Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren's award-winning pecan pie & almond tart recipes

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File photo: Pecan pie

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren’s known on Capitol Hill as a leader on immigration issues, a former chief of the House ethics committee and a leader in the battle over an Internet piracy bill. But Lofgren’s mother is proudest of an achievement in the kitchen.

This holiday, Zoe Lofgren is off the hook — she cooked Thanksgiving for three dozen people, so she gets to be a guest at her siblings’ homes for Christmas Eve and the day after. Still, the Democrat from San Jose says she might bring a pecan pie. "It’s really yummy," she says. "It’s easy to make and it’s perfect."

The pie won a gold medal at a competition in her district. That really impressed her mom. She says her late mother "had said I’d been elected to office, and I’d become a lawyer, and I’d graduated from Stanford. She said, 'You’ve done many things that made me proud. But I’d be hard pressed to say when I was prouder than this.'"

Perhaps working on Capitol Hill gives Lofgren an unfair edge at working with nuts — her almond tart recipe won a gold medal the next year at that same baking competition.

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren’s Award-Winning Pecan Pie

Crust:

1 cup of flour
pinch of salt
(mix salt in with flour)
generous 1/3 cup of Crisco
(mix until crumbly)
3 tablespoons cold water
(avoid overmixing after adding water; it will make the crust tough)

Filling:

3 eggs
1/2 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of butter (or a little more than half a stick)
1 cup of dark Karo Syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup of pecan pieces

First beat eggs well, then add the rest of the ingredients except for the pecans. Beat mixture well and pour into 8-inch pie pan. Add pecans to the mixture in the pan and stir, being careful not to puncture pie crust. Place pie in 350 degree oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until done.

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren’s 4th of July Almond Tart

Pastry:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon (or more) water
a few drops of almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:

1 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
few drops almond extract
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier

Mix the flour with the sugar. Cut in butter until mealy. Work in water, vanilla and almond extract. Press paste into 9-inch tart pan. Chill for one hour.

Bake tart for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, or until golden brown.

Combine all filing ingredients and let stand until sugar dissolves — about 20 minutes. Pour into shell and return to oven. Bake for 40 minutes or until top is brown and sugar caramelized.

Serve at room temperature or slightly warm.

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