My Thursday Thing: When Life Gives You Frozen Fruit, Don't Make Pi
If you've followed me for a while, you know that I'm the first to say that part of learning to cook means also learning to fail and learning from those failures. It's important to me that you all realize that even a seasoned (haha, no pun intended) kitchen veteran like myself can still have epic failures in the kitchen. So if you're nervous about learning to cook, you just gotta get in there and do it, failures be damned. Even so, it would have been really easy for me to burn tonight's blog post to the ground in hopes of forgetting it FOREVER and just pretend like I was too busy this week to write. But what lessons would anyone learn from that? Won't do that, can't do that. So here was the post as it was written two hours ago as I awaited my masterpiece to finish cooking in the oven.
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So this morning on my way into work I was desperately trying to figure out what My Thursday Thing was going to be. I came up with a few ideas but wasn't really thrilled with any of them. While I was getting myself some juice from the fridge, I noticed a few pies had been placed on the counter, but didn't think much of it. Then, within a few minutes, another pie, and then another and another. I had been so busy at work this week that I had totally forgotten, it's March 14 (3.14), Pi day!
I was saved. My Thursday Thing for today would be a pie recipe. But I couldn't just make any pie recipe. I needed to make a pie that anybody could make, one that was super fast to prepare and didn't really require any cooking or baking skills. So I spent much of the day thinking about it and settled on a Raspberry Peach Pie using frozen fruit and a frozen pie crust with no time needed to thaw any of it!
Here's just how easy it was to make:
Step 1: Make the crumble topping.
Preheat you oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup sugar, 1/8 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats and a pinch of salt. Add 1/4 cup melted butter (that's a half a stick) and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and use your hands to mix it all together until you have large crumbs. Set it to the side.
Step 2: Make the filling.
In a small bowl, mix together 2/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons corn starch, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and a pinch of salt. In a large bowl, add 4 cups frozen peaches and 1 cup frozen raspberries. Toss the fruit with 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice. Add the sugar mixture to the fruit and mix to coat.
Step 3: Prepare the pie.
Pile high the fruit mixture into a 9 inch deep dish frozen pie crust. Carefully top the fruit with the crumble topping lightly pressing into the fruit so it doesn't all fall off. Place the pie onto a large baking sheet to protect your oven from any spillage. Put the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 1 hour, rotating the pan 180 degrees after 30 minutes. Then turn up the oven to 400 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes until the crumble and crust is golden brown. Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for 1 hour so the juices solidify and cool enough so you don't burn your mouth.
Step 4: Eat!
Serve the pie with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy your Pi day! And if you are really bored, see how many decimal places you can memorize while you eat. Enjoy!
Happy Pi Day everyone!
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And then I cut into it. I was so disappointed I didn't want to take a picture. Let's just say I could have taken a nice bath in it. It was a pool of fruity liquid. It might have made for a nice drink had I chilled it for a while in the fridge though. I starred at it for a good two minutes trying to figure out what to do and what went wrong. My wife and daughter, gathered around for their piece, both lovingly and supportingly said "ewww" and headed for the pantry for pre-packaged individual mug cake mixes. But I picked myself up off the preverbal kitchen floor, opened up the drawer, grabbed a large slotted spoon and scooped myself a bowl of peaches topped with a pretty damn good crumble. I topped it with a little vanilla ice cream and had dessert.
It wasn't pie, or Pi, but it was about a 2.63 out of 3.14. A decent fruit crumble. The lessons learned were several:
1) Even when something doesn't go exactly as you plan, there's likely something you can salvage. I had to ditch the rest of the pie though as it would have been pretty gross by tomorrow.
2) Frozen fruit, no matter how much several recipes I read said otherwise, did contain more liquid content than fresh fruit. Sometimes shortcuts aren't the best idea.
3) The liquid never thickened. Sure, there was more of it, but I'm certain it still could have worked. I'm guessing I needed way more cornstarch, or perhaps flour would have been a better choice. The key with cornstarch is that it doesn't reach its full thickening power until it boils. Since the majority of the baking time was at 350 degrees, I don't think the liquid ever got really hot and bubbly, or perhaps it would have thickened.
Bottom line, this pie baking experience is behind me and tomorrow the slate is wiped clean. What will I make next?