Friday, January 23, 2009

Pie by the Slice

I hadn't planned on posting for National Pie Day this year especially since I posted last year but, that all changed when I learned today is not only National Pie Day, as sponsored by the American Pie Council, today is also National Rhubarb Pie Day as mentioned right here.

Cherry Pie

I can tell you right now, there will be no pie baking for me today. Instead, I would like to serve you a few more "slices" of pie I found interesting.

We are all aware of the traditional mincemeat pie Christmas tradition in England. (The post I did last year includes a minecmeat pie die-cut booklet) But did you know, that according to the American Pie Council "English tradition also credits the first cherry pie to Queen Elizabeth I." However debatable that notion may be, we do know that not only did Queen Elizabeth I decree that roast goose should be eaten on the Michaelmas she was also quite fond of sweets. From the Royal Cookbook.

Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) was very fond of sweetmeats and often received gifts of marchpane (marzipan), sometimes molded into fantastic shapes. Marchpane castles, mermaids, dolphins, eagles, and camels appeared on great occasions. One winter loyal subjects gave her a marchpane model of Old St. Paul's, a marchpane chessboard, and many other sweets as a New Year gift.
When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing.
Wasn't that a dainty dish
To set before a King?

While I have the Royal Cookbook in front of me I may as well leap head first into at least one pie nursery rhyme.

An enormous pie, out of which flew a flock of living birds, was a variety of soteltie that appeared at some medieval banquets and was still popular in Stuart England. One example is immortalized in the nursery rhyme about "four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pie..." On one occasion a dwarf underwent such an incrustation: About the year 1630, when Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria were entertained by the Duke and Dutchess of Buckingham at Burleigh, Jefferey Hudson, a dwarf, was served up in a cold pie...

The best cherries I ever had, EVER! were while I was traveling across the USA eating my way from state to state. Those cherries were in Michigan! Since Michigan celebrates Statehood in the month of January (26th) and because they have IMHO the best cherries EVER, I am including a recipe for Traverse City Cherry Berry Pie from the cookbook the Best of the Best from Michigan Selected Recipes from Michigan's Favorite Cookbooks. (1996, Quail Ridge Press) From the Preface:

Michigan, the Great Lakes State, is a cornucopia of wonderful things...Traverse City, the Cherry Capital of the World, offers everything from cherry pie to cherry hamburgers...

Savory Breakfast Pie

"In many families a feast would be incomplete without pie and they are served even on ordinary occasions at least two or three times per week. ''Handy as pie for breakfast'' is an old saying we consider obsolete in application at present time, but in spite of the warnings of those who go out, even unto the byways, calling upon all those who still indulge their appetites contrary to the advanced rules of hygenic eating, we find a surprising number of our stout-minded and old-fashioned folk still cling to the notion that pie is a nice and handy relish for breakfast." Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle, Jan. 24, 1902

Simply, any dish composed of pastry crust and filling is considered a pie. Or is it?

Now you’d think that such a simple word as pie would have been verbed years ago, but even the big Oxford English Dictionary hardly gives it house-room, briefly citing three usages: a once-off coinage from 1657 in the sense of repeating one’s words like a magpie, a local term that means to put potatoes in a heap and cover them to protect them from frost, and a specialist printing term for accidentally jumbling up type. source

The term pie may is sometimes expanded to include any food with a crust and a filling. Hmmm...Eskimo Pies comes to mind for some reason but that could be because the Eskimo Pie is celebrating an anniversary tomorrow. For, it was on January 24, 1922, that the United States Patent Office granted patent number 1,404,539 to Christian Kent Nelson for Eskimo Pie. Now, you know I had to celebrate Eskimo Pie at least once on this blog. It was in March on Eskimo Pie Day!

Basically there are two types of pie. The dessert pie such as the cherry pie recipe above and savory pies; those that are filled with meat and served as a main course. Both types of pies can be served hot or cold depending on the ingredients and personal preference. Back in April, when I celebrated National Empanada Day, I discovered that these savory turnovers are usually filled with just those ingredients but are sometimes also treated as dessert pies.

You might be surprised to know that I have quite an affection for breakfast pies with one odd twist. I like to eat them for dinner. I'm sure this oddity is a reflection glaring from my childhood and the evenings when we didn't eat meat on Fridays. There were usually three vast choices for Friday dinner. A dish which contained macaroni, such as Pasta Fazoule, peppers and eggs, onions and eggs or any other non meat containing omelet. I think they call this combination frittata. We just called it plain ol' peppers and eggs, even if there weren't any peppers in it! My choice, if I was given one, which usually I wasn't, unless I was cooking was breakfast pie. Now, I must tell you, my definition of breakfast pie and the definition of breakfast pie as described in the Guide to Breakfast Pies from Mr. Breakfast vary slightly. I tend to favor those such as the Marie's Savory Vegetable Ricotta Pie, found at the Proud Italian Cook blog.

A breakfast pie is a pie served for breakfast whose defining ingredients include items which could be considered breakfast foods at the time the pie is made. Guide to Breakfast Pies

It could be breakfast or dinner! It can be prepared the night before and refrigerated. It's an impressive breakfast or brunch casserole and dare I say, it is adaptable for use with refrigerated rolls (used as a "crust") or the once very popular ingredient in the 70's Bisquick! Come on, everyone has heard of Impossibly Easy Breakfast Pie. Since I'm discussing one of my favorite dishes, I should also mention a little bit about Quiche. As I noted above, frittata in essence is a crust-less quiche. Quiche also enjoyed somewhat of a heyday in the 1970s. Quiche is one of those dishes that depends on the best quality ingredients. It was once one of my favorite ways to clean out the refrigerator and one I should revisit in these times where frugality is more than necessary. Quiche "shows well" and is only limited by the imagination as long as the basic rules and ingredients are included. First, let me share a historical note about Quiche that I found in the book Fashionable Food by Sylvia Lovegreen. It's titled, Who Really Put the Quiche on the American Table?

Quiche Recipe

I was delighted to read about that first line that states, "One of the first U.S. recipes for quiche appeared in American Home Magazine in April 1941 as "tart" Normandy." I didn't know that, was elated to discover that tidbit of history, I have another date dish to include in April's calendar, Quiche:) Seriously, everyone should revisit Breakfast Pies and Quiche! Why not begin with this recipe for Quiche Lorraine that I found using my updated search engine. It was posted by Deborah at Taste and Tell.

Squab Pie

Why pray tell would I take this particular moment to discuss Squab Pie? Well, at the beginning of this new year, I declared I was going to share the January 1934 issue of American Cookery Magazine. I thought it might be interesting to look back 75 years ago. Keep in mind, In old recipes "squab" usually refers to a young pigeon. The following question pertaining to Squab Pie was asked in the Queries and Answer section of the magazine:

Question: Why No Squab in Squab Pie?
Answer: Like the fish cake that is not a fish cake, there seems to be a squab pie that is not a squab pie. Both may be compared to the play Hamlet with the Prince of Denmark left out. We too have a recipe of English origin for Turnip and Squab Pies that calls for mutton chops and young turnips, and names not the ghost of a squab. We have never tried it, not daring to see it before possibly unimaginative folk, but it reads mighty good.

I left a recipe link below, just in case you get an inkling to explore the ingredients (or lack of) in Squab Pie. You might also get a chuckle from the Pie-Eyed Banana posted by Lidian over at Kitchen Retro. Very Funny:)

1. The Rhubarb Compendium
2. Great American Pie Festival, April 23 - 25, 2010
3. National Pie Day (last year's post:)
4. What would you serve to Queen Elizabeth?
5. Bake Metes & Mince Pies "In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, mince pies, like lumber pies, were also made in eccentric shapes and arranged in kalaidoscopic form. They were sometimes called shred or secrets pies."
1. Old-Fashioned Cherry Pie Recipes
2. Lower Alabama Breakfast Pie (Bay Breeze Bed & Breakfast)
3. Peach & Blueberry Breakfast Pie (Holly Hill House B&B)
4. Shepherd's Inn Breakfast Pie
5. Blueberry Breakfast Pie and a Popeye Omelet (gluten free)
6. Ham & Eggs Breakfast Pie w/ Peach Salsa (Bisquick)
7. Bacon Breakfast Pie
8. Breakfast Pie
9. Crabmeat Breakfast Pie
10. Italian Sausage & Provolone Flat Pie
11. Gloucestershire Squab Pie


  1. Well, this should be a national holiday. I would then have more time to bake. As it is, I am without a homebaked pie, and the folks in the office will be dissappointed (there had been an early request). However, there is some Bisquick in the pantry, so perhaps there is still hope!

  2. All this breakfast pie talk is making me hungry! I like breakfast pies for dinner.

  3. This is my favorite post ever. I love pies!!!

  4. Whenever I hear the words "cherry pie" I think of my grandmother warbling that old song . . .

    "Can she bake a cherry pie Billy Boy
    Billy Boy
    Can she bake a cherry pie Charming Billy
    She can bake a cherry pie in the twinkling of an eye
    She's a young thing and can not leave her mother . . . "

    Then it's stuck in my head all day long.

  5. Great post on pies! Now I'm hungry. :-)


  6. hi, louise! i wish they made more pies here in the philippines. the pies you shared about sound great... and mouth-watering! now i think i need to look for something close to a pie or something. haha.

  7. I agree T.W. Why can't National Pie Day be a holiday? Too bad the new prez is so busy otherwise I would ask him to make a proclamation! Bisquick is handy to keep in the pantry Impossible Pie it is then! Thanks for visiting T.W.

    Hi Kathy, Ever since I did that post I too have been craving breakfast pie, for dinner:)

    Thank you Duckie, it was fun to do. Perhaps, you should bake a pie for the "kids":)

    foodvox-Thanks for visiting and "dropping" off the Cherry Pie Song. Thanks to you, it was in my head all day:) Uh Oh, here it goes again....

    Hi Jenna, thanks for stopping in. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I haven't been by you in a while. I think I'll stop in over by you to see what's up. See ya in a few...

    hi acey chan, thanks for visiting. i too wish there were more pie in the philippines. why not make your own? it is not as hard as you may think. did you see the sweet potato pie i made the other day. i was so proud of myself. i don't usually bake you know. try it. if you have any questions just ask:)


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise