Raspberry Nectarine Galette.

As previously mentioned, I went to Portland at the beginning of August. We stayed in NE Portland, and the very first morning we were there we decided that it was appropriate to have pie for breakfast. So we headed to the neighbourhood pie joint, which was really very good.

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I had quiche, and Paul had a curried leek pot pie, and then we split a sweet pie. Raspberry Nectarine pie, to be precise.

Portland Pie.

Portland Pie.

That pie made me realize how few mixed-fruit pies I’ve made during this project – really, none. Yet, way back in the day when my only urban source for pie was a certain Montréal chain, my go-to pie of choice was the peach-raspberry crumb pie. Granted, I chose that one because they didn’t have a straight-up peach pie, and as a general rule I much prefer top crusts to crumb toppings (crumb toppings are so sweet!) but clearly, I’ve been forgetting a whole delicious realm of mixed fruit pies that I once loved so dearly.

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So I decided to make my own raspberry nectarine pie when we returned to Smog Town. I made my double crust pastry and chilled it. And then…the nectarines chose to spite me. I don’t know if they just were a bit underripe, or whether nectarines always want to cling to their pits much more than peaches do (or at least, much more than freestone peaches want to). Basically, when I tried to cut them in half in order to pit them, instead of coming apart the entire peel would come off in my hand and then I’d be left with a slippery nectarine in my hand that STILL didn’t want to come apart or relinquish its pit. It was a messy affair, and I lost a lot of fruit. So I realized I didn’t have nearly enough filling for a full on pie, and instead made this into a galette. 

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Soupy Sales over here.

Next problem: this filling was so soupy. Another problem? I rolled this crust a bit thin, and as such it had some weak spots. The end result? THIS:

serious pie leakage.

serious pie leakage.

I was pretty worried about it, and kept saying things like “I don’t think this is going to be any good”, but of course, it was fine. The problem I actually had with it had nothing to do with the soupy-ness – it was too sweet. For lots of people, it was probably perfect. In general I find that the pies that are out there in the world are way too sweet for my liking, so I almost always dial back the sugar in a recipe. The sweetness of this pie probably had mass appeal, but it didn’t have mass appeal in this house. And the worst part of all? I don’t remember how much sugar I actually put in. I’d been looking at recipes for full pies, and then adjusted for a galette, so I think I just made a split decision on the spot. I know I’d looked at this recipe, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I just halved the sugar and put in 1/2 cup, thinking it would be fine because both raspberries and nectarines tend to be pretty tart. But I don’t know for sure, so I’m really wasting your time. I’d probably go with 1/4 cup or maybe 1/3 of a cup of sugar in the future…but it would be a gamble, I’m sure. Therefore, the recipe below is mostly guesswork, for which I sincerely apologize. I will try and be better about writing things down as I make them. It’s not in my nature.

Raspberry Nectarine Galette.

  • one single crust pastry dough
  • one pint of raspberries
  • about 6 nectarines, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you like things
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. instant tapioca
  • one egg, for egg wash (optional)
  • coarse sugar, for sprinkling on top (optional)

Combine the sliced nectarines, raspberries, lemon juice, sugar, and tapioca. Roll out your crust, being careful not to roll it too thin. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread your filling on top of the pastry. Fold up the edges of the crust to form a rough circle, making sure to seal it up well so that the filling won’t leak out the sides. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes, or as long as it takes to make it bubbly and golden. Let cool completely before eating.

Peach Almond Galette.

At the beginning of August, Paul and I went on our first real vacation trip together. We’ve gone to cottages for a few days, on one-day trips, on visits to friends and family in Montréal – but we’ve never just saved and planned and picked a place that is kind of far away and then gone to visit it. At the start of August, we went to Portland, Oregon. People ask us why we chose it, especially whether it had to do at all with the television show Portlandia, which, naturally, we love. I’d be lying if I said it had absolutely nothing to do with the impression that you get of that city from that show, but I think for us it was more about going somewhere that felt farther than some of the other options (Chicago, Pittsburgh) while not being prohibitively expensive to get and stay there (like San Francisco). We wanted to go somewhere where we could experience a city and do and see city things, while also having the chance to do more nature-y, outdoorsy things. Portland made sense. We had a great time.

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This was the first pie I made when we got back. I made two pies that week to make up for the week that we were away, and you’ll hear about the 2nd one soon enough. I thought about trying to make a pie while we were in Portland – we stayed in a house, and so we did have access to a kitchen, and I kind of really wanted to try and make a pie with some local Oregon fruit (marionberries, anyone?) but in the end, it didn’t happen. This was a pie that I sort of threw together one evening on a whim. I basically wanted to make a peach pie (one of my two favourite pies of all time) but I didn’t have enough peaches on hand. As you know, I love the addition of almond extract in my cherry pies, and saw that almond was paired with nectarines in a Smitten Kitchen recipe also. So I went for it. Normally when you make a peach pie, you peel the peaches. But this time I just decided I wasn’t going to bother. I mixed the whole filling in my 4 cup measuring cup, and it seemed like this pie was a little too easy. But I gotta say, it was one of my best crusts yet, for sure. I was shocked at how flaky it was when I was eating it, and suddenly felt like maybe i’m really learning things! 

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I’m finding that friends are now turning to me for pie advice – yesterday one friend called me for help (and referred to me as the Pie Doctor to which I then sang Dr. Pie to the tune of this) and another friend served me a pie she’d made and asked me to give her constructive criticism for her to improve her pastry. I’m finding that I don’t know what to tell people about how to improve their crust – I’ve noticed such an improvement in my pie crusts since starting this project, but I’m not doing anything differently exactly. I’m just getting better, I think. I don’t have to think about what I’m doing anymore, I barely have to pay attention, though I am paying attention. I just am starting to have a feel for it. It’s hard to explain I guess, but I think its really the same as improving on anything – I felt the same way when I realized that I’d finally truly become bilingual (something I’ve sadly lost since leaving La Belle Province) – suddenly, I got jokes in French but couldn’t explain them in English. It’s funny how sometimes getting good at something means that you can’t explain it anymore – in that case, I guess I was finally thinking in French. Maybe I’m finally thinking in pie. I don’t know. Anyways, this pastry was mad flaky, and I posted a photo on the internetz at the time that I will share again here.

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Peach Almond Galette – adapted from Smitten Kitchen and from this recipe.

  • one single crust pastry recipe
  • 2 Tbsp. ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • approx. 1 lb ripe peaches
  • 1 Tbsp. instant tapioca
  • splash of vanilla extract (optional)
  • splash of lemon juice (optional)
  • one egg, beaten, for egg wash (optional)
  • coarse sugar, for sprinkling on top (optional)

Slice peaches. Combine with ground almonds, sugar, tapioca, and vanilla and/or lemon, if using. Set aside.

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Roll out your dough to a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread your peach filling on top. Fold up crust edges to form a rough circle, working to ensure that there are no gaps where filling could escape. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes or until it is nicely browned and bubbly. As always, you can throw it on broil for a few minutes at the end if you want to brown up the crust a bit more. Let cool, and then devour for dessert, breakfast, or whatever.

mad flaky crusts, yo.

mad flaky crusts, yo.

Adventures in Failure: Tex Mex Galette.

Look, when you set out to make 52 pies, not all of them are going to be declared to be the best pie you’ve ever made. Some of them will be completely inedible. And I won’t be surprised if more fall into the category that this one did: not terrible enough to throw out, but really, really not very good.

Salsa, refried beans, sweet potato. Why did I do this?!

Salsa, refried beans, sweet potato. Why did I do this?!

Truthfully? I wasn’t surprised. This was very much a “shit-I-have-to-make-a-pie-before-we-go-away-maybe-i’ll-try-this-weird-idea-that-means-i-won’t-have-to-get-groceries” pie.  I mean, Tex Mex Galette? That really could go either way. On the one hand, I love burritos and tacos and all things with refried beans, and if they go in tortillas then why not a pie crust? One the other hand, there’s got to be a really good reason that people everywhere aren’t eating tex mex pies. HEY LET’S TRY IT!

It really looks like it should be delicious.

It really looks like it should be delicious.

Hey, let’s not make this again.

I’m not even going to share the recipe, it’s not worth it, and also you can pretty much imagine it for yourselves. I basically put refried beans, sweet potato, and all your other standard burrito fixings inside of a galette, and then ate it with sour cream and avocado on top. There was cheddar cheese in it, which melted into an insane puddle of grease on not one, but two baking sheets (I panicked and put it on a new cookie sheet halfway through baking, worried that it would drown in oil). The end result had this kind of acidic aftertaste that got you at the back of the throat. But really? It was just wrong. It just wasn’t meant to be. Which is really just fine, because I love tortillas and other fine flatbreads.

Why aren't you a taco?

Why aren’t you a taco?

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Now, I don’t want to leave you totally sad about not getting another pie recipe to make for yourselves. To cheer you up, let me share this lovely drawing that my partner made ages ago, and that I’ve been meaning to share with you for weeks and weeks and weeks.

Pie Guy.

Pie Guy.

Roasted Summer Vegetable Galette.

When I ate this pie, I said out loud: “I think this might be the best pie I’ve ever made”.

Now, you should know that I’ve said that before, and I’ve probably said it since, but you can be sure that really, what it means is: I can find no flaws with this pie. I mean, I make a lot of pies (one a week, in case you haven’t noticed), but I can usually find flaws. That’s not a bad thing – this would be a pretty boring project if I thought that every pie was perfect – no room to improve, no challenge. But I have lots of little flaws – not things that make the pie unlovable, just little quirks: a leaky crust, a dented pie edge, a soggy bottom. But, much like with people, if I really love the pie, I can’t find any flaws worth mentioning.

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I made this pie at the very end of July, almost a month ago. I’m working on catching up on my blogging, I promise. But the great thing about this recipe is that everything that I used for this pie – things that were just starting to be in season here in Ontario – are still around, and better than ever. Sometimes I wonder whether I would appreciate fresh local produce as much as I do if I lived somewhere that had this kind of bounty year-round. Maybe I’m just really Canadian (whatever that might mean) but I sort of feel like having to wait all through the winter for the good stuff makes it better. Seriously, in like April, this is basically how I feel about the upcoming fruit and veggie season. Anyways, make this pie before our beautiful summer veggies are gone.

Bounty.

Bounty.

Roasted Summer Vegetable Galette – adapted from nobody, recipe by me. 

  • one single crust pastry recipe
  • one small eggplant, or half a larger one – peeled and sliced into strips or however you’d prefer
  • half or all of one yellow pepper (halved)
  • one small yellow zucchini, or half a larger one – thinly sliced into matchsticks or half moons (I find that smaller pieces worked better in this)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or yogurt
  • good feta (if you live in Toronto I can’t say enough about how much I’m in love with the Macedonian feta from the cheese counter at Fiesta Farms)
  • fresh basil, if you have it
  • approx. 1 tsp. of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper and chili flakes, if that’s your bag
  • one egg, for the egg wash (optional)

Roast the eggplant and the yellow pepper until they are deliciously silky and will have all that good roasty flavour – I just usually roast them in olive oil with a bit of salt, pepper, and sometimes chili flakes. Let cool a bit and then chop the pepper into smaller chunks. Combine the sour cream with a good bunch of feta (this is to taste, I use a lot) and add a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. You want this to come together into a sort of thick paste – it will form the saucy base of the galette.

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Roll our your pastry into a rough circle. Place it on a parchment lined baking sheet or pizza pan. Spread the sour cream-feta mixture on the pastry, in a circle that will be where your toppings will go. Add the eggplant, then the pepper, trying to evenly distribute them throughout the galette.

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Add the zucchini (which should still be raw). Sprinkle with some more feta crumbles, some slivers of basil, and grind some black pepper on top if you’d like. Fold up the sides of the galette to make your pie. Brush the crust with an egg wash if you want. Bake at about 375 for 25-40 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the filling looks good. You can broil it for a few minutes at the end if it seems done but you want it to be more browned.

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We ate this with a really simple salad of grape tomatoes, cucumber, and avocado. It was the summer-iest, and I recommend something that makes you feel similarly.

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Lattice-Top Sour Cherry Pie.

I made a lot of cherry pies this summer. And why shouldn’t I? They are one of the best pies. I thought I was going to be done with cherry pies for the season after the pie I made at my parents’s house, but then I came upon some sour cherries, and I couldn’t resist.

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There are people out there who will tell you that sour cherries are the only good cherries for pie, and I believe I’ve already voiced my disagreement with that statement. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think sour cherries make a damn fine pie. I was going to make this pie with some sour cherries I picked myself with Not Far From the Tree, but then I waited too long and some of them went bad, and I think the rest went into the freezer for safe-keeping. So when I saw sour cherries at the market I had to buy some, because I knew it may be my only chance for the year.

Strips for the latticing.

Strips for the latticing.

Since I’ve already made two cherries pies (at least? have I made more?) this year, I knew I had to mix things up a bit, even though these were different cherries anyway. So I decided to do a lattice crust – I haven’t done any lattice crusts yet! Part of the reason I haven’t is because I had convinced myself that, while lattice-top crusts are pretty, I prefer the look of a full top crust. Being a pastry lover, I also like having the maximum crust to consume. And since I’d only done a lattice crust maybe 2 or 3 times before in my whole life, I think I just convinced myself that it was unnecessary extra work. However, I told myself that if I’m making a pie a week for an entire year, I can’t skip over lattice top crusts. GET REAL. Much like I’m going to force myself to blind bake some pie crusts during this project (I NEVER do, but I should get good at that during this project, because when else will I learn?!) I decided to wade a little into slightly uncharted waters.

Reading to weave.

Reading to weave.

And man, lattice-top crusts are GORGEOUS and they are TOTALLY NOT THAT MUCH WORK. Silly me! The key to lattice crusts is just weaving it properly – the first time I tried to do one I didn’t look up any directions and so it was really what some people online call a “faux lattice top crust” which basically just means it isn’t woven its just strands of pastry set on top of each other, but then bottom ones ultimately sink down too far into your pie from the weight of all the pastry strips going in the other direction. So find some basic instructions and it goes fast and easy – like these.

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I also decided not to use my trusty almond extract in this pie – I usually use it in all my cherry pies, but I just wanted to taste the cherries in this one, unadulterated. So that’s what I did. It’s crazy to me how much a straight-up sour cherry pie actually does kind of taste like those cans of pie filling. Without further ado, here’s my sour cherry pie.

Lattice-Top Sour Cherry Pie – adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 double crust pastry recipe
  • 2 1/4 lbs sour cherries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • one egg, beaten with a bit of water (optional)
  • coarse turbinado sugar (optional)
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this is what you’re working for, people.

Roll out your bottom crust and place in your pie plate. Put in the fridge or freezer to chill.

Pit your cherries (again, I totally recommend investing in a cherry pitter) and combine them with the sugar, tapioca starch, and salt. Set aside.

Roll out your top crust to the size you normally would – then cut into strips about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide – I like to use my pizza wheel to do this. If you have a nice pastry cutter thing that makes pretty designs, use that! I don’t have one, maybe I should get one. But I digress. When your strips are cut, take your bottom crust out of the fridge or freezer, fill with your cherry filling, and then start weaving your lattice crust following the instructions linked above, or any other of the many, many online resources for this task – or look in a good ol’ fashioned cookbook like The Joy of Cooking or something! When your crust is woven, cut off excess pastry, leaving about an inch around the edge. Fold the bottom crust edge over your lattice crust edge, and crimp! If you’d like, brush the top of your crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Protect your pie edge with tinfoil.

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Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes and then lower the heat to 350 and bake until the pie is bubbly and the crust is golden brown – this should take somewhere between 40 minutes and an hour total, and you’ll want to remove the tinfoil from the edge for the last 5-10 minutes. Then – ENJOY.

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The Curse of My Mother’s Kitchen.

You may remember from my very first post on this blog that when I was growing up, my mother and I attempted to make pie several times. Every time was a harrowing experience. We tried everything – dozens of pastry recipes including the phrase “fool-proof” in the title or description, given to us by family friends; several different methods (the food processor! two knives to cut the butter! our hands!); we tried rolling out dough on wax paper, or on a pastry mat, or between two sheets of plastic wrap (actually that last one works pretty great). Always we ended up with a crust that was overworked and nowhere near as flaky as we’d like, pie edges that were often burnt, a very messy kitchen, and a lot of frustration. In the years since I have started to make pies on my own, I have grown quite comfortable with pastry dough – I’ve found what works, what I like and don’t like, and methods that are, for the most part, “fool-proof” for me.

None of these things remain true once you step into my mother’s kitchen.

My parents' cherry tree.

My parents’ cherry tree.

Every pie that I have made at my parents’ house has had some element of disaster or failure associated with it. The first year that I declared that I could now make pie well, I was tasked with making the pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. The story has become a running joke in my family – I made several batches of dough (the first was with this weird-tasting “butter” flavoured Crisco that was all wrong) and required several additional trips to the grocery store. When I finally got some pies in the oven that I felt okay about, my mom and my aunt convinced me that they could keep an eye on the pies while I had a shower. I think you can imagine how this ends….they didn’t exactly keep an eye on them, and the result was pumpkin pie filling that was boiling like thick lava in the pastry, and came out with charred crusts and blackened filling.

Pitted and halved cherries.

Pitted and halved cherries.

On several occasions since then I’ve attempted pies there – always having my pastry stick like glue to my rolling surface and having to patch up many hole and tears – this was the problem my mother and I most frequently encountered in my youth, and I decided that it was the surface that was to blame. I would only roll pastry out on plastic wrap or parchment or wax paper from now on!

A very broken, and sadly patched pie.

A very broken, and sadly patched pie.

It was with this resolution that I decided to make a cherry pie when I was visiting my parents for a weekend in July. Because I thought I might make a pie while I was there, I travelled with my cherry pitter and tapioca starch in tow – which garnered lots of giggles, I have to say. First we decided I would bake a pie using the cherries from my parents’ cherry tree – so I went out and picked a bunch, only to discover that they either weren’t ripe or weren’t edible for humans. Another trip to the store…not off to a great start. Fast forward, and let’s just say that I had a similarly frustrating pastry experience – dough sticking and glueing to the counter, ripping and tearing when I tried to transfer it to a pie plate. Then, it seemed to have to bake for the longest time, and every time I checked on it it looked as if the cherries were dry as a bone and rock hard – as if the sugar wasn’t turning to syrupy-pie goodness, as if something was terribly wrong. I fretted.

The aftermath of a stressful pastry-rolling.

The aftermath of a stressful pastry-rolling.

In the end, while it was certainly one of the uglier pies I’ve made, it received rave reviews from my parents and our dinner guest, so maybe, just maybe, the curse is soon to be broken.

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To make this pie, you can simply follow the recipe that I shared in the Colossal Cherry Pie post – these cherries were less colossal, but still quite large, and so this time I actually halved all the cherries after pitting them, and it made for a much nicer filling, in my humble opinion. 

Mushroom & Garlic Scape Quiche.

I hereby introduce the second quiche of this pie project! I can’t believe I’ve only made two quiches so far. Unless I’m mis-remembering, am I? For some reason the fact that this is only my second quiche feels impressive to me. Not in the sense that I’ve resisted the deliciousness of quiche (I never resist deliciousness, nor should you), but in the sense that quiche is kind of the easy way out when it comes to pie creation. I mean, quiche still requires about the same amount of work as other pies, but for me at least, I find that quiche doesn’t demand the same amount of creativity. I always have eggs (and the best eggs, courtesy of my CSA) which means that I pretty much can make a quiche anytime. All it requires is finding a couple of other things to throw into it from the fridge – cheese, a veggie or two, maybe an herb or something. But it’s pretty easy because really? I think everything goes with eggs. So I am considering it a victory that out of 14 pies, only 2 have been quiches so far.

Mushrooms for the quiche, carrot for the chef.

Mushrooms for the quiche, carrot for the chef.

I am considering this quiche a victory in another respect as well. Perhaps you remember my other quiche? It was early in this project, and I wrote about how stressful I can find quiches to be – trying to figure out when the egg is actually cooked in there, without overdoing it. But this quiche? This beautiful mushroom quiche peppered with garlic scapes? I cooked it perfectly, and it wasn’t even stressful. I wish I could tell you why it was easier this time, but I don’t have the answers.

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This quiche was simple, and amazing. It was basically a classic mushroom quiche, but with the added spunk of garlic scapes and some really good cheese.  You should have it for dinner.

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Mushroom & Garlic Scape Quiche – recipe by me. 

  • Mushrooms – lots of them. I’d say 3/4 of a pound? I used portobellos, but you can use whatever mushroom you’d prefer.
  • 2-3 garlic scapes. If you don’t have scapes (you must not have a CSA, I am going to be buried alive in them) you could substitute leeks and garlic, or just garlic.
  • 6 good eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. sour cream or plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • approximately 1 cup of really good strong, hard cheese, grated. We used a great aged Gruyere and some Parmesan.
  • 1 single crust recipe pie dough, ideally with some whole wheat flour included.
  • salt, freshly ground pepper, and any herbs you might like.

Roll out your pie dough and put it in your pie plate. Trim and crimp edges. Chill.

Chop your scapes really finely – I tried to mash mine with a mortar and pestle but it didn’t work that well, so I just chopped finely for a few minutes with a little bit of salt to help break it up. I wanted to end up with almost a paste, but if you are okay with bigger pieces of scape in your quiche, you don’t need to go that far. Slice up your mushrooms and sauté with the scapes in some olive oil and butter. While they are sautéing, sprinkle with a bit of salt, grind some pepper, and season with any herbs you like – basil, thyme, chili flakes, whatever! Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside.

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Put the sour cream in a liquid measuring cup, add some water, and whisk around until you have a uniform liquid consistency. You could use cream or milk instead of sour cream + water, but I almost always have yogurt or sour cream on hand, and don’t always have milk/cream. Also, we decided that part of why this quiche might have been so good was because of the sour cream. Remove your pie crust from the fridge, and put the sautéed mushrooms and scapes into it, spreading to cover the bottom. Beat your eggs in with the sour cream mixture and add 2/3 of the grated cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the mushrooms in your pie plate. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Protect your pie crust edge with tinfoil.

Almost perfect, except for that dented crust on one side.

Almost perfect, except for that dented crust on one side.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes to an hour, checking frequently. Remove the tin foil during the last 5-10 minutes of baking. I like to broil my quiche for a minute or two at the end, to get the cheese on top all browned and crispy. Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

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Strawberry Cream Cheese Galette.

I made this pie over the Canada Day long weekend. Yes, that means this post is a month too late. I quit my 9-5 job recently, and as such I am hopefully going to have a lot more free time during the mornings and other parts of the day where I tend to be more productive (i.e. after 5pm? Not a productive time for me).

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Anyway, if you are Canadian, you may get a distinct sense that this pie is vaguely patriotic. It bears a small resemblance to all those various flag cakes and whatnot that people make on these national holidays, that showcase the colours of one’s national flag. I did not really intend for this pie to be an act of patriotism, though. I wanted to make something like this, I had the strawberries (nearing their end of season, I thought at the time – they seem to still be kicking though!) – the timing was right. I’m not a particularly patriotic person. Well, scratch that. That’s not entirely accurate. I love living in Canada, for all kinds of reasons – universal health care, the beautiful land and diversity of climates and ecosystems, the legality of same-sex marriage, and women’s relative reproductive freedom. Yes, I love these things. But I don’t like heralding my country with this sort of blind-optimism that national holidays tend to require – it usually feels like the sentiment is “Canada is the best! There is absolutely nothing wrong here! This place is amazing and our country is better than yours and I’M SO PROUD!”. With all that yelling, it can be hard to hear the people who are saying that our government has been toying with a two-tiered health care system for as long as I can remember, that this land is STOLEN and OCCUPIED land that I should not have any right to, that queer and trans folks still endure all kinds of hate and bullshit, that our current federal government continues to try and find little ways of bringing the abortion debate back to the table. So sometimes nationalism can seem a bit much to me. But sometimes then I remember that it is because I love living here that I want this place to be better. For everyone. 

Giant flag at the Canada Day Blue Jays baseball game I was at. Subtle.

Giant flag at the Canada Day Blue Jays baseball game I was at. Subtle.

But whoa, I digress. This is all to say: THIS PIE IS RED AND WHITE AND I ATE IT ON CANADA DAY.

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This pie is essentially a giant danish, and I love it for that. I made it up myself, it is adapted from nobody, and I gotta say, I effing loved it.

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Strawberry Cream Cheese Galette.

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 single crust pie dough
  • 1 egg, beaten with a bit of water, for glaze
  • coarse sugar, to sprinkle on pastry (optional)

Combine softened cream cheese with icing sugar. In a large glass measuring cup, mix together the strawberries, white sugar, and tapioca starch.

Roll out pastry into a large circle. Spread the cream cheese-sugar mixture in a circle in the middle of the dough. Top with the strawberry mixture. Fold up dough edges to make a rustic circle. Brush pastry with egg, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the fruit filling is a bit bubbly.

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Devour, with coffee, with anything, and thank me later.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.

I’m pretty sure that I never had a strawberry rhubarb pie in my entire life until now.

That seems crazy, right? Does that seem crazy? I have this memory of my childhood where I would always hear about strawberry rhubarb pie but always felt somehow shy about it because I had never had it before. It’s possible that I had it once and didn’t like it – I had a lot of pie growing up that I didn’t like, usually because it was over-sweetened or had terrible pastry. As you know, my grandmother Marnie was the pie chef extraordinaire, and I don’t remember her ever making strawberry rhubarb pie in my time. I mostly just remember her peach and pumpkin pies (incidentally, my favourites, if you were wondering).

Preparing fruit filling to macerate in the fridge overnight.

Preparing fruit filling to macerate in the fridge overnight.

Well I have to say – I’ve been missing out. Because this, THIS PIE, was amazing. Yes, the crust got soggy in the 30 hours of summer humidity between when it was baked and when it was served, but it didn’t matter. The sweetness of the strawberries was cut so perfectly by the tart rhubarb, it had the perfect sweetness level for my taste, and the filling had the perfect consistency.

Maceration Station.

Maceration Station.

Consistency wise, this is because I ventured into new thickener territory – and I don’t think I’m turning back. People who bake fruit pies know that you need a thickener in your filling – otherwise your fruit + sugar filling is far too soupy, and will run all over your plate instead of staying within the confines of that pastry you worked so hard on. In my experience, most recipes call for flour or cornstarch as the thickening agent. Generally I don’t use either of those. When I started trying to hone my pie skills in 2009, I started with peach pie, and I thoroughly read the Cook’s Illustrated America’s Test Kitchen information about what they found made the best pastry, and their recipe for the best peach pie. I abandoned their pastry recipe some time ago (it uses vegetable shortening) but stuck with their thickening agent of choice for peach pie – potato starch. But recently I’d been reading a lot about tapioca starch, and how superior it is. So I tried it! And I’m definitely a fan. Just so you know.

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Remember a few weeks ago when I realized that making a galette on a ROUND pan made so much sense? And remember a few years ago when I realized that putting tinfoil around the crust to prevent burning is a lot easier to do if you put it on the pie BEFORE it goes in the oven, so that you don’t burn yourself? Well, with this strawberry rhubarb pie, I figured out another thing that should have been obvious: cutting designs into your top crust is a lot easier if you do it before you put that crust on your pie. I mean, if you are going to be doing really elaborate cut-outs, maybe not, because then it may be difficult to transfer your top crust without it breaking, but really otherwise this makes so much more sense. I can only assume these little things are part of why making a pie-a-week-for-a-year results in better pie making. Learning!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie – from Smitten Kitchen, barely adapted, so she gets almost full credit here

  • 1 double-crust pastry recipe
  • about 1 1/2 pounds of rhubarb, trimmed and sliced (3 1/2 cups)
  • about 1 pound of strawberries, hulled and sliced or quartered (3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca (mine is called “instant tapioca”)
  • 2 TBSP butter, cut into little cubes
  • 1 egg beaten with a bit of water, for glaze
  • coarse sugar, to sprinkle on top (optional)

Combine your chopped strawberries, rhubarb, and brown sugar in a bowl. Let macerate in the fridge overnight. Remove from fridge, add in the white sugar, lemon juice, salt, and tapioca.

Roll out your bottom crust, put into pie plate. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes. When the 30 minutes is up, roll out top crust, cut decorative slits in it. Pour filling into bottom crust – you can discard some of the accumulated liquid, but let some of that go into the pie still. Dot the top of the filling with butter pieces. Place top crust on the pie, trim edges, and crimp to seal. Brush with egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Add tinfoil around the crust edge to prevent burning. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce temperature to 350 and bake for another 25-30 minutes, removing the tinfoil for the last 10 minutes or so.

N.B. This pie leaked for me, resulted in a sugary rhubarb mess on the bottom of my oven. It may be good to protect your oven if you’re worried about this, by putting a cookie sheet under the pie or on the rack below.

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NOM.

Rhubarb-Ginger Pop Tarts.

I’ve been meaning to make these for a very long time.

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Let me tell you something – I love Pop Tarts. For reals. I love them in all of their corn syrup, weird cracker crust goodness. I know that they are terrible for you and probably filled with all kinds of terrible things. I know that they have gelatin in them. But every once in awhile – usually if they go on sale for a really low price – I can’t help but buy a box. I’ll toast them up and enjoy every last bite.

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That said, when I first saw a recipe for making them at home, of course I knew they would be better. Truly, they are a different beast – I mean, when homemade, they are PASTRY, whereas the storebought ones….well I don’t even know what to call that hard-as-rocks crust. Homemade pop tarts are really just a standard hand pie, except that distinctive rectangular shape makes me feel like I just can’t call them anything but Pop Tarts. I decided long ago that these would be a part of this pie project. So finally, one Saturday night while most people my age were probably out drinking and dancing at a bar, I stayed home alone and made pop tarts. Worth it.

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Both Deb and Alana had talked about making these, and I believe that both of their pastry recipes were adapted from King Arthur flour, which I assume is an American brand of flour that doesn’t exist here in Canudia. While something about using a straight up pie dough recipe was comforting to me, I decided to use Smitten Kitchen’s recipe and add an egg to the dough to make it sturdier. Now let me tell you – while I am still confident that Deb’s dough recipe was the best choice in terms of sturdiness and pick-up-able-ness, I really struggled to work with it. It’s a much drier dough than my pie crust usually is – more like a shortbread crust (like on a lemon square) and less like an elastic pastry. I found rolling it out extremely difficult – it kept wanting to crack and break. It was kind of a pain in the ass, actually. BUT they turned out well. I think I’d like to try out making something like this (or a hand pie in another shape) with a regular pie dough, and see how it is in terms of sturdiness, because I think it would be a lot easier to work with.

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Cooking at 11pm = bad lighting.

I decided to make mine with a rhubarb filling – I’d received rhubarb in my very first CSA pickup, and was remembering the rhubarb tarts I’d made a few years ago from this book (and pictured on the cover).  Those tarts were GOOD. Actually, just now I noticed that Alana made these with rhubarb as well – something I hadn’t noticed because I’d been looking at the recipe from her cookbook rather than the blog. I guess in a lot of ways rhubarb makes the most sense for something like this – sometimes with summer berries I can’t bring myself to cook them down into mush – I just want to eat them whole and fresh while I can. But rhubarb is different – you want to cook it. I used the basic recipe for rhubarb compote from Kim Boyce’s book (an adaptation of which is accessible here) but instead of using Kim’s hibiscus or Deb’s vanilla bean, I opted to use ginger with the rhubarb. I’ve made a rhubarb ginger jam before that I quite enjoyed, and I find them to be really nice together. I also added a splash of orange juice because, why not? The recipe made quite a bit of compote – I still have a jar in the fridge, and it is great spooned onto yogurt or oatmeal in the morning.

Rhubarb Ginger Compote (adapted from Good to the Grain and Smitten Kitchen)

  • 3/4 lb rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • splash of orange juice
  • approx. 1 tsp of freshly grated ginger (it grates really easily if you keep it in the freezer)

Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the rhubarb has fully broken down and it has reached your desired thickness. Remove from heat and let cool.

Pop Tarts (adapted primarily from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp milk (the original recipe calls for 2 Tbsp. but I found the dough way too dry and added a bit more)
  • an additional egg

You make this dough the same way that you would make regular pastry – combine the dry ingredients, cut in the butter. Instead of adding ice water to bring the dough together, you beat one egg with the milk and use that as your liquid. This dough is WAY more dry than a normal pastry recipe. Like I mentioned, it is a bit more like a shortbread dough.

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Chill dough. Roll out and cut into rectangles – about 2.5 inches by 4 inches. You should end up with 16 rectangles total – i.e. enough for the tops and bottoms of 8 pop tarts. The recipe was supposed to make more, but I couldn’t manage to get more than 8 tarts out of this. Do your best! Place 8 rectangles on a parchment lined baking sheet (or two baking sheets). Brush with beaten egg, this will help glue the two pieces together. Place a generous tablespoon (or a bit more) of compote in the middle of your bottom pastry – leaving at least a centimetre around the border. Place your top pastry on, and crimp closed by pressing a fork around the edges. Poke holes in the top to let the steam escape. You can brush with egg on top as well if you want, to help the pastry brown. Chill for 30 minutes before baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Any that you don’t devour right away can be reheated in a toaster or toaster oven – but keep an eye on them because they are a bit more delicate than the store-bought ones. YUM.

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