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Pi Day is one of our favorite "holidays" - but not because any of us are math nerds. We like it because it's kind of silly, and it's an excuse to have Pie! Who doesn't like pie!?
Usually on Pi Day, we try to have every meal include pie. Depending on what day of the week it is, that's sometimes a challenge. I hadn't planned ahead for any of my favorite pies that involve lots of meal prep time this year, since Tuesday is generally the day we are on the go. But as the weather forecast would have it, we are more or less snowed in today and don't have anywhere we can go! So I may have time to get a main dish pie ready for dinner after all. (And I'm guessing we'll have Pizza Pi for lunch!)
Here are some of my favorite recipes, all of which have been served here to celebrate Pi Day, or the country the dish originated in, or just because they made good eating.
(A Hearty Meat Pi)
Tourtiere is a French-Canadian meat pie that originated in Quebec. Variations of the dish are also common in other French-Canadian areas and in parts of New England. The recipe I use is probably the most common - with a mixture of finely ground pork and beef - but other meats are used as well; and the dish may or may not include root vegetables. I prefer to serve it with vegetables on the side. What makes Tourtiere different from other meat pies is the use of allspice and cloves. Also different from most other meat pies - the meats and seasonings are boiled and simmered, not fried. It's best with meat that is very finely ground, but I use what I have available. I use leftover mashed potatoes in the filling, but if I don't happen to have any, the bread crumbs work just fine, and then I make potatoes as a side dish. The hubster and I squirt some ketchup on top of our slices of Tourtiere, but I've heard that in some places it's eaten with maple syrup (so Canadian!) or even molasses. Now I love maple syrup, but I don't know about that.
|If I'd made these on Pi Day, the vents would have been cut in the shape of the pi symbol.|
Pastry for 4 pie crusts (your own recipe, or use a mix or refrigerated pie crusts)
1 pound ground pork
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped fine - or use onion powder
1/2 tsp allspice
pinch of ground cloves
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1-1/2 cups water
3/4 cup mashed potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes, or substitute bread crumbs)
Prepare the pastry, and line two 9-inch pie plates.
Put all the ingredients except the potatoes into a Dutch oven or stockpot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes and stir. The mixture should be moist and thick. Remove from heat and allow it to cool for a bit. Fill the two pastry-lined pie plates with meat mixture. Cover with pastry, seal and crimp the edges, dampening with water if necessary. Cut several slits in the top crust. Bake at 375*F for one hour, until browned.
You may also cut the recipe in half, and make one deep dish 10-inch pie, or two 8-inch pies.
Mac and Cheese Pi with Bacon Crust
Now this one, I might be able to pull off today.
1-1/2 pounds bacon
8 ounces pasta (uncooked)
1/4 cup butter
2-1/2 tbsp flour
Salt and pepper, dry mustard to taste
2 cups milk
4 cups shredded cheese
1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Weave the uncooked bacon slices into a square about the size of a pie plate. Place into the pie tin and press down with another pie tin - this keeps it in a crust shape and keeps it from curling too much as it cooks. Weave six of the bacon slices into a loose lattice on a baking pan. Put the bacon crust and the lattice into a 400* oven for about 20 minutes.
Cook the pasta and drain. Melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat and stir in flour and seasonings. Add 2 cups milk slowly, stirring constantly. Then stir in the cheeses, cooking and stirring over low heat until thickened and the cheese is all melted. Stir the hot pasta and the cheese sauce together.
Melt the remaining butter in a small skillet and brown the bread crumbs.
When the bacon is cooked, drain as much as possible and allow to cool a bit. Pile the mac and cheese into the crust. Top with the bread crumbs, some fresh basil, and the bacon lattice. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
Kotopita me Feta
(Greek Chicken and Feta Cheese Pi)
This savory chicken pi takes a bit of time to assemble, thanks to the phyllo crust, but is so good!
Chicken and Feta Cheese Pie (Kotopita me Feta)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 8-10 oz total
2 stalks celery
fresh or dried dill
3 oz (3/4 cup) feta cheese
2 oz (1/2 cup) grated Romano cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
2 large eggs
2 tbsp butter
10 sheets of phyllo dough, thawed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil or thyme
Cut chicken breasts into one-inch cubes and place in a large bowl. Cut celery into small chunks (about 3/4 cup total) and add to the chicken. (I've used carrots instead of celery and it worked out fine - just gave a little different flavor.) Chop fresh dill and add about 1/2 cup to chicken. Add oregano, basil, and pepper. Crumble feta cheese into the mixture and add Romano cheese and about 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Mix well. Break eggs into the mixture and mix. Refrigerate while preparing the phyllo crust.
Lightly grease a 10-inch pie plate. Melt butter over low heat, then add remaining olive oil and stir. Count out ten sheets of the phyllo dough. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the surface of the first sheet of phyllo with a thin coat of olive oil/butter mixture. Then lay the sheet into the pie plate, gently pressing it into sides and corners and allowing the extra pastry to hand down evenly around the sides of the plate. Repeat this step with all the remaining phyllo, laying each into the pie plate, but staggering the sheets so they cover the whole plate with plenty hanging out over the side. These will be folded over the filling to create the top crust.
Spread the chicken filling into the pie crust. Then lift the overhanging corners of pastry one at a time and fold over the pie filling. Tuck in any edges to prevent them from burning. Brush the top of the pie with any remaining olive oil/butter mixture. Sprinkle with a few drops of cold water. Bake at 350* for 50-55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let the pie cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Ready for dessert? Of course we are - our favorite pies are the dessert variety!
(Paraguayan Guava Jelly Pi)
(Paraguayan Guava Jelly Pi)
It's not pasta, it's pastry - I first learned about this delicious dessert from a Paraguayan friend and use her recipe. It's also popular in other parts of South America, sometimes made with other fillings, and the recipe may originally come from Italy where the name 'pasta frolla' refers to the cookie-like crust.
3 cups flour
5 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup margarine or butter
2 eggs, beaten
2-4 tbsp milk
2 cups (approximately) guava jelly
Sift together the dry ingredients. Mix in the butter with a pastry blender. Add the beaten eggs, and the milk as needed to make a soft dough. Roll about 3/4 of the dough into a circle, and save the rest for the top crust. Grease a large cake pan and place the dough in it, so it overlaps on the sides, like a pie crust. Fill with guava jelly. Roll out the rest of the dough, cut it in strips, and lay it on top in a lattice. Fold over the extra dough and crimp edges. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
I prefer Pasta Frola served warm with a cup of coffee.
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