“If you say it’s her, it’s her, said Joe, and he pushed a twenty and a five across the table. Hal rolled the bills like a cigarette and put them in his vest pocket. He cut a triangle of meat from the rib steak and put it in his mouth. It was her, he said. Want a piece of pie?”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Life in the kitchen is always changing, moving. Make a meal, clean up, try a new recipe, more cleaning, shop, then stock the pantry and refrigerator, more eating, repeat in random order. So many variables, just like traffic. The joy of flying down the freeway, the pause to refuel, the frustration of stop and go, the cozy feeling of coming home at the end of a long day and yes, the insane amount of time we spend in our cars. A working kitchen can be a traffic jam on Highway 68 or a sweet and sassy ride down the coast of California.
Three things to make kitchen life easier.
- Clean up after often, especially after every meal or project. There is no way around it, cooking requires clean-up. Stacked up dishes are a kitchen traffic jam. Dirty dishes are more difficult to clean and discourage more cooking. And there is always more cooking.
- Keep those knives sharpened. Just like keeping a car properly tuned and ready to go. Sharp knives make every aspect of cooking smoother. A sharp knife is safer too. A dull knife can slide off the food and onto fingers.
- Invest in a high quality non-stick skillet. If it wears out, replace it. Fancy pots and pans are nice, very nice, but are not a requirement. Almost every meal can be made in a good skillet. And a non-stick skillet is fast and easy to clean.
What are three things to make life in kitchen easier got to do with a pie stuffed with pears and a layer of chocolate? Just about everything. I bought a new cookbook, tried a new recipe, cleaned up my mess (took a bunch of photos) and then went back in the kitchen and made dinner. It’s all about finding that sweet ride and not ending up in a jam at dinner time.
The Magpie bakery cookbook was bought totally on a whim. I happily use the techniques from my mom’s piecrust recipe and wasn’t looking to make any changes to my pie routine. I was seduced by all the different fillings wrapped up in a flakey pie crust. How could I resist Five-Spice Plum Pie or Granola S’More Pie? I became intrigued with the extremely detailed instructions and photos for making the pie dough. I decided to incorporate some of them into my pie making, it’s a game changer. If making a better pie is on you autumn bucket list, this is the cookbook with tips for every pie maker.
Three things that make a better pie.
- The Magpie recipe uses mostly butter but also a bit of vegetable shortening to make the pastry dough flakey. I usually use all butter, while my mom used all vegetable shortening. The ratio of three parts butter and one part shortening is genius. We can have our flakey and buttery too.
- Chilling is used throughout the Magpie pie making process. Keep it cold, from the butter and shortening to chilling the pastry dough overnight before making the pie. Chilling the bottom crust while preparing the filling keeps the crust from getting soggy.
- At Magpie a pie is allowed to really firm up before cutting—overnight or up to three days. This is such a timesaver. Think Thanksgiving. The pie can be started 2 days or more before it is needed. Make the pastry dough early in the week and then make the pies the day before the big event. No wonder a slice of leftover pie is always the best.
I did change the Magpie recipe for Pear Chocolate Pie by adding a bit more sugar and a toss of cardamom to the filling. Magpie does not peel the pears, but I do. Use a favorite pastry crust recipe or dive into the Magpie technique, either way an autumn pie brimming with juicy ripe pears and hint of chocolate is a wonderful way to begin the season of pies. The recipe makes a standard nine inch pie.
|Adapted from Magpie’s Pear Chocolate Pie|
|1||recipe favorite pie dough, double crust|
|6-7C||peeled, cored and sliced ripe, but firm pears|
|1T||fresh lemon juice|
|1/4t||fine grain sea salt|
- Chill the pie dough for at least two hours before making the pie. Magpie suggests chilling the pie dough at least 8 hours to fully hydrate the flour. With a floured rolling pin on a lightly floured work surface roll out the bottom pie crust dough approximately 1/8” thick. Measure, cut and line the 9” pie pan with the dough. Gently push the dough down into the contours of the pan without stretching the dough. Trim the dough flush with the outer rim of the pie pan. Chill the bottom crust while the fruit filling is prepared.
- Heat oven to 425°. Prepare an egg wash by thoroughly mixing the egg yolk and a tablespoon of water together. Line a sheet pan with parchment.
- Place the pears in a large bowl and add the sugar, cornstarch, cardamom and salt. Gently fold until all the fruit is coated with the sugar mixture and the cornstarch is no longer visible.
- Remove the pie pan from the refrigerator and spread the chocolate across the surface of the bottom pie crust. Scoop the pears and place on top of the chocolate, leaving most of the accumulated liquid behind.
- With a floured rolling pin on a lightly floured work surface roll out the top pie crust into a 10 inch circle which is approximately 1/8” thick. Dampen the edge of the bottom crust with some of the egg wash. Place top crust over the pear filled pie pan. Trim any overhanging dough to 1 inch wider than the edge of the pie pan. Fold overhanging dough under the bottom crust, making a tripe layered edge. Crimp or flute the edge of the pie crust. Brush the egg wash over the top crust and crimped edge. Lightly, sprinkle sugar on top of the crust. Cut 5 steam vents in the crust.
- Place the pie on the prepared sheet pan and bake the pie at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven to 375° and continue baking for 30-35 minutes until crust has browned and the pear juices are bubbling up through the vents in the top crust. Check the pie during baking and cover the edge of the crust with foil if it is browning too quickly.
- Cool thoroughly before serving. Magpie recommends an overnight rest before cutting.
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