Monday, September 22, 2008
Here's grape in your pie!
Ah, the Concord grape. Grape of my childhood. Grape of my dreams. No grape is more pleasingly grapey or forgiveably seeded. It must be early fall, for I found the most beautimous Concord grapes at the McCarren Park farmers' market this past weekend. And I must have been hungry, for no sooner had I spotted them than I found they had been bought (by me) and were coming home in a bag.
After eating them out of that bag much of the afternoon on Saturday, and arranging them artfully in a newly purchased (six dollars) lavender vintage Pyrex divided dish (sold without lid) on Sunday morning, inspiration struck. Didn't I like pie? Why, yes, I did. Hadn't I heard of grapes being used in pie? Why, yes, I had! And did I have the right sort of grapes (by type and by weight) to make such a pie?
You guessed it. I found I had just enough (a little under 2 pounds) of the grapes left to make myself a pie Sunday evening [whilst watching yet another version of Little Women (1949, with June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor, and Janet Leigh this time) on DVD].
I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Pie and Pastry Bible, which is the trickiest cookbook I own in terms of level of difficulty (it varying between "just a bit" to "wildly" over my existing baking skills and comfort zone) and persnickety-ness of instruction. This is the cookbook that allowed me to create the following Flame Plum tart, but nearly drove me mad in the process of following its scads of instructions as I crafted the thing.
Enough about tarts of the past. Back to pies of the present. It took me an entire evening to make the transition from picking out ingredients at the grocery store (at about 6pm) in Union Square to pulling a fully-baked pie from the oven at midnight to being asleep when it was finally a fully-cooled-and-ready-to-eat pie at 2am (2 hours of cooling? After over 5 hours of making a pie? That's just craziness, Ms. Beranbaum!).
Ah, but such a luxurious craziness. I'm talking Concord Grape pie (p.127) with Basic Flaky Pie Crust (2-crust version; optional baking powder included; p.23), topped with homemade peanut butter ice cream (p. 246). Whew.
And what about the eating of the pie? Worth the fuss and muss and freezer time? At least this once, yes. When removed from the oven, the crust was golden brown and the filling smelled like fresh, rich grape juice. The surface of the pie undulated with heat and purple-red droplets of juice jumped and popped beneath the grape-shape holes in the flaky top crust (this "bunch of grapes" decoration was suggested by the cookbook's author and only partly successful when executed by me).
And the homemade ice cream? I think I let the custard curdle, but that affects texture more than flavor. Starring in this ice cream, in perhaps the role it was born to play, was the Cream-Nut Peanut Butter left over from my graham crackers and peanut butter sandwich taste test.
The pie alone? rich and delicious. With the peanut butter ice cream? It was like the most deluxe peanut butter and jelly sandwich evah. Evah evah. Jelly like I've never had. Peanut butter ice cream beyond compare. Extra-great flaky and buttery pastry. Oh, my. Pie.
So, yeah. Pretty great. I can't wait to have another slice for breakfast.
p.s. This was my 150th post! Wheee!