Friday, November 14, 2008

More Agent Provocateur, less Jockey for Her

I know, I know, you're wondering where all the pie-baking has gone to. Does PQ just flit from hot tub to theater seat these days, with nary a flour trail scattered behind her? Happily, my old pal Leslie from Chronicle Books is having a soup party this Sunday, so I'll be making a quince galette from S.'s recently poached quinces to bring across the bay to her sweet little cottage in Rockridge. And Sunday may be the day to try out the rough-puff (or "ruff puff" as the pastryettas call it) recipe in the Tartine cookbook and see what happens. And speaking of Chronicle, they've now got an entire puff-pastry cookbook out, to go with their other in-depth studies of toast, snowmen, and grilled cheese. Surely my soon-to-be-written tome, Everyone Loves Pudding, could find a happy home there!

I've also got to liberate my lard pastry from Paige's freezer, where it went when I chickened out over using it for the Sebastopol Gravenstein apple-pie contest. And with T-giving coming up, it may be time to search out more lard (Mexican markets? Fatted Calf? Boccolone?). But not for t-day proper, since I'm going over to Shifra and Stephen's, where trayf is, well, trayf. (For you goyim, that's Yiddish for un-kosher. And it's not just for the Orthodox; many Jews who don't keep kosher still get a little squeamish about having some of the obvious dietary-law no-no's--like pork products and shellfish--in their homes. Even as a lax baking Jew, I still very rarely buy porky things to cook at home, a hangover of growing up in a no-ham/no-bacon kitchen. The exception being, of course, my recent infatuation with lard for baking.)

In fact, because Stephen can't eat eggs, I've got to test-drive an eggless pumpkin pie. I'm thinking pureed silken tofu--the same solution used for their eggless lemon wedding cake, a few years ago. Any other suggestions for eggless custard? Dairy OK, just no cornstarch or eggs. Of course, I could just do my usual apple pie and cranberry tart, but I know how people get about a Thankgiving w/o pumpkin pie.

I also feel that it's bad form to bring a dessert that the host can't eat. So eggless pumpkin pie it is! And if I can find something like the heavenly sunshine kabocha squash that we grew at the farm last year--which tasted, I swear, like chicken, or at least like the marvelous sticky drippings left in the pan in which the chicken was roasted--I will use that instead of Libby's canned, or even a real sugar-pie pumpkin. If not, roasted butternut squash mashed and drained it is, because b-nut squash has much, much more flavor that any kind of pumpkin.

And speaking of the farm, it's Farmie Thanksgiving down there in Santa Cruz this Thursday, and I'll be there, hanging out with my fellow farmies and making pies from whatever I can get my hands on--quinces, apples, pears, sweet potatoes, winter squash...

It's also the time that you should finally get all the pie accouterments that you rue not possessing every time you start baking in earnest. Like a really huge, heavy rolling pin. And a crust shield, so you don't have to fiddle around burning your fingers while draping scraps of aluminum foil over the pastry edges that are browning too fast. And actual reusable pie weights*, which are heavier and better than old beans, especially the chain ones that look like jumbo-sized drain chains.

Of course, what I really want/need is a two-level pie basket (like this one) for carrying those pies on Muni and BART. Over the years, I've had an assortment of garage-sale picnic baskets and cardboard boxes that more-or-less did the job, but I still believe that a basket like this will come my way by serendipity.

*You know what pie weights are, don't you? They sail the seven seas in search of pwunder! Like this!

Songs for Pumpkin:
1. Kate Nash, Pumpkin Soup
2. Tori Amos, Big Wheel
3. Vampire Weekend, Bryn

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