Friday, March 1, 2013

Dueling Cantaloupes, The First Shot

I recently reread one cookbook (see the Feb 2013 post, "Lemon Smothered Chops") and acquired a new old cookbook.  Both had their versions of a recipe that caught my eye, cantaloupe pie.  Doesn't that just sound weird/intriguing/curious?  I decided the only thing to do would be to make them both and compare their processes and results.

I started with the recipe out of this book, a new one to my railroad cookbook collection, Dinner in the Diner by Will C. Hollister.  It was published in the early 1980s and discusses many rail lines including the Texas and Pacific Railroad which was first organized in the 1870s.  The text on page 127 says, "Among the delicious dishes favored on Texas and Pacific dining cars has been cantaloupe pie, the recipe for which is given here." (Page 128)

ISBN 0-87046-011-0
 Cantaloupe Pie a la Texas and Pacific

1 well ripened cantaloupe
2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup cold water

The eggs are for the meringue

Strain juice from seeds of the cantaloupe and put meat of cantaloupe through a ricer.  Preserve both the meat and juice.  Pour this mixture into a sauce pan and add the cup of cold water.  Place on stove and boil for five minutes.  Mix flour and sugar together and slowly add to the hot mixture, stirring constantly.  Add the butter and nutmeg.  When the mixture is cool, pour into ready-baked pie shell and cover with meringue.  Brown in oven.

For Meringue:  Whiles of three eggs (well beaten) with one teaspoon sugar.

My process
I don't have a ricer so I put the peeled and chunked cantaloupe through the grater of my food processor.  I think it achieved the same goal.

There wasn't much juice with the seeds until much later, after I had already started cooking the mix. 

The recipe wasn't clear about how to handle the heat after the cantaloupe had boiled for five minutes, so I turned it down to low for the rest of the steps.

I'm not sure how slowly I should have added the flour/sugar mix but I did make sure each part was well-mixed before I added another.

After getting the whole mix cooked and blended, I let it sit on the stove top to cool.  It never got any thicker than soup.  This would not do for a pie filling.  One cut and it would all leak out over the pan, if it hadn't already soaked through the crust!

Soupy.  Not good.

I thought perhaps I needed to cook the filling longer, to give the flour a chance to thicken it.  So I brought it to a boil for three minutes and then let it cool again.  I even put some of it in a little dish into the refrigerator to see how it would thicken.  Again, it didn't get thick, not even the chilled portion.

At this point I would call the recipe a failure!

Not wanting to just toss the whole thing out -- after all the flavor was lightly sweet and cantaloupe-y with just enough texture from the shreds -- I mixed in one tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1/8 cup of water, and brought it to a boil again, this time for two minutes.

The mix was definitely thicker.  But even after having it sit in the refrigerator overnight, it did not get thick enough to put into the pie crust.  Perhaps I should have used two tablespoons of cornstarch.

I think it would a wonderful topping over vanilla ice cream so it won't go to waste.  Tomorrow I will try the other recipe!

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