Anthro Rolling PinFall is in full swing here in Palo Alto. Leaves are changing, Halloween decorations are popping up around the neighborhood, the air is crisp, especially in the morning. I had an exam for my class and have been listening to George Winston’s Linus & Lucy on repeat in my kitchen. It even rained last weekend a few times! All of this has put me in a pie making mood, so I present the next installment of a year of pies.

Week Five – Apple Creme Brulee Mini Pies
Pie Week 5
When I originally dedicated this year to pie making, this was the first recipe to catch my eye. Apple pie and creme brulee in one? Yes please!

But here’s a secret I learned about pies (and/or myself) while making this particular dish:  pies are more fun with people. I made these ramekin pies early on a Sunday morning with no recipients in mind, so it took us over a week to finish them off. There were various hurdles to sharing (broiling directly before serving, non-disposable containers) and the slow, selfish consumption left a funny taste in my mouth. Not literally – they tasted great the whole week. There was just something lacking from the experience.

Before anyone thinks this recipe was a total disappointment, here’s a moment to keep in mind. There’s nothing in the world so pure and good as apples simmering in butter before sunrise. Pie Week 5 Result

  • Date:  October 11, 2015
  • Likelihood of repeat:  Somewhat likely. Mark and his coworker Ben are big fans. If I have an event for these, that would be ideal.
  • Pluses:  Starting early was essential on this unseasonably warm day. I was able to do all the stove and oven work before we left for church so the apartment wouldn’t get (and stay) crazy hot. Also, I used dry pinto beans as pie weights for the first time.
  • Deltas:  On my final two ramekins, I maybe found a crust form that I like. I’ve had such a hard time getting the crust in an aesthetically pleasing shape for English’s individual pies. I’ll give the ramekins one more shot before switching to my faithful William-Sonoma mini pie set.
  • Lessons learned: Ingredients matter. One apple was a fresh and perfect Fuji, the other a leftover from a Panera lunch with my mom. Guess which stood the test of time (i.e. stovetop simmering). And, of course, I’m happiest with my pie if I’ve made it for loved ones.

Side Dish – Egg White Quiche with Gluten Free Crust
Side Dish Egg White QuicheWe had the pleasure of hosting friends from Christ Church Berkeley last week. Lydia now lives two neighborhoods over from us and is allergic to poultry. Zach is still in Berkeley but often treks down to Stanford for collaboration; he’s gluten free. With this in mind, I made an egg white quiche in Wholly Gluten Free crust. I must give credit to another Berkeley friend, Sarah, who introduced me to this Whole Food’s find. This is my favorite pre-made pie crust. This is a big deal because (a) I’ve gotten rather insistent about homemade crust the past few years and (b) that’s right, it’s gluten free and vegan.

Enough about the crust – let’s dive into the filling. I was pretty pleased with the ingredients that I happened to have on hand from miscellaneous cooking, baking, and snacking.

  • Corn on the cob, microwaved then shucked and cut
  • Bacon, chopped and fried
  • Red onion, diced then caramelized with bacon grease and a dash of raw sugar
  • Trader Joe’s Cheddar & Gruyere Melange and Creamy Toscano Cheese Soaked in Syrah, both shredded
  • Egg whites, from the creme brulee
  • Exactly half a cup of cream, again from creme brulee

I completely forgot the salt and pepper but it’s a very good thing I did! With all those fillings, it was plenty flavorful. A bit of sweet and savory in every bite. We started the evening with salad from Lyds and wine from Zach. We ended with Mark’s cherries jubilee and copious amounts of ice cream. Really, we demolished an entire container.

 Week Six – Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie with Candied Pumpkin Seeds
Pie Week 6All Sunday long I kept saying to Mark, “I’m making pumpkin pie! I’ve never made pumpkin pie before. I’m making my first pumpkin pie!” I’m glad he found this endearing (or tolerable – he never asked me to stop).

For the auspicious occasion of my first pumpkin pie, I went all out. We selected our squashes at the farmers market based on this article, which recommends Red Kuri and Kabocha rather than the iconic Sugar Pumpkin. I roasted one of each and made quite a mess. My mother-in-law was on hand (by the way, the Langers visited) to answer questions, dry dishes, and munch on any unused squash. It was a long and, again I say, messy process, but well worth it.

We initially dug into the pie with my in-laws and mom after dinner at our place. Then we finished it off the next evening pumpkin carving with Ben and Erica. Don’t worry, we watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Hocus Pocus meanwhile.

Pie Week 6 Result

  • Date:  October 18, 2015
  • Likelihood of repeat:  Almost certain. With alterations, but yes, please, again. In fact, this morning I made a mini one for my professor.
  • Pluses:  We waited the full hour to serve, but the pie was still delightfully warm. Everyone has loved the gingersnap crust. I’m grateful I had the time to roast and puree the squash myself (I’m sure that won’t always be the case). The Red Kuri and Kabocha squashes were wonderful for color, texture, and flavor.
  • Deltas:  Chopped pecans instead of pumpkin seeds next time for a crunchy top. The pumpkin seeds got, as Ben put it, leathery.
  • Lessons learned:  I like pumpkin pie! Who knew? Also, cookie crusts aren’t the easiest, but can be worthwhile. I might have Mark help next time (he has plenty of experience with graham cracker and Oreo crusts).

Side Dish Mini Gingersnap PumpkinTo conclude, here’s the cooling mini gingersnap pumpkin pie I made for my biology professor early this morning. By the time I got to class, stray gingersnap crumbs decoratively arranged themselves over any unsightly bubbles. Gingersnap for the win. Stay tuned for Salted Pecan Mini Tarts and Chai Spice Apple Pie!

Thank you, Jessica, for telling me that you stumbled upon this blog. Your encouragement was just what I needed to get back to posting.