Category Archives: pies, tarts, and crumbles
Jan 28 comments
This Christmas we bounced all around the northeast visiting family from every branch of our tree. We started in Wilmington and visited Morehead City, Virginia Beach (twice), Lansdale PA, and Lorton, VA. We saw all of our parents, most of our siblings, both of our nieces, and in an experience that was more rare than the Southern snow storm I'm currently watching from my window, the whole of my mom's immediate family, all in one place. For the first time since I was the tallest cousin (read: many years), all of us- my grandparents, my mom and her five siblings, their partners and children, were all in one place. We all traveled, from places as far flung as Zanzibar, to a beautiful beach house in Virginia to eat, drink, laugh, and be together. It was amazing. I'm often asked, especially since the debut of The American Cookbook, where I was trained, how I got into cooking. The short answer is that I'm self taught, but the long answer is that I come from two families that are more passionate about food than they are about most anything else. I come by it naturally because I was raised in a culture of food. For months (months) leading up to this trip there was a family email thread wherein we debated the intricacies of the trip- most importantly, the meals. By April we'd already decided who would cook each night, and by September there were spreadsheets going around detailing who was bringing the tomatoes and who was bringing the chili paste. More than anything else about this whole trip, this whole Christmas, I was excited to cook with my family. To share what I've learned, to stand around the stovetop cracking jokes and eating out of the pan. To be together enjoying our favorite thing. Dan and I were responsible for dinner the second night we were all there, and it was a fantastic day of cooking. After a leisurely morning and the first of many meals featuring pork roll, Aunt Jill and I made a pear and pecan pie using all the tools included in our first taste of The Besh Box. I was lucky enough to have a Besh Box land on my doorstep shortly before Christmas and I knew it would be the perfect project for my crazy, picky, food-loving family. A subscription based kit, each Besh Box features ingredients, tools, and recipes to help you expand your kitchen horizons. The holiday kit included everything from a pastry knife to Louisiana pecans. Of all the meals we cooked and ate during that week, this was my favorite. Along with the pies we made samosas, chicken tikka masala and garlic naan, a project that was truly communal. One Aunt stirred the masala pot while another pulled samosas out of the oven. My mom and two of my cousins totally took over the frying and seasoning of the naan with assembly line precision that would put Henry Ford to shame. Dinner was family style, of course, on a long table that sat all of us. There were toasts and stories and it was perfect. One of the things that I've learned over the years is that it doesn't always matter what you're making or even how it tastes. What matters is the experience of making it, the act cooking and feeding. Like serving your closest friends a breakfast that will hit the spot or slicing apples next to your Aunt, catching up and being together and making together. My favorite meals are always those that remind me that cooking is so much more than making food, and food is so much more than nutrients. Pear and Pecan Pie 6 pears 1/2 stick of butter 1 vanilla bean 2/3 cup brown sugar Dash of ginger Dash of cinnamon 2 tbsp all purpose flour 1 cup fresh pecans 1 tbsp salted butter, melted 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 egg Pie crust (recipe here) Peel and slice your pears. Melt butter in saute pan. Add in pears, sugar, and spices. Let simmer for twenty minutes or so, until pears are very tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in flour, remove from heat. Set aside. Heat oven to 375F. Toss pecans in melted butter and brown sugar. Spread over a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until toasted. Prepare your dough. Divide in two and roll out bottom crust. Spoon filling into dough,and top with pecans. Roll out remaining pie crust and spread over the pie, pinching the edges to seal. Whisk together honey and egg. Brush onto the top of the pie crust. Cut five or six slits in the top crust. Bake at 375* for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Dec 15 comments
This season has made me realize how truly, incredibly, overwhelmingly blessed I am. It's been a hard few months, full of happiness and good fortune and time with family but also loss and heartache. It's always a balance, but every once in a while something amazing happens that reminds you that you are loved. As silly as it sounds, that something this month has been the results of this crazy whirlwind contest- the Colombo Marsala Recipe Contest. Going into it I was hopeful but didn't have any expectations of winning. I did my best to create a recipe that I was proud of, I encouraged my friends, family, and readers to vote (and tried to walk the line between enthusiastic and obnoxious), and I crossed my fingers. And while I was sitting there hoping, something magical happened. I watched people I love sharing the link, over and over, encouraging their friends and family to vote. My aunt texting the extended family once a day to remind them. People I hadn't seen or spoken to in months or even years rallying for me. My sister in Dublin asking people who came into her boutique to vote. My dad asking people at the bar with us for their vote. It was inspiring. It was humbling. I am so grateful. Voting ends tonight and I'm up by a fair margin. For that, I owe you all a debt of gratitude. The winner will be announced on the 20th and it will be determined by the number of votes, the quality of the recipe, and the merits of the blog post. Whether or not we go to Italy, I am so grateful for what this contest has taught me. These past two weeks have shown me the type of love and small acts of kindness that this holiday season is supposed to be all about; it's a small and silly thing to vote for someone in a recipe contest but it has meant the world to me. Please know that I am so thankful, that you all have made my world a better place. Consider this pie, a traditional vinegar chess pie, my thanks. It's a sweet and simple pie that is warm and filling. The perfect balance to hot chocolate and peppermint and the decadence of the Christmas dessert table. And, with the help of a heart shaped cookie cutter, the perfect way to add a little love to your plate. Vinegar Pie pie dough 2 1/4 cups flour 2 tbsp sugar 1 tsp salt 1/4 cup vegetable shortening 1 1/2 sticks butter Ice cold water chess 5 eggs 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 1 tsp vanilla 2 tbsp flour 1 tsp ginger 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp nutmeg 1 tsp cardamom 1/2 cup butter, melted Begin by making your pie dough. Mix together dry ingredients. Using your hands, work in the shortening. Cube the butter and cut that in, until the dough has the consistency of cornmeal. Add ice water, as needed, until the dough clings. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. To make the chess combine your dry ingredients. Using an electric mixer, beat them together. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the butter, melted. Add in vanilla and vinegar. Heat your oven to 325. Roll out your pie dough and press into pie dish. Pour filling into the dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until the pie is brown and mostly set. Let cool. Serve at room temperature.
Nov 10 comments
This time of year, everything is pumpkin. Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin soup, pumpkin beer. And while I occasionally indulge (especially in the pumpkin beer category), I tend to stay true to the classic- pumpkin pie. The first time I tried my hand at making a pumpkin pie from a pumpkin and not a can of Libby's it was a complete disaster. A fiasco, if you will. I'm not sure if it had more to do with the fact that I forgot to add spices to the pie or sugar to the whipped cream, but the pie was a bust. It made matters worse that it was the first time that I cooked dinner for the Turcottes, so the failure was amplified. Let's just say that I was mortified and Meredith cried. This time around it was slightly less dramatic. I opted for a filling that included buttermilk, Greek yogurt, brown sugar, and a lot of spices and the result was a fresh and tangy pie that was a different take on the classic. Traditional enough to earn a place on your holiday table but unique enough to make it stand out from the crowds. Sugar Pie Pumpkin Pie 1 sugar pie pumpkin 1 cup buttermilk 1 cup Greek yogurt 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 tbsp cinnamon 1 tbsp powedered ginger 1/2 tbsp cloves 1/2 tbsp nutmeg 2 eggs Pie dough (halve recipe) Heat oven to 350F. Halve and gut pumpkin. Roast pumpkin, skin side up, for 35 minutes or until tender. Let cool. Heat oven to 425F. Mix together pumpkin puree, buttermilk, yogurt, sugar, eggs, and spices. Roll dough out and press into pie dish. Transfer filling into dough and sprinkle with ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes and then drop heat to 350F. Bake for an additional 35-40 minutes or until mostly firm (it's okay if the center jiggles a bit). Let cool and serve with spiced whipped cream.