Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Monroe's Patent Pie Meat

I've been getting back into meat-eating in 2012, but I'm not sure I'd be ready for Monroe's pie meat yet (or ever)! Circa 1869 wood engraving from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Morrin Family Missouri Fruit Pie

 My friend Becca is from Louisville, Kentucky, home of the famous bourbon-chocolate-pecan concoction, Derby pie. Her father, though, hails from St. Louis, Missouri, where they apparently have a Derby pie variation known as Missouri fruit pie. While Derby pie generally denotes the bourbon-chocolate-and pecan trinity, Missouri fruit pie, at least the Morrin family recipe, generally doesn't use chocolate chips, but opts for dates and raisins instead.

I went to visit Becca and her boyfriend Justin in Baltimore last weekend, and they were raving about the Missouri fruit pie they made over the holidays. With a potluck on the list of our evening plans, along with a bike ride and another party, we decided to make two of them--one for the potluck, and one for us to eat late-night (and for breakfast the next morning). Our version veers back towards Derby pie, with the subtraction of raisins and addition of chocolate chips and bourbon. We also contributed our own variation by using walnuts instead of pecans.

Morrin Family Missouri Fruit Pie
adapted from the Morrin family recipe


Nothing-in-the-house pie crust
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1/2 c. raisins (we omitted these)
1/2 c. chopped dates
1/2 c. coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 c. chocolate chips (not traditionally used, but we opted to and were glad!)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. bourbon (optional)

Prepare pie crust using the Nothing-in-the-House recipe and after chilled, roll and fit into a greased and floured 9 or 10-inch pie plate. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (yes, 275 is correct). Cream butter until soft. Add sugar and gradually beat until fluffy. Beat egg yolks and add mixture with fruit, nuts, chocolate chips (if using) vanilla, and bourbon (if using). Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into other mixture. Put into shell and bake for 70 minutes.

The result was a deliciously gooey filling, that tasted quite like chocolate chip cookie dough in a pie crust. Though we aren't sticking exactly to the tradition, this Derby pie/Missouri fruit pie recipe is great for tweaking--use walnuts or pecans, raisins or chocolate chips, or all of the above. I imagine it's quite forgiving and still delicious.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Nutella Icebox Pie

Nutella Icebox Pie with Whipped Cream

It's winter. And when you're into (somewhat) seasonal baking and fresh ingredients are your game, this time of year can be a challenge. However, the cold season can also provide a great excuse for using "non-perishable" items for pie fillings such as... nutella. Nutella is already a cheater's ingredient, as it is the auspicious pairing of two delicious things--hazelnut and chocolate--that I daresay are greater than the sum of their parts. The Italian delight is versatile enough to be spread on your morning toast or late-night crepe, stuffed inside a doughnut, or poured in a pie crust.

Nutella Jar

We had an "It's a Wonderful Life" screening/holiday party at our house, featuring the movie projected on a sheet, blankets on the floor--picnic style, and a treats table already loaded with overflowing popcorn bowls, incredible chocolate-peppermint ice cream "sammiches," and the savory dark horse of homemade macaroni and cheese. I had seen some nutella pie recipes bandying about the internet, so I thought it would be a good addition to the #occupypottersville smorgasboard. Here's the recipe I used, adapted from Hill Country Cook.

Nutella Icebox Pie with Whipped Cream and Oreos

Nutella Icebox Pie

For crust:
2 sleeves Oreos (or chocolate sandwich cookie substitute)
3 Tblsp. butter, melted
2 Tblsp. sugar (could probably do without since Oreos are already quite sweet)

For filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2/3 c. powdered sugar, plus 2 Tblsp.
3/4 c. nutella
2 c. heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. vanilla

For crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pulse cookies in a food processor until they form a fairly fine powder. Mix in melted butter and sugar until well incorporated. 

2. Pat filling into a 9 or 10-in. pie plate, reserving a few crumbs for topping. Bake crust for 7 minutes, let cool, then put in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

For filling:
1. In a bowl, mix the cream cheese and 2/3 c. powdered sugar using a hand mixer, about one minute. Add 3/4 cup nutella and beat until fluffy, about three minutes (continue even once it's combined so filling gets fluffy). 

2. In a separate bowl, beat 1c. of the heavy whipping cream, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar until stiff peaks have formed- approximately 3-4 minutes. Starting with 1/3 of the whipped cream mixture, fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Once it's combined, add the remaining whipped cream to the chocolate mixture, folding gently until thoroughly mixed. 

3. Pour the mixture into the cookie crust. Freeze approximately 4 hours or until firm (I think mine only froze for 1-2 hrs). Twenty minutes before serving, remove pie from freezer and let sit at room temperature. Beat remaining 1 c. of heavy whipping cream with 1 tsp. vanilla and extra powdered sugar, maple syrup, or bourbon to taste. Top pie with whipped cream mixture and sprinkle on cookie crumbs. Enjoy!

Nutella Icebox Pie and Slice with Whipped Cream and Oreos

I have been making pretty intense pies as of late (see dark chocolate sea salt tart with candied pecans) and this one was no exception, with the triple threat of cream cheese, whipped cream, and nutella. The intense flavor and smooth filling did pair well with the swimmin' Charleston, a charmingly off-key rendition of Buffalo Gals, and parallelled the sweet revenge when George Bailey sticks it to mean ol' Potter. Bedford Falls, welcome to the Pie Enjoyment Zone. 

Nutella Icebox Pie with Whipped Cream and Oreos, Cross Section

Related recipes:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Shaker Pie Furniture

My friends Becca and Justin recently visited Maine's Portland Museum of Art, where they saw the Gather Up the Fragments: The Andrews Shaker Collection exhibit, which features Shaker furniture and objects from the most extensive collection of materials and works by the United Society of Believers. There, Becca slyly snapped these iphone photos of some Shaker pie furniture--a pie safe and pie board rack with boards. Thanks, Becca, for taking one for the Nothing-in-the-House team!

I love that pies were baked in such large quantities, that they needed that large of a rack to hold all their pie cooling boards. It looks like there is space for at least 20 boards! I'd like to enrich my repertoire of Shaker and other traditional pies this year. I love Shaker lemon, but what else should I try?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Indiana" Amish Oatmeal Pie

The Amish Cook by Elizabeth Coblentz

For Christmas, my mom gave my dad The Amish Cook: Recollections and Recipes from an Old Order Amish Family by Elizabeth Coblentz. My dad was a fan of Coblentz' column, The Amish Cook, which she wrote out longhand by candlelight every week in her Indiana home in an old order Amish community. She mailed or directly delivered the column to her editor, Kevin Williams, who edited and published her words. Though Coblentz passed away in 2002, many of her recipes and domestic wisdom live on in this cookbook. On my last night at home in Indiana, I thought it only appropriate to try a pie from her book. As they say, when in Indiana...

Indiana Amish Oatmeal Pie

All of her pie recipes sounded intriguing, if not all appetizing. There was cracker pie (mock-apple), and rhubarb custard pie (out of season), and whoopie pies, but we finally decided on an oatmeal pie, as my dad said it was a favorite, similar to pecan pie, that he used to order from the nearby Amish restaurant, Das Dutchman Essenhaus. We had all the ingredients, except for pecans instead of walnuts, so I whipped up my version, an "Indiana" Amish oatmeal pie. Here's the recipe.

"Indiana" Amish Oatmeal Pie

Nothing-in-the-House pie crust, halved (I noticed that Coblentz's was very close to ours)
1/2 c. (one stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c. light corn syrup (could use brown rice syrup or agave)
3/4 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. pecan pieces (the original recipe uses walnuts)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Follow the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust recipe (halved, as only a bottom crust is needed), roll out chilled crust and place in a greased and floured pie pan. Flute edges decoratively. 

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine melted butter, sugar and eggs. Add corn syrup, oats, nuts, and combine. Pour into pie shell and bake for 1 hour until thickened inside and golden brown on top.

Indiana Amish Oatmeal Pie

This pie whips up in no time and has the flavor of pecan pie (though less syrupy sweet) combined with baked oatmeal (one of my favorite dishes from the Mennonite summer camp I attended as a kid). It would be a great breakfast pie, but was also a hearty dessert, especially when paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a fiddle tune or two around the fire with my dad (and alright, several bootleg episodes of Downton Abbey season two!) on my last night at home for a while.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Cae's Pumpkin Pie Pops!

This post comes from my friend, former NELP student, and now guest blogger, Cae Keenan! Though I have read a lot of Cae's writing before, it was mostly in the form of lovely journal entries and creative responses. I'm so excited to read and be inspired by her baking and bit of food writing. Here's what she has to tell us about her pumpkin pie pops...

The apple pie cookies over at Smitten Kitchen are what first got us goin’ on this mini pie kick. They are awfully cute – a new twist on a wonderfully old tradition. They also fit in the palm of your hand and you can walk up and down the stairs while eating, no problem! Suddenly, ‘the pie is mobile’ idea had us braving holiday rush hour traffic for the grocery store. We wanted to add a stick, turn this apple pie cookie into a pumpkin pie pop.

A word on the crust: homemade is tops. But if you’re in a pinch, spinning from a long To Do list, or, in our case, if the number of holiday dinner guests you’re expecting grossly outnumbers the hours left ‘til they show up hungry… yes, we used store-bought piecrusts. I ain’t proud of it, but it’s the truth.

So! Two 9-inch pie dough crusts will do it. If you'd like to use homemade crust, use the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust recipe.

Pumpkin Pie Pops
(With a few adjustments, adapted from Cakespy, via Serious Eats)

For the filling:
¾ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs
1 15-ounce can of plain pumpkin puree
1 12-ounce can of condensed milk
1 egg for glazing
25 wooden skewers, lollipop or Popsicle sticks

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix together the dry ingredients. Send the sugar, salt, and spices into a small bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 eggs. Add the pumpkin puree, the dry ingredients, and the condensed milk. Stir to combine. Set filling aside.

We were able to make 25 mini pies from the 2 pie dough crusts. Be mindful, though, that this means cutting out 50 little circles.
2. Roll out each piecrust on a floured surface. Even though our store bought (!) crusts came smooth, flat and round, we rolled each for a thinner pie pop crust – and to get 25 pops. Once the dough reaches your desired thickness, use a round cookie or biscuit cutter (I grabbed a small water glass and turned it over), and cut out 50 circles. Gather and re-roll the dough as needed to get as many pops from your dough as possible.

To assemble:
3. Lay the 25 bottom crusts across several cookie sheets, or work in batches. Press one wooden stick into each crust. Be sure the top of the stick reaches at least ½ way up the crust. Add a spoonful of filling in the center of each crust, covering the stick. (My sister Aidan says: “A small spoonful is crucial to avoid over-spillage or bursting pies.”) Top each bottom crust with its mate, Mates! Seal the seams of each pie by pressing a fork around the edges, all 360 degrees of the pop. Score the top of each pie pop with a small knife. (Aidan calls these “air breathers,” “slits,” or “filters.” We scored a few smiley faces, too.) Whisk 1 egg in a small bowl. Brush the top crusts with the egg wash… We also sprinkled sugar for added sparkle.

4. Bake, baby, bake. About 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven, carefully transfer to wire rack. Allow to cool and for sticks to set.  

Enjoy your pie pop. Walk around, talk on the phone, play the piano with your free hand while eating!

Friday, January 06, 2012

My Grandma Eileen's Lemon Meringue Pie

 My grandma Eileen's handwritten lemon meringue pie recipe
One tradition that is in decline in the internet age of food blogs and cooking sites is the handwritten recipe. Both my mom and grandma Georgette have boxes and binders full of old recipes that they or their friends had written on personalized cards "from the kitchen of..." or scraps of paper. I have a few of these binders, but they are mostly filled with printed out recipes from Smitten Kitchen, Epicurious, or some other food blog. Maybe it's just my nostalgic leanings, but it seems that there was once a time when you had a more personal connection with the recipes you used. Instead of celebrity cook Ruth Riechl's spiced chicken or the Barefoot Contessa's spaghetti and meatballs, it was your friend Beth's cheesecake, dad's famous potato leek soup, or your grandma Eileen's lemon meringue pie, even if it was just a special variation on Betty Crocker or Irma Rombauer's well-known recipe.

I don't really remember my grandma Eileen, my dad's mom. She died from breast cancer when I was two years old. I do know that she was from Pittsburgh, of Irish descent, raised four boys, and was a clogger and a partner roller skater. She also clearly made a killer lemon meringue pie, which my dad said he loved, and that it was such a special treat that she would make at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and sometimes Easter.


My mom found Eileen's handwritten lemon meringue pie recipe in one of her aforementioned recipe binders, and suggested I try it when I was home for Christmas. I had a little trouble reading the writing, especially as the paper was worn from years of what appears to be lemon meringue spills and crust crumbs, but my dad was able to decipher it and translated for me. Here's the recipe, with a few adaptations.

My Grandma Eileen's Lemon Meringue Pie

Ingredients for pie:
Nothing-in-the-house pie crust recipe (only 1 crust needed)
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 2/3 c. water
2 Tblsp. butter
1/2 c. cornstarch
4 tsp. cold water
8 Tblsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
5 egg yolks
4 Tblsp. milk

Ingredients for meringue:
5 egg whites
6 Tblsp. sugar
Pinch cream of tartar

1. Crust: Follow instructions for the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust (though halved, as you only need one bottom crust). Chill in fridge for about 1 hr. Preheat oven to 400, then roll out and fit into buttered and floured pie dish and flute edges. You may wish to chill the rolled crust for 10-20 minutes at this point to ensure it does not fall down in the oven. Line with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and bake for 5-10 minutes more or until golden brown and flaky.

2. Lemon curd: Combine sugar, butter, and 1 1/2 c. water in a medium saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves. Add cornstarch, blended with 4 tsp. cold water. Cook slowly until clear, about 8 minutes (mine did not get quite "clear" but you will notice it starting to thicken). Add lemon juice and zest, cook 2 minutes. Slowly add egg yolks (save whites for the meringue) beaten with milk. Bring to boiling, then cool. Pour into baked shell and chill.

3. Meringue: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add sugar gradually and pinch of cream of tartar. Spread over cooled filling and brown in oven, 13-15 minutes.

This pie turned out to be a true Christmas day family kitchen collaboration, with my dad helping to read the recipe, me on the crust and lemon curd, my mom tackling the meringue, and even my brother lending a hand to continuously stir the curd while I juiced and zested lemons and cracked eggs--a Christmas miracle!

My mom served up the slices, and we enjoyed it in the living room by the fire,  with my aunt, uncle and grandma, after our Christmas dinner.

As I never really knew my grandma Eileen, it felt important to me to be able to read her loopy cursive, similar to my own, try out her recipe, and bring one of her favorite desserts to life at our Christmas dinner this year. My dad said it tasted familiar, and maybe it will eventually become familiar to me too, as much as it was familial this Christmas.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Happy 2012 & 2011 State of Nothing-in-the-House Address

Happy New Year! I want to get up-to-date and share all the pies and tarts that friends and I made this holiday season, but before I do, I wanted to do a little 2011 "State of Nothing-in-the-House Address"/year end wrap up because it was a great year--perhaps the best ever-- for the pie blog, pie baking and other pie-related endeavors!

First off, this year we had the greatest number of posts yet--85! We also had the most blog hits in 2011, with 3,280 page views in November. Thanks to all those readers, new and old out there. In 2012 I'd like to aim for 100 posts, and for even more readers...and commenters! I love when people give feedback, personal connection to or historical context of a pie, etc. Keep 'em coming.

 Part of the spread at Pi(e) Day on the Piedmont 2011

In March we hosted our 2nd annual Pi(e) Day on the Piedmont, at Johnny's in Carrboro, NC. We had a spread of 24 different pies and some hand and mini pies made by our awesome Pi(e) Day baking team, raised $400 for CEFS to develop a statewide youth food council, and celebrated pie, spring, and math with about 75 attendees. I've enjoyed revisiting Ashley's video about it here-- maybe you will too.

Plans are in the works for another Pi(e) Day this year, though it will likely be in the Washington, D.C. area, as I moved up here in June. Stay tuned for more info on that as March 14th draws nigh...
Lora's and my article in online food journal Zenchilada

I was very excited to have the opportunity to do some pie-related writing in an outside publication last year. My friend Lora and I wrote this piece Pi(e) R Squared Revolution is Round, using pie as a lens to discuss our ideas of female friendship, tradition, and the domestic arts, for the awesome online food magazine Zenchilada. You can read our article here and see our featured recipes here.

I was also asked by author of Pie Contest in a Box Gina Hyams, to do an interview with her for her blog, Pie Takes the Cake. I was so honored to be asked, and excited to see it come out so well. You can read the full transcript here.

I'm looking to find more opportunities to do some off-blog pie and food writing in 2012, and would like to feature more of my own interviews with fellow bakers, pie shop owners, and authors. Check back here for one with Natalie of Bike Basket Pies coming soon in the new year.

Me at the Tarts By Tarts stand at Crafty Bastards

One of the highlights of 2011 for me in general was the launch of Tarts by Tarts-- a new baking venture with my friend, housemate, and fellow baker Miss Kari Nye of Tanglewood Baked Goods. We kicked off our collaboration at DC's Crafty Bastards Arts and Crafts Fair with great success! Even on the freezing cold Saturday, we sold out in 4 hours and got lots of great feedback from our customers. Read more about it here and on Kari's blog here. We've been scheming about our next venture, and will likely be doing made-to-order pies and tarts a.k.a. "Hearts by Tarts" for Valentine's Day. Shhh! Don't tell your sweetheart...

And lastly, this year we launched the Nothing-in-the-House Facebook and Twitter (@housepie) pages, adding 2 more ways to bring pie recipes, history, and ephemera into your life. Please follow and like us if you haven't already, and tell your friends!

On ward and upward to Nothing-in-the-House 2012, with more pie baking experiments and musings on pie history, paraphernalia, and cultural import. How bout Bedfordshire clangers? An audio piece about a visit to Pie Lab? Maybe we can even get co-founder Margaret to start contributing again? Here's to this being the best year yet--may your pies be tasty, your butter be cold, and your PEZ (Pie Enjoyment Zone) be frequently visited and full of friends.

Cranberry Chess Pie

Fig Pistachio Tarte Tatin

Peppermint Pattie Tart

Whiskey & Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

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