Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Emily Wallace's Vernacular Pie

Emily Wallace's Vernacular Pie

Hey, cutie pie in the sky, did you check out that "Vernacular Pie" comic in the Indy Week's Pie Issue last month? If not, you don't have to eat humble pie, cause it's right here. Oh, are you too pie-eyed to realize it? Alright. Enough. Sorry. Anyway, my friend Emily Wallace strikes again, here with her clever illustration on pie's role in the parlance of our times. You can catch more of her pie-related comics here and here, and more of her art in general, on the topics of Dollywood, the foods of the North Carolina State Fair, Destiny's (ahem, Testiny's) Child, and much more, right over here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Maple Bourbon Buttermilk Pie with Apple Syrup

Maple Bourbon Buttermilk Pie

"Those are the three main old-timey ingredients!," Brent remarked, when I told him I was making a maple bourbon buttermilk pie. Kind of true. And on top of that, it's an ingredient fusion of North and South.

Though buttermilk pie (a plain version here) is generally credited as a Southern pie, it is also prevalent in Yankee traditional cooking and baking. That's mainly because on dairy farms and in farming communities, buttermilk was cheap and readily available, the liquid left behind when butter is made. Today though, most commercial buttermilk is not real. It's made from low-fat or skim-milk that's mixed with bacterial cultures to make it sour, and other additives to make it thick. As you might guess, this artificially-produced buttermilk doesn't taste as good as the real deal. According to Julia Moskin of The New York Times, "Many home cooks keep buttermilk on hand for pancakes, ranch dressing or corn bread. They might know that it makes more tender cakes (because it softens the gluten in flour), loftier biscuits (its acid boosts leaveners like baking soda and baking powder) and thicker dressings (lactic acid in buttermilk gently curdles proteins into a smooth mass)." Now you see why you might want to use the real stuff in a pie?

Classic buttermilk pie is essentially a custard pie (or custy pie), with an extra tang. It's also related to Chess pie--some Chess pie even calls for buttermilk. For this version, adapted from 101 Cookbooksthrow in a dash of bourbon, the barrel-aged whiskey from Kentucky, and maple syrup, the prized natural of many New England states (when I lived in Vermont I learned to put it in everything), and you've got yourself something fit for a table on either side of the Mason-Dixon line.

Maple Bourbon Buttermilk Pie
Maple Bourbon Buttermilk Pie
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Nothing-in-the-House pie crust, halved (I used 1/2 white whole wheat flour and 1/2 all-purpose)
Zest of 1 lemon
2 Tblsp. brown sugar
6 egg yolks
1/4 c. flour
2/3 c. maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
2 c. real buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tblsp. bourbon (I used Maker's Mark)
scant 1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt
Large grain sugar or pink salt for sprinkling (optional)


1. Prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Place the pan in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon zest, brown sugar, egg yolks, and flour until no lumps remain. Pour in the maple syrup and stir to combine. Then add buttermilk, vanilla, and sea salt, stirring until incorporated.

3. Pour filling into the pie crust and bake about 1 hour, or until filling is set and not wobbly. Remove from oven and let cool, then sprinkle with sugar or salt (I chose salt, surprise surprise). Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature with apple syrup (recipe below). Store in the fridge.

Maple Bourbon Buttermilk Pie

To even it up even more (buttermilk pie is still claimed as Southern, after all), I drizzled a few slices with apple syrup that my friend Marina made on her farm in New York's Hudson Valley. I believe she even pressed the apples herself. Here's the recipe she shared...

Apple Syrup
From my friend Marina of Shoving Leopard Farm

Makes 1 c. apple syrup

7 c. apple cider

1. Marina makes her apple syrup in the shallow maple syrup pans they have on her farm, but you can make yours in a Dutch oven or large stock pot. Pour your cider into the pot and bring to just a boil (cider boils at about 219 degrees F). 

2. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer until cider has reduced to about 1 cup, and reached a syrup-like consistence, thickly coating the back of the spoon. You can do this with more or less cider, but in general 7 parts cider yields 1 part syrup. 

Maple Bourbon Buttermilk Pie with Apple Syrup

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Happy National Pie Day!

Pie drawing by Pablo

Happy National Pie Day! Though I am in more regular observance of The House of Representatives decreed Pi(e) Day on March 14th (3.14), I'll not turn down a chance to celebrate the little dish that this here space is all about. To commemorate the day, here is a illustrated poem by a child name Pablo, who has some SERIOUS thoughts about pie. We knew it was powerful, but little did we know just. how. powerful it can be. Is pie a witch? A wizard? Father Time? Mother Earth? Psychic? God? It seems little Pablo has some special insight into the implications of the dessert-- I have so many questions for him.

Thanks to my friends Neale and Clare for sharing this gem. Enjoy some pie today, and remember this while you eat it. Don't get too scared.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ham, Gruyère & Caramelized Onion Galette with Fried Egg

Ham, Gruyere & Caramelized Onion Galette with Fried Egg

The summer between my junior and senior year of high school I studied abroad in France, in the small town of St. Brieuc, located in the Celtic region of Brittany (or Bretagne). At that point my French was largely untested--I had only had three years of high school French, an introduction in middle school, and some lessons in elementary--but the program was soon to change all that. The main rule dictated that as soon as the plane hit the ground in Paris, we were not allowed to speak English until we had completed the program seven weeks later...or else we got sent home. So when we finally pulled into the town parking lot with the host families waiting outside, I remember being a little scared to get off the bus. But I didn't know then the wonderful home I'd be welcomed into by Anny, Jean-Marie, Simon, and Clément Lachevre.

I'm not sure if the program just did a superb job matching students with hosts, or if I was just lucky, but despite my piecemeal French, I felt immediately comfortable--the Lachevre's home felt so similar to mine and there was a piano to play, a yard to kick around the soccer ball with my host brothers, and a room all my own with a view of the garden and desk where I could write letters and leaf through back issues of French Vogue that Anny had set out for me. The Europe Cup was that summer, so we watched a lot of soccer, went on excursions to nearby fishing villages, and every Friday, we ate Breton galletes.

Now these are not the galettes like we call them here. Breton galettes are in fact a savory crepe, made from buckwheat flour, and stuffed with Emmental or Gruyère cheese, jambon (ham), and a fried egg. Sometimes other ingredients are added-- Clément, for instance, always requested tomatoes in his. The meal is traditionally enjoyed with a glass (or two) of hard Breton cidre, which was indeed another compulsory item on our own Friday dinner table. I remember once when Jean-Marie and Anny had plans to go out on a Friday, Anny specifically taught me how to make galettes, just so Simon, Clément and I wouldn't miss our tradition.

Foggy Ridge Hard Cider pairing

Back in November, I headed down to North Carolina for my friends Lora and Joe's baby shower. On the way home on Sunday, we all took a trip to Foggy Ridge Cider, a woman-owned orchard and  hard cider producer outside of Floyd, VA. Unlike the overly sweet cider varieties common here in the states, Foggy Ridge makes a European-style cider, complex, and more dry than sweet. Throughout our tasting I was reminded me of those Friday night dinners at the Lachevres.

So on my ride home from the orchard, a new member of the Foggy Ridge Cider Club with a few bottles in tow, I decided I would make a Breton galette-inspired galette, that I could pair with the cider I'd brought home. I've made this a few times now--for our Southern Friendsgiving, as an appetizer for Christmas dinner, and for a Sunday brunch. Originally I used a buckwheat crust, but it came out a little dry, so have opted for a rye crust in subsequent attempts. This crust is good, but is still a little too crumbly for my taste, so next time I think I'll experiment with adding egg. I'll keep you posted.

Ham, Gruyere & Caramelized Onion Galette with Fried Egg

"Breton" Ham, Gruyere, and Caramelized Onion Galette
Rye crust adapted from 101 Cookbooks

For crust:
scant 2/3 c. rye flour
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks
1/3 c. dark beer, cold

For filling:
1 medium-large onion, sliced
1/2 c. ham steak, diced
3/4 c. Gruyere, shredded
1 Tblsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tblsp. coarse ground mustard
olive oil
sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 large egg

For crust:
1. In a large bowl, whisk together flours and salt. Using a pastry cutter or knife and fork, cut in the butter until it is the texture of cornmeal and peas.

2. Make a well in the center of the butter-flour mixture and pour in the beer. Using a wooden spoon, combine until the dough forms together into a flat ball (you may need to use your hands at the end). Fold the dough over itself and wrap in plastic wrap, then let chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

For filling and assembly:
1. Preheat 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 minutes until onions are caramelized.

2. While the onions are cooking, prepare the rest of the filling. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar and mustard and set aside.

3. After 30 minutes, remove dough from fridge and unwrap. On a floured surface, roll it out into an elongated rectangle. Pick up the bottom of the rectangle, and fold the dough 2/3 of the way up. Now pick up the top third of the dough and fold it over the bottom. Sprinkle more flour over the dough, rotate it 90 degrees, and then do the same folding technique.

4. Roll out the dough into a 10 or 11-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Transfer the parchment and dough to a large cookie sheet. 

5. On the bottom of the crust, brush on the mustard-vinegar mixture and spread evenly. Add cheese, ham, and caramelized onions, scattering evenly across the crust, but leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the edge over the top of the filling and seal. Brush olive oil on the crust edges and sprinkle entire tart with sea salt and pepper.

6. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the filling, leaving the crust exposed (this will keep the filling from browning too quickly/burning). Bake for 35-50 minutes until crust is browned. Remove from oven and cool on a rack while you fry the egg.

7. Heat a pat of butter in a small skillet. Fry egg sunny-side up until white is no longer translucent and edges have crisped. Using a skillet, transfer egg to the tart. Serve immediately and  enjoy with a glass of hard, dry cider--I recommend Foggy Ridge First Fruit!

Ham, Gruyere & Caramelized Onion Galette with Fried Egg

For more savory galettes/tarts try:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fried Apple Pies with Salted Caramel Glaze on Design Sponge!

Nothing in the House on Design Sponge

Last month Elizabeth and I were *thrilled* to have an illustrated recipe featured on Design Sponge! The recipe, for Fried Apple Pies with Salted Caramel Glaze is the also the October recipe in our PIE. A Hand Drawn Almanac (Still available on Etsy and in various DC shops!). Elizabeth did these awesome additional illustrations specifically for the piece. They detail the recipe, and can be embiggened by clicking on them. You can also follow the written recipe below for these treats, which is a decadent amalgamation of the Nothing-in-the-House Apple Pie with Salted Caramel Glaze and Apple Fried Pies.

Fried Apple Pies with Salted Caramel Glaze on Design Sponge Illustrated by Elizabeth Graeber
Fried Apple Pies with Salted Caramel Glaze on Design Sponge | Nothing in the House
 Fried Apple Pies with Salted Caramel Glaze on Design Sponge | Nothing in the House

Fried Apple Pies with Salted Caramel Glaze
For crust:
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1 egg, beaten
6-8 Tblsp. cold water

For filling:
5 c. tart baking apples, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
2 Tblsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. cornstarch
For salty caramel glaze:
1/2 c. sugar
1/8 c. water
1/8 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 Tblsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
About 2 c. canola oil for frying 

For crust:
1. Add flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to mix. Add the shortening and cut into the flour mixture by pulsing the food processor until  mixture becomes the consistency of cornmeal and peas. 
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together egg and 6 Tblsp. of cold water. Slowly drizzle half of the liquid mixture into the food processor, pulsing to combine with flour. Slowly drizzle in the rest of the liquid, stopping when the dough starts to form large clumps. 
3. Once the dough is able to come together, form into a ball and remove from the food processor. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

For filling:
1. In a large bowl, mix the apples and lemon juice and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and add to the apples. Mix together with a wooden spoon until the apples are well-coated.

To assemble and fry:
1. Here you make make the glaze (directions below), or chose to make it after the pies are fried. Remove pie dough from the fridge and roll out onto a lightly flour-dusted surface about 1/4 inch thick. Using a 5-5 1/2 in circle cutter (I used the top of a large jar), cut circles out of the dough. 

2. Before completely assembling all the pies, pour at least 2 cups of canola oil (or 4 inches deep) into a deep and heavy saucepan. Insert a candy thermometer into the oil. Slowly heat on medium-low until the temperature reads 350 degrees F.

3. Place about 2 Tblsp. of the apple filling in the center of each circle (It is better to under-stuff than over-stuff). Moisten the edge of the pastry circle with your finger, then fold over the dough to form a half moon shape. Press the edges together and flute with a fork to seal completely.

4. At this point your oil should be hot enough to fry. When the oil temperature reaches 350 degrees, gently lower one pie at a time into the heated oil and cook until golden brown (about 2 minutes per side).  Using a slotted spatula, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining pies.

5. When all pies are fried, let them cool slightly while you make the glaze (You could also chose to do this before you start frying the pies). 

For salty caramel glaze:
1. In a small pot, bring cream, butter, and sea salt to a simmer over low heat, making sure to not let it boil. Once it begins to simmer, remove from heat and set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, mix water, corn syrup and sugar. Place over medium heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Then without stirring, bring the mixture to a boil until it is golden brown in color. Make sure to keep an eye on it as this transition can happen quickly.

3. When the mixture is done, remove from heat and carefully add the cream mixture (it will bubble up so pour it slowly). Stir in the vanilla.

4. Return the saucepan to the stove and cook over medium heat until it reaches a temperature of 248 degrees (you’ll need a candy thermometer for this), approximately 10 minutes. Once it reaches 248, remove from heat and let cool just slightly.

5. When your pies are fried„ use a spoon to drizzle caramel glaze over one side. Let cool until the caramel begins to harden and serve while pies are warm.

Related recipes:
Apple Pie with Salted Caramel Glaze
Floriole's Milk Chocolate & Salted Caramel Hazelnut Tart
Salted Butter Apple Galette

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Stargazy Quail Pie

Stargazy Quail Pie | Nothing in the House

Consider this more of a historical experiment than a culinary one. But don't get me wrong, it was indeed a culinary EXPERIMENT--my first time cooking quail, and a somewhat rare occurrence of cooking meat; I'm just not sure how much I can endorse this as an enjoyable pie to eat. But I've deemed 2013 the year of the savory pie, so I guess there was no other way to start but to dive right in...

I initially set out to make a "modernized" version of 4 and 20 Blackbirds Pie from the Mother Goose nursery rhyme (more on that soon here!). Since it would be rather difficult and probably not culturally acceptable to catch small live birds and stuff them inside a pie, I decided instead, well, to use dead ones. Some suggested cornish game hens and others suggested quail, so after doing a little research in a few cookbooks and on the ol' internet, I found two recipes-- one for a Medieval Game Pot Pie from Alton Brown and another for Stargazing Quail Pie from the British Pieminister Cookbook. Both require stuffing whole birds and baking them in a crust, their little legs poking through. Eeeep!

Stargazy Quail Pie | Nothing in the House

Stargazy Pie is a Cornish dish, traditionally made with pilchards, or sardines. Their heads are baked sticking out of the crust, giving the appearance that they're gazing at the sky, but this practice also allows the oils and juices from the fish to flow back into the pie, making it moist. The pie originates from the small fishing village of Mousehole in Cornwall and is usually served on Tom Bawcock's Eve, celebration the heroics of fisherman it's named after. The story, dating back to the 16th century, goes that one Christmas the town was nearing starvation, as storms had been raging on the coast, grounding all the fishing boats. On December 23rd, the brave Bawcock ventured out to see, scored a catch, and made it safely home, thus saving Christmas and the entire village population. The whole catch, which included 7 different types of fish, was then said to have been baked into a pie. As I child, I remember reading about this story in the children's book The Mousehole Cat.

Along with the usual fish, stargazy pie is a hearty affair, generally containing heaps of onions and potatoes. I ended up combining the two recipes I found, using quail, but instead of opting for the Middle Eastern-inspired filling that Pieminister uses, I made an adapted version of Alton Brown's dried fruit stuffing for more of a mincepie flair. In the end, the flavor was great, but I honestly had a bit of a mental block--the tininess of the quail made me a little uncomfortable, as did their little legs sticking out of the crust (more crustgazy than stargazy)! Like I said, this was more of a historical exercise than a culinary one--it did make me think why some recipes persist and some fall out of favor. It didn't suit my taste, but perhaps those less squeamish than me will just eat this up.

Stargazy Quail Pie | Nothing in the House

Stargazy Quail Pie
An amalgamation of recipes by Pieminister and Alton Brown

Nothing-in-the-House pie crust
4 Tblsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 oz. mixed dried fruit (apricots, figs, and crystalized ginger)
1/4 c. pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 small bunch of thyme, leaves picked and chopped
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. paprika
zest of 1 lemon
2 Tblsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 Tblsp. unsalted butter
4 quails (defrosted, if frozen)
sea salt

1. Prepare the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions. Chill dough at least 1 hour. Once chilled, roll out 1/2 of pie crust and fit into a 8 or 9-inch greased and floured deep casserole dish. You can choose to roll out the top-crust now and refrigerate it flat, or roll it out once you've prepared the filling. Either way, you should put both the remaining crust and the pie pan in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 2 Tblsp. olive oil in a pan, add the onion and garlic and cook over very low heat 15-20 minutes until onions are translucent and golden. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and add dried fruit, pine nuts, thyme, spices, and lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. Heat remaining 2 Tblsp. olive oil and butter in a frying pan or skillet large enough to hold the quails. Rinse birds, then place them in the pan and season them with salt and pepper. Fry for about 5 minutes on each side until golden. Remove them from the heat and stuff loosely with filling.  

4. Put remaining filling into the bottom of the pie crust and make 4 spaces to hold the quails. Put them in so that their legs are sticking up and arrange the filling around them so they stay upright.  Roll out the other crust half if you haven't already. Cut 4 slits in the crust for the quail legs and place on top of the pie. Pull legs through and flute crust to seal. Brush with an egg wash and bake for 40-45 minutes until the crust is golden and the birds are cooked through. Serves 4.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Frito Pie

Frito Pie with Chili in Cast Iron Skillet

The first time I ever had Frito Pie was in Vermont, served by my Texan friends Stacy and Chris. They'd been talking it up a lot and finally on one cold winter's night they invited over a crew to try it. I expected a "real" pie-- a crust made of Fritos perhaps, or some variation of cracker pie made with the classic corn chips. But what I got was much better, a simplified perfection, the genius idea of smothering Fritos with chili, then sprinkling it with your favorite toppings, an inverted chili cheese nachos, of sorts. 

Fritos were invented in San Antonio, Texas in 1932 by Elmer Doolin (the same man who would later invent Cheetos). Doolin perfected the recipe in his home kitchen with his mother's help, and began selling the chips under the Frito Corporation name. To this day, Fritos are made with only the three original ingredients: corn, corn oil, and salt. There is some speculation on who invented Frito Pie, but there are references to it almost as old as the chip itself.

Frito Pie and Chili

Since I'm no Frito Pie expert (though my childhood friend's mother did make something similar, which she called "Mexican Mountain"), I turned to Chris, the one responsible for who introducing me to Frito Pie in the first place. He said, "I have been eating Frito Pie since I was little kid, at my Little League games you could buy it at the snack stand and they would pour the chili into a small bag of Fritos and top it off with cheese and onions. Having changed up eating styles from meat to vegetarian back to meat, I have always loved putting chili over a bowl of corn chips of Fritos. Since there are so many different ways of making chili, I don't think there is a "correct" way to eat it other than to use Fritos, though originally I think it was made with Wolf Brand Chili."    

Though it's often eaten as a street or fair food as Chris mentioned, in a cut open single-serving Frito bag, with chili piled atop, here's a version you can make at home. This particular time, I was interested in slow-cooking some chili on a January Saturday afternoon and opted for my friend Morgan's husband Mitchell's prize-winning "Mitchilli". It's crazy good and contains TWO bottles of Dogfish Head and is totally worth the wait (and of which you'll have leftovers, for more Frito Pie). If, however, you want your pie faster, Homesick Texan has a great One-hour Chili. Feel free to use your own favorite recipe, Wolf Brand or otherwise.

Frito Pie | Nothing in the House

Mitchell's "Mitchili"
Adapted from Mitchell West's prizewinning recipe

2 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped (don't drain)
2 Tblsp. tomato paste
1 large white onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. green pepper
1 Tblsp. jalapeno, minced
2 cans kidney beans, strained and rinsed
2 12-oz bottles Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
1 c. strong fresh brewed coffee
1 c. chicken stock (I needed a little more as the chili cooked)
1/4 c. chili powder (yes, really this much)
2 Tblsp. cumin
2 Tblsp. paprika
2 Tblsp. cinnamon 
2 Tblsp. oregano
Sea salt
Black pepper
Olive oil

1. Put onions and garlic in a large saucepan with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Sautée for about 5 minutes until the onions begin to turn translucent, then add peppers. Sautée for 1-2 minutes more, then add 1 bottle of beer and let cook for about an hour, or until the beer is almost gone. 

2. Move the onions and garlic to the edge of the pan and add the ground beef, chili power, cinnamon, oregano, paprika, and cumin. Add a little more salt and pepper. Once meat has finished browning, add the chicken stock. Let this simmer on low heat uncovered for about 2 hours.

3. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and coffee.  Let this simmer on low heat then place the lid on the pan. Let simmer for 1 hour then add beans and the second bottle of beer.
4. Simmer one more hour and then it's ready for Frito pie!

Note: If at any time it begins to look too thick, add a bit of water or chicken stock to thin it out. Makes at least 8 servings.

Frito Pie | Nothing in the House

Frito Pie

4 c. Fritos
4 c. Mitchilli (or chili of your choice)
1 c. cheddar or pepper jack cheese, shredded
1/4 c. diced green onions
1/4 c. pickled jalapenos (optional)
1/2 avocado (optional)
1/4 c. sour cream (optional)

1. Place 1 c. (or a handful) of Fritos in each bowl. Top with 1 c. of chili and add desired toppings. Serves 4.

2. As Chris suggested, "Follow with a Lone Star Beer or Dr. Pepper float made with Blue Bell Ice Cream," other Texas favorites.