Archives for category: pie

it has become a bit of a tradition to have an ‘orphans’ thanksgiving at my place for a few years now. i start with the usual list of friends, but anyone is invited, and there are always a few last minute add ons. this year it tipped the scales with almost 20 guests. from shopping at the farmers market all the way to the leftovers, here is the feast in photos:

the farmers market fairy delivered this 18+ lb beauty on monday:

i did a majority of my shopping at the wednesday morning santa monica farmers market:

on my way to the market, kcrw had a wonderful segment with christopher kimball, of america’s test kitchen and cook’s illustrated, talking about a julia child thanksgiving. of course he spoke of her simplicity and her use of the best ingredients. it was just the motivation and inspiration i needed. this is the beautiful and colorful loot i came home with:

the pie prep: cranberries, rhubarb, and roasted pumpkin.

the veggie prep: roasted winter vegetables, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and creamed corn with crispy bacon.

the free range willie bird all buttered up, stuffed, and carved to perfection:

the buffet: the aforementioned creamed corn with crispy bacon, garlic mashed potatoes, roasted winter veggies, along with sausage + fennel stuffing, and gravy. my guests brought sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, salad, cranberries and homemade bread.

the table as people were plating up their food:

the pies: cranberry rhubarb (as well as, a crisp from the extra fruit) and pumpkin. not shown: pumpkin cheesecake and paleo pumpkin bread.

the dead soldiers the next day:

a few of us took off for big bear the next afternoon to just chill out (and digest) for a couple of days. these were some of the leftovers by the fire at the little cabin in the woods the next night:

i made stock from the carcass yesterday, and there was just enough turkey leftover to make soup today. recipe to come…

note: more (professional) photos from the evening can be found at rafiel chait photography. the photos above were just taken by me with my crummy iphone and hipstamatic.


rhubarb brings me back to my grandma’s homemade crisps. i tried my hand at a strawberry rhubarb pie once, but it turned out a bit soupy (i blame the juicy strawberries from harry’s berries.) i decided to skip the berries this time, and make 4 mini pies, using 5-inch tin pans that i got at surfas. i just happened to have some fresh thyme on hand and thought it might be an interesting compliment with the tart rhubarb. since i have always wanted to try using lard in my crust, and i had picked some up at lindy + grundy when i was there last, i substituted it for the shortening in the dough recipe.


  • 4 cups fresh rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, not packed
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 1 double-crust pie dough, divided into 8 discs
  • 1 tbsp butter, cut into 16 pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp turbinado sugar
  • cinnamon


this is stupid easy. toss the thyme with the chopped rhubarb.

combine the white and brown sugar with the flour. roll out 4 of the disks of dough and place in the tins.

put a couple tablespoons of the sugar flour mixture in the bottom of each.

divide the rhubarb between the tins, and top with 4 pieces of butter on each.

put several more tablespoon of the mixture over each, letting it get in between the rhubarb. (i did end up with some mixture left over.)

roll out the remaining 4 disks and top each. crimp the edges making sure they don’t hang over too much.

brush the egg over the top, sprinkle with turbinado sugar, and lightly dust with cinnamon. cut four slits in the top to allow for ventilation.

put them on a cookie sheet on the bottom shelf of the oven at 450˚ for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350˚ and bake for another 45 minutes. let them cool on a wire rack.

parts of two of my crusts fell off early in the baking, due to hanging over the edge too much. i was able to save them, and i’m sure just as delicious, but just look a bit messy. the other two were perfect.

…and i had leftover rhubarb to make a crisp to boot!

i now have copious amounts of rhubarb treats, and kicking myself for not picking up vanilla ice cream. grrrr.

notes: i prefer my rhubarb on the tart side, so i’ll probably use less sugar next time. i couldn’t taste the thyme, whereas others could, so adjust to your taste.

i got together with a friend today to go hiking. we decided to go up to the griffith observatory.

we ended up parking on fern dell right across from the trails, a cute little cafe that serves pie, and other good stuff.

i’m not going to lie, pie was on my brain the whole way up and down our hike. by the time we made it back down, they only had one slice left…apple.

this was fitting, since it was their apple pie that began my obsession with pie a few years back, and even got me to enter the first annual kcrw good food pie contest. we also got delicious stumptown coffee, oh and a vanilla lavender shortbread cookie to go, and by ‘to go’ i mean to go in our bellies.

the pie was even better than before, mostly because when i had my first slice here they kept the skins on the apple (which is not my preference), but the crust was perfection per usual, and no skins this time.

it was a lovely way to end a really nice hike, and though it negated any calories burned, it made me very, very happy.

today is national pie day, and in honor of such an important holiday, i bring you a tempting look into my favorite little pie shop located in downtown los angeles: the pie hole.

as you may know by now, i have a love of pie that exceeds the average person, and i can be highly critical of such tasty delights, including my own. since opening only a few months ago, i have been to the pie hole several times, tried a range of their pies both savory and sweet, and other than them running out of pie (often before the closing time of 9p) it has yet to disappoint. on that note, it’s a good idea to call ahead, check their twitter feed, or facebook page before heading down in the early evening hours just to make sure they haven’t sold out. there are plans to expand the kitchen in order to accommodate a clearly successful pie-loving niche.

they rotate the pie selections seasonally. every 2-3 weeks new one’s are added to the menu to test out, others go away and/or come back, and depending on what ingredients are fresh, local, organic, and frankly…just plain quality, there is always something tantalizing to taste. other than your typical slice of pie, they also have pie bars, pot pies, whoopie pies, pocket pies and other play-on-pie creations.

any of these are paired very nicely with a top notch coffee with beans from groundwork, a selection of teas, other cold beverages like juices, and even mexican coke.

the decor is simple but inviting, and spacious for such a small place. most things wood, including the tables and counter, were made by matthew, one of the founders, and are complemented nicely by the metal chairs and stools. located across the street from wurstküche in the arts district, it seems to fit snuggly in this cool street art laden neighborhood just perfectly.

pie is definitely the new cupcake.

the pie hole • 714 traction avenue, los angeles, ca 90013 • 213-537-0115 • open tuesday-sunday 11a-9p or until sold out (closed monday)

obviously we are coming up to pumpkin pie season being that thanksgiving is around the corner. honestly, i have never been one to choose pumpkin pie over other options during this season, but i found myself going to a dinner party, and wanting to bring a pie. i happened to have a pumpkin on hand with which i intended to make soup, but thought i’d try my hand at a pie instead.

my biggest problem with pumpkin pies is that they are way too sweet, so i researched a few different recipes. they all had similar ingredients and spices: pumpkin, egg, cream, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg etc… most called for canned pumpkin, and a few recipes even called for sweetened condensed milk, which makes me think that was the type of pie i was used to.

i made three changes that i think made the difference; i used a real pumpkin, i substituted the sugar with a mix of brown sugar and honey, and i replaced the cream with coconut milk. the result was a not too sweet, very flavorful, real pumpkin pie.


  • 1 pie pumpkin, about 6-8 inches in diameter, cut in half horizontal, cored and seeds removed (reserved to roast)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground clove
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground all spice


  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp butter, cold and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 3 tbsp cold shortening
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 2-3 tbsp cold vodka


roast the pumpkin halves skin side up at 350º for 1 1/2 hours on a foil lined pan and covered with foil.

the skin should come off easily, and then pureé.

let the pumpkin pureé come to room temperature while you make the dough for the crust. you can also make the pumpkin pureé ahead of time and refrigerate until this point. if so, take it out of the fridge and let come to room temperature while making the dough.

put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor, and pulse quickly to mix. add the shortening and process for 10 seconds. add the butter and pulse 10 times. pour into a bowl and add 2 tbsp of cold water and 2 tbsp of cold vodka. with a rubber spatula using a folding mixing motion, press down with the broad side of the spatula as you turn the dough letting it stick together. add an additional tbsp of vodka if the dough doesn’t come together. form the dough into a 4-inch disk and wrap in plastic. refrigerate the dough for an hour.

pre-heat the oven to 425º about 10-15 minutes before taking your dough out of the refrigerator.

just before rolling your dough out, mix the all ingredients for the filling together very well with a hand mixer.

roll out and form the dough into the pie dish.

pour the filling into the uncooked pie crust.

bake at 425º for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350º until a knife comes out of the center clean, about 60-75 minutes.

i must say that my first pie after the disaster of the steve jobs pie incident was a complete success. i guess he was right…just move on after a mistake and ‘get on with improving your other innovations.’ pie and technology may not match up in your eyes as innovative, but it does in my mind.

note: i cleaned and roasted the pumpkin seeds with a little oil and salt, and topped the pie with several as a garnish. i also added a bit of cut out pie crust in the shape of a pumpkin and fall leaf and sprinkled it with salt.

when i started this blog months ago, it was during a down time for me work wise. i had the time to cook and write about it. the tag line to this blog is ‘the way to live life,’ and to no surprise julia child was my inspiration and motivator.

in my inaugural post ‘in the words of a genius…‘ i simply quote mrs. child:

‘find something that you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.’ –julia child

pie is something i am very passionate about. in fact something about the rainy weather yesterday urged me to make an apple pie, and as i was making it, i was completely in my happy space. it was beautiful going in and coming out of the oven.

sadly, when cutting into it i saw that the filling was soupy. my friends tried to console me by telling me it still tasted delicious and the crust was perfect. i was even bitchy to andrea when she asked ‘what did you do differently?’ the only thing i could think of was that normally i used some granny smiths, but they didn’t have them at the market. i was thinking perhaps the fujis or galas i had substituted had less pectin than the grannys? or they were more juicy? then it dawned on me from a question andrea asked, ‘what would make it more soupy?’ if it was the same cooking time, amount of apples, and ingredients, what would cause the moisture not to evaporate? ah ha! venting! besides the usual apple cut out in the center, perhaps i normally cut extra slits to allow more moisture to escape? instead, like andrea said, ‘i created a volcano that just hadn’t been allowed to erupt.’ upon further investigation from a previous picture of a perfect apple pie, there were indeed slits!

at my bikram yoga studio they have this quote up on the wall:

‘i have not failed. i have just found 10,000 ways that will not work. failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.’ –thomas alva edison

ironically, while i was making what was to be an epic apple pie failure (in my eyes), unbeknownst to me the announcement of steve jobs death was announced. i was truly saddened to hear this. i didn’t know steve. i have never met him. he was a visionary and a genius and changed how our world sees things. he died too young. i have used apple computers and products since the very beginning. i carry my iphone around like it’s an appendage. yet, i’ve been trying to figure out why his death has affected me so much. honestly, i don’t know why, but he has reminded me to love and live life, and to ‘think different.’

‘sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. it is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.’ –steve jobs

RIP mr. jobs. you will be missed.

on to my next pie…

i love pie…which is actually a gross understatement. i have always preferred pie to other desserts, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that i decided to make my first pie with a homemade crust. it all began while working in griffith park, where there was a quaint little place across the street from where we were shooting called the trails, and it served pie. i collected some money from interested individuals, and bought one of their apple pies. the filling was good, but they chose not to peel their apples, which i personally don’t care for. what was unbelievable was the crust. it was flaky, thick, buttery and ultimately so much better than the filling, that it made me realize…it’s all about the crust. i began my mission to make a pie with the best crust…ever. i have tried a few different recipes, but the one i settled on is pretty much based on the cook’s illustrated version of basic pie dough.

shortly after making my first pie i entered the  kcrw 1st annual good food pie contest. i made a sweet potato pecan pie with jack daniels whipped cream. i didn’t even make it to the 2nd round, but it sure was a lot of fun.

photo courtesy of dennis barth jr.

since then, pies have been my contribution to many a cookout, holiday gathering, and birthday celebration. in fact, i have made several different pies over the past few years, but this is my first plum pie, and it might just be in the running for the 3rd annual good food pie contest.


pie dough/crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cold and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cut into tablespoon sized chunks
  • 3-4 tbsp ice water
  • 3-4 tbsp cold vodka
  • 2 tbsp whole milk, or and an egg beaten
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar (turbinado)


  • 5 cups pitted plums, sliced and drained
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


make your dough first, so while it chills in the fridge you can make the filling. cut up your butter and shortening, and put it in the freezer, so it is extra cold when making the dough.

while they are in the chillin’ with your frozen goods pull out your food processor. put 1 1/2 cups of the flour, 2 tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp salt and pulse to mix.

by this time your butter and shortening will have chilled enough.  add the shortening.

i use the crisco sticks so it is easier to cut them up into tablespoon sized chunks, but if you use the tub kind, just dollop in equal amounts, and process for about 10 seconds. it will look like coarse sand.

then add the butter pieces, scattering them over the flour mixture.

process again, about 10 1-second pulses. the butter bits should be no larger than the size of a pea. add the remaining 1 cup of flour and process about 4-6 quick pulses.

turn the mixture into medium bowl.

sprinkle in 3 tbsp of the cold water, and 3 tbsp of the cold vodka.

with a rubber spatula using a folding mixing motion, pressing down with the broad side of the spatula as you turn the dough letting it stick together. you will more than likely have to add an additional tbsp each of water and vodka if it isn’t coming together.

divide the dough into 2 flattened circular discs about 4 inches in diameter, and wrap in plastic.

refrigerate for an hour, or up to 2 days, before rolling out.

in the meantime, make your filling. pit and slice up the plums. my plums were especially ripe, so many of them didn’t need to be sliced because they basically became pulp in my hands. let them drain.

whisk the sugar, cornstarch, salt, cloves and allspice together in a large bowl. add the plums, lemon juice and vanilla and mix to combine.

adjust a rack to the middle position and pre-heat oven to 450º.

once you take the dough out of the refrigerator, let it sit for a few minutes, or even more if it has been in longer than an hour. flour your work space and roll out the bottom. christopher kimball, from america’s test kitchen, has an excellent video on his blog as to how to roll out dough.

pour in the filling.

re-flour your work space and roll out the top. cover the filling. trim the edges leaving about 1 1/2 inches hanging over the edge of the pie pan.

fold both layers of dough under.

using your thumb and pointer finger on one hand and your thumb on the other, crimp the edges. (i had to hold the camera, so imagine using all three digits at the same time.)

with a brush wash the top of the dough with milk or egg. cut 6 1-inch slits on the top to vent, and sprinkle with raw sugar.

place on a baking sheet and put it in the oven. reduce the temperature to 375º.

start checking on it at 45 minutes, but mine took just over an hour. the crust should be golden brown.

the great thing about chicken pot pie is that it can be made with basic ingredients you already have on hand. i like to switch the veggies up a bit here and there, but this is what i did tonight:

  • 1 unbaked double pie crust dough (this should be made first, so you can prep and cook the rest while it is in the refrigerator. if it chills longer than an hour make sure you let it sit out for 5-10 mins before rolling it out.)
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless cooked chicken meat, bite sized pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups carrots, diced
  • 1 3/4 cups fingerling potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup fresh peas, or thawed frozen ones
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg

put the chicken, carrots, potatoes, peas, and celery in a sauce pan. toss in a touch of  s+p and celery seed, and add enough water to cover. bring to a boil for about 15 minutes, or until your veggies are just soft, but not mushy.

let them drain…

in the meantime, you will make the roux (use the same sauce pan if you like) with the remaining ingredients shown below:

cook the onions and garlic in the butter over medium heat until soft and translucent. gradually stir in the flour, add the spices, and then add the stock and milk slowly, stirring continually. simmer over medium-low heat until thick. set aside while you roll out your dough (or, if you are cheating, take your pre-made pie dough out of it’s package, and put in the pie pan.) place the chicken and veggie mixture in the now lined pie pan.

pour the roux over the chicken veggie mixture slowly, making sure it doesn’t overflow…

lay the top pie dough over the filling, trim if necessary, fold both layers under, and crimp. whisk the egg and brush over the top of the crust and crimped edges. make 4 slits with a sharp knife.

bake in a pre-heated oven @ 450° for 45 minutes. let cool for at least 15 minutes, or longer (it’s not to torture you) if you can stand it, before cutting in to it, just so the filling has a chance to set. cut and serve in wedges. enjoy!

(note: i have substituted some of the carrots and fingerlings, for turnips and parsnips, but i don’t see why trying other types of veggies might be interesting too. as long as you end up with roughly 3 1/2 cups of uniformly diced veggies to boil with the chicken you should be good.)

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