Saturday, May 26, 2007

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Blog

The King has taken Friday into his own hands once again, spiriting the Queen away in honor of their 20th wedding anniversary.

Worry ye not: Her Highness is comfortably ensconced in a cozy inn with a view of the Mendocino coastline. She's getting lotsa good stuff to eat, although no pie ... yet.

Check back next week for another installment of Pie Day Friday.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Date With Mr. Peanut

Oh, you poor people with peanut allergies, I feel so very, very sorry for you. Peanuts, you see, are one of my favorite things to eat in the world. I love them straight from the Planters’ jar, or dug out of a paper bag at a baseball game. I love them encased in M&M candy coating, or ground up in a tidy Reese’s cup. I love them sugar-coated, roasted, spiced, and boiled. I love sitting in bars and nibbling on them, especially in the kind of bars where you can toss the shells onto the floor. I used to look forward to airplane rides simply because I knew those little foil pouches were headed my way. And you can always count on me to negotiate my Cracker Jacks’ prize for just one of your candied peanuts.


Jimmy Carter and I would get along just fine.

I also love peanut butter. When I lived in France, my care packages contained nothing but jars of Jif. That’s because it used to be quite hard to find beurre de cacahuetes in the City of Light, since the French seem to find the spread about as appealing as toe jam. No matter. I’d tear open the box with the jars, head straight to one of the little street markets, purchase half a dozen apples and return to my room, locking the door and closing the canopy to the bed. I’m sure Madame had her suspicions about what I might be doing in there but I doubt any of them involved spreading the paste of a legume on a wedge of fruit.


These days, I keep a couple of different jars in the pantry. There’s the organic variety that needs to be stirred vigorously and the fancy-shmancy brand that is woven through with dark chocolate. For ordinary stuff I usually buy Reese’s brand: creamy and crunchy are both good for emergencies.

To my surprise, the royal offspring have never been fanatical about peanut butter, although for a while they took pleasure in making and eating Fluffernutter sandwiches. And who am I to doubt their wisdom? Lucy the pooch takes her many meds buried beneath a spoonful of peanut butter (or two if she’s looking forlorn). And when I need a nibble, peanut butter is one of the first things I’ll reach for. I guess I’m not alone in my predilection: Wikipedia claims that a half a billion people rely on peanuts as their primary source of protein. That’s a lot of goobers, baby.

So here’s a recipe for those of you who share my affections. The flavor of the pie filling is a bit subtler than you get by dipping a spoon straight into a jar, but it makes up for that in richness.

This pie is also a good workaround for those of you who suffer from Arachibutyrophobia, the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth.


Peanut Butter Pie

Chocolate (or regular) graham cracker crust
1 ½ c. whipping cream + 2 T.
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1/3 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 c. peanut butter
¼ c. chocolate chips
¼ c. peanuts, coarsely chopped

Whip 1 ½ c. cream until soft peaks form. Remove from mixing bowl and reserve. Beat cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and vanilla until well blended. Add peanut butter and continue mixing until incorporated. Fold whipping cream into mixture and pile into prepared graham cracker crust. Freeze for at least an hour. Heat chocolate chips and 2 T. whipping cream in microwave until chocolate has melted; stir until smooth. Remove pie from freezer and drizzle with chocolate mixture. Sprinkle peanuts on top. Freeze again until chocolate is firm. Remove pie from freezer at least 30 minutes before serving. You may keep remaining pie in freezer or refrigerator, depending on your texture preference.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pieku Friday

The Queen is taking a brief departure from her usual format this week and is offering you -- her loyal readers -- a chance to contribute to the pie-blogging community. In order to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you need only write a haiku. Or rather, a Pieku.

Here, to get us started, are a few from the Royal Family:

Red juice down my chin
Tart and tangy but still sweet
Strawberry rhubarb

Love in a diner:
A waitress pops the question,
Ice cream with that, hon?

That sounds great you say
A new pie every week
You try staying slim!

Send your piekus via comments or email me at and I promise to post them lickety-split.

....A friend in D.C. writes:

Quaffing in pie scent
I sense a savoury filling
Will you share? I prey.

....And from a complimetary Anonymous reader:

I like to eat pies
They make my tummy feel warm
I bet your pies rock!

...And more Anonymous entries:

A warm apple pie
Stimulates tastebuds and soul.
But better than sex?

My pie has a kick.
Like a giant samosa.
More curry powder!

Savory delights
A pie by another name
Real men do eat quiche

...And these are enough to make a Queen blush:

The queen can chase me
Through the kitchen anytime
With a rolling pin.

I learn so much here
The slits in the upper crust
Are not just for looks

...But wait, there's more:

Pie-ku is tricky!
How many syllables in
"Julia Child"?

Confused recipes!
Wrong filling in the wrong crust!
Yoo-hoo! Royal pooch...

Friday, May 4, 2007

All Hail the Queen!

No, not me. That other Queen. The British Her Majesty who’s currently visiting the U.S. and doing all sorts of jolly things: touring Jamestown, lunching at Williamsburg, attending the Kentucky Derby, and hanging with George Bush. I mean, touring Jamestown, lunching at Williamsburg, and attending the Kentucky Derby.


In honor of Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor (or Elizabeth II to you commoners), I’m giving you the recipe for a rhubarb tart. Rhubarb is a favorite of our friends across the pond and as it happens, of mine, too. This recipe was inspired by another Brit, Nigella Lawson, self-proclaimed Domestic Goddess. Except for the accent, I can find few other similarities between these two British figures – especially, perhaps, in their figures.

I’ve changed Nigella’s version a bit, since I always have the suspicion that her publishers had very little interest in truly adapting her recipes for an American market. Her measurements often seem a bit funky -- ½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar; 1 2/3 c. plus 1 Tablespoon tonic water; 7 oz. cream cheese – and the pans and baking dishes aren’t American standards, either. (A deep 8 inch flan pan or shallow 10-inch pan?) Plus, the recipe as I first prepared it, did not deliver tantalizing chunks of tender rhubarb, but rather a shapeless, although soothing, mass. (Rather like Queen Elizabeth herself?)

Ah, well. We’ll call it compote and be satisfied with our lot. We may not be getting the royal treatment this weekend, but we commoners deserve a little indulgence too, don’t we?

May 4a

Rhubarb Tart
Adapted from How To Be A Domestic Goddess

Pastry for a 9-inch tart
2 pounds fresh rhubarb
1 c. sugar
7 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. whipping cream
2 T. sugar
1 t. lemon zest
1/2 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375. Cut rhubarb into 3/4 in. pieces and toss with 1 c. sugar. Place in ovenproof dish and cover, cooking until rhubarb is tender (check after 30 minutes). Allow to cool, reserving juices. Meanwhile, line a 9-inch tart pan with tart pastry. Fill with foil and beans or pie weights. Bake approximately 15 minutes. Remove foil and beans and cook another 5-10 minutes, until golden brown. When ready to assemble tart, strain rhubarb and put juices in small saucepan. Boil juices rapidly until syrupy. Whip cream and then fold in softened cream cheese, 2 T. sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla. Spoon into tart shell. Top with the strained rhubarb pieces and drizzle thickened juices over all.

May 4b