Make a pie instead: Beef stock, Coconut Cream Pie

This week, armed with information and suggestions from my gentle readers, I forged ahead and made beef stock. A call to Safeway (a no go), a trip to the Metropolitan (a blank stare), a visit to Wayne’s Asian Grocery on Portland Ave, another trip to Dave’s Meat Market and $25.00 later, I had three bags full—yessir, yessir—of assorted bones: turkey wings, chicken backs, oxtails, marrow bones (AKA dog bones), and one complimentary shin bone thrown in by Dave. A stop at Thriftway to get onions, big, fat carrots and celery, a surreptitious visit to the neighbor’s herb garden for a handful of thyme and I was good to go.

In the 1980s, we made vats of beef stock for demi-glacé at Stratton’s Restaurant in LA. Raoul was the master of the process and, according to Dennis the Chef, the most important person on the restaurant staff. First thing in the morning Raoul filled two stock pots (large enough to fit a goat into) with bones and cold water, set the pots on two of the six burners in the tiny kitchen, where they were blanched during lunch service until Linda (the sous chef and the second most important person on the restaurant staff) and I were ready to kill each other over a burner. 

The bones were drained, brushed with tomato sauce, put into rondeaus and roasted in the oven with carrots, onions, and celery until Dennis lost his temper and yelled at Raoul to get them out. The roasted bones and vegetables were put back in the stock pots, covered with cold water, returned to two of the six burners in the tiny kitchen and simmered during dinner service until Dennis and Pam (the night line cook, who was not only important but priceless) were ready to kill each other over a burner. You’d think it was over, but no, the next day after the stock had simmered overnight, Raoul made Espagnole sauce. Then, the Espagnole sauce and the beef stock were combined, reduced and ¡Voila!, eight hours later, demi-glacé. 

So…you can follow this two to three day process or you can buy a 9.5 ounce jar from Williams Sonoma for $29.95


Anyways, making beef stock this Monday was enough for me. Ignoring Dennis’s voice in my head yelling at me to blanch the bones, I skipped this step and roasted the tomato-brushed bones/vegetables until the house filled with smoke from the oil-splashed oven. Next, I dismantled the back closet getting to the large stockpot, filled it with roasted bones/vegetables, covered them with water and they simmered for eighteen hours. 

Finding a container large enough to strain the stock into proved challenging. I briefly considered the kitchen sink but chose my enormous bowl instead. I strained the stock into the bowl, then back into the stockpot, brought it to a boil, made two trips to the basement storage room to retrieve the canning equipment, ladled the stock into six quart canning jars, googled “canning beef stock” to read that “canning beef stock is safe only if you use a pressure canner”, forgot about canning, filled every available plastic container with stock, cleaned the freezer to find room for said stock, washed the floor to get rid of all the splattered beef grease, and ¡Viola!, I was done. 

So…you can follow this two to three day process or you can buy six 32-ounce cartons of beef broth from TJs for $2.59 each.


So…make a pie instead—lemon meringue, French apple, Key Lime, or coconut cream. Just make a pie.


Beef stock

  • 4 pounds beef bones (mix of marrow bones, oxtail, short ribs, knuckle bones), turkey wings and backs, chicken bones
  • 2 peeled carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 garlic head, halved crosswise
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns

8-quart (or larger) stockpot 

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place bones, vegetables and garlic on a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Toss the contents of the pan and continue to roast until deeply browned, about 20 minutes more.

Fill a large (at least 8-quart) stockpot with 16 cups of water. Add bay leaves, and peppercorns. Scrape the roasted bones and vegetables into the pot along with any juices. Add more water if necessary to cover bones and vegetables.

Cover the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook with lid slightly ajar, skimming foam and excess fat occasionally, for at least 8 but up to 24 hours on the stovetop, adding more water if necessary to keep bones and vegetables covered.

Remove the pot from the heat and let cool slightly. Strain broth and discard bones and vegetables. Let cool, then refrigerate overnight. Remove solidified fat from the top of the chilled broth.

Dahlia Lounge’s Coconut cream pie

Coconut pie shell

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. flour
1⁄2 cup sweetened shredded coconut 
  • 1 stick cubed, cold unsalted butter 
  • 2 tsp. sugar

  • 1⁄4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup ice water 

In a food processor, combine the flour, coconut, cubed butter, sugar, and salt. Pulse to form coarse crumbs. Gradually add the ice water, one Tbs. at a time, pulsing each time. Use only as much water as necessary for dough to hold together when pressed between your fingers.

Dump dough on plastic wrap and form it into a flattened disk. Chill for one hour before using. Roll dough and trim to fit pie pan. Chill for one hour. Place round of foil on bottom of crust and fill with beans or pie weights. Bake in pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans/weights and return crust to oven for 10 more minutes

Coconut Pastry Cream

  • 2 cups milk

  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp. vanilla

  • 2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1 pint heavy cream 
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Sugar
  • Garnish: large-shred unsweetened coconut or sweetened shredded coconut and chunks of white chocolate

Combine the milk, vanilla, and coconut in a medium saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and stir occasionally until the mixture almost comes to a boil. 

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and flour until well combined. Temper the eggs (to keep them from scrambling) by pouring a small amount (about 1/3 cup) of the scalded milk into the egg mixture while whisking. Then add the warmed egg mixture to the saucepan of milk and coconut. 

Whisk over medium-high heat until the pastry cream thickens and begins to bubble. Keep whisking until the mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the butter and whisk until it melts. 

Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and place it over a bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally until it is cool. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a crust from forming and refrigerate until completely cold. The pastry cream will thicken as it cools. 

When the pastry cream is cold, fill the pre-baked pie shell with it, smoothing the surface. 

In a mixer with the whip attachment, whip the heavy cream with the sugar and vanilla on medium speed. Gradually increase the speed to high and whip to peaks that are firm enough to hold their shape. Top coconut cream with whipped cream. 

To garnish, preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the coconut chips on a baking sheet and toast in the oven, watching carefully and stirring once or twice, until lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Use a vegetable peeler to scrape about 2 ounces of the white chocolate into curls on top of pie. 

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