Thursday, September 17, 2009

(Yet) More About Pie

Cherry Street Farmers Market Pie Contest 2009

Maybe you didn't already know, but I have a thing about pie. (Don't believe me? See here, here and here. That'll teach you to be incredulous.)

Once fall hits, it's not unusual for me to make at least one pie a week. I think this fall is going to be special, though, because the season hasn't even landed and I made two - count 'em - two pies last week.

Patty Pan Pie

I made two pies not for the sake of eating them (though don't worry, they didn't exactly go to waste), but because I needed to practice for the 2009 Cherry Street Farmers Market pie contest.

2008 Pie Contest

I had my heart set on entering this year. I wanted to take part in the 2008 contest, but a six-month-old and training for last year's Tulsa Run rained on pie-baking my parade.

Pie Contest 2008

Fast forward to last Tuesday night, the night before my pie was due at the Brookside Farmers Market bright and early at 8am. I'd just eaten the last slice of a patty pan squash pie, the recipe for which was written by my favorite farmer friend, Chelsea Coleman, and I just couldn't get past the whole veggies-in-my-pie schtick. It seems so wrong, so weird, so, well, gross.

Patty Pan Pie

But if you've ever eaten a veggie pie of the sweet variety, you know that it's not wrong, it's not weird and it most definitely is not gross.

Since the patty pan squash recipe wasn't exactly mine, and since I had a load of sweet potatoes from Chelsea and her husband Don's farm, I thought, duh, make a sweet potato pie, Tasha - come up with a magical, life-changing recipe and take this pie contest home in a bunny sack.

It's the only way.

Cherry Street Farmers Market Pie Contest 2009

However - and however is the operative word here - it didn't go down as easily as I had imagined it would. At the risk of public humiliation and the deconstruction of my self-identification as a domestic goddess, I must confess that I suffered a pie crust fail.

Lordy. My ears, they are a burnin'. How could I think I was above the power of pie weights? Because I'm not. I am so not.

Pie Fail

See? Ugh. I'm so embarrassed.

So, there went the pie contest. After struggling to write a sweet potato pie recipe that wouldn't taste like a pumpkin pie wannabe and using the cranky toddler wrapped around my ankles to mop the kitchen floor, I was not about to go through all the hoo-ha that making your basic, from-scratch pie crust requires a second time in one evening.

So. I went to bed.

More Pie Fail

The pie contest came and went, and I sulked. All I had to show for my efforts was a bag full of sweet potato pie filling in the fridge, a shriveled crust and a bruised ego.

So, the next morning, I mashed some of my kid's graham crackers with some sugar and melted butter, pressed it into a pie pan, squeezed my pie filling from its Ziploc bag into the pan, stuck the whole mess in the oven and called it a day.

And you know what? It wasn't a bad pie. Not a bad pie at all.

Cherry Street Farmers Market Pie Contest 2009

I will never enter this pie in a pie contest. I'd rather come up with something original, up-to-date - intrepid, even. Anyone ever had a gummy bear pie?

My son is practically holding me at gun point for a gummy bear pie - actually, anything edible (or not, really) made with gummy bears would suit him just fine.

Cherry Street Farmers Market Pie Contest 2009

I'd like for you all to have my sweet potato pie recipe.

It's for those of you who like your sweet veggie pies to have a little kick (bourbon!). It's also for those of you who wish you had more chances to wear your "roomy" jeans because, gosh, they just look so neglected there, hanging in the shadows in the back of the closet.

Of course, I recommend Bootstrap Farm sweet potatoes for this recipe. They baked up nice and sweet, and they're a great size right now. They're pretty inexpensive, too - about $2 per pound. Catch them at the Cherry Street Farmers Market every Saturday morning, 7-11am, from now until October, or at the Brookside Farmers Market, 8am-12pm.

Another thing: There's nothing quite like the warm fuzzies you get knowing you are nourishing your fat stores as well as your heart with locally, responsibly grown produce, especially when that produce was grown by a couple of really nice folks. It makes you want to send them Facebook messages (read: love notes) in the middle of the night about how you cooked their peppers with dinner that night or how kick-ass their cantaloupes are.

Wait. You didn't know there was a fan culture in farming? I'm here to tell you there is. Oh, boy, is there. It might be all me, but it's there.

Cherry Street Farmers Market Pie Contest 2009

Tasha's Bootstrap Farm Sweet Potato Pie
Serves 8-10

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs (made from about 7.5 oz. graham crackers, finely ground in a processor)
3 Tbsp. sugar
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

2 c. mashed, roasted and slightly cooled sweet potato (from about 5 medium-sized spuds)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. table salt
3 Tbsp. bourbon
1 Tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c. whole milk
1/4-1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar

First, let's get the crust cookin'. Turn the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor with with a pastry cutter, blend crumbs, sugar and butter until the mixture starts to hold just hold together. Press crust into a nine-inch pie plate, saving enough mixture to work up the sides. Pop the crust into the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until it starts to firm and brown slightly. Set aside to cool.

Now for the filling: Mash together potato and butter - don't worry about getting it as smooth as Antonio Banderas or anything. Lumps are OK. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs (gradually! If your potatoes are too hot, the eggs will scramble if they're added too quickly), yolks, sugar, nutmeg, salt, bourbon, molasses, vanilla and milk. Add slowly to the potato mixture. Set aside.

Sprinkle brown sugar in the bottom on the graham cracker crust. Pour filling into crust. Put pie in the center of a rack placed in the center of the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the filling is set around the edges but a little jiggly in the center. Cool the pie on a rack to room temperature, then refrigerate. Once pie is chilled, cover. Or, serve up a slice of that bad boy with some home-whipped cream and freshly ground nutmeg. Yum, yum.


Traveling Spork said...

I never noticed how interesting your forks are...

Traveling Spork said...

OH! And thanks for the tip on what to get you for your birthday. If you buy yourself anything mentioned in this post, you won't get what's been residing in my closet for you for the past 3 months. Yeah, that's a threat.

silver star said...

Have you been to Sushi Train at 51st and Harvard? A dessert they offer is something your son will probably like, it's rice crispy treats wrapped w/a fruit roll-up (looks like sushi) and they're topped with gummy bears. They offer a kid's menu and many non-sushi items as well, so if you don't like sushi, you still have choices.

Bootstrap Farmers said...

I'm glad you're roasting the taters, I think that would add such a great flavor. I love whiskey too, can't hurt to add a little, and don't forget some for yourself in the tradition of Julia Child! btw, the sweet potatoes have treated us so well we've dropped the price to $1.50/lb !

Thanks Tasha for being part of the farmer fan club!


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