04 April, 2012

Experiments in ... PIE!

Today is my birthday! But … since today is Wednesday, and I have to work today, I had the main celebration of my birth on Sunday. Sister and I hosted a pie social at Sister’s house. What fun it was!

First of all, how can one not have a great time when pie is involved? And pie times many equals fun multiplied! I made four offerings for the party: a strawberry fields forever pie; peanut butter chocolate pielettes; sweet + savory chicken hand pies (gluten free and plain); and gluten free sugar + spice pie fries with berry dipping sauce. Sister whipped up three different pizza pies: a toadstool pie (shiitake and oyster mushrooms); R+R pie with rutabaga and rye; and a gluten free polenta pie. Other guests graced our heavily laden pie table with such temptations as lemon pie (both gluten free and regular versions), gluten free lemon-blueberry pie, banana pie, blueberry pie, and a dreamy coconut cream cake. Delish!

All this pie was washed down with milk, coffee, tea and homemade hibiscus fizzy water. And, yes, I jumped on the pretty paper straw bandwagon. (And don’t regret it one bit … these straws are beautiful and ecologically better than plastic ones, so it’s a win-win!)

Despite the fabulousness of the pie buffet, the guests were really the stars of this social. It’s always wonderful to celebrate with wonderful folks! We had a house full of beautiful people spanning all ages and all of my various social circles. Much conversation and merriment was had. (Thanks to those of you who came out to celebrate! You are loved and appreciated!)

Guests were sent home with a little gift tin to let them know just how loved and appreciated they are. Each little pie tin contained pie fries and fruit sauce, a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, a pie social mix tape CD, recipe card thank you note (with a recipe for strawberry curd), and, in a few of the tins, a crocheted doily courtesy of Sister.

We kept decorations simple with a gingham tablecloth, pennant buntings we made from origami paper and crocheted streamers. Sister even slapped a lovely little “happy birthday” sign on the wall. I had planned to play a round of “pin the pie on the party girl”, but didn’t get over to the copy store to enlarge a picture of me with my mouth open, so that, sadly, didn’t happen.

All in all, this birthday celebration was a success! How do you celebrate your birthday? I’d love to hear! In the meantime, here’s a recipe for you …

Strawberry Fields Forever Pie


1 pie crust

2 c. rosemary roasted strawberries

1 quantity strawberry curd, divided into 2 halves

1 c. heavy cream

1 ½ T. powdered sugar

1 t. Pimm’s liqueur

2 c. strawberries, sliced into discs

rosemary roasted strawberries:

To roast strawberries, preheat oven to 400F. Place 2 cups rinsed, hulled and quartered berries into a bowl with ¼ c. light brown sugar and 2-3 T. finely chopped fresh rosemary. Toss to coat. Dump berry mixture into your favorite roasting dish or parchment lined rimmed baking sheet and pop into the hot oven. Roast berries for ~45 minutes turning a couple times during cooking. It’s a good idea to run a spoon or spatula through them a couple times during cooking, too, to discourage any bottom sticking. Though, the juices produced during the roasting should also help to prevent this. Remove from oven. Using a fine mesh sieve, drain the juice from the berries saving to use for another recipe (it’s delicious!). Set the berries aside to cool to room temperature.

strawberry curd:

3 egg yolks

2 ½ c. strawberries, sliced

1/8 c. cornstarch

½ c. sugar

½ t. salt

zest of 1 lime

1/3 c. lime juice

Place berries in medium saucepan. Cover and cook ~8-10 minutes over medium heat until soupy. (Be careful not to burn these babies!) Set aside.

In a larger saucepan combine cornstarch, sugar, salt and zest. Whisk in lime juice to combine. Separately whisk egg yolks until smooth. Whisk yolks into cornstarch mixture. Whisk warm strawberries (with their liquid) into cornstarch mixture until combined. Place saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring slowly until thickened. Set aside to cool, ~30 minutes.

Pie instructions:

Place rosemary roasted strawberries into pre-baked pie crust to form bottom layer. Make sure berries cover the entire bottom of the crust.

Next, add one of the 2 halves of strawberry curd on top of the roasted strawberries. We’re making layers here. You know what to do: Spread that strawberry love around!

Now comes the fun part! Let’s whip some cream! Using a hand whisk, or an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the powdered sugar and Pimm’s liqueur (if using) to the cream and continue whisking to medium peaks. Think bouffant hairdo, here. You want it to be tall and fluffy, but still able to hold its shape. Be careful not to overwhip, as you will end up with butter. Butter is delicious, but it’s not what we’re going for here.

Add the remaining strawberry curd to the whipped cream, gently folding it in to create one beautiful pale pink cloud of berry cream delight. Put this cloud in the fridge for a few moments just to chill it out and let it set a bit.

Layer on the sliced strawberry discs for layer number 3 of this berry badass pie.

Finally, spoon on the whipped berry curd/cream to top off your pie. Garnish with strawberry discs and a rosemary sprig or two. I recommend refrigerating the finished pie for about 5 minutes or so before serving. This allows the flavors to really develop while the cold helps keep the structural integrity.

Bon appetit!


  1. Yum! Happy Birthday, Melanie. I would have loved to have celebrated your special day with you. I would have brought my very favorite to make: strawberry rhubarb. I'm glad you are on this earth and I hope your next year is full of surprises!

  2. Thank you so much, Erin! I wish you could have been there too ... especially toting a tasty strawberry rhubarb pie! I'm missing you, but love reading about your family's adventures on your blog! You are an amazing lady. Thank you, again!