It’s Pi Day, friends. And while technically that means a celebration of ” the mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and is approximately equal to 3.14159″ (thank you, Google!), when you love pie like I do, it’s also an opportunity (er, excuse?) to enjoy a bit or two of something delectable. Also, I’m feeling especially full of pie enthusiasm given that my book is the #1 selling pie book on Amazon on Pi Day (which Glenn lovingly photographed and surprised me with-he’s my biggest fan, truly). How cool is that?!
To that end, I’m sharing a spring-themed recipes from A Year of Pies with you here today. Frozen Strawberry Pie is my chilly homage to a close childhood friend, Erica, and a sweet, frosty way to get you pumped about spring (just a week away!). On Pi Day, I say, let them eat pie!!!
Frozen Strawberry Pie
This is my attempt at recreating a pie from my youth. When I was around 10 years old, my good friend Erica and her older sister made a yogurt and fresh strawberry frozen pie that was the very definition of spring. My version includes the addition of heavy cream and cradles the entire ethereal concoction in a homemade graham-cracker crust. While opting for a pre-made version might be tempting, resist! This crust is the absolute perfect ratio of sweet-crunchy harmony. Although Erica and I long ago fell out of touch, I like to think that, should she happen upon this recipe, she’d feel I did her beloved pie justice.
Makes: One 9-inch pie
You Will Need:
*Graham Cracker Crust (recipe follows)
*9-inch pie pan
*2 cups whole-milk vanilla yogurt
*3 tablespoons honey
*2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
*1 cup heavy cream
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Graham Cracker Crust
*8 ounces graham crackers (about 2 cups)
*8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
*2 tablespoons granulated sugar
*1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Optional garnish 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
Prepare the graham cracker crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Crush the graham crackers either by pulsing them in a food processor or placing them in in a plastic freezer bag and rolling over them with a rolling pin.
Combine the crushed graham crackers, melted butter, sugar, and salt in a medium-size bowl and stir until fully mixed.
Press the mixture into the 9-inch pie plate, covering the bottom evenly and pressing the crumbs halfway up the sides.
Bake the crust 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool completely before filling.
Prepare the filling
Combine the yogurt and honey in a large bowl. Stir in the 2 cups strawberries.
In a medium-size bowl, using a mixer or a whisk, beat the cream and vanilla until billowy peaks form.
Fold the whipped cream into the strawberry mixture.
Assemble the pie
Pour the filling mixture into the cooled crust. If desired, arrange sliced strawberries in a circle around the outer edge of the pie.
Freeze at least 4 hours before serving.
The last thing anyone tells you about parenting is just how scary it can be. Sure, you hear about the cuddles and the hugs and the giggles and all the lovely silliness and bliss that comes with becoming a parent. What you hear less about, though, is how terrified you can get when your wee one gets sick.
Huxley felt warm to the touch Friday night. He wouldn’t let me take his temperature, so I let it go. He was restless all night that night, and increasingly warm to the touch come Saturday morning. When I finally was “allowed” to take his temperature, it quickly went from around 102 degrees to 104+, just like that. What has followed was an entire weekend and entire Monday full of a hot, hot baby. When he got sick this morning, all over himself and all over me, we decided it was time to visit the doctor. Swollen tonsils and a red right ear pointed to an ear infection.
Poor fella. At least we now know what we’re dealing with. In the past few days, though, Hubs and I have been little boxes of stress, anxiety, and fear. When your tiny guy is sweating through his pajamas and his hair and feels like a little inferno when he cuddles up next to you, it makes your heart race. The numbers on the thermometer weren’t helping, either. Thankfully, calls all weekend to the on-call doctor assured me that his body was responding to the fever reducer we were giving him, his appetite was as robust as ever, and his disposition remained upbeat, so all pointed towards the better, not the worse, case scenario.
And, so, we’ve been quite preoccupied. We’ve been quite exhausted. We’ve been seriously, desperately in need of some healing pie, which is what I’m sharing with you here today. In two days, we’ll play host to 14 adults and 4 children for a big Thanksgiving feast. A dear friend is bringing a Tarte Tatin and a cardamom pumpkin pie (this woman seriously knows me), while I’ll be baking up my Eggnog Pie and the Cranberry Mince Tart from A Year of Pies.
While pie certainly can’t heal all wounds, it certainly comes close. Huxley’s fever continues to creep down today and he’s as chipper as ever, playing with trains in the kitchen with Hubs right now. I think all is on the mend, and I know I’ve got pie-filled-thoughts to thank for that!
Cranberry Mince Tart (reprinted with permission from A Year of Pies, Lark Books 2012, an imprint of Sterling Publishing)
Without question my go-to Thanksgiving dessert, this tart showcases the best of what cranberries have to offer. While not for the “faint of tart,” the fruit’s inherent puckery-ness is tempered by the inclusion of raisins, currants, crystallized ginger, orange juice, and sugar. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient listing-the dish comes together very quickly. And do serve it with the orange whipped cream detailed below, as it even further balances the berries’ “bite.”
Makes: One 11-inch tart.
You Will Need:
1/2 recipe Basic Pie Dough (recipe follows)
Orange Whipped Cream
-1 cup heavy cream
-3 tablespoons powdered sugar
-1/2 teaspoon orange extract
-2 cups granulated sugar
-1/2 cup water
-1/2 cup orange juice
-6 cups cranberries (two 12-ounce bags)
-Grated zest of 1 orange
-1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch
-1 cup pecans, chopped
-1/2 cup dark raisins
-1/2 cup golden raisins
-1/4 cup currants
-2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
-1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Prepare the crust
1) Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into a 11-inch removable bottom tart pan. Trim the overhang to 1 inch, then fold it inside the tart pan, pressing it against the pan’s fluted sides.
2) Prick the bottom of the crust about 6-7 times with a fork. Place the crust in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
3) Line the crust with parchment and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, then remove from the oven, leaving the oven on and reducing the temperature to 375 degrees F.
4) Remove the dried beans or pie weights and parchment paper from the crust, and cool it slightly before filling.
Prepare the orange whipped cream
1) Combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar and orange extract in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
2) Using an electric mixer, beat at highest speed until billowy peaks form.
3) Transfer the whipped cream to a serving bowl and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve with the pie.
Prepare the filling
1) Combine the sugar, water and orange juice in a medium-sized saucepan and heat, stirring, over medium-high heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
2) Add the cranberries and orange zest and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, 5-7 minutes, until some of the cranberries have popped and the liquid is gently simmering.
3) Remove from heat and whisk in the arrowroot powder or cornstarch until it is fully incorporated into the cranberry mixture. Set aside.
4) Combine the pecans, raisins, golden raisins, currants, crystallized ginger, spices and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly.
5) Add the cranberry mixture to bowl with the nuts and fruits, and stir again to mix thoroughly.
Assemble the tart
1) Pour the filling into the prepared crust, using a spatula to spread it evenly.
2) Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, until the crust edges are golden brown and the filling is set.
3) Cool at least 1 hour before serving with the orange whipped cream, and first removing the sides of the pan.
Basic Pie Dough
Makes: Crust for one double-crust pie.
You Will Need:
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/4 teaspoons salt
-1 cup butter (2 sticks), chilled and cubed
-3/4 cup ice water
1) Mix the flour and salt together in a medium-large mixing bowl.
2) Using a pastry cutter or two forks, incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, but with several pea and lima bean-sized butter bits in the mix.
3) Slowly drizzle in the ice water. Stir with a mixing spoon until the dough starts to clump.
4) Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface and fold it together into itself using your hands. The dough should come together easily but shouldn’t feel overly sticky.
5) Divide the dough in half and shape into two flattened disks. Wrap each dough ball in cellophane and refrigerate for at least an hour.
6) Proceed according to the recipe instructions above.
I’ll be the first to admit that my life out here in the cove exists in a bit of a bubble. I work from home, as does Hubs. It’s not uncommon for us to be out here, doing our thing, for days at a time without leaving the property (me more so than him, as he’s out and about increasingly more these days with Huxley-like right now; they’re at Wild Things, where the little man can get all kinds of exercise while the big man gets to hang with a regular set of parents he’s grown fond of).
Because of that, it’s easy for me to forget that folks might have heard of me, my books, my blog, or my writings. So when I get recognized, it really, truly surprises me. Like when I was pregnant and had stopped into an Anthropologie store in Orlando with my little sister while on vacation. I noticed a salesclerk kept looking at me, until she eventually introduced herself and said she was a fan of my posts on Design Sponge. Or when we were on the Family Farm Tour in September and the farmer’s wife at one of the places we visited suddenly said “You’re the lady that writes the books!” Or when I initially, shyly wrote Tim Mazurek when working on A Year of Pies, introducing myself and asking if he might be willing to contribute a seasonal guest recipe.
I believe his exact email reply was “Look at you explaining who you are, like I don’t know!” After scooping my jaw back up from off of the floor, I immediately wrote my editor, giddy with excitement that THE. TIM. MAZUREK. was willing to be part of the book. He of the award-winning food blog Lottie & Doof. He of the really great recipes and stunning photography. He of the general awesomeness and friendliness and approachability that engendered my ginormous crush on him in the first place.
If you haven’t heard of Tim, you’re in for a serious treat: As I describe him in the introduction to his recipe:
Tim Mazurek is an artist, cook, stylist, and food blogger living on the west side of Chicago with his partner (now husband!) Bryan. Tim’s blog, named after his beloved grandmother, Lottie (the “Doof” part is “food” spelled backwards), is gorgeous, inspirational, informative, and just plain fun. He uses Lottie and Doof as a forum for sharing recipes, presenting tantalizing photographs, and opining on “the domestic space as a potentially radical or dangerous space.”
Tim graciously shared his recipe for a winter-focused Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pie in the book. It would be a glorious pie to make this holiday season, or anytime you’ve got some buttermilk on hand and a hankering for pie. Do check out his blog. It’s one of the best out there, hands down.
Thanks, Tim! I appreciate your willingness to be part of my journey in pie more than you could possibly imagine!
*Image from here.
I’m telling you, ever since the leaves fell, the pumpkins were carved, and the wood stove has been blazing nearly continually, my mood has seriously shifted. Maybe it was being indoors for nearly a week, caring for a sick husband and toddler (not to mention myself!). Maybe it was the series of grey days and wet weather and frightening hurricanes and tense elections. Whatever it is, I’ve been feeling a major change in the air, a pull to go inside physically and mentally, to reflect, to consider, to ruminate. I keep coming back to a desire to learn more about the magic and mystery and mystique of this exquisite planet we call home. That book series I want to pen, the fiction one, it always calls to me this time of year. I think it’s time I finally drafted the outline and fleshed out the plot, named the characters and the settings, and sent a query along to an agent.
BUT, I digress! What I’ve also been thinking about an awful lot lately is pie. I’ve been making pie for freelance work, getting great press reviews of A Year of Pies, and feeling some kind of excited about all the baking I intend to do this upcoming holiday season, pie and otherwise. I heard Christmas carols at a craft store the day after Halloween and I was happy. Happy, folks! Bring on the eggnog and Fraser firs and holly and cookies and excuses to eat stollen and panettone for breakfast, I say. BRING. IT! I’m ready.
All of which brings me in a very circumlocutious way to today’s giveaway (Hubs always jokes about how long I can take to get to the point of whatever it is I’m trying to say, but I say, the devil is in the details!). Annie from Mighty Nest got in touch several weeks ago about hosting mutual giveaways on their site and small measure. Here’s how they describe themselves: Our passion is making it easier for families to live healthier, better lives. We are a one-stop online shop with 1,000+ healthy, natural products, while providing fun, educational content and fostering a community of caring parents.
You can pop over there to enter a giveaway for A Year of Pies (and stick around to check out all of the wonderful items they offer, at competitive prices), as well as enter a giveaway for a pie set right here. That’s right-a pie set! The lovely set, which Mighty Nest graciously sent me for a “trial run”, contains a pie box for transporting all your home-baked goodness, a maple pie server, and a glass pie plate. Here’s more information about all three items:
1) Pie Box: Every PieBox is handcrafted in Chicago and made from chemical-free, raw pine. The PieBox measures 11″x11″x4″ and accommodates up to a 9″ deep-dish pie. The Piebox was designed to safely transport pie again and again without the unnecessary waste of a disposable cardboard box. Whether you’re driving, biking, busing or even just walking, the PieBox will keep your pie safe and intact wherever you go.
2) Maple Pie Server: This maple pie server from Jonathan’s Spoons is handcrafted in Pennsylvania from sustainably harvested wood. Beautifully made and highly functional this wooden utensil will last for decades if taken care of properly.
3) Glass Pie Dish: Anchor Hocking Oven Basics glass pie dish bakeware is classic in shape, bakes evenly, and cleans easily. Dishwasher safe, freezer safe, oven safe, microwave safe.
To enter the contest, simply leave a comment here detailing a profound pie memory. Maybe it’s a pie-baking experience that went really, really wrong, or maybe it was the best pie you ever tasted, or perhaps it was even getting pie in your face on your 40th birthday (that’s Annie’s memory!). I’ll go first: When I was 20, I was vegan, and made a tofu-based pumpkin pie for a big family get-together up in Philadelphia. The thing is, I didn’t have a blender or a food processor then, so I just mashed the tofu brick with a fork in with all of the other ingredients. To say it looked less than appetizing is a serious, serious understatement. Of my multitudinous aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and parents, I was the only person that dared to taste my hideous pie.
So, go ahead, comment away! The giveaway will run for one week , ending November 15th, midnight EST. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, owing to its hefty shipping weight. I’ll choose a winner personally, based on your comment, so no “Pick Me!” replies, please. I want to get personal with you!
The pie serving set is also available for purchase at Mighty Nest. It would make a wonderful gift for the baker in your life this holiday season, or anytime. Even if you don’t win, you can still enjoy this wonderfully curated set-find it here.
Thanks, Mighty Nest, for the giveaway, and thanks too, small measure readers, for generally being the righteous, supportive folks you are!
It’s a well-known fact that I have a sweet tooth. Although I keep it in check, my fondness for all-things-sugary is simply part of who I am (my family, too; Lord knows Mom, Pop, and the rest of the crew love some sweetness!).
That said, I’m no match for Jessie Oleson. Illustrator, blogger, author, and Cake Spy proprietress, this woman traffics in the world of sugar, sugar, and a little bit more sugar. I mean, just look at that photo! Those cupcakes on stilts and smiling ice cream cones are not just her illustrations, they’re her friends!
While Jessie and I haven’t yet had the pleasure of saying “Howdy Do!” in person, she graciously accepted my solicitation of a pie recipe when I first cast my net for guest contributors to A Year Of Pies, back in the spring ’11. Her summer-focused Saltwater Taffy Pie recipe highlights a food memory so often associated with the flavors of that season.
If you’re in Seattle, be sure to stop by her Capitol Hill store. Otherwise, visit her site and do check out her new book, Cake Spy Presents: Sweet Treats For A Sugar-Filled Life. Jessie makes baking fun, silly, and, naturally, sweet, which sounds just about perfect to this lady.
Thank you so very much for your contribution to A Year of Pies, Jessie! Hopefully someday we’ll get to give each other high-fives and hugs, real-time!