Saturday, December 24, 2011

May Your Christmas Pie Be As Full Of Plums

Little Jack Horner in the Christmas PEZ
There are no plums planned for Christmas pies here in the Nothing-in-the-House kitchen, but the sentiment still stands. Last night, for a music holiday party at my parents' I made a Shaker clementine pie, a salty honey pie (upon my dad's request) and collaborated on a green tomato pie with my dad. For Christmas dinner tomorrow, I'm making my grandma Eileen's lemon meringue pie, and perhaps another. 

What will your Christmas pie be full of? Whatever it is, I hope it is as full of that as Jack Horner's is of plums.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Grandma Georgette's Apple Pie

My grandma Georgette is Belgian. When my brother and I were growing up, our family celebrated St. Nicholas Day, on the eve of the 5th/6th of December, in an adapted Belgian tradition. We'd leave out our wooden shoes overnight, and in the morning they were filled with little treats, "shoe stuffers" and a new ornament for our miniature trees. In the evening our grandma would come over and we'd eat Belgian chocolates, and speculoos (windmill cookies) & pizelles she had made.

Now my brother and I don't live close enough for "St. Nicholas" to put gifts in our shoes, but my grandma and mom still carry on the tradition. This year my grandma made a beautiful apple pie for my mom to take home and share with my dad.

My grandma's beauteous apple pie, which she put in a trompe l'oeil pie tin for transport. She is cute like this.

I'm excited to go home and visit with her over Christmas. This year I plan to make some audio recordings of us in the kitchen together, with her talking through some of my favorite recipes of hers, including her chicken soup, sugar cookies, speculoos, and apple pie. I'll be sure to include it here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dark Chocolate Sea-Salt Tart with Candied Pecans

It's the busiest baking time of the year, what with holiday celebrations at the office, screenings of It's A Wonderful Life at my house, and music-and-dinner parties at my parents', not to mention Christmas Eve, morning, dinner, AND New Year's Eve. But it's okay, because I've got a long list of things I want to bake (keep checking back here for what they are!). 

Yesterday we had a going away/holiday party at work, and my co-workers/party planning team asked if I would bake a pie and some cookies for it. They were already ordering a carrot cake from the caterer, so I decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to make something rich and chocolatey, namely, this chocolate sea-salt tart with candied pecans I had been eyeing over at Food Republic.

As I mentioned before, I've been on a salty-sweet kick, and this tart is no exception. Though I am always a bit dubious of other crusts, I went out on a limb and tried the one in Paul A. Young's recipe-- he is a master chocolatier after all. In the end, I think that the tart is SO rich that it doesn't really need a chocoalte crust, and that a normal pastry crust would help to temper the intensity of the bittersweet chocolate and salty pecans. But I'll let you decide for yourself. Here's the recipe I adapted...

Chocolate Sea-Salt Tart with Candied Pecans


Crust (You can use Nothing-in-the-House standard recipe, or as below):
12 Tblsp. unsalted butter,  kept cold and cut into pieces
1/3 c. sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
7 oz. Madagascan
60-70% dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. heavy cream
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup pecan halves

1. If using the Nothing-in-the-House standard recipe, follow those instructions. If using the cocoa crust, mix together flour, sugar, and cocoa powder, the cut in cold butter pieces with a knife and fork or pastry cutter. Stir in beaten eggs, until dough comes together into a ball. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour. Can be made 2 days ahead or frozen and thawed.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and roll out pastry until it is about 12 in. in diameter. Grease and flour 10-in. tart pan and transfer crust to pan, trimming off excess crust. Refrigerate the crust for 15 minutes to help prevent shrinkage during baking.
3. Remove crust from fridge and line with parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans, and blind bake for 20 minutes. Take out paper and weights and bake for 5-8 more minutes until tart is fully baked. Let cool.

1. Put all ingredients into the top of a double boiler. Put water in the bottom of the boiler and place on medium heat until filling is melted, glossy, and thick. 
2. Pour filling into the cooled, baked crust and refrigerate for 2 hours.

1. Heat a saucepan on low heat until warm and gradually add the sugar, stirring constantly until melted into a golden liquid caramel. Add salt, then the pecans, mixing well. When fully combined, quickly pour the hot mixture onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Spread with a spatula.

2. Allow topping to cool thoroughly, then chop into bite-size shards and sprinkle over the tart. Keep tart refrigerated, until just before serving. Serve at room temperature and enjoy!

This tart went over quite well with my co-workers, with a lot of raving feedback--- "YUMMMMM" and "NAILED IT!"-- along with some and some "you KILL mes!" paired with a head shake (like I said, it's rich). Personally, I thought it was an excellent blend of flavors, and the slightly soft chocolate was perfect with the hard candied pecans, even though I admittedly couldn't finish my slice. It would probably best be washed down with a hot cup of coffee, or as once co-worker suggested, a cold glass of milk.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Apple Pie

While researching archival pie images and literature, as I am wont to do, I came across this version of a nursery rhyme A Apple Pie, estimated to be from 1870, and published by Kronheim & Company. This nursery rhyme seems to have missed me as a a child, but maybe some of you know it? Here's the illustrations, though you can see a pdf of the entire book here.

A apple pie  B bit it  C cut it  D dealt it  E eat it  F fought for it  G got it  H hid it  I (invisible?)  
J joined it  K kept it  L longed for it  M mourned for it  N nodded at it  O opened it  P peeped at it 
Q quartered it  R ran for it  S stole it  T took it  U (understated?)  V viewed it  W wanted it
XYZ& amperse and all wished for a piece in hand.

I think my favorite is the girl (Q) using the compass to exactly quarter the pie, though the baby (B) taking a bite and dogs (F...foxes?) fighting for it are also quite humorous. I also came across this edition, c. 1886/1900 (?), by Kate Greenaway. More about her classic and slightly different version coming soon...

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Texas Thanksgiving Pies

My friends Stacy and Chris are the official Nothing-in-the-House Texas correspondents (though let's not forget our friend Shannon!), always sending photos of pies they eat and bake. This year, Chris sent me three pics of Stacy's Thanksgiving pies-- all fall classics of pecan, apple, and pumpkin.

The pecan pie recipe is from Homesick Texan, though Stacy likes to toast her pecans first for added flavor. The apple pie was "grandma" style, with Granny Smith apples and Grandma Ople's recipe, which calls for pouring the sauce/filling over the apples as opposed to mixing the apples with the sauce.

 Stacy and Chris also had another pie at this year's Thanksgiving--cutie pie Hudson, who helped roll out the crust. Baby's first pie crust--looks like he did a great job!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Salty Honey Pie

Salt 'n' caramel, salt 'n' chocolate, buttered popcorn ice cream with bacon and pecans (believe!). Salted sweets are so in right now. I've fallen in to the fad too because you know what, it's delicious (I'm making salted caramels for Christmas gifts--spoiler alert!!).  I saw this recipe on the South Brooklyn Post from the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Shop in Gowanus, and thought it sounded like a different (yet familiar, see maple pie, and sugar pie) yummy take on the sweet 'n' salt. Oh boy, it was. Here's my version.

Salty Honey Pie
adapted from Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Nothing in the House pie crust, halved
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tablepsoons white or yellow cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup honey (I used raw, local honey)
3 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or extract, in a pinch)
1 or 2 tablespoons flake sea salt for finishing (pink salt looks quite nice!)

1. Prepare half of Nothing in the House pie crust as per the directions, reserving leftover egg for an egg wash. Chill dough at least one hour before rolling and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Mix melted butter, sugar, salt, and cornmeal to form a thick paste. Add honey, vanilla, and vinegar, then beaten eggs and cream. Blend well by hand or with an electric mixer.  Pour filling into pie shell, flute crust (or apply crust design) and brush on an egg wash. Bake  for 50-60 minutes or until fillings is puffed, only slightly wobbly in the middle, and golden brown on top. Cool for one hour. Sprinkle with flake sea salt and serve with whipped cream, if desired.

For the crust design, I cut leaves using a Williams-Sonoma crust cutter I got at a local church sale, and overlapped them, securing them to the bottom crust with an egg wash. To make sure they stayed put in the oven, I froze the crust for about 30 minutes before adding the filling and baking.

Gotta say, this pie is sooo goood. The top of the filling gets a bit crusty, while underneath it is smooth and oozy, like a creme brûlée. The small amount of cornmeal gives it a little grit, and I was pleasantly surprised that it was not too too sweet (I mean it does consist mostly of honey), but more smooth and floral.

For the salt flakes on top, I used Himalayan pink and white, which adds a nice contrast. I took the pie to a music party and potluck with some new friends and strangers.


Friday, December 02, 2011

Nothing-in-the-House First Annual Gift Guide!

I know I still haven't posted about our Thanksgiving pies (though you can see some pictures of the day on the host MAV's blog here), but I've been admiring holiday gift-guides out there in the blogosphere-- Lottie and Doof, Tomboy Style, and Well Spent to name a few-- and thought the pie blog should have one too. 

Here's Nothing-in-the-House first annual gift guide--for the pie baker on your list.

First for some literature...

1. Pieminister cookbook by Tristan Hogg and Jon Simon, $22. I discovered this new cookbook when perusing the fine selections at Rabelais cookbook store in Portland, ME. The authors, Tristan and Jon, started a small pie shop in Bristol, England in 2003. Their company has since exploded, and pieminister now has multiple shops and sells at markets across the UK. I've been exploring British pies (which may mean having to start eating meat?!) lately, and this book is on the top of my own Christmas list.

2. Bike Basket Pies Recipe Booklet by Natalie Galatzer, $12. I found out about Bike Basket Pies simultaneously--from my friend Valeda in San Francisco, and when Nothing-in-the-House joined Twitter (follow us here @housepie!). Though Natalie has since moved on from her bike-delivered pie company, she wrote this adorable pie recipe booklet to commemorate her two year run. I can't wait to get mine in the mail, and we'll be featuring an interview with her here soon.

3. PIECRUST Magazine: Sugar & Salt, $7. You may have read our interview with PIECRUST's founders Megan Collins and Lauren Cardenas a few weeks ago. Though the content of their handmade letter pressed literary and art magazine is not limited to pie, they use pie crust as a concept-- a foundation for creativity. Keep up to date with news about future issues here.

4. Pie Contest In A Box, by Gina Hyams, $9. Gina, the author and creator of Pie Contest In A Box contacted me through her delicious pie site, Pie Takes the Cake . She asked if she could do an interview with me about the pie blog, AND asked if she could send me a promo copy of the Pie Contest-- yes, please! Though I am more into communal baking than competitive baking, this would be a great way to get kids or your friends into pie-- and this box provides everything you need, from ribbons, to scorecards, to labelling flags, and a cute hand book full of interesting pie tidbits.

Now for some supplies...

5. Rectangular tart pans, $9-$18. I'd been seeing a lot of beautiful rectangular tarts all over the food blogosphere (here, here, and here are a few examples). So I ordered some on Amazon (and tried them out with this ginger lemon & bourbon orange tart a few weeks ago) but lots of companies seem to be riding this tart trend--the one pictured is from Wiliams-Sonoma.

6. Pastry scraper, $2-$10. My housemate and fellow Tart Kari (of Tarts by Tarts and Tanglewood Baked Goods) has a pastry scraper in our baking drawer, and it's become one of my favorite tools of the kitchen--I'm not sure how I managed without it before. Great for chopping pastry, positioning crust, and scraping dough off of counter tops. An must-have for the pie baker on your list--the one pictured from Chef Tools.

7. Vintage Tupperware pastry mat, $9-$20. Nothing really says pie baking to me like this era Tupperware rolling mat. My mom and grandma both have them and always use them to roll out any dough that needs a-rollin', be it crust, biscuits, or cookies. Though any mat will do the trick-- providing a clean work surface and crust-size guidance-- I'm partial to this one for mainly nostalgic reasons. I got mine from a friend, but they are available on Etsy, Ebay, and likely your local thrift or vintage shop. 

Some artful supplies...

8. Herriott Grace hand-turned cherry rolling pin, $70-$80. Yes, alright, that's a lot for a rolling pin, and granted, mine was a very very sweet and unexpected gift from my dear friend. But hear me out. Herriott Grace is the company of Nikole and Lance Herriott, a father-daughter team who live 3,400 km apart from each other. After years of Lance sending his daughter hand-carved spoons in the mail, they decided to launch their small business. More functional art than ordinary kitchen tool, this rolling pin is beautiful solid cherry, has a heavy weight, great feel, and will last forever.

9. Double-decker Amish pie carrying basket, $45-$70. My parents got me one for Christmas a few years ago from our local Amish market and it is one of my favorite things I own (mine is very similar, pictured here). Perfect for carrying not just one but TWO pies (or other dishes) to a potluck or party--there's a tray that fits inside so you can stack them. Beautiful crafted--mine is signed by the woman who made it-- Loretta Miller.

And some supplying art...

10. Measurement poster by Hatch Show Print, $12. Last on our list is this very useful letter-pressed poster by Nashville's famous Hatch Show Print, available in black online and in an array of color at their shop. With its list of useful measurement conversions, its perfect for any baker's kitchen. Just need to get mine framed (its light blue) and it will be hanging next to our sink.

Hope you can find something useful for your favorite pie baker, or to put on your own list! And never underestimate the power of a gift you make yourself...even pie bakers like to get a homemade pie sometimes!

Monday, November 28, 2011

You're Passing Me a Piece Apple Pie

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Here's one of my favorite "pie" songs, "Driving" by Sibylle Baier, to listen to in your post-pie food coma. Hopefully you're on your way out of it by now.

So what was your favorite pie at your Thanksgiving dessert table this year? I'll be posting pictures of mine soon. In the meantime, make sure to check out Nothing-in-the-House's new home on Facebook and give it a like, if you please!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pennsylvania Dutch Pie Recipes

Via the Schlesinger Library Culinary Pamphlet Collection. I am particularly intrigued by the Rivel (Crumb) Pie with molasses...a "Dutch" breakfast favorite! It gives wonderful good pie...aint?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pye and the Magpie

One of the many reasons I love learning about, writing about, and baking pies, is for its darker, mythical origins. This article from NPR explores the heritage of medieval pie (which generally contained meat and had a dark, rich filling made of whatever the baker could get his/her hands on) and its linguistic connection to the magpie, those odd birds of variegated color who are known for collecting    strange and shiny objects for their nests.

I also love this illustration, c. 1465-1475 of medieval pie bakers. Look at those pies! and those pretzels! And that wood fired oven on wheels! If only!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Prep

Emily Wallace is at it again. Here's her depiction of all your favorite Thanksgiving food stuffs getting ready for the big day.

From the Independent Weekly. See more of Wallace's adorable and witty illustrations here and here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ginger Lemon & Bourbon Orange Tart and German Chocolate Whoopie Pies

Last weekend I ventured to West Virginia, my friend and fellow Tart Kari in tow, for my pal Joe's 30th Birthday Party (and a friend reunion) in an old one-room schoolhouse-turned-sodapop speakeasy. 

It was magical. The weekend was jam-packed with lady time in the kitchen, walks in the woods, tune-playing, dancing to the best 45 jukebox this side of the Mississippi, joke-telling, bourbon drinking, and lots and lots of eating.

We spent the bulk of Saturday cooking, singing, and dancing in the kitchen. Kari and I worked together on two ginger lemon & orange bourbon tarts with cardamom almond crusts, baked in my new rectangular tart pans. We also collaborated with Lora, Amy and Mike on some German chocolate whoopie pies. 

Here's the recipe for the Ginger Lemon & Orange Bourbon Tarts, adapted from Eat The Love. He calls for blood oranges, but we couldn't find them this time of year, so used naval oranges instead.

Ginger Lemon & Orange Bourbon Tart with Cardamom Almond Crust

For the crust: 
Note: We had to double this for 2 rectangular tart pans, though one may be enough for a 10-in round tart pan.

1 1/4 cups all purpose white flour
1/2 cup almond meal (we used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup + 1 Tblsp. unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the crust egg wash:
1 egg
1 pinch of salt

For the lemon ginger curd:
3 Tblsp. arrowroot starch (or corn starch)
1 cup + 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
finely grated zest from 1 medium lemon
1 Tblsp. of freshly grated ginger
2 Tblsp. white wine
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
3 Tblsp. of unsalted butter, cold

For the bourbon orange curd:
4 Tblsp. arrowroot starch (or corn starch)
1 cup + 2 Tblsp. granulated white sugar
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
finely grated zest from 1 medium orange
2 Tblsp. of bourbon
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
3 Tblsp. of unsalted butter, cold

For the crust:
1. In a large mixing bowl place the flour, almond meal, and cardamom. Using a whisk, vigorously stir dry ingredients until uniform in color.

2. Place the sugar, butter and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream butter on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and add egg and vanilla. Mix on medium until incorporated.
3. Add all the dry ingredients to the butter and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Do not overmix.
4. Split dough into two balls. Flatten each ball into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 325˚F. Place a fluted 10-in. tart pan (or 2 rectangular pans) with removable bottom or baking sheet for easy removal from the oven.
6. Take one ball of dough out of the fridge and place on a generously floured flat surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 12-in. circle. If the dough starts to stick, use more flour.
7. Carefully transfer the dough to the tart pan, trying not to stretch it (stretching it will cause the dough to shrink when you bake it). Fit it into the tart pan and trim excess dough.
8. Prick the bottom of the tart with a fork all over and place in the preheated oven to bake for 15 minutes. In the meantime make the egg wash by whisking the egg with the pinch of salt in a small bowl.
9. After 15 minutes, pull the tart crust out, and brush the bottom and sides of the crust with the egg wash. Place back in the oven for 3 minutes. Take the crust out and let cool on a wire rack.

For the lemon ginger curd:
1. Place the arrowroot starch, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, grated ginger, white wine, eggs, egg yolks and salt in a small saucepan.

2. Turn the stove on low heat, and with a wisk, stir contents constantly as the curd cooks and thickens. Bring the curd to about 185˚F which should take about 7 or 8 minutes.
3. Once the curd has reached the right temperature turn off the stove and remove the saucepan from the heat. Pour the curd into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to high and beat for 30 seconds to cool the curd. Then turn the speed to low and add one tablespoon of butter. Beat until it is melted and fully incorporated. Add the second tablespoon beating until it too is incorporated. Repeat with the final tablespoon.
4. Let the curd come to room temperature and pour it into a ziplock sandwich bag. Place the bag in the freezer for at least two hours or overnight.

For the bourbon orange curd:
1. Place the arrowroot starch, sugar, orange juice, orange zest, bourbon, eggs, egg yolks and salt in a small saucepan.

2. Turn the stove on low heat, and with a wisk, stir contents constantly as the curd cooks and thickens. Bring the curd to about 185˚F which should take about 7 or 8 minutes.
3. Once the curd has reached the right temperature turn off the stove and remove the saucepan from the heat. Pour the curd into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to high and beat for 30 seconds to cool the curd. Then turn the speed to low and add one tablespoon of butter. Beat until it is melted and fully incorporated. Add the second tablespoon beating until it too is incorporated. Repeat with the final tablespoon.
4. Let the curd come to room temperature and pour it into a ziplock sandwich bag. Place the bag in the freezer for at least two hours or overnight.

To assemble the tart:
1. Take the curds out of the freezer. Snip a corner of each bag.
2. Pipe one stripe of lemon curd on the side of the tart shell. Pipe another stripe of orange curd next to it. Alternate stripes of curd until the tart shell is filled. (We followed these directions, though in the end the lemon and orange curds were not that different in color to notice the stripes, though it did allow for a nice mixing of flavors).
3. Using a butter knife, smooth the curd out on the tart but running the knife across the curds, flat, in parallel strokes to the curd. 
4. Once the curd is smoothed out, turn the tart so the stripes are vertical as you look down on it. Take a toothpick or butter knife and place it about an inch from the “top” of the stripes on the tart. Drag it across the tart, from left to right perpendicular to the stripes. Then move the toothpick down an inch and drag the toothpick perpendicular the other way across the tart. Repeat until back and forth, all the way down the tart.
5. OPTIONAL: Taking a sifter or mesh sieve, dust the edges of the tart with a generous amount of powdered sugar. The powdered sugar will cover up any of the edges that were hard to smooth out with the knife.
6. Serve the tart chilled or at room temperature.

The tarts were heavenly, with really bold citrus flavors and not too sweet. The crust was a little finicky, but fairly forgiving. We rolled out one, and ended up pressing in another. I will definitely be making those again.

The German chocolate whoopie pies, with ganache made by Lora, "cookies" made by Mike and Amy, filling made my me, and assembling by Kari, served as the "birthday cake" of the evening. Lora found the recipe from Bon Appetite. Here's our version...

German chocolate Whoopie Pies 
Makes about 15 pies

For the cookies:
2 cups all purpose flour
5 Tblsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/8 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 Tblsp. vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk 

For the German chocolate filling:
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

For the chocolate ganache:   
3 Tblsp. heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

For the cookies: 
1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla in large bowl until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beating until blended after each addition. 
2. Drop dough by very rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are slightly puffed and spread but still soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes. Carefully transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.  Cookies can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight in single layer at room temperature.

For the German chocolate filling: 
1. Whisk evaporated milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in large saucepan. Whisk in sugar and pinch of salt. Add butter. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and turns golden and thermometer inserted into mixture registers 175°F to 178°F, 8 to 10 minutes (do not boil). Remove saucepan from heat, stir in coconut and pecans. Transfer filling to bowl and cool completely, stirring occasionally. Cover and chill until filling is slightly firmer, about 1 hour. Can be made 1 days ahead. Keep chilled. 

For the chocolate ganache: 
1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Bring cream to simmer in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Cool ganache until lukewarm but still spreadable, about 15 minutes.
2. Scoop 1 rounded tablespoon German chocolate filling on bottom of half of cookies. Place cookies, filling side up, on prepared baking sheet. Spoon 1 teaspoon chocolate ganache onto bottom (flat side) of remaining half of cookies (We put ours on top). Place 1 ganache-topped cookie, ganache side down, atop each German chocolate-filled cookie, pressing slightly to adhere.  Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate in airtight container.

With these two divine treats, salted and apple cider caramels, Lora's fig-infused cocktails, and other delights of the weekend (including Dawson family sliders, various breads, buttered popcorn ice cream, a bacon taste-off, and apple cider drop doughnut holes--all homemade), we decided that we are going to start a private restaurant for ourselves (a closed-loop system), and just maybe take over the world.

Very special thanks to Brynn, Mike and Amy for being AMAZING hosts, Lora for all the planning and gathering us all together, and Kari for the great pictures. I may post some more when I get my film back. Hope to return to West Virginia for more deliciousness soon.

p.s. check out Dale's blog for Lora's winter mimosa recipe we enjoyed on Saturday morning!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sugar and Salt: An Interview with the Ladies of Piecrust Magazine

I found out about Piecrust magazine from its Kickstarter-- before it ever actually existed in print. I was intrigued by the name (of course), the launch of an art and literary magazine (my friends and I used to have one, The Dovetail Collective, r.i.p.), and the letter pressed, handmade aesthetic. I contributed to the Kickstarter launch, and asked Megan Collins and Lauren Cardenas, Piecrust's masterminds, if they were interested in doing a little interview, and they graciously agreed.

Tell me a little bit about yourselves (where you're from, what you do)
Megan: I am from Paragould, AR, currently I live in St. Louis, attending grad school at Washington University.
 Lauren: I am from Austin, TX, though I recently came to St. Louis for grad school last year. We both came to Washington University (Wash U) to get our Masters in Fine Art and we are both printmakers who like to bake. 

Tell me about your project, Piecrust Magazine. How did you get the idea? How did you get into letter pressing? What is your vision?
Lauren: Earlier last spring I approached Megan about starting a magazine that would be art related, focusing on works on paper. We didn't really talk about the idea for awhile, until after the Southern Graphics Council that was hosted at Wash U. That is kind of how it started. We were also really bummed to find out all of our favorite magazines lost all of their funding. That kind of motivated  us to make a magazine that was ad free, inexpensive, simple and art related. 
Megan: We both learned letterpress in a book class that was offered at Wash U. We kind of fell in love with the medium and process of letterpress. The class was just another activity that we were involved in, we also were paired with the same faculty advisor. The technique began to spill over into our own studio practice, which led to this idea of creating a zine or magazine. 

Our vision was to have a 30 page magazine, with works on paper, including various forms of art and writing. We wanted to have letterpress cover and hand bound saddle stitched, but the magazine doubled in size and it didn't seem feasible to hand bind the magazine. 

Why pie? (or pie crust)?
We love idea of the pie crust as a foundation, much as paper is for art and writing. It's a starting point, a foundation. And who doesn't love pie, seriously, it's simple.  

How did you learn to bake/who taught you?
Lauren: My mother taught me how to cook and read a recipe. I taught myself how to bake, my mom was not a huge baker when I was young. 
Megan: My friend Mickie and I kind of taught each other, we had grandmothers that were into baking and we grew up baking with them, but not really learning from them. 

What's your favorite kind of pie?
Megan: I have a three way tie, lemon meringue, rhubarb, and peach.
Lauren: I have tie between pumpkin and blackberry. 

Special thanks to Megan and Lauren for taking the time to talk with me, sharing their thoughts and pictures, and for working hard to create and promote small, handmade art in the name of pie. Make sure to check out Piecrust's online home here, purchase a copy of the beautiful magazine, and submit your photos, art, words and more to the next issue (deadline for submissions is December 1 at midnight)!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

American Girl Magazine Cover, November 1936

I am always a little sad to see the end of October, as it is my favorite month of all, but now it's on to November with several different Thanksgiving/potluck (Kickasserole!) pies to start planning! I am starting to try out recipes-- on Sunday I tried this apple cider cream pie recipe with a rye crust. It was good, though I'm not sure it will make it onto the Thanksgiving short list (more on that pie soon). In the meantime, here's the cover of the 1936 issue of American Girl magazine to get you inspired.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dad Blogs!: Grandma Good's Green Tomato Pie

My dad continues his campaign to be a regular Nothing-in-the-House contributor. He's been pestering me to post this, and I think the third time might be a charm...

Green tomato pie out on the porch

With the cool autumn days and even cooler nights in force here in northern Indiana, it became apparent that the dozens of green tomatoes left on the vine weren't going to ripen. While this might cause some folks sadness, I was thrilled because I could use them to make one of my favorite fall foods, green tomato pie.

I learned about this pie a few years ago when one of my employees came in on Monday and related that she had spent the weekend with her grandmother canning and making pies. Being a lover of all pies,  I inquired what kind of pies they made and green tomato was one that she mentioned.

When I told her that I had never even heard of a green tomato pie, she told me it was a traditional Mennonite recipe and she would bring me one the next day. I wasn't sure what to expect but I absolutely loved it!  I asked her for the recipe and now I make it regularly.

Here is her grandmother's recipe.  The woman who worked for me's last name was Good and she called her grandmother Grandma Good so I call this Grandma Good's recipe.
Grandma Good's Green Tomato Pie

2 cups chopped apples
1 1/2 cups chopped green tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon each cloves, nutmeg, allspice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup cooked raisins
1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice (I used vinegar)
1/4 cup nuts optional
1 cup sugar (1/2 brown 1/2 white) or 1/3 brown, 1/3 white, 1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup flour

Make crust and refrigerate for at least one hour. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Meanwhile, prepare the ingredients and combine (I used the 1/3 cup white and brown sugar and molasses combination). Roll out bottom crust and fit in a greased and floured pie pan. Add filling and top with a top crust. Flute edges, brush on an egg wash, and bake for 10 minutes at 425. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 35-40 minutes more until crust is golden brown.
I also made a small pie without using any apples, just substituted more green tomatoes for the apples and it was just as good.

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