February Cookbook Review: Pie It Forward

By Sarah

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Pie.  The word alone inspires so many associations – with holidays, home and happiness.  Easy as pie.  Well, that’s all together another idea.  For some pie making comes easy, for others, it’s more of a labor of love.

I’ve been making pie for years – I courted my husband with pie, we probably eat pie about once a month here at our house.  If I include the quiches and the tourtieres and the other savory possibilities, what we consider to be pie-eating might be even more frequent.  At least, I wish it were more frequent (I’m sure, dear readers, that you all remember my powerful weakness for baked goods).

I was so excited to cook from Pie It Forward, Gesine Bullock-Prado’s decadent contribution to the cookbook genre of pie making.  I had thought my crust was pretty good, I was reasonably proud of it, in fact.  But after reading Bullock-Prado’s chapter on crusts, and trying out a few, I knew I had to expand my repertoire.  There are no less than 11 different crusts – an All-Butter Easy Pie Dough to start, working up to a Traditional Puff Pastry, very elaborate, but so worth it.  A helpful section of master recipes serves up an excellent Pastry Cream recipe, accompanied by 7 varieties such as Green Tea, Chocolate and Pumpkin Pastry Cream.  There’s also a Caramel, a Ganache and a Fruit Glaze to master as well.  All of this in the first section, The Basics, and we have not even gotten to the pie part of the book yet.

There are four sections, The Basics, The Sweets, The Savories, and Pie It Forward.  Within each section are chapters for the many kinds of pie, Very Berry, Chewy & Chocolaty, Tart & Tropical and Oh Nuts! just to name a few.  There’s even a whole chapter dedicated to Strudel.

Among our favorites were the Wild Blueberry Pie, with all of those nubbly, little round berries peeking out from underneath a latticed crust.   The Pear Frangipane Pithivier was baked in a shattering puff pastry and filled the house with that fragrant almond and pear combination.  The Vermont Apple Pie had extra-sharp cheddar cheese baked into it, of course.  The Ruby Red Minted Tart was a perfect balance of sweet-tart flavors, it was puckeringly good.  The Chocolate Cream Pie was dark and creamy – I can only echo Bullock-Prado’s advice on using really good quality chocolate when you make this, you’ll be able to taste the difference.  And the Classic Pecan Pie was so delicious, we made it twice in one month.

From The Savories section, we made the Pork Pies – individual puffs of porky lusciousness that were a bit harder to put together than I had expected, but still stole our souls the way that only bacon can.  With a nice acidic salad, they were perfect for a luncheon with friends.

There are quite a few pies in this book that I would like to go back and try.  In particular, there is a creamy peanut butter, banana and chocolate pie called the Velvet Elvis that I think I might need to indulge in.

 “Pie It Forward” by Gesine Bullock-Prado.  Photographs by Tina Rupp.  Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012.  252 pages.

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