Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Berries (Blue + Black + Straw) = Pi

My attempt at making a pi symbol in the crust.
It's the day again.  The day that we eagerly await all year, the excitement building as it gets closer, writing and re-writing our letters to Euclid hoping that he'll leave presents in the pie tins we leave sitting out on our kitchen tables.  Yes, today is Pi Day, March 14th, in honor of the irrational constant that represents the ratio of any circle's circumference to its diameter - 3.1419526, oh, you know the rest.
To celebrate this momentous day, I have broken out my Pi Day t-shirt made in 8th grade for Mrs. Conway's Algebra class.  Alright, can I just say this, to get it out of the way?  I love Algebra.  I know, I just graduated with a degree in English Creative Writing, which means that I should have a natural aversion to mathematics and science, but I love Algebra and Physics and Chemistry.  Finding x, God, I could spend all day finding x.  Whew!  I feel so much better now that that's off my chest.  I actually just got finished helping my brother with his factoring homework, and I felt momentarily fulfilled by the simple multiplication.  I think its the simplicity.  And the idea that there's an definite answer.  You are able to come to a conclusion, to finish, to accomplish something with a bit of easy and simple logic.  Sigh, if only life were as simple as foiling.

It being Pi Day and all, what to make for dinner was a no brainer - just like the square root of 65,536 - I made not one, but two pies.  I mean, for God's sake, it's Pi Day!  It only comes once a year, and what better way to celebrate than with sweet and savory pies.  To be honest, I think that pie may be the perfect food.  Yeah, I said it, the perfect food.  There's a pie for every season, occasion, meal, taste, temperature.  Fruit pies, custard pies, pot pies, quiche, spanakopita, meat pies.  There are so many variations, that you really could just live on pies for the rest of your life if you wanted to - and let's be real, who wouldn't?

When I was little, I used to hate the crusts and would just scrape out the sweet gooey filling, leaving a shelled-out carcass of dough. As I grew and my horizons were broadened, I embraced the flaky, buttery, crunchy texture that crusts add to the pie.  However, my focus still remains on the filling, so I usually make a one crust pie (either a bottom or top crust).

Speaking of crusts, a doughy crust is the worst.  I don't think I've mentioned my bitter hatred for soggy things - wow, you're learning a whole lot about me today.  Cereal that's been sitting too long, cookies dunked in milk, socks wet from the rain, and especially soggy pie dough.  That's why I tend toward a top crust, which insures maximum golden brown flakiness.  However, when baking ridiculously over-stuffed pies - like the berry one I made tonight - two crust are sometimes necessary.  And don't scoff at the store-bought crusts.  If you have the time and energy to make a crust from scratch, awesome.  But the frozen ones are quick and easy, especially the roll out kind, because you can mold them into whatever size or shape you need.  Plus, always having a couple crusts in the freezer is perfect for spontaneous pie making.

Seafood Pot Pie
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 cup carrots, roughly chopped 
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
1 20 oz container of cut, uncooked butternut squash
1 tbs rosemary leaves
1 tbs thyme
2 tbs fresh basil, cut into strips
4 cups vegetable broth
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup frozen corn
1 bag frozen seafood medley (a la Trader Joe's)
2 tbs cold butter, cut into cubes
3 tbs all-purpose flour
1 sheet frozen pie crust
salt and pepper to taste
Golden-crusted Seafood Pie
+ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
+ In a large pot or sauce pan, saute onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in olive oil over low-medium heat.
+ Once the veggies become translucent, add the sweet potato and butternut squash.  Then add the rosemary, thyme, basil, and salt and pepper.  Saute for a few minutes, or until the onion, celery, and carrot just begin to brown.
+ Add the vegetable broth, cover, and turn the heat to medium-high.  Cook until the potato and squash are fork tender.  If the broth begins to boil, turn heat down so that it maintains a simmer.
+ Stir in the peas, corn, and seafood.  Turn the heat up slightly.  Taste and season accordingly.
+ In a measuring cup, fork together the butter and flour, until it gets a crumbly texture.  Spoon in a few tablespoons of broth from the pot.  Mix together until a thick rue begins to form, add more broth or more flour if needed (it should look like pancake batter).
+ Slowly pour the rue into the pot, stirring constantly, until desired thickness is reached.  If too thin, just mix a bit of flour and broth in the measuring cup.  If too thick, add a bit of water.
+ On a lightly floured surface, roll out the crust so that it's large enough to cover a 9x13 baking dish.
+ Pour the filling into the baking dish.  Cover with crust, poking a few holes in the top.
+ Bake for an hour, or until the crust is golden brown.

Triple Berry Orange Ginger Pie
1 pint blueberries
1 pint blackberries
1 pint strawberries, quartered
1 tbs fresh ginger, grated
¼  cup honey
¼  cup all-purpose flour
½ orange, juice and zest
2 sheets pie crust

+ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
+ Put all the berries in a large bowl.  Gently fold in the ginger, honey, flour, juice, and zest.  Cover and refrigerate while completing next steps.
+ Unroll one pie crust into a pie pan.  Fill with pie weights or beans, and bake for 7-10 minutes, just before the crust begins to brown.
+ On a lightly floured surface, roll out the second crust so that its about two inches wider than the pan.
+ Fill cooked crust with berries, then place the rolled out crust on top.  Cut any excess dough from the edges, and secure the crust tightly around the edges.
+ Bake for an hour, or until the crust is golden brown.  Serve with vanilla ice cream, fresh whipped cream, or a tall flute of bubbly.

1 comment:

  1. Those look amazing- especially the berry pie. They are obviously far superior to cakes. I don't think I've had pie since making it in September. Wow, I'm definitely going to want that (in addition to a slew of other flavors I've been craving) when I come home.