Friday, September 27, 2013

The Friday Pie Slice

Kate Lebo and Emily Hilliard at Trohv, Washington, D.C.

1st slice. I spent the past few days baking, talking shop, and running about town with the lovely and inspiring Kate Lebo (pictured above), whose volume of poetry, recipes, and ephemera A Commonplace Book of Pie is fresh off the presses! Catch the fun trailer for the book here.

2nd slice. Though it came out a few month's back, my friend Lora just reminded me of artist Debbie Grossman's My Pie Town, a reimagining of Russell Lee's 1940 photographs of Pie Town, New Mexico, that plays with gender, history, and notions of Americana. Very cool.

3rd slice. Ashley Melzer and I were pleasantly surprised this week when Garden & Gun listed our short doc The Wharf, about DC's Maine Ave. Fish Market in their list of five favorite Southern Foodways Alliance Greenhouse films! Honored to be included in this fine company.

The tasty crumbs. "I think food is so amazing because it's such a powerful voice. But it really brings to voice the once-silenced voices. I think of the women who all through time in Southern history, their hands and minds have really deeply shaped Southern cuisine." My mentor and UNC American Studies professor Marcie Ferris, talking women's influence on Southern food on last weekend's episode of The Splendid Table.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Apple-Raspberry Pandowdy

Apple-Raspberry Pandowdy in Skillet

Portions of this upcoming post originally appeared in the piece "Cobbled Together: American Fruit Desserts" on NPR's Kitchen Window, which you can find here

"Shoofly pie and apple pandowdy makes your eyes light up, your tummy say howdy!" my dad used to sing to me, a nod to his Pennsylvania upbringing. But I'd never ate a pandowdy or let alone knew what it was, until I was researching it a few weeks ago for the Kitchen Window piece. My research yielded some information, though the origins of the strange name are still unclear (though I do have a query into the Library of Congress about it, so stay tuned...). Some consider "dowd-y" to be a variation of the word "dough," and others conjecture that it descended from the term "pandoulde," a regional British word for custard. 

What we do know is that the pandowdy has New England roots and can be made with either typical pie dough or a biscuit crust.  It's a very close relative to the cobbler, though it varies in two distinct ways: Molasses is used to sweeten the fruit, and just before it's finished baking, the crust is sliced or crumbled into pieces and mixed with the fruit juices to create dumpling-like morsels scattered among the thick filling. For those of you paralyzed by the task of making the perfect-looking crust, the pandowdy may just be your dessert. You'll spoon the filling over it anyway, so who cares what it looks like?

Traditionally, pandowdy was made with apples, but I threw in some raspberries to add tartness and take advantage of the fall-bearers. Try using late-summer or early-fall apples like Gravenstein, Northern Spy, or Benhams-- a variety popular in Kentucky and Virginia. The result is an earthy dessert with a rich, hearty flavor (you should be a molasses lover). It pairs well with a lightly-spiced ice cream, like cardamom, or just plain vanilla. I like to bake mine in a cast iron skillet, but if you don't have one, a pandowdy can be made just as well in a 8- or 9-inch square or round baking dish.

Apple-Raspberry Pandowdy in Skillet

Apple-Raspberry Pandowdy

For the biscuit top:
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tblsp. granulated sugar + 1 tsp. for sprinkling
1 Tblsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3/4 c. whole milk

For the filling:
5 apples (about 2 lbs.) cored and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 c. raspberries
2 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. molasses
1/3 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tblsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1. For the biscuit top, in a medium bowl whisk together flour, 1 Tblsp. sugar, baking powder, and salt. With a knife and fork or pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles cornmeal and peas. Add milk and stir gently to combine. Form dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for at least 20 minutes while you prepare the filling.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine apples, berries, flour, molasses, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and salt. Pour filling into a 9-inch cast iron skillet. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.

3. While filling is baking, on a clean, floured surface, roll out the biscuit dough into a 9-10-inch circle. Set aside.

4. Once filling has baked, remove from oven and cover the filling with the biscuit dough, tucking any overhang into the sides of the skillet and sprinkling with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Return to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes more, until biscuit dough is light golden and filling is bubbling.

5. Remove from the oven and with a sharp knife, cut biscuit top into squares. Spoon some of the steaming filling over the biscuit and return to oven to bake 5-10 minutes more. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve slightly warm.

Related recipes:
Cranberry-Lime Galette
Peach-Blackberry Cobbler
Plum-Cherry Crumble

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"A Commonplace Book of Pie" Reading & Tasting

Kate Lebo with Pie

This evening Seattle poet, pie baker, and Pie School founder Kate Lebo and I will be hosting a reading & pie tasting at Trohv DC. Kate will be reading from her new book A Commonplace Book of Pie, we'll talk feminism, domesticity, and pie, and then serve some! Kate and I have been discussing our ideas on these topics for a while now, we're so excited to share this conversation (and pie) with others. You can find more info via Trohv's facebook invite here. Hope to see you!

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Friday Pie Slice: Fall Equinox Edition

Pie Illustration by Jessica Lynn Bonin from A Commonplace Book of Pie

My most favorite time of year is almost here. I know that spring is traditionally the season of reawakening, but I tend to feel most invigorated in the fall. I'm back home, reconnecting with friends, digging into  some new projects, and getting back into the kitchen. Here's a few of the things I'm working on, and others' work I'm excited about.

1st slice. My copy of Hoosier Mama's Book of Pie arrived in the mail this week. Can't wait to try out ALL the recipes, starting with the Fat Elvis Pie, I reckon, which I'll be sharing soon. In the meantime, read about my visit to the Chicago pie shop and get the recipe for Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie here.

2nd slice. This coming Wedesday, Kate Lebo, Seattle pie baker, poet, and author of A Commonplace Book of Pie and I are doing a reading and pie event at Trohv DC. We'll chat about domesticity and feminism and pie, and of course, serve some too. Details here.

3rd slice. This weekend my grad school thesis advisor and all-around heroine Marcie Cohen Ferris & Southern Foodways Alliance's John T. Edge will be on The Splendid Table talking the role of women in Southern food. Tune in!

The tasty crumbs. For your listening pleasure, I made a Fall Equinox mix of some favorite American and British folk songs (-ish). Have a listen this weekend when you're putting up apple butter or driving to the orchard or sitting on your butt on the porch drinking a hard cider. Find it on my music blog, The Everchanging Minstrel.

Illustration by Jessica Lynn Bonin from Kate Lebo's A Commonplace Book of Pie, Chin Music 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Plum-Cherry Crumble

Plum-Cherry Crumble

Portions of this upcoming post originally appeared in the piece "Cobbled Together: American Fruit Desserts" on NPR's Kitchen Window, which you can find here.

Next up in the cobbler family--the crisp (or crumble, as it's called in England), whichever you call it, it's the cobbler's thrifty cousin, sporting a simple crumbled top of sugar, flour, butter and sometimes oats or nuts. All of that is simply scattered over a fruit filling — a great choice for the crust-fearing baker. Of course, you can easily turn this into a pie or tart with the addition of a bottom crust. My mom's Crumble Top Apple Pie (made with Northern Spies, of course) is one of my favorites and this Whole Wheat Plum Crumble Tart has become a go-to recipe.

Though unless you've stockpiled some tart cherries in cans or freezer bags, you'll likely have a hard time getting your hands on tart cherries this time of year. But this crumble recipe would work well with any kind of stone fruit for a dark, rich and smooth filling, that's made sweet and crunchy by the buttery almond crumble top.

Plum-Cherry Crumble

Plum-Cherry Crumble

For filling:
2 c. tart cherries, pitted
1 1/2 lbs. plums (about 4 c. or 9 plums), cut into 1/4-inch slices (or substitute your favorite stone fruit)
1 tsp. orange zest
1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
2 Tblsp. cornstarch

For crumble top:
3/4 c. sliced almonds
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl combine cherries, plums, orange zest, brown sugar, and cornstarch. Pour the filling into a 9x9-inch baking pan.

2. In a small bowl combine sliced almonds, flours, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in the butter and use your hands to form small clumps with the dry ingredients. Scatter crumble top over the top of the filling.

3. Bake 40-50 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Let cool and serve still warm.

Related recipes:
Peach-Blackberry Cobbler
Peach-Pecan Pie
Whole Wheat Plum Crumble Tart

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Friday Pie Slice

Pie Illustration by Elizabeth Graeber from Pie: A Hand Drawn Almanac
Inspired by Morgan, the genius at PandaHead, I'm serving up a new weekly series here on Nothing-in-the-House--The Friday Pie Slice! Each Friday, I'll post a round-up of pie and pie-relevant stories, links, and news from the past week. Expect historical articles and recipes, food events and interviews, music and art. If you've got something you think might be a good fit for The Slice, don't hesitate to get in touch. Got your plate? Let's eat!

1st slice. Check out Phoebe Lawless of Durham's Scratch Bakery (previously featured on the pie blog here and here) in the latest issue of Garden & Gun with recipes for 3 late summer pies and lovely illustrations to boot.

2nd slice. My pal April McGreger of Farmer's Daughter Brand Pickles and Preserves shares her preserve-making philosophy on A Chef's Life.

3rd slice. "Some made good pies, some made good applesauce. And some, made really good cider." Orchardist Lee Calhoun talks about his preservation of "old-timey apples" on WUNC.

The tasty crumbs. My friend and fellow folklorist Ashley Melzer and I just finished a short film for the Southern Foodways Alliance on DC's historic Maine Ave. Fish Market. If you watch closely, you'll notice that they do, in fact, sell pies there...

Illustration by Elizabeth Graeber from our book Pie: A Hand Drawn Almanac, available on Etsy

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Peach-Blackberry Cobbler

Peach-Blackberry Cobbler

In this next set of posts, I'll be introducing you (though you've likely already met) to some castoff members of the pie family. They're the distant cousins who show up late to every family function with their shirt untucked and hair a mess, but who once you get them going, make the party with their outrageous stories and ridiculous jokes. Yes, I'm talking about cobblers and crisps, buckles and pandowdies. Portions of these upcoming posts originally appeared in the piece "Cobbled Together: American Fruit Desserts" on NPR's Kitchen Window, which you can find here.

We'll start with the matriarch of this slapdash family--the cobbler. I didn't understand the dessert until I understood the word. A professional "cobbler" is often thought of as a shoemaker and repairman, but a true cobbler is only a mender of shoes. A cordwainer is the more masterful footwear maker.

A cordwainer would not want to be called a cobbler. And a delicately latticed pie would not want to be mistaken for the less artful dessert that's thrown or "cobbled" together with disparate bits of fruit and pastry. Though a cobbler may not be as pretty as a fresh pie or a new shoe, the result is just as functional, enjoyable and more economical, at least in terms of time and effort.

Cobblers appear in American cookbooks at least as far back as the mid-1800s, where they are described as a dessert or "luncheon" consisting of a biscuit or pastry dough and fresh fruit, often peaches. Though some boast a double crust, what characterizes the cobbler is the baked top crust that covers the sweet, bubbling fruit filling.

Cobblers are a wonderful way to experiment with combinations of summer fruits. I like to pair stone fruit and berries, as the tart berries provide the perfect counterbalance to the sweet tree fruit. This cobbler pairs peaches with blackberries, but you could easily substitute other seasonal fruits — nectarines, apricots or plums for the peaches and blueberries or raspberries for the blackberries. After all, you're cobbling it together. If the shoe fits, wear it.

Peach-Blackberry Cobbler

Peach-Blackberry Cobbler


For the biscuit top:
1 ½ c. flour
1 Tblsp. granulated sugar, plus 1 Tblsp. for sprinkling
1 Tblsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut in to ½-inch chunks
¾ c. whole milk

For the filling:
3 lbs. peaches (about 8 cups or 6-8 peaches) cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 c. blackberries (about 1 pint)
½ c. granulated sugar
2 Tblsp. light brown sugar, packed
3 Tblsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
1 Tblsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

1. For the biscuit top, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, baking powder and salt. With a knife and fork or pastry cutter, cut in the butter until mixture resembles the consistency of cornmeal and peas. Add milk and stir gently to combine. Form dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes while you prepare the filling. 

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the peaches, berries, sugars, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice and ginger. Pour filling into a deep-dish, 9-inch (2 quart) glass oven-safe bowl, or an 11-by-7-inch baking pan.

3. Remove biscuit dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Divide dough into 10 to 12 balls of equal size (an ice cream scoop works well for this) and spoon evenly over the filling. Sprinkle biscuit top with remaining tablespoon of sugar.

4. Bake for 55-65 minutes until biscuit top is golden brown and filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

Related recipes: