Monday, October 29, 2012

Oh Sandy...

As I write this, it is Hour #19* of Hurricane Sandy - The Frankenstorm. Luckily, I am safe and sound in Astoria, living a few blocks away from the edge of the flood zone and therefore not having to evacuate. Instead, my friends and I stocked up on wine, canned goods, more wine, toilet paper, cheese, and a few extra bottles of wine just for good measure, ensuring a three-day bacchanalia of day-drinking, bad movies and weather channel porn. And pie.

*Mary's Hurricane Clock started at 7pm yesterday, the hour at which the subways shut down, sequestering everyone in their apartments and in hurricane lockdown. This is not an official measure of time and is not endorsed by the National Weather Service.

Because it's not a true hurricane party without some pie (and because the bordom set in right around 8pm last night), I give to you the Official Hurricane Sandy Frankenpie (Disclaimer: it's pumpkin pie. I merely gave it an ironic and topical name).

Ingredients - makes 1 deep dish pumpkin pie
1 can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 can evaporated milk
1/2 tsp salt
Spices to taste:
1 sheet pre-made refrigerated pie crust, because let's be honest: you're just too distracted by insanely scary ariel photos of Sandy to bother with homemade pie crust.

How to
Stir together puree, sugar, eggs and evaporated milk. Mix in spices.

Neatly place pie crust in pan, sealing the dough around the edges. Pierce bottom and inside of crust with fork, then pour pumpkin mixture into pie pan. If you're using a shallow pan, you will have extra mix.

Bake on your oven's middle rack for 15 minutes at 325. Then increase temperature to 350 and bake for another 30 minutes, or until you can cleanly pull a knife out from the center of the pie.

Let cool for 20 minutes. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream alongside mulled wine and an intense game of Sheepshead.

Special shout-outs go to this guy for having the foresight to purchase all the pie ingredients and actually make the pie, and this girl for leading our pie-filled butts in core-strengthening yoga exercises so that we're able to fight off the zombies when they finally emerge from the eye of the hurricane. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sage and apple tart

I promise I'll get off this apple kick soon - but it is still fall, and it's not even November yet (when I plan to inundate you with pumpkin-flavored recipes), and truth be told, a friend of mine recently met me on a street corner with a huge bag of freshly picked apples, and I would be doing a disservice to the entire apple orchard industry if I didn't show at least a few more apple recipes.

This rich, savory tart is quick and easy to make, and would be a perfect party appetizer (or mid-Wednesday afternoon breakfast, if you're me). Double the recipe if you have more than a handful of guests and serve it warm. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Slice of the Week - Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Hi, I'd like to order four slices of pie.

Ok no problem, is that to go?

... No.

When I first started this blog, I made a list of all the best places in the city to get pie. Pulled mainly from a "best pie NYC" Goggle search, results like this and this made a few things clear. First, that there aren't actually too many bakeries in this city devoted solely to pie. Second, that Brooklyn seems to be a hub for not just shaggy hipsters with ironic clothing choices, but for all things pie. And finally, I learned that there is a place, a mecca if you will, deep in the heart of Gowanas that is the epitome of pie. Enthusiasts from near and far whisper it's name with awe, tomes have been written about it, soccer moms name their firstborn after it.
     (Ok, that last one might be an exaggeration. But then again, it might not.)

Anyway, Four & Twenty Blackbirds immediately moved to the top of my Pie to Try list. The problem, however, was that it's located off of the 9th Street stop on the R train in Brooklyn - about an hour away from my apartment, and in an area I never have a reason to frequent. My roommate and I started to refer to the trek to Four & Twenty as our Pie Pilgrimage, and decided to make the trip a reality as soon as possible.

10 months later, she and I finally found a four-hour block of time in which we were both in the city but without work or rehearsal. Sometimes I marvel at how artists ever get ANYTHING scheduled or accomplished.

So, on a rainy Tuesday in October, Amanda and I took the subway to Brooklyn and ordered slices of four of the five available sweet pies. Was this a healthy idea? No. Did we almost go into anaphylactic shock halfway through the meal? Possibly, but I don't really know what anaphylactic shock is. Was this the most delicious pie tasting ever? Absolutely.

Salted Carmel Apple
Soft, sweet apples nestled under a buttery salted crust. At first, this pie isn't anything special, just a really good apple pie. Then comes a burst of salty goodness. It's a crazy, surprising juxtaposition of flavor.

Brown Butter Pumpkin
Everything about this pie is so light and airy that you assume it's made with angel kisses (or at the very least, that it must be fat-free). Consisting of the fluffiest pumpkin puree known to man and a flaky crust that actually melts in your mouth, this slice was Amanda's favorite.

Black Bottom Oat
This pie is the lovechild of Mr. Shaker Oat and Ms. Nestlee Tollhouse. Both decadent and comforting, it's dessert at its' best. Shortbread crust, crunchy oat topping, a thick layer of chocolate on the bottom - there is nothing this pie can't do. We named it the "break-up pie" and told our server that this pie will be replacing the requisite tub of ice cream for all our future heartbreaks. 

Bourbon Pear Crumble
With tart pear slices and brown sugared oats, I was surprised to call this pie my favorite (I'm not a huge fan of pears). It wasn't overly sweet and I appreciated the crunch of both the crust and pears.

It's safe to say that I will go back to Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Not only do they change up their pie menu on a daily basis, they also feature a selection of savory pies that we didn't even attempt to try. The slices also weren't even that expensive - about $5 each, and they were served on actual plates with real silverware (low standards? Maybe, but realize that the last pie I tried was in a cardboard box in a train station).

food coma.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Magnolia Bakery - Peanut Butter Icebox Pie

Last weekend, I had a day off and was able to participate in Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day Live!, a national event in which museums across the country provide free admission to various sites and museums. It's a celebration of the no-cost nature of Smithsonian museums, and being a frugal and frequent museum-nerd, I immediately signed up for my free ticket to The Morgan Library.

Featuring a collection of rare books, manuscripts, letters and correspondance, the Morgan Library was once the personal library of J. Pierpont Morgan, New York's industrious banker of the early 20th century. The architecture and design of the library is beautiful, and more than a few times I had to stop myself from breaking out into half the songs from Beauty and the Beast.

But enough about the library.

I had some time to kill after the museum and needed a snack. I found myself near Grand Central Station and wandered in. There's something about the hustle and bustle of train stations that excites me to no end, and Grand Central's stunning beaux arts architecture seemed to be the perfect compliment to my artsy Saturday. With thoughts and hopes of a slice of pie, I walked down to the food court - and to my delight, discovered that Magnolia Bakery has a counter selling their sweets to weary travelers.

I know what you're thinking. Magnolia Bakery? The cupcake place? But Mary, this is a PIE blog - you don't even like cupcakes!!

And you're right. This is a pie blog, and I don't like cupcakes (sorry). BUT Magnolia serves goodies other than their famous cupcakes, and I had been itching to try their pie for some time now but had always been turned off by the long lines of pastelled women who believe that one cupcake will turn them into Carrie Bradshaw. Luckily, there wasn't a line at all at the Magnolia at the train station and I was able to order a slice of Peanut Butter Icebox Pie.

It was a HUGE slice of pie. And it was good. Not great, but good. The whipped cream/cream cheese filling was indeed smooth and creamy, but too much. After a few bites, I wanted more taste variation, and the filling-to-topping ratio left me needing less creamy and more crunchy nuts and Reese's. Same with the crust - it was decent, but way too thick to be your average wafer-graham cracker crust. A dash or three of nutmeg would have gone a long way. Most disappointingly, the pie was not cold enough. When I order a slice of ice box pie, I expect it to be freezing. Like ice.

I ended up not finishing my slice (although I made quite sure to eat all the Reese's bits). I suppose the real draw of Magnolia is the cupcakes. Or it's the sociological phenomenon that a popular style or trend will become more popular simply because it's thought to be popular. Whatever it is, I'm glad I finally got around to trying something from Magnolia, but I think I'll continue to see what the rest of the city has to offer.