Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Party Pies 2015

I had trouble getting a photo of all three pies, but I made Coconut Custard, Chocolate Pudding, and Crapple pies for this year's party. The Chocolate Pudding Pie was the first to go and there was not a crumb left of any of them by the end of the party. Next year, more pie.

Current Pie Tally: 185

Thanksgiving Pies 2015

We had a full house for Thanksgiving this year, with most of my husband's family in attendance. My husband insisted on Pumpkin, while I had a craving for Chocolate Pecan. So I made both. I served the Chocolate Pecan Pie with caramel ice cream topping and vanilla ice cream. Oh man, so good. Also, I used 1/4 c. brown rice syrup and 1/4 c. sorghum for the syrup mixture in the Chocolate Pecan Pie. Sadly, the Pumpkin did not get finished before it went bad. Pumpkin Pie (and any cream based pie, really) is such an eating commitment!

Current Pie Tally: 182

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Chicken Pot Pie

It's been a while since I've made one of these. I used this recipe, substituting chicken for veal, and celery for potatoes. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to file this in the "bad luck pie" category from now on. Right around the time I made this, my blood work from the doctor came back showing high cholesterol. What is a pie princess to do? I shall keep churning the pies out for those I love, but it will be hard to keep my own fork out of the pie. It's only been a few weeks, but I could really go for a piece of pie right about now.

Current Pie Tally: 180

Plum Lucky Apple Pie for Poker Night

In order to stay in the good graces of his monthly poker group, my husband asked me to send him to the last game night with my winning pie from this year's Takoma Park Farmer's Market Apple Pie Contest. He later came home with $1 in winnings and an empty pie dish. Despite the meager winnings, there was some banter about regular payment for the pie if it showed up consistently every month.

Current Pie Tally: 179

Straight Up Apple Pie

I told some in-laws of friends across the street that I would make them an apple pie if they brought me some McCoun apples from New York. They delivered and so did I! We all enjoyed a pleasant slice of pie outdoors while the kids ran around after dinner one night. I used my traditional apple pie recipe, but used fresh-squeezed orange juice for the fruit juice and brown rice syrup instead of molassas. In the future, I think I'll experiment a bit more with the syrup used or up the amount of sugar. I think it would have been a bit tastier if it was a tad sweeter. Just a tad, mind you.

Current Pie Tally: 178

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I Make the Best Pies in Town

I am an undisputed champion! I have now won the Takoma Park Farmer's Market Apple Pie Contest every year that I have entered it (3 times). Woohoo! I think I shall rest on my laurels next year and play the volunteer role to give someone else a shot at a prize. A big thanks to my friends and neighbors who also entered pies or volunteered this year. Your pies were delicious and it was so much fun to have so much company this year! And a huge thanks to my husband. Without him, there is no pie. Because somebody has to watch the kids.

My Plum Lucky Apple Pie won Most Unusual this year. I got a shiny blue ribbon and a fancy new Takoma Park Farmer's Market baseball cap. Thanks Takoma Park! My Cider-Poached Apple Pie did not win a prize this year, but the crowd was very interested in its white fluffy topping (whipped cream) and I think some more tweaking could make it a contender. I won't post that recipe yet, since it requires more testing. Here's the recipe for the big winner:

Plum Lucky Apple Pie (makes one 9.5" pie)

buttery pastry dough for bottom and top crust
5 Gingergold apples (peeled, cored, & thickly sliced)
4 black plums (peeled, pitted, & thickly sliced)
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2.5 T. unsalted butter
1/4 c. + 1/8 c. packed brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
2 T. apple cider
1/2 T. arrowroot starch
1/4 c. apple-prune puree (Simmer 1 peeled and chopped apple with 4 prunes in 1/4 c. fresh orange juice for 20 min. Cool slightly. Puree.)

3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. chopped pecans
6 T. butter, cut into small squares
1/4 t. salt

Roll out dough and place in 9.5" pie dish. Crimp overhang and pierce all over with fork. Freeze while oven preheats to 375F. Line pie shell with pie weights and bake at 375F for 12 min. Remove pie weights and bake an additional 12 min. Cool while filling and topping are prepared. Toss apples with lemon juice. Set plums aside in a separate bowl. Mix apple cider with arrowroot starch in a separate bowl. Melt butter in a large skillet over med heat. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and stir to blend. Add apples and saute for 4 min. Add plums and saute and additional 1 min more. Add cider-starch mixture and stir vigorously until thickens and bubbles, about 2-3 min more. Remove from heat. Stir in apple-prune puree. Pour into prepared pie crust. Mix topping ingredients together in a large bowl with your fingertips until clumpy. Sprinkle over top of pie. Bake at 350F for 40 min. Enjoy!

Current Pie Tally: 177

Labor Day Pie Contest Practice

As the big Takoma Park Farmer's Market Apple Pie Contest loomed closer, I baked an experimental pie or two for the Labor Day Block Party as I have done in the past. It's becoming the venue for getting a sneak peak at my pie contest entries. The two trial pies you see here are an Apple Custard Pie and a Plum Lucky Apple Pie (apple & plums). The Apple Custard Pie was good, but it didn't make the cut. I baked it according to my Rhubarb Custard Pie recipe and substituted granny smith apples for the rhubarb. I cooked it at 400F for 40-45 min. The custard came out great, but the fruit just didn't have enough full-bodied flavor to make it a contest contender. Maybe if I could find some super flavorful super sour apples in the future it would have a chance. The Plum Lucky Apple Pie was a crowd favorite at the Block Party, so I decided to make one of those for the contest even though it seemed a bit boring to me. More on that in the next post.

Current Pie Tally: 175

Mom's Birthday Rhubarb Custard Pie

This pie is the result of an impulse purchase of some beautiful rhubarb they had at the farmer's market one week. It was so beautiful in fact that a passerby commented on the "lovely" rhubarb I had sticking out of my backpack. I didn't get a chance to use it right away, so I brought it with me on vacation and made it for my mother's birthday. It came out perfectly despite using foreign tools and appliances. Mom was delighted. Here is the recipe. This time I baked it at 400F for about 45 min. Slam dunk!

Current Pie Tally: 173

Cherry Blackberry Pie

A visitor from Germany had the pleasure of sharing this pie with us when she came to tour my husband's lab. This is my go-to 4th of July pie and it came out great as always. Recipe can be found here. For this one, I used 4 T. arrowroot starch instead of tapioca.

Current Pie Tally: 172

Cherry Berry Pie

In the interest of catching up quickly from my lackadaisical summer of pie, I'm going to bulldoze ahead with spotty details here. This pie had strawberries and cherries in it. Possibly rhubarb or something else also. I think I made it for a neighborhood event of some kind and the recipe is probably similar to this one. Apologies for the lameness of my remembering abilities. It looks tasty though, doesn't it?

Current Pie Tally: 171

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Double Duty Strawberry Rhubarb Pies

One for the Book Club and one for the father-in-law. I ate some of both! They came out great. I'm coming off a hat-trick of superb crusts on these beauties. The past three have all teetered on the edge of total and complete crumbleation. Instead of the big FAIL though, I managed to put everything right with a few barely-held-together hobo patch jobs. I'm feeling good. I'm so "in the zone." Strawberry Rhubarb recipe can be found here. I used my own crust recipe, cornstarch instead of arrowroot, didn't do any of that eggyolk glazing bullhonkey, and baked at 425F for 25 min, then reduced to 350F for 40-50 minutes more. There should be pie goo splashing all over at the end. That's how you know it's done.

Current Pie Tally: 170

Block Party Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

This little pie is evidence of how the cycle of pie-making can be somewhat vicious. After this hit the table at the block party, it was quickly consumed. Then the request hit. "Could you by chance make one of these for Book Club this week? It's my favorite." The gears in my brain churned. My father-in-law was due to arrive in a couple days. If there is a person who looks forward to my pie with his entire being, it is this man. Pie was already on the horizon. "The probability is good," I said. "I've got to make one for my father-in-law anyway.". Strawberry Rhubarb recipe can be found here. I used my own crust recipe, cornstarch instead of arrowroot, didn't do any of that eggyolk glazing bullhonkey, and baked at 425F for 25 min, then reduced to 350F for 40-50 minutes more. There should be pie goo splashing all over at the end. That's how you know it's done.

Current Pie Tally: 168

Birthday Pies on the Porch

The neighbors, my husband (the birthday boy), and I did a decent job diving into these Pecan and Strawberry Rhubarb Pies on a Friday night in May. It was one of those rare evenings with perfect weather, a great night for pie on the porch. The pie was pretty perfect too, though the Pecan Pie turned out a bit too sorghummy. Maybe I've got some high octane sorghum on hand this time. The stuff I used to get was from the farmer's market in Madison, WI and was probably a bit milder. Next time, I'll use less sorghum and more brown rice syrup, maple syrup, and honey. Pecan Pie recipe can be found here. I used 1/2 c. sorghum instead of the brown rice syrup this time. Strawberry Rhubarb recipe can be found here. I used my own crust recipe, cornstarch instead of arrowroot, didn't do any of that eggyolk glazing bullhonkey, and baked at 425F for 25 min, then reduced to 350F for 40-50 minutes more. There should be pie goo splashing all over at the end. That's how you know it's done.

Current Pie Tally: 167

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Last-Minute Coconut Custard Pie

We had three parties to attend yesterday: two kids' birthday parties and one faculty schmoozer type grill party for my husband's work. While at birthday party number one, husband casually mentions that we are supposed to bring something to the faculty party. And it was requested that the something be a pie. Made by me. Instead of braving the Saturday crowds at Whole Foods to pick up strawberries and rhubarb (besides I'm making those for husband's birthday this week in keeping with tradition), I made another Coconut Custard Pie since I had the ingredients on hand. I also finally got to try the recipe using coconut milk instead of cow's milk. I think the coconut milk made the pie lighter and fluffier somehow, though I have no quantitative evidence to support that. Anyway, here's the quick recipe (adapted from a recipe in the Penzey's spice catalog):

Coconut Custard Pie (makes one 8" pie)

pre-cooked bottom pie crust
2 eggs
3/4 c. plus 2 T. granulated sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/8 t. salt
1 c. coconut milk (not low-fat)
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. coconut extract
4 T. melted unsalted butter
3.5 oz. sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat eggs in a large bowl. With the exception of the coconut, add the remaining filling ingredients and beat well. Fold in the coconut. Pour into pre-baked pie crust. Bake at 350 F for 44 minutes. Center should still be a little bit jiggly. Allow to cool. I like to eat it when it's still a touch warm. Refrigerate after it's been out for more than a day.

Current Pie Tally: 165

Memorial Meringues

Some friends across the street have become very dear to me over the past year or so. I made these Lemon Meringue Pies to honor their mother/grandmother as part of a memorial gathering after her burial at Arlington. I hadn't made a Lemon Meringue pie in ages, so was glad to have the chance. I was also touched to get to know the deceased pie maker through her recipe. She used all butter and egg yolk in her crust. She was my kind of pie lady. Rest in peace.

Current Pie Tally: 164

Monday, April 13, 2015

Coconut Custard, Take 2

I made this one the same as the last pie I made and it came out consistently excellent. Now to start tweaking!

Current Pie Tally: 162

Pie Day Coconut Custard Pie

I made this for Pie Day this year (March 14). It may have been a day early or a day late, but it was an excuse to make pie just the same. A Coconut Cream Pie recipe in the new Penzey's Spices catalog inspired me to make this one. My past experience making Coconut Cream Pie led me to believe it was really more of a custard than a cream. I am still tweaking my version of the recipe, but I will post it when I am satisfied. The next version will use coconut milk instead of whole cow's milk. I'm excited to try the result. One bag of sweetened shredded/flaked coconut from the store makes four of these pies, so I've got two more before the bag is gone.

Current Pie Tally: 161

Forgotten Chocolate

I wish I could remember what I made this Chocolate Pudding Pie for. Perhaps someone came to visit us or I had a party to go to? It's all a blur. Oh wait, it's coming back to me. I think I may have made it for when I hosted Book Club a month or so ago. Anyway, here is the link to the recipe. Omit coffee ingredients and substitute arrowroot starch for cornstarch.

Current Pie Tally: 160

Monday, January 12, 2015

Turtle Ice Cream Pie

A little late on getting the post up, but Merry Christmas! I mixed things up this year by making a genre of pie I've never made before. I have to say I liked it! Very easy to make, but I probably wouldn't futz with all of the caramel layering they do in the recipe next time. Just straight ice cream topped with the caramel, chocolate ganache, and pecans would have done the trick. I also just made a straight-up graham cracker crust. While I made this pie with every family member on board about eating it, my husband and I ate pretty much all of it. The kids were blinded by the candy light shining forth from their Christmas stockings for a good long while and no other sweets would be considered. Recipe can be found here.

Current Pie Tally: 159