Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

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So that dinner I made for my friend Alex’s birthday (the one with the soup) began a few days earlier when I e-mailed Alex a very important question: “Dear Alex,” I wrote, “what are your Top 5 favorite desserts of all time?”

Alex wrote back: “Hmmm…top five favorite desserts…I’ll do this w/o thinking too much: pecan pie, warm cake with cream cheese frosting, strawberry rhubarb pie, chocolate lava cake, lemon cake.” Seeing as she did this stream-of-consciousness style, I had to trust that the first dessert she named was truly her favorite. Which is why I ended up making what turned out to be (in my opinion at least) the greatest pecan pie ever.

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Operation: Pie Rescue

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When I write about pie on my blog, it’s usually for comic relief.

Apparently, my friend Morgan thought it was hilarious when I wrote about my “Patched-Together Rhubarb Pie.” It’s true: I’m comically bad at rolling out pie dough. (Though Pim’s latest post “One Pie Dough To Rule Them All” makes me think I’ll have to give that technique a whirl.)

Even when I get the rolling-out right, though, things go wrong. Case in point: the blueberry pie I made last week.

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Patched-Together Rhubarb Pie

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Delusional isn’t a word I’d use to describe myself. Sure, I have my flights of fancy and my exaggerated sense of what’s happening at any given moment, but am I so-out-of-touch that I deserve the “D” word? Doubtful!

But I was delusional on Saturday when I took a bunch of rhubarb–rhubarb that I’d purchased with Deb of Smitten Kitchen, issuing a challenge in the process (“Let’s have a contest to see who does the better thing with this rhubarb”)–and convinced myself that I could casually piece together a rhubarb pie. “I’m not gonna stress about it,” I said to myself. “I’ll be like a country grandmother and just make this pie happen.” There’s only one word for such a line of thought, especially when it comes to me and pie: it’s the D word.

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Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie

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Ok, I promise, this is it with the Meyer lemons. You’re sick of them–after this post, and that post–I know, I know. And when Lindy drew lemons (that sort of look like Meyer lemons) into my banner this month, who knew I’d be writing so much about them? Unless this was Lindy’s master plan? What if she works for the Meyer lemon industry? What if her banners are prophecies and whatever she draws in them comes true? What if next month’s banner features me…DEAD?! This is like an episode of the X-Files!

But even Mulder and Scully would tell me to come off it and just get to the recipe for that gorgeous-looking pie in the lead photo.

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Lard Pie Crust (from Flying Pigs Farm)

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I never know if I’m stealing an Edible Manhattan when I remove it from a coffee shop or store. Usually there’s a price on top of it, but they’re stacked up next to The Onion and the Onion’s free, right? So I’m either wanted by New York City police or I’m perfectly within my rights to pilfer a copy each month.

And this month I’m glad I did it, because it was in the pages of a pilfered Edible Manhattan that I learned about the lard pie crust from Flying Pigs Farm.

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Crostata Crazy

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Ok, let’s play a game, a game called: marry, boink, kill. (Note: “boink” is the G-rated version). Usually you play this game using celebrities (who would you marry, boink, or kill: George Clooney, George Stephanopoulos, Boy George.) Today, however, we’re going to play this game with pastry. Are you ready? Marry, boink, or kill: pies, tarts & crostatas.

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How To Make An Apple Pie

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Some of us have Oedipal complexes, others have Electra complexes, but very few of us have a complex based on apple pie. Allow me to lay on your therapist’s couch for a moment: I have a serious pie issue. My apple pie is inadequate–it comes from Martha Stewart–and though it often inspires a happy nod and a fleeting smile, it rarely induces the kind of exaltation that comes when Craig’s dad–who we’ll call “Steve” because that’s his name–makes his signature apple pie.

What is it that makes his pie so good? Why do my pies never measure up? On a recent visit to Bellingham, Washington–home of “Steve”–I decided to solve this mystery once and for all. What follows are the closely-guarded secrets of Steve’s Signature Apple Pie; a pie that I finally recreated at home to much acclaim–so much acclaim that I don’t need this therapy anymore. How much do I owe you?

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Nectarine Tart

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I am a nectarine tart and I am easy to make. I am adapted from Amanda Hesser’s “Cooking For Mr. Latte” (her recipe is for a peach tart) but, if you ask me, I’m much prettier than a peach tart. A peach tart would be a homogeneous glop of orangey yellow fruit; I, on the other hand, am a homogeneous glop of orangey yellow fruit with hints of red. Those hints of red make me magnificent.

The most shocking thing about me (besides my time served at Sing Sing) is how easy I am to make. Most tarts intimidate with the dough assembly, the refrigeration, the rolling it out, the getting it into the pan. Not so with me: to make a tart like me, all you do is dump a bunch of stuff into a tart pan (or, if you don’t have a tart pan, an 8 X 8 square pan will work too), stir it together, press it into the corners and cut off the excess. To be more specific: in the pan, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together 1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil (I’m made from olive oil and it makes my taste elusive!), 2 Tbs milk, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Pour the wet stuff over the dry stuff, mix gently with a fork, and when it comes together push it out so it comes to a height of about 3/4 inch (or, if using a tart pan, til it comes up the sides of the tart.)

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