Archive for August, 2010

Last pie update for a while! Yesterday, I took a Fruits of the forest pie to the DC State Fair for judging. I was concerned, because all of the competition looked, really, really good. Like, pastry cutter (looks like pinking shears) crimp-tops good. And crumble-crust good.

But to my surprise, li’l pie No. 15 won third place, the best of the  berries! Amazing in general, and pretty much unbelievable for my first cooking competition!

Thanks, DC State Fair! It was an honor to be part of the crowd, and I’ll bring my A game again next year.

❤ Lindsey


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slim cookin’s

So I just returned from a week and a half at home, in Michigan.

Which means Lindsey-dearest held up the fort here. WITH PIES.

But I have bad news for y’all. We just got in last night at about 11 p.m. I am working 9-5 for the rest of the week. And on September 1? We move.

I really doubt there will be much cooking going on in my apartment for the next few weeks.

Maybe I can scrounge up something from The Archives (aka, a bunch of food photos I took but never wrote up), but until then, I will be eating such uninspired meals as:

– Lean Cuisine Santa Fe style rice & beans

– Cheese & crackers

– Leftover freezer pesto w/ noodles

Oh, the excitement, I know.

However, I will tell you this:

if you have been in the car since 6:30 a.m. and you have recently hefted all of your belongings out of the car and up three flights of stairs IN A RAIN STORM?

Indulging in mini-tubs of Ciao Bella is really the best idea you’ve ever had.

We tried Tahitian Vanilla gelato and Blood Orange sorbet, acquired for a dollar per itty-bitty dish.

I tried to read the Wikipedia article on gelato to figure out how it is different than ice cream but it was far too confusing.

Then boy and I died of deliciousness.

And then boy said “Isn’t that what that one lady ate in that one book?”

Eat Pray Love. I swooned a little. But it was probably the ice cream’s fault.

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You guys! Pie Day is almost upon us. My whole office has been swept into excitement over potential pastry victories, so we’re all making pies to share and constructively critique, so we can all kick butt next weekend at the DC State Fair pie competition.

Today, I made a fruits of the forest-ish pie.

I’ve been chasing this flavor since I had a “fruits of the forest” pie in Port Austin, Michigan, like, five years ago. I like berries, I like apples, I even like to SAY “fruits of the forest.” It sounds like a fairy tale food, like something Little Red would bring to her granny, but scarf on the way there. I boosted the recipe for the crust by one quarter so I could make mini vegan pielettes for my friend Jessie. This was my first foray into shortening, and I have to be honest, the stuff grosses me out a little bit to touch but OH MAN FLAKY CRUST AHOY.

To make enough crust for just one pie (not extra cuplettes), you’ll need:

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup shortening

1/2 cup water

Blend ye olde drye ingredientes. Cut in little bits of shortening at a time until you get a nice, crumbly texture. Pour in water slowly until you have a ball of dough. Halve the ball, wrap up, toss it in the fridge, forget it for a while. Note! You may recall my issues with blending dough before. I got one of those pastry blenders; for five bucks or so, it is the right call to make. You should use one so your crust doesn’t suck.

Now, you can use this filling recipe, or you can just throw in whatever fruits are available/you think you might find in a wooded area. For instance, I really like rhubarb in here, but rhubarb is sadly not in season. So I went without. Also, the blackberries at the grocery store looked a little funky and there weren’t any at the farmers market so I just doubled up on my intended blueberry input. Cherries might be nice. Currants would be delicious. This is what I used.

2 medium apples (gala, I think), peeled and thinly sliced

Half a container of strawberries, thinly sliced

1 container (pint size?) of Michigan blueberries

1 container (half pint?) of raspberries

About half a cup of sugar (follow your heart on this; only you know what’s sweet enough for you)

4 heaping tbsp starch

Mix your powdered ingredients. Pour ’em over the fruit and toss gently to coat. I threw a little cinnamon in there but hey! That’s your call to make. Line your pie tin (or “good Pyrex”) with your pie crust, then pour in your filling. I did another cross-top because I think it looks a little more quaint and less like I screwed it up when I do, in fact, screw up. I also dotted the top of the big pie with butter because I roll with Paula Deen.

Line the edges with tin foil, bake at 375 for about 25 minutes, then unwrap the edges and bake another 20-25, or until you’re getting some nice golden brown action happening.

Do you have leftover dough? Do you have leftover filling? Make little pielettes! Line a cupcake tin with the dough; pour in your excess filling. You can even do another criss-cross thingie on top, but it’s gonna look a little silly. Bake until it looks done-ish (about 20 minutes for me).

We’ll see how well fruits of the forest fairs against the great Southern Peach at tomorrow’s office showdown, but as far as I’m concerned, this guy is a success.


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epic pie fail.

So, this pie baking competition? Training has started and it’s going… OK. I made the nectarine pie you saw earlier, and an apple pie using my mom’s recipe. I tried to make a peach pie with local peaches for some friends this week, and I thought to myself, “I should follow Alton Brown’s advice.”

Image from Busy Bee Blogger.

Alton Brown, for those not blessed with cable, is the smarty-pants science chef on Food Network. On his pie episode of “Good Eats,” he said you should bake a bottom crust for a little bit  before filling it, so it doesn’t get all soggy when you put in your toppings. Smart man.

You can buy pie weights for that, or, Alton tells viewers, you can just use beans.

“So clever!” I thought, loading up a baggie with bulk black beans. “I’m gonna be a genius in the kitchen.”

Yeah, maybe I would have, if I had remembered the crucial step: LINE THE PIE WITH PARCHMENT PAPER BEFORE YOU PUT IN YOUR BEANS.

Instead, I just had a bean crust. Booooo.

Back to the drawing board.


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Potato Soup with Kale

because we’ve got a farmshare,

so we’ve got potatoes

and foreign greens

and it’s just too dang hot to use the oven

Recipe from New York Times

I used some veggie broth for water,

and ignored the “bouquet garni” because I don’t like spending 5 dollars on fresh herbs

for one meal

and because I used flavorful broth, instead.

Greek Pasta Salad

because it’s summer,

and I had some feta cheese,

and because I love love love pasta salads

Recipe from Three Many Cooks.

I used brown rice pasta, because it sounded fun.

It was, but the noodles stuck together, and you could probably up the oil & vinegar a little.

Oh, and no olives.


Radishes instead.


But they came in Ye Olde Farmshare, and I figured this was the most tasteless way to be rid of them.

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Recently, I found out there’s going to be a DC State Fair, which is silly and adorable and I love it. My favorite week of the year in Michigan was County Fair Week, what with the small children trying to tug leashed baby goats into submission, pigs being shepherded around with PVC piping and FAIR FOOD – we’re talking that lemonade that’s still crunchy with sugar, local dairy, Rotary barbecued chicken dinners, those cinnamon roasted almond thingies….  I’m swooning.

However, truth be told, I never ENTERED a county fair. I was a city child, so 4-H came to me as an adult. Now that I have a tongue-in-cheek fair to enter, I’ve decided to take the pie competition head-on.

That means I have to practice.

If I’m going to be respectable in this category, I’m going to be training all August. My mom bakes a badass apple pie (almost as good as her apple cake), but she and I are of the Pilsbury crust persuasion. That won’t fly in competition. Remember when they used cake mix to make a wedding cake on Top Chef? Tom Colicchio does not approve.

So this afternoon, I made a pie, cobbling recipes from a few different places. I used Smitten Kitchen’s Pie Crust 101 and 102 to make the crust, and cooks.com for the filling, with some alterations, here and there.

Cajun Nectarine Pie

To make the crust, you will need:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter

a little ice water

Here’s what you do:

Sift dry ingredients together. Chop the butter into little cubes and mix in. Smitten Kitchen recommends one of those cool pastry mixers. I don’t have one of those, so I tried a whisk. Please don’t use a whisk. I ended up going with a hand mixer on the lowest setting.

When the dough is making little crumblies (technical term), pour in a touch of ice water at a time until it makes a legitimate dough. Split that thing in half, wrap each half in plastic wrap, refrigerate. When it’s cold enough, roll out half the dough and line a pie dish.

At this point I gave it a little egg wash and popped it in the oven on 350 for a few minutes, so the bottom doesn’t get too soggy.

While that was cookin’ up, I made the filling. You’ll need:

A bunch of nectarines, washed and sliced (I left the peels on)

1/2 C sugar

Cinnamon to taste

1 lemon

a little more butter

The recipe suggested just throwing the nectarines in the crust and sprinkling cinnamon, sugar and lemon juice over the top. I tossed the slices in the mixture instead, and I added a little nutmeg and crystalized ginger, finely chopped, for a little extra zip. Is this or is this not cajun?

Pour the mixture into the pie shell, then roll out the second half of dough and finish your pie as you like it. I need to practice my cross-top, so that’s what happened here.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Pie tip: Cover just the edges of your pie with tin foil for the first half of the baking time so they crisp up a little bit! I would DEFINITELY put this on a cookie sheet because you’re going to get delicious juices flowing out of the pie and into your oven. A cookie sheet saves you so much sorrow later.

Voila! Pie ahoy!

If I could go back and do it again, I’d use some starch to thicken up the liquid, but all in all, not bad for my first formal pie attempt! Do you have tips on pie-baking? I wanna smoke the competition, but I’ll settle for not coming in last.

❤ Lindsey

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  • Big, green leafy lettuce
  • Farmshare tomatoes
  • Farmshare cucumbers
  • Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar
  • Marzetti’s Classic Ranch dressing
  • Hard-boiled egg

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