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Dimetapp Pie and really good pie

28 Nov

This is what happens when you invite an unknown entity to your Thanksgiving:

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He wasn’t all that unknown, he was a friend of my brother, but he likes to play mad scientist in the kitchen, and this pie, which my brother bravely tasted for us, is what he brought.

In order to preserve his anonymity we’ll call him MadMan, or MM for short.

MM made Kool Aid pie. It is like key lime pie without the eggs. It involves Kool Aid and sweetened condensed milk. I feel like perhaps grape was just the wrong flavor for this pie that reeked of white trash, but I suppose I am just an optimist who will live out her days in a trailer.

Except I am planning on my trailer being my Starwagon on the set of my sitcom.

Back to pie. Kool Aid pie was mostly a joke since everyone knew I was making both pumpkin pie and THE Pie.
MM more than redeemed himself from his pie, to the extent that I feel he ought to share his name. He needs to take credit for his cranberry sauces. He made a whiskey-orange infused version and a bacon version. Delectable. I did not taste the bacon one, naturally but i hear it was wicked good. When I get the recipes to both sauces I shall blog them.

Aannnnnnnd, that’s all I have for you this week, folks. I barely have time to write this so why do I even think you have time to read it?

Never mind. Read it anyway. Go back and read all my blog entries. And pretty please comment! I talk back.

Ok, I gotta go learn lines. Audition lines and a script for a shoot I’m doing this weekend. Yeaaaaaa, December acting work.

Cheers, y’all!

Vote Pie Party, Go to Pie Party

4 Nov

Finally you, yeah YOOUUUUUU can eat my pie. The one I bake. Please.
Last I blogged about The Pie I believe it was to tell you about entering it in the KCRW pie contest.
I’ve also discussed the ever controversial pie crust. Some people are shortening crust people, some butter, some like a combo. I am actually becoming bi-partisan. Some pies demand sweeter more flavored crusts, some like The Pie demand a saltier, plainer flaky crust to set them off.
To experience the magic, The Magic!, oh yes, of my pies in November I am telling you to get yourself to my favorite wine bar, City Sip because they will not only be carrying The Pie, they also will have my pumpkin pies. Two kinds of pie, two kinds of crust, and wine!
And they are kicking it all off with an election night party this Tuesday.
More details here.
Oh, and bring your voter sticker for one buck off your beer or vino.
Cheers!

City Sip
2150 W Sunset Blvd.
LA, CA 90026

Not a winner but lost nothing

12 Sep

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I entered the kcrw(Los Angeles’ NPR station) pie contest. With my pie. The pie.

There were 285 entries this year and I think most were in the fruit pie category. Next year maybe I’ll enter the art-based category.

Everyone made one pie for the public, whom we served ourselves, and one for the judges.

I got to taste the fare of the people I was serving next to: a caramelized onion and Roquefort tart(need that recipe), a cherry pie with a chocolate crust(adore the concept but the crust was sort of like mediocre chocolate cake, not crust, a sweet and sour cherry pie(solid), and a shoo-fly pie that was not like the types I’d seen recipes for. It seemed more like a pecan pie without pecans but better texture. I’m getting her recipe. I’ll blog that shit up, yo.

I met Joy the Baker! She was one of the judges. Super nice, super humble that Joy.

But I did not win. I am not sure how the judges narrowed down the hundreds of pies but they did and I was not one of the chosen ones, which is too bad because I always have said I make the best pie.

After it all, when we contestants went to collect the pies we’d sent to the judges, we tasted more of each other’s wares but by that time I’d been in the sun and heat for two hours, and eaten nothing but sugar and coffee and nothing I tasted stood out. And I just was feeling loser-ish.

But.

At the end of the day. I
got home, tired and sweaty and started eating the remains of my pie and had a revelation:
Hot DAMN. I make amazing pie.

Possibly the best.

Performance anxiety, or getting grindy

4 Apr

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Could not decide which would be the better title for this post.

Performance anxiety is the stress I feel cooking in public.

Teach people how to make pie crust? Ten times scarier than doing a play. Even a play I wrote.

Hence why when my darling Alice wanted me to teach pie making at her new home, I chickened out of doing the crust in front of everyone and was ok with making something new. It was an un-vetted recipe so if it turned out poorly…not my fault!

Shouldn’t be scared, Alice and Crosby are not scary:

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But I was. Scared, I mean. Try as I might to be scary I just get people telling me I’m “cute” and “sweet”.

So I made my crust in advance for fear of failing when in front of everyone.

I also was scared because we had to make a lot of recipe changes-whole un-blanched almonds instead of blanched and slivered, brown sugar instead of white, no vanilla extract…plus we added in blueberries and were topping with strawberries.
See my suspicion?

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Alice and Crosby told me there were certain details I HAD to include in this post. The fact that we were tackling a bottle of champagne at the time was not one of these details but I wanted you to be aware.

As for things the girls wantsd me to mention?
“getting grindy”

Getting grindy is what we did with our nuts:

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That took far more finagling than you might imagine.

Thing #2 I was told to relate to you: Alice learned what tamping was. Not sure why this was deemed important but it seemed to be pertinent to this post at that champagne hour.

The verdict on the product? Tasty. Very tasty but now I want to make it without all the substitutions…

Almond-we’re-not-nut-racists-so-who-cares-how-blanched-and-white-they-are Pie(adapted from Baking Illustrated by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated)
Pie crust: click here
Filling:
Blueberries to taste
1 cup whole almonds
A really good food processor
1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
Pinch or so salt
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 egg and 1 egg white, whisked
6 Tbsp. butter
Blend the almonds and sugar in food processor until roughly chopped. Don’t believe the instructions if it tells you to use the blunt edged blade. Won’t work. Please don’t be mad at me if this somehow ruins your processor-all I can tell you is ours turned out ok.
Drizzle in almond extract and eggs bit by but, blending in between adding.
Add butter and blend up.
Put blueberries in pie shell. Spread almond mixture over. Bake at 350 about 45 minutes.
Drink champagne and toast to your friend’s success and new home whilst waiting.

Love, pie

21 Mar

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I wrote me a guest-blog! Which is good since I am back to being a crazed actor this week.
Audition here!
Interview there!
Don’t be late to class!
Memorize these lines stat! Then be prepared to improv and throw em’ all away.
Not quite time to make pie which is why I am grateful that my beautiful friend Sabrina, whose blog MiBoSo tells us how to balance our lives, posted the article I wrote for her about my pie.
This is the pie someone is probably gonna marry me for.
It’s that good.
Go here and read.

Almost a pizza…but not: un-pizza week day 5

27 Jan


Thank you to all who followed along on un-pizza week! There will be more theme weeks in the future, including a waffle week and the second year of pumpkin-week-in-spring. In spring.

Anyway, hope un-pizza week was enjoyed. I’m taking Saturday off but will be back next week on Wednesday with your regularly scheduled posts twice a week.

And now, to take un-pizza week home, I am going home. Or rather to a blog written in my hometown.
When I happened upon this blog, written by someone in St. Louis I was an instant fan. Particularly because she is not native to St. Louis her fondness for the city seems genuine. And St. Louis is a terrific town.

And we will keep on keepin’ on. Even without Pujols.

Have you been to or are you from St. Louis? What do you think of it? Any favorite places? Please pretty please leave me a comment and tell me!
Of the many recipes of darling Natalie’s I have bookmarked, this one for a polenta pizza seemed easy and, well, I had the stuff to make it so…well minus the pepperoni seeing as I don’t eat that.

For you gluten-free folks(you’re so liberated! I’m gluten’s bitch), I think this is ok? There is no wheat, at any rate.
This is a knife and fork affair. But calling it pizza makes it taste better.
Polenta Pizza(from The Sweets Life blog)
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 1/2 cups H2O
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
3 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup marinara(I used a roasted onion and garlic flavored pasta sauce)
1/4 tsp. dried oreganp
1/2 cup shredded mozzerella(I used reduced fat)
Spray a 9″ pie pan with nonstick spray. Put water, cornmeal and salt in a saucepan and stir it up well. Bring to a boil then stir constantly for several minutes until it is thick. Pour into pin pan and spread evenly, then cover and refrigerate until cold.
Spray a skillet, heat to medium-high then saute onion and bell pepper until soft, add spinach and stir until wilted.
Spread 1/2 cup marinara over the cornmeal base in the pie pan. Spread veggies on top and sprinkle with oregano. Place in 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Add cheese and bake a few minutes more.
Give a hefty grind of sea salt and pepper in there at some point.

Vodka. Crust. No, really, what more DO you want?

23 Nov


Well, I guess some of you would like a tasty pie filling. There is that.

I know I just recently gave you a word-y nerd post. Piedenfroid. Can I stay educational and give you a little science in this post?
It is about pie.
You are either a crust or a filling person. I am crust. Not only that but I now must tell you gourmands it’s all about the flour, Crisco and salt crust.
I wanted to give the flour/vodka/butter/Crisco/sugar/salt crust from Cook’s Illustrated a go though. Plus I had my brand new factory refurbished Kitchenaid food processor to put to work.
Ok, oops I was going to get science-y.
Sheesh. Science-y? Come on Clifford.
Scientific.
Pie crust texture and taste is a delicate balance. A lot of folks want an all butter crust for the taste. All crisco makes for a divinely flaky crust. The solution is often a mix of the two.
What up with the vodka? It’s a way to add moisture so you have a supple dough to roll, but that will evaporate during baking without developing gluten. Vodka has no taste so it’s as good as using water. Except better. Gluten is another thing that makes crust a wee but too sturdy.
Now don’t get me wrong. This crust was a dream to roll out. Putty in my hands. And it did taste good. But it was just not pie-crusty so much as cookie-y to me. You may prefer that. I do not. It ain’t right or wrong. Just a matter of preference. I hate to tell you to make something without butter or vodka.
By all means put butter on a piece of baked leftover shortening crust and do a shot. Get yer vodka and butter in. Those are important for your health.
I will stick with my butterless, sugarless shortening crust-though next time i may try using vodka.
Cheers!
What kind of crust do you dig?

My Crust(adapted from Betty Crocker)
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
up to 1/4 cup cold water
Use a fork to toss together flour and salt. Add shortening and use fork to cut it in. Just press down and break up the shortening, o’er and o’er again until it starts to look like peas. One tablespoon at a time toss in water until the dough will stick together. Form into a disk, brush both sides with flour, dust more on a piece of parchment and place disk in center. Put another piece of parchment on top and roll out.

Piedenfroid

19 Nov

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. And it’s tomorrow! I will be hosting a whopping 9 people. I’ve never hosted before. Yikes!
I do promise a vegetarian T-day recap, but in the meantime, if you are reading this you either have your menu in check, or are digesting a tasty meal. What I am getting to is, who really has time for ANOTHER Thanksgiving recipe? So thank you to Eleanor for suggesting that I feed not your bellies, but your brains.
This week I give you a word. You can use it to spice up your holiday table talk if you are dining with foody wordy nerds like me.
The English language lacks enough words to cover emotions felt in specific instances. We have no equivalent to “schadenfreude”, used to describe delight felt in another’s misfortune. Well, I have taken it upon myself to create a word to descibe a common and unfortunate feeling-one I hope does not describe your Thanksgiving experience. Allow me to introduce you to this soon-to-be linguistic sensation:
PIEDENFROID
You know how sometimes a dessert looks amazing, sounds amazing, perhaps even smells good, and totally tastes lame? Not bad, just…lackluster? So you eat it, but it is not special. You feel tricked, and are filled with remorse, disillusion, dispair, perhaps even denial as you make excuses for the failed dessert(well, the whipped cream seemed real, at least!). You regret that dessert. You are left saddened and still wanting, yet you’ve filled your belly with this useless dessert.
This is piedenfroid. It has it’s word origings in “pie”, the dessert most easily guilty of piedenfroid. So easy for a pie to fail if not in a tasteless cardboard crust, then in a overly dried or too gooey filling.
This word also denotes just a tinge of anger, both at yourself and at the dessert, and the dessert’s source(hopefully not yourself-then you’ve wasted time cooking and ingredients). It does not, however, denote rage. The dessert has to be truly awful for rage. I am working on the word for that.
May your Thanksgiving be plentiful and piedenfroid-free.

It Ain’t Pumpkin

5 Nov

In fact it is not even a pie. It is a Tart.

But it looks vaguely pumpkin-ish. If pumpkin was pinker.
Calling it a tart makes it sound elegant but this tart totally feels earthy and hippie to me. Hmmm, another Mark Bittman recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian that strives to sound elegant yet is…not. Like the beans and taters I made awhile back.
Anyway, to make up for the fact that is is November already and I’ve been a bad little blogger and holding out on autumnal pumpkin recipes, I promise next post will have two pumpkin recipes. TWO! Contain yourselves. Make this tart while you wait:
Pinto Bean Tart With Millet Crust1 Tbsp. Smart Balance
1/2 cup millet
1 cup H2O
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked pinto beans
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 cup H2O
1/4 tsp. vegetable bouillon granules
1 egg
1/2 cup corn(I used frozen, no need to thaw)
Melt Smart Balance in small saucepan over medium heat then add millet and stir til golden, about 3 minutes. Add one cup H20 and a pinch of salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and millet is tender. Set aside.
puree beans, onion, red bell pepper, garlic, rosemary, thyme, vegetable broth powder, black pepper and a pinch of salt. Stir in corn and egg.
Grease a pie plate and press millet in to form a crust. Pour in bean mixture. Place pie plate in a bigger dish and pour water until it is halfway up the side of the pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees until the bean mixture is set but still jiggles a bit in the center. Bittman says this takes around 30 minutes but mine took closer to an hour-maybe I should get an oven thermometer…
Savory pies, yes or no? Also, is a quiche a pie?
Opinions, por favor:))

cherry pie. that is all.

5 Sep


Growing up I often made my dad a cherry pie for his late August birthday. He liked that over cake. Birthday pie? Getting edgy there, papa.
Since moving from the midwest to LA I’ve missed this excuse for summer pie making.
As luck would have it both for me and the recipient, I had a request here in LA for cherry pie for an early September birthday. Nice coincidence. Well done, universe.
I decided to get equally daring. You wager birthday pie? I’ll take that and add trying a new recipe to the pot. Read it and weep. Actually hopefully we eat it and both win.
But then again, cooking from Baking Illustrated, by those perfectionist freaks at Cook’s Illustrated is hardly taking a risk.
All the same I was nervous.
Normally I am a shortening pie crust girl. All the way. But the Baking Illustrated crust called for a mix of butter and shortening, salt and…sugar? I put in 1 1/2 tablespoons instead of their 2. One thing I love about baking is that it is part chemistry and part instinct. Normally I ignore instinct and follow Cook’s Illustrated recipes to a T because they are so well tested but I just don’t think pie crust should be sweet.

Don’t get me wrong-if you are a butter pie crust lover this crust is the penultimate. It is balanced, buttery, understated-ly sweet, and A DREAM to roll out. Plus it is lithe, supple, easy-going, not sticky. I’d date this crust.

I think I simply prefer the slightly salty taste of my shortening crusts better. Which is shocking considering butter is like my best friend. Except for being fattier and less talkative.
I want to give butter another chance in crust. In the future I think I’ll try this recipe leaving out the sugar and adding a tad more salt than the teaspoon Cook’s Illustrated calls for.
As for the filling, the one thing they are exacting on, and right about, was going the extra mile to get jarred Morello cherries. Not only are they more beautiful than the canned ones I normally use, they also taste better. This meant having to brave the Silver Lake Trader Joe’s. I want to like TJ’s. Really I do. But their parking, produce, and aisle traffic suck. And I can never find everything I want there. I think I am the only person I know who just can’t get with that store. I am so not hip.
Normally I’ve made cherry pies with tapioca as the thickener but Cook’s Illustrated uses cornstarch. Cornstarch made the pie awfully thick. Maybe it is nostalgia but I think its nice to have a bit of ooze to a fruit pie.
They do use the almond extract in the filling. Gotta have that. But they also use some cinnamon. The plot thickens! I tasted once I mixed it all up and added a dash of the secret ingredient I add to my Thanksgiving pies. You either have to be awesome or named Eleanor for me to give up that secret.
The verdict is that this pie was not bad, but not the best. I’m gonna have to redeem myself as master pie maker…
Questions for you:
What sort of pie crust do you prefer?
Do you like(love?) Trader Joes?
Do you have secret, or trademark ingredients you use?