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The Cookstr 10: Ten Holiday Pies

November 12, 2009

Welcome to The Cookstr 10,’s weekly newsletter. In each newsletter we highlight ten chefs and authors, recipes, books, tips and techniques, or other selections we think you’ll enjoy.  If you haven’t signed up to receive them right to your very own email address, you can do that by clicking here, and you’ll also be able to save your favorite Cookstr recipes and make comments if you like.

Do you know what we love about pie? Besides everything? What is so appealing about pie is that it is both seasonal and season-less. That sounds convoluted. Think of it this way: is there a time of year you would not be happy to eat pie? No, there is not. And then think of the kinds of pie you’d like to eat at different times of the year. Spring brings visions of rhubarb and strawberries, summer is all about the berries and the peaches and other stone fruits, and fall starts an explosion of holiday favorites, from sweet to savory.

Chocolate Chiffon Pie

We’re quickly careening towards Thanksgiving (14 days and counting, oh my), which–if the year were a country–would be the pie capital. And then the rest of the holidays tumble over each other in quick succession, bringing with them so many opportunities for pie-baking and eating it’s not funny. Open houses, potluck gatherings, parties, and mugs of hot chocolate that would love nothing better than to snuggle up against a slice of PIE. Goodness, we’ve worked ourselves up a bit.

By the way, we’ve been so gratified with the comments many of you have made about the newsletters, and we really love all the feedback, on Facebook, via email, and on Twitter…and you know what we’d love to hear? What topics you think are Cookstr 10 worthy. Click here and tell us what you’d love to see ten recipes for.

1. John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg’s Chocolate Pecan Tart. This tart’s caramel-nut filling rests on a thin, light crust that’s been coated with a layer of dark chocolate. The technique of coating a crust with chocolate is really delicious and interesting, and you might keep it in mind for other tarts and pies, such as a lemon tart, coconut cream pie, and banana cream pie.

2. Dorie Greenspan’s Baked Apple Tart. This tart hails from Dalloyau, a group of tres luxe French pâtisseries. This is like an apple tart on French steroids. Caramelized apples sitting atop a thin layer of lightly nutty almond cream are baked in a crunchy crust that holds everything together.

3. John Shields’ Sweet Potato Pie. Pumpkin tends to hog the spotlight when it comes to winter squash pies, but not down South, where sweet potatoes reign supreme, and are so abundant at this time of year. This has all of those warm spices, a hit of brown sugar and cream, and the fragrance emanating from the oven could make you weep with anticipation.

4. Laura Werlin’s Pear and Goat Cheese Tart. If the cheese course and the dessert cart had a sophisticated collision, this would be the result. It is not terribly sweet and because of that you want to choose very ripe pears, which will provide the necessary sweetness. The pine nuts give it a powerful but subtle boost of flavor and texture.

5. Pichet Ong’s Banana Cream Pie. Creamy, custardy banana cream pie, oh my! Here, fresh and candied ginger add a nice kick, balanced by sweet milk chocolate. This pie is perfect on its own, or garnish it with milk chocolate shavings by running a vegetable peeler along a bar of chocolate.

6. Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner’s Chocolate Chiffon Pie. Hell-ooooo! Rich and indulgent, this pie offers a satisfying contrast between a light, smooth mousse-like filling and a crunchy crumb crust. Some of us need to combine our chocolate addictions with our dreams of pie, and this dessert does just that.

7. Bob Sloan’s Dave’s Key Lime Pie. When you’ve stuffed yourself to the gills, and don’t think you have room for one more bite of anything, this pie will be the one to make you loosen that belt a notch and find space. Sweetly tart, refreshing, and covered with fresh whipped cream, it’s a perfect end to a big meal. P.S. A store-bought graham cracker crust makes this extremely easy to pull together.Lewis and Poliafito Whoopie Pie

8. Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito’s Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling. Okay, this may not be a traditional pie pie. But would you pass this by on the dessert table? We can all embrace the concept of two cakey chocolate cookies with a fair amount of cream sandwiched between them; this one, with its soft, pumpkin-flavored cookie and chilled cream cheese filling, is what fall was made for. For impressive bite-sized pies, use a melon baller to scoop the dough.

9. Christopher Idone’s Shepherd’s Pie. We don’t like to stereotype but it seems that men in particular go a bit weak in the knees for shepherd’s pie. For some, the idea of meat and mashed potatoes in one dish is as close to nirvana as you can get.

10. Sara Foster’s Chicken Pot Pie. You can make this as one large casserole, or as individual potpies, which look pretty special and adorable for entertaining. The chicken shares the stage with butternut squash and sautéed mushrooms, all bubbling away in a light sauce and topped with a puffy blanket of (frozen) puff pastry.

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