September 27, 2012

Better-Than-Sex French Silk Pie

In the middle of a rather trying work week, as I was reading the last 100 pages of Beth Howard’s memoir Making Piece, I was overwhelmed with a pie craving. All of Howard’s talk of the healing powers of pie finally got to me: I NEEDED to make pie. I was feeling a little sad (and angry) that evening, so I raided the kitchen for pie ingredients. A small bag of frozen strawberries wasn’t going to cut it, but I did have a can of pumpkin puree in the pantry...mixed with a couple eggs, some milk, sugar, and spices...and a pumpkin pie was in the oven in less than 30 minutes. The pie was an homage to the approaching autumn, which I am looking forward to after a miserably hot and dry summer. The golden pumpkin pie came out of the oven at 8:30 that night. I stayed up reading until it was cool enough to slice and eat.

And you know what? I felt better. There is definitely something to this pie therapy. As Howard says, "Pie may not cure cancer, but it could cure the blues."

But, I’ve always been smitten with pie. Even though I learned to make pie crust several years ago, I am still so happy every time I make a start off with a bunch of individual ingredients and end up with something that I made from scratch with my own hands, something that is an entity in and of itself, that is completely different from the pile of things I started out with. Flour, salt, butter, and water become a tender, flaky, golden crust. Fruit, sugar, and cornstarch become a sweet, sticky filling. It's a comfort to create something that makes people happy. The fact that it tastes good doesn't hurt either.

I get it, Beth. I really do. (And yes, we are on a first name basis now. More on that in a couple months. *wink*)

In fact, I get a lot of what Beth was feeling about life and love and loss. And sex. She talks about sex pretty frequently. Of course, sex and food are often closely linked in terms of satisfaction. Pie really is quite sexy (the words itself is sexy.....say it soft and slow..... p i e ). Also, ALL THE PUNS. See...?

September 3, 2012

Honey Plum Clafoutis

I recently read Susan Loomis's memoir On Rue Tatin, her story of "living and cooking in a French town." It is a quaint tale, one filled with walks to the local p√Ętisserie & boulangerie, shopping at the farmers market, trips to Paris, and eating meals outside in the courtyard...all while renovating a historic country home. Her chapters are, like most food memoirs, punctuated with recipes inspired by the local fare & contributed by neighbors and friends.

Near the end of my reading, I was motivated to buy a little metal table and chairs for my front porch so that I could take my meals outside. I picked up some small, deep purple plums at my local farmers market (which I'm lucky enough to have just a few blocks from my house) and decided to make the clafoutis recipe Loomis included in her book. She writes:
I was standing in line to buy pears at the market in Louviers from a handsome young pear grower. The elderly woman next to me was being very choosy about the state of her pears and their variety, and I asked her what she was going to do with them. "I'm going to make a clafoutis," she said with a mischievous look. "Oh, no. Everyone who tastes it says it is the best they've ever eaten."
The addition of honey is what Loomis says makes this recipe unique. The technique is also different that the traditional clafoutis I've seen; instead of mixing the batter in a blender, it is folded with whisked egg whites. The result is a kind of double-layered dessert...custard & fruit on the bottom with cake on the top.

Honey Plum Clafouti