Pie, Oh My…

What better way to end a hot summer’s day than with a cool slice of pie? Some reasons why pie is the all-time seasonal dessert:

  1. It can be made ahead of time, allowing your kitchen to stay at a reasonable (and tolerable) temperature during gatherings (CRUCIAL for hosting!)
  2. It is portable – always a welcome treat at cookouts and potlucks!
  3. It is remarkably versatile, and can be the perfect palate for the season’s colorful harvest.
  4. Let’s face it – who doesn’t like pie?

When I hosted a BBQ the other weekend, I thought I’d throw my efforts into not one but TWO pies…as expected, there wasn’t so much as a crumb left by the end of the party. What made them disappear so soon, you ask? Brace yourself – Lime and Blackberry Meringue Pie and Banana Cream Pie with Homemade Caramel and Chocolate Crust.
I have tried countless pie dough recipes, resulting in everything from lifeless crusts and burnt edges. This recipe is my new go-to: perfectly flaky, yet still full of that sinfully buttery taste! The secret ingredient? Vodka! Probably one of the few times that vodka is a good choice. Once the dough starts baking, the (flavorless) alcohol evaporates, and leaves behind a golden crust just begging to be filled! It’s a Cook’s Illustrated experiment (gotta love those nerdy cooks!) and will guarantee a perfect slice of pie 🙂
I’m a sucker for blackberries – there is something too irresistible about berries so fresh that they look ready to burst. Glazed with red wine and sugar…I was sold! As for the lime curd, there (apparently) is a step that involves powdered gelatin and whipped cream…I think my subconscious decided to omit this in favor of a straight-up curd. The result was (in my opinion) fabulous! A simple, creamy lime curd atop a beautiful bed of glazed blackberries – does life get any sweeter? Click HERE to see the recipe for this gorgeous pie!
For many of us, banana cream pie evokes memories of Nilla wafers and Jello pudding mix. Yet this recipe is a cut above those “out-of-a-box” creations – layers of homemade caramel and dark chocolate ganache topped with a creamy vanilla bean custard and fresh bananas. The caramel and custard require a bit of patience (and careful monitoring). Both are prepared over low heat, and immediately removed the second they are finished…failure to do this will put you right back at square one. That being said, the result is one of the BEST banana cream pies you will have ever tasted! I’m not one to pressure others, but I really encourage you to give this pie a try – click HERE to see the recipe for this homemade classic!
I wanted a musical pairing that captured the “joy” of summer in addition to acknowledging the unique flavor of these two pies. That led me to Debussy: a composer whose style is both beautiful and exotic. His work L’Isle joyeuse (Isle of Joy) for solor piano made a perfect fit. Debussy was inspired by Jean-Antoine Watteau’s painting L’Embarquement pour Cythère (Voyage to Cythera). The scene, filled with color and sensuality, portrays a group at the onset of their journey to the Island of Aphrodite (pictured below):
Debussy captures this colorful revelry by combining standard diatonic scales with whole tone scales; the result is almost otherworldly. These pies, each of classic origin, bring a new concept of flavor combinations that allow one to experience an almost “otherworldly joy” at first bite. Not to mention the technical difficulty this piece requires can certainly be met by the amount of time and patience needed to make these delicacies. I hope you enjoy this work as much as I do!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4LvR9IPwwI

Sources Cited:
“Debussy: L’Isle joyeuse,” Minnesota Orchestra Program Notes
“L’Embarquement pour Cythere, by Antoine Watteau,” Wikipedia.com

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