Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pie Palooza 2008

I volunteered again this year for Pie Palooza, one of REAP food group's annual benefits. What a difference - last year we were crazed; this year, calm. And I think we made more money. The trick was timed seatings - like the Art Institute of Chicago for its blockbuster shows, people were sold a ticket for entry at 10:00, or 11:00 or noon. There were some other small niceties, too, like vendors were asked to provide multiple copies of the same pie - we had people last year who sent one each of 6 different kinds ... although that was including the rabbit pie, that was definitely the most exotic, albeit that it came deep dish and still warm and almost impossible to slice ... this year the most exotic was the B'stilla, with chicken, apples, and Berber seasonings in filo (I had to tent it with foil to keep filo flakes from blowing all around the convection oven).

I made a similar pie; last year it was Zucchini, Tomato & Basil Quiche; this year Calabacitas Quiche. I also have decided that my perfect crust is half butter, half organic vegan shortening - Earth Balance from the coop really seems to be the best. Crisco put both and me and my mom through library school - my grandfather was a chemist at P&G, and his specialty was hydrogenated fats; he left my mom P&G stock which I have inherited - but dammit, the Earth Balance tastes better in a crust.

Calabacitas Quiche
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 cup shortening, Crisco, Earth balance, etc.

3/4 cup chopped onion
2 TBLS butter
1 large zucchini, or 2 small, quartered longwise, and then chopped into chunks
1 poblano chile, roasted, skinned, seeded, and chopped
3/4 cup corn kernals, fresh, frozen whatever you got
salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheddar cheese; I used Widmer 2-year cheddar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups half & half

Make the crust: measure the flour into a bowl and add the sugar and salt. Cut the shortening and butter into cubes over the salt and flour. Cut the fats into the flour with your fingers, a pastry blender, or paddle attachment of your stand mixer, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle in about 1/3 cup cold water, while stirring, until you've got a bunch of small clumps of dough. Dump out onto a floured surface, knead lightly to bring it together, and then flatten the dough into a disk and wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill for about an hour.

Meanwhile, make the filling: melt the butter in a large skillet, and add the onion. Sauté over medium heat until the onion looks translucent, then add the zucchini. Cook until the zucchini is starting to soften, and then add the poblanos, corn, salt, pepper and cumin. Cook until all is well blended, and then set aside to cool.

Roll out the crust and fit it into a pie dish. Layer the cheese in the bottom, the add the zucchini mixture.

Beat the eggs, add the half & half, and pour this custard into the crust. Bake at 375 until the center is set, and the quiche is puffed and golden brown in spots.

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