January 7, 2011

The Good Pies!

The Maine House Remembers...................
We had the good fortune of raising our children at their young ages in Dothan, Alabama during the 1980's. Our youngest child was born in Dothan but actually has little memory of this wonderful, small and quaint southern town, as we relocated to Texas when he was only 18 months old. Living in Dothan, everyone waived as you passed by whether they knew you or not! Our first three children remember their fun, young childhood days in Dothan, running through the neighborhood across the vast lawns, playing all day with their childhood friends and exploring along the creek!

At the holidays, I always made a southern Black Bottom Pie.....from the old Toddle House Days.......I believe it will always be my "favorite elegant" pie to serve!

Estelle's "Sweet Memories  of Alabama"  Black Bottom Pie
2 tablespoons water, room temperature
2 tablespoons rum or 2 teaspoons rum flavoring
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cups milk
4 egg yolks
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
2 cups whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Gingersnap Crust:
1 1/2 cups gingersnap crumbs (about 26 cookies)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
Stir together all ingredients. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.
Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes. Or just until crust starts to turn dark brown on the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

Rum Cream Filling:
Stir together 2 tablespoons water and rum flavoring in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over mixture. Stir mixture, and set aside. (this mixture will set up in bowl).
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan; gradually whisk in milk and egg yolks. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute. Stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved.
Stir together 1 cup custard mixture and chocolate morsels until smooth. Pour into Gingersnap Crust. Chill 30 minutes or until set. Set aside remaining custard mixture.
Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form.
Fold 1 cup whipped cream into remaining custard mixture. Spoon over chocolate mixture. Chill pie and remaining whipped cream 2 hours or until pie is set. Spread remaining whipped cream over pie before serving. Garnish with chocolate curls if desired. Delish!...as Miss Helen used to say!

When I was a child, growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, my parents would often frequent The Toddle House for breakfast, lunch or dinner. My memories of this tiny little diner are vivid! How comforting to sit at the little bar between my darling parents and savor a hamburger (which they often let me order for breakfast) and a warm piece of apple or cherry pie, which was usually dripping with melted butter on top. If not a fruit pie, it was one of their cream pies. My grandfather always ordered "Black Bottom" and I always ordered the "Chocolate!" The world just does not seem as sweet as this now. Perhaps it is because I no longer have the luxury of my grandparents or my darling parents surrounding me to share a piece of pie.....

Toddle House was a national restaurant chain in the United States specializing in breakfast and open 24/7. Each outlet was built to the same plan, and contained no tables, but merely a short counter with a row of ten stools. Payment was on the honor system: customers deposited their checks with the correct amount in a box by the door on the way out. Much of their business was take out. The business, based in Memphis, Tennessee, was founded in 1932 by James Frederick Smith—who (before age 20) had dropped his first name, expressing a strong preference to be known as Fred or Frederick—and who was the father of Frederick Wallace Smith, the founder of Federal Express. During the segregation era, the company also operated a parallel chain of similar restaurants for African-Americans called "Harlem House". In 1962, Toddle House was purchased by Dobbs Houses, a competitor which owned Steak 'n Egg Kitchen and the franchise was allowed to decline. In 1980, Carson Pirie Scott borrowed $108 million to buy Dobbs Houses. In January 1988, Carson Pirie Scott sold Steak 'n Egg Kitchen and Toddle House to Diversified Hospitality Group of Milford, Connecticut.The chain has since been liquidated.

Toddle House Chocolate Pie
2-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cocoa
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pints milk
2 1/2 egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
Baked pastry crusts
Whipping cream

Sift together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt into bowl of mixer. On medium speed, add half the milk and mix thoroughly. Add egg yolks; mix thoroughly, being careful that mixture does not foam.
Place remaining milk in top of double boiler over boiling water. When milk is scalding hot, add chocolate mixture. Stir with wooden spoon and cook until the consistency of whipped cream is reached.
Put in bowl of mixer on medium. Allow to mix (just until combined). Cool. Add vanilla and mix for 5 minutes. Cover with wax paper and completely cool before placing in refrigerator. Use 1 pound and 8 ounces of filling in each pie shell. Top with whipped cream.This should make 2 pies and you will need two as everyone will request a second piece and this recipe!

"I grew up in Jackson Heights, NY a short subway ride from Manhattan. I went to PS 69 which was between 78th and 77th Streets. Opposite one corner,  was Toddle House. Sadly, I think Toddle House meant more to me than anything I learned in school. "

"My dad worked for Toddle House for many years in the '50s and '60s and even reached upper management. He was in Texas, New Mexico and traveled to Arkansas and Tennessee. In fact, he has the entire menu still memorized in his head and can still prepare every dish on the menu by memory!  He was mainly in Austin. He can still cook hashbrowns two skillets at a time, he can flip 8 eggs two skillets at a time (4 in each skillet), breaks 2 eggs at a time in one hand and is a whiz in the kitchen! He has many many toddle house stories that I still love to hear!"

"I grew up in the 40’s & 50’s in Dallas and Toddle Houses were a regular dining experience. I used to go get a whole chocolate pie for my mom, and bring it home. My recollection was $2.10 plus a $.25 cent deposit on the pie plate. You ate well there for a buck plus tip. Attending College at the University of Texas in the Early 60’s, I ate breakfast there every Saturday morning… Er…. Afternoon when I got up. That usually followed all the guys meeting there at 1 am after taking our dates back to the dorm at curfew. That’s when we did a lot of damage to their stock of Chocolate pie and milk stock. Incidentally, I don’t recall any rings on the potato’s… Just strait on the grill.. The burgers are Familiar at the Pitt grills in Dallas which were in old Toddle Houses…. One on Hampton in Oak Cliff and one on Gaston across from Baylor Hospital… Unfortunately, no potatoes and no pie. But they do have Masterburgers. "

"Well I can tell you that my dad actually invented the hash brown ring in a Toddle House on Highland Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee. He started with one of the metal cans that other food items were in. He cut the can in two places, filed it, then used it as the hash brown ring."

"I was a toddle house manager in Albuquerque in the 50's- I was only 16, the previous manager got a job driving a city bus, stopped by one night, sid,"well, you're the manager now!!"  I was city manager in Charleston, South Carolina for many years- loved the special "Toddle House Egg Omelet", whipped up in a milk shake machine, cooked real fluffy and served on a hot plate- the egg pans were a special design, invented by and patented by the company-the waffles were also special- many people think I am crazy for mentioning the honor system they used- but it worked!! I miss them- the last I heard they had been absorbed my Curtis Candy Co, and I guess went out for lack of upper management-I will always miss them, and the black bottom pie!"

1 comment:

  1. I have to try this for my dad. He is 85 years old and was, what you might call a roving Toddle House manager. We always talk about making and enjoying TH food. He might enjoy this!


I so love receiving your thoughts and comments. I also hope you found something that made you smile.