by Alicia Lieu
I have very limited memories of pie from my childhood. In my family, fruit was mostly consumed as a dessert or snack, always in its raw form, and never cooked. Pie was something I associated with my Strawberry Shortcake Atari game where I had to avoid the bad guy, the Purple Pie Man. I discovered Marie Callender’s pies sometime during high school and I became addicted to their Fresh Strawberry pie.
When I moved to New York, when people talked about what to do for dinner, they would talk about ordering a pie. I was confused at first, until I realized that they meant a pizza pie. In California, we just called it a pizza. Since then, my pie palette has been opened up to different cultures. Spinach pie, meat pies, quiches, shepherd’s pie, and more. Now when I receive an invitation to a holiday meal, I wonder if there will be pie. I usually ask, because if pie is not being provided, then I’ll bring one.
Baking one is out of the question since the pie crust, assembly, and baking of it requires some patience and expertise, and I don’t have that within me. I do, however, know where to buy pies. Although it may sound a bit generic, Costco makes pretty darn good pies. Not to mention that they are at least twice the size of anybody’s face.
There are a couple of places in New York to get savory pies: Pie Face, Tuck Shop, and The Little Pie Company. Momofuku used to be my go-to, but now sweet pies are more abundant in NYC.Tons of pie shops are springing up in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is a bit out of my way, so on the recommendation of foodie Henry Cheng, I tried Petee’s Pie Company on the Lower East Side. Let me tell you, this pie is worth skipping out on other outings. It beats going to a bar or any fancy dessert bar. It’s my top pick right now. Petee’s Pies have perfectly buttery crusts, not to mention that they are made with organic ingredients. That woman knows how to bake the perfect pies! I’m not sure why I only let myself eat pie around the holidays. I should make it a year-round tradition! Pumpkin pie on other days besides Thanksgiving and Christmas would be a really great way to get vitamins A and B into my diet!
I am including recipes for a savory pie and a sweet pie. The savory pie comes from Lea Leong Ringler of Cookin’ With Whatcha Got. This pie would make any holiday or festive event memorable. The sweet pie comes from my coworker, Joshua Arfer, who makes a magical blueberry pie. He’s a good version of a Purple Pie Man.
Chicken and Leek Pie
Lea Leong Ringler: Living in England, we’ve quickly been introduced to the amazing variety of savory pies. As the autumn and winter months come, nothing is more comforting than a warm, hearty pie topped with flaky pastry. I make it easy and use store-bought pastry dough. It’s a simple dish made in one pot (transferred to a pie dish for baking), which can be modified with the vegetables that you have in your fridge.
2T olive oil
2 chicken breasts cut in 1 inch dice
2 leeks, sliced
2 carrots, diced
1 clove garlic
1-2 potatoes, diced
1 refrigerated/frozen pie crust or puff pastry
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
Spray a pie dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375F. Boil potatoes in water until tender. Add olive oil to large pan, brown the chicken, then add leeks, garlic, carrots, and herbs. Add butter to pan, then stir in flour. Let cook for one minute. Continue stirring and add chicken broth and milk. Let the mixture thicken. Drain and add potatoes to chicken mixture. Add salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the pie dish. Top with pastry, sealing the edges and cutting slits in the center in order to let steam escape. Use extra pastry to decorate the top. Brush pastry with milk. Bake pie for 45-50 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm.
Blueberry Crumb Pie
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
8 cups (about 4 pints) blueberries, picked over
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest of a whole lemon
1/2 tablespoon Cinnamon
• l tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one disk of dough to a 12-inch round. With a dry pastry brush, sweep off excess flour; fit dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate, pressing it into the edges. Trim dough to a 1/2-inch overhang all around. Fold edge of dough over or under. Chill pie shell until firm, about 30 minutes.
Place blueberries in a large bowl. With your hands, crush about 1/2 cup of berries, letting them fall into the bowl as you work. Add sugar, butter, cornstarch, flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, ginger and cinnamon; stir to combine. Spoon mixture into chilled pie shell, mounding berries slightly in the center
Refrigerate pie until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in lower third.
Place pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until crust begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking, rotating sheet halfway through, until crust is deep golden brown and juices are bubbling and have thickened, 40 to 50 minutes more. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely. The pie is best eaten the day it is baked, but it can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.
Pâte Brisée (for 2 pie crusts)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup chilled unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
Place flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor; pulse to combine, about 30 seconds.
Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. While pulsing, slowly pour in 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water; process until dough begins to come together. Divide dough in half; shape into two disks. Wrap in plastic; chill at least 1 hour before using.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup light-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
In a bowl, mix 1-1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup light-brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and cinnamon.
Cut 1-1/2 sticks chilled unsalted butter into pieces. With your hands, work in butter pieces, until large clumps form. Divide mixture in half; freeze in plastic storage bags.