All The Pie.

I am a very bad blogger. We may as well face facts.

I’ve been baking up a storm, and have been continuing to make (and eat) a pie a week. But I don’t always feel moved to write about them. Or I find myself strapped for time. There are a million excuses. But also? Maybe I don’t want to tell every detail about every pie right here as it happens. Maybe I want to make some of them again, perfect the recipes, take note of measurements and weights. Maybe I don’t, but maybe I do. Maybe this would make a good cookbook. Maybe I want to play with this project a little, curate it a little better rather than just tossing it all onto the internet as soon as I’ve thrown some food together.

But the truth is, this was always meant to be a personal challenge of making one pie a week for one year. My grandmother never intended it to be a blogging project. She wouldn’t even have known what a blog was.

I only have eight more pies to make. Eight! That seems crazy to me, this year has flown by so quickly. I’m not sure how I will tell you about the last eight pies. But I don’t want to leave you hanging on the past 15 either, so I’m going to give you a little round-up here. This is the kind of thing that would probably be better suited to Tumblr, but oh well.

Apple Pie: a classic pie, beloved by many. I don’t like apple pie at all, I don’t get it, I don’t like it even a little bit, even when it’s made well.

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Pumpkin Pie Part Two (Canned Pumpkin): Because I can’t get enough of pumpkin pie, I made another one post-Thanksgiving, this time with canned pumpkin. In doing this I solidified my opinion that it’s never as good with canned pumpkin – it’s too smooth, no texture, too much like baby food.

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Chocolate Pumpkin Pie: Yet another pumpkin pie, but this time with melted dark chocolate swirled into the pumpkin filling. It was crazy – it tasted like a autumn spiced chocolate cheesecake. Too rich for my blood, but definitely delicious.

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Curry Pot Pie: I fell deep, so deeply, in love with this pie. I’ve made it again. Essentially just curry powder added to a standard veggie pot pie filling, and it was incredible. I’m waiting for a chance to make this with chicken – who wants to have me over? And yes, I spelled “pot pie” with pastry. What’s it to you?

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Potato Leek Galette: This pie was whatever. I took inspiration from potato leek soup and from what was in my fridge (i.e. potatoes and leeks) and added some shredded good gruyere. It was very tasty, but we ate it as a main course and I think it would really shine as a side dish at brunch next to some eggs. Also: rainbow potatoes!

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Blood Orange Pie: I started thinking about lemon meringue pie, and how I wondered if you could do a grapefruit meringue (why not?). Citrus season had just begun and I had been getting these really great blood oranges from the U.S. but then due to both laziness and curiosity I ended up making a different kind of citrus pie. One where you just cut off all the membranes from the oranges, arrange them on your pastry, sprinkle with a small amount of sugar, and bake. It was kind of like marmalade pie, in a great way. I loved it.

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Swiss Chard and Feta Galette: This was kind of like spanakopita, but made with swiss chard rather than spinach. I often find spinach/feta pastries too rich, but for some reason this wasn’t. It was really good, and definitely one of my absolute favourite pies that I’ve made.

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Egg Nog Pie: This pie was weird. Since custard pie is a thing, and egg nog is basically custard, I thought why not make a Christmas-y egg nog pie? Basically a custard pie but with some nutmeg, a little bit of bourbon or dark rum in the filling? It was okay, kind of weird. It took forever to bake, and I learned why you should be blind baking crusts when you have such a liquidy filling (they buckle and look ugly plus will be even more soggy bottomed than normal). I wasn’t really into it, but it was an experiment! Also, because the baking was frustrating, I forgot to take a photo of the finished pie.

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Mushroom, Eggplant, and Ricotta Galette: I made this pie for a lunch hangout with my girl Jocelyn (you should really click that, she takes beautiful photos). Roasted Eggplant, sautéed mushrooms, and a smear of ricotta. I’m really into eggplant. This pie was great.

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Kale and Sweet Potato Pie: This was kind of a “use up the stuff in the fridge before going away” pie. Also a “you’re supposed to eat one dark green and one orange vegetable a day” pie. It was sort of like a quiche, because I beefed up the filling with eggs. Mashed sweet potato with kale in an eggy filling that was mildly curry-spiced. It was weird, but not bad.

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Vegetarian Tourtière: Vegetarian tourtière?! That doesn’t even make sense! But it did, and it was great. The filling was roasted chestnuts and mushrooms, with all the other great seasonings of a traditional québecois meat pie. I had this on Christmas day (I know, I know, Christmas Eve is the true tradition) and it was awesome.

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Classic Tourtière: Oh, don’t worry. We made a meat tourtière too. From my French-Canadian Uncle Phil’s faded, tattered, hand-written recipe. It was awesome too.

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Veggie and Meat Tourtière together at last.

Veggie and Meat Tourtière together at last.

Curry Pot Pie: Again, for a good friend’s birthday dinner. I’ll spare you the photos.

Gluten-Free Kale, Roasted Red Pepper, and Feta Pie: I tried to make a gluten-free pie! A friend who is GF was coming over and I was all like “challenge: accepted!”. I was feeling a little hot-shotty, actually. Gluten free pie is hard! Gluten is really stretchy, and GF pastry has like, zero elasticity. It came together and rolled out fine, but then I couldn’t get it off the counter. I ended up packing it back up into a ball, and then rolling it out on the parchment that I baked it on. This was a galette, so it worked, but I’m not sure how it would work for a regular pie. I’m enough of a perfectionist that I’ll try my hand at this again. Apparently I’m a fool who forgot to take photos of this pie. D’oh!

Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche: A Classic. For Sunday brunch, and I added in some parmesan as well, and the whole thing was great.

Broccoli Quiche, in process.

Broccoli Quiche, in process.

Well friends, that’s it. Those are the pies I’ve been making and eating for the past several months. Like I said, I have only eight more pies to make until I’m done this whole pie-a-week-for-a-year thing. Thanks for reading!

cauliflower & caramelized onion quiche.

I bet you want to know more about my awesome grandmother, Marnie, whose advice inspired this culinary adventure. I’m sure she’ll come up now and again in my writing, but for now here’s a beautiful photo her when she was young. It is probably my favourite photograph of all time.

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So, quiche. I pretty much never make quiche, though frittata is a go-to last minute dinner choice. Quiche is not last minute, but like frittata it can be whipped up with pretty much whatever you’ve got going on in your fridge, as long as you have a few staples. In light of this whole “a pie a week for a year” challenge, I’m guessing that I’m going to be eating a fair amount of quiche. I’m okay with that. I often get stressed in the last moments of making a quiche or a frittata because I have a hard time telling whether the egg is sufficiently cooked. Maybe by the end of this year I will have developed some kind of quiche intuition, I will have honed my quiche-craft enough to just know when a quiche is done. The quiche whisperer.

On Tuesday night I made the first of 52 pies while listening to Herman Dune (is it summer yet?), and it was a roasted cauliflower and caramelized onion quiche. My inspiration for this recipe came from Smitten Kitchen, as many of my inspirations do. I made a number of changes though, enough that this recipe felt like my own in a small way. I’m generally pretty comfortable in the kitchen, and I usually make substitutions on the fly, and don’t write them down – which is a problem when it comes time to write about them or tell others about how I made something. I’m going to try and get better at this. Another thing you should know is that my oven is crazy and runs very hot. I finally bought an oven thermometer at the end of last year only to discover that it is often a full 100 degrees hotter in there than the dial says. But it is finicky. I am going to try my best to keep track of what the actual temperature of my oven is when baking, but as always just know that individual ovens vary, and I really recommend you get an oven thermometer of your own! You might never burn your granola again.

Cauliflower & Caramelized Onion Quiche (adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from a 2007 issue of Bon Appetit. Those are some good roots)  

For the quiche:

  • Half of a large head of cauliflower, chopped into medium-sized chunks/florets
  • 2 small onions, halved and sliced into what I call “half moons” and separated
  • 3/4 cup full fat yogurt (sour cream would be even better)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup milk (I started with 1/2 cup and added a good splash more without measuring)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups of grated cheese of your choice, I used a combination of mozzarella and old cheddar, because that’s what I had
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • dash smoked paprika, dash cumin (optional)
  • 2-3 Tbsp. butter

One batch of my standard single-crust pie dough. When the dough is rolled out and crimped in the pie plate, chill it for a good half hour, at least.

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Toss the cauliflower with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in an 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until it is nicely browned – remember yours might take longer because my oven runs hot. Melt the 2-3 Tbsp. butter in a cast iron or other pan, and add your sliced onions. Cook them over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are good and brown and caramelized. This took about half an hour for me – I cooked them while the cauliflower roasted. Combine the bread crumbs with some salt, pepper, and paprika and cumin, if using. Add some olive oil and combine until the bread crumbs are moist.

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Spread a thin layer of mustard on the bottom of your chilled pie shell. Spread the onions in next, then the cauliflower. Combine the yogurt/sour cream, milk, eggs, and 1 cup of the cheese and pour over the cauliflower-onion mixture in your pie plate. I originally started out with 2 eggs and less milk + yogurt, but found that it wasn’t enough to fill my 9-inch deep dish pie plate (which is what I use for all pies). This is why my milk measurements are not exact in the recipe – because I did a last minute mix of more yogurt and milk and an extra egg in order to top up my pie. Place the whole pie on a baking sheet to prevent spills. Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese across the top of the quiche, and then sprinkle on your bread crumb mixture.

Now turn your pie into a space pie. Yes, space pie. Space pies look like this:

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This is an old space pie, a peach space pie from last summer.

Space pie is what I call my pies when they are wearing their protective tinfoil coats. You see, it is essential that you protect your outer crust edge when you put your pies in the oven, otherwise they burn. For years my mom and I would try and put the tinfoil onto hot pies that had already been baking and were already starting to burn. One day I realized (okay, I read it in a book) that you can do this in the opposite order – put the tinfoil on while the pie is cold and then just remove it for the last 5 minutes or so of baking time. This works like a charm.

I baked my quiche for a full hour – maybe an hour and 5 minutes even – before I was convinced that it was done. I’m not yet an expert on quiche done-ness, as previously mentioned, but when it was cooked it was puffy, browned, and springy to the touch. I checked it by making a slice in the top and peering it to see how cooked the egg look. Not a perfect system, but it worked.

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Eat this with a nice fresh, green salad to offset the richness. We just ate it all on its own because we’re disorganized like that, and it was still awesome.

Pssst! If you have suggestions for pies I should make – especially pies to make now (i.e. before summer fruit season has hit) then please let me know in the comments!