Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Blueberry Pie Elf

For Christmas my mom gave me a copy of a re-print of the 1959 children's classic The Blueberry Pie Elf, by Jane Thayer and with pictures by Seymour Fleishman. It is the story of a little elf, Elmer, who loves blueberry pie so much that he tries to convince the family (whose house he lives in) to make him one by helping them out with household chores. Apple and cherry pies just won't do for little Elmer--only blueberry! I won't reveal how he finally communicates this message to the family, but I will share some of my favorite illustrations from the book...

I hope you also received some lovely little treasures (or lovely little pies) this holiday season!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Shaker Lemon Pie at Scratch

At Scratch Bakery In Durham

n Tuesday my friend Lora took me out to lunch at Durham's new favorite bakery, Scratch. The place, run by "pie queen" Phoebe Lawless, has been getting a lot of props lately, from the New York Times, Travel and Leisure, and Bon Appetit. Plus our friends Emily and Whitney work there, and we've been fans of Scratch's stand at the Durham Farmers' Market for a while now.

The cafe is bright and clean, with mustard yellow and aquamarine walls, and cute chalkboard signs penned by Emily. The pie case is extensive, and the lunch menu, which features numerous savory pies, as well as soup, salad and sandwiches, is just as tempting. Lora and I both ordered the pepper and hominy soup-- she had hers with a fried baloney sandwich, and I went for the hot pimento cheese sandwich.

Shaker Lemon Pie

By the time we were finished, we were both really full, so we decided to split a piece of the Shaker Lemon pie. It was a double crust number, with real lemon rinds inside. And WOW, it might just be my new favorite. The lemon rinds give the filling a bitter, almost marmalade taste, along with the tartness of lemon and sweetness of sugar, all encased in a butter crust. I haven't tried my hand at baking one yet, but I think I might have to make it for my family's Christmas dinner this year. This recipe from smitten kitchen seems close to the one we tried.

I can't wait for my next trip to Scratch to try the turnip crostada, chocolate sea salt tart, or chess pie. This is not the last you will hear about the place here, I'm sure!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pie For Your Tree

Check out these adorable felt pie ornaments made by Amy Evans Streeter. Streeter is an artist living in Oxford, Mississippi who has a great love for pie, as evidenced by her paintings and numerous pie-themed posts on her blog, Made In Mississippi. She is also making these ornaments with red and lavender backgrounds, and if you contact her, she might just sell you some!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Potomac Thanksgiving Pies

"soup and grace in the library?"

I spent this Thanksgiving with my friend Jamie's family (as well as Jamie himself, Anna, Bob, Monique, and more pals) in Potomac, Maryland. I arrived to a bustling house of dough rolling, sweet potato blending, and dog show watching. As dinner approached, we were given "task cards" to help prepare for the feast. I joined John on the "water team," whose task, I must say, was rather delayed, waiting for the "ice team" to finish theirs! Michael was put on "device box," which was meant to collect everyone's cell phones and lock them away during dinner (how NELPy), but I don't think that really happened. Bob, pictured above, was on "soup serving", which meant serving little espresso cups full of sweet potato soup on a silver tray, for the soup toast in the library. He was quite the perfect butler.

Dinner was SO delicious and plentiful--highlights for me were the spicy mac and cheese, mashed rutabaga (sorry Leslie), green beans, and sweet potato casserole but I'm sure I am forgetting something because everything was amazing. Now let's get on to the pies.

In addition to various Thanksgiving cookies, there was a delicious apple cranberry pie, two pumpkin pies, and I made a bittersweet chocolate pecan pie. I adapted the recipe from Gourmet. It is as follows:

Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie


1 4-oz, 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate bar, chopped
2 cups pecan halves, toasted and cooled
3 large eggs
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup agave-maple syrup blend

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt chocolate in a metal bowl over simmering water. Stir. Remove from heat when melted.

2. Roll out chilled dough and place in a greased and floured pie pan, fluting the crust.

3. Spread chocolate in the bottom of pie shell and let set a bit, then cover with pecans. Whisk eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and agave-maple blend in a bowl. Pour over pecans.

4. Bake pie until filling is puffed and crust is golden brown, 40-50 minutes. Serve with bourbon whipped cream and enjoy!

I am pretty into this combination. Usually I think that pecan pie is too sweet, so using maple-agave blend (you could also just use maple syrup or brown rice syrup) instead of corn syrup helps with that, as does the bittersweet chocolate. When I made this a second time, for the WXYC Sinterklaas Party, I sprinkled some sea salt crystals on top. Yum.

We topped ours off with Bourbon whipped cream, as Michael is demonstrating here.

Many thanks to Leslie and James for hosting and welcoming me to a delicious and lovely Thanksgiving feast.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Pennsylvannia Diner Fights Pie Waste

...a serious problem.

Another proven method for combating pie waste is to use your mouth.

Thanks Diane and Jorge for sending.