Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Zingerman's Pot Pies

I was in Ann Arbor, Michigan for a hot minute this past weekend, and pretty much went directly from the Detroit airport to the Jewish deli-turned foodie phenom, Zingerman's for my standard #36 on sourdough with a new pickle (basically a veggie reuben with coleslaw instead of sauerkraut).

I found not only the promise of one of my favorite lunches, but an array of pot pies available there during the months of January and February. It's a good thing they were out of their vegetarian pie option, or I would have had quite a time deciding between "Lila & Izzie's Skokie Skidoo" sandwich and the "Fungi Pot Pie."
I was intrigued by this "Daria's Dingle Pie," which they purport to be "a salute to the miners on the Dingle Peninsula of Ireland," and is apparently a standard Irish savory pie recipe, traditionally sold at Lammas Fairs during the last week of August.

This tribute to the miner in pie form, though, made me wonder why Zingerman's wasn't offering a pasty-- the Cornish savory pie that was frequently consumed and popularized by Finnish miners in Michigan's Upper Penninsula. Perhaps they'll cover that later in some future 'Traditional foods of Michigan' or 'Traditional foods of the Midwest' or 'Traditional foods mistaken for stripper-garb' display.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pimento Cheese and Tomato Pie

A few weeks ago, Emily, Erica and I got together for '3-E Baking Wednesday.' Emily and I had to make something for the Foodways class potluck at our Prof. Marcie Ferris' home. We decided to combine our two respective loves--pimento cheese, a Southern specialty (Emily W. is writing her Folklore Master's thesis on it), and pie. Our friend April McGreger shared the recipe with us:

Pimento Cheese and “Put Up” Tomato Pie

This pie is a riff on a church cookbook standard simply called “tomato pie”. Usually made in the summer with fresh tomatoes, this tart takes on a more robust personality by utilizing home canned tomatoes and roasting them. It is a good way to enjoy tomatoes in the off season.

9” Pie Crust - that has been pre-baked to golden brown
20 oz. tomatoes (either home canned or quality store bought—like San Marzanos)
1/4 C. olive oil
2 Tblsp. fresh thyme (or you can use basil or marjoram)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 1/4 C. prepared pimento cheese (we made our using Emily's grandma's recipe + a hint of Sriracha)
1/3 C. Ritz crackers broken into small, rough pieces (about the size of a dime) (We used panko tossed in a little melted butter, a pinch of chopped garlic, a little parm, and a pinch of s&p)

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F

2. Drain the tomatoes (keep the juice for the Bloody Marys!) and dice them into 1 inch pieces. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, thyme, salt, pepper and half the olive oil by tossing with your hands until all of the tomatoes have a little oil on them. 

3. Pour half of the oil onto a sheet pan, rubbing with your hands to coat the bottom of the pan and then spread the tomatoes on the pan to form a single layer. Roast the tomatoes in the oven for about 15 minutes until they dry up a little and start to shrivel slightly. 

4. Fill the pie crust ¾ full with the tomato mixture. Spread pimento cheese over the top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with prepared bread crumb topping.

This was a real cheesy indulgence, but got great reviews at the potluck. Next time I would make it with more tomatoes and a little less salt (I think we may have added too much to the pimento cheese).

We also made mini vinegar pies--an old Great Plains recipe of the "nothing-in-the-house pie"/"adversity pie"/ "desperation pie" genre which served as a lemon-custard substitution in times of hardship. I unfortunately forgot to take pictures of them, so I'll make it again soon and give a full report.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

National Pie Day

April's pie day table

On January 23rd a.k.a. National Pie Day (not to be confused with "Pi Day" coming up on 3.14), April (of Farmer's Daughter) sent out an e-mail to a few pals, saying she was cleaning the pie dough out of her freezer and invited us over for a few sweet and savory pies. In a matter of hours she had whipped up a varied spread of 7 different pies: pork belly sauerkraut & potato, retro tomato both with and sans bacon, apple crumb, bourbon pecan, chocolate cream and coconut cream. chocolate cream pie

I can't speak for the meat pies, but the retro tomato was the perfect combination of creamy cheese and crumb, and was so salt-addictive (not saying it was too salty, but addictive like the best homemade salt and vinegar potato chips--COULD NOT STOP EATING!)

bourbon pecan pie

April's crust is seriously the best I've EVER tasted-- so flaky, golden, and perfectly carmelized with the filling. This was especially evident with the bourbon pecan.

I go back for retro-tomato seconds

I wish I had some pics of the PEZ because it was out of control-- fainting into the couch cushions style and ruining my appetite for the birthday party I had to go to afterward. Thanks to April for her mad baking skills, hospitality and ensuring that the first pie day of the year did not go un-celebrated. Now stay tuned for 3.14.10...