Thursday, November 27, 2014


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you enjoy the day with family and friends. And fill your bellies with delicious morsels. Don't forget the pie! Here's what I'm bringing to the table.

This recipe for Sweet-Potato Pie with Cornmeal Crust comes from Tara Jensen, owner of Smoke Signals, a small, wood fired bakery in Marshall, North Carolina. Jensen uses seasonal, organic produce to bake her breads and pastries. Some of of the ingredients she grows herself, along with her boyfriend, Joe Evans, owner of Paper Crane Farms. 

Pies are a special part of what Jensen does at Smoke Signals. Their crusts are made with 100% freshly milled, stone ground, pastry flour from Carolina Ground. The sweet potatoes are grown at Paper Crane Farm. This pie was featured in the Nov 2014 issue of Food & Wine

Sweet-Potato Pie with Cornmeal Crust
pie crust
1 1/4 cups pastry flour
1/4 cup fine cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1/3 cup ice water

2 3/4 pounds sweet potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
Unsweetened whipped cream, for serving

  1. MAKE THE PIECRUST - In a food processor, pulse the pastry flour with the cornmeal, salt, and sugar. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle the water on top and pulse until the dough just starts to come together. Scrape the dough out onto a work surface, gather up the crumbs and pat the dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour. 
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 13-inch round, a scant 1/4 inch thick. Ease the dough into a deep 9-inch glass plate. Trim the overhanging dough to 1 inch and fold it under itself. Crimp decoratively and chill the crust until firm, about 15 minutes. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 375º. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 20 minutes until the crust is barely set. Remove the parchment and pie weights and bake for 20 minutes longer, until the crust is lightly browned; let cool. Increase the oven temperature to 400º. 
  4. PREPARE THE FILLING - Poke the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and arrange them on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, until tender. Let cool completely, then peel and coarsely mash. Measure out 3 cups of mashed sweet potatoes; reserve the rest for another use. 
  5. In a food processor, combine the butter with the granulated sugar and puree until smooth. Add the 3 cups of sweet potato and puree until each is just incorporated. Add the coconut milk, ginger, salt and cloves and pulse until no streaks remain. 
  6. Scrape the filling into the cooled piecrust. Brush the rim with the egg wash and sprinkle turbinado sugar over the crust and filling. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the filling is just set but slightly jiggly in the center, cover the crust with strips of foil if it gets too dark. Let the pie cool completely, then cut into wedges and serve with unsweetened whipped cream. 
Make Ahead - the pie can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


ph: tessa huff via the kitchn
Oh my... have you ever seen anything more lovely? I found this gorgeous Deep-Dish Pumpkin Meringue Pie by Tessa Huff at the kitchn

Deep-Dish Pumpkin Meringue Pie

Serves 8 to 10
For the pumpkin pie:
1 (9-inch) pie crusthomemade or store-bought dough
15 ounces pumpkin puree
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
For the meringue topping:4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Roll out the pie crust to about 12 inches in diameter. Place the pie crust in an eight-inch springform pan or deep-dish pie pan. Crimp or trim the edges so that the sides of the dough stand about two-inches tall. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes.
Once chilled, line the crust with foil or parchment and fill with pie weights. Blind bake the crust for about 15 minutes. (See How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust.) Remove the pie from oven and take out the pie weights and foil/parchment. Continue to bake for an additional five minutes, or until the edges just start to brown.
Meanwhile, make the pie filling. Heat the pumpkin puree, white sugar, brown sugar, honey, and spices in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to combine and heat for about five minutes, or until the mixture starts to come together and steam a bit. Remove from heat. Whisk thoroughly until smooth or quickly mix with an immersion blender.
Whisk in the milk and cream until smooth. Add in the eggs and egg yolk and whisk to combine.
Pour pie filling into the pre-baked crust. Turn oven down to 375°F and bake for 45 to 55 minutes. The pie will be done when the center has just set or a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Once cool, gently remove the outer ring of the springform pan.
To make the meringue topping, place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to combine. Place a couple inches of water in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. Whisking occasionally, heat until egg mixture is warm and sugar has dissolved, four to five minutes.
Once warm, return the mixing bowl to the stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg mixture on high until the outside of the mixing bowl is cool. Add in the vanilla and mix until medium-stiff peaks form.
After the pie has completely cooled, dollop or pipe meringue on top of the pie filling. Gently toast the top of the meringue with a kitchen torch, if desired.

Recipe Notes

  • Don't have a kitchen torch? Try placing the pie under the broiler for just a few minutes or until meringue begins to turn golden brown.
  • Don't have a springform pan or deep-dish pie pan? This recipe can easily be adapted to a standard pie pan as well. Cooking times may vary.
  • If it appears that you have too much filling for your crust, do not overfill. Be sure to stop pouring before you reach the edge of the crust. If you have leftover filling, try baking in a greased cake pan for a crustless pie treat.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


With the appearance of seasonal products such as Jet-Puffed Pumpkin Spice Mallows, Wrigley's Extra Pumpkin Spice Gum, Hershey's Kisses Pumpkin Spice candies, or Yoplait Light Pumpkin Pie Yogurt, one can't argue the popularity of pumpkin as a flavor trend. Comfort foods often influence flavor trends but did you know pumpkin spice can be mostly credited to Starbucks and their seasonal pumpkin spice latte? 

It's no surprise other major retailers and food brands quickly joined the pumpkin craze. But how many of your impulse purchases, adorned in bright orange packaging and the alluring "limited edition" stamp, actually contain pumpkin? Very few. In truth, a great many pumpkin products lack a pumpkin note at all, connoting instead the spices associated with the pumpkin pie blend such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove. 

Food trends come and go, but there will always be pumpkin pie. Skip the junk aisle and keep your pumpkin consumption to the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, whether with a traditional recipe passed down from grandma, or one with a modern twist. With so many variations on this classic pie, there's no reason not to experiment. 

Here's a pumpkin pie recipe with a modern twist from Goop. It looks divine. 

via Goop
Pumpkin Icebox Pie
9" frozen pie shell
8 oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (we like to use a microplane)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup whipping cream for pie topping
  1. Bake pie shell according to package directions, let cool. 
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and canned pumpkin. Beat with a whisk or electric mixer until smooth.
  3. Add next six ingredients and stir until incorporated.
  4. Pour mixture into a cooled pie crust,and chill in the fridge overnight.
  5. To service, beat 1/2 cup whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks. Spread evenly over the top of your pie, and sprinkle with cinnamon. 

Monday, November 24, 2014


via four pounds flour

I think we can all agree that Thanksgiving wouldn't quite be Thanksgiving without Pumpkin Pie. And I think for the most part we can also agree the pumpkin pies we typically enjoy are subtle variations of the same recipe. I propose this holiday we try something different. 

At a recent Masters of Social Gastronomy event starring no other than the All-American Pie, food historian Sarah Lohman mentioned an intriguing pumpkin and apple pie recipe that peaked my interest. She kindly shared it with us on her website Four Pounds Flour, and I'm passing it on to you. 

One of the earliest recipes for pumpkin pie comes from a Boston manuscript titled, Mrs. Gardiner's Receipts, 1763, a collection of handwritten recipes. This particular recipe called for alternating layers of thinly sliced pumpkin and apple, sprinkled with sugar. Here's the original recipe: 
“Pare a Pumpkin, and take the seedy part of it out; then cut it in slices; Pare and core a quarter of an hundred apples, and cut them in slices. Make some good paste with an Egg, and lay some all around the brim of the Dish; lay half of a pound of good, clean Sugar over the bottom of your dish, over that a Layer of apples; then a Layer of Pumpkin, and again &c until the pie is full, observing to put Sugar between every two Layers, and all the remaining Sugar on the Top. Bake it half an hour, and before you send it to the Table, cut it open and put in some good fresh butter.”
Like me, you too might find this recipe a little too pared down and difficult to follow. Luckily for us, Sarah broke it down into a recipe form we're more familiar with. 
Mrs. Gardiner’s Apple and Pumpkin Pie
Gardiner’s recipe is great for a deep-dish pie, but I’ve halved the quantities for the shallower red and white enamelware tin pie pan I have in my culinary collection. Pie pumpkins are smaller, sweet pumpkins that are usually labeled as such.
1 pie pumpkin, skinned, seeded, and thinly sliced
12 small or 6 medium baking apples, pared, cored and thinly sliced
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
Pie dough, rolled out into two crusts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Mrs. Gardiner's Apple and Pumpkin Pie doesn't call for seasoning but here are some of Sarah's suggestions if you prefer your pies with a little more kick in flavoring.
Seasonings, to taste:
2 teaspoons mixed baking spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.
1 tablespoon rosewater
¼ cup white wine
Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit. Line a pie plate with the bottom crust, and sprinkle with ½ cup of sugar. Lay apples on top, then a layer of pumpkin slices, and sprinkle with another ½ cup of sugar. Continue until pie plate is full, then top with butter and your choice of seasonings. Add the top crust, sealing the edges, and cut steam vents in top. Bake about an hour, until browned and juices bubble through the vents. Let cool overnight.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


ph: s winesett
While I was in Georgia for my Aunt's 90th birthday celebration I made an attempt to whip up a Coconut Dream Pie with my 10 year-old niece. It was a complete disaster. The filling never set, and I was left with a big soupy mess. It went straight into the trash; a huge disappointment all around. This afternoon I made an attempt to redeem myself but this time with a more traditional Coconut Cream Pie recipe. The above was the result. It was hands down one of the best cream pies I've ever made. I know this because there's none left; my friends made short work of it. Ahh...success!

Coconut Cream Pie
3 tablespoons corn starch
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup half and half
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup loosely packed sweetened coconut flakes + 1/2 cup toasted for garnish

Whipped Cream
1-1 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch (optional)

  1. In a medium size sauce pan, whisk together corn starch, sugar and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl whisk coconut milk and half and half. Add the yolks to the milk and whisk well. Pour the milk mixture to the cornstarch mixture slowly as you whisk to combine. 
  3. Bring to boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Cook until it thickens to become a custard-like, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat, add the butter, vanilla extract, and 1 cup of coconut flakes. Stir well. Let cool for 30 minutes; cover the surface with a piece of plastic wrap.
  5. Pour custard mix into cooled crust and smooth out. Cover the surface with a piece of plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
  6. For the whipped cream, Beat the whip cream with the sugar and and corn starch (if using) in a electric mixer with a whisk attachment until the steep peak forms. Spread over the custard and chill until ready to serve.
  7. Toast ½ cup of coconut flakes in a pan over med-low heat until golden and sprinkle over the pie to garnish. Serve chilled.

Easy Single Pie Crust 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 14-inch pats
2 1/2 - 3 tablespoons of ice cold water
  1. Combine two thirds of flour with sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse twice to incorporate. Spread butter chunks evenly over surface. Pulse until no dry flour remains and dough just begins to collect in clumps, about 25 short pulses. Use a rubber spatula to spread the ought evenly around the bowl of the food processor. Sprinkle in remaining flour and pulse until dough is just barely broken up, about 5 short pulses. Transfer dough to a large bowl. 
  2. Sprinkle with water and using a rubber spatula, fold and press dough until it comes together into a ball. Form dough into a 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  3. After 2 hours take your dough out of the fridge. 
Prepare Crust:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  2. Roll out dough into an 11-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge but leave a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under and flute the edges. Place in freezer for approximately 15-20 minutes. 
  3. Place parchment paper or sheet of aluminum foil (shiny side buttered for easier removal) over bottom crust, making sure to cover the edges too. 
  4. Place dried beans, dried rice, or actual pie weights over the surface of the covering. This prevents the crust from puffing. 
  5. Place in oven and bake blind for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and carefully lift off the covering with pie weights. Return the pie shell to the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes,or until crust is golden brown all over. Cool shell completely.

Friday, November 21, 2014


photos: via serious eats and four pounds flour

Each month, Masters of Social Gastronomy tackles a new curious food topic breaking down the history,  science, and stories behind some of our favorite foods. This week MSG took on the All-American Pie, specifically "the twin pillars of the American pie kingdom: the gentle apple pie and its heavily-spiced cousin, pumpkin pie." 

The two speakers were food historian Sarah Lohman of Four Pounds Flour who took us back to medieval Europe and the origin of pie and gave us a lesson in the contest of gluttonous pie eating and Soma of Brooklyn Brainery who gave us the history and science behind picking the best baking apples to making the perfect pie crust.

Apple pie... you can't get more Americana than that. But with over 75,000 varieties of apples worldwide how do you choose which apples to use? Apparently, no two apples are alike. Every apple is best used for a specific purpose. Some are solely for cider, others simply as a stand-alone dessert (not in desserts but eaten raw), and still others are just for baking. To get to the core of which apples fall into which category one needs to bite down and get beneath the skin to the cellular level (I'm sorry I had to do it). I won't go into details but you can read about it here. Also check out Serious Eats Taste Test: Finding the Best Apples for Baking. Soma's hands-down favorite baking apple is the Northern Spy. Sarah went with her mom's choice, Golden Delicious. 

I picked up heaps of information and history on how Libby's may have single-handedly saved  Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie. Not convinced? Take a moment to imagine the time and effort involved with scraping out the insides, discarding the seeds, and roasting a fresh pumpkin. Not to mention the mess. Libby's Dickinson Pumpkins are a special strain of Pie Pumpkin created specifically for their canned pumpkin. The Dickinson pumpkins are oblong, tanned in color with thick orange flesh and are smaller, squatter, meatier, and sweeter than Halloween pumpkin. Their low water content allows for Libby's signature creamier (and denser) texture and sharper pumpkin taste. 

Did you know that pie-eating contests didn't originate in the United States but in Canada? By the turn of the 20th century, thanks to county fairs, pie-eating contests became a symbol of Americana sweeping across the country as a popular pastime. The military even joined in the gluttonous fun as regiments pitted soldiers against one another as a means of boosting morale during WWI. 

The best tidbit I took away from the event was a technique I was unfamiliar with for perfect flaky pie crusts. Instead of the traditional method of cutting the fat into the flour, you use a food processor to create a flour/fat paste which acts as a base that you then add dry flour and water to. Apparently it's not the fat that's coating pockets of dry flour that creates the crust's flakiness but the flour that's coating pockets of pure fat.

Dry flour moistened by water forms gluten which then gets stretched out into wide layers, creating the basic structure of a pie dough. As you roll out your dough, pure pockets of fat flatten out into long, wide, thin sheets, separating the layers of gluten-enforced flour from each other causing them to separate and gently puff as they bake. A flour/fat paste acts just as pure fat does so that when you add plain dry flour to the paste, incorporating it evenly, then add water, chill, roll, and bake - the results yield a flaky crust. You can read all about it at Serious Eats The Food Lab: The Science of Pie Dough

Here are some other tips: keep ingredients cold, weigh your flour, use butter not shortening for flavor, and swap out some of the water with vodka (the vodka has less water and evaporates as it bakes). 

Easy Double Crust Pie Dough (slightly modified from Serious Eats)
12.5 ounces all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 14-inch pats
3 tablespoons of ice cold water
3 tablespoons of chilled vodka
  1. Combine two thirds of flour with sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse twice to incorporate. Spread butter chunks evenly over surface. Pulse until no dry flour remains and dough just begins to collect in clumps, about 25 short pulses. Use a rubber spatula to spread the ought evenly around the bowl of the food processor. Sprinkle in remaining flour and pulse until dough is just barely broken up, about 5 short pulses. Transfer dough to a large bowl. 
  2. Sprinkle with water and vodka using a rubber spatula, fold and press dough until it comes together into a ball. Divide in half. Form each half into a 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling and baking. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014


ph: via the bitten word
OMG! Have you ever seen anything like this pie before? I haven't. I stumbled upon this twist on the classic Southern black-bottom pie via The Bitten Word. This original Marcus Samuelsson Black-Bottom Pie Recipe is one of several included in a Thanksgiving feature on Food & Wine. The Swedish / Ethiopian / Southern chef, author, and restaurateur of acclaimed Red Rooster in Harlem was inspired by his favorite childhood candy bar, Snickers. If you want to wow your Thanksgiving guests, this is definitely the dessert to do it with. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


ph: casey leigh
I was doing a little blog surfing and came across this recipe for Dreamy Apple Pie at The Wiegands (Casey Leigh). This is definitely not your traditional apple pie. At first glance it looks like a crumble but the creamy filling paired with a crunchy pecan topping puts this Dreamy Apple Pie in a whole other category. The recipe was slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman


 1 whole Unbaked Pie Crust
 (An amazing recipe HERE, use your favorite, or use one from the store!) 


3 whole Large (4 Or 5 Small) Granny Smith Apples, Peeled, Cored, And Sliced Thin 
 1/2 cup Brown Sugar 
 1/2 cup Sugar
 1 Tablespoon All-purpose Flour
 1 cup Heavy Cream
 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
 1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon
 A couple drops of Young Living lemon essential oil, optional


 7 Tablespoons Butter
 3/4 cups All-purpose Flour
 1/2 cup Brown Sugar 
 1/4 cup Pecans (more To Taste) 
 Dash Of Salt


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out pie dough and place it in a pie pan. Decorate the edges as desired. Add apple slices to a large bowl and sprinkle with a couple drops of YL lemon essential oil (optional). In a separate bowl, mix together cream, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour over apples. Pour apples into pie shell. In the bowl of a food processor (or you can mix by hand) combine butter, flour, sugar, pecans (chop if you're not using a food processor), and salt. Mix until everything comes together in clumps. Pour topping over apples. Attach foil to the edges and lay a piece of flat foil loosely over the top of the pie. Place pie pan on top of a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for one hour. At the end, remove foil and allow to finish baking and browning. Can bake for up to 15 or 20 minutes more if necessary. Remove from oven when pie is bubbly and golden brown. Serve warm with whipped cream, or ice cream. Enjoy! 

Monday, November 17, 2014


I popped over to swissmiss and came across a link for the New York Times Videos Cooking Techniques.  I love that two of the 53 videos are pie related - Rolling Pie Dough and Crimping Pie Dough. Now there's no excuse for going pie-less this coming holiday season.