Friday, March 18, 2011

2nd Annual Pi(e) Day on the Piedmont

We celebrated the 2nd Annual Pi(e) Day on the Piedmont (see last year's here) at Johnny's in Carrboro, NC. It was a crisp, but sunny evening, the rain holding off until later in the night. Pies started arriving around 5:00, with eaters (many of whom I didn't know), champing at the bit, ready to eat at 5:30 sharp! Altogether we had a spread of 24 pies, plus several mini- and hand-pies, all made by our incredible 18 member Pi(e) Day Baking Team. Some were sweet, some were savory, some vegan, some gluten-free. Some had meringue, some were double crust, some had beautiful dollops of whipped cream (like Nicole's chocolate chess pie (below, left), but all were delicious. Here are a few highlights: Shannon's chocolate lavender (perhaps my favorite of the day) pie & my vegan avocado-coconut. Shannon said she used Smitten Kitchen's recipe for chocolate pudding pie then added about 1 tbsp more cornstarch to make it a touch less pudding-ish. To introduce the lavender flavor, she warmed the milk and added 2-3 tbsp dried lavender flowers and then let them soak for about half an hour before straining them out, then followed the Smitten Kitchen recipe. You could do the same thing using cardamom pods for a cardamom chocolate pie.
Ari's double banana bubble cream pies
My date butter pie. I used the recipe from the New York Times' featured date butter tart, but used the nothing -in-the-house crust recipe instead of pate sucre. I will write it out since I know the Times is moving to paid subscriptions... Ingredients:
35 to 40 deglet noor dates (can use another variety)

½ vanilla bean (I used 2 tsp. vanilla, for economy)
9 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 extra-large eggs

2⁄3cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1. Make the crust using nothing-in-the-house crust recipe at right (halve it as you only need a bottom crust). After refrigerating, roll out crust and place into greased and floured pie dish. Trim and flute edges.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork and line the tart shell with a few coffee filters, or with a piece of parchment paper. Fill the lined tart shell with beans or pie weights and bake 15 minutes, until set. Take the tart out of the oven and gently lift out the paper and beans. Return to the oven and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is an even golden brown. Set aside on a rack to cool.
3. Make a vertical slit in each date and remove the pit. Use your fingers to press the dates back into their natural shape (I didn't need to do this as mine were pitted). Place the dates, slit side down, in concentric circles in the tart shell, leaving ½ inch between each date.
4. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use a paring knife to scrape the seeds and pulp onto the butter. To make sure not to lose any of the seeds, run your vanilla-coated knife through the butter. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the vanilla-streaked butter and the vanilla pod to the pan and cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the butter browns and smells nutty. Discard the vanilla pod. (I just used 2 tsp. vanilla extract instead of a bean)
5. Whisk the eggs and ⅔ cup sugar together in a bowl. Whisk in the flour and salt and stir in the warm butter to incorporate.
6. Pour the batter over the dates in the tart shell. Sprinkle the top with the remaining tbsp. sugar. Bake 30 minutes, until the filling puffs, browns and is set. Cool the tart at least 20 min. before serving.
Andrew's bourbon chocolate pecan pie and my Shaker lemon pie (with pi to 13 places)
Emily O's pear-walnut tart (unfortunately didn't get to try this one, but it looks beautiful)
In addition to the ones pictured, the other pies were: swiss potato & cheese pie; mushroom, greens & leek quiche; key lime pie; crack pie; pecan sorghum pie; Mayan chocolate pie; apple mini pies; leek, nettle & ricotta pie; rhubarb cream pie with meringue; Jefferson Davis pie, strawberry-rhubarb pie, apple pie, purple sweet potato pie, spinach-feta quiche and apple hand pies.
Ashley set up a Pi(e) Day photo booth and snapped a few pie portraits (Stokes w/ pie lurker Zeke, Talula, and Emily & Alex, with more to be posted in a separate entry shortly)... The Wildegeeses (Charlie, Will, Zeke, and me) played... And we had a Pi(e) Walk, where the winner won a homemade maple pie. In the end we raised $400 for CEFS to develop a statewide youth food council, and celebrated pie, spring, and mathematics (pushes up invisible nerd glasses) with about 75 friends, new and old. Check out our flickr for more photos and don't miss this sweet, sweet video that Ashley made, perfectly capturing the lovely evening.

Special thanks to our baking team: Emily O' Sullivan, Alix Blair, Shannon Harvey, Ashley Melzer, Whitney Brown, Nicole Bogas, Sarah Schwartz Sax, Neale Stokes, Aaron Smithers, Emily Hilliard, Kelly Smith, Ari Berenbaum, Rachel & Nate Lerner, Carla Norwood, Janie Woodbridge, Andrew Aghapour, & Kim Tungate
Photographer/documentarian Ashley Melzer
And other helpers: Lora Smith, Emily Wallace, Alex Chassanoff, Kavanah Anderson, Lindsay Perry, Tes Thraves/CEFS, The Wildegeeses, Johnny's, and MATH! Plus all who attended, ate, and donated. THANK YOU!


orchidburnside said...

All of those pies look so delicious! Meanwhile, what is a crack pie? Inquiring minds...

emily said...

hey orchid!

JAZ.ED said...

I love all the men who bake pies. There is balance in the world.

Is that an out house with a skylight?

emily said...

no, just a little drink shed at johnny's

Cranberry Chess Pie

Fig Pistachio Tarte Tatin

Peppermint Pattie Tart

Whiskey & Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

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