I finally returned to the farmer’s market Saturday morning after a many month hiatus. Amongst a number of yummy purchases, I ended up with 30 pounds of assorted grapes (at the obscenely low price of $13). It is good to be recognized by the vendors.
Obviously, I’m making tons of raisins. And freezing some. And keeping some around for noshing upon. The quality of these grapes are just amazing. All seedless. Some as big as plums. Ranging from sugary sweet to slightly tart.
While in Missouri, my Mom taught me how to make her style of pie. Extremely simple to do, very subtle nuances required to do it well.
Hmmm… grape pie? A google search reveals lots of recipes for Conchord Grape Pie, but very few plain old grape pies. OK — time to improvise.
Pictured at right is the result. Completely delicious. A decent product for my second pie ever, but not quite perfect; the bottom crust was just slightly underdone and I had to work the crust too much due to improper tools.
The pie is in the style of my Mom’s Cheatin’ Tart. That is, I made a pie crust that was larger than the pie tin, dropped it in the pie tin, added the filling, and then folded over the excess. It was off-center on purpose. Some people like more crust, some less, and thus having an off-center hole allows one to cut to the tastes of the consumer.
The filling is a combination of about 2 cups of raw grapes and 1.5 medium sized pears. I simmered the grapes and pears for about 30 minutes in 1/3rd of a cup of water, with cinnamon and a touch cayenne pepper (not enough to taste, just enough to draw out flavors — thanks, Ben!), until the grapes were soft but not totally mushy.
The key with making a pie crust — in this case, a dead simple flour/sugar/salt/butter crust (I’ll try Chuck’s vodka crust once I nail this one) — is to ensure that the fat (butter or lard — butter in this case) does not get too hot. Thus, one needs to avoid working it too much, which I failed to do. I was using a cuisinart to mix the crust, but the Cuisinart dough blade sucks. It leaves flour untouched all around the outside edge and requires significant mixing after the fact. My mom has a cool little blender top mixer that does a great job.
While doing my pie engineering, I posted a series of observations on Twitter. Much useful feedback was given. For now, I have ordered an OXO Good Grips Dough Blender with Blades; the good OXO dough blender, not the flimsy one.
I also need new pie tins. According to my Mom, black tins make the best pies I can’t argue with her expertise. I do wonder if a is the way to go. I might try making a pie in one of my many cast iron pans.
Update: Mom wrote in the comments with some hints and tips. I also made a new pie using a marble cutting board + keeping the dough cold. More soon.