Wisdom of the crust. With cocktails!

23 Jan

Steve was freaking out a bit-pie crust making is intimidating. So we took a minute to take a breath, lay hands on the bowl, and get in touch with the dough.

Before we get into me teaching my friends the wisdom of the pie dough:

It’s a heady time here.

Pilot season. Awards season. So it’s audition a-gogo and watching screeners like crazy time.

And I feel so alive.

No, really. It sounds cheesy, I know, but in all sincerity, this is the life I live for.

And now we return to our regularly scheduled snark.

My friend Alice and I had our third pie teaching party recently. The first gathering was tiny, and I only taught filling because I had performance anxiety about teaching crust technique.

Second time around I didn’t show y’all, but it was five of us gathering for an apple-blackberry-ginger pie. I got brave and taught crust, and one of my pupils made her own pie a week or so later! Color me proud.

For this party Alice requested that I make a savory pie, and we decided to make drinks too.

I seized the opportunity to devise a new champagne cocktail pretty much taken though slightly adapted from Serious Eats. Original recipe here but you should use mine then comment and tell me what you did with it. Yes you should, do it! My friend Suilma took an awesome shot of it:


Ginger-Grapefruit Deeeelight
1/2 oz. Liqueur de Gingembre (My dear fwife gave me this. It doesn’t have a brand name but is French. And ginger-y. I surmise another type of ginger liqueur would be smashing.)
1 oz. freshly squeezed red grapefruit juice
strips of grapefruit peel with none of the white pith on them.

Hint: Get your strips of peel before chopping open the grapefruit to squeeze it. Add the ginger liqueur to your glass and swirl to coat the sides. Add the grapefruit juice. Pour in yer bubbly. Take the peel, run it around the rim then twist. You should see and feel a burst of the oils coming misting out. People think garnishes are not so important but this one is. It really adds to the flavor, I kid ye not. Drop the peel in and sip your bubbles like a lady. Or sip like a man. Just do not chug.

And now for the main course!

I fretted as to what sort of savory pie to whip up, given somewhat limited time. The pies I wanted to make from Savory Pies, my new toy, took too long to prep if we wanted to eat before midnight. Our lil’ soiree was commencing around 8 and we wanted some pie by, say, 10.

I ended up listening to the CSA, my organic delivery I indulge in once every few weeks. I got some butternut squash from them that week.

Then I listened to my long-neglected lovah Mark Bittman who whispered “make my spicy winter squash galette”.

I said “yes, master”.

But being the free-thinking woman I am, when he asked me to use his pie crust recipe I said “please, bitch, I don’t think so”, and used my go-to shortening crust. It is fast and still delicious. This pie, excuse me-galette, actually may have benefitted from a crust that had butter (Different crusts for different fillings people! Drives me nuts when people claim that one crust is superior to another because the right crust depends on the situation. Sorry for this long parenthetical. I’m passionate.), but we did not have time for the requisite chillin’ a butter crust demands. And half the purpose of this party was to teach Steve some crust technique. He requested a few step by step photos:

This is the proper texture before adding water.

Rolling crust from the middle out.

This is the tart in our properly pre-heated oven.

Feeding time!

Savory Galette adapted from my one lovah, Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian to please my other lovah aka myself
One basic pie crust
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup water
Two butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
Heat oven to 350 F. Put the oil in a skillet and heat to medium high. Add onion and stir occasionally until softened. Add garlic for another minute. Add salt, pepper, chili powder and tomato paste. Stir then quickly add water and squash. Bring to a boil, stir, then cover and take off heat.
Let it sit while you roll out that crust. Roll out to at least 12 inches. Put in pie dish. Stir filling, adjust seasoning if need be. Add filling to crust and fold excess crust over it.
Bake until crust is brown and filling is bubbly, about 50 minutes. Check on it periodically and if your crust is browned to perfection, cover it with a ring of foil so it does not burn.

10 Responses to “Wisdom of the crust. With cocktails!”

  1. Nadiya @ Milk and Honey on the Run January 23, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    Good luck with all the auditions! So understand how being so busy and on the go makes you feel alive. I love those super busy days at the lab! Makes me feel so useful… until I realize that my experiment was a fail. But still… I love the business.

    It’s so cool how you have pie-teaching parties. They sounds like so much fun 🙂

    • Ellen January 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

      They are! Well if you are ever in LA… I’m thinking your failed experiments that still bring joy to you are the equivalent of my auditions I don’t get but I’m happy I have gone on them anyway.

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. Ameena January 26, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    Wishing you tons of luck Ellen…auditions would be my worst nightmare. So I admire anyone who can handle them withe ease!

    • Ellen January 27, 2013 at 12:52 am #

      Thanks Ameena! Auditions get less nerve wracking the more of them you have…like anything if you do it enough you get accustomed to it. So I don’t get quite as nervous, but I do still get really excited by them, especially if they are for things I really want to be in!

      Sent from my iPhone

  3. Sabrina Bolin (@MyMiBoSo) January 29, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    Oh my goodness, these pictures are awesome! And you’re teaching a pie making class? How frickin’ perfect is that!

    • Ellen January 29, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

      Well, teaching some friends how to do it. We can have a tutorial if you like whenever!;)

      Sent from my iPhone


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