Saturday, December 28, 2013

Big Spoon Roasters Peanut Cocoa Banana Cream Pie

Big Spoon Roasters Peanut Cocoa Banana Cream Pie

Happy holidays! I've been to the Midwest for a week and back again, but the season's festivities are not over yet. Tomorrow a crew of friends and I are headed to a West Virginia cabin to x-country ski, hot tub, play music, make delicious food, and hold our annual micropong winter classic tournament! I'm packing my sweaters and tarot cards and fiddle and ski boots and praying for snow.

One celebration that's become a marker of winter for me is the annual party at my friend Bradley's house, "The Urban Homestead," in Brentwood, Maryland. There's always great food, a well-stocked bar, an outdoor bonfire, music jams, and a living room square dance. This year, Bradley and her housemate Pete bought the house (or the homestead) they'd been renting for years, so there was an additional reason to celebrate. I'd been battling a nasty cold, but pulled it together to make it to the party and bring along this Peanut Cocoa Banana Cream Pie to add to the dessert table.

Big Spoon Roasters Peanut Cocoa

You may recall the Pumpkin & Chai Spice Nut Butter Pie I made last month, using nut butter from Durham, North Carolina's Big Spoon Roasters. This recipe uses their Peanut Cocoa Butter as a base for the filling, and is topped with fresh bananas in a graham cracker crust. It's essentially the same recipe as this Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie, but with an exceptional chocolate, honey, coconut oil, and sea salt infused peanut butter. If you really wanted to take it up another level, you could add this chocolate ganache, but I think it's already plenty rich. For further variations, try substituting a peanut, Oreo, or pretzel crust.

This Elvis pie spin-off was a fast mover at the Christmas party-- only a few graham cracker crumbs remained when I went to collect the pie dish at the end of the night. For more information on where to find Big Spoon Roasters fantastic handcrafted nut butters (all of which would be good in a pie), visit their website, where you can also place an order to have a jar or two delivered to your door.

Big Spoon Roasters Peanut Cocoa Banana Cream Pie

Big Spoon Roasters Peanut Cocoa Banana Cream Pie
Adapted From Nancie McDermott's Southern Pies

Ingredients
For crust:
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
5 Tblsp. unsalted butter
1 Tblsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

For filling:
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. confectioner's sugar
2 Tblsp. whole milk
2 c. heavy whipping cream
3 bananas, sliced into 1/4-1/2 in. slices

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour graham cracker crumbs in a bowl and add melted butter, sugar, and salt until well mixed.

2. Pat the buttery crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan, pressing mixture into the bottom and sides to form a pie crust. Place in oven and bake until crust is lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. Place on a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature before adding the filling.

For filling:
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, and peanut butter, beating until fluffy. Add the milk and the peanuts and mix well until incorporated.

2. In another bowl, using an electric mixer if desired, beat whipping cream until it becomes thick and holds medium-stiff peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture until well combined.

3. Add a layer of sliced bananas (about 1 1/2 bananas) to the bottom of the pie crust and pour the filling on top. Add the remaining bananas on top of the filling, around the edge of the pie. Cover pie and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Big Spoon Roasters

Related recipes:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Pie Ideas

Christmas Pie Ideas

I came home a little earlier than usual for Christmas this year. So far I've had a sleepover with best friends in Chicago, visited favorite local haunts (and some new ones), and hosted a music party at our house with family friends. I've also done a bit of holiday baking, but we still haven't yet planned our Christmas menu. So if you're like us, here are a few ideas for Christmas pies from brunch, to appetizers, to dessert. If you can't quite find what suits your table here, check out this list of Thanksgiving pie ideas or visit the Recipe Index.

Chocolate & Nut
Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie
Chocolate Orange Pie with Mascarpone Cream
Milk Chocolate & Salted Caramel Hazelnut Tart
Peppermint Pattie Tart, pictured top right

Fruit & Nut
Cranberry Chess Pie, pictured bottom left
Fig-Pistachio Tarte Tatin
Pear Tarte Tatin
Shaker Orange Tarts, pictured bottom right

Preserves & Icebox
Almond & Grapefruit-Ginger Marmalade Crostata
Bakewell Tart with Apple Rosemary Jelly
Meyer Lemon Honey Marmalade Linzer Torte
Speculoos Icebox Pie, pictured top left

Savory
Ham, Gruyère & Caramelized Onion Galette with Fried Egg
Quiche Lorraine
Red & Golden Beet & Goat Cheese Tart
Tri-color Potato, Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese & Rosemary Galette

Whatever you bake,  from this list or not, I'd love to hear about it. Have a very Merry Christmas, all!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nothing In The Dog House Presents Pie for Dogs!

Nothing in the House Presents Pie for Dogs with Elizabeth Graeber

Don't know what to get your dog for Christmas? Pick up a copy of Pie For Dogs, written by me, illustrated by Elizabeth Graeber, and tested by Chickpea (featured on the cover)! Inspired by the dog pie with bacon grease whipped cream that I made for Chickpea's birthday, Elizabeth and I made this little zine so wo/man's best friend can enjoy our nation's favorite dessert. It includes a recipe for a canine-friendly pie adapted from a King Arthur Flour dog treat recipe. You can find it for sale on Etsy and soon at Meeps & Treasury in D.C.

Nothing in the House Presents Pie for Dogs with Elizabeth Graeber

Related post: Birthday Pie for a Gal and Her Dog

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cranberry Chess Pie

Hoosier Mama's Cranberry Chess Pie

I consider cranberries to be the ultimate winter fruit, the edible counterpart of the seasonally ubiquitous holly berry. Cranberries are harvested in the fall, and are part of the evergreen family, cousins to the other plant we welcome into our homes at this time of year.

I like them for their bright red festive color and especially for their tartness, which make them a dream to bake with and an ideal fruit for pairing with others--apples, pears, pomegranates, or summer berries you've stockpiled in the freezer.

Hoosier Mama's Cranberry Chess Pie

Cranberry pie in all of its forms is one of my favorites, but this Cranberry Chess Pie from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie may just top them all. It's sour and sweet, fruity and creamy, with a smooth buttery consistency peppered with flecks of tart berry. It's perfection. I usually only eat just a sliver of the pies I bake, but with this one I could not stop. In it I may just have found the answer to that ever-so-difficult "what's your favorite pie" question. Make it for Christmas, make if for Thanksgiving 2014, freeze some cranberries and make it all year.

Hoosier Mama's Cranberry Chess Pie

Cranberry Chess Pie
Adapted from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie

Ingredients
Nothing in the House pie crust, halved
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
Zest of 1 orange
3 large eggs
7 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornmeal
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon vanilla paste (can substitute vanilla extract)
2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

Directions
1. Prepare half of Nothing in the House pie crust as per the directions, reserving the 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. Let chill for 15 more minutes in the fridge. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and butter. Zest the orange into the bowl and cream together the ingredients until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, and salt. In a separate small bowl or pitcher, stir together the buttermilk and vanilla paste.

4. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix just until combined. With the stand mixer set to low, add half of the buttermilk mixture and mix to combine. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Add the rest of the buttermilk mixture, mixing to combine, and then the final third of the dry ingredients. Mix until combined.

5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate any unmixed ingredients and gently fold in the cranberries. Pour the batter into the prepared pie shell, smoothing the filling with a rubber spatula.

6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, rotating 180 degrees half-way through. The pie is done when the top is golden brown and slightly puffed. Cool to room temperature. Serve pie at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Hoosier Mama's Cranberry Chess Pie

Related recipes:
Cranberry-Lime Galette
Grapefruit Chess Pie
Lemon Chess Pie

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nothing in the House 2013 Gift Guide

simplebooklet.com

My friend Morgan put together an enviable (I'll take one of everything) holiday gift guide by a dream team of local DC contributors for the December edition of her Panda Head Newsletter (which I highly recommend you subscribe to!). I gladly contributed this little set of present ideas for the baker on your list. You'll notice some overlap from previous year's gift guides, but that just means those things are tried and true.

Herriott Grace Rolling Pin: My friend Diane gave me one of these rolling pins a few years ago and now it's the only one I use (and I've accumulated a few). It's the perfect weight and size, plus it's hand turned and one-of-a-kind-- an heirloom in the making. $70

Heavy Linen Towel from my friends at More & Co. in Portland, Maine: Everyone needs a good dishcloth or two. These are durable AND stylish. If you're a baker yourself, wrap some homemade treats in one and you've got a perfect host/ess gift. $15

Vanilla Bean Paste: The "pros'" vanilla extract. A lot of recipes call for this and I never seem to have it on hand. It gives an added boost of flava and you can use it wherever vanilla extract is called for. $13

Hatch Show Print Measurement Poster: This hangs above my sink and is the handiest piece of kitchen art there is! This particular poster is from Hatch Show Print, the historic letter press & country music poster shop in Nashville, Tennessee. $12

Vintage Pyrex: I'm always on the lookout for nice, old Pyrex kitchenware. They're a common find at thrift and antique stores - I love this set of nested primary color polka dot mixing bowls on Etsy. Prices vary.

A pair of great pie cookbooks-- The Hoosier Mama Pie Company Book of Pie and The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book -- came out this year, but for those literarily minded kitchen wizards, check out writer & baker Kate Lebo's new book A Commonplace Book of Pie - part-recipe, part-slim poetry volume, to feed both stomach and mind. Oh, and for a bit of shameless self promotion, Elizabeth Graeber's and my Pie. A Hand Drawn Almanac makes a lovely gift, especially when paired with another item from this list. $15-30

Stitch and Hammer Denim & Stripes Apron: I've been ogling this apron ever since I saw Shauna of The Long I Pie Shop donning it on her site. It is SO beautiful and utilitarian (the leather straps are removable so you can wash it!) and if I had one I would probably wear it everywhere and just pretend that I forgot to take it off, just because it is that nice. $92

Monday, December 09, 2013

Peppermint Pattie Tart Place Setting

Peppermint Pattie Tart Place Setting with Elizabeth Graeber

A few weeks ago, BYT featured a holiday place setting guide with inspiring table arrangements by local favorites Mutiny DC, Holley Simmons, and Panda Head. Pie Almanac illustrator and good pal Elizabeth Graeber created this fun 'n' fanciful part-illustrated part-real dessert spread featuring her An Illustrated Guide To Cocktails and Nothing-in-the-House's Peppermint Pattie Tart!

You can find the recipe for the tart on the blog here as well as in my recent story for NPR's Kitchen Window, "Get Freshly Minted This Holiday Season," which also includes recipes for making your own mint extract and Mint Julep Hot Chocolate. 

Photo by Jeff Martin for BYT

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Persimmon Pie

Hoosier Mama's Persimmon Pie

I first encountered persimmons while living in North Carolina. Wild trees grew all over the Piedmont, and I would stumble upon them on walks about town or step out of a classroom and find one just outside, dripping with orange fruit.

At first, I didn't really know what to do with this abundance, but my friend Alex is a big proponent of persimmon pudding (more like a bread or cake than pudding), and I experimented with putting them in pies, both by themselves and with other fruits like apples.

There are two varieties of Persimmons-- Asian and American. The Asian Fuyu is non-astringent, while the American variety and the Asian Hachiya persimmon are both astringent types (read more here). Despite their bright orange hue, the astringent versions are not necessarily ripe when plucked from a tree, and if you bite into it it's sour with a chalky, tannic flavor. They are generally ripe when they fall from the tree or have sat out and the fruit becomes very soft and the flesh slightly shriveled.

Persimmons

This Persimmon Pie recipe from Hoosier Mama is originally for American persimmons, though I couldn't find any in my neighborhood in D.C. and used Fuyu persimmons I bought at Whole Foods instead. Fuyu persimmons are slightly larger than American varieties, and are slightly sweeter, so I reduced the sugar in Paula's original recipe.

To extract the pulp, you'll probably need a food mill, which will allow you to separate the skin from the fruit and extract as much of the pulp as possible. The resulting pie bears a similar texture, color, and flavor to pumpkin pie, but tastes slightly more fruity or floral. Experiment with your spices if desired--it would also be good with a touch of cardamom or allspice.

Persimmon Pie

Persimmon Pie
Adapted from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie

Ingredients
Nothing-in-the-House pie crust, halved
1 cup strained persimmon pulp (American or Asian)
Zest of 1/2 orange
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (extract can be substituted)
1/2-2/3 cup granulated sugar (use more if you're using American or Hachiya persimmons)
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions
1. Prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions, reserving the leftover egg for an egg wash. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, meanwhile, return pie to fridge and let chill for 15 more minutes. Line pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and bake for 5 minutes more until crust is light-golden brown and flaky.

2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Using a spatula, press the persimmon pulp through a fine-mesh stainer, place in a medium bowl and sprinkle with orange zest. Whisk in the eggs, cream, butter, and vanilla paste (or extract), stirring well to combine after each addition. 

3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together sugars, cinnamon, mace, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the persimmon mixture and whisk until combined.

4. Pour the filling into the blind baked pie shell and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the edge of the pie is slightly puffed and the center is dry to the touch (mine pictured baked just a *tad* too long).

5. Remove pie from oven and let cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to overnight before slicing. Serve slightly chilled or at room temp with a dollop of whipped cream. 

Persimmon Pie with Whipped Cream
Related recipes:
Apple Persimmon Pie
Persimmon Pie for Marcie

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thank You & Pie: A Hand Drawn Almanac Holiday Sale

Elizabeth Graeber Thanksgiving Turkey Illustration

Thanksgiving is really the best time of year to be the keeper of a nerdy blog about pie. It's been so nice the past few days to have friends and readers from all over the country (and one in the UK!) send photos of their pie creations (I've posted a few here) or ask for advice about substitutions or cooking temps or burnt pears (you know who you are) or send exclamations of satisfaction. It's as if I get to share a little bit of your celebration with you, and I'm thankful for that.

I hope everyone had a lovely day yesterday with friends and family and delicious food, and now you're enjoying some pie for breakfast and a big cup of coffee at home and not out out in the shopping madness. If you do want to do a little at home shopping, though, Elizabeth Graeber is running a Holiday Sale in her shop, which includes our PIE. A Hand Drawn Almanac, and all of her many other beautiful illustrated goods! Get $5 off of every order of $30 or more, which means two Pie Almanacs will cost ya just $25. And if you're looking for more ways to shop local & handmade, check out the Handmade Holiday series on Witchin' in the Kitchen which profiles three women artisans whose work makes lovely gifts.

Elizabeth Graeber Pie Illustration from Pie. A Hand Drawn Almanac

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Pie Ideas

Thanksgiving Pie Ideas

I never know what pies I'm making for Thanksgiving until the very last moment. There's just so much to choose from and I wonder if should go with an old standby or try something new and experimental and potentially risky?! I feel overwhelmed by the possibility. If you're like me and still at a loss, here's a handy list of suggestions to help guide you in your selection. Still haven't found what you're looking for? Visit the Recipe Index for more ideas, and take a gander at last year's guide.

Pumpkin & Sweet Potato
Drunken Pumpkin Pie with Mascarpone Cream
Pumpkin & Chai Spice Nut Butter Pie, pictured top left
Sweet Potato Speculoos Pie

Fall Fruits
Apple Pie with Salted Caramel Glaze
Cranberry-Lime Galette, pictured bottom left
Pear & Cardamom-Fig Pie
Quince Biscuit Pie, pictured bottom right

Chocolate & Nuts
Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie (a long-time Thanksgiving favorite)
Chocolate Chess Pie
Lemon-Hazelnut Tart

Custard & Cheese
Cranberry Goat Cheese Tart with Almond Shortbread Crust (a favorite from last year's Thanksgiving)
Maple Bourbon Buttermilk Pie
Pumpkin-Ginger Cheesecake Pie
Salty Honey Pie, pictured top right

Savory
Gordy's Cherry Pepper Spread Galette
Red & Golden Beet and Goat Cheese Tart
Swiss Chard & Goat Cheese Galette

I'd love to hear what you come up with, whether it's from this list or not (and maybe it will help me in my own decision). Happy baking!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving Pie Twitter Chat

Pie Cookbooks

We're just one week away from the number one pie holiday of the year, and for a little bit of guidance, I'm participating in a Thanksgiving pie twitter chat hosted by American Food Roots! I'm honored and excited to be included among this group of pie heronies, which includes Nancie McDermott, Art of the Pie's Kate McDermott, Paula Haney of Hoosier Mama Pie Company, America's Test Kitchen's Julia Collin Davison, Jan Moon of Dreamcakes Bakery, and D.C.-area pastry chef Tiffany MacIssac. Get more info here and join us tomorrow, November 22nd at 10am EST, via hashtag #TGPieChat for Thanksgiving pie advice, crust tips, regional varieties, and historical tidbits. It's going to be a fun conversation with some real pie pros.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gordy's Cherry Pepper Spread Galette

Gordy's Cherry Pepper Spread Galette

A few years ago while both teaching at the New England Literature Program (NELP) and fresh off of reading Sandor Katz' Wild Fermentation, my friend Ryan and I started a club. A pickle club, dubbed "Fermental Health." Late at night we'd enlist students to abandon their Walden and join us in the industrial kitchen to help finely chop and tamp huge buckets full of cabbage for sauerkraut and kimchi. We employed the meat slicer to make petal-thin pickled beets and cukes, and tried our hand at a carrot-ginger slaw. 

Ryan and I still fantasize about opening a fermented foods grocery store someday under the Fermental Health moniker (don't steal it or we'll send a plague of live and active cultures upon you), and I remain a brine devotee through occasional home pickling, happily eating leftover deli pickles my luncheon companions leave behind, and in my stance that a good night is always topped off with a pickleback (or two).

Nothing in the House Pie Crust

All of that's to say-- I love pickles! And I've long wondered how to incorporate them into a pie. Enter Gordy's Pickle Jar-- a D.C.-based, woman-owned, handcrafted pickle company that's been garnering acclaim and winning all sorts of awards for their briney delights. When my friend Morgan, who runs their social media, asked if I wanted to collaborate on some recipes, I knew this was my chance.

Armed with this Sesame Street animation as our theme song and a super secret Pinterest board (SSPB), we developed a pair of recipes for Thanksgiving side dishes featuring Gordy's products. This Cherry Pepper Spread, Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion Galette highlights the bold spice of Gordy's Cherry Pepper Spread, tempered by creamy goat cheese and sweet caramelized onions. It would be fantastic as an appetizer with a relish or charcuterie plate, or as a side dish. It also makes for a fantastic brunch or lunch, paired with a leafy green salad.

Nothing in the House Pie Crust

Gordy's Cherry Pepper Spread, Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion Galette
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
Nothing in the House pie crust, halved
1 medium onion, sliced
4 oz. goat cheese
1 tsp. fresh rosemary
1/2 c. Gordy's Cherry Pepper Spread
2 Tblsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions
1. Prepare half of Nothing in the House pie crust as per the directions (save other half in the fridge or freezer for a future pie). Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out into a 10-11-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Return rolled crust to the fridge while you prepare the filling.

2. Prepare the oven to 375 degrees F. Add 1 Tblsp. olive oil and sliced onions to a cast iron skillet and place over medium heat. Stir to coat onions with olive oil. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Sprinkle onions with salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 25-30 more minuted until onions are caramelized.

3. Remove crust from the fridge and brush with 1/2 Tblsp. olive oil. Scatter the caramelized onions over the crust, leaving a 1-inch edge. Crumble the goat cheese and spoon Gordy's Cherry Pepper Spread evenly over the onions. Sprinkle with rosemary. Fold the edge of the crust over the top of the filling and seal. Drizzle remaining 1/2 Tblsp. of olive oil over the entire tart and sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper over top.

4. Bake tart for 35-40 minutes until crust is golden brown. Enjoy as an appetizer or side dish to your Thanksgiving feast.

Gordy's Cherry Pepper Spread Galette

For our accompanying recipe for Brine Roasted Potatoes and Spears, and additional pics, words, and more recipes featuring Gordy's products (think pickle juice cocktails!) head over to the Gordy's blog. Big thanks to Morgan Hungerford West of Panda Head for these beautiful photos and infectious creativity, positivity, and jokes.

Related recipes:
Ham, Gruyere & Caramelized Onion Galette with Fried Egg
Swiss Chard & Goat Cheese Galette
Tri-color Potato, Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese & Rosemary Galette

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Long I Pie Shop's Shauna Lott & Apple, Brie & Prosciutto Pie

Shauna Lott of The Long I Pie Shop
I believe it was Jess who first "introduced" me to Shauna. She showed me a Long I Pie photo-- of a golden crust baked in a cast iron skillet, and said I should probably check it out. Since then I've been a devout oggler of the whole Long I aesthetic, following closely as they've launched their new website and business in Denver, Colorado (if only it weren't so far away!) As Shauna and I started to correspond, we found we had a lot in common-- pie, sure, but also a love for folk music and butter and Americana. Then we realized that we're both from Indiana and it all made sense. 

I was pretty jazzed that Shauna was game to share a few words about her pie baking, The Long I Pie Shop, as well as the recipe I was MOST excited about-- "Too Piglet To Quit Pie" or her Apple, Brie & Prosciutto. At least it will assuage my hunger before I can get myself out to Colorado to taste it and meet Shauna in person. After you're done reading her words, head on over to Long I Blog to find more about the shop and read my thoughts on these same questions.

Tell us about yourself! Where are you from, what are your hobbies, whaddaya like to do on the weekends, what books do you like to read, etc.?
I’m from Fishers, Indiana originally --- born and raised.  Now,  I have been living in Boulder, CO for the last 7 ½ years.  I really enjoy traveling and try to get out of the United States at least once a year to see friends that live around the world. On the weekends, you’ll probably find me hanging out with friends at one of Colorado’s amazing breweries or distilleries, listening to live music, sitting around a table with my dearest friends eating a home cooked meal and catching up on life, finding a photo booth to take ridiculous photos in, or baking pie.  As for books, I love people’s stories, so I like to read memoirs or autobiographies. 

What led you up to the point of opening a pie shop and why did you decide to do it?  
Honestly, I feel like it was a mix of a few things.  One was the desire to honor a legacy of hospitality and generosity that my grandmother has left after she passed a year and half ago and one my mother is still building.  Baking is something that my family does well.  Pie is the baked good that I think of when I think of the feeling of being at “home”.  It’s not like a cookie that you can eat in passing.  It’s a conversation dessert.  You sit down at a table with your family or friends and laugh or cry, but definitely enjoy each other’s company.  The thing that led me to opening a pie shop was to combine my love and skill of pie making with my passion for helping people.  I’ve done social work type jobs since I graduated college.  In this past job, I worked primarily with youth and refugee families.  In working with those two populations, they have one thing in common --- a low chance at obtaining stable employment.  Youth and refugees have different kinds of barriers, but they both lead to not get a first chance at employment.  My plan is to start a youth employment services program to go with our first mobile pie shop.  We’ll teach a curriculum that discusses everything from hygiene to resume building to interview skills along side pie making and customer service skills training.  My hope is that as we grow that we can expand to an employment program that focuses on refugee women as well. 

What's the intersection between pie and social justice/community and specifically your social justice mission?
Pie is a creative tool for me to pursue justice in my community. Our social justice mission is two fold --- employing youth at risk of homelessness, exploitation, or incarceration and giving $1 per slice to an organizations working to prevent or restore children who’ve been trafficked in to the sex trade both locally in Colorado and around the world.  Pie feels like home and safety.  I want to provide a workplace that provides a place that is safe and feels like home for our youth.  Also, I want to put money into organizations that provide for other youth in the city and around the world. 

Why Pie?
Pie is home. Pie is family. Pie is comfort. Pie is laughter around a table. Pie transports people to good memories.  Pie is an art form that you can consume and enjoy.  It’s creative and I happen to be good at making it.  The “why” is how it makes me and others feel when we are eating it with our family and friends.

Tell me your pie aesthetic in one pithy sentence.
Think “what would my great-grandma do?” --- simple recipes, fresh ingredients, and butter.

Shauna Lott of The Long I Pie Shop Cuts Apples

I have to ask--what's your favorite pie?
My favorite pie is the pie my grandma used to make all the time when I was growing up --- Spiced Apple Cranberry Pie.  It’s the best combination of tart and sweet.  It brings back beautiful memories around my grandma’s kitchen table for dinners of homemade chicken dumplings and playing a rousing round of rummy after dinner.

Where'd the Long I name come from?
The Long I came from one Tuesday night sitting around the kitchen table with a couple of friends.  We’re all a little nerdy, but one of my best friends from college, Mandy, is the English Lit/grammar kind of nerdy.  We were dreaming together about what an Americana, homey airstream food trailer could look like.  I was set on pie, but Mandy thought sliders and fries.  Then, the name "The Long I" was birthed because they all have the long “I” sound in them.  I chose to stick with pie.

What's your crust philosophy?
I want my crust to always be simple, buttery, flaky goodness. You achieve that by making the crust as cold as you can and bake it as hot as you can.  Cold butter.  Ice water.  400 degrees.

Any special pie-making tips for home bakers?
Be creative with your pie.  Think of some of your favorite flavors in other foods and try them out in a pie.  Experiment.  Experiment.  Experiment. 

What do you like to listen to while baking?
I LOVE music which makes it hard to choose just one genre.  There are days when I listen to banjo and fiddle-filled folk music like Gregory Alan Isakov.  Other days, I listen to Beyoncé and dance around my kitchen. 

What pies will you be making for your own Thanksgiving feast?
My Grandma’s pie --- Spiced Apple Cranberry, Bourbon Chocolate Pecan (“The Drunken Nut”),  and an experimental Chocolate Pumpkin Pie.

Tell us about the recipe you're sharing. How did it come about and what should we pair it with (other food or drink)?
I’m sharing the recipe for my "Too Piglet to Quit Pie."  Last Spring, I went to Paris with a few of my close friends. Oh, it was a treat!  One night we went to Rue Clar, picked up some brie, prosciutto, baguettes, wine, and macaroons, walked to the Eiffel Tower, sat on a bench all buddled up and ate until our hearts were content.  It was a dreamy French picnic.  I wanted to put that experience into a pie, so the Too Piglet to Quit pie was birthed.  I’d pair it with a generous glass of a red wine blend from Bordeaux

Too Piglet to Quit from Shauna Lott of The Long I Pie Shop

Too Piglet To Quit

Ingredients
Pie crust dough (your favorite recipe)
7 small/medium Granny Smith Apples (cut in 1/4 inch slices)
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
teaspoon cornstarch
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 lb. prosciutto
1/4 lb. Brie

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a dutch oven or a cast iron skillet, combine apples, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and cornstarch, then stir until everything is evenly coated.  If you're using a cast iron skillet, cover with foil.  Bake apples on 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove from pan, pour into a medium size bowl and stir in juice from lemon and vanilla extract.  Let cool for 30 minutes.

2. Roll out your favorite pie crust recipe. Line a 9-inch cast iron skillet with dough. Evenly layer the thinly sliced prosciutto on the bottom of the pie. Dump in the cooked apple mixture. Evenly layer sliced Brie on top of the apples. Lattice the top of the pie and bake in oven for 35 minutes at 400 degrees. Let pie sit for 30 minutes before serving for pie to set. Enjoy with laughter with friends or family!

Shauna Lott of The Long I Pie Shop

Big thanks to Shauna Lott of Denver, Colorado's Long I Pie Shop for the lovely words and recipe. 
All beautiful photos by Caitlin Fairly.

Friday, November 08, 2013

The Friday Pie Slice

Heller's Bakery Mural in Mount Pleasant, Washington, D.C.

1st slice. D.C. is no doughnut town, but DCist gives it a good go with this round-up. When I'm hankering for  fried dough, I either make my own, or take a trip to old-school bakeries like Woodmoor Pastry Shop in Silver Spring or Mt. Pleasant's Heller's Bakery (pictured above). 'Cause in my opinion all you really need is a good classic plain glazed and a cup of coffee.

2nd slice. Notice something new around here? I'm still working out the overall look, but Nothing in the House has a BEAUTIFUL new hand-printed logo designed by my friend Mike Costello of Printed Appalachia. It's a perfect fit for this pie blog's rustic aesthetic and historical & folkloric bent and I'm so happy to have it.

3rd slice. Next week is Pie Week at Food52! Tag your pie instagrams with #PieWeek and #f25grams and they'll feature their faves. So on it.

The tasty crumbs. Looking for something to do this weekend? The D.C. Square Dance, which happens to be the biggest square dance in the country, is this Saturday. It's always the best party in town, and sometimes-- there's pie. Come out swingin'.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Pumpkin & Chai Spice Nut Butter Pie

Pumpkin & Big Spoon Roasters Chai Spice Nut Butter Pie

Durham's Big Spoon Roasters did not yet exist when I lived on the Carolina Piedmont. Since I moved away, though, I've heard murmurs about the handcrafted nut butters from various food sites and magazines and friends who can't get enough of the stuff and I wondered how I too could get my hands on a few jars. As I was browsing the Big Spoon website, deciding which of the flavors--from Chai Spice to Peanut Cocoa I most wanted, I realized that the nut butters--those two in particular would make perfect pie ingredients.

Big Spoon Roasters Chai Spice Nut Butter

So I emailed the owner Mark to tell him my idea, and the next week, a box showed up on my door with those two flavors packaged inside. Though the Chai Spice--a peanut and almond butter with local wildflower honey, salt, and chai spices-- could make a delicious pie filling almost all by itself (or in a Chocolate & Peanut Butter Pretzel Tart or a Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie or... the possibilities are endless--stay tuned!), I decided to start with the seasonal and perhaps unsuspected pairing of pumpkin. Chai spice and pumpkin pie spice are kissin' cousins as is, and I thought the smooth pumpkin and slightly grainy nut butter would compliment each other's textures and flavor well. I had also done a similar butter 'n' orange-veggie in this Sweet Potato Speculoos Pie, adapted from a Pumpkin-Nutella version from Sally's Baking Addiction.

The duo got along just splendidly, the nut butter adding a hint of honey and a darker, richer flavor to the fairly standard pumpkin pie base. The consistency was thick and hearty, a substantial slice that would also work well substituting sweet potatoes for the pumpkin purée. Though I added bourbon to my whipped cream, in my humble opinion it never hurts to throw in a dash in the pie itself. This recipe is definitely in the running for what will be on my dessert table this coming Thanksgiving, though I've yet to bake with that Peanut Cocoa butter...

You can check out where you can buy Big Spoon Roasters nut butters near you here, and if there's nowhere close, you can also order online.

Pumpkin & Big Spoon Roasters Chai Spice Nut Butter Pie

 Pumpkin & Chai Spice Nut Butter Pie

Ingredients
Nothing-in-the-House Pie Crust, halved
2 c. (15 oz.) pumpkin purée, canned or fresh (sweet potato purée would also be delicious)
3 large eggs, lightly whisked
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. Big Spoon Roasters' Chai Spice Nut Butter

Directions
1. Prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions, reserving the leftover egg for an egg wash. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Let chill for 15 more minutes in the fridge. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add pumpkin purée, whisked eggs, heavy cream, brown sugar, spices, and salt and mix well to combine. Add the Chai Spice nut butter and stir just until incorporated.

3. Pour filling into the chilled pie crust and distribute evenly using a rubber spatula. Bake 40-45 minutes until filling is well-set. Let cool and once at room temperature, chill pie until you're ready to serve. Serve chilled or at room temperature with a dollop of bourbon whipped cream.

Pumpkin & Big Spoon Roasters Chai Spice Nut Butter Pie Slice

Related Recipes:
Drunken Pumpkin Bourbon Pie with Mascarpone Cream
Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake Pie
Sweet Potato Speculoos Pie

Friday, November 01, 2013

The Friday Pie Slice

Cake vs. Pie Swag by Emily Wallace for the Southern Foodways Alliance

I've been negligent in serving up these slices. But it's a new month and new beginning--happy November!

1st slice. My Pentagram Pie (see below) was featured on The Hairpin this past week, with an expanded post--now with more jokes! Halloween may be over but pentagrams never go out of season.

2nd slice. As we turn the corner into the biggest pie month of the year, some great recipes are popping up in the blogosphere, like this Butternut Squash & Brie Galette from Happyolks and Homesick Texan's Sweet Potato Cobbler.

3rd slice. A few weeks ago I stopped by the St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church's 65th Annual Fall Food Festival here in DC for a story & accompanying video for American Food Roots, not to mention a delicious lunch of stuffed grape leaves and cheese pies.

The tasty crumbs. There's a great new drink magazine on the block called PUNCH and my dear friend Lora Smith is one of the contributors. Read her piece on growing up in a Kentucky bootlegging town here.

Photo of Cake vs. Pie swag by Emily Wallace for the Southern Foodways Alliance Annual Symposium

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pentagram Pie

Pentagram Sweet Potato Pie | Nothing in the House

My friend tells me that every hipster in Carrboro, North Carolina has a pentagram tattoo these days, so maybe it sounds trite when I say that I have an affinity for the pentagram. In the Tarot, the pentagram, or pentacles, correspond with the Taurus sign astrologically (along with Virgo and Capricorn--the other Earth signs) and in general the symbol is associated with Earth, craft, the accumulation of knowledge, physicality, and tradition. It represents stability and grounding forces and seems to appear more than any other suit in my readings. Then of course, there's also the British folk band Pentangle, one of my favorites.

Last year for Halloween, I went as the Queen of Pentacles, and carried along this occult sacrament of a Pentagram Pie for all the witchy revelers. I used a sweet potato filling for seasonality, color and because I thought it would support the crust design well. For the pentagram, cut 5 long strips out of dough and arrange them in the form of a 5-pointed star across the pie. You can weave them through like a lattice, if desired. Serve and summon the spirits.

Pentagram Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pentagram Pie
Adapted from Cheryl Day's Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients
Nothing-in-the-House pie crust
1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes (1-2 taters), cooked, peeled, and mashed
1 c. heavy cream
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tblsp. sorghum or blackstrap molasses
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1 Tblsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. mace
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Directions
1. Prepare Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions, reserving the leftover egg for an egg wash. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out the bottom crust (half of the dough) and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Pierce the bottom of the shell all over with a fork, and let chill for 15 more minutes in the fridge. Return the other half of the crust to the fridge. 

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place mashed sweet potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add the heavy cream, eggs, and sorghum or molasses and whisk until fully incorporated.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugars, flour, cardamom, cloves, mace, ginger, and salt. Add to the sweet potato mixture and stir until smooth.

4. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Roll out your top crust and cut 5 long strips of the dough. Arrange them over the filling in the shape of a pentagram, weaving some strips under as you would for a lattice top, if desired. Brush crust with an egg wash and bake for 40-50 minutes until the filling is form around the edges but still jiggles slightly in the center when you shake it. Let cool completely.

Wolf & Medusa with Pentagram Pie
Instagram by @abrakebarbara from last year's Halloween party at Blood Manor

Related recipes:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sweet Corn Custard Pie with Tomato Jam

Sweet Corn Custard Pie, Overhead

I grew up with corn all around me, but I was allergic. To corn and milk and grass and dust--a tough diagnosis for a Midwestern girl. At a certain point of my childhood, though, the doctor declared me free of some of these allergens, corn included, and the first time I ever had corn on the cob, I overzealously ate the whole thing, cob and all. At my grandmother's house, we played hide and seek in the stalks with the farm boys down the road, and though we weren't really a casserole family, when I got a recipe from a classmate's mother for corn pudding, it became my signature dish at holidays and family gatherings.

I haven't lived in the Midwest since college, but I have an inkling there's something going on there amidst the corn fields and dairy farms. Organic farms, distilleries, and local restaurants are popping up, native seeds are being saved, heirloom crops are being grown again, and people are taking pride in Midwestern food. Perhaps in all of that there's a small dose of nostalgia, faux or real, that our generation is inclined toward, but this revival moves way beyond the casserole dish.

The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie Cookbook

One of the women who seems to be part of that movement is Paula Haney of Chicago's Hoosier Mama Pie Company. When I had a chance to sit down with her earlier this spring, she talked about her motivations in starting her bakery, a primary one being to bring awareness and appreciation to the "poor foods" of the United States, specifically the Midwest (read more from our conversation here).

Paula's new cookbook, The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie does just that, while also being a great go-to resource of traditional and creative pies for any home baker, offering seasonal recipes from classic Cherry to Red Line Espresso Cream.

Sweet Corn Custard Pie, Side View

The first recipe I tried was this Sweet Corn Custard Pie with Tomato Jam. Maybe part of my selection was guided by a Midwest nostalgic pang for the corn puddings of my youth, but the dessert is also unique and different, a new take on tradition. It also just seemed to be a good place for an (eventually) corn-fed Hoosier like myself to start.

The pie is a dream and a bit of a sleeper hit, but it's a delightful surprise when you slice it to reveal the light creamy custard speckled with fresh corn kernels. It's a sweet with a touch of savory, especially with the spicy sweet tomato jam drizzled atop.

Sweet Corn Custard Pie, Cross Section

Sweet Corn Custard Pie with Tomato Jam
Adapted from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie

For the pie:
Ingredients
Nothing-in-the-House pie crust, halved
1 1/2 c. fresh sweet corn kernels
1 1/3 c. heavy cream
1/3 c. whole milk
1/2 c. + 2 Tsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla paste
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch fresh ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
4 large egg yolks
2 large egg whites

Directions
1. Prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions, reserving the leftover egg for an egg wash. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Pierce the bottom of the shell all over with a fork, and let chill for 15 more minutes in the fridge. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325.

2. Place 3/4 c. of the corn kernels, 1/3 c. of the heavy cream, milk, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 2-3 times until the corn is finely chopped.

3. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in the remaining 1 c. of the heavy cream, vanilla paste, salt, black pepper, and nutmeg. Add the egg yolks one at a time. Stir in the remaining 3/4 c. of the corn kernels.

4. Whip the egg whites into soft peaks and fold into the corn mixture in 2 additions.

5. Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake immediately for 50-55 minutes until the edges of the pie are slightly puffed and the custard moves in 1 piece when the pie is gently shaken. 

6. Cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge overnight before slicing. Serve with tomato jam.

For the tomato jam:
Ingredients
1/2 c. + 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar
4 pinches cayenne pepper
4 pinches fresh ground black pepper
2 pinches kosher salt
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
20 cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions
1. Combine the sugar, spices, salt, orange juice, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Remove any stray citrus seeds.

2. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture has thickened slightly. 

3. Gently toss the tomato halves into the hot mixture. Continue to simmer until the mixture becomes thick and syrup like, about 30 minutes. 

4. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Serve with the Sweet Corn Custard Pie.

Sweet Corn Custard Pie with Tomato Jam Slice

Related recipes:
Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie
Kentucky Lemon Chess Pie
Maple Bourbon Buttermilk Pie
Sweet Tea Pie