Sweet as Pi(e) Day
Pi or Pie Day, either way you look at it, it’s sweet, right? Well it doesn’t have to be, and who says it has to be round; unless you’re calculating area or volume of a column, cone, or sphere or just a plain circle. What other pies are there out there? Well, there’s tomato pie…head on down to Belton, SC, more specifically Saylors Crossroads to our friends Heidi & Joe Trull at Grits and Groceries. They’ll be cooking up a mess of pies tomorrow and not all of them sweet. They’re known for Hattie Mae’s Tomato Pie, a concoction of fresh tomatoes layered with cheese, fresh basil and what not, in one of Joe’s handmade pastry crusts. Then there’s Joe’s famous hand pies, fruit flavored and delicious. Don’t forget Saturday Brunch and tomorrow it’s Pork Pot Pie aka “Piggy Pie.” Yum!
Now, if you’re up to your eyeballs in snow in New England, like some bakers such as Sandy, you’ll be making Whoopie Pies. I’m not sure why Whoopie Pies are a New England tradition, but they’re a treasured treat. I have a recipe for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies that’s very easy and delicious. You can find them in just about any flavor these days. The original is a moist chocolate cake with a cream cheese based buttercream filling. I’ve made them before with a shortening based buttercream. Sometimes this is necessary if you’re needing the treats to hold up to travel or extreme conditions, such as the hands of toddlers.
What about a few savory pies? Well, in addition to tomato pie, you have all flavors of pot pies. Some versions call for two pastry crusts sandwiching a creamy stew of meat (chicken, turkey, beef, veal or pork) and vegetables such as peas, celery, and carrots. Personally, I’ll spruce up the gravy with fresh herbs to give it some spunk. It’s a comfort food. Some people use biscuit dough for their crust and this is perfectly acceptable as well. Don’t forget the pizza pie too. This is where the creative shapes come in. Does a square pizza taste better than a round one? You be the judge, but if you make it yourself, it’s bound to be delicious, even if it is shaped like an amoeba.
After a search of my recipe database I also came up with Sour Cream Apple Pie. A Malik favorite in the fall when apple season is at its peak. This one is a sturdy pie baked in a spring form pan. Layers of crisp apple slices are joined with sour cream custard and topped with a cinnamon crumble. This pie tastes exponentially better when made with the apples you picked yourself from the Blue Ridge Mountains.
On to more famous pies, Momofuku Milk Bar is known for their Pi Day antics and their out of this world dessert. Their “Crack Pie” is to die for, like street candy, you can’t put it down. My son recently made the recipe out of our Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook and was salivating during the making of the dessert. I think he over anticipated, because he was somewhat let down at the end. I think the reason was because, being from the South, we are used to chess or buttermilk pies which are just eggs, sugar and vanilla thrown in a pie crust and allowed to bake to a custardy goodness. New Yorkers can have their Crack Pie, bless their hearts. Now, on the subject of Southern pie, there’s another one that’s famous too, and that’s Derby Pie. Having been born in Louisville, I can say that the bourbon, chocolate and pecans (pronounced properly as pah-cons) married to the chess-like custard filling of the Derby Pie is THE BOMB! I mean, who can ignore that flavor combination? Oh, and it’s almost Derby time now, so go ahead and break out the pie tins. Spring is horse racing season.
A couple of more suggestions: Mountain Pie – an eggless pastry baked around sweetened fruit. It’s best served warm with ice cream and using fresh fruits of the season. A fond memory of childhood is my grandmother or mother making these when we returned from an afternoon of bury- dew, black or blue in mountains. They are easy to put together and the list of ingredients is essentially all that you have in your pantry.
So, whatever you choose for your Pi (e) day celebration, don’t forget to eat it at 9:26…that’s 3.1415926. Happy Pi Day!