Monday, August 29, 2005

Can you make a pie? Neither can I.

The domestic tranquility in our household is ensured by a reasonable number of rules. Very high on the list is: one chef in the kitchen at a time. Not zero. Two is right out. The number of the chefs shall be one.

This lesson was learned the hard way, but is not actually a hard lesson. We both like to cook; we can each follow the other's lead. Each of us has certain specialties, which helps. Herself is better at desserts and ethnic cuisines; I have the edge on Southern style and breakfast cooking.

Or so I thought.

Pastry has never been a strong suit for either of us. I'm reasonably OK with this. A man's got to know his limitations. Unfortunately for Herself, the Platonic Ideal Crust looms out there like a golden brown and delicious Mount Everest, taunting her, tempting her, mocking her. She makes great pie, which I think actually makes it more painful to use a store-bought crust.

Last weekend, we found ourselves with a fantastic mock apple pie filling and the detritus of another attempted expedition up Mount Pie Crust. Just as things looked their darkest, a beam of light shined the way... we had fruit. We had flour and shortening and milk.

We had cobbler.

Into the cast iron dutch oven went the filling. While it heated, Herself mixed together some biscuit dough. Spooned it over the top, baked for half an hour, and mmmm-MMMM what a green tomato cobbler we had!

Sunday night dinner was chicken and pan gravy. And everybody knows what goes with chicken and gravy... biscuits. Those biscuits from the cobbler were very promising indeed. So she made up another batch of biscuit dough, rolled them out and cut them, and mmm-boy were they good.

Waitaminnit. Biscuits are Southern. And breakfast food.

But I've never made a rolled biscuit in my life. I make drop biscuits. They're easy, they're reliable, and I like the crumbly texture. You don't worry about over-working them, it's OK if they're not the same size, the tops turn out all cool and craggy-like.

Dammit, she made some good biscuits. Both times. The second batch were almost picture-perfect.

If y'all will excuse me, I have to go hide my secret Maryland fried chicken recipe. This aggression will not stand, man.


PS: I don't care what Alton says. (This time.) If it's got hot fruit on the bottom and biscuit dough on the top, that's cobbler.


Blogger Hugh said...

After securing literally 10 pounds (and by "literally", I mean literally) of blueberries, we had some amazing cobbler -- amazing how easy it was.

9:52 AM, August 30, 2005  
Blogger lemming said...

I can knit a sweater

but I cannot make reliable pie crust.

Consider this proof of your good influence rubbing off on the Beautiful Herself.

12:57 PM, August 30, 2005  
Blogger Swankette said...

This may well have been already tried, but the biggest secret to good pie dough is to make sure all ingredients are bone-chillingly cold at every step along the way.

I'm not an expert of pie dough yet, but I also do most of my pies in a 12" round by 2" deep dish (rather than the standard 9" by 1"), which adds several layers of challenge to the equation.

11:26 PM, August 30, 2005  
Blogger Reggiemonster said...

Baking is alchemy more than anything- there is a science involved, but there is also a bit of magic, and you either have the touch or you don't. I make a pretty descent pie crust most of the time, but I cannot make oatmeal raisin cookies to save my life. They are terrible every time. So I placate myself with piles of Snickerdoodles.

For some reason, pie stands out as the mythological gold standard. I was at a bbq in Los Angeles where a studio exec type came over to me and literally said, "There is a rumor on the other side of the room that you made the cherry pie from scratch." Apparently, I pushed the envelope when I informed her that not only had I made it but I picked the cherries myself. At that point she looked at me as if I had just told her that Brad had left Angelina for me.

Pie is good, but I'd stillr ather be able to make a descent oatmeal cookie. They are harder to disguise as store bought.

1:00 PM, August 31, 2005  
Blogger lemming said...

Using my grandmother recipie I can make a greatoatmeal cookie. Will trade with reggie for good pie crust, Swankpoet as judge.

3:48 PM, August 31, 2005  
Blogger Joe said...

Reggie - remember the night we made an apple "pie" in the Campus Ministry house? And by "pie", I mean something a lot more like a gargantuan cookie, because I put about 3 times too much sugar in the crust...

5:12 PM, August 31, 2005  
Blogger Reggiemonster said...

I do remember that now. That House was cursed for baking- Cara used to make cookies there occasionally and alway either forgot something or added something wrong- like baking soda for powder. The House specialty was spaghetti- anything else made it nervous.

9:36 PM, August 31, 2005  

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