How To Find The One

5 Dec

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We’re all on a quest for the one. Let’s go all caps on that–THE ONE. The One that will complete us, reflect our best self, that will make us a better person. The One our friends will love being with almost as much as us. The One we can take home to our families. The One we can’t wait for our parents to meet at Thanksgiving dinner. The One. You know…The Pie.

This pie is my One. I would like to think it reflects me-delicate on the outside, but multilayered, sweet yet tart, complex, relatively perfect if untidy…friends asked me to make this pie for them to take to parties I can’t even attend. That isn’t an exaggeration. This is the pie I’ll go out of my way to share. And my family adores it. They’d ask it back to dinner and send it Christmas cards even if we broke up.

There were 5 pies at this last Thanksgiving. I made a pumpkin pie. A guest brought a yogurt-pumpkin pie and some sort of pineapple-coconut confection. My aunt made an amazing pecan pie that actually made me like, nay, flipping’ crave pecan pie for the first time in my life. And then there was also…MY PIE.

A total of 11 guests were present at dinner. Naturally there were leftovers of everything. Except MY PIE. That got devoured. We sent some leftovers of other pie home with guests, yet still had portions of three leftover pies. But as I said, not My Pie. THE PIE. The One. Through that evening’s haze of sugar and alcohol my family insisted that I make another one the next day. And even once clear-headed the next morning, in the frigid air of St. Louis, my family was willing to go to the store to get more cranberries, apples and flour. I promise there are no drugs in My Pie. Love, perhaps. Once you get it you don’t wanna be without.

How do you find The One? Time and an open mind. I’m sorry to say there is no Tinder for pies. Unless you count the epicurious app? This pie really came to be because of a shortage of necessary ingredients. Rather than abandon plans for my stellar apple pie, I rummaged in the fridge. Despite Thanksgiving performance anxiety (this is NOT the time you want to screw up) I made an adaptation or two or four from the recipe I was going to use and created the first iteration of this pie. Then over the years our relationship has blossomed. But I knew from first bite it was gonna be My Pie. Sometimes love is so easy.

I have come to believe in butter crust for most things but I stand by the shortening crust for this one. It is the perfect delivery system for the filling and topping. Let me compare it to an exquisite bit of brie you are going to eat on a cracker, perhaps with a touch of quince paste or something. You need the right combo of sounding board, ooze, salt and sweet. If you put the cheese on a massive flavorful cracker that cracker is all you will taste. This is also why I don’t like a lot of sandwiches-it is hard to get the bread to work in harmony with the filling. But for that Brie a thin, delicately perfect bit of toasted baguette? It’s bland on its own, but transforms when paired with its toppings. That is how I see it with crust. To each pie it’s own crust style. And My Pie goes shortening. As a super-duper bonus, if you use a vegan butter substitute in the streusel this pie will be vegan. Not that that made Moby give it awards, alas.

I’m debating whether I should tell you my secret ingredient. Hmmm. Okay, I’m gonna leave one ingredient vague in the directions. It seems small but this ingredient IS THE DIFFERENCE that makes it My Pie. Whoever guesses what, of the one vague thing, is the secret and can guess what I use gets drinks with me if the timing is right. Or just my utmost respect for their culinary acumen. We’ll see. But I’ll keep an open mind. My Pie and I have an open relationship.

THE PIE
crust:
1 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I stir and spoon into the cup), plus extra for rolling
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening (I shamelessly use Crisco)
cold water
Whisk the flour and salt together. I use a fork to whisk. I know. Add the shortening and use your fork to cut in until floury lumps are forming the size of, say, a cocoa puff. Some can be bigger, some smaller. Feel it out. Now, sprinkle a few tablespoons of cold water over and toss it in. It will go further than you think. Add more water bit by bit until the dough is just sticking together. Don’t chill this dough or it will be really hard to roll. I just sprinkle some flour on a piece of parchment paper and roll it out there until it is big enough for the pie plate. Lift it up periodically and sprinkle more flour between the dough and parchment as needed. Now fold in half and gently ease in the pie plate. I use a Pyrex. If you are like me and not good at getting a perfect circle you may have to do a bit of patchwork on your crust but don’t worry. Cut off and/or patch in enough dough to get the same length of dough on the rim of the plate all the way around. You can make a pinched crust or use a fork to make a pretty crust but it will taste good no matter what you do. Put that sucker in the freezer.
For streusel:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (or vegan butter-y stick)
Put it all in a bowl and get in there with your hands. Pinch it together until it looks pebbly. I feel like you will know when it is right. Just picture what the top of streusel pies look like. That is how it should look. Put the bowl in the fridge whilst you cobble up the filling.
For filling:
2 granny smith apples
2 macintosh apples
some citrus fruits for squeezing (do not use jarred juice)
2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
pinch salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of allspice and/or cloves
pinch of ginger
Cinnamon, as you are in the mood for. around a heaping tsp., if you need a ballpark figure.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Start with the apples but have the citrus halved and on the ready. Peel the apples, cut into quarters, cup each quarter into a few long slices then halve those. Every time you put a handful or or of apple into the bowl give a hefty squeeze of citrus juice and toss it until the apples are coated. Repeat, until they are chopped. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Take the crust out of the freezer and put the filling in. Make sure the apples and cranberries distribute evenly and there aren’t any weird nooks. Take the streusel out of the fridge and strew it on, pretty evenly. Put in the oven. If worried about overflow you can put the pie plate on a baking tray. After about twenty minutes check the pie. The minute the streusel starts to get brown tent aluminum foil over the whole thing. Trust me, if you don’t your streusel will burn. Keep the pie baking about 45 minutes total. Delish.

Jurassic Pie Party complete with Dinosaur-Sized Wine

29 Oct

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Do you ever have a lot of things just sort of serendipitously collide at the right time?
I did not have a lot of these things happen but for name-related reasons I was absurdly pleased to receive wine from Modern House Wines to try. One of them was a GIANT bottle called, quite cheekily, “Go Big”. The name pleased me because I got this wine right before the next installment of Pie Party I was throwing with my friends Alice and Joel: Jurassic Pie.

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Dinosaurs are big. So was this wine. It was meant to be! More about the vino in a bit but…this party. You guyssssss, this party!

This was a Jurassic Pie Party, so-themed because I had dinosaur cookie cutters I really wanted to use. I decided that gingerbread dinosaurs would be exceptional parading across a pumpkin pie. I was so very right. Jungle-ish attire was suggested-I only rummaged up some leopard print but that’s okay.

We were also going to have a velociraptor dance contest. Somehow large amounts of pie(s), gingerbread cookies, Manhattans, and wine got in the way of that. But I’m sure there would have been some priceless velociraptor action if we actually got around to it.

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This was the infamous high-brow/low-brow dual crusted Frito-crusted pie, partially responsible for lack of ability to dance.

I had cookie cutters for a t-rex, a velociraptor, a triceratops, a brontosaurus, a pterodactyl and my personal favorite, the stegosaurus. Since the upscale frito-crusted pie I’ve been perfecting is sort of tex-mex we re-christened the t-rex as a T-Mex. He listens to Ice-T. This pie was demolished rapidly, and the pumpkin pies and apple tart fell almost as fast.

Joel and I were pitting a couple of different pumpkin pies against each other. His was a classic condensed milk recipe and mine involved evaporated milk and sugar. We ended up agreeing one wasn’t necessarily better than the other because they are two different breeds of pie. Mine had a lot more spices and his was a bit lighter, I thought, and tasted more purely of pumpkin. So it all depends what you are after.

The biggest winner(s) of the night though were the gingerbread cookies. I usually have good luck with Baking Illustrated and seeing as their classic gingerbread is my favorite gingerbread, I figured they would not let me down in the gingerbread cookie department. Good lord did they not.

Another important thing learned was that if you want to give your stegosaurus candy corn spikes then you need to freeze the candy corn before baking so it does not melt and spread.

The dealio on the vino. They are made for Target. Oprah likes them. I like that vintner behind them, Alexis Swanson Traina is female. That is rare, being as the booze-world in general seems to be largely a boys club. That may just be my perspective, I dunno, but if you have proof that the ratio of women vintners to male is equal, I would like to see it.

These wines are the wine equivalent of shopping at Target: Too easily done and you will end up consuming more than you planned. All of which is to say I enjoyed the wine. Really, very pleasant wines. Juicy. Not very dinosaur-y. But that is okay. Sometimes it is about size.

The normally-sized bottle I received is called Help is Here: light bodied, some spice, berries, makes me think of eating fluffy gingerbread on a hill. Enjoyable. Mildly vegetal in a good way. Smooth. Sweet.

Both pair well with these wondrous cookies. This recipe makes a decent amount of them but they were devoured practically before the party started. Dinosaurs are not as filling as one would think.

Gingerbread Cookies adapted from Baking Illustrated from the folks behind America’s Test Kitchen
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (measured by stirring the flour then dipping the measuring cup in then leveling the top)
3/4 cup light brown sugar (the book say to use dark but light is all I had)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened but still cool, sliced up
3/4 cup molasses (pro tip:grease your measuring cup first and it will m=be much easier to get all the molasses out)
2 Tbsp. milk (I used almond)
In a food processor, process the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt just to blend. Strew the butter pats over and process until it looks sandy, around 15 seconds. With machine running, pour in the molasses and milk slowly and process until evenly moistened and forming mass.
Scrape it out and divide in two. Roll out each part between two sheets of parchment paper to 1/4 of an inch (I did some thinner to make them crisp enough to stand up) then put them on a sheet in the freezer for about 15 minutes until firmed up.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line baking sheets with parchment. Take out your first section of dough. Remove top parchment paper then replace. Flip it over and flip and discard that parchment. Cut yer cookies and bake ten-ish minutes give or take. They will be set and if you stick a finger in one the impression will remain. But DO NOT over bake. Molasses is horrible when burnt.Let them cool on the sheet a couple of minutes then carefully transfer to racks. They will firm up more as they cool. Repeat over and over with the rest of the dough. Every time I rerolled scraps I had to stick them in the freezer again for a while so this is a process but it is worth it. I cooked these one sheet a a time. If you want to decorate with candy corn freeze the candy corn first or you will have a sugary melty mess. It will still taste good, if you are into straight up sugar which obviously I am since I like candy corn, but it will not retain the shape. So freeze it up. Bake it up. Do the dinosaur.

Egg Creams and a GIVEAWAY here-what?!

4 Oct

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I’m actually not lying to you when I say it’s the best. I don’t know why I said “actually” as I never lie. Hence the lack of product endorsement on my blog.

But there is a stevia product out there that is the best. Actually it is the only one I find tolerable. Which could mean that it is still crap, except that it is not. It’s good.

I am speaking to you of NuNaturals products. Stevia is not an artificial sweetener. It is real. In fact it is so sweet that you can only use teensy tiny bits of it to sweeten things-hence why it is calorie free. The one problem I have with all the other stevia sweeteners is that they are hella bitter. But I first got into NuNaturals when I tried some of their liquid stevia sweetener and found it was just sweet. No bitter. Whee!

Do not mistake me. This is not a total sugar substitute for me. I will never leave sugar completely, but I am a sugar addict so all I’m saying is I want us to have an open relationship.

I confess I get a huge kick out of getting to try new things for free. I promise I won’t share with you any of these things that don’t deserve to be shared. However I gladly would share NuNaturals so imagine my girlish squeal when I opened my email and saw this:

“We have recently introduced some additional new items that I would love for you to try. We are very excited about our NEW INDUSTRY FIRST, STEVIA BASED, ” O ” CALORIE, SUGAR-FREE, DAIRY-FREE, GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN, COCOA SYRUP , SIMPLE SYRUP, & COCOA MINT SYRUP.”

OOOOOHHHH free kitchen toys! Ones I am behind.
Vitamix I am looking at you.

And I get to host a blimey GIVEAWAY!!!! Yes you, you too could try this stuff and MOOOORRRRE! Details at the bottom of the post.

In the meantime I had actually been playing around with the venerable beverage known as an egg cream which has neither eggs nor cream and I had never tried before this year so I couldn’t vouch for “venerable” but I figured why not plug my new syrups into the equation? Ps in this equation 2+3=6

This is NOT a classic NYC diner version. More like a Beverly Hills post-spin class one? Not that I would know. There are a gajillion different versions of an egg cream out there and I had never even had one before so had no gauge. Also I’m using stevia syrup so I gave up on trying for authentic long ago. I just went whole vegan hog and made this a ridiculously LA drink. I used an alt mylk. Which is to say almond milk. The only way this could get more classic LA would be if I garnished with a kale chip, which you are welcome to do, but I wouldn’t.

Here’s my alt drink which surprised me in its tastiness. I found myself craving one days later, which is my marker for if a recipe is worth sharing. You could use regular milk and syrup in this if you like but I don’t know if the proportions would need to be different. Fortunately, this is a drink you can keep adding to until it is mixed to your liking. Much like us LA people alter menu items until no longer recognizable as their original version. But if you do tinker with this and end up drinking a bacon-infused tomato toddy, please don’t tell people it is an egg cream.

Then again, perhaps you could. After all, this is the drink that has NOTHING to do with its name.

Classic Los Angeles Egg Cream
2 Tbsp. nunaturals chocolate syrup
1/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
club soda, to taste
Add your milk and syrup to a glass and give them a stir. Top off with as much club soda as you deem fit. Enjoy. Easy peasy.

Okay, the giveaway! Here is what you win:

( 1 ) one bottle of the Cherry Vanilla Stevia Liquid,
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a 50 pkt box of our NuStevia White Stevia Powder packets,
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PLUS a bottle of our NEW COCOA SYRUP
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& a bottle of our NEW SIMPLE SYRUP.
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Each of your 4 winners will receive the complete product selection of all 4 items with the retail value of $ 55.00 , PLUS A FREE BONUS PRODUCT!

And I was advised to tell ya, you can get a discount on the webpage: http://www.nunaturals.com
Here’s how Ron the sugar-free poppa (ironic since he is my sugar papa when it comes to these products and…oh, sugar free…haha I get it) says to get it:

“When they get to our checkout page they should enter the DISCOUNT CODE ; BLG1214 and they will receive – 15% DISCOUNT on their ENTIRE ORDER. ( excluding any other discounts ) This discount remains EFFECTIVE UNTIL DECEMBER 31, 2014. Online ordering customers may also receive FREE SHIPPING to the CONTINENTAL U. S. on all orders exceeding $35.00 after discounts.”

If you try it and dig it you can like em’ up on ye olde Facebook page.

TO ENTER
So here is whatcha do: I am thinking of a number between 0 and 1000. Leave me a comment with what number you think it is. Whoever guesses closest wins. If someone guesses one above and one person guesses one below the higher number wins. If more than one person think of the right number I will put their names in a hat (or bowl or jar that remains to be determined) and draw. I know I am asking you to trust me on this but…why would I lie about stevia?

Contest is open a month until October 24th, midnight PST.

Green, not with envy

22 Sep

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Ohmygod life right now. Whereas I spent a good chunk of this year envying everyone who didn’t have disaster crashing down on there heads-did I tell you about my collapsing ceiling? I had an entire ceiling collapse of its own accord earlier this year.
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I counted myself as lucky that I wasn’t in the room when it happened but it still sucked. And I wasn’t getting enough jobs and a potential book deal didn’t end up happening and there was briefly a boy and just as quickly not one (silly boy) and so on.

Things always do improve though at some point. The last couple of months have been fantastic. Although initially distraught when one of my two improv teams broke up, suddenly we had the time to shoot all the films n such we’d been wanting to make. So we did shoot a bunch of shorts and several weeks ago I got to be a goth vampire. It was really delightful fun:

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I realize I don’t look like I’m having fun. I was trying to make fun of that silly model pose. Where they suck in their stomach like they need to or something. As if. Blech.

I also got to play a heroin addict in a web series but I will spare you the pictures of how incredibly disgusting I spent my days on set being. Let’s just say there were track marks, massive bruises, and…greasy, greasy, GREASY stringy hair. Anytime I sit down to get my hair done on set and the stylist starts with “now, the way I rat your hair it’ll be easy to untangle”, it is a bad sign. Because the day will end with me ripping out masses of hair that won’t come un-ratted. But the pain (inner and outer) was worth it. I hadn’t played a dramatic role in a while and it sho nuff filled me up.

On the food front I am starting to get more cookbooks sent to me by publicists to write about in my Hello Giggles column. I’m pleased to report the most popular review yet was about Savory Pies, written by Greg Henry magnificent Sippity Sup….night swimming. I became even more a fan when he invited me to join The Table Set for a little Nightswimming and drinks n nibbles with him and the Set. They are positively as lovely to hang out with in person as they are to insert in my earholes. It’s a podcast people. Get out of your filthy heads.

Earlier this weekend I shot a spec episode this lil’ show I came up with called Girls on Girls. I could explain how it isn’t SO dirty but I’d rather let your filthy minds wander where they need to. Until we get picked up.

So right now, needing a new agent, sans romance, not dipping where I’d like to be on that silly imdb star rating…I’m not so bothered by it.

What am I bothered by? The distress I felt the other day as I combed grocery store after grocery store in search of my beloved rainbow chip frosting. Which apparently is now a rainbow sprinkles frosting. Fucking sprinkles. I do not believe in sprinkles-either the vulgar-tasting frosting maggots or the cupcake store. Cupcakes, along with sprinkles, can go to heck. What I like I a good SLICE of blimey CAKE on a PLATE! With a FORK! Wow. Wanna get me riled up? Just start talking cupcake smack. Blech again. UGh. Sorry. Walking it off.

I now will let you eat cake.

Green Velvet Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream adapted from 75th Anniversary The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker
For the Cake:
2 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (which means sift a bunch first, then measure it)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
1/4 cup powdered buttermilk (or whatever your brand says is the equivalent to one cup of buttermilk-if you have real buttermilk you can leave this out)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs, whisked together
1 tsp. vanilla, whisked with the eggs
1 cup water (or, if you left out the powdered buttermilk, use real buttermilk here and don’t try to use regular milk-it lacks the acidity you need)
about a Tbsp. food coloring
For the Frosting:
1/2 cup butter
2-3 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp. Bailey’s Irish Cream
Get all your ingredients out of the fridge, you want them around 70 degrees before starting. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray, or butter them.
For the cake:
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, buttermilk powder (if using) and cocoa powder.

Beat the butter until it is good and creamy. Keep the speed high and slowly add in the sugar. Make sure it is nice and fluffy before proceeding. Slowly beat in the eggs and vanilla. Now turn your mixer to low. Beat in a third of the flour mixture, then half of the water or buttermilk and all the food coloring-I just dripped in the color until I was satisfied with how it looked. Then beat in another third of the flour mixture and the second half of the water. You may need to scrape down the bowl some. Beat in the last third of the flour. Beat it good. Divide it between the pans and bake 25-35 minutes. You may want to rotate the pans in the oven midway to so they cook evenly. You know your cake is done when a toothpick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Well there may be a crumb or two, you just don’t want it coated in batter. Start testing early because you really don’t want to over bake this.
For the frosting:
Beat the butter until fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar carefully. No sugar blizzards please. Beat in the irish cream until you have a nice consistency.
Once the cake is cooled, ya frost. Yeah cake.

shake it, get down, and misinterpretation. and a shake.

5 Sep

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For once I did not try to change it. This easily alterable recipe. I went with the flow. It worked REALLY well. What do you know?

Which is not to say I don’t have ideas. Ideas which may happen with the leftover recipe components. But I gave this base, depraved, vile-in-spirit recipe a whirl, and it held up. Really blimey well. So well I wanted it the next night. Then again I find that things involving sugar and alcohol usually hold up solidly in the face of adversity.
Who does not love a shake that can be consumed with a spoon therefore rendering the cup unserviceable when a bowl is nearby?

I’m trying to flow more, generally. Not sweat “the small stuff”. Just do it. Whatever it is. Which changes a lot although pretty soon a brainchild of mine that has been festering in my noggin’ for over a year may just spring forth as vibrantly as Athena from Zeus’ head, and nearly as wise. Less angry.

That was cryptic. More details when it actually has happened.

This recipe makes a boatload of cubes of the recipe base, which are then blended in batches with Kahlua. I know, I know, it sounds so gauche. Gauche comes in large quantities though. So I have leftover cubes of the base to try some variations that I have in mind. Perhaps amaretto would be nice. Or adding in some cinnamon. I’m gonna play with the leftover cubes. However! That is not because I wasn’t fully sated with the recipe just exactly as Bon Appetit told me to make it. Well-what BA told me for the base of the drink anyway. I did not have the stuff for the whipped cream recipe, so I didn’t do that. I suppose that means I was still controlling things, but I just don’t think anything can replace the joy of jetting oodles of Reddi-wip (which I just now realized was “wip”, not “whip”) on top of the shake and into my mouth.

I know, you may be tempted to “make it better” and use something instead of my chosen Reddi-whip. But how about trusting me, the one you trust and tolerate, to guide you? This gauche-ness is good. for once I did not try to change it. I went with the flow. It worked. What do you know?

Kahlua Shake adapted (read, cut in half)from Bon Appetit
6 Tbsp. sugar
2 3/4 tsp. instant espresso powder
2 tsp. cocoa powder
pinch salt
1/2 plus 3/4 cup H2O
1 cup half and half
6 Tbsp. Kahlua (2 per drink)
Whisk sugar, espresso powder, cocoa and salt in a small saucepan. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the water. Place over medium-high heat, then whisk and heat until the sugar dissolves and it starts to boil. Take off the heat and add remaining water and the half and half. Pour into something with a spout. Like a pitcher or a measuring cup. Pour into ice cube trays. I got 28 cubes. Freeze.
However many cubes you end up with, take 1/3 of them (math!), put in a blender (despite my love of immersion blenders, this still makes me long for a Vita-mix), and add 2 Tbsp. Kahlua and blend, blendy blend. Top with whipped cream. Delight. Spoon. Straw? Nah. Spoon.

Yet MORE Pie

4 Aug

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I can’t stop. I just keep posting pie. I am on a crust quest. Both for the perfect basic crust and the perfect frito crust.

It is very important to have ambitions.

Some of my acting goals are getting met at the moment-I start on a web series this week (playing a heroin addict!) and a short I wrote and am acting in is getting produced. So I feel as the metaphorical dessert for my acting repast, I can give pie a sliver of brain space.

They say it is important to not make grand sweeping goals without the accompanying actions you must take to achieve them. So, “win kcrw pie contest” is not a good goal. “Have intercourse with Trent Reznor” is not a good goal either, but for other reasons.

“Get together with pie fanatics to taste-test new crust recipes” is a good goal. It is achievable and gives a concrete course of action. I did that recently. I now have a new base recipe and a couple ideas of tweaks for the next round of crust. That taste-test get-together was just that: a small get-together. What was NOT small was the last pie event I held with my co-hosts Alice and Joel.

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Indulge me as I regale you with tales of the last pie party. Joel HAS achieved the “win kcrw pie contest” goal. He won for best savory pie. Of course now he wants to win both the savory and crust categories so he can have a shot at the coveted “Best in Show”. He offered to help host, since he has a whole dang house with ample parking. Alice and I gladly took him up on that. So as not to step on my pie glory he contributed an apple tart. Then he decided to make a tortilla español. And to use his grill to make paella too. Alice made a cherry-ginger sangria, and one involving bell peppers that was bloody delicious.

I made another version of my southwest purple potato pie, and the first stab at a dual-crusted upscale frito pie. And then just cause I’m nutty decided I really wanted to make the this recipe I had been ogling for some time.

I was quite scared of how things would pan out for the frito pie. It was really only the second time I have concocted a pie all on my own. This monstrosity has a regular bottom crust, a spicy black bean and mushroom filling, and a top crust with involving Fritos that have been ground up, as well as regular and corn flour and butter. In an ideal world I would have gotten my hands on some huitlacoche but I’ve yet to locate any. If anyone has a source for corn smut, I want to know! So I’m still working on the frito pie. It’s a dang tasty thing though. And a lot of folks cited it as their favorite of the night.

And a lot of folks there were! Our pie parties have grown from tiny, to a group of five learning about crust, to having more teaching plus a matching cocktail, to having two matching cocktails, to having a dark side and a large group, to this July’s MASSIVE pie, paella, and sangria FEAST, with around 30 guests.

It was an epic night. It was a beautiful night. It was a filling night.

When I finally perfect the frito pie I will tell you more about it. Same with the purple potato pie. In the meantime, the cherry streusel one was already perfection, compliments of those wacky people at Bon Appetit.

And in case all this is not enough pie for you, check out what I am proud to say is my most popular Hello Giggles column yet. I am particularly happy because I was writing about Greg‘s amazing Savory Pies cookbook and the potato-crusted macaroni and cheese pie.

But first, dessert!

Cherry Streusel Pie adapted from July 2005 Bon Appetit
Crust: I made a butter rendition, but as I mentioned I am still tweaking it. Here is a very basic, reliable, and (I think) tasty crust recipe I frequently use. You can also read there why I sometimes think a shortening crust is preferred.
Filling:
1 scant cup sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 14.5 oz. cans sour cherries. Most of the liquid strained.
dash almond extract (my addition)

Streusel:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
6 Tbsp. packed golden brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the rack in the middle. Place a baking sheet lined with foil below this rack, if you fear spills. As you should.

Line your pie pan with your crust and put it in the freezer. Mix the first four filling ingredients. Add cherries and almond extract and stir. Allow to sit ten minutes.

Mix all dry ingredients for the streusel. Add the butter and vanilla and use your fingers to get a nice pebble-like consistence.

Pour the filling into the crust. Top with the streusel. Put it on the middle oven rack and bake about 20 minutes then tent foil over the top to keep the streusel from burning. Bake until the streusel is golden and and the filling bubbly, around 10 more minutes. Cool on a rack.

Nancy is THE best

15 Jul

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I almost do not want to tell you about The Copper Still. But I will. It deserves attention. Nancy deserves attention.

Nancy Kwon is Los Angeles’ best bartender AND best mixologist. I stand behind this opinion and anyone who challenges me should pay her a visit. Being a good bartender and a good mixologist are not the same thing. Nancy is also hella hot (and yet told me not to have pictures of her in this post), warm-hearted, brilliant, and prefers her Sazerac heavy on the absinthe rinse which makes her a woman after my own heart.

Oh hell she is not after it. She has it.

Just take a look at what is behind the bar. She has a collection of booze and bitters I could spend a month exploring. And on any given night she is experimenting and having people taste to help her perfect her next drink. For instance last night I saw a plate out with various little piles of salt. She was trying to determine which smoked salt was the best rimming mix for the mescal drink she was developing. I’d be impressed just at the smoked salt. But she gets so detail oriented that she had to choose which type of smoked salt to use.

This tiny lil’ unassuming Koreatown joint is easy to miss. It is attached to Jaragua, which is not. But through a curtain in the bar is indeed the restaurant which serves its creations late. It is a pretty tiny place. It is dark and red and black, and welcoming and not toooooo loud.

And here is a kicker: there is a parking lot. Which is too bad considering I would avoid driving here if I want more than one drink. All the same. Parking! I swoon, I faint, I would knight this bar if I were Queen of England. Which would be weird.
The Copper Still
4485 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

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