Apology in advance: I’ve been listening to the Cast-On podcast pretty much nonstop for the past few days (on my walk to work, on my walk home from work, sometimes for small stretches while at work (as an editor, it is next to impossible to do my actual work while listening to a podcast, so I’ve been using this as “breaks”), while knitting on the couch, and for the past 3 hours, because I took the day off of work), which means I’m starting to talk a little like her. That is, I’m using phrases like “that is,” and I’m pausing in particular ways–though perhaps that isn’t so apparent in the written word–and I’m using parenthetical comments, and long series of things in one sentence; you get the idea. So I don’t know how I’m going to be writing this blog entry . . .
Today’s eye candy is also mouth candy. Uh, wait, that is a really weird way to put it. What I mean is that not only are the photos nice to look at, but the subjects were tasty to eat. Yes, a food-related eye candy. Nothing absurd or found on the ground on South Street, I promise.
Two pies, both made by me. The top one is clearly the prettiest of the two (and the lighting and time of day more photogenic), but the taste was, well, -less. At the top we have a peach pie with cardamom, using elements from several peach pie recipes but which I could have made up myself: peeled peaches, some sugar, some cardamom, some cinnamon, and then some butter. The bottom pie is a raspberry-blueberry for which I used an actual recipe. It calls for tapioca as the thickener and I went with it despite extreme reservations–and the result was really quite nice. The crust for both pies is the same cream cheese pie crust (not the crust the berry pie calls for), which I’m currently in love with. It’s a time-consuming pie crust to make, but please don’t let that stop you! Especially if you have a food processor. I think if I were forced to do it by hand I would have purchased Pillsbury dough. But really: make this pie crust next time you’re making a pie. It’s rich and flaky and luscious.
I made both of these pies with a pie contest in mind. My aunt and uncle have this annual Rib Fest, in which they provide some chafing dishes and you bring the ribs. Bring your favorite recipe and all the guests get to vote on the best. My mom came in 2nd last year. This year, they were going to add a pie contest, and I decided that would be my game.
So a week before the event, I made this peach pie as a test. Oh, man, was it gorgeous. I had thought there might be separate prizes for best looking and best tasting, and while this one would have earned something for its looks, it was severly lacking in taste. The peaches were ripe, bought at Whole Foods for an arm and a leg, but they didn’t pack any peach punch.
The raspberry-blueberry caught my eye and sounded nice and summery. So I made it a week later, one day before the contest, with no time to test (I’d planned on testing it, but had no time). On Friday it came out of the oven, and it looked like crap. You are not seeing a photo of that pie. I tried to do the top crust the same way I had for the peach pie, overlapping stars, but they sunk into the berry juices and looked just horrid. I debated. And just as I will frog my knitting at the first sign of imperfection, I decided that that pie could not be entered into a contest.
The only solution was to wake up really early Saturday morning, the day of the picnic that was two hours away, and start a new pie. Because of the time-consuming nature of the pie crust, I had to get up, put the ingredients in the freezer (part of the recipe; they need 30 minutes to freeze up), dash to the grocery store (which is about an 10-minute walk away), make the dough, get it in the fridge (it needs an hour), set up my mise-en-place, kill some time, then make the pie with a more conservative top crust, slam it in the oven, give it its 45-50 minutes, and then dash out to yoga class. From there, I was picking up the rental car and getting on the road, so there was no other time to do it! (In retrospect, I should have skipped yoga, as I was still recovering from the cold and not at my best, but I really wanted to go.)
I’ve really rambled on about these pies. The ending of the story? More people than anticipated decided to compete in the pie contest, and with 16 other pies vying for the top spot, I didn’t even make the top 3! No talk of a prize for best looking (I swear I would have won). Due to the number of entrants, my aunt designated 3 judges who made the ultimate decision. There was also a “popular vote,” and when I went around and sampled the pies, I got a bite of a sweet potato pie that I almost gave more points than my own, it was that good. In the end, I gave it and mine the most points you could give and essentially gave a 0 to all the others. I’m happy to say that the sweet potato pie did win the popular vote–and it really was just that good.
So feast on that eye candy!