By Request
Betty Shimabukuro

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Fiends find pie recipe
from old Willows

From the recipe collections of two of our recipe fiends, comes a golden oldie -- the Coconut Cream Pie from the old Willows restaurant.

Both Raymond Shishido and Lois Inouye had versions of the recipe. Both were credited directly to the restaurant and were essentially the same. The one difference is that Shishido's version called for freshly grated coconut. This would make a great difference in freshness and flavor, but if you just can't cope with breaking open a coconut, go ahead and settle for packaged shredded coconut.

The Willows opened in 1944, a collection of thatched-roof, open-air dining rooms beneath the willow trees on Hausten Street. It closed in 1993, then reopened with new owners and a new menu six years later.

The pie, nicknamed "Sky High Coconut Pie," was a signature dessert of the previous owners. Many people over the years have written to ask for the recipe, among them Dianne Hays. "I visited the Willows restaurant when it was thriving and was sad to see that it was sold," she wrote back in 2003.

It has taken longer than that to hunt down the recipe.

Willows Coconut Cream Pie

1 9-inch pie crust, pre-baked
» Filling:
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup grated coconut
2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
» Meringue:
4 to 6 egg whites
1 tablespoon sugar for each egg white

To make filling: Combine milk, sugar, salt and coconut in pan over low heat; bring to near-boil.

Combine cornstarch and yolks with a little water to make a smooth paste. Mix in a little of the warm milk mixture into yolks to warm them up. Add all the yolks to milk mixture in pan, stirring continuously a few minutes to thicken. Add butter and vanilla. Cool.

To make meringue: Beat egg whites until frothy. Add sugar gradually and beat until stiff but not dry.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pour cooled filling into pie crust. Top with meringue, spreading all the way to edges to seal. Sprinkle with more grated coconut. Bake 2 to 3 minutes, until topping is brown.

While we're on the subject of coconut pie, Kathy Stroup is looking for another recipe from the past: "In the early '60s, I used to regularly have a slice of 'heavenly' coconut cream pie at the Waikiki Pharmacy. I would dearly love to have a recipe for that if it exists anywhere."

Can you help? Send it here. There's a cookbook in it for you as a reward.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Send queries along with name and phone number to:
"By Request," Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
500 Ala Moana, No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813.
Or send e-mail to bshimabukuro@starbulletin.com

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