Thursday, August 06, 2009

Sweet as Pie

I come to you this evening bundled up in my favorite down comforter and sniffling up a storm. I'm right in the middle of a cold. It's been so long since I've had a real case of one of these that I'd really forgotten how irritating they are! You become very aware of the anatomical parts that hover over your shoulders. They are all affected. Nose, ears, throat, even hair. My hair looks like that of a sick person today! Stringy and gutterish. Gutterish. I do realize this isn't an actual word but it just seems perfect! So, while I deal with ailment after ailment over here, it's been a week people, I'd like to give you a reason to stop and dwell on pie. Pie is a very good way to start the weekend indeed.

This whole week while I've been sick I've had the darnedest time making decisions. Case in point, all of these photos. I just couldn't make up my mind. Thinking just hurts too much. So here is a lil' smorgasbord of pie pictures for your viewing and taste bud pleasure.

Some people spend their childhoods growing up with things like meatloaf or weekly helpings of liver as my husband. His Dad believed it was very good for his growing, thriving young family so they like clockwork had it every Sunday night. To this day, if Ethan gets even a whiff of a smell remotely reminding him of liver he gets pretty weirded out.

Lucky for me, I grew up with pie. My mom happens to be known for her pies. I remember many a Friday night when my mother would make and roll out her olive oil pie crust between wax paper. The raw dough which I must have only tried once or twice, tasted like a salty, dull, floury wad. And definitely oily. But when she filled it with apples and sometimes peaches or rhubarb, and topped it with an egg wash and lots of sugar, people always had lots of good things to say about it. My dad could swoon for days about her pies. I always liked how proud he was to be married to the Pie Lady.

I think I'd like to try my hand and being a Pie Lady. Being a pie lady isn't as sweet as it sounds. It takes a lot of hard work and love. It takes years of practice and determination. Well maybe not years, but it sounded good right? It definitely takes practice and that's what I need. My pa came to town last weekend and we met up for a little dinner at my sisters. She made chicken tacos with her own seasoning concoction and served them with jack cheese and a lovely cabbage slaw. I brought the pie. For some reason, I got a bee in my bonnet to make strawberry rhubarb pie. It sounded like such a sweet idea in the beginning.

I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that that pie dough gave me a good run for my money. As a budding chef, there's little that bothers me more than battling with pastry. Namely rolling it out when it's too warm or has too much liquid in it and has crossed over into what we will call goo. It was hotter than hell last Sunday and my chilled pastry quickly warmed up and for several minutes there I didn't know if I was going to be able to pull it all together. But like any true pie lady, even an amateur, I didn't give up. I got that pie crust in line and luckily it turned out. Beautiful even. So beautiful that I will keep on trying my hand at pies. I will struggle with pastry no more! Plus, I picked up two new friends, well kind of new: egg wash and sanding sugar. They make everything look pretty!

I read lots and lots of recipes for the crust. Ashley over at Not Without Salt is a Pie Lady. And she has lots of good looking pie and tart dough recipes. But being the stubborn girl I am, I wanted to try and replicate a Martha Stewart pastry brisee recipe I used a couple of years ago. You can use any recipe you like, if fact, I'd love to hear about your favorite pie dough recipes. They seem like handy things to know about!

So just whip your favorite and least stress-inducing pastry recipe and make sure there is enough for a top and bottom of a very deep pie. Head to the store and buy lots of strawberries and rhubarb. Throw in a vanilla bean if you want to make your pie feel like a diva. Slice the strawberries any old way you like, and thinly slice the rhubarb. I left mine in too big of chunks and let's just say some were a little too al dente. You want a little more rhubarb than strawberry in your ratio. You will need about six cups of fruit or more to make a really deep, tall pie. Add around 1/2 - 2/3 Cup each of white and brown sugar. You also need to add about a couple pinches of salt, a sprinkle of cinnamon, several good shakes of cornstarch, about a quarter cup. You can also add a little vanilla extract or vanilla beans like I did. Blind bake your bottom crust and then fill with the fruit filling mixture. Cut up lots of little pieces of butter and scatter them over the fruit.

Now you have to pick between a lattice or regular top. Do your thing, add cut outs if you want, I chose hearts. Whisk and egg white with a little water and brush all over the top of the crust. Then sprinkle with lots and lots of sanding sugar and bake at 375' for about forty-five minutes or until golden and the juices are all bubbly. You really want to bake your pie several hours before you will be serving it because it takes almost that long to set up. We enjoyed ours with some organic vanilla ice cream.

You can expect more pies from me as I work to become a Pie Lady. It's really a title any decent woman should aspire to possess. Right? Have a good weekend everyone and I'll try to work on getting better over here. I've got a gem of a salad coming up for you. Till then, shall we have pie?


Mardi said...

Hi Rachelle--Your pie looks perfect, I heard it was delicious.. I wish I could have been there, to see all my favorite children. Love you, The Pie Lady..

missmallory said...

simply stunning pie!

isn't it crazy that mid august we're able to wrap ourselves in comforters, whereas a week ago we couldn't find more ways to cool off quickly enough? our corner of the world is quite odd indeed! I can't wait for fall, to me, fall and pie are synonymus.

RachelleLouise said...

Pie Lady - Thanks, Mom! I grew up with the best example! With all the pies you make, I wonder, do YOU even like pie that much or do you mainly make it for other peoples enjoyment?! : ) Love YOU!

Mallory- Yes! The weather is whacky here now! To have the temperature in the nineties, requiring me to swim in the lake four days in a row and then the next week have weather so cool and in the fifties/sixties that a blanket and jacket are required is crazy! Fall and pie do seem synonymous! I want to try and make a version of a pie this fall that I tried last year. Apple and pear with chocolate. It was so good!! Do you have a favorite flavor of all time? Thanks for commenting, my dear!