rub)®, or Gates® rub - commercial or homemade) + a little salt & pepper
Hickory wood chips or chunksrder Ingredients
  1. Bring water, cider, salt, sugar, vinegar, thyme, rosemary, sage and garlic to a boil in a large stockpot or 8-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in ice. Cool completely (1 hour).
  2. Place turkey in brine ; cover and chill 5 to 12 hours (I lined the container with an extra large bag before adding the turkey and brine.)
  3. Prepare smoker according to manufacturer's directions, bringing internal temperature to 225° to 250°; maintain temperature 15 to 20 minutes. Place wood chunks on coals.
  4. Remove turkey breast from brine, and pat dry with paper towels.
  5. Brush breast lightly with olive oil and liberally cover with rub mixture + salt and pepper..
  6. Smoke turkey, maintaining temperature inside smoker between 225° and 250°, for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 165°.
  7. Slice thin when breast is cool. (Barry uses a meat slicer.)
Recipe without photos . . .
Apple Cider Brined & Smoked Turkey Breast
4 cups water
4 cups apple cider 
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 (approx. 4”) fresh thyme sprigs
2 (approx. 4”) fresh rosemary sprigs
10 fresh sage leaves
1 entire garlic bulb, cut in half crosswise
4 cups ice cubes
1 (5 3/4- to 6-lb.) turkey breast (Barry deboned ours)
Olive oil 
Favorite barbecue rub (such as Rendezvous Famous Seasoning®, Eat Barbecue Zero to Hero (a sweet rub)®, or Gates® rub - commercial or homemade+ a little salt & pepper
Hickory wood chips or chunksrder Ingredients
  1. Bring water, cider, salt, sugar, vinegar, thyme, rosemary, sage and garlic to a boil in a large stockpot or 8-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in ice. Cool completely (1 hour).
  2. Place turkey in brine ; cover and chill 5 to 12 hours (I lined the container with an extra large bag before adding the turkey and brine.)
  3. Prepare smoker according to manufacturer's directions, bringing internal temperature to 225° to 250°; maintain temperature 15 to 20 minutes. Place wood chunks on coals.
  4. Remove turkey breast from brine, and pat dry with paper towels.
  5. Brush breast lightly with olive oil and liberally cover with rub mixture + salt and pepper.
  6. Smoke turkey, maintaining temperature inside smoker between 225° and 250°, for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 165°.
  7. Slice thin when breast is cool. (Barry uses a meat slicer.)

Awesomesome Apple Cake

Chock-full of apples, this cake is moist, tender and totally awesome! After just one bite of the cake that Theresa Stroda prepared, we needed the recipe. It's one that she found in a Taste of Home publication and that has always earned rave reviews from all who give it a try.
The caramel/butterscotch sauce is the crowing glory to this delicious dessert.
I did add walnuts . . . because apples and walnuts just seem to compliment one another.

Chunky Apple Cake Recipe      One 13-in. x 9-in. / 12 – 14 servings  
Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 cups peeled & chopped tart apples
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, optional

Caramel/Butterscotch Sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream + extra to whip for topping if desired
  1. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. 
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well (batter will be stiff). Stir in apples until well combined.


  4. Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until top is lightly browned and springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.

  5. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted. Gradually add cream. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
  6. Serve cake with sauce and top with whipped cream if desired.
Recipe without photos . . .
Chunky Apple Cake Recipe      One 13-in. x 9-in. / 12 – 14 servings  
Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 cups peeled & chopped tart apples
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, optional

Caramel/Butterscotch Sauce 
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream + extra to whip for topping if desired
  1. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. 
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well (batter will be stiff). Stir in apples until well combined.
  4. Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until top is lightly browned and springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted. Gradually add cream. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
  6. Serve cake with sauce and top with  whipped cream if desired.