My debut novel, Stony Kill, was released in October 2005. It is a personal story, not unlike many writers’ first novels. It seems most of us who are dedicated to scratching out tales of humanity in all its forms, must get their own poignant tale out into the world before they can move on to wider topics and more encompassing tales.
In Stony Kill, the protagonist tells the readers her tale of growing up in a wildly dysfunctional family. But like most troubled families, there remain pieces that work, influences that ground children to productive lives. In my story, it was food and its preparations. I came from a family of chefs and caterers. At ten years old, I had learned to prepare dinner for a family of six. At eighteen I was a personal chef, ironically for a publisher and his family.
But my crowning culinary accomplishment was the perfection of the perfect flakey pie crust, so quite naturally in my novel, Stony Kill, the protagonist, Joss Ryckman is a pie baker who owns a bakery and small cafe. Like me, she loves to please people through food that not only is delicious, but it is beautiful as well. These days, I tend to make beautiful and delicious salads, and pies only for special occasions. Perfect pies will always remain in my repertoire of great eats and I would love to share a recipe with you.
Readers here can see more of my recipes at Marie-White-Small.com. and sign up for my monthly newsletter.
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Marie!
Best Flakey Pie Crust
1 and1⁄2 teaspoons salt (scant)
1 cup Crisco shortening, chilled very cold
1 stick of butter, very cold (or lard, depending on your preferences) chopped into pats
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
3 Tablespoons cold cream cheese
2-3 Tablespoons of Ice-cold water
1 Generous Splash of Liqueur—(It is best to use a flavor that compliments your filling, such as crème de cassis for berry pies, or Kahlua for chocolate tarts, etc.)
Combine all ingredients and beat together in a bowl or mixer until lightly incorporated. You should see lumps of butter and shortening. Pour contents onto a large sheet of parchment paper. Fold parchment around the dough into a square or rectangular packet. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Longer is better or make this dough the evening before you intend to use it.
Prepare your filling in a bowl: peel and cut enough fresh fruit needed to fill your pie plate. Add sugar, lemon juice, and whatever spices your recipe requires. Also add a scant quarter cup of flour to your filling and gently mix, this will help thicken the fruit juices.
When you are ready to assemble your pie, remove the packet of pie dough from the refrigerator, open it and transfer half of the dough to a clean piece of floured parchment paper and roll it out with a floured rolling pin to an adequate size for your pie dish, adding additional flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. Roll up the round onto your re-floured rolling pin and unfurl it across your pie plate. Adjust the dough as necessary. Add the filling and a few dabs of butter. Roll out the remaining dough for the top crust and again using floured parchment paper and a floured rolling pin. When the dough has been rolled to into a somewhat larger top, roll it unto the re-floured rolling pin and unfurl. I have found that a forked pressed edge produces a tender and delicious edge. Indeed there are fancier pie crust edges, but often that are thicker and less appetizing, but do what makes you happiest.