Monday, August 20, 2018

Tansey - 5th Annual Pieathalon

So a few weeks ago I am checking my email and what do I find? An invitation to participate in the 5th Annual Pieathalon! I played it all casual in my response, but I immediately ran downstairs to tell Farm Boy.  Well, "ran" is probably an exaggeration, but I did go downstairs and scream, "OMG! OMG! The cool kids are talking to me!"  He was very impressed.

The rules of Pieathalon are simple:
1) You choose a vintage recipe and send it in 
2) You receive a vintage recipe submitted by someone else
3) You make the recipe
4) You post about your experience

I looked through a lot of cookbooks for my submission and while I saw a lot of really nice sounding pie recipes, the one that really, truly spoke to me did not sound nice at all.  Heh heh heh.  I hope Jenny of Silver Screen Suppers who got stuck with Sweet Onion Pie (with raisins) can find it in her heart to forgive me.  Or at least never finds out where I live.

On the other end of the spectrum from a dessert with onions and raisins, the recipe I received - courtesy of Battenburgbelle - is full of heavy cream, eggs, ladyfinger cookies and sherry.  Oooh, promising!

The recipe is from Mary and Vincent Price’s Come Into The Kitchen Cook Book (1969). 

I happen to have a copy of this book (big surprise, I know).  It only has a few actual photos, but the whole book is full of cute illustrations like these. 

A cat!  You know that gets points from me.

I meant to take one of those "here are all my ingredients" photos, but I was distracted by The Oven of Regret.

It's actually a Knapp-Monarch Redi-Baker from the 1950s.  And it ended up in my kitchen because of a (possibly winey) evening of online shopping.  It has been sitting on the kitchen counter for about a week, just daring me to straighten out that old cloth cord and plug it in.  Since I had a little leftover pie crust and Farm Boy was away for the day (and thus I wouldn't kill both of us when it burst into flames), I decided to plug that bad boy in and make:

Pie crust cookies!

No sparks erupted when I plugged it in or turned it on.  There was a slight aroma of burning dust (with a piquant hint of musty old house) while it heated, but no flames or electrical shocks and the thermostat even seemed to work.  I was afraid that the heat would be uneven, given the small size of the oven space, but it worked like a champ.  Thank you for performing so well after 60+ years, Oven of Regret! I'm still not quite over my buyer's remorse, but I'm glad to know you aren't out to kill me.

Now, back to the pie.

Step 1 of the recipe called for cooking the egg yolks, cream, sugar, sherry, ladyfingers and nutmeg until thickened.  I wasn't sure how well to break the ladyfingers down, but they ended up cooking down into very small crumbs.

Step 2 was to add some green food coloring, if desired.  Normally I wouldn't bother with food coloring, but this is for the Pieathalon.  One simply does not commit half-assery during Pieathalon!

Ta-da!  It's green(ish)!
Step 3 calls for the egg whites to be beaten very stiff, then folded into the hot custard.  That mixture is then poured into the pie shell. 

I really wish I had taken a photo of the empty pie shell.  It was one of the better ones I have ever made.  Pastry is not my forte. 

Step 4 has us bake the pie at 450F for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350F and bake for 30 more minutes. 

 chambers stove oven range

True to the description, the pie did puff up quite a bit and was nicely golden brown on top.  After cooling, it settled down to a normal pie height.

Now time for the tasting!

Farm Boy and my sister agreed to be taste testers for me, but the only one brave enough to be photographed was the queen of the house, Lily.

I am here to help



How could you?
Results: Disappointing.

We all thought, based on the ingredients, that this would be really good.  But it has hardly any flavor at all.  If you use your imagination, you can almost taste the sherry, but overall it has the flavor profile of a graham cracker, but not quite as sweet.  And to add to the sadness, instead of a nice, creamy pie, the crushed ladyfingers just end up giving it the texture of cooked and then cooled/ congealed steel cut oats. 

In the end, while I'm sad to not have a pie that I want to add to my repertoire, I am thrilled to have participated in the 5th Annual Pieathalon.  Thank you to Yinzerella at Dinner is Served 1972 for organizing this event and for inviting me to join in on the fun.  And to Jenny of Silver Screen Suppers, I'm sorry about the onion and raisin pie!  Okay, not very sorry! <cue maniacal laughter here>

To read about the adventures of the other Pieathletes, visit their blogs:

Yinzerella from Dinner is Served 1972 with Kate's Pie
Surly at Vintage Recipe Cards with Dutch Peaches and Cream Pie
Kelli at Kelli's Kitchen with Chocolate Mousse Pie
Dr. Bobb of Dr. Bobb's Kitschen with Ritz Cracker Mock Apple Pie
Kelly from Velveteen Lounge Kitsch-en with Marguerite Patten's Cheese Pie
Jenny of Silver Screen Suppers with Sweet Onion Pie
Poppy Crocker at Grannie Pantries makes Strawberry Ginger Pie
The Battenburg Belle from Battenburg Belle serves up Frosty Vanilla Pie
Sally over at with Mock Pecan Pie
Taryn from RetroFoodForModerntimes makes Vincent Price Pineapple Meringue
Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla with Peaches and Cream Tart
Peter Fuller, Curator of the Vincent Price Legacy UK makes Puddin n'Pie
Renee Quintana from Tortillas and Honey dishes up French Raspberry Pie
The Unofficial Mad Men CookBook presents Aloha Meringue Pie
Retro Mimi of Once Upon a Salad gives us The Millionaire
Sue of Vintage Cookbookery makes Yul Brenner's Walnut Pie
Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm presents Tyler Pie
Clara Silverstein of makes Olde English Egg Nog Pie
S.S. of A Book of Cookrye makes Cool Mint Cookie Pie
Debra of Eliot's Eats with Apricot Meringue Pie
Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp from BookClub CookBook serve up Weight Watcher's "Almost a Pie"
Greg Swenson of Recipes4Rebels makes Seafoam Cantaloupe Pie
Kaci of Homicidal Homemaker creates Lemon Beer Sponge Pie

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Boiled Custard for Two

Last week I happened upon a great deal on really nice looking berries.  I grow some fruits here, but by August there isn't much happening in the fruit department in Texas, except melons.  So when I saw fantastic looking blueberries, strawberries and raspberries (oh my!) at prices that didn't make my cheapskate heart seize up, I pounced!

After eating a few bowls of plain berries, I started thinking about how good they were with zabaglione.  But when I whipped out The Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1942 edition), boiled custard caught my eye.  And if boiled custard is good with sherry, it would (obviously) be good with marsala. 

We didn't want or need leftovers of this, so I reduced the recipe, more or less thirding it (is that a word?).  I used a tablespoon of the wine (which was spot on) and 2 tablespoons of raw sugar.  I think it could have used a touch more sugar, though, or slightly sweeter berries.  I think I will try 3 tablespoons of sugar next time. I also didn't catch the "scalded" bit in the milk measurement, so mine was straight out of the refrigerator.  It worked just fine.

Since I wanted to serve it as individual servings, I chose to go ahead and pour it into little dishes to chill.  For some unknown reason, a few years ago I started compulsively buying old Big Top Peanut Butter glasses at garage and estate sales.  In order to justify all the room they take up, whenever I make make a dessert that would be served in a bowl, I have to use the Big Top glasses. I can't let Farm Boy have any excuse to disappear them!

Hmmm.  I just realized that I have about 20 of the short ones, but only one of the tall ones.  I might need to add to the collection.  One more can't hurt, right?  I mean, Farm Boy and I should each have one.  It's only fair. 

Look at those cute peanut butter glasses!

Boiled Custard for Two (Printable recipe)

Modified from The Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1942)

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons raw sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 Tablespoon marsala wine (I used dry marsala)
  • Slightly sweetened berries and crushed amaretti cookies, for topping

Beat eggs with a whisk, then add sugar and salt.  Add milk gradually, stirring constantly.  Cook and stir in double boiler over hot (not boiling) water, until mixture coats a spoon (about 7 minutes).  Remove from heat, stir in marsala wine.  Strain, if desired, pour into serving dishes, and chill.

When ready to serve, top with berries and crushed cookies.