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December 2, 2007

A savory pie for the first day of winter
Posted by Teresa at 03:47 PM *

Sausage, leek, and apple pie

4 large or 6 smaller leeks
2 large or 3 small tart Granny Smith apples
1 modest celery-root
a dab of chanterelle mushroom, if feasible
a pound or more of breakfast sausage or sweet Italian sausage
a generous pinch of saffron
several tbsp. of fine-gauge tapioca
a splash of dry sherry
butter, flour, salt, coarse pepper
pastry for a two-crust pie
Brown your sausage, chunking it into bits as it cooks, or slicing it up afterward if you’re using breakfast links.

While the sausage is browning, wash your leeks well, cut them lengthwise, and slice them into segments a third to a half inch long. Pare your celery-root and slice it finely. Wash and chop up your hoped-for bit of chanterelle. Put all three into a pot with just enough lightly-salted boiling water to barely cover them, and cook just a minute or two past the point where they wilt. Dump them into a colander, taking care to save the vegetable broth you strain off.

Peel and core your apples, then slice them into nice uniform slices about a quarter-inch thick. Meanwhile, when a fair amount of the vegetable broth has drained off, remove it to a small saucepan, crumble in a generous first-joint-of-your-thumb pinch of saffron, and leave it to steep over a low fire. As further broth drains off the vegetables, add it to the pot.

(Requisite maddeningly imprecise direction: If it looks like you have enough broth to fill a piepan, turn the fire up so it’ll reduce.) (Also: this is a good moment to start your oven at 425 F.)

Lay your bottom crust in the piepan. Scatter a couple of teaspoons of dry tapioca into the bottom of the pie. When it’s convenient, add two or three generous tablespoons of dry tapioca to the cooked vegetable mixture and stir it in gently. This is a good moment to correct the salting of the vegetables, if you need to do that.

Melt 3 tbsp. butter in a pan, sprinkle in 3 tbsp. of flour, and make a roux. If you’re getting a lot of broth and you have a big piepan, you can take it up to 4 and 4. When the roux is roux’d, whisk in the broth, yadda yadda, salt and coarse pepper, splash of sherry, yadda. Should be middling thick. Take the sauce off the fire and stir in the vegetables. If you have a cold spot on the floor underneath a loose-framed window, set it there—the crust will fare better if the filling isn’t too hot.

Dredge your apple slices lightly in flour and arrange them in compact overlapping circles in the bottom of the pie shell. One clinker-built layer is enough unless your piepan is deep; if not, and you have more than that, leave them out.* Top the apples with a well-packed layer of half of the leek mixture, or half as much as you’ll be using if you’ve made a lot. Lay on the sausage, pressing it in a bit. Top with the rest of the leek mixture. Mounding is good. Put on your top crust, crimp it well, cut a vent in the center, and put the pie in the oven.

Bake at 425 F. for fifteen minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 F. and continue baking until the edges of the crust haven’t burned yet. Avoid bending or torque when you take it out. Let it cool and set up a while, unless you’re too hungry to care about the filling being loose. Goes well with a chunk of sharp cheese and some chilled white wine.

(Soundtrack: First Snow on Brooklyn, from the Jethro Tull Christmas Album.)

[Recipe Index]

Comments on A savory pie for the first day of winter:
#1 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 05:43 PM:

This looks like it will be quite yummy--but as one who's been better at stews than pies, I have questions:

Is this for a 9-inch pie pan, or a 10-inch? Or does it really matter?

Is using store-bought pastry a sacrilege? And if not, is there a reliable brand that might do justice to the filling?

By the way...I always find my journeys to the Fluorosphere entertaining, enlightening, or (frequently) a combination of the two. Thank you!

#2 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 05:47 PM:

I want to eat this NOW. But I haven't got all the ingredients on hand, and I'm not inclined to go to the grocery store tonight.

I know what I'm making for dinner TOMORROW. I'll probably swipe two crusts' worth of pie pastry from the batch I made at work on Friday.

Nom nom nom.

#3 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 05:48 PM:

Teresa says: 9-inch or 10-inch, doesn't matter; and the pie Teresa made used a storeboughten crust.

#4 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 05:54 PM:

I'd say it would do better in a deep dish pie plate than in a shallow one. But that's just me.

#5 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 05:59 PM:

When you say "saffron", do you mean, y'know, saffron? 'Cause a generous pinch is pretty pricey.

#6 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 06:11 PM:

I was about to ask if the storebought pie crust would work just as well, but Patrick beat me to it.

Sounds yummilicious. I just read off the ingredients to my boyfriend, who is only dubious about the chantarelle. (I can't convert him to the mushrooms.) But since the rest of it sounds good, perhaps we can try it sometime this week.

#7 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 06:14 PM:

Why did you have to post this at 20:47pm GMT on a Sunday, exactly?

Now I can't get the ingredients and cook this for *five whole days* and I'm not sure if I can cope with the strain.

Dammit.

;}

#8 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 06:15 PM:

I think a generous pinch of saffron is a relative measure; three or four threads is a generous pinch, compared to the little fragment I might use for adding color to rice.

Or perhaps Teresa has a good bulk source and doesn't have to buy the itty containers found in spice aisles?

#9 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 06:23 PM:

This recipe sounds wonderful. I'm already thinking up ways to customize it! (E.g., drop the saffron, add sage and maybe thyme....)

#10 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 06:50 PM:

Thanks, Patrick!

#11 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 07:02 PM:

Rikibeth @ 8... perhaps Teresa has a good bulk source and doesn't have to buy the itty containers found in spice aisles?

"Teresa?"
"Yes, Patrick?"
"We just got a delivery. Were we expecting a big package from the Atreides down the street?"

#12 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 07:09 PM:

Serge, it's a good thing I haven't made a fresh cup of tea yet, or it'd be a case of YOMANK.

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 07:23 PM:

Rikibeth... You're welcome. Sometimes I feel like Sylvester the Cat sitting on a fence at midnight and thinking it's now time to express himself thru his latest feline symphony. Luckily nobody has ever hurled a steel-tipped shoe to knock me off my perch.

#14 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 07:24 PM:

Sage and thyme would be good.

Avram, Trader Joe's, and you get a nifty corked glass bottle that looks like you got it from Alchemist's Supply. I use more than three or four threads.

#15 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 07:42 PM:

I love and adore celery root for cooking. It's underrated. You can boil it (it takes a long time) puré it, and use it in place of or mixed in with mashed potatoes.

#16 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 07:45 PM:

Teresa @ 14... you get a nifty corked glass bottle that looks like you got it from Alchemist's Supply

"We're having sausage, leak and apple pie tonight. Did you scrub the athanor?"

#17 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 08:16 PM:

Serge #16: 'Sausage, leak and apple pie'.

I think I'll be skipping that, thanks.

#18 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 08:24 PM:

Fragano #17: Serge #16: 'Sausage, leak and apple pie'.

Actually, that describes a lot of my pie crusts. They do tend to crack.

-David

#19 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 08:44 PM:

I've seen dried chanterelles in one of the local markets. Might work? (They have dried morels also.)

#20 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 09:08 PM:

Since the local pie-maker is allergic to mushrooms, it's good to know that the chanterelle is optional.

#21 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 09:12 PM:

Rikibeth @8, Avram @5,

Last year I bought saffron from Costco- 1 ounce of Spanish saffron threads for $23 ($370 a pound). It was my 'oh, shiny' gift-for-myself before Christmas.

Previously I'd been using a .09oz jar of saffron powder. I'd paid (iirc) $9, or $1500 a pound.

The Costco saffron was/ is great. I took nearly half of it and put that in regular spice jars as gifts for family. I'd guess one Costco bottle could fill 6-8 smaller bottles.

I can take a big, big pinch of saffron and not dent (by appearance) my remaining supply. Because of that, I've been happily generous or experimental with the saffron. I've used far, far more of it than I ever did with that $1500 saffron.

One can play with saffron recipes on Epicurious. The Persian saffron rice recipe has good tips for how to prep saffron.

#22 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 09:36 PM:

Umm, just how many mushrooms are there in one dab? I think a dab would be small enough that a single mushroom might be more than a dab in size, depending on individual variation in mushroom size. Is a generous pinch smaller than a dab? Also, how does one test the modesty of a celery root? Come to think of it, there are a bunch of "maddeningly imprecise" non-parametric measures in that recipe. heh.

Yaddas are missing from the recipe ingredients list at the top, too.

#23 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 09:51 PM:

Around this time last year it was mentioned there was a report in the Times about a type of Welsh Dragon sausage that wasn't allowed to call itself that by the labelling laws, because it was "made with chili, leak and pork", no dragon. (Checking back to the original story, The Times has corrected the spelling.)

Josh (#16) Is celery root the same as celeriac (aka turnip-rooted celery, Apium graveolens var. rapaceum)? My goodness, that gave me a shock the first time I saw a box of them in the grocery.

#24 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 10:16 PM:

That's got to be slightly medieval, that recipe, though. Saffron, meat, tart fruit and cereal all together? Medieval, for sure, or at least drawing inspiration therefrom.

#25 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 11:25 PM:

Earl, this time around a dab was three small and rather dried-out mushroom caps, which kept down the weight. (They were priced at $30 the pound.) A generous pinch is smaller than a dab. The modest celery root in question was, when not yet peeled, bigger than a golfball, but slightly smaller than a tennis ball. "Yadda" in this case means "you know how to make a cream sauce, so do it."

Epacris, celery-root is celeriac is Apium graveolens v. rapaceum. Since this fall I scored five Buddha's hand citrons, celery-root isn't looking all that weird to me.

Dave Luckett, good call. What you're spotting is the context in which I learned a lot of what I know about cooking. It does leave you with a tendency to believe that "until it be enough" is a reasonable cooking direction.

#26 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 11:33 PM:

Buddha's hand citrons?....

...gah! Away! No earthly! Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn...

#27 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 11:34 PM:

Then there should be a final instruction"serve it forth".

#28 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 05:01 AM:

Alas, I fear I shall never be a real cook. I seek precision where inspiration and intuition rule supreme. I also have a heavy hand with the pepper shaker. Good enough for ramen, I suppose. heh.

#29 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 05:26 AM:

Celery root/celeriac is an acquired taste, but if you like it or are feeling adventurous, here's a recipe for potato-celery root puree that's good with roasts, including lamb:

2lbs each potatoes and celery root (unpeeled weight)
1 oz. butter
1/2 cup vegetable broth or bouillon
1/2 cup milk
salt, pepper, mace

Wash and peel the potatoes and celery root. Cut them into 1-inch cubes. Brown lightly in the butter, then add the broth and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender. Add the milk, puree, and season to taste (go lightly on the mace).

Serves 4-6

Earl at 22 and 28 -- henceforth I'm going to proudly describe my cooking style as nonparametric. Love it! Doesn't necessarily make it easier to share recipes, but it sounds very authoritative ;) Seriously, though -- I started out following cookbooks to the letter. For years. The precision was necessary, part of the process of becoming a nonparametric cook (whether I'm a good one or not is for others to decide).

#30 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 06:42 AM:

Some time ago, I worked up a Non-Parametric Caring Scale (I Couldn't Care Less, I Could Care Less, etc.) but some of the language in it is NSFW.

I have some named numbers worked out in order, too (a few, a bunch, a lot, a whole lot, a metric buttload, a zillion, a bazillion, a gazillion, etc.) If I ever start a blog, those would be two of the articles I'd write for it.

#31 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 07:05 AM:

I guess Bramley cooking apples would be as good as (or better than) Granny Smith?

The maddeningly imprecise direction of all time: continue baking until the edges of the crust haven’t burned yet. Quite so.

#32 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 07:12 AM:

Epacris @23: [..] there was a report in the Times about a type of Welsh Dragon sausage that wasn't allowed to call itself that by the labeling laws, because it was "made with chili, leak and pork", no dragon.

I imagine it didn't have any Welsh either.

#33 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 07:16 AM:

Is there a substitute for leeks that is not in any way, shape, or form oniony? My wife and members of the onion family do not get along.

#34 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 07:35 AM:

Rob Rusick (32):

Epacris @23: [..] there was a report in the Times about a type of Welsh Dragon sausage that wasn't allowed to call itself that by the labeling laws, because it was "made with chili, leak and pork", no dragon.
I imagine it didn't have any Welsh either.
I once saw a bottle of British salsa that said it had Swedes in it.

#35 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 07:53 AM:

Fragano (33), this dish is really built around leeks. You could keep the apples and sausage and instead layer in thinly sliced root vegetables like parsnips, carrots, celery-root, potato, and maybe a mild turnip or a golden beet; but the effect would be very different. Without that broad warm onion midrange, the flavor would be more chilly and umbelliferous. You'd want to increase the saffron and sherry, and add sage, oregano, white pepper, a bit of mace, and an infinitesimon of curry powder to the spice mix. (Earl, an infinitesimon is the amount of spice that fits under one fingernail.)

I don't guarantee that formulation. I'm running it up as a virtual construct in my head.

#36 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 09:22 AM:

Debbie @ 29 (and others) I too have found the path to non-parametric cooking through following recipes. You have to know how dishes work before you can go changing them too much.

My lasagnas work that way. People ask me for my recipe but I can't give it to them. It's usually just made up as I go along. Some things stay the same - noodles, cheese - but what meat (if any), the exact proportions of spices, everything else changes according to what I have in the kitchen and what looks good at the market. I'm sure I once had a recipe but it's more fun without.

Maddeningly imprecise some bits might be but there is one part of Teresa's recipe I love more than is probably healthy: (Also: this is a good moment to start your oven at 425 F.) How much energy of various kinds gets wasted by recipes that start with "Preheat your oven to..." several steps before it really becomes necessary? I recall one major eye-rolling moment when a recipe began with the preheating instruction then led you through the making of a marinade in which the meat was to be left overnight.

#37 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 10:21 AM:

Fragano @33: Over the last decade-plus I've cooked each autumn and winter pork-and-apple pies that're based on a recipe from John Thorne's Simple Cooking. No onions or leeks are involved (although I'll sometimes add 'em for variety, and I've also experimented with chestnuts and even chedder cheese). The recipe calls for a teaspoon of minced fresh ginger, a teaspoon of grated lemon rind, a tablespoon of minced parsely, 3 pie apples that've been chopped into a small dice, 1.5 pounds of lean pork cut into 1/2-inch cubes, a quarter-cup of white wine, plus salt and pepper as necessary. After browning the floured meat, mix everything in a bowl and plop it onto the bottom half of the pie crust. It'll be a heap, so press it down a bit for compaction. Cover with the top crust, crimp, punch a few holes for steam to escape, and place in a 350-degree oven for at least 40 minutes. After removing, try to let it cool for half an hour or so (trust me, this is the hardest part of the instructions to follow).

It's really good....

#38 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 01:31 PM:

Holy...this sounds incredible!

Sadly, the budget of the recently laid-off limits my culinary extravagancies.

(Who, me? Troll for sympathy? Maybe a little.)

#39 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 01:52 PM:

My cooking-fu is not terribly strong, but I have a bit or two of arcane lore. The one that applies here is: pie crust: actually easy to make. The main secrets are to 1. set a paper cup of water in the freezer an half-hour or so before you want to start, so when it comes time to use it there's a skin of ice across the top, 2. use as little water as possible, 3. touch the crust as little as possible with anything.

In service to 3, I give you: the whirly-slicer! I have one of these because they're $8 at Ross and brilliant for making salsa; two flat blades on a crank. Turns out they're brilliant for cutting the flour and crisco together, too!

When you make the pie crust yourself, you can take the bits you cut off to make it round, moisten them and dust them with sugar and cinnamon, bake them until they're puffy and a bit gold, and take them around to everyone in your house. Instant appreciation.

(I feel like I've run their schpiel here before... If so, apologies.)

#40 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 02:15 PM:

Also, something I discovered back when I started baking a lot: if you lack both a pastry blender (wire/blades on a handle) and a food processor, there's still a way to get the fats chopped into the right sized pieces for crust: freeze them, and grate them on the coarse holes of a cheese grater. Works well with butter; I have never tried shortening but I imagine it'd be OK too.

#41 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 03:53 PM:

"When you make the pie crust yourself, you can take the bits you cut off to make it round, moisten them and dust them with sugar and cinnamon, bake them until they're puffy and a bit gold, and take them around to everyone in your house. Instant appreciation."

My grandmother did that! She'd roll out the leftovers, spread with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, roll the crust up, and slice into inch-wide pieces. We'd have to wait for the pie, but those cinnamon rolls -- oh, my. Thanks for a nice memory.

#42 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 04:09 PM:

John@31 -- A Bramley is going to give you a very different effect from a Granny Smith. Not necessarily unpleasing, but you won't get the tartness. A closer approximation might be something like a Cox's Orange Pippin, slightly under-ripe for preference. (Granny Smith apples for the US market are picked underripe, because "everybody knows" the skin should be a uniform green, unblushed.)

On pie crust -- has anybody else tried the vodka-moistened recipe from the current issue of Cooks' Illustrated? I've been very pleased with the results; it works well and cooks up very nicely.

#43 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 04:21 PM:

I still have to make lunches for this week - would a slice of this travel reasonably well? Or would I be better off making up single-serving pasties?

#44 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 05:07 PM:

re 41: From family tradition, the canonical name for those pie-crust/cinamon-sugar things is "stickies".

re 43: I would go for pasties.

re Saffron: You can grow your own-- at least, in this part of the country (central Maryland) you can. They grow like weeds, actually. (Also very pretty.) The tricky part is the drying.

#45 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 05:12 PM:

TNH #35 & Richard Anderson #37: Thank you both.

TNH #34: As a schoolboy in London I was regularly given swedes for lunch.

#46 ::: Terry (in Germany) ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 05:36 PM:

Also, when making pie crust, use cake flour. It has less gluten, and so can't get as dense.

I have never been able to use a pastry "knife" of any sort. I just use a couple of knives and cut the pieces in (having first reduced them small, and placed them in the freezer for a few minutes).

As to the nature of inexact recipes, I suppose I started to play with things (and understand things like, "add just a little") when I followed things, to the letter, and they didn't work.

It's an arcane thing, cooking, but not that hard; once the basics are acquired.

#47 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 05:43 PM:

Madeline @ 39, Debbie @ 41:

Ah, yes...Mom would make the pie crusts, then give me the trimmings to roll out with my little 7-inch rolling pin and sprinkle (heavily) with cinnamon and sugar. Baked until golden and crispish. Yummy. She always called it "shoofly pie," although I know (now) it's not what the Pennsylvania Dutch would think of on hearing the name...

#48 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 05:45 PM:

41, 44: In my family they're called pinwheels, and if there's a kid in the house, that's who they're reserved for. I like them barely cooked.

VictorS #42: A friend of mine made a pie with that recipe that at a party recently, and I was really impressed with how it came out. I mysteriously ended up with a big bottle of vodka recently, and may try baking with it soon rather than letting the ethanol go to waste (since I don't drink and husband prefers beer).

#49 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 05:50 PM:

@TNH #35: I don't guarantee that formulation. I'm running it up as a virtual construct in my head.

Huh. I've rotated virtual constructs of vehicles I've been imagining modifications to in my head, but I don't think I've risen to the necessary degree of culinary talent to do that with off the cuff pie recipe modifications. *tips hat* *wonders where the hat came from, then remembers this is the internet, such things are available for the thinking*

I'm stuck in parametric cooking land, except for various branchings off of a basic "one double boiler, one skillet" bachelor pasta recipe. Started with just the double boiler, but I wanted more than just pasta, broccoli, olive oil and spice, hence the skillet...

Thanks for the yummy! I'll have to try that pie sometime...
later,
-cajun

#50 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 05:56 PM:

#34 and #45 : Swede - the classic accompaniment to haggis. Delicious!

(With haggis, of course, this vegetable is called "neeps".)

#51 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 06:01 PM:

Ramirez: Haggis? What is haggis?
Connor MacLeod: Sheep's stomach, stuffed with meat and barley.
Ramirez: And what do you do with it?
Connor MacLeod: You eat it.
Ramirez: How revolting!

#52 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 06:04 PM:

#34 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden

I once saw a bottle of British salsa that said it had Swedes in it.

Swedes are rutabagas.

"ROOT uh beg uhs", according to Nebraskans, specifically the Czech community around Wilbur.

#53 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 08:15 PM:

madeline & subsequent,

When you make the pie crust yourself, you can take the bits you cut off to make it round, moisten them and dust them with sugar and cinnamon, bake them until they're puffy and a bit gold, and take them around to everyone in your house. Instant appreciation.

in my family we make rugelach out of pie dough scraps: spread a small amount of butter, ad dabs of jelly, coarsely chopped nuts, raisins, chocolate chips... whatever's around, really. i sometimes even make peanut butter/nutella rugelach. roll up & sprinkle with cinnamon & a little sugar. yummm.

#54 ::: Andrew T ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 08:19 PM:

Concerning the vegetable broth: I am confused.

Is the broth the lightly-salted boiling water that was used to wilt the vegetables?

And when the recipe refers to "further broth" draining off the vegetables: does that mean that fluid will be gradually leaking out of the boiled veggies over the next few minutes?

Sorry for what must be very basic questions... I am unfamiliar with the physics of boiled vegetables.

#55 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 08:50 PM:

To those who aspire to non-parametric cooking, I recommend The Cookbook Decoder. It's a good, very readable, basic introduction to the functional chemistry of cooking: how to thicken with starch or eggs, why certain vegetables sometimes turn funny colors, why some recipes have those odd instructions. The author's whole idea is to show you enough of how the recipes work that you can depart from recipes with confidence.

Tassajara Cooking might also help a little. Some of their simpler recipes, like the sauteed carrots or the dairy-based salad dressing, are safe ways to experiment with the "take as much as seems good to you" style of cookery.

#56 ::: Terry (in Germany) ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 08:53 PM:

Vegetable broth is, (as I use it) an extract of flavor from a large quantity of veggies, in a moderate amount of water.

It's a soup/stock base.

#57 ::: Adam Rakunas ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 08:59 PM:

Well, I know what I'm going to make after next weekend's trip to the farmers market. Plus, I think adding some Parmesan or a like cheese to the crust will add to the awesome.

#58 ::: lucypick ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 09:11 PM:

I love the part about the clinker-built apple layer, but I've been reading about the Utrecht boat lately.
This sounds delicious. As a medievalist, I've always been deeply frightened and suspicious of medieval food, but this might convert me.

#59 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 10:04 PM:

Rozasharn @ 55: If you want to go further into the science of food, whether to improve your non-parametric technique or just to wallow in science and food geekness simultaneously, I highly recommend Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking.

I think this recommendation might be redundant for many fluorospherians. I'm semi-sure I first heard of the book here.

#60 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 12:11 AM:

infinitesimon  n.  the amount of spice that fits under one fingernail. (YFMV)

#61 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 01:53 AM:

I knew it!

Something has been niggling at me right through this thread, and now I've found it.

TNH and I have been published together! In traditional print format! (It might even, who knows, be available in bricks-and-mortar book stores.) You know, actual words in lines on paper, available to the buying public for money!

You'll never guess where. But now I'm all excited.

#62 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 08:34 AM:

at least, in this part of the country (central Maryland) you can.

Saffron crocus (crocus sativus) is winter-hardy through zone 7, and can be wintered with mulch in zone 6. They bloom in the fall, and as far as I can tell only come in purple. And you can buy some here.

#63 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 09:28 AM:

@Carrie S. #62: Darn, I'm in zone 4a. I do know that Jalapeños grow around here, but you do have to re-plant in the spring. They get nice and hot, too!

later,
-cajun

#64 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 09:54 AM:

"A Tart to Provoke Courage Either in Man or Woman

Take a quart of good wine and boile therein two Burre rootes scraped cleane, two good quinces, and a potato roote well pared, and an ounce of Dates, and when all these are boiled verie tender, let them be drawne through a strainer wine and al, and then be put in the yolks of eight eggs, and the braines of three or fower cocke sparrowes, and straine them into the other, and a little rosewater, and seeth them all with sugar, cinamon and ginger, and cloves and mace, and put in a little sweet butter, and set it upon a chafing dish of coales between two platters and so let it boile til it be something big."

Source: Aresty, Esther B., The Delectable Past. NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc. 1964, p. 47.

#65 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 10:37 AM:

Fragano @ 17... I could have committed a worse typo. Considering that this started with Teresa's comment about alchemy, I could have written 'sausage, lead and apple pie'.

#66 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 10:39 AM:

epacris @ 60... infinitesimon n. the amount of spice that fits under one fingernail.

You just reminded me it's time to trim my toenails.

#67 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 11:26 AM:

Earl Cooley Jr. @ #28

If you prefer maddeningly precise cooking instructions (I speak both, happily) I commend unto you Alton Brown and also the folks at "Cook's Illustrated."

Maddeningly precise, and also yummy.

#69 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 05:55 PM:

Yep, I watch Alton Brown's tv shows; he's a good explainer.

#70 ::: RichardSiemens ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 10:02 PM:

Long time listener, first time caller here.

I gave this recipe a whirl tonight after work. All-in-all it took just under 2 hours from start to consumption (including a cooling off period) which included making the pastry.

It was good, very good. I forgot to put the sherry in and I didn't have any saffron in the house which probably reduced the savoriness. I don't know if the leeks we get up here in Canada are larger than the ones down south, but I used three large-ish ones and that was plenty.

Here is a photo of the pie (after my wife and I each took a slice) in case you are are a visual sort of person.

Thank you Teresa for sharing your recipe.

#71 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2007, 10:46 PM:

Way to go, Richard @71. That crust looks great. I'm going to have to try something along that line (non-parametrically) myself.

#72 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 12:51 PM:

And for dessert:
Today's LA Times food section has chocolate sauces, along with taste-tests of various dark chocolate bars.

#73 ::: Who likes Spam in ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 05:45 PM:

68 is spam- the blog link in the name looks like a pron site.

#74 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2007, 04:12 AM:

Nice to see my favorite chocolate bar come in second in that LA Times article. I'll have to give their #1 a try.

#75 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2007, 08:03 AM:

I guess good ole Hershey's Special Dark chocolate wasn't nearly pretentious enough to make that list. Seeing as how their "extra" dark only has 60% cacao, I suppose that means that "special" dark has less than that. Ah, well. Hershey's "Cacao Reserve" line I see as merely pandering to the "single origin superiority meme" crowd that dominates coffee snobs and jacks up prices. heh.

#76 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2007, 11:36 AM:

This is, hands down, the most fun I've ever had reading a recipe. If you ever write a cookbook I'll buy it in a heartbeat.

Tapioca, huh? I've never used it; not sure what its purpose is. Would the pie be ruined by leaving it out? I'm vaguely, baselessly, suspicious of the stuff.

#77 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2007, 11:44 AM:

mary @ 77

It's a thickener for the juices, probably. My mother used it in cobblers so they'd be less runny when served.

#78 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2007, 05:27 AM:

Earl Cooley@76: Having tried both "Special Dark" and "Cacao Reserve" (to say nothing of the chocolates on that LA Times list) I will simply reply that in my opinion your comments are quite badly mistaken.

#79 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2007, 10:30 PM:

Now, David, not everybody likes bloody awful bitter dark chocolate. Jo brought some to a con, expecting Mary Kay to be there, and so I tasted some for Mary Kay. I'm very fond of Mary Kay, but I'm never eating chocolate for her again.

#80 ::: Terry (in Germany) ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2007, 12:52 AM:

The tapioca is a starch. Much beloved of those who make pies. I use it. Maia is fond of adding it to apple pies in very small beads. I find this odd. I don't think they get enough time at temp to really thicking the juice to a gel.

They are also funny to look at.

But the pies are tasty.

I use it as a powder, unless I'm making, "fish eyes in glue."

#81 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2007, 03:38 AM:

Marilee@80: Not liking dark chocolate is perfectly fine. Saying that there's no difference between Valrhona Le Noir Amer and Hershey's Special Dark except pretension and snobbery is wrong -- objectively wrong.

#82 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2007, 03:59 AM:

Well, to me, the most significant difference between goofy-named dark chocolates with their wine-tasting vibe and more readily available dark chocolates is the pretension. Whether or not I would like them is irrelevant, because they are not easily available to me, and Special Dark is. The purity of my disdain for that meme is unsullied by irrelevant objective testing of the qualities of the actual products involved.

#83 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2007, 04:22 AM:

They are available to me (although I looked for the Cluizel chocolate that was #1 when I was at Whole Foods tonight, and was surprised not to find it) and from the experience of my own taste buds I say: There is a reason that Special Dark didn't make that list, and "pretension" isn't it. And that's all that I'm saying.

#84 ::: . ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2007, 10:00 AM:

[ringtone spam from 222.216.2.61]

#85 ::: Tania see spam in the pie ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2007, 10:12 AM:

Tone-deaf spam?

#86 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2007, 01:25 PM:

Earl, #83: While I agree with you about the silliness of the wine-snob language being applied to chocolate, I definitely disagree that there is no tastable difference between Special Dark and the fancy high-end darks. The reason I still buy and eat Special Dark is that it's more readily available (although the advent of the chocolate aisle at Target is changing that!) and acceptable. It's certainly not the equal of Ghirardelli dark, let alone any of the others.

Side note: I think they tried the wrong Theo. I was lucky enough to take the chocolate tour at their facility when we went to Seattle, and IMO their 80% single-source Guatemalan was significantly better than any of the other single-source bars. And I say that as someone who normally finds 80% well into the baking-chocolate range; I was surprised to like it! If you live near a place that carries the Theo line, I strongly recommend both the hot-pepper and coconut-curry chocolate bars.

#87 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2007, 02:09 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @#33: Is there a substitute for leeks that is not in any way, shape, or form oniony? My wife and members of the onion family do not get along.

Have you or she ever tried asafoedita? I don't know all that much about it, except that it's a resin that starts out really stinky (thus the name) but when cooked with fats, it moderates into an oniony-type flavor.

#88 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2007, 02:18 PM:

David Harmon #89: No we haven't. Thanks!

#89 ::: . ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2007, 05:11 PM:

[ringrtone spam from 196.35.158.182]

Abi's active now in purgin'
Ringtone spam that comes from Virgin.

#92 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2007, 09:16 PM:

The most significant reason I can see for wanting to eat single-origin chocolate is that you can tell whether it was produced with slave labor. Unless chocolate is organic, fair trade, or single-origin (and not from Côte d'Ivoire), you have no such assurance.

Now personally, I like some of the subtle differences among varieties of cacao, though that's more a matter of their being single-variety than single-origin. But taste preference is very subjective.

If any Fluorospherians know of evidence that slavery is no longer a problem in Ivorian chocolate production, please tell me. I have enough other issues to worry about; an occasional victory for the Forces of Good is much appreciated.

#93 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2007, 09:37 PM:

I now have a point of reference for what Ingsoc chocorat would taste like: Hershey's Cacao Reserve 65% with Cacao Nibs. I can only imagine the nibs consist of crunchy chocolate factory floor sweepings.

Fear not, xioc au lait connoisseurs, this offering is only 65%, and thus beneath the notice of those committed to 70% or more cacao content. The only Hershey item that meets that standard, as far as I can tell, is São Tomé Premium Dark Chocolate, from their Single Origin collection, about which this respondent sayeth naught.

#94 ::: Ruth Temple ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2007, 10:54 PM:

In Praise of Teresa's Winter Pie
and Creative Play in the Kitchen

Sausage and leeks acquired, check. piecrust; got lazy and bought, this time, home-made likes time to rest a little. Syd @1, one brand of pie crust is much like another so go with whatever's on sale.

Our own winter savory and thyme instead of the saffron (this time); and --

There's this generous pear tree in the yard of our new place. Something like a Bartlett. I cut up the good bits of two that had fallen and bruised a smidge in the rainstorm the other day, and carmelized them lightly in the butter that went on to become Rouxful, and made a thick floury roux since it works so easily and well for me and left out the tapioca. I think pre-carmelizing the pears helped things be just the proper amount of moist in the cooking-as-pie stage, as well. The pear works beautifully with the sausage, leeks and all, oh, My.

What a wonderful springboard recipe! I do think we'll have it again and again with dlight variations on the theme (we also buy our saffron in the one-ounce tins, and save the tins for beading / sewing supplies).

Verdict: YUM!!!

#95 ::: . ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 08:27 AM:

"Mmmm, yummy spam that tastes like mint..."
Chewed up the ringtone links for Sprint

[posted from 221.208.174.223]

#97 ::: . ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 09:17 AM:

Link-heavy comment with a twist:
Spam you can strap around your wrist!

[posted from 201.134.177.1]

#98 ::: Carrie S. sees a new variety of spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 09:19 AM:

I have a new watch myself, but that's still spam...

#99 ::: . ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 12:04 PM:

This ringtone spam has now, you see,
Like the others been set free

[posted from 196.35.158.182]

#100 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Is the point really just a point, or is it a feature of the Disemvoweller that compresses what remains to the size of a singularity?

#101 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 12:27 PM:

What's your point, Serge?

#102 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 12:28 PM:

Serge #102:

Actually, it *makes* a point. If you see what I mean.

#103 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 12:31 PM:

Actually, I've been making the points, periodically, and will until the spam comes to a full stop.

They're colon-izing the comma-nt thread to an unpleasant degree. I prefer Making Light unpunctuated by pointless messages, given the choice.

#104 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 12:45 PM:

abi, you've told us about the bin from the disemvoweller, but is there also a punctuation drawer? (Well, I suppose a punctuation draw-er would be a pen, but other than that?)

#105 ::: . ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 03:13 PM:

Once again, the spams return.
Fake watch links: watch 'em burn.

[posted from 195.131.130.104]

#106 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 03:17 PM:

What is it about this thread that draws spam? Are the spammers too afraid of what would happen if they posted on the gun thread? Is the Open Thread just too open, and the spam falls out like water through a sieve? Are they jealous that we make pies with sausage rather than their own canned meat products?

#107 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 03:28 PM:

Sometimes a spambot just seems to grab ahold of some one post and cling despite all your irritated attempts to shake it off... Or at least, that was my experience with the only post on my LJ that ever got more than one or two bits of spam. It was every handful of days no matter whether the comments were screened or not, until I took the post friendslocked. Just odd and random.

#108 ::: cleanup alert- spam again ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 03:32 PM:

Diatryma @108,

Good question. Is it they're looking for front page threads with low recent activity (relatively speaking)? But then that requires them to read through several threads, and how would they have time for that?

We're about to find out what IP address that came from, I believe.

#109 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 03:34 PM:

The strange thing is that most of the spam usually lands in long-inactive threads. The pie hasn't crust over into that territory yet.

#110 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 03:52 PM:

Any recipes for a savory holiday pie incorporating Spam(tm)?

#111 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 03:57 PM:

Google "Spam pie" recipe, and you will indeed get results. Whether they're festive enough for a holiday...not something I'll be looking into :)

#112 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 04:01 PM:

I am closing this thread to comments; we're not really writing anything other than spam verse* here.

I may re-open it after a couple of days and see how we go, particularly if the Muse of Winter Comfort Food strikes a fair number of our fair company. I'm not trying to kill conversation, just stop spending all my life zapping comments and writing doggerel.

Further discussion of this, or other pies, can go in the current Open Thread for the time being.

-----
* And there ain't no power in the 'verse gonna stop a spammer

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