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Entries in Pie Month (13)

Sunday
Jan092011

Apple Green-Chili Pie With Cheddar Crust and Walnut Streusel | Walnut Giveaway from California Walnuts | Pie Month

Part 3 in our Month of Pie series. Pie Month is a celebration of things we love. Because life is hard, and there should always be more pie. Have a look at the other entries. Really. 
Pie #1 - Lemon Cream Icebox Pie
Pie #2 - Malted Crisp Tart
Pie #4 -  Peanut Butter Cream Pie with Chocolate Cream Pie, Caramel & Deep Dark Fudge

There’s a giveaway at the end of this post. Walnuts, people.

Pie isn’t always easy. But it’s always worth the challenge. And sometimes, one time, you make your first successful crust.


When we started thinking about the Month of Pie, back in November, I put a call out on Twitter for people to share their favorite pies. So many great suggestions came rolling in, but one stood out as a challenge. Did we dare make this pie? 


Sean Timberlake, who runs Hedonia and Punk Domestics, responded that there was one pie he liked a lot. It’s from Chile Pies and Ice Cream in San Francisco. Apples, roasted green chilies, walnut streusel topping, and a cheddar cheese crust. It sounded like a mashup of the Southwest and our favorite cinnamon crumb apple pie



So this weekend, I decided I was up for the challenge of something different. With a quick search, I found the recipe for the pie Sean liked, from the November 16, 2010 edition of the New York Times as the lead in a profile of innovative pies and their makers. Which means at almost the same time Sean mentioned it to me, the Times was printing it. Clearly, this makes Sean a trendsetter of record. And Sean clued me into the secret topping, not in the NY Times recipe, which is the chili honey. The chili honey is a stunner. Like liquid red hot candy.


This pie is a beauty. A breeze to make. The crust was a complete success. It’s the first time I’ve ever made a pie crust that was worth eating and held together. And the cheddar in there really stands out (I used Kerrygold Reserve Cheddar which added a tangy depth of flavor). I no longer fear the crust.


The streusel topping? Brilliant. Steal this topping. The perfect texture for the softness of the chilies and apples. The walnuts come through strong, with the sweet crunch from the brown sugar and the butter.


So, what about the chilies? Honestly, they’re a challenge. This is going to be right in some reader’s crave spot, and for others it will miss completely. I love this pie. Karen respected it. That’s OK. Part of this Month of Pie is to move beyond our tried and true, and chilies in our apple pie stretched us toward new flavors and forced us to think about pie differently.


Apparently, 2011 is the year of the Pie, according to a story on NPR that came out right as we started our Month of Pie. With such focus, the traditional pies, the classics, will remain. But a month of pie, let alone a year, demands new approaches, new considerations. And this is always good, not matter the results. 

Recipes




Walnut giveaway
We were lucky enough to receive a five pound box of walnuts from California Walnuts. We love these folks. They supported us during our weird, funny, and sad online-only conference, BlogHer Food Pity Party. #BHF10PP for those in the know. (Side note...we’re running #BHF11PP. Stay tuned for the wallowing). 


California Walnuts sent us gift of walnuts from their latest crop, and we told them we were going to share the love with our readers. So here’s your chance to win a ton (OK, five pounds) of beautiful walnut halves, all thanks to California Walnuts.


Sorry, the winner was already chosen. But feel free to tell us your favorite pie in the comments below. We love the inspiration.


Here are the rules:
  • Leave a comment below telling us your favorite pie for your first entry.
  • This contest is open to people (and animals, I guess, if they have internet access) in the US AND Canada. Love you, Canada.
  • All comments (and extra entries listed below) must be entered by 12:00 pm Eastern on Friday, January 14.
  • We will announce the winner, chosen by random.org, at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, so come back and see if you won.


For extra entries
Listen, you don’t have to do any of these if you don’t want. Just do them if you feel like it.
  • Go “Like” California Walnuts on Facebook if you’re on FB. Come back and let us know that you “Liked” them. (or tell us that you’re already their fan on FB).
  • If you use Twitter, tweet something nice about @CaWalnuts & @thepeche (put us both in the same tweet, please).
  • Go “Like” The Peche on Facebook. If you’re already a fan, you’ve already received an extra entry.
Disclosure
We're not receiving any compensation for this giveaway. We just like California Walnuts.

Thursday
Jan062011

Malted Crisp Tart (via Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito) | Pie Month

This is the 2nd entry in our Month of Pie. Pie Month is a celebration of things we love. Because life is hard, and there should always be more pie. Have a look at the other entries. Really. 
Pie #1 - Lemon Cream Icebox Pie
Pie #3 - Apple Green-Chili Pie with Cheddar Crust and Walnut Streusel
Pie #4 -  Peanut Butter Cream Pie with Chocolate Cream Pie, Caramel & Deep Dark Fudge

One of my crowning achievements in life is teaching my father how to make Diplomat Cream. And caramelized crisp rice.

I made this tart with my dad. He and my mom drove the day after Christmas in the middle of what turned out to be a blizzard to get our house so that they could bring Christmas gifts to their grandkids (and see us, too, I suppose).

We made this is the last day of their visit. The kids were down for a nap (and so was Karen), and my mom was doing a little bit of shopping. It was just my dad and I.  I started making the tart, and he called from the other room if he could help. I initially said no because I wanted him to just enjoy himself andrest a bit before the long drive back home to Indiana.

Then I realized I wanted to cook again with my dad. I should take every chance I can to cook with both of my parents. So I asked him for help. Which is the best thing you can ask for from my dad. He’s at his best when he knows you need him. Dad doesn't mind playing sous chef at all, and he's a pretty good one, too. I gave them full reign over caramelizing the rice cereal (he had doubts about the Baked guys’ instructions to look for a little bit of smoke to know they were done, but there came the smoke, and the candied cereal came out perfectly).



He asked if anything else needed to be done. I almost sent him back to the couch, but there was Diplomat Cream to be made (capialized for emphasis). Diplomat Cream is essentially just stirring, and my motto is “Can you stir? Great, then you can make (insert one of the serveral dishes we’ve made on here that require a little stirring, like risotto or lemon curd).” Diplomat Cream is the same thing, just some stirring. So other than the crust, my dad made this tart.

The time involved actually making the tart is minimal. However there is a lot of resting and cooling time that you need to plan for. My advice? Start this tart early in the morning or the night before you actually need it. None of the steps are time-consuming, and it all comes together rather nicely.

Is a tart a pie? When we told people we were going to be doing the Month of Pie, the second tweet that I received was encouragement to remember that pies and tarts are all part of the same family. I like that family. And I love this tart. Other than the three pieces I let my dad, mom, and Karen eat, I ate the whole tart. I intended to share with the neighbors, but I ended up eating every single crumb, often standing over the kitchen sink while no one was looking. It’s a beautiful tart, and the looks match the taste. From the malt in the cream and chocolate to the Whoppers on top and in the filling, it’s flavor is bold and creamy. And a whole lot of happy.

A note about the crust...it is spectacular. Steal this crust. Make it for anything you possible can. It is so simple to make, and the brown sugar provides such a depth of flavor. Genius, Baked. Genius. (You really should buy their new book. It’s all spectacular.)

recipe | Malted Crisp Tart (via Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

Ingredient list

For the brown sugar crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon malted milk powder
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into half-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the caramelized crispies
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups crisp rice cereal
For the milk chocolate ganache
  • 8 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped, (We used Scharffen Berger)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons malted milk powder
For the malted pastry cream
  • 1 1/4 c whole milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • one large egg yolk
  • One large egg
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons malted milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces heavy cream
Additional items needed
  • One cup crushed malted milk balls
  • More malted milk balls to make it look pretty on top

To make the crust
Spray or butter the tart pan.  Pull out your food processor. Add all the ingredients for the crust in and pulse until you get crumbs.

Dump the mixture from the food processor into the tart pan. Press the crust into place.

Put the tart crust into the freezer for about 20 min.

Meanwhile turn on your oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Take the tart pan out of the freezer, put it on a baking sheet, and throw it  in the oven until golden brown between 20 and 30 min. Ours took 23 minutes. Pull it out of the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

For the caramelized crisp rice
Note - If you have a Silpat or similar type of baking pad, you'll want to use it here. If you don't, the Baked guys recommend taking aluminum foil and spraying it  with vegetable oil.

Add 2 tablespoons of water and the sugar into a small saucepan. Place over low heat and get it boiling for 1 minute.

Add in the rice cereal and stir. Keep stirring until you start to see wisps of smoke rising up. Stir just a little bit more to make sure the caramelized sugar is all over the crispies and then pour them out onto the Silpat  or aluminum foil. Once cooled, break them into pieces if needed.

For the ganache
Chop up your milk chocolate and place in a medium-size bowl.

Whisk together the heavy cream and malt powder in a saucepan. Place it over low heat and bring to a simmer. Watch the cream carefully because it can boil in an instant and then it becomes terrible frothy mass. I speak from experience, having to start over. Pour it over the chocolate and let it sit for 2 minuntes. After the 2 minuntes. put your whisk in the middle of the mixture, turning around and around until you reach the edge of the bowl. It's a really beautiful process to watch the ganache come together.

To assemble the tart
Pour the ganache into the tart shell. Throw some crused malted milk balls on top along with one cup of the caramelized crisp rice. Slightly press milk balls and crispies into the ganache so that it all sticks together. Throw the tart in the refrigerator while you make the malted Diplomat Cream

Make the malted diplomat cream
Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl.

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer and keep it warm.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg, egg yolk, cornstarch, and the malted milk powder until it becomes pale-ish yellow (about 1 minunte). Whisk in half of the warm milk into the egg mixture. Then pour the mixture back into the remaining milk in saucepan. Whisk the saucepan constantly until the whole thing thickens. Our mixture took about 8 minuntes. Yours may take less. Take it off the heat and throw in the butter and vanilla and whisk again until fully incorporated.

Then take the pastry cream and pour it into the sieve to remove any of the milk solids. Take a piece of plastic wrap and put it right on top of the pastry cream so you don't get any nasty thick skin on it. Put in the refrigerator for at least an hour until chilled.

Bring pastry cream after an hour out of the refrigerator and whisk it up until it looks like itself again.

In another bowl, whisk the heavy cream until you get soft peaks.Then fold it into the Diplomat Cream.

Take the tart out of the refrigerator and pour the Diplomat Cream on top of the milk chocolate. Garnish with some more malted milk balls if you have them (make it impressive) and then the rest the caramelized crispies on top. It then needs to refrigerate for at least another 30 minuntes. Sorry to make you wait.

Monday
Jan032011

lemon cream icebox pie | pie month

Pie Month is a celebration of things we love. Because life is hard, and there should always be more pie. Have a look at the other entries. Really. 



We just bought a snowblower with our neighbors, Kevin and Tara. 
These are the nice people who give us things when they're done with them: swing sets, toys, Batman computers, two massive toddler car seats, clothes for the kids. They also came running when the tree fell on our house
The latest thing they gave was a custom-made privacy fence for our boxy air conditioner exhaust unit (you know, that ugly thing sitting outside our house in the landscaping). Kevin was making it for their house, but it ended up not working for them. Fortunately, it fit our house to the inch. It's all shiny and pretty and made of cedar lattice. Secretly, I think he made it just for us. 
When I mentioned to him last month that we were buying a snowblower, his eyes brightened. He wanted in. We'd go halfsies. No more shoveling ourselves out of the wet mess of winter.
After using it last week to dig out from the 30 inches of snow we were buried in, Kevin told me I got the Nobel Prize for Best Neighbor Ever.  He, of course, forgot about all the things they had done for us. And also that he and Tara were paying half for snowblower.
So we made them pie.
This month, we decided to make a lot of pie. Originally we wanted to do a pie every day. 31 pies sounded like a great idea. Quite a few people have done something like it, including Evan Kleiman from KCRW’s Good Food (I cook while listening to the podcast every week). But then we realized we’d never do 31, at least not this year. Or this life. So we’re going to make and post as many as we can. Right now, it looks like we’re going to get close to 15. Which is still a lot of pie.
The pie we made for Kevin and Tara was a lemon curd cream icebox pie with a no-bake vanilla wafer crumb crust based upon a recipe from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook. I like Magnolia’s cupcakes just fine, but their other baked goods were always far more tempting when we visited. Banana pudding. Seven-layer bars. Some kind of crazy peanut butter bar. All really great and worth the wait in/on line. 
So this lemon curd cream pie seemed perfect to make us forget all the snow surrounding us outside. A giant blast of sunshine in the middle of nearly three feet of snow. And honestly, this pie is really just lemon curd, cut with whipped cream. That is about as close to inappropriate as you can get with a pie. This is rich and happy and tart, and believe it or not, not too sweet.
Lemon curd isn’t hard to make. Can you stir? Great. Then you can make lemon curd. There’s something therapeutic about stirring a pot for 20 minutes while the curd thickens, especially when the kids are refusing their naps for the day.
Make this pie over two days. Maybe even three days. Make the curd on day 1, and let it refrigerate overnight. Then, the rest of the recipe is a breeze. Blitz some vanilla wafers, smash them together with some really soft butter. Press them into a pie plate. Freeze. Meanwhile, whip up some heavy cream into stiff peaks. Fold the chilled lemon curd into the whipped cream. Pour into the frozen crust. Throw it all into the refrigerator for a few hours. Eat.
Variations: I’d gladly try this with limes or Meyer lemons. Tangerines would be crazy good. Anything tart and bright.
So, here’s to really good neighbors. And to snowblowers. And pie.


Recipe | Lemon Cream Icebox Pie from Magnolia Bakery
Lemon Curd 
  • 12 egg yolks, room temperature (This is only a lot if you're eating the pie by yourself. Calm down.)
  • 3 T grated lemon zest
  • 1 c fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced up smallish
Dump everything except the butter into a medium sauce pan. Whisk until very well combined. Turn the heat on to medium. Stir for 20 minutes. It will be thick and bubbly. Remove from heat, and piece by piece, stir in the butter until it disappears. This will be a slight challenge toward the end as the curd cools. Be brave and stir on. Throw it into a container and refrigerate overnight.


Crust

  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, super soft
  • 2 c vanilla wafer crumbs (about 3/4 of a box of vanilla wafers blitzed into crumbs in a food processor)
Put butter in large bowl. Dump in crumbs. Mix thoroughly. Use a pastry blender if you have it. A fork will do. Once combined, place into a buttered 9-inch pie dish. Press the crumbs firmly into the pie plate to make the crust. Place it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Or longer. Your call.


Filling
  • 1 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 c lemon curd (from above)
Whip heavy cream in a large bowl until you get stiff peaks. Fold in the lemon curd. Be gentle. Good work. Now pull out that frozen pie crust. Dump the filling into the crust. Smooth it. Let it refrigerate for a long while. 4 hours if you can wait. Garnish with some sort of berry. Or whipped cream, because this hasn't quite been pushed over the edge of dairy and eggy bliss.

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