Wednesday, February 1, 2012

OMG A Recipe: Thanks, Mom

It's a little early for Mother's Day, but I have to say that Moms are great. Along with the whole giving birth thing, they also happen to pass along some lifelong wisdom that you'll carry with you for the rest of your life... including a darn fine pie crust recipe.

Mom's Vinegar Pastry Crust - for reaching Dessert Nirvana - Photo by Wasabi Prime
I've talked a good game about Wasabi Mom's Vinegar Pastry Crust, which has pretty much become my staple. I have plenty of recipes and tried different versions, but quite frankly, this is the one I have decided is my forever go-to, and that's that. Strong words, yes, but aside from the fact it's the pie crust I grew up around, it's a pretty solid recipe to use, whether your'e doing fruit or custard-based pies. It bakes up crisp, flaky and quite sturdy. This is a real crust, like Plate Tectonics, the whole Pangea nine yards -- it will not get mushy or fall apart against any pie filling foe. This is likely due to the vinegar, which don't worry, doesn't flavor the crust, its purpose is to keep the dough moist while it's getting mixed and disappears upon baking. Since vinegar is basically wine gone sour, the alcohol burns off in the baking process and helps ensure a flaky and crisp crust. There's also egg in the recipe, which I know sounds a little odd -- most recipes don't use an egg, but this one does and I don't question the Wisdom of Mom, so I just leave it be, believing it to add to the crust's signature sturdiness. Most of the pies I've been making lately are overloaded with fruit and I'm never completely certain how much liquid the fruit filling will give off, but this crust remains a good old soldier and stands up nicely to whatever kind of pie you make.

I made an apple and pear pie recently, a nice treat after a cold weather dinner of the equally carbohydrate-laden roasted squash and fennel-topped risotto. I blame the chill of a rainy evening on the need to just go balls-out for the carbs, making a creamy batch of risotto while some fennel and kabocha pumpkin roasted away in the oven. Can you not hear the lyrics of Milli Vanilli's Blame it on the Rain right now? Maybe that's just in my head... I know doctors recommend medication for this sort of problem. Bah -- silly details!! The risotto was another CSA-inspired meal -- I like how fennel loses its strong licorice flavor and gains more sweetness after a good roast, and kabocha has such a pleasant natural sweetness to it already. After the oven had its way with them, I thought they would be a hearty topping to risotto and be a comfortable thing to tuck into one cold night. Especially when you have 1990's lip-synch pop stars singing in your head.

Roasted Kabocha and Fennel over Risotto on a Cold Winter's Night - Photo by Wasabi Prime
Dinner was dropping bombs of nomz as the rain pelted the windows and turned the Seasonal Affective Disorder knob to Eleven on the Misery Scale, but of course the highlight is always dessert. And maybe that's why I made the pie. Aside from the fact that our CSA box included a small commune of apples and pears, there's nothing that lifts the spirits quite like something delicious being baked in the oven. And Mom Knows Best -- when she bakes, the house smells amazing and all the problems and stresses of the world just seem a little smaller, knowing there's going to be fresh-baked pie coming out of the oven. Having made the dough a few hours earlier in the food processor and letting it rest in the fridge, it was soft and rollable, easy to split into two rounds, with one half used for the bottom crust and I rolled and sliced the remainder of the dough into strips to make a lattice top. I can never weave it perfectly, there's always some wonky weave action happening, but covering a big pile of peeled and sugared pear and apple slices covered in cinnamon and nutmeg, no one's going to care if you should have over-ed instead of under-ed.
Pie and Risotto, and much like Milli Vanilli, I Blame it on the Rain - Photos by Wasabi Prime
So, without further adieu, here's my mom's pie crust recipe. I'm sure she doesn't mind me sharing it with everyone, just send out a Wasabi Mom Shout-Out when you're baking pies on rainy days. Pie Thug Life 4-EVER.

Wasabi Mom's Vinegar Pastry Crust (makes two pie crusts)

1 1/4 cups cold shortening or butter, cut into cubes
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp vinegar
Up to 5 tbsp cold ice water

In a mixing bowl or food processor, add all dry ingredients, sifted together. Cut shortening or butter in, until the mixture resembles small peas. Add the egg, vinegar and slowly add the ice water until the the pastry just holds together. You may end up using less water than the 5 tablespoons, it just depends on the weather and humidity of the air. Gather the dough together and form into a large disc, wrapping tightly with clear plastic. Place wrapped dough into the refrigerator and allow it to chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling into the shape of a pie crust.

When you're ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake until golden brown. To give it a more rich color, lightly brush with milk or cream before baking. Add a sprinkle of sugar to caramelize and add texture.


  1. Interesting about the eggs!

  2. How did I not realize til now that we are the same person? Oh ad I really need to try vinegar in pasty. GREG

  3. I made these for a party this weekend and they turned out great! Thanks so much!

    Apfelkuchen Rezept
    Apfelkuchen Rezepte


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