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Pie Week

Friday, July 27, 2012

The bangingest pie around

Posted By on 07.27.12 at 02:19 PM

Bang Bang Pies chocolate pie
I do a lot of cooking but hardly any baking. I prefer simpler desserts at home, especially when they follow moderately complex, multicourse meals. My go-to is warmed fruit with soft cheese: grilled peaches with a slice of Brie, strawberries macerated in balsamic reduction with a dollop of ricotta, honey-stewed figs with a scoop of mascarpone.

As for pies, I’ve only baked two varieties in my life. (I don’t count the three-ingredient key lime pie, which is too easy to consider “baking.”) One is this apple cider cream pie, which I loved but was time-consuming to the point that I’ll probably never bother with it again. The other is a pie my parents have made for years and that I’ve attempted a few times: a barely sweet, ricotta-barley concoction with a hand-rolled crust that until recently I thought was the best pie in the world. But the effort that goes into that pie is also off-putting. This is a once-a-year pie.

I’ve now discovered a once-a-week pie. If I’m not careful, it could turn into a twice-a-week-or-more pie. The best part is that I don’t have to lift a finger. I only have to walk a few blocks and hand over $5 for a supernaturally good slice.

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All right, call them Twinkies

Posted By on 07.27.12 at 07:32 AM

Oh lordy, those really look disgusting, I thought as I downloaded this picture. Did I really used to eat those?
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Oh lordy, those really look disgusting, I thought as I downloaded this picture. Did I really used to eat them?
Twinkies may not be pie, but they certainly are dessert, and the White Sox had them after a very distasteful main course in Detroit this week.

The Minnesota Twins were good for what ailed the Sox. The Sox opened a big can of whoopass on the Twins, winning a Wednesday matinee 8-2 to complete a three-game sweep.

That left them tied for first with the Tigers after they were swept in turn in Detroit over the weekend, briefly pulling the Sox out of first.

Thank god for the last-place Twinkies in the American League Central Division—no matter what the Baseball Project might say, or sing.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

How to make a chocolate cream pie

Posted By on 07.26.12 at 07:35 AM

  • www.worththewhisk.com
We've discussed many fruit pies this week on the blog—mostly rhubarb, the Reese Witherspoon of pie filling—but afforded less real estate to their cream-based cousins. Cream pies often get short shrift, maybe due to their occasional association with Jell-O pudding, but they shouldn't. (Not to say that there can't be good Jell-O-filled pies. This place, for instance.) What follows, a recipe for chocolate cream pie, is the evidence why not. The filling makes slightly more than you'll need for a nine-inch pie, which can't be a bad thing.

Here's the filling:

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Hail the noble rhubarb stalk!

Posted By on 07.26.12 at 06:52 AM

Strawberries not welcome here
  • Cory Doctorow
  • Strawberries not welcome here
I make pies. Fruit pies. One of my favorites is rhubarb pie. Pie making is a time for meditation, and meditating on rhubarb gets me into the realm of ultimate questions. One of these is about the differences—not only botanical but, well, spiritual—between fruits and vegetables. Rhubarb is botanically a vegetable, just as the tomato is botanically a fruit. My heart knows better. So does Bakers Square.

Because my taste for rhubarb is well established I am occasionally treated to a rhubarb pie. But this pie is almost always a rhubarb-strawberry pie. I am genial enough as I gulp it down, but I don't actually hold with rhubarb-strawberry pie. The strawberries detract from the tartness of the rhubarb. They add nothing.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pi, in pictures

Posted By on 07.25.12 at 05:18 PM

Thus proving that pie and pi are interchangeable
  • Thus proving that "pie" and "pi" are interchangeable
In honor of Pie Week on the blog and wasting-time-on-the-Internet day here in the office (Wednesdays are good for this since they come right after deadline day, but any day will do), I decided to look up pi jokes. It's not Pi Day—that, of course, would be March 14—but I remembered seeing some funny stuff in honor of the occasion in the past. Either I'm remembering wrong or the good jokes are hard to dig up, because the majority of what's out there is pretty lame—not to mention repetitive. (Warning: I'm not kidding about the lameness of what's posted below. If you want something that's not a waste of time, check out Cliff Doerksen's Beard Award-winning feature on mince pie, "The Real American Pie.")

Q: What do you get if you divide the circumference of a jack-o-lantern by its diameter?
A: Pumpkin pi.

Q: What do you get when you take a bovine and divide its circumference by its diameter?
A: Cow pi.

Q:What do you get when you take the sun and divide its circumference by its diameter?
A: Pi in the sky.

Q: What do you get if you divide the circumference of a bowl of ice cream by its diameter?
A: Pi a la mode.

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How not to make a pie

Posted By on 07.25.12 at 06:48 AM

Pie on desk
1. Be sure to choose an evening when it's at least 90 degrees out.

2. Whatever happened to your pie plate? Disbelievingly double-check the cupboards.

3. Pour a glass of iced tea and call your friend the retired pie baker. Will a cake pan work in a pinch?

4. When he sensibly suggests making a galette, decide you must finish the crossword.

5. Isn't it supposed to cool off?

6. Sweat.

7. Go to bed.

8. Get up at 6:30.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The legendary Norske Nook

Posted By on 07.24.12 at 06:51 AM

The Norske Nook in Osseo, Wisconsin, serves the best pie I've ever eaten, and many would agree. The winner of numerous national competitions ("23 and counting," the website boasts) and international acclaim (as evidenced by the thank-you letters from foreign dignitaries that hang on the restaurant's walls), the pies at the Nook are likely better known than the town, if not the county, they're made in. Northern Illinoisans who vacation in upper Wisconsin talk about the restaurant as the stuff of legend. Indeed, I heard stories about it for years before I even went there.

In the years that I attended college in Minnesota, I stopped at the Nook at least once a semester. There's an exit for Osseo off I-94, so it wasn't much of a detour on the drive between Saint Paul and Chicago. I never ate before embarking on the trip: it was crucial that I arrived at the restaurant hungry enough to put away two or three or four slices. (I'm sure that the Norwegian and American entrees, which the restaurant serves in addition to pie, are also very good; but the only things I've ordered there have been pie and coffee.)

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Monday, July 23, 2012

The humble pie, this week on the Bleader

Posted By on 07.23.12 at 06:54 AM

I made this!
  • I made this! With love, etc. And butter.
When I used to make pie I spent a lot of time rolling out dough and thinking about little jokes that I thought my bosses at Hoosier Mama Pie Company should put on T-shirts: "Crimp my style," for instance. "How we roll." Et cetera—there were other, better ones, I swear. For a while my only shift was on Friday night (I worked for a couple other bakers at the time), making pie for the morning farmers' market and a few cafes that the company sold to. The rolling station, such as it was, was set away from the rest of the kitchen so I usually was there by myself, which was ideal because of WBEZ's lineup of Friday-night programming: Sound Opinions first, then This American Life. I stood there rolling dough, 40, 50, 60 shells a night, and listened. Eventually I'd drift back to the rest of the kitchen and help put fruit pies together; late at night, toward 1 and 2 AM, we'd package the pies and go home. I'd be covered in flour and something like raspberry or cherry juice, both of which look like blood. HMPC has its own storefront now; this was in Kitchen Chicago, the shared-use kitchen, which has since moved, too. It's been replaced in its old Ravenswood Manor space by a pie shop: First Slice.

This was a perfectly relaxing routine for a Friday evening, I thought, and I only have one bad memory, which is of the night I used unpasteurized eggs rather than pasteurized eggs when mixing the filling for the peanut butter pie, which had to be made with the special eggs because it wasn't cooked. Imagine the horror. I had the throw away the entire batch, minus whatever I managed to scoop into my mouth en route to the trash. It was really good peanut butter pie.

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