Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Pies 2009

The Davis-Dewald crew had another mellow Thanksgiving this year with new faces, babies and an all vegetarian meal gracing the table.

We enjoyed three pies, two delicious, one -ahem- experimental.
Also these are horrible pictures taken with my horrible camera.

To start, #1 is an experimental macrobiotic pecan pie, from an actual recipe followed diligently. Kebir called it the 'pie of courage' and that was about right - agar, brown rice syrup and arrowroot created a strange, not sweet gelatinous goo that we all enjoyed trying out. It's now in the compost. YUM!

I do believe I will revisit the oatmeal crust - it was superb.

#2 is a beautiful and amazing squash pie from Meghan. Delighting audiences year after year, or at the very least delighting me, I could eat an entire one of these myself.

#3 is redemption apple pie by me. No courage required. I used the same Angelica Kitchen recipe I always use, but I halved the crust and made a latticey top, which I think was an improvement. I used Northern Spies as suggested by the coop's apple guru, Jewels. Take his advice, ladies and gentlemen, when it comes to produce!

And don't forget the whipped cream. Amy's children discovered whipped cream this Thanksgiving, and let's just say their lives are forever changed. CREAM!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Tale of Two Tarts

Let's begin at the start of these tarts, which was for me, an apple picking adventure to Ayers Orchard in Cana, VA, the closest orchard I could find. Apple picking is THE quintessential fall tradition in my book, and I convinced 2 carloads of friends to drive 2 hours (plus) to humor me in my stubborn adherence to it. After being led on a wild goose chase by the Australian woman in the GPS, we stopped at a country gas station, where we got directions ("up the hill, down the hill, up the hill, and down the hill") to "his mama's house" from whence we were told to take "all lefts except for the right" to the orchard warehouse, where we were drawn a puzzling "map" by the orcardist, we FINALLY found the grove, enjoyed a lovely picnic, and picked a bushel each of Fujis and Arkansas Blacks.
Stuffed my spoils in my (mama's) shirt
Back home on the Piedmont, I turned these apples into butter, grilled-cheese apple sandwiches, daily snacks, and tarts. For the first I used this recipe from Alice Waters/Smitten Kitchen.   It calls for a food processor-mixed pastry, of which I was skeptical, but I had heard a lot of advocates of this practice, so I decided to give it a try. The dough came together easier than by hand, and the whole tart looked rather nice with its spiraled delicate apple slices, but I just don't think there's any comparison to pastry dough mixed by hand. The butter stays chunkier and melts less, making it so much flakier. It was still a tasty treat, and Neale and James came over to enjoy.
Neale and James in the TEZ
For the second tart, I decided to go with what I know--the standard crust recipe, and the apple butter my friend Lora and I had just made and canned. Plus Miss Lapidus was visiting. We opted for the rustic tart, being the rustic tarts that we are. Here's the approximate recipe we used:   Simple Rustic Apple Tart

Nothing-in-the-House pie crust (at right), using all-purpose flour
2 lbs. apples (we used Arkansas Blacks)
5 Tblsp. sugar: white and turbinado mixture
1/2 c. homemade apple butter
1 Tblsp. lemon juice

1. Make pie crust and once chilled, roll out in 10-in circle. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  2. Core and cut apples into delicate thin slices. Toss apples with lemon juice and 3 Tblsp. sugar.  3. Brush apple butter onto pastry dough and arrange apples on top of the apple butter in concentric spiraling circles. Fold crust over edges. Sprinkle 2 Tblsp. sugar over top of apples and crust.  4. Bake for 35-45 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Enjoy!
You are what you eat: rustic tart for a rustic tart
In other news, I look forward to seeing what pies our Nothing-In-The-House correspondents will make for Thanksgiving, the #1 biggest pie day of the year!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

WXYC Pecan Pumpkin Pie with Bourbon Whipped Cream

Why choose when you can have both? It's the time of the year when we turn to pies of nuts, storage vegetables, and dried fruits. I wanted to bring a (seasonal) pie to the WXYC DJ Thanksgiving potluck but I had already made the mini pecan pies last week, Kellen was already bringing a pumpkin, and I've recently had my fill of apple and pear tarts and pies. This hybrid from the Gourmet cookbook seemed like a good solution.


Nothing-In-The-House crust with all-purpose flour (recipe at right)

Ingredients for pumpkin filling:
3/4 c. canned pumpkin purée
2 Tblsp. brown sugar, packed
1 egg, beaten
2 Tblsp. sour cream
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Ingredients for pecan layer:
3/4 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
3 eggs, beaten
3 Tblsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/3 c. pecans, lightly roasted

Make the pastry and refrigerate 30 min-hour. Preheat oven to 375 and roast pecans on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes. This is the key to a delicious pecan pie! Make pumpkin filling by whisking together all ingredients until smooth. Make the pecan layer by stirring corn syrup, brown sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla, zest, lemon juice, and salt in separate bowl until combined. Add roasted pecans. Spread pumpkin filling evenly in pie shell. Carefully spoon pecan mixture over it. Bake until crust is golden and filling is puffed, about 45 minutes (center should still be a tad wobbly).

The original recipe called for pre-baking the crust, but this made for a done-crust when the filling was still a little goopy. Next time I won't pre-bake. I added some crust design elements and topped it off with bourbon whipped cream which was totally decadent and oh-so southern.

1/2 c. very cold heavy cream
1 Tblsp. brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. bourbon
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Beat all ingredients in mixer, food processor, or by hand (if you've got the GUNS).

Roasting and leaving the pecans halved makes for a pretty and delicious PPP

Took the PPP to the DJs to enter the PEZ while listening to...ESG? COB? MV + EE? on XYC.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

grape pie?!

why, i never!

but jill & co. did.

Life-Is-Suffering Pie

Welcome Steffen, a new Nothing-In-The-House correspondent who sent me this pie anecdote from his home in the Hudson River Valley (HRV) of New York. Steffen told me once that he was into "19th century pies," or perhaps the quote was "old-timey pies." Look forward to more pie posts from him.

Pie made for 84 and 85 year old hosts on the banks of the St. Lawrence seaway this weekend. Fortune (Schoharie Spy/Empire cross) and Black Twig apples. Black Twig being high on my list of good apple names. Tasty too. Fortune apples behave in a pie. Butter/Flour crust, kept it simple because elders can tell when Pie Is Adulterated. This pie was titled life-is-suffering pie for Moira, who is in that mode currently.
It's officially pie season from hereon out, so you'll be on my radar.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Personal Pecan Pies: Mini Tarts with a Heart

The Durham Food and Drink Club gathered for another bi-monthly potluck installment, this one with the theme of "Tiny Foods," which I like to call "PERSONAL CUPS." I made these personal pecan pies with a heart in the middle of the tart. Recipe adapted from Bake or Break.


-3 eggs, beaten
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 cup light corn syrup
-1/4 cup butter, melted
-1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
-1 cup pecans, chopped
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-Pastry for one double-crust pie (recipe at right)

Using the mouth of a glass, cut mini-pie crust to fit in muffin tins. Press into greased and floured muffin tins. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter, and flour. Add pecans, vanilla, and salt. Pour into unbaked pie shells. Cut heart-shape with a heart cookie-cutter and place on top of filling. Bake for about 15 minutes or until done. Yields about 2 dozen mini pies.

They took their place at the table with other delicious tiny tarts, itty-bitty biscuits with pimento cheese, petit pizzas, stuffed cherry tomatoes, mini falafel(!), baby beers sipped from miniature mugs, whipped cream beat with a wee whisk, and so many other personal cups. WE FELT LIKE GIANTS!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

One-Pie Pumpkin Pie

This can posed for me in the Rokeby back kitchen

Generally I am an advocate of using whole, local, and fresh foods. Baking from scratch. So I hope it doesn't seem blasphemous to confess that when it comes to pumpkin pie, I am all about canned purée. You should know that I arrived at this conclusion after many trials with both fresh and canned pumpkin. But when it comes down to it, I found that using fresh purée is overly laborious for its results--it's watery, and just doesn't taste as good! Even Martha Stewart says so. If you do insist on using fresh ingredients, though, I would opt for delicata or butternut squash over a pie pumpkin. The squash has a more delicate flavor (hence the name), and are less watery and stringy.

In the realm of the canned pumpkin, I DO have a definite favorite. One-Pie. Okay, so maybe it's only for the label and the fact that it's made in Maine. But seriously, it's real cute. And the recipe on the back isn't too bad either:

ONE-PIE New England Pumpkin Pie

1 can ONE-PIE Pumpkin
1 tbsp. Cornstarch
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ginger
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tbsp. Butter (Melted)
1 1/2 cups Milk or 1-12 oz. can Evaporated Milk
1 cup Sugar
1/8 cup Molasses
2 Eggs (beaten)

Nothing-in-the-House pie crust 

Sift sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, & nutmeg together. Mix this with contents of one can ONE-PIE Pumpkin. Add eggs, beaten, melted butter, molasses, & milk. Add a dash of lemon juice (if desired). Line a 9-inch pie plate with crust, pour in contents. Preheat oven & bake at 450 for 15 minutes. Then reduce temp. to 350 & continue to bake for 50 minutes.

This isn't necessarily my go-to pumpkin pie recipe, but I do like it for the molasses and the ginger.

Read our One-Pie Pumpkin Pie, Revisited post here

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Competitive Pie

I've been baking pies since I was a wee lass, but it was only this fall that I took my skills to the next level: competitive pie.

The place I work had a late summer BBQ. Part of the festivities included a dessert contest. Unfortunately that meant decadent chocolate cake was to be judged against delicious berry-filled pies. I was up to the challenge.

And so I toiled away to bake a berry-peach pie:

Before Baking

After Baking
I hopped on the bus, and then the train, my pie covered in tinfoil, hoping I wouldn't ruin the lovely lattice work.

The pie arrived in tact, and I awaited the big moment. The high-ups at the library made the decision (I balked at this: pie is a food of the people, not the Man!).

Honorable mentions were called, then third place. And then second.

Second place it was! Missing first place by a nose, I lost to a chocolate rum cake.
Later, an older man came over and told me I was robbed. Mine was the only dessert without a crumb left behind. People voted with their forks, he said. Indeed!

A few weeks later I went to a more professional pie contest in a park on a beautiful October day.

There were hundreds of pies! And for a hefty $3 per slice, you could take a taste.
There were also pony rides for the tots. A wholesome and depressing thing.

The best pie I tasted was not even in the competition. Hoosier Mama pie company povided some of the best apple pie I have ever tasted.

All in all, its been a great fall for pies here in the Windy City!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Pear Tarte Tatin

Apple pies, apple tarts, apple butter, apple cider... it's been all apples all the time these days. At the end of fall when you are apple bottomed-out (ha) but have perfected your apple-dessert skills, turn to the pear. When Lora and Joe invited me to a last-minute dinner at their Chicken Bridge house last night with the folks from the Blind Tiger String Band, I remembered seeing a plethora of on-sale pears at the co-op, and found this recipe for a pear version of tarte tatin from the Gourmet Cookbook:

Pear Tarte Tatin


4 large firm yet ripe Bosc pears
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Nothing-in-the-House Pie Crust Recipe (at right), using all-purpose flour


1. Peel, halve, and core pears (with a melon-baller). Heat butter in a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then stir in sugar (sugar will not be dissolved). Arrange pears, cut sides up, in skillet with wide parts facing out. Sprinkle pears with cinnamon and cook undisturbed, until sugar turns a deep golden caramel. (This can take 15- 25 minutes, depending on pears, skillets, and stove.) Cool pears completely in skillet.

2. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

3. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round and trim to a 9 1/2- to 10 1/2-inch round. Arrange pastry over caramelized pears, tucking edge around pears inside the rim of skillet. Bake tart until pastry is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 5 minutes.

Invert a rimmed serving plate (slightly larger than skillet) over skillet and, using pot holders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert tart onto plate. Serve tart warm with vanilla whipped cream.

Though I was nervous about the flip, this recipe was delicious! The pear-carmelization was particularly tasty considering the minimal effort. We enjoyed it after an excellent porch-dinner of field peas, chicken and vegetables, corn bread, and Farmer's Daughter tomato chutney, sauerkraut, and green tomato pickles.

Then we headed to the Nightlight to watch Blind Tiger play some great Kentucky fiddle tunes!

Cranberry Chess Pie

Fig Pistachio Tarte Tatin

Peppermint Pattie Tart

Whiskey & Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

Blog Archive