Monday, March 31, 2014

Pimento Cheese and Tomato Pie

I first made this Pimento Cheese and Tomato Pie when I was in grad school at the University of North Carolina. My friend Emily Wallace (the other Emily Elizabeth) was writing her Master's thesis on the history of pimento cheese and we wanted to combine our two food loves into one dish for a potluck at our professor Marcie Cohen Ferris' class.

I wasn't too familiar with pimento cheese until I moved to North Carolina. I'd had casual encounters with the stuff--at potlucks and in tubs at the grocery store--but without context, the mixture of cheddar cheese, pimentos, and mayonnaise just seemed like a sad deconstructed cheese ball to this Midwesterner. But I came to the Piedmont at just the right time for some pimento cheese schooling. Not only was the iconic sandwich spread becoming a trend across the U.S., appearing in everything from cheesecake to jalapeno poppers, but my fellow Emily Elizabeth was deeply entrenched in a study of pimento cheese's cultural history--which happened to hit upon some of my own research interests like women's domestic creativity and entrepreneurship.

Pimento Cheese and Tomato Pie

According to Emily in this Indy Week article, pimento cheese was considered a dainty treat across the nation at the turn of the 20th century. Finger sandwiches made with the spread were a delicacy, particularly because the Spanish-imported pimentos were expensive and hard to come by. By 1915, Kraft had processed the spread and farmers began to grow their own pimentos stateside. 

In the Piedmont of North and South Carolina, textile mills offered lunches from dope carts, which sold sandwiches with various spreads, including pimento cheese. Soon small companies, often with women at the helm, supplied the food carts with sandwiches. Wallace says, "These women used food as a means to escape the drudgery of home or other unwanted employment, such as a textile mill. And pimento cheese—food that was considered part of a women's domestic domain—was a window not only into work but also business ownership, financial independence, and creativity in ways that were nonthreatening to gender roles of the time."

Now I eat my pimento cheese, whether as a sandwich, on my grits, or in a pie, with pride, knowing that it traces back to a long line of enterprising women, sure, but also because it tastes damn good. This pie recipe came to us from our friend April McGreger of Farmer's Daughter Brand Pickles and Preserves. She adapted it from The Southern Foodways Alliance's Community Cookbook. Though best with fresh tomatoes, it's become a Pi(e) Day staple and was included in this article on Pi(e) Day and female friendship that my friend Lora Smith and I wrote for Ronni Lundy's Zenchilada

Pimento Cheese and Tomato Pie

Pimento Cheese and Tomato Pie
Adapted from The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook via April McGreger

Nothing in the House pie crust, halved
20 oz. tomatoes (canned whole San Marzanos or fresh)
2 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups prepared pimento cheese
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs or Ritz cracker crumbs
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated
Fresh ground pepper

For the crust:
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 pie plate in fridge for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Once you've let the pie crust chill, prick crust with a fork all over the bottom. Line crust with parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans and bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove weights, reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake until crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes more. Let crust cool completely and leave oven on for the tomatoes.

For the filling:
1. Drain the tomatoes (if using canned--and keep the juice for Bloody Marys!) and dice them into 1-inch pieces. In a medium bowl combine the tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper, and half of the olive oil. Toss with your hands until all the tomatoes have a little oil on them. Pour the remaining half of the olive oil onto a sheet pan, rubbing with your hands to coat the bottom of the pan. Spread the tomatoes on the pan in a single layer. Roast the tomatoes in the oven about 15 minutes or until they dry up a little and start to shrivel slightly.

2. Fill the bottom of the pie crust with the tomato mixture. Spread the prepared pimento cheese over the tomatoes. In a small bowl, toss bread or Ritz cracker crumbs with melted butter, garlic, parmesan cheese and pepper, and sprinkle over the top of the pie.

3. Place pie in oven 10-15 minutes, just enough to warm and brown the crumb top. Remove from oven and serve slightly warm.

Pimento Cheese and Tomato Pie Slice

I've been making Stephanie of 3191's recipe for Pimento Cheese for a few years now--it's become a New Year's Eve tradition (served with Sweet Potato Biscuits) that my family now requests. But I wanted to include Emily Wallace's grandmother recipe--which is also delicious and shows some of the variation in style. Of course in North & South Carolina you're pretty much required to make it with Duke's mayonnaise--if you do make it with Hellmann's or another sweet mayo, I might not include the sugar.

Pimento Cheese
Adapted from Charlotte Heavner Wallace's (Emily Wallace's grandmother) recipe

1 lb. sharp cheddar (Charlotte used red-rind hoop cheese)
1 4-oz. jar pimentos, diced
4 Tablespoons mayonnaise (Duke's recommended)
1/2 teaspoon mustard
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
Dash vinegary hot sauce, like Cholula or Tapatio

1. Grate cheese into a medium-sized bowl and add entire contents of pimento jar. Mix with a wooden spoon. Add other ingredients and stir to combine. Taste and add any more of the above ingredients according to your preference.

Pimento Cheese and Tomato Pie on Table

Related recipes:
Phoebe Lawless' Rustic Cheese Pie
Savory Heirloom Tomato-Ricotta Galette
Tomato, Bacon & Jalapeno Pie

Last photo by Mackenzie Smith from Pi(e) Day 2014

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pi(e) Day 2014!

Chocolate Chess Pie with 3.14 for Pi(e) Day

In the field of folklore, one way in which we define the traditional arts is as a community-based expression. We're interested in those cultural materials and happenings that arise out of a group of people and are upheld by a community. That could be anything from fiddle and banjo tunes to the labor lore of food service workers to the specific style of a group of graffiti artists. 

I think of pie too as a community-based expression, and like most (but not all) traditional art forms, they are best shared face-to-face, among people gathering together in community. You can lean almost everything there is to know about baking from a book or the internet, but the times when you're sharing it, talking about it, experiencing it with others is when the real learning happens. When you can taste the difference between a lard and butter crust, see how someone else cuts their lemons for their Shaker Lemon Pie, or hear their expression when they tell the story of how they invented a new recipe when they forgot to add a main ingredient--that's where it's at.

Emily in Dollhouse Kitchen
Pi(e) Day table

This is why I like celebrating Pi(e) Day. For me it's an event where this type of sharing can happen informally, even if it's just in the form of some friends sitting down eating together. And of course an excuse to party with pie ain't so bad either.

This year was the 3rd straight year of a DC Pi(e) Day and the 6th annual for me (find posts from past Pi(e) Days here). On Friday, my friend Mackenzie Smith (who made the sweet Buffalo Chicken Fried Pies video!) came down from Brooklyn and hung out in the kitchen, taking these beautiful photos and some video (more on the video soon) while I baked (she also made an amazing caramel for the Apple Pie). In the early evening my friends Roy and Aviva of The Keezletown Strutters showed up with their instruments and a Shaker Lemon Pie in hand, and serenaded Mack and I while we put the finishing touches on the desserts and set up for the party.

Emily Hilliard with whisk in Dollhouse kitchen
Apple Pie on Table for Pi(e) Day

Friends arrived continuously throughout the evening, bringing pies and drinks and more instruments. I lost count of the pie count, but the table was overflowing with Tamale Pie and Onion Pie and Quiche, Blueberry and Coconut and Chess. I made eight pies and some tartlets--Pimento Cheese Tomato Pie (a Pi(e) Day favorite), Coconut Custard Pie + Tartlets, a Lazy Lemon Tart, Tarheel Pie, S'more Pie, Grapefruit Pie (a version of this Atlantic Beach Pie), Buttermilk Chamomile Pie, and an Apple Pie with Salted Caramel Glaze in birthday boy Lars' Prillaman's name.

Aviva's Shaker Lemon Pie for Pi(e) Day
Roy and Aviva aka The Keezletown Strutters at the Dollhouse

The Keezletown Strutters played their heartening & spirited breed of Missouri and Arkansas fiddle tunes, songs, and blues in wonderful two-part harmony (which inspired some waltzing), and we wrapped up the evening with a few living room square dances.

Pimento Cheese & Tomato Pie for Pi(e) Day
Grapefruit Atlantic Beach Pie for Pi(e) Day

Thanks so much to all the bakers and guests for baking and sharing and dancing, and big thanks to Mackenzie Smith for her beautiful documentation of the evening, and The Keezletown Strutters for their wonderful music. Pi(e) Day 2015 (3.1415...!) may be a year away, but more pie parties are just around the corner.

Blueberry Pie for Pi(e) Day
Emily Hilliard, Brent Feito, and Roy Pilgrim Old-Time Jam for Pi(e) Day
Photos by Mackenzie Smith

Monday, March 24, 2014

Johnisha's Pistachio Blood Orange Tart

Johnisha's Pistachio Blood Orange Tart

I had the luck of meeting Johnisha Levi at the LongHouse Scholars Program last summer. Johnisha is a lawyer-turned-pastry chef and her beautiful writing--from a hilarious ode to our Kitchen Aid toaster in the form of a "Rollercoaster of Love" parody to a thoughtful musing on kitchen gadgets and the loss of the tactile experience of cooking--would often bring the other scholars and the rest of the staff to tears and fits of laughter when she read aloud in our living room workshop sessions. She's worked for America's Test Kitchen and now is the Assistant Editor with The Weiser Kitchen. I'm very excited to share some of Johnisha's writing and recipe for these Pistachio Blood Orange Tarts, which just might provide sufficient succor for this (hopefully) last bout of snow we're due to get. You can follow more of Johnisha's work at The Weiser Kitchen and at @johnishalev.

I think I speak for everyone, from Atlanta to Boston, when I say that this winter, we’re all a little snow fatigued. (And yes, it is technically spring, but I’m not so sure that winter is done with us although we are more than done with winter.) On unforgivingly frigid days filled with rounds of snow shoveling (and without the benefit of stay-at-home snow days in New England), I can think of nothing more cheering to eat than a blood orange—its mottled skin concealing pulp the color of a deep crimson sunset. The striking hue of a blood orange is due to anthocyanins, antioxidant pigments that accumulate in response to plunging nighttime temperatures in growing regions of the Mediterranean. So I guess some good things can come of the cold . . .

The last few months, I’ve noticed chefs in Boston using blood oranges in every course from starters to desserts, as well as mixologists employing blood orange liqueur and syrups in the craftiest of cocktails. A salad combination of blood oranges and pistachio got me thinking about a way to bring these ingredients together in pastry.

I started with a pistachio pate sucrée, my adaptation of a go-to tart dough recipe. (The original Pierre Hermé recipe uses almond meal, but pistachios have always been my favorite, so I tweaked the recipe accordingly.) Blood orange curd folded into a stabilized whipped cream makes for a just-firm-enough-to-slice yet creamy tart filling. I add the orange zest before cooking the curd because it gives the curd a more robust flavor and a slight bitterness that I enjoy, but I prefer to strain it out for a silkier end texture.

To further tie together the components and to create some color contrast, I add some sliced blood oranges and a sprinkling of pistachio meal on top of the filling as garnish. Because the flesh of blood oranges is so stunning, I carefully shave away the skin and the pith, and slice crosswise to create wagon wheels spaced slightly apart. This allows the pale orange tart filling to peek through. If you like, you could instead buy additional blood oranges to cover the entire surface with blood orange suprêmes.

A word on tart size. I prefer to use a 7-inch tart pan because it is perfect in a two-party household that consumes rich desserts in petite portions, but feel free to adjust the recipe for a 9-inch tart.  The crust recipe below makes more than enough tart dough for a larger dessert. Just scale the curd and stabilized cream recipes up accordingly—a 1.5 recipe should work nicely with perhaps a little left over to lick the spoon. 

Blood Orange Supremes on Pistachio Custard

Pistachio Blood Orange Tart

Crust adapted from Desserts by Pierre Herme’ // Blood Orange Cream Filling adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Shere and The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

For the crust:
(Note:  This recipe makes enough dough for 3 to 4, 7-inch tart shells. To get the best result, make the full recipe and freeze the rest of the dough for future tarts. Or make more than one tart at a time.)

10 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
¾ cup pistachio meal
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 ¼ cups (16.25 ounces) all-purpose flour

For the blood orange cream tart filling and garnish:
7 strained tablespoons of blood orange juice (from 2 blood oranges)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Zest from 2 blood oranges
1 large egg
4 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
½ cup chilled heavy cream
2 teaspoons powdered sugar
2 ounces melted white chocolate (optional)

For  garnish:
2 blood oranges  
pistachio meal or finely chopped pistachios

To make the crust:
1) In a food processor, pulse the butter until it is creamy, light in color, and free of lumps. Pulse in the sugar and salt until thoroughly blended. Next, pulse in the pistachio meal, followed by the eggs with the vanilla, ensuring that all ingredients are uniformly incorporated before proceeding. Add the flour last, processing just until the dough begins to come together in a ball. Divide into 3 to 4 portions, flatten into disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate to harden before rolling. You can also freeze this dough until ready to use. Just allow 30 to 45 minutes to bring to room temperature. (Note: You can make this dough in a stand mixer instead, making sure to keep the mixture on the lowest speed for the very last step when you incorporate the flour, so as not to overwork the dough and toughen it).

2) Because this dough is very delicate, I recommend rolling it out between sheets of plastic wrap. That way, you have to use minimal  flour (thereby avoiding toughening it) and you can more easily transfer it in order to line the tart shell. If the dough splits while you are lining the tart shell, no need to fear—just press it back together.  Once the tart shell is lined, freeze the dough before baking. This helps it hold its shape.

3) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the tart pan with foil, carefully pressing it into the corners of the tart pan before filling it with rice, beans, or pie weights. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until the crust is set and lightly colored. Remove the foil and pie weights, and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes until the crust is slightly golden around the edges. Transfer the pie shell to a wire rack to cool completely before removing from the tart shell and filling. (Note: the time I provide is for baking the shell straight from the freezer).

To make the blood orange cream:
1) In a non-reactive saucepan, combine the egg, yolks, and sugar, and whisk to combine. Next, add the blood orange juice, lemon juice,  and zest to the saucepan and whisk to combine. Last, add the butter to the saucepan. Over low heat, stir continuously until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and it reaches 180 degrees F. Do not let the mixture boil. If you notice any steam starting to rise from the pan, briefly remove it from the heat while continuing to stir. Immediately strain into a heatproof bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cool.

2) When the curd is completely cooled, make the stabilized whipped cream. In a small heatproof container, sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the cold water. Allow the gelatin to sit, or bloom, for five minutes. Heat the gelatin and water over a water bath, or carefully within a microwave, until the gelatin granules are completely dissolved. Set aside.

3) In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the chilled cream and powdered sugar. On medium speed, beat the cream with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Stop the mixture and check the gelatin. It should still be dissolved and slightly warm to the touch. If it isn’t, carefully reheat. While the cream is beating on medium low, quickly add the gelatin, whipping just to incorporate. (If you over whip, the cream will become grainy.). Fold the curd into the stabilized cream.

Note: If you find that the small volume of cream is difficult to whip in your stand mixer because the cream does not reach far enough up the bowl, you can either whip by hand, or double the recipe and then just use half of the resulting stabilized cream in the tart filling.

To assemble the tart:
 1) Using an offset spatula, smear the bottom of the shell with a thin layer of the melted white chocolate. (This is an optional step, and if using the white chocolate, the layer should be thin enough to see through so that it doesn’t become too challenging to break through the tart shell as you eat.) Fill the tart shell with the blood orange cream and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. When ready to serve, carefully remove the skin and pith from two blood oranges. Slice them crosswise to create wagon wheels to garnish the top of the tart as desired. You can glaze the fruit on top with apricot jammed thinned with water if you wish the fruit to appear fresh for more than a day. Finish with a dusting of chopped pistachios or pistachio meal. 

Pistachio Blood Orange Tart

Related recipes:

Photos, words and recipe by Johnisha Levi. Thank you, Johnisha!

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Friday Pie Slice: First Week of Spring Edition

Marmalade Tart

1st slice. We celebrated Pi(e) Day in great style last Friday, with a plentiful pie potluck, live music from The Keezletown Strutters, and some living room dancing. More on that soon, but for now, peep Elizabeth's sketch from the evening.

2nd slice. St. Patrick's Day has come and gone (and hopefully the snow with it), but Colcannon Pie remains. Thanks Food52 for including it in their 8 Food Blog Links We Love last week.

3rd slice. My professor and mentor Marcie Cohen Ferris is in the lastest issue of Guernica and has important things to say on the legacy of Southern food and the importance of studying foodways. Recommended weekend reading.

The tasty crumbs. My new favorite nerdy food/folklore/anthropology/macabre blog is Nourishing Death, which explores the "relationship between food and death in rituals, culture, religion, and society." Go get you some funeral biscuits.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lemon-Lavender Meringue Pie Cookies

Lemon-Lavender Meringue Pie Cookies with Elizabeth Graeber Table Runner

It's mid-March and I'm looking out to icicles dripping from my roof and the sounds of the neighbor kids having a snow ball fight on their snow day. Signs of spring have been showing themselves--I've spotted crocuses about town, rhubarb is claiming its place at grocery stores and farmers' markets, and spring cookbook review copies have started to appear on my doorstep-- but they've so far been slow and sparse. 

We had so much fun working on our Design*Sponge piece that Morgan and Elizabeth and I vowed to do more collaborations. All feeling the onslaught of the cold, we wanted to do something floral and springy, that might inspire daffodils and bike rides and short sleeves, if only in our minds.

Lemon-Lavender Meringue Pie Cookies

I've been keen on lavender-lemon combinations, and a recipe for Tiny Lemon Meringue Pie Cookies from April Carter's beautiful book trEATs: Delicious Food Gifts To Make At Home (more on the book soon) had recently caught my eye. Morgan added a cocktail of Hendrick's gin, grapefruit juice, and rosewater, which we dubbed The Petal Pusher, and Elizabeth contributed a bright and sunny handpainted table runner. What could beckon spring better than that trio?

For The Petal Pusher recipe, visit Morgan's Panda Head Blog here and to learn how to make your own hand painted table runner, check out the tutorial on Elizabeth's tumblr. For the cookie recipe, read on!

Lemon-Lavender Meringue Pie Cookies

I adapted April Carter's recipe by making the cookies a little bigger (mostly because I didn't have a smaller cookie cutter) and adding lavender buds to the dough. April calls for using Instant Royal Icing Sugar, which I had to go to a specialty cake shop to get, but you could also just make it from scratch. I didn't make my icing stiff enough to begin with, which is why the icing is a little more globby than "meringue peaked," but it still tasted good!

Lemon-Lavender Meringue Pie Cookies
Adapted from TrEATs by April Carter

Makes 2 dozen

For the cookies:
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 large egg yolks
grated zest of 2 small lemons
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons lavender buds + additional to decorate, if desired

For the "meringue" icing:
200g (7 oz.) Instant Royal Icing Sugar (also called Royal Icing Mix)
2-3 Tablespoons water
Yellow nonpareils or sprinkles to decorate, if desired

1. Preheat the oven to 340 degrees F and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment, mix the butter and sugar until the mixture pale and fluffy. Add the yolks and mix well to combine, then add the lemon zest.

3. In another medium-size bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt and stir to combine. Gradually add the flower mixture to the butter mixture, mixing until just combined. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the lavender buds until incorporated.

4. Turn the dough out on floured surface parchment paper and knead until smooth (it can be a bit crumbly, so add a little sprinkle of water if it's too dry to work with). Roll out onto the parchment until it is about 1/4 inch thick (you may have to do this in 2 rounds, depending on the size of your surface). Place another sheet of parchment on top of dough, transfer to the baking sheets, and chill in the freezer about 10 minutes.

5. Remove the dough from the freezer and cut into 2'' circles using a fluted biscuit cutter (or cookie cutter of your choice). Transfer to the lined baking sheet and chill in the freezer another 10 minutes before baking.

6. Bake cookies in the oven for 3-5 minutes until firm yet still pale. Let cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

7. Meanwhile prepare the filling. Mix the Instant Royal Icing Sugar (or make your own royal icing from scratch) with the water to form a smooth paste for piping. Transfer the icing to a piping bag fitted with the 1M star icing tip. Ice a single peak on each cookie and sprinkle with non pareils and lavender buds to decorate. Allow to set hard before packaging.

Lemon Lavender Meringue Pie Cookies with Hendrick's Gin

Related recipes:
Dark Chocolate Lavender Tart with a Lemon Cardamom Crust
Lemon-Ginger Meringue Tartlets
Lemon Meringue Pie

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Friday Pi(e) Slice: Pi(e) Day Edition

Teeny Pie's Bacon Pecan Pie for Pi(e) Day

1st slice. Happy Pi(e) Day! It's that time of year when nerdy mathematicians and nerdy pie bakers get to geek out together. For more history on the holiday, check out American Food Roots feature, which includes two Nothing in the House recipes & a video of our 2011 celebration by Ashley Melzer. More Pi(e) Day parties past here.

2nd slice. Looking for a good pie to make on this pie holiday? Check out our recipe index. I'm working up 9 or 10, including S'more Pie, Coconut Custard Pie, and a Grapefruit version of this Atlantic Beach Pie. I'll share some photos later here and throughout the day on Instagram.

3rd slice. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) 3-D edible printers are not yet a reality (or maybe they are?), so I had to make Elena's Skillet Tarheel Pie for myself. It'll also be on the pie party table tonight.

The tasty crumbs. Yossy's Lemon Meringue Pie for Food52 is inspirational.

Photo of Teeny Pies' Bourbon Bacon Pecan Pie from last year's DC Pi(e) Day

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Colcannon Pie

Colcannon Pie

When my friend Abra was studying at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork, Ireland, we maintained a regular pen pal correspondence. In her letters, she told tales of living in a cottage on the farm while excitedly learning new culinary skills that were often Irish in flavor but upheld broader values of farm-to-table, seasonal, traditional yet creative, and fresh. We also bounced around dreams of future collaborative farms and restaurants, schools and artist collectives.

Abra has since set forth on those aspirations. She works as a chef in Chicago and is part-owner of Michigan's Bare Knuckle Farm, where she runs beautiful farm dinners (she also just shared this fantastic Celery Ham Tart recipe on the blog!). Recently, I was asked to contribute St. Patrick's Day-related recipes to Domicile DC's spring issue, and was browsing through The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie, where I remembered I'd seen a recipe for Colcannon Pie. Then upon reading the headnote, I discovered that the recipe was inspired by Ms. Abra Berens herself. Of course!

Colcannon Pie

Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage, combined with leeks or scallions and butter or cream (as most traditional dishes go, there are many different regional variations). In Ireland, colcannon is historically associated with Halloween--charms hidden inside the colcannon bowl were a game of marriage divination for young girls. Here in the United States, the dish is affiliated with St. Patrick's Day, like many Irish and pseudo-Irish things.

Gordy's Hot Chili Spears

This recipe uses colcannon as a double crust pie filling and adds a few extra ingredients like pickles, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar. Abra uses spicy pickled ramps in her colcannon and Paula Haney of Hoosier Mama calls for celery and shallot pickles in hers, but this time I used Hot Chili Spears from DC locals Gordy's Pickle Jar. The added spice was superb, though you could really use any type of savory pickle you have on hand. Since making it for Domicile and the blog, I also prepared it with friends on a snowy weekend in the Hudson Valley--the perfect context for it, as this is a hearty pie that really sticks to your ribs (I could insert some nerdy potato famine joke here, but I shall refrain). And as a warning, this recipe has a lot of steps and takes some time to make. It's best made when you have some time on your hands, have prepared some items--like the mashed potatoes-- in advance, or have extra hands to help out.

Colcannon Pie, pre-bake

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

2 heads roasted garlic
Approximately 2 ½ pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 ½ inch cubes
Kosher salt
1 cup sour cream
1 stick unsalted butter
¼ cup whole milk

1. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Add a few pinches of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat.

2. Continue to boil the potatoes at medium-high heat until they are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a colander and set aside until the water is drained.

3. Add the sour cream and butter to the still warm pot and warm over medium heat until the butter is melted.

4. Mash the potatoes (I used a standing mixer) and stir them together with cream mixture. Squeeze the roasted garlic from the heads. Add the whole milk and fold in the roasted garlic. Season to taste with salt.

Colcannon Pie with Decorated Crust

Colcannon Pie

¼ head green cabbage, shredded
2 Tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and finely chopped
¼ cup hard cider
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoon maple syrup
2 Tablespoon water
½ cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons buttermilk
4 cups roasted garlic mashed potatoes (recipe below)
¼ cup Gordy’s Pickle Jar Hot Chili Spears, diced (or your favorite pickle variety)
1 large egg, beaten

1. Prepare Nothing in the House pie crust as per the directions. After chilling the dough for at least 1 hour, roll and fit half the crust into a greased and floured pie pan. Return pan and top crust (rolled or unrolled) to the refrigerator while you prepare the filling. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Toss the cabbage with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast the cabbage for 25-30 minutes, turning the pan halfway through, until leaves are soft and starting to brown.

3. Meanwhile, toss the chopped kale with hard cider, vinegar, maple syrup and water in an ovenproof baking dish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and braise in the oven for 25-30 minutes (it can go in while the cabbage is still roasting).  Halfway through, stir and add a bit more water and hard cider if the bottom of the baking dish is dry.

4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir the sour cream and buttermilk into the mashed potatoes. Set aside.

5. Once the cabbage and kale are cooled, combine them, discarding any remaining liquid. Fold the diced pickles and greens into the mashed potatoes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if needed. Pour the filling into the pie shell, spreading evenly with a spatula.

6. Remove crust from refrigerator. Position the top crust over filling and flute and seal the edges. Be sure to add vents so the steam can escape. Freeze the pie at least 1 hour before baking.

7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the frozen pie on a baking sheet and brush the beaten egg over the pie crust and sprinkle with salt, if desired.

8. Bake from frozen for 50-60 minutes, rotating 180 degrees halfway through, until the crust is golden brown and filling is heated through and bubbling out of the vents slightly. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm.

Colcannon Pie Slice

Related recipes:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Joulutorttu or Finnish Jam Tarts

Joulutorttu or Finnish Jam Tarts

I have a bad habit of putting away food for the winter--frozen berries, jams, pickles, and butters-- only to find them still lodged in the back of my freezer/pantry/fridge when their respective season rolls around again. Some of this is because I've in fact forgotten about said items as they inevitably find their way further and further to the dark corners of the shelves, and some of it is because I always think I need to save those precious jams/berries/pickles for something really special; apparently some impossible badge that no birthday, going away party, or worst snow day can ever merit.

Joulutorttu or Finnish Jam Tarts Folding

I didn't put up much this year, but I'm more determined to use up what I've got, and as I've said before, I'm also always looking for a way to combine my love for baking with my penchant for preserving. I came across these Joulutorttu (pronounced YO-loo-TOR-too and translating as "Christmas tarts") or Finnish Jam Tarts on Pinterest, via Sweet Paul. The 4-pointed star tarts/cookies are typically enjoyed at Christmas, but I thought they were a delightful vehicle for a little spring cleaning for forgotten jams. Traditionally made with ricotta in the pastry, this recipe replaces it with cream cheese, resulting in a fluffy and flaky crust due to the high fat ratio. While prune jam is standard, you can use whatever flavor preserves you have on hand. I used a variety of cranberry, persimmon, and strawberry.

Joulutorttu or Finnish Jam Tarts
Joulutorttu or Finnish Jam Tarts

Adapted from Sweet Paul

Makes 3-4 dozen, depending on size

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into chunks
8 oz. cream cheese (ricotta is traditional), softened and cut into chunks
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 egg yolk + 1 egg for sealing tarts
1 cup jam of your choice (I used cranberry, strawberry, and persimmon though prune is traditional)
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter and cream cheese, pulsing to combine. Add heavy cream and yolk of one egg. Pulse until well combined then bring dough together in a ball with your hands. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2-3 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. One a clean, floured surface, roll out dough until thin, about 1/8-inch. Cut into 2-3-inch squares. Cut a 1-inch diagonal slice in the center of each corner. Spoon 1 teaspoon of jam in the center of the square, then fold down alternating corners of the square over the jam, using an egg wash to seal.

3. Place tarts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden, about 12-13 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack and dust with confectioner's sugar once cooled. Serve at room temperature.

Joulutorttu or Finnish Jam Tarts with Coffee

Related recipes:

Monday, March 03, 2014

Grasshopper Pie

Grasshopper Pie is a 1950s chiffon-style diner pie in full, unabashed glory, complete with an Oreo crust, gelatin, and a shockingly bright hue not readily found in nature (it also happens to be a very 50s shade of green). According to Jean Anderson's The American Century Cookbook, the recipe may have been developed by the Knox Gelatine and Heublein Cordial companies as a way to promote their products. Though there is a mention of "grasshopper pie" in the New York Times, dating back to 1904, that one is made from real grasshoppers and is said to have originated in the Philippines. Food historians date the creme de menthe version to the late 1950s and early 1960s. The grasshopper name comes from the similarly flavored green cocktail-- made from cream, creme de menthe, and white creme de cacao--that had its heyday in that era.

I whipped up this version, adapted from Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts, for the new local magazine Domicile DC's spring issue. The green color makes it a natural pick for St. Patrick's Day, and the mint-chocolate combination paired with an icebox treatment allows it to be a refreshing choice for both winter, summer, or the dawning of spring.

Grasshopper Pie

For the crust:
¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 ½ cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 25 cookies)
1/4 cup sugar
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 cup loosely packed fresh spearmint leaves
1 cup heavy cream, cold
3 Tablespoons green crème de menthe
2 ¼ teaspoons (1 envelope) unflavored powdered gelatin
5 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar

For the topping (optional):
Whipped cream
3 chocolate sandwich cookies
Chocolate shavings
Shredded coconut

For the crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease and flour a 9-inch pie plate. In a medium bowl, whisk together coconut, cookie crumbs, and sugar. Add melted butter and stir until well combined. 

2. Press crumb mixture into the pie plate, forming a crust. Bake until firm for 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

For the filling:
1. In a medium size bowl, prepare an ice water bath and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring milk and mint just to a boil. Remove from heat and cover. Let steep 15 minutes, then pour mixture through a fine sieve into a glass measuring cup or bowl. Discard the mint leaves and set aside milk. 

2. Beat cream in a chilled medium-sized mixing bowl until stiff peaks form. Cover the bowl and refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the filling.

3. Pour the crème de menthe into a medium heatproof bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let stand 5 minutes to soften. In another medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Add the steeped milk to the softened gelatin, whisking until well-mixed.

4. Set the bowl with the milk mixture over (not in) a pan of simmering water. A double boiler works well for this if you have one. Whisk continuously until the gelatin is dissolved, about 1 minute. While whisking, pour the hot milk mixture in a slow, steady stream into the yolk mixture. Return the combined mixture to the heatproof bowl and set over the simmering water. Cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture is slightly thickened and reaches 150 degrees F on a candy thermometer, about 8-10 minutes.

5. Transfer the bowl to the ice water bath, whisking until the mixture thickens to the consistency of mousse or pudding (about 2-5 minutes). Remove the bowl from the bath and whisk in 1/3 of the reserved whipped cream until combined. Gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream using a rubber spatula. Spoon the mixture into the pie crust, then refrigerate until set for 6 hours or up to 1 day.

For topping:
1. Scoop whipped cream onto the center of the pie and sprinkle with chocolate shavings and shredded coconut. Top with sandwich cookies, if desired. Serve chilled.

Related recipes:
Bourbon Icebox Pie
Lemon Icebox Pie
Nutella Icebox Pie
Peppermint Pattie Tart

Photos by Kelly Alfaro for DomiCile Magazine

Cranberry Chess Pie

Fig Pistachio Tarte Tatin

Peppermint Pattie Tart

Whiskey & Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

Blog Archive