Sunday, May 26, 2013

Flying French Silk Pie: "I believe in a certain way of eating"

I believe in apprenticeship. Somewhere in the transition to modern science we took on a chemical
understanding of the human person and forgot that humans learn from other humans. Slowly. and it with lots of love.

I had the great luck to spend an afternoon last fall with Carolyn Atkinson, the chef and owner of Flying Pi Kitchen in Wilmington, NC, basking in the long and nuanced knowledge of a "from scratch" sage. The original plan was to learn to cook her famous Ginger Pie - think of a gingery chess pie with sweet cream over top - which she believes will be the signature pie of the shop. But I ask a lot of questions, and her responses are immeasurably generous, so before the afternoon was out I had filled my little notebook with a handful of recipes and an infinity of ideas.

It was one of those afternoons that started gently, with a nice cup of tea and a discussion on her inspirations (Alton Brown, Graham Kerr and the Galloping Gourmet), her disappointments with the mediocracy of the modern food supply chain (one year with Sysco Services) and the essentials for a well equipped kitchen (one paring knife, one bread knife, and one chef's knife, along with solid measuring cups, dried potatoes and good spices).

It ended with a pie in hand, popovers in my belly, and a new found passion for the possibilities of from scratch cooking to bring the community together. I felt a bit overwhelmed by the task of trying to do her generosity justice in blog form. And so as with all things, I put it off. The notebook I took with me is full of small wisdoms (Don't use any ingredient you wouldn't eat yourself: no one drinks cooking sherry, so don't cook with it!), tips on how to learn to cook (smell everything and notice where you feel it on your tongue as you inhale), and even a bit of world history (Pregnant french women around the world wars were required to take classes on the exact portions needed for their children, creating a nation unconsciously portion controlled individuals!). I will slowly try to share some of this with you.

We will start with French Silk Pie. This no-bake pie recipe is actually just the recipe for the filling, which you pour into an already baked crust and chill. Enjoy and keep an eye out for the next round of recipes.

1 prebaked flying pie crust
1/2c softened butter
(just take it out of the fridge for a few hours before you start)
3/4c caster sugar*
1oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
1t vanilla
3 eggs, lightly beaten

*Caster sugar is just a white sugar that has been ground more finely and is also called baking sugar. If you don't want to buy it, just grind some sugar in a food processor or a coffee grinder.

Prepare you pie crust (Carolyn's version coming soon! but sneak peak, the secret is high proof alcohol), fork the bottom and bake it. Let cool.

In a mixer on medium, beat together the softened butter and the sugar for a good few minutes.

Add the chocolate, making sure it is already cooled, and scraping down the sides to keep the mix homogeneous.

Add one egg at a time, adding the next as soon as you can no longer see the last.

This is an emulsification effect and it should get light and fluffy for you.

Add the vanilla.

Beat for a good five minutes in total.

Pour into pie crust and chill.

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