Thanksgiving is around the corner, and I have already eaten a record amount of pies for the year. Pumpkin, apple, and pecan are amazing, but I wanted to try something new this year, something that incorporated Middle Eastern flavors and ingredients.
We don’t have a lot of pies in the Middle East, but we do have a lot of almonds, and a lot of pears, and I’ve found a wonderful pear, almond, and chocolate tart that is absolutely delicious. It is not a very difficult tart. The pastry used is a regular piecrust that you can buy from the store or make from scratch. The tart shell is filled with a delicious frangipane and then topped with pears and chocolate, and baked. This recipe is good for a 9 inch fluted tart pan. If you’re using a pie dish, you might need to increase the recipe by multiplying the ingredients by 1.5. I hope you enjoy it!
For the pastry, you will need:
1 ¼ cups of flour
½ cup butter, cold, cut into small pieces
2-4 tbsp. ice water
½ tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
For the almond filling, you will need:
9 ½ tbsp. ground almonds
7 tbsp. butter at room temperature
7 tbsp. sugar
(If you have a scale, the ingredients are simply 100 g each of almonds, butter, and sugar, and 2 eggs).
For the toppings, you will need two pears, cored and cut in half, and about 2 tbsp. of chocolate chips, but the amount of chocolate really is to taste. An optional topping is apricot jam that you can use to glaze the top of the tart.
To make the pastry, first cut your butter into small pieces and return to the fridge to stay cold. Then whisk flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or two knives until you see course crumbs. Add two tablespoons of the ice water, and gently combine, continue adding water in ½ tablespoon increments, until the dough stays together when pressed between two fingers. Try not to go over 4 tablespoons. The less water you put in, the flakier and crispier your dough is! Once you’ve added enough water, turn your dough out on a sheet of plastic wrap, and using the edges of the wrap, press the dough together into a disk. Wrap it tightly, and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
At this point, you can also preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, make the filling by creaming the butter and sugar together, then adding the eggs, followed by the ground almonds. You can use store-bought almond meal or process 100 grams (9 ½ tbsp.) of blanched almonds in a food processor, be careful not to over-process though, because the ground almonds tend to lump together if processed for too long. If you’d like to accentuate the flavor of the almonds, you can add just a drop of almond extract. Alternatively if you want to have more of a pear flavor with a bit of a kick, you can add a little bit of pear brandy.
After the pastry is properly chilled, roll it out and gently insert it into your tart pan. To make it easier for myself to roll the dough out, I always put it between two sheets of parchment paper. I never to use extra flour, and I never have a problem with the dough sticking to the surface.
Add the filling, and arrange the pears cut-side down. Distribute the chocolate chips evenly, then bake the tart for about an hour, or until the top of the frangipane becomes golden brown.
A couple of minutes before the tart comes out, heat a few tablespoons of apricot jam in the microwave. Once the tart comes out, brush it with the jam while it’s still hot. Apricot jam doesn’t really affect the flavor of the tart, but it gives it a beautiful glaze, and prevents the fruit from turning brown.
‘Tis the season for journeying out to an apple orchard and picking a bushel of apples, and arguably the best way to consume those apples? Apple pie. Nothing is quite so American as that particular New-England-y scene of autumn leaves and a warm pie in the oven.
But as it turns out, the original apple pies date back to the 14th century, and apples themselves go back even further.
Fossilized evidence of apples date them back as far as the Stone Age. The closest ancestor to modern apples can be found as early as the time of Alexander the Great, who supposedly found dwarf apples in Kazakhstan and brought them back to Macedonia. Later, the Romans introduced apples to England, where they hitched a ride to the new world with American colonists. They didn’t flourish until the European honey bee was shipped to the Americas in 1622. This was good news, since colonists would have only found crabapple trees in their new home.
So if the apple isn’t American, maybe the pie is? Nope. Pie has been around since the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, when they were made in inedible “reeds,” not crusts. Once again, the Romans spread the word about their culinary delight, and by the 14th century, the word pie was in the popular vernacular. However, the early pies were mostly savory pies, filled with fowl.
America isn’t even the originator of the combo of apples and pie. The first recorded recipe for apple pie dates to 1381, and called for figs, raisins, pears, and saffron to be thrown into the mix. Back then, apple pies didn’t include sugar, since sugar at the time was scarce and very expensive. Also, ye olde consumers of apple pie generally didn’t eat the pastry, then called a coffin, that held in all the apples.
So how exactly did apple pie become so “American”? Apple pie recipes came across the Atlantic with British, Dutch, and Swedish bakers in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Folk hero John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed, did much to induct apples into the American legend – even though the variety of apples he typically planted were rather sour. During Prohibition, the American government pushed apple pies as one alternative for hard apple cider, and later, during World War II, American soldiers helped to popularize the stereotype of American apple pie, claiming they were going to war “for mom and apple pie.”
So, through a classic American combination of immigration and advertising, the apple pie became the culinary mascot for all things ‘Murica.
If you have a hankering for a real old fashioned apple pie, use this medieval recipe “For to make Tartys in Applis,” redacted by godecookery.com.
From The Forme of Cury: XXVII For to make Tartys in Applis.
Tak gode Applys and gode Spycis and Figys and reysons and Perys and wan they are wel ybrayed colourd with Safron wel and do yt in a cofyn and yt forth to bake wel.
8 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and sliced
4 Bartlet pears peeled, cored and sliced
½ cup of raisins
½ cup of figs, sliced
2 tsp cinnamon,
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
¼ tsp cloves
a pinch of saffron
2 cups of wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup of butter
½ cup of milk
egg yolks for glazing
Note: the pie shell recipe is for a “coffin,” a generally tasteless pastry made to hold in the filling.
Rub a tablespoon of the butter into the flour and salt with your fingertips. Take the remaining butter, and add it to the liquid. Heat the liquid over med. heat until it just breaks a boil, and the butter is melted. Make a well in the flour, dump in the liquid and melted fat, and stir quickly with a wooden spoon to combine. Cover with a cloth to keep it warm, and let the dough rest for 10 minutes or so in a warm place.
Pinch off two thirds of the very warm dough. Reserve the remaining third for the lid, in a bowl with a cloth covering it. We will aim for a six- inch base, with sides approx. 4-5 inches high. Pat the dough into a circle. With knuckles, thumbs, palms, and any other means possible, mold the dough into a bowl shape or cylinder. Splay out the top edges slightly.
Roll the remaining dough into a circle. Flatten out into a seven-inch circle. Cut a one-inch circle in the center. If you have any excess dough, use it to decorate the lid or sides with rosettes, leaves, vines, etc. Score the bottoms of these with a fork, and moisten, then attach to a scored section of the lid. When the pie has been filled, moisten the edges of the base. Put the lid on top. Pinch the edges together. Using a small knife or kitchen shears, cut small, inch deep cuts into the edges, making an even number, all around the edge. Fold every other “notch” down, to make a crenellated edge. Pinch the crenellations to ensure they stay down.
Mix all of the pie filling ingredients together. Pour into the pie shell and cover with the pie lid. Bake at 350º F for one hour. After one hour, glaze the pie shell with the egg yolk for a lovely golden brown color. Return to the oven for another twenty minutes.
In this adorable dramedy, Keri Russell plays Jenna, a pregnant waitress in an abusive marriage with little hope for the future. Not the most cheery premise. But Jenna finds hope in her baking—if she wins an upcoming pie contest, she’ll have enough money to leave her husband. Thankfully, pies are her specialty. Not only does she innovatively mix unexpected flavors, she also has a knack for aptly naming the pies. For instance:
I Hate My Husband Pie
I Can’t Have No Affair Because It’s Wrong and I Don’t Want Earl to Kill Me Pie
Pregnant Miserable Self-Pitying Loser Pie
Fallin’ In Love Chocolate Mousse Pie
See? That last one shows you there’s some hope.
As “Waitress” shows, there is no limit to types and flavors of pie, so you can imagine that picking a pie for this occasion was tricky. I settled, as I find it is usually best to do, on chocolate. This chocolate chess pie is rich and dense, nearing the consistency of a cake. The pecans break up the smoothness with just the right amount of crunch. I filled my pie crust to the brim with the gooey chocolate mixture and was sure that it would overflow in the oven and I’d be left with a hardened brown mess. Thankfully, there was no such catastrophe, and I opened the oven to rich, warm bliss.
Chocolate Chess Pie or When All Else Fails Chocolate Is Always Right Pie
2 cups sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornmeal (I left this out and added extra flour)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup milk
½ cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat over to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, cocoa power, cornmeal, flour, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk, butter and vanilla. Pour the second mixture into the first and stir until smooth. Then add in the pecans.
Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake for about one hour. Allow pie to cool on wire rack.
I know it is cold outside, and every day is another day of the fear of slipping on pavement, but do not fret! Even though this type of weather can onset frozen hands and a sluggish attitude, there is still an upside: the advent of easy-to-bake pies! Pies can range from being a meticulous inception (try making a good blueberry pie, its odd and harder than you think), to an easy concoction (once you bake a few pies, you’ll be thinking of crazy things to put on it, but go for it anyways!). However, in this post I aim for a simply refreshing pie that we all can make with basic ingredients that aren’t asking for a 1 hour game of “find the ingredient!” at Westside. So, for all those who played in the snow the first day, slipped on it the second day, and froze your toes on the third day, here is my gift to you: Minty Fresh Pumpkin Pie!
Pumpkin pie is a classic fall/winter pie, albeit because it is quite versatile, you can experiment with it and still be certain it will taste good.With this classic, imagine the whipped cream topping as the fluffy snow, and the mint as the green landscape of Columbia’s courtyard being overtaken by this powdery wonderfulness. If we think of it as that, then the fear of slipping and falling while walking to IAB or Pupin won’t be as embarrassing now will it?
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can of Pumpkin puree (@Met foods less than 3$)
1 can of evaporated milk (sweetened)
1 pre-baked pie shell
Whipped Cream – (Prefer the aerosol for better ability to design)
Crushed mint – (@ Metfoods for 1.50, enough to last you another 4 years)
1. Pre-heat the pie crust for about 8 minutes @ 375 degrees fahrenheit.
2. Beat the eggs in a bowl.
3. Add sugars, salt, and milk, then mix.
4. Add pumpkin puree and mix very well.
5. Pour the pie filling into the pie crust, and then bake for about 40-45 minutes @ 375 degrees fahrenheit.
6. Once you remove the pie, let it cool on another surface for about 12 minutes.
7. Lightly sprinkle two – three pinches of mint all over the pie, and then apply the whipped cream topping by doing a spiral motion starting from the center of the pie. Sprinkle some more mint on the whipped cream.
I think it’s common knowledge that the days before Thanksgiving are somehow just as crazy as the actual holiday itself. For some reason, we, as a society, build it up. Professors assign papers due before this rare relief from academia. Friends try to squeeze in brunch. Organizations decide to hold elections, have dinners, and throw their big parties right before break. I think there’s also something to be said for the emotional build up. How do we even begin to prepare ourselves for the joy that is surely right around the corner? Regardless of the immense amount of food we’re about to eat or the loved ones we’ve missed, it’s just hard for a student to think to herself I won’t be here tomorrow! I get to sleep! Someone’s going to hug me and perhaps even make me pie!
Speaking of pie, my mother makes great Thanksgiving desserts. It’s not a question of if we will have pie, but how many and what types. In particular, my mother and my sister made the classic pumpkin as well as a maple pecan pie. Pie is for dessert, but also breakfast. Thanksgiving really does give us things to be thankful for. In addition to celebrating Thanksgiving, pie is also one of the central themes of the film Waitress. I first saw Waitress a few years ago on the suggestion of my mom, who besides being a great cook, is also a bit of an indie film scout. I don’t know how she does it. She’s a bit of a Supermom, if you will. Waitress is a bit about Supermoms, classical music, regular customers, old places, new places, and finding yourself. Oh, and it’s filled with shots of beautiful, deliciously tempting pie. Continue reading Foodie Flicks: Waitress→
I was perusing West Side Market and was sadly not being inspired by any of the vegetables on offer and then I saw these huge scallion things. They looked familiar but I was completely blank on what they were or what I could use them for. Pulling out my handy phone I gave my resident culinary genius (my mother) a call and was told that what I was staring at were nothing other than leeks!
A leek are is like an onions nicer cousin. Leeks are harvested in the autumn but certain types are also harvestable in the summer and spring. They are a year-round crop! While leeks are often used for adding flavor to stock they are also sauteed and used in quiches, tarts, and other yummy goodies. A fun fact is that dried specimens have been found in archaeological sites in ancient Egypt that point to them being a part of the diet starting in the second millennium BCE.
This tart is perfect for a light vegetarian dinner or can be cut into smaller pieces and used as an “on the go” lunch. I served it with roasted sweet potato with a browned butter vinagrette. Continue reading Leek and Gruyere Tart→
Pippa’s back with In-Season, a great series that explores fresh produce and gives you way to create really delicious things.
So you went apple picking a few weeks ago and have barely made a dent in the PILES of apples that you foolishly said you’d finish in a week. Say hello to the apple pie. Unlike a more traditional apple pie the dutch apple pie is known for having a pie shell bottom and then a crisp-like streusel top crust. Important factors in a successful pie include keeping the crust from getting soggy, having firm but not crisp streusel, and not overcooking the apples. Since this pie is made in parts and then assembled it is very easy to control these factors.
Serve it up right out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream but be sure to save some for the breakfast the next day! As the pie cools down the apples pull in the juices and intensify the flavor. I would go as far as to say that I actually like it better chilled the next day! That might also have something to do with the satisfaction of eating pie for breakfast. Happy Baking! Continue reading Dutch Apple Pie→
This past Tuesday, in honor of the great food holiday, the Culinary Society hosted its first ever Thanksgiving Pie Competition. Entrants from all over the Columbia and Barnard communities came out to showcase their baking skills, with pies of all different flavors. Of course, there were the classic Thanksgiving favorites, like pumpkin and apple pies, but there were also some incredible variations on the classics, like kabocha pie (a relative of pumpkin), vinegar pie (a variation on the classic Canadian “Butter Tart”) and sour cream apple pie. The complete list of entrants went as follows:
1. Dezi’s Pumpkin Pie
2. Kittyball’s Strawberry Rhubarb
3. Erica’s Fresh Pumpkin Pie
4. Procrastibaker’s Cranberry Apple
5. Bakinator’s Pumpkin Pie
6. 3.14159’s Chocolate Cream Pie
7. Suzanna’s Bavarian Cream
8. Suite Kitchen’s Fudge Pie
9. Rebecca’s Chocolate Pecan Pie
10. Nina’s Apple Pie
11. Matt’s Caramel Apple Pie
12. Treat Yo’self 2011 Kabocha Pie
13. Kelcey’s Sour Cream Apple Pie
14. Mad Foodie’s Chocolate Pecan pie
15. Sarah’s Pie Apple Pie
Unlike previous competitions with the Culinary Society, where a panel of judges voted on the best entrants, the Thanksgiving Pie Competition was judged by the general student body. Thanks to an ingenious idea from one of the Culinary Society’s e-boarders, the votes were recorded via text message, giving everyone with a cell phone a quick, efficient, and easy way to voice which pie was their favorite.
With 15 pies in the competition, and 60 eager judges waiting outside to get their tastes, it was a bit of a hectic evening. In all, it only took about 40 minutes for the tasters to completely devour the pies and vote on their favorites. I, for one, thought it was one of the fastest 40 minutes of my life!
Although I only got to taste a couple of the pies, the student body was extremely pleased with all of the pies. There was something for everyone: super-sweet pies, savory/less sweet pies, fruit based pies, custard pies, pies with toppings, pies with double crusts, pies with crumble tops… you get the idea. It was veritable feast of sweets.
The third place pie was the Procrastibaker’s Cranberry Apple pie. The combination of apples, almonds, and cranberries, topped with an apple cider reduction, proved to be a winning variation on an American classic.
The second place pie was Mad Foodie’s Chocolate Pecan pie. Serving this pie warm was a great idea, leaving the chocolate smooth and melted, in combination with the warm, toasted pecans. This pie was one of the firsts to go!
The grand champion of the evening was Rebecca’s Chocolate Pecan Pie. Made with chocolate, pecans and a healthy splash of Grand Marnier, this pie was quite a bit more complex than the classic pecan pie. The addition of the Grand Marnier added a citrusy sweetness that proved to be the winning component.
Although the Culinary Society ran out of funds to provide a prize for the competition, the winners, Rebecca and Emily, took this in stride. All they wanted was a simple “2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate?” cheer from the bakers and tasters, which was given enthusiastically.
This competition was a delicious and memorable success, which we hope to continue next year. However, with Thanksgiving around the corner, there’s no need to wait a year to enjoy these pies again! And even if you didn’t get to come to the competition yourself, we at the Culinary Society hope that you challenge some of your families’ classic pies with your own culinary ideas. Who knows, maybe you’ll stumble upon a fabulous recipe to take grand prize next year!
One of the first joys of summer is being able to harvest fresh rhubarb from my family’s garden. Unfortunately, this year my father mowed our rhubarb patch thinking the plants were burdocks. Luckily, my aunt has a huge rhubarb patch and I was able to get some stalks from her. Rhubarb leaves are toxic to humans and though the roots have some medicinal properties, the stalks are the part of the plant that are used to make pies, jams, tarts, drinks, and sauces.
My favorite way to eat rhubarb is in pies. Strawberry rhubarb pies are delicious, but this time I opted to make a pure rhubarb pie.
No Fail Pie Crust
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup milk
dash of salt
This pie crust is one of the easiest you can make and no refrigeration is necessary. Just mix together all the ingredients and toss with a fork until blended. Form the dough into two balls then roll out each ball between two sheets of wax paper. This makes one double crust (top and bottom).