• Liza Lou's Kitchen
    Desserts,  Other,  Pies,  Vegan

    Liza Lou’s Sparkly Museum-Quality Cherry Pie

    The thunderbolt of a recipephany can strike when you least expect it. This one walloped us during a visit to New York’s famous Whitney Museum. It’s a gem of a pie inspired by Liza Lou’s Kitchen, a full-scale vintage kitchen completely bedazzled in colorfully sparkling glass beads. The Art Brilliant and beguiling, Kitchen takes us to an enchanted world. Every object, every surface radiates joy. Even the dishes in the sink, soaking in the swirl of Starry Night-style beaded dishwater, gleam with the richness of the Crown Jewels. I define art as something that looks like it took a really long time to make. No doubt about it here. Lou spent five years in…

  • Ingredient,  Pastries,  Pies,  Technique

    Screwdriver Pie Crust

    Somewhere along the line, we came to treat pie crust like a prima donna. Handle it gingerly, they say, or it will toughen and refuse to cooperate. Use your best butter, make sure to chill the dough, yada yada yada. Happily, for decades our Orange Juice Pastry has worked yeoman’s duty without complaint. What makes it so agreeable? First, the shortening (yes, Crisco, thankfully now transfat-free) enjoys being handled at room temperature. And the orange juice—cold and a tad acidic—plays well with the shortening. One sticking point, though. How much OJ is just right? Too little and the dough gets dry and hard to roll. Too much liquid might develop the gluten in the…

  • Desserts,  Pies

    Chocopecankin Pie, the “Turducken” of Desserts

    The Turducken—a deboned chicken stuffed inside a deboned duck stuffed inside a deboned turkey—makes a showstopping Thanksgiving centerpiece. Carving it is a parlor trick at the dinner table, but the dish owes its popularity to its quirky mashed-up name. Remember Brody’s Second Law of Marketing: If you can’t name it, you can’t sell it. (Honestly, though, didn’t anyone consider its first four letters?) Ten years ago at Thanksgiving, our daughter Claire posed an intriguing question. With all the choices on the dessert table, why isn’t there a pie version of Turducken? And thus, she created the Chocopecankin Pie. Claire designed it like a target so that every slice—like the Turducken—would include each pie. To…

  • Desserts,  Egg dishes,  Pies,  Snacks

    Caramel Custard Flan

    Ceci n’est pas une pie. It’s Pi Day. Ordinarily I’d bake a pie, but with the new “social distancing,” the two of us would have to eat the whole thing. So instead, I made some comforting caramel custard—AKA “flan”—from a forgotten can of Magnolia Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk in the pantry. The can had gone several months past its “best by” date, but rest assured the quality was fine and I had no sense of Russian food roulette. It really burns me how those dates trigger so much needless waste. Using this lost and forlorn can sparked joy—Marie Kondo-style—by both freeing up shelf space and inspiring this dessert. This recipe came right off the…

  • Desserts,  Pies

    Meri’s Berries

    Is it a crumble or a crisp? A cobbler or a grunt? Or maybe a slump? Whatever the name, it’s a fruit pie without a traditional pie crust. It frees us from rolling, crimping, and the customary fretting about flakiness. And let’s face it…sometimes we just prefer more fruit and less pastry. With Meri’s Berries, you toss together a crumbly dough that bakes into a crisp cookie-like topping. Sugar and flour in the dough combine with the berry juice to turn it a bit syrupy. This syrup won’t get as thick as pie filling does, but then again there’s no crust to make soggy. Meri Cayem shared this recipe back when our sons, both…

  • Breakfast,  Egg dishes,  Pies,  Snacks,  Vegetables

    Zucchini Quiche

    Zucchini is to quiche as eggplant is to parmigiana. There is no higher calling for this elongated green summer squash than to be sautéed with onions, splashed with wine, tossed with herbs, then married with cheese and eggs into this savory pie. Not really a quiche, this recipephany has more of an Italian than French accent. A layer of toasted breadcrumbs replaces the pastry crust. Herbs you’d shake into a red sauce awaken the sweetness in the zucchini. And a secret ingredient—ginger—blends in so mysteriously that I dare you to pick it out of the crowd. The source of this recipephany is probably a long-gone culinary magazine. I play around with quantities, so please…

  • Desserts,  Pies,  Technique

    Apple Crumble Tart Takes on a New Shape

    Pi r squared. Pie r round. Tart r rectangular. The rectangular tart is the more rustic, country-mouse version of its classic round cousin. It looks stylish without pristine glazes or radiating starbursts of fruit. A simple trimming of nuts or berries in neat rows looks just right. Tatte’s, the fastest growing bakery and café in Boston, makes most of its tarts rectangular, and sells them for a tidy sum through Williams-Sonoma. I’ve made my own version of Tatte’s rectangular nut tart, heaping it high with whole toasted pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, and cashews, and drenching it in caramel. It took me a while to get the hang of making caramel, though. After endangering our…

  • Desserts,  Pies

    Pi Day 2015: 10 Digits of Pi

    We’ll celebrate Pi Day on 3.14.15 at 9:26:53. My mathematics-major husband suggested this 10-digit representation to celebrate this rare occasion. The apple pie is made of Cortlands from the half-bushel we picked in September. When we got back from the orchard, I peeled and sliced apples, tossed them in a bowl with spices and filling ingredients, double bagged them in one-pie portions, then labeled and stored them in the freezer. I defrosted a bag overnight in the refrigerator, then made this farm-fresh pie in no time with my own 10 little digits. Apple Pie Filling (fresh or frozen) 6 or 7 Cortland or other baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced 2/3 cups sugar 1…

  • Minny's Chocolate Pie
    Desserts,  Pies,  Recipes

    Oscars 2012: The Help (Yourself to Another Slice of) Chocolate Pie

    If you’ve seen The Help, you know that Minny’s famous chocolate pie has to headline this year’s Oscars menu. I found what purports to be the recipe, but I had to test it before posting. After all, it was a movie prop. I was afraid it would look good, but taste crappy. After some adaptation (adding lots more cocoa and vanilla, and simplifying the baking), I’m pleased to report that my Minny’s pie recipephany below rates 5 out of 5 stars, with a dark filling that tastes like a melted chocolate bar. Neither cream, nor custard, nor chiffon, it’s a firm pie that would not lend itself to tossing. It poses no danger of…

  • Desserts,  Pies,  Recipes

    Red Sox Dinner Lineup, Featuring Jacoby Ellsberry Pie

    We’re putting together the lineup for a Red Sox dinner—we hope for October—but I don’t want to give them any kenahoras, if you know what I mean. Here’s what we have so far, and I invite your suggestions. (Of interest, in 2007 Jacoby replaced what otherwise would have been dessert: Coco Crisp.) Starters: Cocktail Francona Bun, Adrian Gorganzalez Cheese, Green Muenster Cheese, Tim Wheatfilled Crackers, and Carl Crawfish Dip. Main Course: Veal Saltalamacchia, Marcoroni Scutaro, Josh Reddickio Salad with Big Poppy Seed Dressing, Jason Varitexas Toast, Kevin Yuccaless Side Dish with Jed Lowrie’s Seasonings, and Dustin Pedroyams. Dessert: Jacoby Ellsberry Pie, with (of course) Jonathan Papelbon-Bons closing the dinner. The Berries Our bumper crop…

  • Ma's Lemon Sponge Pie
    Desserts,  Pies,  Recipes

    Ma’s Lemon Sponge Pie

    It’s holiday time. Who is making Ma’s Lemon Sponge Pie? My husband’s grandmother, Frances Leahey, brought home this recipephany from a cooking class sponsored by the Western Massachusetts Electric Company and its live-wire mascot Reddy Kilowatt in the 1940s. She had just bought an electric oven, and the class was, according to Reddy, to help “our electric customers to make the very best possible use of the electricity they buy.” There is no better use of electricity than this pie. At first, Ma thought this recipe was the case of a lemon meringue pie gone awry, where the teacher mistakenly folded the egg whites in with the filling instead of spreading them on top.…

  • Desserts,  Pies,  Recipes

    Edith’s Flaky Pie Crust, and how it may become Chelsea Clinton’s favorite

    Pie crust is the basic black dress of baking. It starts out simple, with flour and salt. But then come the choices. Good or bad fats? Water, milk, juice, buttermilk, vinegar, or vodka? And what about secret ingredients like sugar or baking powder? Some recipes obsess over technique. If you want to see how many annoying steps you can stuff into a pie crust recipe, see how fussy Alton Brown gets. So where can you find a recipe for delicious, wholesome, flaky pastry crust in 40 words or less? One that even comes with a story of conflict, mystery, and revelation? The answer is this recipephany shared by our guest blogger, Robin Henschel. I…