On the North American frontier, it was not uncommon for the pioneer housewife to bake 21 pies a week – one for every meal.
-from Professional Cooking for Canadian Chefs, Sixth Edition
I’ve posted several recipes in which I make a hand-waving reference to, “your favourite pie dough” or “standard pie dough” without giving any idea of what exactly I mean by that. (Examples: Rabbit pie, pumpkin pie, sour cherry pie, pheasant pot pie.) For the sake of completeness and concision I thought I’d tell you my preferred recipe and method for making North American pie dough.
I think we’ve all had both very good and very bad pies in our time. Good pie … Continue reading.
I love pumpkin pie, but there are a few things about the classic preparation that I don’t understand. First and foremost, why we use canned mix when there’s a stack of fresh pumpkins at every grocery store this time of year.
Lisa and I get loads of squash from Tipi Creek every fall, so often we make “squash pie” instead of “pumpkin pie.” Obviously they’re very similar. Hubbard squash, pictured at left, makes fantastic pie, as do butternut, buttercup, and acorn squash.
Using fresh squash allows you to adjust the flavour and colour of the custard. Canned pumpkin is dark like caramel, I assume from a lengthy cook that reduces and browns the flesh (though that’s just a guess… maybe … Continue reading.
The doughnut: an important food that for most of my life I have known only in its commercial form. Other examples of such food include hot dogs, ketchup, and potato chips.
Until recently, every doughnut I had eaten was commercially produced. On top of that, the only freshly-fried doughnuts I had eaten were the mini-donuts at the Calgary Stampede, and a few Krispy Kremes.
As you might expect, the homemade version is vastly superior, especially when consumed within ninety seconds of being removed from the oil.
What would a Button Soup post be without some mention of spelling or etymology? For the longest time I assumed these pastries were originally called “doughnaughts,” as in naughts (zeroes) made out of dough, … Continue reading.
Last November we started getting game birds, chiefly grouse and pheasant, from Mr. McLarney, who hunts them with his English pointer. In exchange for the wild poultry, I provide Mrs. McLarney with a recipe for their preparation.
Cooking grouse and pheasant is fairly new to me, and I’m still figuring out the whole hanging-plucking-gutting-cooking thing.
From the cook’s perspective, the ideal game bird (or rabbit) is shot cleanly in the head. That way there’s no shot hidden in the meat. You get a higher yield, and diners won’t unwittingly bite down on a piece of lead. I have very little experience with guns, but apparently getting that head shot is relatively easy when the slow-witted bird is standing on the … Continue reading.
This is what God intended us to do with sour cherries like Evans and Carmine Jewel: bake them in pastry.
While I have put a full recipe below, I need to stress that I don’t use a recipe for sour cherry pie. Different cherries have different levels of moisture, sugar, and acidity, and additions of cornstarch and sugar should be varied accordingly.
Put the cherries in a pot and bring to a simmer. They will release quite a lot of liquid, especially if they had been frozen. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Taste and adjust sweetness as necessary.
Prepare a cornstarch slurry of one part starch and one part water by volume. Stir the slurry into the cherries. … Continue reading.
If you are unfamiliar with this dish, let me introduce you by way of an aimless personal anecdote. If you are familiar with the dish, you can skip the next paragraph.
My father’s family lives near Ottawa, my mother’s near Sudbury. When I was little my family would sometimes drive between these two sets of relatives, following the Ottawa River valley, where there are lots of French communities, even on the Ontarian side of the border. Along the way we would always stop at a diner called Valois in the French town of Mattawa. For dessert they offered “sugar pie,” a tidy translation of tarte au sucre. While some versions of sugar pie are made with corn syrup or … Continue reading.
This is a dish that confused me for some time. “Minced” means broken up (it’s actually related to the word “minute,” as in exceedingly small). The British use the word “minced” in places we might use the word “ground,” so when I started hearing about mincemeat pies, I assumed they were meat pies.
Then certain people (Lisa, Alton Brown) tried to explain to me that there was no meat in mincemeat pies at all, just dried fruit.
Just as I started grappling with the idea of a meatless mincemeat, I found one of my grandma’s recipes which seemed to combine the aforementioned concepts. The ingredients:
- beef chuck
- dried currants
- sultana raisins
- citron (I believe this refers to
… Continue reading.
‘Now, my dears,’ said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, ‘you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.’
-from The Tale of Peter Rabbit
After stewing the choice legs and loins of a Trowlesworthy Farms rabbit, I found myself with a lot of trim. Most notable were the forelegs, the belly-flaps from the saddle, and the kidneys. Besides this there was miscellaneous trim pulled from the carcass. I decided that this would become a rabbit pie.
Making the Recipe
A classical rabbit pie (and yes, rabbit pie is a classical preparation…), would use lean rabbit meat and … Continue reading.