Day 9: Happy Birthday Shane!!!

Day 9 Pies:

Another Nine Days Of Pie has come and gone. It ended well on Monday night, Shane’s birthday.

An early visit brought us Stephen and Alan baring the gift of crab, and ah ha the admission that Alan was the person placing those little figures around. Unfortunately, they could not stay very long.

On this night, everyone got a gift with a visit from two local dignitaries, Jane Herrold, a well known artist and notable local fisherman’s daughter, and Dave Densmore, the famed poet, adventurer, and Alaska Fisherman. To see these two old friends interact was a rare treat! This is what the Nine Days of Pie is truly about – Trading stories and jokes and eating pie, with Dave’s partner Renee and Karri Gallagher. It was a great finale to a very action packed and pie filled Nine Days of Pie.

I always look forward to the Nine Days Of Pie, and I am always glad when it is over. It is a challenge to host an open house pie party for 9 straight evenings, but a great adventure and community builder. It is a ritual and a celebration, there is power and suffering, pleasure and pain, and most of all, indulgence.

There were a plethora of pies on this final night, yet for perhaps the first time ever, butter remains in the freezer, and a couple balls of crust are still chilling…

Most of all, I would like to thank everyone who came and shared pie with us, a big thank you to everyone who brought gifts, or pie, or whatever, and especially thanks to Shane for being so wonderful that you deserve your own holiday!!! I love you!

 

2 am Monday Morning 11-9-15

The Nine Days of Pie has kicked my ass! I have lost count of how many pies I have made. Many people have also brought pies, thus far including lemon meringue, mini apple caramel, and paleo pumpkin and cranberry, others brought additional supplies such as butter and fine cream, and wine and crab. Several people have suggested, and after my struggle this year to make enough pie to really allow for pie frenzy, next year may be a full on pie potluck.

It is after 2 am and the last pie of Sunday night is just about to come out of the oven! I have failed miserably with my promised daily posts. Not only did I fail to post daily blogs, I did not post recipes either. This leaves me the obvious dilemma of what the hell did I bake on Tuesday? and that sort of thing.

The Nine Days Of Pie the 2015 version has been a wild ride! Pie madness, last minute pie changes, near disasters, and even a pie heckler made for the most insane Nine Days of Pie ever!

Full pie list, recipes, and a recap coming soon…

 

Yarnall Family’s Fyrstekake

This came from Bon Appetite (Link at bottom of page). It had cardamom in a string role, so it caught my attention in a big way!

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. whole milk or heavy cream

Filling And Assembly

  • Unsalted butter (for pan)
  • 2 c. slivered almonds
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk

Special Equipment

  • A 9-inch-diameter fluted tart pan with removable bottom; decorative cookie cutters

 

Directions:

Crust

  • Whisk flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter and sugar in a medium bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolk and milk. With mixer running on low speed, gradually add dry ingredients and beat just until thoroughly combined.
  • Pat dough into a ball; break off one-quarter of dough. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten balls into disks. Cover separately and chill dough disks for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Filling And Assembly

  • Butter tart pan. Break larger dough disk into small pieces and scatter over bottom of tart pan. Using your fingertips, press dough onto bottom and up sides of pan. Use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to smooth the surface and trim the edges. Roll out smaller dough disk to about 1/8 inches thick. Using decorative cookie cutters, cut out shapes and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and chill crust and cutouts for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Pulse almonds, powdered sugar, cardamom, and nutmeg in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Transfer dry ingredients to a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and vanilla in a medium bowl until medium peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into dry ingredients.
  • Whisk egg yolk and 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl to blend. Fill chilled crust with almond mixture; smooth top. Arrange cutouts on top and brush cutouts with egg wash.
  • Bake tart until crust and cutouts are golden brown and filling is set, 30-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool. DO AHEAD: Tart can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
  • Recipe by Rachel Sanders, http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/yarnall-family-s-fyrstekake

Aussie Humble Pie

Aussie humble pie with a steak and ale filling (See link to original recipe below)

Cooks In 4H 30M plus cooling. Difficulty: Not too tricky

*PLEASE NOTE the above statement from the original recipe that this is “not too tricky”, but takes 4.5 hours “plus cooling”. Kind of an oxymoron. This took overnight cooling. Do NOT be fooled, there is nothing humble about this “Simple Steak Pie”.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg beef skirt, chopped into 1cm chunks
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 whole nutmeg , for grating
  • 2 large carrots, peeled
  • 2 red onions , peeled
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
  • 500 ml pale ale
  • 1 heaped T. corn starch
  • 1 T. tomato purée
  • 250 g button mushrooms
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten , or semi-skimmed milk

For the pastry:

  • 600 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 150 g cold unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
  • 150 g Cheddar cheese

Method

Place the beef, 1 heaped teaspoon of pepper, a good pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large bowl. Grate in half a nutmeg, then toss to coat and set aside.

Roughly chop the carrots, onions and rosemary leaves.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a wide, medium pan over a medium heat, then add the beef and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meat is browned all over and any liquid has evaporated, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, heat another medium pan over a medium heat. Add the chopped veg and a drizzle of olive oil and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until softened and caramelised, stirring frequently, then remove from the heat.

Add the ale to the beef, turn the heat up to high and allow the liquid to boil and bubble away, stirring and scraping all those lovely sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the corn starch and tomato purée and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it forms a thick paste. Stir the softened veg into the pan, then pour in 2.5 c. of cold water. Roughly slice and add the mushrooms, then bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for 1 hour 30 minutes, then take off the lid and simmer for another 30 minutes, or until thickened and reduced and the beef is tender, stirring occasionally. Season to taste, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool completely for a few hours or preferably overnight in the fridge.

Meanwhile, make the pastry. Combine the flour and a good pinch of salt in a bowl, then grate in the Cheddar and rub into the flour along with the butter, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Gradually add 250ml of cold water, stirring continuously to combine, then use your hands to bring it together into a rough dough – be careful not to work it too much. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge until needed.

Ready to bake:

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Grease pie dish with a little butter. Roll out bottom crust on a flour-dusted surface to the thickness of a pound coin. Place in pie pan. Gently press the pastry into the sides of the dish, then roughly cut away the excess.

Fill with meat filling. roll out top crust and cover. Trim away any excess, crimp the edges with a fork and pierce a little cross into the top. Brush over a little more milk or beaten egg, then place in the hot oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden and piping hot through.

Adapted from recipe at http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/beef-recipes/aussie-humble-pie/#g079DXWVLx2apGq7.99

Pecan Pie 2015 – The Good One

Pecan Pie, Based on a recipe in Time Life Books ‘Foods of the World’

Single crust pastry, unbaked.

4 eggs

2 c. dark corn syrup (I used 1 c. dark corn syrup and 1 c. Lyons Golden Syrup)

2 T. melted butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract (I used 2)

1 1/2 c. pecans

 

Instructions:

Prepare crust, roll out, and line pie pan.

Beat eggs welling large bowl for about 30 seconds.

Pour in syrup while mixing, beat well.

Add butter and vanilla, mixing well.

Add pecans, still gently and fold into unbaked pie crust.

Bake in 400 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.

Serve warm or room temperature.

Raspberry Pie

I chose to make an all raspberry pie because no one ever makes them, they always get mixed with other berries or fruit. This is a decadent, fragrant, and delicious pie!
  • 1 recipe for Double pie crust recipe
  • 24 oz raspberries
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. corn starch
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 T. butter

Directions:

Make pie crust, line pan with crust. Prepare top crust as full cover or lattice crust.

In a large bowl pour in raspberries and sprinkle with lemon juice and vanilla.

In a bowl, combine sugar, corn starch and cinnamon. Pour over berries and gently toss to combine.

Pour berries into crust, top with butter cut into tiny pieces.

Cover with top crust, if using full crust be sure to cut vents in top, or weave up a lattice crust.

Bake in 375 oven for 30 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 and bake an additional 20-30 minutes, or until crust is golden and pie is bubbling.

Cool for an hour or two before serving if possible.

Day 8: Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015

Day 8 Pies:

  • Chicken Spinach Pie
  • Raspberry Pie
  • Blueberry & Blackberry Paleo Pie (not very good)
  • Pumpkin & Cranberry (brought by Angela)

Sunday came much too quickly, but here it was Day 8! Over the years, most Nine Days Of Pie celebrations include two weekends, but not this year and that has made it rather challenging for me. I had planned to make the Aussie Humble Pie, but it when I read the recipe and saw it took 4.5 hours (Humble? Not so much.) I kept putting it off for the weekend, but now that I read the recipe yet again and more thoroughly, the filling actually needs to sit in the fridge overnight, ugh! SO Chicken Spinach Pie it is..

Our first guest of the evening was a great and total surprise, the amazing artist Roger McKay. We have only gotten to chat with Roger in passing here and there, but at our last run in I was armed with Nine Days Of Pie postcards! This was a wonderful surprise, and I know a real treat for Shane, as he does not often have the chance to spend time with other professional artists, and certainly none here in Astoria! Roger told us he has made a living at art for more than 40 years! He is one of the artists involved in the recent restoration of the Astor Column.

Another knock on the door brought additional Astoria royalty, Elleda & Bruce with Elleda’s awesome cousin Amy! Amy visits Elleda and Bruce every year around this time and we always look forward to seeing them all. Elleda is a well known photographer, and she brought Shane a beautiful and creepy print of an old doll having from a mirror. Perfect!  We all were enjoying pie and a low roar of conversation and laughter when another knock not he door brought us Angela and her son Ruben, they were sporting a beautiful diary, gluten and sugar free pumpkin and cranberry pie. It was a work of art. She told us her son said they HAD TO come because we invented out own holiday!!!

I decided to make a full on Raspberry Pie because no one ever makes raspberry pies, it’s always raspberry and something. And, I never do lattice crust, but there I was latticing it up! I also got daring and attempted a blue and black berry crumble top paleo pie, but it did not turn out very good. And never mind the two great gluten free pies I’d made days before, tonight when I had yet another lousy gluten free pie, our neighbor Sean came by – he and his wife Shannon had experienced the failed sweet potato of day one, but had of course missed the lemon custard and the peanut butter! Thank goodness Angela’s amazing pie was there to save the day!

Angela's Pie saved the day!

Day 7: Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015

Day 7 Pies:

This being Saturday allowed for some slightly more challenging pies than I am able to do on the weeknights. I’d read an interesting article about Key Lime Pie and it’s origins  that came along with a slightly boastful recipe so I was excited to make an authentic key lime pie!  Lucky for me, Shane offered to squeeze all those tiny key limes! And geez, it took the whole bag!

I also decided today would be the perfect day for spanakopita. It takes a while to make AND it makes a lot of pie, so it was perfect for a possible Saturday crowd.

Word came two of our invitees were passing through town and would be coming early. Our invitation for weekends said 5pm, and I had toyed with making it 3 pm, but I felt that made for too long of a day for Shane and I. Of course for Corina and Joe we were willing to make an exception! We met Corina when we lives in a beach shack in Seaview WA, she was our next door neighbor. Eventually, she moved away to California and met Joe, he’s a military guy even worked for what they call a “Private Security firm”, they have an adorable little boy but he did not join us today. Nowadays they live south of Portland, so we don’t get to see them as much as we wish we could. One thing for sure, Corina & Joe are the people I can count on to bring a pie, and this year was no exception, this year they treated us to a mile high Lemon Meringue pie from the famed Cottage Bakery in Long Beach.

Verna and William arrived all the way from Portland, and Verna who is an amazing cook & baker brought some delicious vanilla lavender shortbread cookies. Verna and William are eccentric adventurers and creatives, and they are always a treat to spend time with. William studies fencing, Verna is always climbing some giant hill or mountain, they are a blast! Since we don’t get to spend that much time with them in person, it’s always great to watch their adventures through social media. They could really not be more different than Corina and Joe, and yet there they were all chatting it up, and then our neighbor Bill and daughter Emily stopped by for a spot of pie before Bill’s theater rehearsal and finally, Stephen and Alan joined us once again adding some local flare to the festivities, and offering a near crate of tea.

I’d planned to make an apple pie, an upsidedown apple pie, because Emily likes apple pies and that’s about it (I was the same way at her age), but the pie was not ready before Bill had to depart, so I had to deliver a slice to Emily at home. Emily is a great kid, growing into a great teenager, and any time I can do something nice for her I always like to. Someday the world will know her name, I am pretty certain of that!

In addition, I decided to try a different Pecan Pie recipe, and this time follow it to the letter, the results? A damn good pecan pie! Might have been the Lyle’s Golden Syrup I used from England???

I’d noticed a few days back a little figure appeared in the kitchen, a little Minion guy, then tonight after everyone had left there was a viking fellow with a sword and a cape, and Shane said he had yet another in his office. We pondered where these could be coming from, but we hadn’t a clue….

Real Key Lime Pie

Real Key Lime Pie

Ingredients

Crust:

1 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs

1/4 c. firmly packed light brown sugar

1/3 c. butter or margarine, melted

Filling:

2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk

1 c. fresh Key lime juice* (This took an entire bag of tiny key limes from the grocery store)

Topping:

2 egg whites

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

2 T. granulated sugar

Preparation

Combine first 3 ingredients. Press into a 9-inch pie plate.

Bake piecrust at 350° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned; cool.

Stir together sweetened condensed milk and lime juice until blended. Pour into prepared crust. Set aside.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed with an electric mixer just until foamy.

Add granulated sugar gradually, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until soft peaks form and sugar dissolves (2 to 4 minutes).

Spread meringue over filling.

Bake at 325° for 25 to 28 minutes. Chill 8 hours.

*Bottled Key lime juice may be substituted for fresh juice.

NOTE * I have not, that I can recall made a real Key Lime Pie ever. Shane kindly squeezed an entire bag of key limes for this recipe! In the end, it was a bit too sweet. And I would of course have added vanilla normally, but wanted to make it this time exact to the recipe which I believe was in Southern Living, though I do not have a link.

According to Southern Living… 

No one can pinpoint when lime pie first showed up in the Keys. Developed by early Bahamian settlers, Key lime pie appears to have been around for more than 100 years.

Opinions differ on whether it should contain eggs or even if it should be baked—and that’s just for the filling!

You could probably incite a riot discussing Key lime pie’s topping and crust. Should the topping be made of whipped cream or meringue? Does it call for a graham cracker crust or a pastry crust?

 

Key Lime Pie Basics

Key West locals—“conchs,” as they’re called—do adhere to a few universals for Key lime pie.

  • First, Key lime pie is never green, but rather a natural creamy yellow.
  • it’s always made with small, round key limes,
  • And any Key lime pie worth its weight—and taste—is made with sweetened condensed milk. Never milk. That is because milk was unavailable in the Florida Keys until the 1930s with the opening of the overseas highway when tank trunks carrying ice could get to the region.
  • And after much debate the Key Lime Pie was made Florida’s official pie in 2006.

Day 6, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015

Day 6 Pies:

Friday was upon us, and with that brought a large crowd to our door, tonight we were joined by Cathy Nist, Nik & Jessie (baby free tonight), Sally and Roger, William Ham, Bill Honl and his friend Sheila, Charlotte & Steve made a return visit, as did Stephen and Alan, and Carol Newman who came early and left quick, but made a huge mark on the entire event when she sang a beautiful song to Shane for his birthday. It was so wonderful to watch his face go from amazed to honored to embarrassed back to wondrous amazement! Such a great gift from such a beautiful woman with such a beautiful voice! It was just magical!

With 15 guests for pie, any pie surplus was gone in a jiffy, and soon all eyes were awaiting tonight’s offerings. Cathy brought a pile of rhubarb as a gift, along with two beautiful pounds of butter. Somehow the fresh rhubarb got placed on the top of the oven and soon it was making the house very fragrant. The only problem there was, it wasn’t in a pie! It was just cooking on top of the stove while I baked the Asparagus Tart. I quickly whipped out some strawberries and went to work assembling a quick Rhubarb Strawberry Pie, as the crowd continued to swell I made a quick Buttermilk Pie, but overlooking key instructions it turned out with separated layers. Of course everyone said it “tasted fine”, yeah right. Roger and Sally brought a couple pints of ice cream which helped sooth the sweet tooth beasts in everyone between pies.

Some time back we met a nice lady at a holiday party at the famed Sou’Wester, her name was Kimberly and it turned out she and Shane shared the birthday of November 9th, so it was nice to see her make her way into the kitchen, holding a few sticks of butter and accompanied by her beautiful teenage daughter Sunny. It was an eclectic mix of Astoria, full of a lot of laughs and surreal conversation.

This was a hectic but fun evening, and it is always nice to see different people in our community getting to know each other better.

 

Asparagus Tart

Another winner from Beatrice! This is from the book ‘Pot Pies’ from Beatrice Ojakangas.

  • Single pie crust
  • 1.5 lb. fresh asparagus, cleaned and trimmed
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 lb. prosciutto or shaved ham, shut into 1/8″ pieces (I used turkey bacon)
  • 1/3 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Fit pastry into 10″ tart pan with removable bottom. Trim edges and place in freezer for 10 minutes.

Cut asparagus in 2-inch  pieces, blanche in boiling water for 2 minutes. Plunge in cold water to stop cooking. Drain.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Blend cream cheese, eggs, cream, salt and pepper until smooth.

Arrange asparagus stalks and ham (or turkey bacon) on pastry. Pour HALF the egg mixture over and bake for 15 minutes.

Add the rest of the egg mixture and bake, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Reduce heat to 375, and bake for 40 minutes, or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

 

Day 5, Thursday, Nov 5, 2015

Day 5 Pie: Spiced Lamb

Day 5 was upon us, and with a Peanut Butter Pie ready and waiting, and a number of other quarters and halves hanging around I felt pretty good. Mid-afternoon brought our first guests all the way from Portland, our dear old friend Lonnie and young friend Stephanie. I raced home early to enjoy a bit of their visit when I learned they were not staying over.

We met Lonnie in Portland during our year long road trip project back in 2007, he became a subject in our videos and our book and we have remained friends ever since. Shane met Stephanie through Lonnie some time back, but she’d moved away for school for a few years. She recently moved back, and I was glad to get to know her a little better. While our conversation was great, it was over far too soon, and then they were gone.

I prepared a Spiced Lamb Pie for tonight’s savory, while Shane and I enjoyed each other’s company. The time passed quickly, and no knocks came!  We have not had a night of just us in some time so this was a welcome treat! We laughed and listened to music and danced in the kitchen! A perfect night!

The lamb filling was too hot to make hand pies, again the crust was melting off the top, so I struggled to get two hand pies into the oven and then gave up and made it a full size meat pie. We split one of the ugly but delicious hand pies, and talked a while more.

As soon as the porch light went off promptly at eleven o’clock I was headed up to bed!

Spiced Lamb Hand Pies, or Pie as it were…

I got this recipe from Bon Appetit, they usually come through with culinary some gold. this was no exception!
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or white balsamic)
  • 3 tablespoons dried cherries and blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ pound ground lamb
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Double recipe pie crust
  • All-purpose flour (for surface)
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend

Directions:

Bring vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan. Add currants; set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until browned and softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomato paste, cumin, ginger, cardamom, and turmeric and cook until fragrant and sticky, about 1 minute. Add lamb and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Stir in peas; cook until bright green, about 5 minutes. Drain reserved currants and add to lamb along with parsley. Let cool.

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°. Working with one at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 12” squares. Cut each into 4 squares; transfer to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Spoon filling onto one side of squares, leaving ½” border. Brush edges with egg and fold dough over filling. Press to seal; crimp with a fork. Cut a few vents in tops; brush with egg.

Bake until pies are golden brown, 30–35 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Note: Or, you can do it as a regular full size meat pie like I did.

Recipe Link: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/spiced-lamb-hand-pies

Day 4: Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015

Day 4 Pies:

We made it to Wednesday, Day 4! Every year I make a list of the pies I plan to do and on which day – A Pie Schedule as I call it, and every year the list goes out the window.  But, this year was different, because for the first time ever rather than being disappointed in myself, I realized it is just a helpful guide to stop me from buying supplies for 60 pies, or trying to do too much.

When the porch light was turned on, we were delighted with a visit from our neighbor Bill Honl. We actually met Bill at the Nine Days Of Pie some years back, he came as the guest of one of our favorite community radio personalities, and now I really can’t imagine our life without him! We’ve had good times and bad, Bill became our next door neighbor a while after we first became friends, and it’s always nice to talk with him. He is also a great actor, and we have enjoyed seeing him in a number of local plays over the years, currently he’s rehearsing for a reader’s theater production in which he’ll be playing an old Jewish man in New York. He also did a cool art project over the summer where he invited people to tell him something he doesn’t know, check it out: http://youknowsomethingthatidont.tumblr.com

Soon another knock came upon the door, and it was ….. it was Lisa Marie and Jane! “I brought you a gift” announced Lisa Marie as she entered, and boy did she – The one and only Jane Herrold! I introduced them both to Bill. When Bill said “Nice to meet you” to Jane she retorted, “Yeah, for the millionth time!”. Talk about an ice breaker!

Soon there was a revelation that Bill’s uncle was Jane’s father’s best friend, and we were all dazzled with stories of the two men and their adventures and Uncle Buck’s naughty sense of humor, it was just perfect.

I’d told Shane about my heckling experience, but by this time I’d figured it was it was just me who’d had a bad day, and decided since it’s the Nine Days Of Pie we would not mention anything about it to Lisa Marie if she came by again. There was one stipulation, I didn’t want her to be with me in the kitchen. On this Shane took the immediate lead, and told everyone that I didn’t want anyone in the kitchen tonight, and he would be serving pie. He immediately began serving pie to our guests and everyone seemed happy. With one disaster thwarted headed back into the kitchen to roll my dough and prepare the night’s savory, of course all of the great conversation in the living room had made me lose track of time and my Wagon Wheel Apple Pie’s with the cheddar cheese crusts were a little too well done. Rats!

The French Easter Pie was one of the most unusual and popular savories of last year’s celebration so I was eager to try it again, with one minor change, instead of pork I was using a sweet apple chicken sausage. I prepared the pie and then realized I’d forgotten to boil the eggs so I worked to catch up on that. A knock on our door brought Karri bearing gifts of a wonderfully practical variety – cleaning supplies for the kitchen, and even a pair of new cooling racks!

On this day, I would say the pies were pretty good, everyone enjoyed the second coconut creme pie from yesterday, the repurposed sweet potato which was now rather tasty, and Pear Anise. We dove into the French Easter, which was even better than I remembered with the chicken sausage, but alas the late cooked and still hot eggs had reaped havoc on the pie crust, which melted right off several of the eggs.

The night ended great, with pleasant conversation all around. I felt so pumped up after everyone left, I stayed up and made two peanut butter refrigerator pies for tomorrow, oh but now I stayed up way too late and it is tomorrow…..

Peanut Butter Pie – Gluten Free

This is a gluten free version of a pie I used to make almost weekly when I worked for the famed pastry chef Nanci Main. Nanci, with her partner Jimella, basically invented NW Cuisine and the local food movement back in the early 1980s – No Joke. James Beard found and championed them, but even with that, their contribution to the current state of fine dining goes mostly unknown. 

Makes 2 pies

Crust:

  • 2.5 c. almond flour
  • 1/2 c. coconut palm sugar
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 3/4 c. coconut oil

Filling:

  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 1.5 c. powdered sugar or coconut palm sugar
  • 2 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 T. vanilla extract

Ganache Topping:

  • 6-8 oz. good quality chocolate
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream

Directions:

Prepare crusts by combining dry ingredients and then working in coconut oil. Rub a thin coat of oil on two pie pans, then divide between two pie pans and press firmly. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely.

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, peanut butter and sugar. In another bowl beat heavy whipping cream and vanilla until it whips into whipped cream. Fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture until evenly combined. Spread into the two pie pans. Chill.

In a small saucepan, warm cream, but do not boil. Remove from heat, add chocolate and let sit for a few minutes, then stir vigorously until smooth. Pour over pies in whatever manner you prefer, whether in a design or coating the tops. Chill until set.

Chill finished pie for 2 hours at least before serving.

Day 3: Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015

Day 3 Pies:

Today was a much better day than yesterday. Really how could it get any worse?

I was glad to know Jan Bono would be joining us on this night, she a prolific writer, a retired teacher, and one of my absolute favorite people! Her RSVP meant one thing for sure, No almonds in anything tonight. I woke up early early to make the Coconut Creme Pies before heading out for the day. I based it on a recipe, but it made the the thickest coconut creme pie I have ever seen, it was more like a Coconut Butter Pie. As the festivities neared I made the crusts for the the other two pies, both of which only required a single crust. Tonight I was recreating two favorite pies from previous years as part of a loose retrospective, it would be a Leek & Chèvre Tart for the savory and Pear Anise for the third variety, which was a surprise favorite a while back.

Jan arrived with “Election Pie” in hand, it was after all election day. We enjoyed the Coconut Creme and caught up. Jan always has a grand adventure going, some better than others, it was nice to hear about a recent one – she recently returned from China! You can read about her trip to China here: http://janbonobooks.com/blog/2015/08/25/off-to-china/ Jan has a sharp sense of humor and always says that we make her feel like Lilly Munster! I am not sure if that is good or bad.

In a funny twist of fate, a knock upon the door brought Nik & Jessie and baby Lilly, both attended the school that Jan taught while she was teaching there! Small world! Nik & Jessie are a great young couple we used to live next door to in Seaview WA, Shane performed their marriage ceremony, and they are really like family to us. The also hold the distinction to be the only people to have attended EVERY YEAR of the Nine Days of Pie, they were a our only guests! That’s right, we created the Nine Days of Pie just as a wacky party for ourselves, and it has grown profoundly over the years. That first year I remember vividly eating little fired hand pies of fig and sweet potato pies in Shane’s art studio on the beach while we all made stuff.

Jessie made little round Apple Caramel Pies, with criss cross tops, and they were delicious! Another knock on the door brought Isa, an eclectic woman I’ve met around town but never got to really chat with. This was her second visit to the Nine Days Of Pie and it was enjoyable to get to know her.

Yes, the Nine Days Of Pie will be good times from here on, no more bad days!

Coconut Cream Pie

Makes 2 pies

Crust:

2/3 c. coconut flour

1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 c. almond flour/meal

1/2 c. coconut oil, chilled and cubed

3 T. flax seed meal, stirred into 3 T. hot water, set aside

5 to 6 T. cold water

 Instructions:

Mix water and flax seed meal, set aside for 15-30 minutes.

Mix dry ingredients.

Cut in coconut oil until crumbly.

Cut in flaxseed meal mixture until distributed thoroughly.

Add water a few tablespoons at a time.

Press together to form a ball and cover for 30 minutes.

Divide crust and press firmly into two pie pans.

Bake for 10 – 13 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cool before filling with filling.

 

Pie Filling: 

1 (13.5 oz.) can coconut cream

1 c. half & half

1 c. heavy whipping cream

6 egg yolks

1 c. sugar

1/3 c. cornstarch

1 T. vanilla

3 T. butter

2 1/2 c. shredded coconut

Meringue:

6 egg whites

1 tsp. cream of tartar

1/2 c. powdered sugar

 Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, bake pie shells for 10-15 minutes, use pie weights or foil in the bottom.

In a saucepan, mix the coconut creme and the milk, cook over low heat.

In a small bowl, combine sugar and corn starch and add to milk, and stir.

In a small bowl, mix egg yolks, add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the hot milk and stir into eggs, add more hot milk, then add eggs to saucepan. Continue stirring.

Add coconut 1 c. at a time until thickened. Remove from heat, add vanilla and butter. Set aside.

Beat egg whites and cream of tarter to soft peaks, add sugar slowly and continue beating to hard peaks.

Fill pie shells with filling and top with meringue. Bake for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 325 and bake an additional 20-30 minutes, until meringue is golden.  Cool.

 

Day 2: Monday, Nov. 2, 2015

Day 2 Pies:

  • Bison Shepherd’s Pie
  • Raspberry Blueberry Pie
  • Lemon Custard Pie (gluten free)
  • Repurposed Sweet Potato Apple Pie
  • Heath Bar Pie (brought by Sean & Theresa)

Day two began well enough, I knew for sure the famed Dark Lady and her beau Sean would be joining us tonight, Sean has real specific dietary restrictions. Then, Jonas and Kate from AFRU Gallery sent word they would be delivering the art back from Shane’s recent exhibit there, Jonas said Kate is gluten free and not feeling so hot, so this was a night that I needed to plan carefully.

I decided a berry pie would be good for most every one, I did a bison Shepherd’s pie which was gluten free by default of no crust and no flour in the thickener, and a gluten free lemon custard.  The guests began just rolling in long before I was ready with pie, so luckily there was some left from yesterday. We were joined by fellow relocated city dwellers Stephen and Alan whose great company is always a pleasure and by several of their friends Charlotte and Steven from California, and their neighbor LisaMarie. Theresa (aka Dark Lady) and Sean arrived from Portland with the wonderful Helen Metropolis, AND a Heath Bar pie made by Sean!!! How cool was that?!?! Some people think it’s bad form to bring pie to the Nine Days of Pie, but we welcome it, and especially when there is such a large group, and especially when someone has a restrictive diet – even if that diet includes Burger King over zucchini. Ha. Helen is someone we usually only get to see online, or in rushed and chaotic circumstances, so it was great to have her as a guest in person and overnight.

Then Jonas and Kate arrived. We were surprised to find they had never met Dark Lady & Sean since they are all part of the Portland underground, but that’s what the Nine Days Of Pie is for! Our final guest to arrive was our favorite local radio news reporter Karri who came by last night also. It was a packed house!

How fun! Except, for the first time in the history of the Nine Days Of Pie there was one among us who was not reveling in the fun and silliness of this holiday.

Let me first say, I am no pie expert. I have learned a lot from making pies over these years, but I am not an expert, and I do not sell myself as such. I am as proud of the failures as the successes because it all helps me learn and get better. In fact, I am seldom 100% pleased with any of the pies I make, to the point, I am told, of being ridiculous. I am not looking for praise or adoration for the pie, this holiday is about praising and adoring my husband Shane, it’s about celebrating life and friendship, and having interesting conversations, and bringing diverse people together, and sure it’s about pie, it’s called the Nine Days Of Pie, but at the same time it is not at all about pie.

On this night, a woman sat in the kitchen, and at first asked questions I was glad to answer, I don’t mind sharing my baking “secrets”, but as the kitchen warmed up everyone else headed into the cooler and more comfortable living room, her questions turned from basic baking questions to questions of my judgment, and then to blatant criticism. This was not “jewish grandmother” help, I was being heckled!

Normally, I would have politely suggested she join the others in the next room, but I’d reached a point where any word from my mouth would have shown my anger. That sounds lame, I know, but this is a small town, and anyone could have a bad day, I know I was now having one, and I prefer to control my emotions in such situations. But worse than my feelings, this was fucking up my pies! I was making mistakes, stupid ones, and I was running further and further behind. My Shepherds Pie looked lousy, the gluten-free lemon was questionable, everything was unraveling, and this woman kept smiling at me while her eyes appeared to be scowling. Granted, I was having cramps from hell, and had worked a full day at the j.o.b., but this was more than me being sensitive.

I chose to make Shepherd’s pie since it was gluten free – from lack of a crust and the fact that I never use flour to thicken, so it would be fine for Kate to eat,  and Sean would probably like it too. Then, as I cut Kate a slice of the gluten-free lemon custard – the only other pie this lovely girl who came all the way from Portland while not feeling well, just to be at the Nine Days of Pie could eat, the heckler demanded that she wanted a slice, which then caused others to demand they wanted a piece, luckily by this time Shane had come into the kitchen and beat back the crowd from the Gluten Free pie saying it was ONLY for those who needed it.

Finally, and with absolutely no joy left in my heart, the final pie made it out of the oven. By this time most of our guests had left, and everyone seemed to be pretty full of pie. I sat down to enjoy some conversation with our remaining guests in the living room, Shane and I began to discuss the pies, he mentioned the Shepherd’s pie top was not browned as he was used to, and I explained I normally added an egg white and whipped them up a but and then brushed the top with the yolk, but I was out of sorts and forgot. Then the heckler piped up and said the reason the pie was no good was because I had not piped the potatoes from a pastry bag. While that is a fine way for some, I loathe pretty much everything about pastry bags, so I just smiled politely.

Shane asked about the final pie, the berry one, and I said it was fresh from the oven and would need a few hours to set up properly, or it would likely be soup. He suggested we just save it for the next day.  At this point it was just Shane and I, our overnight guest Helen, and the heckler. Not 20 minutes after the exchange about the berry pie the heckler announced she would not be leaving until she had a slice of it. For me this was the final straw, it was late, I did not feel well, I was tired, I had to work in the morning. Without hesitation I went to the kitchen, cut into the pie, put a slice on a plate and handed it to her. She left shortly after.

As far as odds go, having ELEVEN guests at once inevitably leads to someone having a bad time. Normally, I would never so much as mention this less than pleasant experience in writing, I would have glossed over the entire thing, and I would never name names, but a whole drama played out a few days later, full of small town phone ranting apparently, and people questioning us about “what happened?”. To my surprise it was no secret, not by our hand of course, but because of all that I thought it needed addressing.

Day 1 Report: Sunday, 11-1-15 – A fine start!

Day 1 Pies:

Day One was exciting and hectic! My plan was to have all sure things on Day one, to ease some of the stress, but I got crazy, changing things up at the last minute, risking it all, and failing big in the way of a so-called “Sweet Potato Pie” that was certainly not anything like a sweet potato pie. Of course, the failure may have been with me, which is more than possible, but in my defense the cook book from which the recipe came, something called The Attic Cookbook, boasts an entire section devoted to “Invalid Cookery”!

This was caught later during further cookbook inspection from our first guest of the evening, Cathy Nist who came with her furry friend Frida. I saw the recipe in the book and noticed it was crust free, therefore gluten free. I imagined it being a beautiful golden brown layering of sliced and alternating potato, yam, and apple slices, browned and bubbling, but that was not what I got. It looked the same cooked as raw.

It was a night of neighbors as we welcomed up front neighbor Bill and his lovely daughter Emily, as well as newer neighbors who relocated from PDX Sean and Shannon. Shannon is gluten free, and so she was the loan sampler of the nightmarish sweet potato pie and said that it tasted about equal to how it looked. Luckily, the Chicken Pot Pie was also gluten free, and it turned out pretty well.

Unhappy with my results, I decided to make a late night pecan pie. It turned out okay but not great, probably should not have combined recipes. Nut pies have offered me many a downfall, and it seems even slight deviations from a good recipe will make for mediocre or worse results.

As our guests left and Shane and I sighed a breath that it was only around 9 pm, but then another knock came upon the door, and then another bringing forth Isa and Karri, so more pie was had, and more great conversation that went past midnight.

 

Sweet Potato Pie

*This is not sweet potato pie, I assure you, but that is what the recipe in “The Attic Cookbook called it. The Attic Cookbook: A treasury of rare old recipes – the kind that might be found in your great-grandmother’s attic”

6 sweet potatoes

6 tart baking apples

1 c. white wine

1/4 c. sugar

1/4 c. melted butter

Directions: 

Cook, peel and slice the potatoes. Peel and slice the apples. Butter bottom and side of casserole. Arrange sliced sweet potatoes and apples in alternate layers in casserole. Mix wine, sugar and melted butter together. Pour over mixture. Sprinkle top with a little grated nutmeg. Bake in covered casserole as is, or if desired, cover with a rich pastry crust. Bake until apples are tender, about 45 minutes.

*NOTE: I did half this recipe and put it in a pie pan, so I guess I really failed on the recipe, perhaps in a casserole pan it might have worked, but I still have my doubts.