Thursday, May 31, 2012

It's All About the Pie

My friend Beth Howard has written this book, and it's terrific.  I first met Beth through her blog theworldneedsmorepie.  A friend had "liked" it on Facebook, and I started reading; her story is captivating, but even though there is sadness in this book there is never that "neediness" tone that I find in so many of these memoir type books (I'm talking to you Eat, Pray, Love lady)  I wrote to Beth when she posted that she'd finished her manuscript and it was at the editors and told her I couldn't wait to read the book, and  serendipitously,  she was in San Diego that weekend, and we met for lunch.  Seated next to San Diego Bay on a Chamber of Commerce day here, we talked, and talked, and a friendship began.
Her "baby" was birthed in March, and for the past few months she has been on a non-stop book tour in an RV.

 I will not give Beth's whole story away, but the book is about how she dealt with the unspeakable grief that followed the sudden death of her husband Marcus; she turned to making pie, and ended up at the American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa, (going back to the state she was born in!) opened the Pitchfork Pie Stand and sells pies on the weekends to tourists and visitors to Eldon.  Now that the book is out, I have a feeling the population in Eldon quadruples on the weekends!

 Here's Beth with one of her creations---doesn't she look great? I think this photo was taken when it was 30 degrees that day---she's still smiling!!  Beth's signature pie is apple, but she makes an assortment of pies at the pie stand, depending on the availability of fruit.  My biggest take away from our lunch was that pie doesn't have to be perfect---that's for the frozen wonders you buy at the supermarket.  Your own pie should be messy--life is messy, and so is pie!
Since I finished the book, I've been wanting to make a pie; first I thought I'd make an apple pie, then key lime was calling my name, but today I had some leftover strawberries, and I was reminded of the crostata that my cousins make in Italy.  Crostata is a jam tart, usually apricot, but it can be any jam, or thickened fruit.  There is usually a lattice top (eyes glazing over) and the tart is cooked in a tart pan with a removable bottom.  This recipe is from my mother's cousin Vera who gave me the recipe in Italian, with the metric measurements; I found a way through trial and error to make it work, and the crust itself is pushed into the tart pan, and then the lattice is rolled out and transferred to top of the fruit filling.  The crust is very forgiving, and even if the lattice falls apart, it will cook itself together in the oven---not to worry, and it doesn't need to be woven, another plus.

Serves 10

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
3 large egg yolks
2 cups sliced strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 apricot jam
confectioners' sugar
Vanilla ice cream or gelato to serve

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat the inside of a 10-inch tart pan with non-stick cooking spray.  
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade combine the flour and sugar, and pulse on and off to distribute.  
Place the butter on top of the flour mixture, and pulse on and off until the mixture resembles meal.  

 With the machine running, add the eggs, and process just until the mixture begins to come together.
Transfer 1/2 of the mixture to the prepared tart pan, and press into the pan using a small rolling pan and plastic wrap.
Wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate while making the filling.
In a small saucepan, heat the berries, sugar and lemon juice, until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat and add the apricot jam.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared crust.

Dust a board lightly with confectioner's sugar, and roll out the second piece of dough.
I use a huge silicone mat for rolling pie dough----easy to clean, and goes into the dishwasher. 
Cut the dough into strips about 3/4-inch wide.  Lift the strips with a long off-set spatula onto the pie, beginning in the middle and working your way out.  Then lattice the remaining pieces setting them over the other pieces on the pie.  Cut off any excess dough.  Sift a bit of confectioner's sugar over the pie, and
It's not perfect, but it's a pie!

bake for 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 375 degrees and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes until the pie is golden brown on top and bubbling.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Remove from the tart pan, and transfer to a serving dish.  Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream. 

 I hope you'll pick up a copy of Making Piece, it's a terrific book, and there are recipes for some darn good pies at the end. 

1 comment:

  1. Love Beth's blog and her book, too.
    She has spunk. Remember the line from the Mary Tyler Moore show when Lou tells Mary that she has spunk. Of course, he does add that he hates spunk; but I love it.