I'm about to head into the North woods again and see spring arrive for a second time. I'll explain more of what that's all about for me and this space, but in the meantime, here are some old posts from where I'll be). After bouts of very unseasonable weather here in DC-- from freezing rain to above-90 temps, we've finally hit a stride of mild spring air and sunny days, just in time for my last weekend in town for awhile.
It was a good one, headed up with a "Yappy Hour" birthday party for my friend & Pie Almanac illustrator Elizabeth and her dog Chickpea (yes, they share a birthday!). She asked me to make a pie for both of them, and I have to say, never having made a pie for a dog before, I was quite nervous for how it would be received. I'll share the recipe soon, but I have to admit, I think the bacon grease "whipped cream" topping had a lot to do with its success. Saturday afternoon we fixed up our bikes and went for a spin around the neighborhood, with a dinner stop at a Trinidadian roti shop. Then it was off to the lanes for my first duckpin bowling! There's something about the squat pins and shorter balls that make it much more fun and lighthearted than your standard bowling. Also there was an actor from The Wire at the lane next to us--an "only in Maryland" experience.
I spent most of today working on projects and doing some packing, but remembered I had this recipe for a Pear & Cardamom-Fig Pie to share. With its red-wine & cardamom poached figs, it strikes me as more of a cold weather pie than a warm one, I wanted to share it sooner, while there are still some chillier days and nights ahead. I made this for Pi(e) Day (explaining the lack of slice shots), adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe for a Pear, Fig and Walnut Pie. Unsure about "wet" walnuts, I left them out, and the substitution of cardamom pods for star anise was more out of necessity than choice, but I was quite pleased with the result. The flavor is dark and rich, with the reconstituted figs adding a nice texture contrast to the cooked pears. It would be wonderful with honey goat's milk ice cream.
Pear & Cardamom-Fig Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts
Nothing-in-the-House pie crust
3/4 c. Madeira wine
5 oz. (scant 2/3 c.) soft, dried Black Mission figs, stemmed & quartered
3 whole cardamom pods
3 lbs. ripe, firm Anjou pears
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tblsp. cornstarch
2 Tblsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 Tbslp. heavy cream, for egg wash
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
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 9-inch greased and floured pie pan. 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. Reserve half-egg yolk for the egg wash.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small saucepan, bring wine, figs, and cardamom pods to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until figs are softened, approximately 10-12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer figs to a large bowl and set aside. Cook the liquid over medium heat until its reduced to a syrup, about 3 minutes. Remove the cardamom pods and discard. Pour the syrup over the figs.
3. Peel, core, and slice the pears into 1/4-inch thick wedges. Add the pears, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and cornstarch to the fig and syrup combination, stirring well to combine. Spoon the filling into the bottom pie crust, mounding it in the center. Dot the filling with butter and lightly brush the edges of the dough with water. Roll out the top crust if you haven't already (adding a decorative steam vent if you wish) and place it over the top of the filling. Crimp the edges of the crust to seal it. If you haven't cut a steam vent, do so now by cutting slits with a knife or poking all over with a fork. Whisk together the egg yolk and cream and brush all over the crust with dough, then sprinkle with sanding sugar.
4. Bake pie just until golden, about 20-25 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F and bake until the juices are bubbling and the crust is deep golden brown, about 1 hour. Let cool about 1 hour, then serve still slightly warm.
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Strawberry-Rhubarb and Wine-Soaked Fig Rustic Tart