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!

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Thanksgiving Pie-stravaganza P.2: The Pumpkin Pie

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but pumpkin ranks in my top 3 pies of all time. Top two, really. Peach and Pumpkin are my all-time fave pies, and it’s not just because of alliteration (it’s not NOT because of alliteration though).

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Pumpkin pie is actually quite easy to make, but I do believe it is much better with a fresh pumpkin. There’s nothing wrong with canned pumpkin, but now that I know how good the fresh stuff is the canned just can’t quite live up to my expectations.

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A few years ago, the first year that I had my CSA, I was introduced to the long pie pumpkin. It’s a pumpkin, but it doesn’t look like most pumpkins – it’s long and cylindrical, rather than round. I was told it makes the best pies, and I’ve had no complaints. This year I brought one long pie pumpkin and one regular sugar pie pumpkin home with me to Sarnia to use for my pies. Yes, I travel with pumpkins, what’s it to you?

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I find the easiest way to cook the pumpkin is to steam it on the stovetop. Roasting it would be fine also, but it will take much longer. Once it is cooked through you just let it cool a bit, peel off the skin, and mash with a fork or a potato masher. It will never be as pureed as the canned stuff – but trust me, its a good thing.

pay no attention to the pie in the middle.

pay no attention to the pie in the middle.

My basic pumpkin pie recipe comes from The Joy of Cooking. It’s a classic, and you can’t go wrong. I never pre-bake my pie shells because I’m lazy and I find they don’t need it. But if you are a perfectionist who cares a lot about soggy bottom crusts then maybe you’d want to – to each their own.

Pumpkin Pie – adapted from The Joy of Cooking. Makes 1 pie, I doubled it and made two.

  • 2 cups pumpkin or squash puree
  • 1 can of evaporated milk (about 1 1/2 cups) or heavy cream.
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • the tiniest pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 large eggs (2 makes a firmer pie, 3 a softer, custardy filling – since I doubled the recipe I used 5 for a happy middle)
  • pastry for one single-crust pie

Roll out your pie crust and place into glass pie pan. Trim and crimp edges, chill in the fridge or freezer while you prepare the filling. Preheat your oven to 375. Whisk the eggs and add in the pumpkin and evaporated milk. Add remaining ingredients and combine. Pour into chilled pie shell. Bake 35-45 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean – it may still be a big jiggly in the middle but that’s okay, it will continue to cook in the pan after you remove it from the oven. Let cool completely. If made ahead, refrigerate, but you can bring it up to room temperature before serving. Hide a piece somewhere so that you can have a second piece with your coffee the morning after Thanksgiving – you deserve it.

 

 

Thanksgiving Pie-stravaganza P.1: The Butter Tarts

I made so much pie at Thanksgiving. I realize it’s been literally months since Thanksgiving ended here in Canada (though certainly less for any Americans out there!) but let’s not get into that.

Let’s get into BUTTER TARTS.

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Butter tarts are a Canadian delicacy. I’ve wanted to make them since the start of this project, but figured I would wait until a time of year when there was less amazing seasonal Ontario fruit to use up, since butter tarts really only require butter and sugar. If you haven’t had a butter tart before (you again, are you American?) you can just imagine it as a miniature pecan pie, without the nuts. It’s a caramelized sugar custard pie. I don’t really have a sweet tooth (probably surprising for a pie blogger) and butter tarts do send my blood sugar skyrocketing, but they are a thing I love.

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Thanksgiving at my family’s house is always a big deal, at least it has been for the past several years. Since about 2008 my aunt, uncle, and cousins who all live in the U.S. come up for Canadian Thanksgiving to celebrate with us and have a visit. This year, for the first time, another bunch of cousins and family from my mom’s side came as well – we had about 15 people at our house for Thanksgiving. It was really fun. My uncle Phil, who is from the U.S. clan, is French-Canadian and grew up in Northern Ontario. When I told my mom that I was thinking about making butter tarts at Thanksgiving she told me that Phil always buys butter tarts when he’s in Canada because he loves them so much, so this would be way better.

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The thing about most butter tarts out there – much like most pecan pie – is that they are made with corn syrup. Now it is true that corn syrup is just about the worst kind of sweetener out there, health-wise. And that is a concern of mine. But worst of all, for me, is that corn syrup really has no flavour. It’s just sweet. There’s no depth. I don’t use it in my pies, that would be a disservice to pie everywhere. If a recipe calls for corn syrup, I always use maple syrup. Real maple syrup. Put it in your butter tarts, put it in your pecan pie. You won’t be sorry.

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Butter Tarts – recipe adapted from Anna Olson. Makes 12. I doubled it and made 24. So many butter tarts. 

  • one double crust batch of pastry.
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar.
  • 3/4 cup real maple syrup.
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, melted.
  • 2 large eggs.
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice (or white vinegar).
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract.
  • OPTIONAL: raisins or nuts or other accoutrements, if you’re into that kind of thing in your butter tarts.

For the pastry: Instead of flattening your pastry into a round disc before chilling (the way you would do for a pie), roll it into two logs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour or more. When chilled, slice each log into six even rounds. Each of these slices will make the crust for one butter tart. Flour your counter and roll out each small round – your crust will be thicker than it would normally be for pie. Transfer dough to a muffin pan and line the inside of one muffin spot with pastry. You want the dough to extend a centimetre or so above the pan, because your butter tarts filling will expand as it cooks. Trim off excess dough. Repeat with remaining pastry. Put the whole muffin pan with pastry into the fridge (or better, the freezer!) and chill again. Preheat the oven to 400.

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Melt butter and sugar together in a saucepan on medium heat. Remove from heat and whisk in maple syrup. Whisk in eggs, then vanilla and lemon juice. If you are adding raisins or nuts to your tarts, place them in the bottom of each pastry shell before adding filling. I made 24 tarts and made 12 with raisins and 12 without anything added. For the raisin ones I meticulously counted out 8 Thompson raisins and added them to each shell. Pour the filling into the pastry shells, filling about 2/3 of the pastry. Bake at 400 for 5 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375 and bake for another 20 minutes or so, until the filling begins to dome. Remove from oven and set the pans on a cooling rack. After 5 minutes, run a butter knife around the edge of each tart to loosen them from the pan. Let cool before removing from the pan. Store in the fridge, but bring up to room temperature before serving. Have with a cup of strong black coffee for the ultimate yum.