In September as the peaches wane and the apples are just ripening, here in Colorado we have trees and trees full of plums. These aren’t the big old black, handful plums we see a bit later on, but rather are the small dark purple, firm-when-ripe Italian prune plum. While excellent for snacking, perhaps they’re even better for baking since they tend to hold their shape and aren’t overly sweet. You might think of plums as the fall bag-lunch fruit —and I do, too— but for the past few years I find I adore a beautiful plum tart or, in this case, crostata.Continue reading
Baking at Thanksgiving. It’s a big deal to some people and a late afternoon stop at the grocery for others. Perhaps because often folks are cooks OR they’re bakers and rarely both. The pumpkin pie may have all the memories the turkey never garnered and the homemade yeast rolls and butter just might be why your grandson shows up. On the other hand, it could be all about the dressing, gravy or even the ham at your house where no one looks twice at dessert. I once brought turkey and dressing to a summer potluck, where a close friend refused to eat a bite. When I asked why, she said, “You didn’t make gravy. I don’t eat dressing without gravy.” She truly had some serious food traditions and it’s not unusual. Listen to your friends and family talk about Thanksgiving and you’ll see.
As the bittersweet arrival of the last of the northwest blueberries coincides with the happy coming of the first glorious Colorado peaches, the two together feel exactly like a match made in heaven in my kitchen on a beautiful cool morning. With just a smidge over 5 cups of beginning-to-pucker and wilt Oregon blueberries in the fridge, I had not quite enough for a 9-inch pie. A case of peaches sat wafting their keen aroma from the mudroom, so I followed my nose out there and snagged a couple of not-too-ripe beauties to peel and slice for the bottom of the pie, filling that empty extra inch of space. The buttery sweetness from the berry mixture on top would provide plenty of juicy goodness for the still somewhat tangy peaches. Making something with peaches that aren’t quite ripe or up-to-snuff? Add a pinch of ground mace to increase their flavor.
|R for Rhubarb
This post now featured on Rachel Rappaport’s PIE FAIR LADY blog!
Thanks, Rachel. Bake pie!
I don’t know why you want to make pie and searched for Pie 101. Me-oh-my. You love pie? (I adore the movie “Michael”) Someone you love loves pie, maybe? You want to make beautiful things and don’t paint–right. You want to bring pie to Thanksgiving dinner: “Oh, I’ll bring the pie,” would be fun to say. You’d like to celebrate Pi Day in a more meaningful way. Making pie, or wanting to make or eat pie, is sort of a passion. It’s not anything like, “I think I’ll scramble eggs and make toast because I’m hungry.” Or even “Let’s make a pot of vegetable soup; it’s cold outside and sounds good.” I mean, no one really needs pie. People, do, however, desire (is not too strong a word) pie and are sort of sometimes heart-starved and/or breathless for it. Think of the look on your uncle’s (aunt, cousin, boyfriend, co-worker, super) when words like, “coconut cream” or “strawberry-rhubarb” cross their lips. Or the rush through a potluck meal if a pie sits alone, waiting, down at the end of the counter in the kitchen. Is it fond memories of your aunt’s pumpkin from Thanksgiving of 1967 or your best friend’s apple (from her own tree) in 2009? Is it the crappy diner crust on a short, slim piece of pecan late one night after a restaurant shift when you had to have something sweet and that’s all there was?
If, by chance you’re looking for gluten-free pie dough, please just go to Gluten-Free Girl…a great blog; here’s one post on pie dough there.
I’m just guessing that usually there’s a lot of love goes into pie. Making it is not an endeavor one embarks on lightly. Like weeding the flower bed out back or picking up a gallon of milk at the store. It’s kind of a devoted, warm-fuzzy, all around commitment. Bake with a band on sort of thing. (Being both a cook and musician gives me license for such sentences.)
Whatever reason brings you to pie, I hope this little (not really so little) tutorial will be of help. It contains the story of my own pie-making, a photo-essay on making the rhubarb pie (including crust), and the recipes/basic info you’ll need to make it all happen. FYI: This long pie post is truly a work in progress.
No fear. Pie is near.