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Practice Makes Perfect Pie!

May 13, 2012

Pie Crust


Ian with 9 Pies, 2007


Thanksgiving 2008


“Best in Show” 2012

If I were to use a sports analogy to describe my cooking practice it would be more of a “Hail Mary” pass style of cooking rather than “Playbook Perfection” style.  Cooking for me has always been a “throw it to the wall and see what sticks” kind of adventure.  Dinner party for 10?  No problem, perfect time to try out some new recipes.  Sometimes this laissez faire technique lands the meal smack into the winner’s circle and sometimes the meal gets sent back to the minors.  I know that practice will always increase success but generally my attention wanders and the fresh recipe or trend calls to me leaving the previous endeavor benched.

This same lack of practice holds true with pie making.  I have great respect for pie bakers and some of my dearest friends are pie all-stars, it has always left me a little intimidated.  One of my favorite community events is the annual Pie Party.  This event now in it’s 9th year has grown into a beautiful celebration of pie, community and FUNdraising.  I have flirted with this party for years.  Several years ago we even prepared all the pies for the event (almost 200) in my very own kitchen.  I learned that my oven can hold 9 pies at a time!  As you might imagine the Pie Party continues to grow in popularity.  To meet pie demand the organizers, Ian and Turtle decided to open the pie baking up to their friends and neighbors.  The Pie Party had become a Pie Contest.   I wanted to enter real contenders but true to style, I wouldn’t decide until game day what type of pie to enter.  It was always a pie I had never made before.  This year my coach and chief pie taster gently suggested a new strategy.   Since the early days of our union I have baked a savory artichoke pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  Each year I tweak the recipe and gently improve it.  Fortuitously the pie party fell right in the middle of artichoke season.  I had a surplus of artichokes from our CSA from which I made my own marinated artichoke hearts.  I was ready for the Big Leagues.  I was hoping that this unusual pie might land me in the playoffs, I was thrilled beyond measure to learn that the Artichoke Pie had won “Best in Show”!

What does this mean for my cooking game?  I think I will probably still throw a few “Hail Mary’s”- after all, along with the award winning pie, I also submitted a brand new loquat pie.  I decided on this after harvesting a bag from around the neighborhood without knowing much about the fruit or how it would bake in a crust.  However, now that I’ve got a ribbon on the scoreboard I might have to work on the ol’ playbook a little more.  Luckily with the …and be merry! Supper Clubs I get the opportunity to experiment and perfect multiple recipes before sharing them with guests.  Maybe the Artichoke Pie will appear at one of the dinners, until then here is the recipe to try it yourself.

Artichoke Pie Recipe (adapted from “365 Ways to Cook Vegetarian”)

1 Double crust pie dough

1 (6-ounce) jar marinate artichoke hears, coarsely chopped

1/2 pound of mushrooms, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon finely diced sun-dried tomatoes (or chipotles)

4 eggs

2 cups shredded sharp provolone cheese)

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Roll out half of the pie dough to fit your pie plate.
  2. In a large frying pan, cook marinated artichoke hearts, mushrooms and garlic over medium heat until mushrooms are barely tender, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly.  Mix in provolone cheese and cayenne.  Stir in artichoke mixture.  Pour filling into reserved pie shell.  Cover with rolled out second shell.  Crimp edges of pie to seal.  With a sharp knife, make 4 slits in center of top shell.
  4. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until crust is golden.  Serve hot or at room temperature.
5 Comments leave one →
  1. Lilly permalink
    May 14, 2012 4:43 pm

    Such a beautiful pie, Lori! I am thrilled I got to taste it too. I am excited to see the recipe- can’t wait to try it. Now, how to get a perfect crust in this AZ heat!

    • May 17, 2012 6:22 pm

      Thanks Lilly, Arizona is no friend to pie crust perfection. Mine is in the freezer before baking. What is your technique?

  2. Lorraine Glazar permalink
    May 17, 2012 3:45 pm

    Hi Lori, congratulations on Best of Show! Do you think the top crust is necessary? I’d like to try it as more of a tart or a quiche. Lorraine

    • May 17, 2012 6:19 pm

      Thanks Lorraine! This pie is like a quiche so I think leaving off the top crust would work. Watch the baking time so the top doesn’t overcook. The color of the filling might be an issue for presentation sake. I usually serve it for Thanksgiving and the top crust adds some hardiness required as the main dish.

      Let me know how it turns out!

  3. Lorraine Glazar permalink
    June 4, 2012 11:15 pm

    Hi Lori,
    I made it for Sunday night family dinner and it turned out great! Borrowed the idea of using a pastry decoration in the middle, which made it look presentable. Truly delicious and my nomination for the All-Star game!

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