Monday, November 10, 2008

Taking on the pastry challenge, and thumbs up on a Gourmet Veg. recipe

I've decided that in my quest to make great comfort/peasant food, I must become good at pastry. Historically, I've always leaned on Lisl for that task, because really, what's not to avoid? There is so much conflicting advice out there! Use butter, no, vegetable shortening! Food processor, no, scraper, no, hands! Rest and chill, no, use directly! 2 to 4 tbsp of ice water max!!! but don't be surprised if you use more! Isn't this part of cooking meant to be a science?

Anyone who has read the last chapter of The Man Who Ate Everything knows what I am talking about -- he researched a zillion different permutations for the perfect pie crust, and ended up getting a master demonstration from a baking queen who threw it all out the window and took him by surprise with her technique.

I made two decisions. I decided to avoid Crisco and stick to butter, and I focused my reading on three sources: a Nov 2004 Gourmet article I had on the shelf, a post from Shuna at Eggbeater, and a post from Elise at Simply Recipes. Because Shuna's site was down earlier for some reason, tonight's attempt at flaky pastry focused on Elise's approach.

It wasn't pretty.

It was a bit stressful.

But it actually turned out quite tasty.

One small step towards conquering my discomfort with baking.

Lisl watched me work with bemused expression on her face, and some helpful advice. My target was a marvelous farro and mushroom pie recipe I saw in November's Gourmet, in their vegetarian Thanksgiving menu. There are lots of different directions you can take the filling -- I added spinach and parsley -- but the core recipe is really good. If you are vegetarian and wondering what to make this year, I give this two thumbs up. It was the first time I had worked with farro and I quite liked it.

Gourmet's Farro and Mushroom Pie

farro pie


Stacey Snacks said...

Your pie is beautiful, as is your pastry.
I have used both butter and crisco.
I actually had better results w/ Crisco.
You know who would not eat this:
farro & mushrooms & henry = hate.
Oh well, I would be very happy to join you and Lisl in this feast!

kat said...

I too have been trying to conquer pastry crust this year. Its certainly an interesting challenge with a lot of hits & misses. Looks like you did pretty good with your first try...oh & I'm a butter person myself

Giff said...

My problem was that I was so focused on the pastry that I forgot to add the ricotta... we had to eat it "on the side" -- the pie was still great, but oh, it would have been better!

FoodJunkie said...

WOW what a pastry and what a pie too! I need to try making that soon.

bee said...

that is darn gorgeous. well done with your first pastry experiment.