Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"hon, i need a little help with the pie"

i am a huge fan of cooking and experimenting in the kitchen; however, baking is what i love the most. i don't think i'm great at baking, but i'm good, and i'm better than the average bear. considering the average bear consists of people whose jaws drop open when they see something i've baked and exclaim, "you mean you made that from scratch? you didn't use a box mix?", then yeah i'm better than that. but i'm not excellent. and i'd so like to be.

okay okay, so you'd think being half french and half nut (or maybe those two together make up the same half) that i'd be really good at pies. i'll let you in on a leettle secret: i'm not. and do you know why? because i'm afraid of pie crust, the same way i was mortally afraid of yeast until not so long ago and now i just love making bread. yep yep. pie crust just seems so daunting, dammit. the few times i've tried my hand at it (years ago), i failed miserably. the crust would shrink, or i'd have pre-baked it too long, or i didnt have beans/rice/pie weights so the thing would turn out puffy AND burned. i'm slowly working myself up to start making pie crust again, because what good French Tart doesnt know how to make crust?

i think it was martha stewart (insert snarly face here) who said that you just have to keep practicing, practicing, practicing. so maybe i should add this to my culinary goals list and just start practicing on a regular basis. after all, it's cheap to make.

so without any warning at all, i got kickstarted into pie mode earlier this week when the boy decided to make me a lemon meringue pie. he's good, my boy. so he's all in the kitchen pottering around and suddenly i hear, "hon, i need a little help with the pie". so i go in there and he's busy rolling out pie dough, and it looks fantastic (he didn't really need my help after all). it looks smashing. it looks great. even though i don't have much hands-on experience with pie dough, i have read up a lot on the matter in the past year in preparation for whenever it was i was going to launch myself into it, so i now know a thing or two about the stuff. for instance, the best way to transport rolled-out dough to your pan is to loosely roll it around the pin and bring it over. it's also in your best interest to not pull on the dough, but just lightly goad it into place between all the flutes in the pan sides. and no stretching! if you stretch your dough, it will only cause shrinkage while cooking, and shrinkage is not a good thing. so together, the boy and i got the dough into the tart pan and crimped the edges (not very professionally, but by then we were having a good time, or at least i was). in preparation for said D-Day Of Pie Making (whenever that was going to be), i bought pie weights last summer, so those went into the the tart shell once the boy lined it with parchment. this step is important, as you'll need to haul the pie weights out somehow once the shell is done baking. so into the oven that went, and after a certain amount of time, out of the oven it came. and then we had a few hilarious moments where mishaps nearly occurred as we attempted to haul the pie weights out of the now-baked shell.

anyway, the finished product is amazing. i just love the browned peaks and valleys of baked meringue; i find that very beautiful.



i think my next endeavour will be quiche. i've actually kind of mastered quiche (the filling), not that it's rocket science or anything, but you know. i just need to master the shell. and then we'll talk.

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