Sunday, March 14, 2010
Happy Pi Day!!!
It's Pi Day, everyone!
In honor of the mathematical constant π, I celebrated by making two pies today! But I'm not here to make apple pie, cherry pie, or a peach pocket pie. Forget that mediocrity! If I'm going to do Pi Day right for you guys, I've got to step it up!
When browsing around the Food Network website (one of my faves, of course) for the perfect pie recipe to make in honor of this special (read: food-oriented) day, I stumbled upon the pinnacle of WTF food concoctions: Avocado Pie.
AVOCADO WHA!? But if you think about it, it kind of makes sense. Avocados are very high in fat--monosaturated, to be precise-- and have a very mild flavor. That would ultimately make them a blank canvas, so to speak. The culinary tabula rasa. How intriguing.
Despite my logic, I was somewhat trepidatious. I had visions of my boyfriend taking one bite of the tea green-colored, creamy deception and looking at me painfully before promptly spitting it out. Actually, he would never do that. In the duration of our relationship, I've made some hits and I've made some misses, but I never made anything that he's just outright hated... that is, until the night I decided to try my hand at Eggplant Parmigiana. Oh, bless him. He took his first bite, grabbed his drink, and sat back in his chair, sipping slowly. Moments later, he sat forward and took another bite. I quietly watched, unready to jump to conclusions. Maybe his first bite was too hot. Maybe he was just thirsty-- he does drink like a camel most of the time. However, lo and behold, he immediately grabbed his drink again and started sipping. Our eyes met as he set his drink down on the table. I could see the caution in his eyes as he softly asked, "Baby, would you mind if I didn't eat the rest of this?" We now avoid eggplant-related dishes. He handled it gracefully, though. Like a champ.
I still had the problem of what I'd do if the Avocado Pie turned out to be a bust, and the chances of that happening were pretty high. I mean, there is no rating for the Avocado Pie recipe on the Food Network website. I was going into this blindly. However, I decided I would also go into this bravely, like an epicurean soldier. But a smart soldier. A soldier with a backup plan. And this backup plan was called Chocolate Cream Pie.
The recipe for Avocado Pie is a fairly easy one. Although the original recipe recommends using a mixer to blend the ingredients, I used my Ninja, a cross between a blender and a food processor. I dumped all of the ingredients in, watched as they whirred together into soft green unity, and poured them into the pie crust. After a few hours in the fridge, we were ready to put our experiment to the test. I served myself and my boyfriend each a slice, dolloped the whipped cream on, and went for it. I brought my boyfriend, who was on his computer at the time, his piece, and then I sat down in the other room with my own.
I took the first bite and let it play around my tongue, trying to detect the flavors. The citrus in the recipe hits the palate the hardest, followed by the sweet creaminess from the condensed milk and cream cheese. Overall, the pie tastes like a toned down version of Key Lime Pie. And while you can definitely detect the avocado, it doesn't stand on its own. Instead, it marries itself with the other flavors so that the entire dish is a symphony rather than a solo. I was halfway through my slice when my boyfriend walked into the room hurriedly, kissed me hard on the lips, looked into my eyes and said, "That pie is FANTASTIC!" He had already finished his piece and was apparently just as satisfied with my exercise in freaky foods as I was. The moral of the story, kids, is to try new things. You never know; you just may have an Avocado Pie on your hands.
But we're not finished yet. I still had a backup waiting in the fridge as well. My Chocolate Cream Pie, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse and the Food Network website. While this recipe is mostly straight forward, it did have one little curveball: there's buttermilk in the recipe in addition to cream. It makes for a pleasant tang in the finished dish that keeps it from being too rich or cloyingly sweet.
I made changes to both recipes to suit my own methods and findings. The recipes I am giving you all on here are my adaptations, although there are links to the originals at the bottom of each. Feel free to use whichever version suits your needs. Still, if there's one change I would force on you all if I could, it's the ready-made pie crusts. Each of these recipes call for cookie crusts, a graham cracker crust for the Avocado Pie and a chocolate cookie crust for the Chocolate Cream Pie. This is one shortcut I am more than willing to take, and I implore you all to as well. Whether you melt the butter and crush the cookies yourself or spend $2 and get the ready-made, a graham cracker is a graham cracker. So do yourself a favor and save 10 minutes.
Well, here you go, everybody. For your tasting pleasure. And for those of you who are still balking at Avocado Pie, I say to you, "Give it a try."
2 medium-sized hass avocados
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
pinch of salt
1 ready-made graham cracker pie crust
sweetened whipped cream or Cool Whip for garnish
Food processor or mixer
1. Pour the lime and lemon juices into the food processor. Using the juices first will ensure that your ingredients will blend smoothly and the blades won't get stuck.
2. Add the cream cheese and pulse the food processor until it is smooth and creamy.
3. Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits. To remove, flick a knife into the seed, lodging it inside. Then twist and pull in one fluid motion.
4. Squeeze each of the halves until the avocado centers smush out. If you have properly ripened avocados, it should slide out easily. Watch for stems, which can detach from the skin sometimes. Pulse the food processor again until the avocado is smooth.
5. Add the sweetened condensed milk and salt. Pulse again until all of the ingredients come together.
6. Pour the mixture into the pie crust and smooth the top. Cover the top with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours.
7. To serve, top with a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!
Chocolate Cream Pie
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup fat-free half and half
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tub fat-free Cool Whip
1 ready-made chocolate pie crust
2 quart saucepan
1. Combine the sugar, half and half, buttermilk, salt, and cornstarch in the saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble.
2. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks until smooth and bright yellow.
3. Once the saucepan mixture is bubbling, SLOWLY whisk 1/2 cup of it into the egg yolks. This is called tempering. By warming up the egg yolks, you will ensure that they will not cook when you add them to the hot saucepan.
4. Add the yolks to the saucepan and whisk. Cook over medium heat until the mixture becomes thick.
5. Whisk in the chocolate chips and the butter. Remove from the saucepan from the heat and add the vanilla extract.
6. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for one hour.
7. After the mixture has cooled, fold in the Cool Whip and pour the mixture into the pie crust. Refrigerate for another hour.
8. To serve, top with a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!
Upcoming recipes include Mexican Wedding Cookies, Irish Soda Bread, Curry, Shrimp in Basil Cream Sauce, and more!
Avocado Pie on the Food Network website
Chocolate Cream Pie on the Food Network website