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Melissa Clark’s new book, Cook This Now, is one of those rare cookbooks that you'd be just as happy curling up with before bed as putting to work on the front lines when the time comes to make dinner. Conveniently arranged by month, it's inspired by Melissa's weekly trips to her local farmers' market (which happens to the same as mine) and is chock-full of seasonal, flexible recipes that you won't think twice about attacking on a weeknight -- for example, Whatever Greens You've Got Salad, Barley with Carrots, Scallions and Maybe Parmesan, and Seared Wild Salmon with Brown Butter Cucumbers. Focused throughout on making the most of what the the vendors at her market have to offer, Melissa even includes her own recipe for something near and dear to my heart: A Perfect Tomato Sandwich.
There are also some ever-so-slightly more ambitious-sounding recipes like Mallobars, Braised Leg of Lamb with Garlicky Root Vegetable Puree, and Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise, but even these won't set you back too much in terms of time and effort. Last week, I made the pecan pie, with very happy results. The recipe calls for maple syrup instead of the more traditional corn syrup, which you reduce until thick and infuse with a generous amount of star anise. A splash of dark rum adds a little punch to the subtly smoky filling, and the crust is a sheer joy: tender and flaky, it's also supremely easy to handle. I have a feeling this pie may make it onto my Thanksgiving table this year.
Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise
Adapted from Cook This Now by Melissa Clark
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie
For the piecrust:
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 2 to 5 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
- 1 cup maple syrup
- ½ cup Demerara or raw sugar
- 8 whole star anise
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 3 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons dark aged rum
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Whipped crème fraiche, for serving
Photos by James Ransom