Anthro Rolling PinLast Saturday morning I fell in love with the Downtown Palo Alto Farmers Market. I woke up at 6:00, cleaned the kitchen, and took the blissful five minute bike ride to Gilman. What for? Fresh seasonal ingredients for our first Palo Alto dinner guests! Here’s the latest on a year of pies.

Week Three – Raspberry Ramekin Mini Pies
Pie Week 3We have a tradition with our friends, Stephen and Elizabeth (aka the newlywed BKEs). It’s still in the making but the gist is that when either of us moves into a new home, we invite the other family as our first guests. After a few hectic weeks with both of us traveling and moving, we finally got them to ourselves for an afternoon and evening in Palo Alto. We strolled downtown, made it to the Stanford Arboretum, played games, and cooked up a storm including these Raspberry Ramekin Mini Pies.

Per Ashley English‘s suggestion, we paired the individual portions with ice cream. And care of the BKEs, we had the best of the best – Clover Straight Up Vanilla from Petaluma, California. It was the perfect end to a hot day.

Pie Week 3 Result

  • Date:  September 19, 2015
  • Likelihood of repeat:  Somewhat likely. These were easy, sweet yet not overly sugary. Perhaps next summer when I see raspberries at the market again.
  • Pluses:  Bubbly pink moscato sweetened the compote the perfectly.
  • Deltas:  I forgot to butter the ramekins before placing the crust. They didn’t stick, but perhaps the bottom would have browned more.
  • Lessons learned:  Washing dishes along the way makes for a much more pleasant evening. Conceptually I knew this, but actually doing it was great.

Side Dish – Mini Peach Raspberry Pies
Side Dish Peach Rasp MiniSince there was plenty of raspberry compote to go around, I threw some in with the peach filling that Erica sent home with me from our hand pies (see September Part One for the whole hand pie side dish). The result? Mini peach raspberry pies for breakfast Monday morning.

These were made in my beloved William-Sonoma Mini Cup Pie Set, which first sparked my love for pie making. I distinctly remember opening this wedding gift in my mother’s living room. We had just found out that Mark would transfer to Berkeley Law so I had wedding planning, job searching, and apartment hunting on my mind. I exclaimed, “It’s a mini pie tin! I can make mini pies! I need to find an apartment so we can have mini pies!”

In our newlywed days, we had an abundance of mini chicken pot pies, mini steak and ale pies, mini quiches, and most of all mini apple pies. Three years later, these peach raspberry minis were a fantastic farewell to summertime.

Week Four – Pear Crostata
Pie Week 4On Wednesday we welcomed the first day of Autumn and my cousin Rachelle, who dined with us. For the auspicious occasion, I fashioned a Pear Crostata. First things first, what’s the difference between a crostata and a galette? Potayto, potahto. Or rather pomme de terre, patata. From what I can tell, there is no difference except that one is French, the other Italian.

I have very little experience with pears so I asked the pear man at the farmers market to identify the two best varieties for pie. Here’s a side story (not for the faint of heart so feel free to skip) to account for my lack of pear exposure. The last time I had pears was my 7th or 8th birthday. My grandmother lovingly made pear pie and my sister loudly threw it up on my fathers’ shoes. It was so vivid a memory that for years I honestly couldn’t remember who’d done the regurgitating, me or Sam.

Nevertheless, I was ready to dive into English’s Autumn recipes so I took the pear man’s recommendations and cooked this up.

Pie Week 4 Result

  • Date:  September 23, 2015
  • Likelihood of repeat:  Unlikely, unless I do it with apples. I’m still warming up to pears, so I’d sooner try a double crust pear pie with Gruyere baked into the top. Points if you know where that’s from.
  • Pluses:  Rather than my typical piling and spreading method for filling distribution, I took a bit of time to arrange slices. I was pleasantly surprised by the effort to prettiness ratio (not much effort yet quite pretty pie).
  • Deltas:  Less spices, especially less orange zest. And I would use a slotted spoon to scoop the filling onto the crust. You would not believe the mess I made with the excess liquid.
  • Lessons learned:  Parchment under the crostata and proper cooling time made removal from the baking sheet easy. And based on Epicurious’ Visual Guide to Pears, I believe I baked with… heck, I really can’t tell. But some that were possibly ripe Bosc pears were much to soft for this recipe. And the prettily arranged slices in the middle (Anjous pears?) were too tough for my pizza slicer.

Next up, Mark and I are heading to New York! Pie making may or may not make the agenda, but I’ll be back soon. Till then, my gratitude of the day…

Thank you, Heather and Cambry, for the mini pie set. Your gift has given me so many hours of joy, at first directly then by igniting my passion for pie making.

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