Wednesday, January 30, 2013
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
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 Cookbooks, throw 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
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.
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.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
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
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.
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.
Rye crust adapted from 101 Cookbooks
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
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
sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 large egg
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!
For more savory galettes/tarts try:
Thursday, January 17, 2013
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
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
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
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
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
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.
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, "
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.
Mitchell's "Mitchili"Adapted from Mitchell West's prizewinning recipe
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, "