Thursday, January 23, 2014

Arkansas Pie: A Delicious Slice of the Natural State

Dozens of different pies on restaurant menus from the Delta to the Ozarks await hungry diners, and almost every delectable creation is a masterpiece of southern baking. Join food writer Kat Robinson and photographer Grav Weldon on a tour through an Arkansas culinary tradition. Kat has traveled the state, sampling more than 400 different varieties and absorbing stories along the way. Learn where fried pie is king and why a pie called Possum should be the official state pie. Meet the North Little Rock man who made and sold 100 different pies in a single day, and discover the new and innovative pie-making methods of chefs in Fayetteville and Hot Springs. It’s all here in this mouthwatering and informative collection.

$19.99

Available at a wide selection of booksellers -- links are in the right column.

Check out the new book, Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley, here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Reece's Peanut Butter Cup at Red Rooster Bistro.

Our latest trip back to the Red Rooster Bistro in Alma surprised us... sadly, not in a good way.  The pies are still there, still remarkable and still as plentiful -- but the slices have now gone from a six-to-a-pie size to an eight-to-a-pie size.

However, we're loving on the Reece's Peanut Butter Cup pie.  Sweet cream and peanut butter cups with chocolate shavings is pretty awesome -- but the true secret is the peanut butter infused bottom crust.  Excellent.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Possum Pucker at Top of the Hill Cafe.

One of the restaurants named in both Arkansas Pie: A Delicious Slice of the Natural State and in Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley -- has moved on. The Chuck Wagon Restaurant in Bee Branch has been sold, and is now operating as the Top of the Hill Cafe. Opened just two weeks ago, this place is promising.

Each day you can get a burger or one of the day's lunch specials (Saturday's barbecue) on a hot line. And every day there are desserts -- bundt cakes, cupcakes, layer cakes and of course pie.

The pie recently experienced at the Top of the Hill Cafe is the Possum Pucker Pie. This is a dessert entirely different from the better known Possum Pie. This dessert consists of tart lemon curd over a sweetened condensed milk cream base and a sweet cookie crust -- for a good combination of both sweet and tart.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Peach fried at Hilltop Travel Center.

Here's a great unexpected find.  Traveling over the July 4th holiday, we stopped in at the Hilltop Travel Center north of I-40 on I-540 to catch a drink and a snack for the road.  These big nine inch long fried pies were on a rack right by the register.  Turns out the girl who works in the little deli there gets up and makes them each morning.  The peach pie was full of fresh, stringy peaches... and was gone before we could photograph it out of the package.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cushaw pie at William's Tavern Restaurant.

Here's a south Arkansas delicacy called Cushaw Pie. It's made from a goose-necked squash that's green with white or yellow stripes. What memories that evoked! So, for you pie lovers, here's a recipe.

And if you want a slice like this, head to William's Tavern Restaurant at Historic Washington State Park near Hope.

Cushaw Pie.  (Kat Robinson)
Cushaw Pie

2 cups prepared cushaw squash puree
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 ounces evaporated milk
Single pie crust 

Combine cushaw squash puree, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl. Add eggs and vanilla then beat lightly with a whisk. Stir in evaporated milk. Mix well. Pour into a pastry-lined pie plate. Bake on the lowest oven rack at 375-degrees for 50-60 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). Chill before serving.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Peach at Ventris Trail's End Resort.

It may not be even close to the beaten path, but the folks at Ventris Trail's End Resort on Beaver Lake know what they're doing. Six years ago they opened a little cafe inside the main lodge of the resort. Decorated in white and red, the place sports burgers and lunches and even wine and beer.

But your goal, should you choose to accept it, is to drive out down the peninsula from Garfield, off the paved road and out onto the tendril of a peninsula, climb the stairs and eat here. And when you go, get a pie. The crust is delicate and handmade, and the pies come in a variety of sorts -- from coconut cream and banana cream to delights such as those posted here.

The upper photo shows the peach pie and the strawberry rhubarb pie. The lower one showcases the peach pie. This isn't from a can, that's for sure. It's seasonal peaches. How can you tell? One is by texture -- there's a certain slight stringy consistency to local handpicked peaches you don't get from cling peaches. Two is by color -- look at the pinking. That comes from the bit around the pit.

How's it taste? Heavenly. A perfect early summer pie.




Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Blackberry fried

The haul across Arkansas from east to west or west to east is most likely taken across the excellent ribbon called Interstate 40.  This vital link through Arkansas connects North Carolina to California and all points in-between.

When the nights are long or the holidays nigh and there is no open restaurant in sight, stop in off Exit 35 at Ozark and take yourself inside the I-40 Travel Center.  Yes, here you will find the magnificent Hillbilly Hideout, a grand new comfortable and affordable restaurant where you may sit and dine on American and Ark-Mex favorites and breakfast standards.

But if time is short, comfort yourself with one of Ms. Janie's eight inch or bigger half-crescent fried pies, cellophane wrapped and showcased at every register. Peach, apple, cherry -- but it is the blackberry we must heartily recommend, along with a cuppa joe and a full tank to get you back on the road.



Hillbilly Hideout
I-40 Travel Center
Exit 35, I-40
Ozark, AR 72949
(479) 667-0711

Hillbilly Hideout on Urbanspoon