Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgivings of yore

Looking back at some old pics, I came across this one of some pies i baked with my sister Fran in either 2005 or 2006. Fran had discovered this really yummy apple pie with a crumb top. I made the bottom crust for her pie as well as the two pumpkin pies and the cherry. This was not the year I made the pumpkin pies without sugar. I always made pumpkin for my nephew Kyle, and had even made a mini pie just for him. i was horrified when he told me there was something "wrong" with it. So now everyone likes to joke "Don't forget the sugar!" whenever I make any type of pie, not just pumpkin.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

a few more pics

Look at me!

Marjorie declared the winner!

Martha and Marjorie

that's some blue ribbon!

loot from the show

more pics

Inside the studio

Check out my pie in the the red dish

what an awesome set

look there's my pie again!

This pie was cool

What a day!

Wow, it was so cool to be on Martha's show today! i've never been in a studio audience before and would really like to do it again. i didn't get bored or antsy to get up and walk around (they wouldn't let you anyway). The show was supposed to take about an hour to tape, but it took well over two hours. This was the first annual Pie Bake-Off for the show. It was great to be a part of that.

i got to the studio around noon, thinking it would be a good idea to get there early. I shouldn't have been surprised to see such a long line of people who had the same idea. I walked to the end of the line and stood patiently, trying to balance my pie while holding an umbrella. A sweet old lady named Marjorie got in line behind me. We struck up a conversation when I overheard she had just flown in from Minnesota. We chatted the whole time we were on the line outside and later, sat together inside what I call the "holding pen", a couple of rooms with a lot of chairs and some flat screen TVs playing Martha's show. It was great to hear about her life and all she has accomplished. She has well over 1000 blue ribbons from the MN State Fair and has been on various shows from Rosie O'Donnell to Jay Leno. She also had a copy of her book on hand, Blue Ribbon Baking, which I spent some time flipping through.

When it was time to walk into the studio, I had to leave Marjorie behind, as we were to be seated in different sections. She was part of a big group, the American Pie Council. I didn't know such an organization existed. I got a great seat on the center aisle, so I had a perfect view of the set. I was so impressed with Martha's studio, everything was so perfect, just as you'd expect from Martha. I took pictures of every corner, amazed at the details. If i were to design a kitchen, I would probably use her set as the model.

There were a total of 170 pies in the bake-off. All the pies were nicely arranged on two long tables. Some pies were showcased on a cake stand. I was pleasantly surprised to see my pie on one of the pedestals! I recognized my red ceramic pie dish from Sur La Table almost immediately as I scanned the pies from my seat. I took several pictures of my pie as it stood there in all its glory. As the cameras panned across the tables, i could see the images on the big flat screen TVs in the studio. I was so pleased to see my pie showcased, but it never made me think I'd have a chance at winning. The reason is that when they asked how many of us made apple pie, about half the audience stood up. But at that point it really didn't matter, I was just really excited to be participating.

Martha had several pastry chefs judging the pies, including Karen DeMasco, the pastry chef at Robert DeNiro's restaurant, Locanda Verde. She has a new book out called The Craft of Baking. I'd recently seen this book online while I was doing a lot of research on pies, and had made a note to see if my company carries this book. Lucky for me, one of the items in our goody bag was a copy of her book! I was thrilled. In addition to that, we each got a Pyrex pie caddy, which includes a glass pie pan, and a Martha Stewart pie top cutter -- another item I'd been eyeing recently. Plus there was a bag full of other useful things, such as hand lotion (3 varieties!) and two blocks of organic baking chocolate -- nice!

During the show, Martha called on a couple of members of the audience to talk about their pie. One of them was my new friend Marjorie. I thought this was a good sign for her. There were two other women from the American Pie Council who were interviewed. I began to wonder how I could join this secret society of pie experts and vowed to look into it.

Later in the show, Martha herself got over to the pie tables and began sampling several pies. I never saw her taste mine, but i did see one judge take a bite and immediately reach for some water. I thought, "that can't be good". Slowly they started taking some of the pies off the table and placed on carts. I figured these were the final contestants. I saw another judge taste my pie, and I saw him hesitate, speak to someone and then moved on. My pie never made it on that cart. I was too happy to be disappointed about that. It was so much fun being on the show that the actual contest seemed unimportant at that point.

When it came time for Martha to announce the winner, I honestly had no idea who it could be. I was beyond thrilled when she said Marjorie's name! I felt she really deserved it, having come all the way from MN and having won so many awards in the past. It seemed completely appropriate and I was proud that a fellow Minnesotan won! Now she will go back to the show tomorrow to tape an episode where she makes her pecan pie with Martha. I can't wait to see it.

I also look forward to seeing the Pie Show on Monday. During the taping, there were several shots taken of my pie, I am anxious to see which make the final cut. There was one fade to commercial break with only my pie in the frame. I hope that stays in. I really hope Martha makes this an annual event, i would love to participate next year! And I am already thinking about new pies to try out.

Waiting on line outside the Martha Stewart studio

Me and my pie

Me and my new friend, Marjorie

Getting Ready

Today's the taping for the Pie Show. Pie is ready to go, and I should be leaving in a little over an hour or so. Planning to arrive a bit early in hopes of getting a good seat in the audience. I'm wearing a Martha-blue shirt in honor of the occasion.

I just checked Martha's website, the show will air next Monday, Nov 16:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pie in the oven

this is the pie from last night. it was a terrible pie and went right in the garbage.

So this is it, the pie for Martha Stewart. I decided to go back to my original recipe for the crust and filling. The vodka/crisco crust was good and mostly flaky, but the bottom crust got a bit soggy from the filling. It turns out that mutsu apples are pretty terrible for baking. they have a weird perfumy's the only way i can describe it. i went back to Granny Smith and Gala, which seem to be a good combination.

I stopped by Williams Sonoma after work to get these cute pie crust cutters. I used the acorn and one of the leaves to add a little decoration to the top of my pie. I think it looks nice.

ok, now the pie is out of the oven and cooling on the counter.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Crustmaster

This link was sent to me today. Obama's pastry chef has a great recipe for apple pie...he even bakes the bottom crust first. i need to try this.

Vodka & Crisco

Last night I went out to get some vodka and crisco to make this supposedly "fool proof" pie crust from Cook's Illustrated. It's supposed to make a very flaky crust. I refrigerated the crust overnight and made the pie tonight. The apples I bought out east turned out to be a bit past their peak, but a few were good enough to use. The Mutsu apples are really sweet and flavorful. I combined them with a couple of the Gala and a few Granny Smith. Now the pie is baking in the oven and smells really good. Can't wait to try it!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Indian Summer

Yesterday was a great day for a drive to the North Fork. It was the perfect fall day, sunny and warm, and the trees still have a lot of bright colored leaves. I was in search of local apples and picked up some Gala and Mutsu at the Hallock Cider Mill on 25 in Laurel. I've never had Mutsu, but they looked good and I've been meaning to try different varieties in my apple pie.

Since I was out that way, I decided to drive a little bit further to Greenport to visit Salamander's, a cute little cafe/gourmet deli where they sell the best homemade donuts. My favorite are the cinnamon dusted cake donuts. yum!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Quote of the day

"She's sweet, and a lady baker"  - Michael Scott, The Office


i am not satisfied with the way this pie turned out. after it cooled, the top deflated a bit on one side, and when I tried a piece, some of the apples were a bit too firm. i think in order to make this type of top pie crust, I need to first cook the apples on the stove, let them cool, transfer to the pie shell and then apply the top crust. i think with all the gaps in the top, a lot of the heat escaped from the pie, which caused the apples to not fully bake. otherwise, the pie tastes good!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

top crust experiment

In order to stand out in this competition, i thought it would be a good idea to make the top crust more interesting. Using the acorn cookie cutter Staci gave me a few years ago, I overlapped several cut outs to create the top crust. I think it turned out pretty good for a first try. I wanted to try some fall leaves, but the cookie cutters I bought at Target today were left on the checkout. Now i have to go back tomorrow to pick them up. sheesh.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Zabar's catalog arrived today in the mail, filled with all kinds of mouth watering treats. reminds me that i need to learn how to make babka and rugelach.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Countdown to Martha Stewart

In one week, I'll be baking my famous apple pie for the Pie Show on Martha Stewart. Each member of the audience must bring in a homemade pie to be judged on the show. I have been making several test-run pies in preparation, adjusting the spices, type of apples, even the type of pie pan. I won't get my pie pan back, so I have to be careful which pan I decide I can live without. My other worry was how to transport the pie from my apt in Long Island City to Martha's studio on 26th street. Luckily, my aunt Randi has telepathic powers and earlier this week she sent me this awesome pie caddy...which also has inserts for a dozen cupcakes and 18 deviled eggs! i don't make deviled eggs, however. Currently, I have a pie in the oven. Will bring it in to work tomorrow so I don't end up eating the whole thing.

Just a few easy steps to a perfect pie!

Five pie pans to choose from.

pie caddy