Tag Archives: pie

Plum Tired

Things I am loving right now…

The fact that it’s cool (finally) and rainy, which makes me very cozy and lethargic and in the mood to bake, apparently.   (Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies the other night and Marian Burros’ famous plum torte – today)

How not only I am in bed in a room that smells like beautiful fall air combined with the way my bed smells but I am also wearing a sweatshirt and dunking oreos in milk.

Giada De Laurentiis’ chicken milanese with fennel and tomato sauce

This blog, because I just stumbled across it this morning and Stephanie’s photos are stunning, because I love the name of her blog and because I am dying to make that ooey gooey caramel apple blackout cake as soon as humanly possible.

The idea of having (and making) soup.  Preferably something with a lot of beans like cannelloni and lentil, with sausage or kielbasa of some kind and lot’s of vegetables and probably kale.

This coat because I’m pretty much in love with it and feel as though it is essential that I have it.

“The Bagman’s Gambit,” by The Decemberists, off the Picaresque album.  Listening to this album during rainy weather is somehow very satisfying.  Over the past couple days, I’ve become increasingly infatuated with this song, since for the first time, I actually stopped to listen to the lyrics.  Colin Meloy is such an oddball lyricist and I can’t think of anyone like him.  I love how his songs (and this one in particular) tell stories.  I guess that’s just the old actress in me…guess she’s still in there somewhere.

So this morning I braved the rain to attain some eggs so I could make the plum torte and see what all the fuss was about.  I’ve never been one to gravitate toward plums – in fact, I rarely ever pay them any mind and sort of feel indifferent about them.   Lately though, I’ve been curious to try the unknown in the kitchen.  There’s a laundry list of new and different things I want to make.

I used red plums instead of Italian and I was skeptical at first because there didn’t seem to be much batter.  But I situated the plum halves overtop the batter and much to my surprise, they sunk down and cozied into the blanket of batter, which then rose up to meet them.  In turn, the house smelled of cinnamon and sugar, which is ever so comforting on a rainy day and the plums bled into the cake with their vibrant rosy shade of purple.  The cake yielded a crumb and a taste very similar to that of a sour cream coffee cake (although there was no sour cream in it).  It was light and simple and the cinnamon sugar helped tame the slightly sour tang of the plums.  I don’t quite understand all the hype, despite the cake’s gorgeousness, but it will make for a fine breakfast with a glass of cold milk tomorrow morning.

In other news, my pie didn’t make the contest but it was one out of six that got made and was chosen as an “editor’s pick!”  Not only that but Merrill Stubbs actually made my pie and had this to say about it:

The crust is like the best cheese straw you’ve ever had—my whole apartment smelled incredible while the pie was baking. The pear and apple combo is great and I also loved the spice and vanilla in the filling. This pie is a savory-tangy-sweet flavor explosion. – Merrill

Needless to say, I was elated.  Tomorrow, I will enter the contest “Best Bag Lunch” but I will not tell you the recipe until after!  I’m having a lot of fun with this and love how the concept Merrill and Amanda have successfully executed is so inspiring.  For the first time, I’m undertaking the challenge of developing my own recipes and it’s not an easy task but I’m finding myself growing more and more creative and fixated on the process of drawing from all different sorts of inspiration, altering and adding and tweaking and subtracting so I can create something to call mine.  And it’s fun.

Good Rain Songs:

  • “Raincoat Song” – The Decemberists
  • “Record Year” – The Decemberists
  • “Raining in Baltimore” – The Counting Crows
  • “Buckets of Rain” – (M. Ward and Beth Orton’s cover)
  • “Row” – Jon Brion


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Filed under Cakes & Breads

A Pear of Apples Pie with Gruyere Crust

I’m so crazy for fall right now, that I just entered an Autumn Pie Contest on Food 52.  My first ever pie contest too!   I’m so crazy in fact, I was up making this pie and writing the recipe until 11:30 last night – a half an hour before the submissions were due!  I’m also so crazy that I might just have some of this pie for breakfast, because quite frankly it’s pretty awesome.

This was a lengthy and costly endeavor, because I was set on buying Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans and $10 Gruyere cheese and these adorable little fall leaf pie crust cutter stamps from Williams-Sonoma, which were so necessary.  I want to make more pies just because of these little guys.  They’re fun and will make your pie look like it was made by a professional baker.  Normally, when I tackle a recipe for the first time, it takes longer and doesn’t always come out so swimmingly.  But when the pie cooled enough for me to dive into it with my fork without burning the roof of my mouth, much to my surprise, I discovered that it was a success.

And the house smelled like gourmet Cheez-Its.  As soon as I could smell that gruyere melting into the buttery pie crust, I knew the crust at least was on the right track.  The only slight trouble I had was the leaves I placed on the edges of the pie got a little droopy and some fell off in the oven.  I’ll have to be careful not to put them too far on the edge next time.

During my research, I perused a couple apple pear pies and crust recipes online and developed my own – something I don’t have much experience with but want to work on.  I was inspired by an episode of Pushing Daisies, where Chuck makes a pear pie with gruyere baked into the crust for her aunts.  (Mine was free of any mood enhancers), though I did think that a fresh vanilla bean, infused with the butter, would make a nice bed of luxurious flavor for the pears and apples.  (I kept he pod in the pan too, just because it looked nice).

A Pear of Apples Pie   (makes 8 servings)

For the Crust (Makes a double 9 inch crust)

  • 2 ½ cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. of salt
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. of cider vinegar
  • About 1/3 cup of ice cold water
  • 1 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese

For the filling:

  • 4 pears – peeled (I used two bosc and two bartletts)
  • 3 golden delicious apples (cored and peeled)
  • ½ stick of unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • ¼ cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean (split open, seeds scraped)
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp. and ½ tsp. of corn starch


For the crust:

Place a medium sized bowl and fork in the freezer.  Combine the flour, salt and shredded gruyere in a bowl, mixing the cheese into the flour mixture with your hands.  Dice the butter into ¼ inch pieces.  Place butter and the flour-cheese mixture in a large zip lock bag, seal and roll over with a rolling pin until the butter is combined.  Place the bag in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Pour the ingredients from the bag into the cold bowl and work together with your fingertips or/and the cold fork until the mixture becomes pebbly.  Gradually drizzle the ice water (excluding the ice) and the vinegar over the mixture, blending with your fingertips and the fork.  Add more water if necessary – a tablespoon at a time, until you achieve the right consistency.

Form two discs out of the dough, working each in your palm.  Wrap them each tightly with saran wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

When the filling is ready, roll one of the discs out onto a floured surface, dusting it with flour as you work.  Transfer to the pie pan, pressing the dough into it and leaving about an inch of overhang.  Crimp or style however you like.  Add the filling.  Roll out the second disc the same way and place it over top the pie, making a few slits in the center or, if you choose to cut out decorative leaves, you can place them on top of the filling instead.  Make an egg wash, using 1 egg yolk and a splash of milk and brush over the pie crust.  Sprinkle with some demura sugar.  Wrap some foil on the edges of the crust (so they don’t burn).

Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes.

For the filling:

Cut the peeled and cored pears and apples into inch size pieces and place them in a bowl.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the fruit, sugars, spices, salt, vanilla and vanilla bean seeds and pod.  Stir and simmer on medium to medium-low heat for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then remove from heat, stir in the corn starch and let the filling cool to room temperature.

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Filed under Pies and Cobblers

Me Oh My, I Love Pie

(So Andie MacDowell sings in the movie Michael)…and I think she’s onto something.  I’ve always been more of a cobbler gal and still am, but I just made Molly Wizenberg’s “Hoosier Pie” in honor of Derby Day (since it’s very much a derby pie with a different name) and man it was good!  In fact, I just ate some and it’s disappearing rather quickly.  I have to say I’m a little pleased with myself, because I’ve only made crust a couple times in my life and I find pie crust especially intimidating, but not wanting to opt for the store bought thing, I settled in for the real deal.  I followed Mrs. Wizenberg’s directions and though I was a bit puzzled when I read “crimp the pie dough,” I found an excellent Youtube tutorial and figured it out!  Here’s what came out…

it all started with Mr. Jim Beam here…

Lo and behold…

Hoosier Pie!  It was ooey and gooey and crunchy and chewy and had the perfect amount of bourbon in it – you knew it was there but it didn’t steal all the glory of the pie.

I also made The Pioneer Woman’s “Fancy Macaroni” and it was basically gourmet mac & cheese on steroids.  I love that there’s gruyere and bacon in it – it reminded me of the macaroni gratin at Vin Rouge (except Vin Rouge has it beat, sorry Ree)!  While this dish was awesome, I would change one big thing the next time I make it.  I would leave out the onion.  I love caramelized onions and the onion in this gave it a nice flavor but I found it to be too sweet.  I prefer my macaroni and cheese to be savory and savory only, but other than that, I doubt I’d tweak anything!

Okay, back to Mrs. Wizenberg.  I meant to mention awhile back that I finished reading her book A Homemade Life, which I devoured like a piece of chocolate cake (maybe even the “Winning Hearts and Minds” cake, which I’ve been dying to try by the way).  I want to try just about every recipe in that book, even the ones I ordinarily wouldn’t think twice about.  Now that is the sign of a good writer.  I enjoyed Molly’s book so much, that it was sad to put down and I’m already excited at the idea of re-reading it…many times.  How she intertwines her life’s journeys, anecdotes and encounters with food with each recipe is done so stunningly and effortlessly.  The result is some truly gorgeous, endearingly candid prose, and I swear you’ll want to be her best friend after reading it.  I also love how family and friend centric it is, because it is true, our best food memories are experienced or shared with the people we love and I think many bonds can formulate over a mind-blowing piece of cheesecake or a simple plate of spaghetti.  I checked Molly’s blog, Orangette yesterday (something I check daily since I can’t get enough of her writing), and sure enough it had been updated.  I swear, each new blog post she puts forth is a treat.  It is like waking up on Christmas morning.

I have some more updates but for fear of crowding this post too much, I’ll refrain for now.  Also, I’ll be back shortly this week, with some Cary Restaurant favorites!  (I promise I’ll be a good blogger this week and that I won’t be absent for almost 10 days straight).  Time to relish the sugar coma of the Hoosier Pie!

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