Kat's smashed potatoes & sugar cream pie 

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Kat Coplen is not just our music editor, but a cooking enthusiast as well. This recipe has also appeared on historicindianapolis.com. Also, we have a confession to make: the pie photographed for this recipe actually came from Locally Grown Gardens, who make some of the best pies in the state. Whether you buy one or bake your own, the sugar cream pie is sure to please.

This recipe is eminently adaptable. Having 5 people over? Having 20? My rule of thumb is to buy 3 potatoes per person invited, then add a few more for good measure (and hungry nephews).

Smashed Garlic Potatoes

• 12 – 14 whole new or red potatoes (your preference)

• olive oil

• garlic

• parsley, rosemary, or other herb of choice

• sea salt

• pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Throw in potatoes (yes, Mom, I scrub them first). Boil until fork-tender, drain. Meanwhile, coarsely chop garlic and herbs.

Drizzle olive oil over a sheet pan and spread potatoes in one layer across pan. Now's the fun part: grab a heavy glass or mug and smash each potato. They should break open easily. Sprinkle each with chopped garlic and herbs; drizzle more olive oil over the pan. How much garlic? How much herbs? How much olive oil? Use your best judgement! You know what you like. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes until tops are crispy.

If you're running into trouble timing your dishes, prep potatoes ahead of time and set the pan aside to pop into the oven in the last few moments of your meal preparation.

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Sugar cream pie has a few aliases; your grandma may call it Hoosier pie, Amish milk pie or Indiana farm pie. But my favorite alternate name for this dessert is finger pie, so called because many old recipes instruct the baker to mix ingredients with one finger, allegedly to avoid whipping the cream, and then mix it again once while in the oven. I tend to, well, not do this – I've already earned myself a few too many burns in the kitchen. Food historians say sugar cream was created in the early 1800s, right around the time Indiana moved from territory to state, by North Carolina Quakers who settled along the eastern border of the state, especially in Richmond and Winchester.

This recipe also belongs to a class of historic recipes called desperation pies, those desserts made of staple pantry ingredients that aren't tied to the season's farm productions. Other examples: vinegar pie (if you're out of lemons for lemon meringue), or green tomato pie (if the apples aren't ripe enough for apple pie). But sugar cream has stuck around in a way that other make-do pies haven't. Part of the reason for this is Winchester, Ind. pie makers Wick's Pies. The company commercialized the pie in the '40s; it now ships pies to most states. Wick's was influential in the move to declare sugar cream the official state pie in 2009; Winchester is now the sugar cream pie capital.

The recipe I use is more than 160 years old, contributed to The Hoosier Cookbook by Mrs. Kenneth D. Hahn of Miami County.

Sugar Cream Pie

• 1 1/2 cup sugar

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/3 cup flour

• 2 1/2 cup heavy cream

• 2 teaspoons good vanilla

• 1 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

• fresh nutmeg

• cinnamon

• 1 pie crust, unbaked

Time: 5 minutes to mix, plus 45 minutes in the oven

So easy you won't believe it: Mix the dry ingredients until combined with a spoon; add the cream, vanilla and butter and mix until combined. Pour into a pie crust (see note below); grate fresh nutmeg and sprinkle cinnamon over top. Bake in your oven, preheated to 375 degrees, for 45 or so minutes, until middle of pie is set. In the middle of your baking time, stir once with a wooden spoon (not your finger – ouch!).

Allow your pie to cool before serving. Part of the beauty of a sugar cream pie is that it can be served warm, room temperature, or cold, depending on your preference. It can also be made, cooled, stored in the fridge, and reheated before serving. I usually grate more fresh nutmeg over my slices before serving.

Pie Crust

Oh, pie crusts. Has any other dessert staple been more argued about than the humble pie crust? I default to the Cook's Illustrated Foolproof Pie Dough recipe when I'm making my own (and not just because it includes vodka, which is not the worst thing to have on hand at a gathering of all your relatives). But however you make it: with butter, lard, shortening or all three, don't forget you can generally store pie dough in the fridge for almost two weeks. It might not be the best idea to start your Thanksgiving with a kitchen covered in flour and lard. And – I say this from many a time-strapped experience – any generic freezer aisle, deep-dish crust usually works perfectly fine as well.

Adapted from The Hoosier Cookbook (1976). A version of this recipe appeared on HistoricIndianapolis.com.

— Katherine Coplen

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Katherine Coplen

Katherine Coplen

Always looking for my new favorite band. Always listening to my old ones, too. Always baking cakes. Always collecting rock and roll dad quotes.

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