A Pie Party

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We totally did it – we had a pie party. Lots of you came, and brought pie, or bubbles, or both. Between the people and the pie and the whipped cream and the sunshine and the bubbly drinks (prosecco, pink moscato, sangria and mint lemonade) it was a pretty fantastic afternoon.

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This was the scene at on Saturday at 1:59. I had goosebumps. I tried to photograph them, but it didn’t work. We cleaned up, but didn’t manage to get the walls did, as I keep forgetting to pick up this magic eraser everyone keeps telling me is such a good idea. I’m not convinced it will be less work than painting at this point. But who cares? Everyone’s coming for pie! When the kitchen’s full, no one notices the fingerprints on the walls.

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I made a couple pies: a rhubarb-raspberry galette that used up the last of my (still spindly) rhubarb, and a sauteed apple galette on white cheddar crust with a hazelnut crumble topping. (It sounds all fancy when you put it that way, doesn’t it? – really I just added some grated aged white cheddar to the pastry, a handful of hazelnuts to the crumble and didn’t bother with a pie plate.)

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And then people started to arrive with pie. Is there a better sight than friends arriving at your door with pies wrapped in tea towels? (And with bubbly bottles of prosecco?) Lauren came! And brought her friends! Astrid had only eaten three types of pie in her life – we fed her three lifetimes worth’ of pie to catch her up.

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I heartily endorse a pie potluck as a great kind of a get-together – pie just makes people happy. And it’s the sort of dish you tend to make when you have a group of people to feed. Some people get nervous at the prospect of a potluck. But it’s so risky! You don’t know what you’ll get! That’s part of the fun – that element of surprise. Earlier this week a few people tried to warn me – you’ll get a dozen apple pies! But really – a) who cares? and b) doubtful – the diversity of the dishes that show up at a potluck always amazes me. Especially at harvest time, when there’s so much produce to choose from. Also? If ten people made ten apple pies, they’d all be different.

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There was bumbleberry pie, and Saskatoon pie. (One came from Fifendekel in Edmonton, another from Pearson’s Berry Farm.) Jenna brought pecan pie – which was pie perfection, and turned out to be her very first pie made from scratch. Everyone agreed she nailed it. (I’m on her to post that recipe!) There was a stunning peach pie with a lattice crust that disappeared in record time, and chocolate chip cookie dough pie – cookie dough baked right in the crust! Andy brought a ginger pear galette with Greek yogurt for spooning on top. (She also happened to be a calligrapher, and sat down to make signs for each pie as it arrived.)

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Aga brought tequila lime pie and two boys for W to play Star Wars with.

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Carol brought pink drinks – Foxy Ladies – with Evans cherries from her own back yard. (She said, after a few plates of pie, “I think I’ve pied and gone to heaven.”)

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Catharine brought gorgeous peach-plum galettes, sprinkled with sugar she said she rubbed with fresh mint. Hello. I almost snuck off with one of them for some alone time.

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And Avery brought pie fries! Sticks of cinnamon-sugared baked pastry that you serve with sweet dip – she brought dulce de leche and strawberry cream. Of course because her pastry was fantastic they were a bit fragile – but a delicious hit! I guess with pie fries the goal is tough pastry?

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Darrel and Corrine brought a graham cracker crusted no-bake cheesecake pie, topped with sliced peaches, blueberries and wee strawberries from their back yard. And Lauren‘s pie? A stunner, just like her – blueberry-blackberry-peach, and gluten-free, of course. Her crust was made with almond, sweet rice and millet flours and was incredibly tender and delicious. I may just start making her pastry from now on. She wrote a great pie post, by the way, that sums up the essence of pie and its influence on people.

I’ve had a lot of people tell me I’m crazy for inviting people I’ve never met over to my house. Life is too short not to, I think. Anyone who is willing to bake a pie to bring to a potluck with a bunch of people they’ve never met is probably someone I’d like to hang out with. It’s so much easier to be talked out of doing something because there might be a risk involved (do axe murderers even like pie?) than to just go ahead and do it – most often the potential for greatness far outweighs any potential (imagined or not) negatives. And pie takes care of the rest.

Sautéed Apple Galette on White Cheddar Crust

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/4 cup shortening, chilled and cut into pieces
1/2-1 cup grated old white cheddar
2-4 Tbsp. ice-cold water

1/4 cup butter
3 lb tart apples (such as Granny Smith) cut into 3/4″ pieces (don’t bother peeling them)
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt

1/2 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup flaked hazelnuts

Make the pastry: in a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter, shortening and cheese and use a fork, pastry blender, wire whisk or the “pulse” motion of the food processor to blend the mixture until it resembles coarse meal, with lumps of fat no bigger than a pea.

Drizzle the minimum amount of water over the mixture and stir until the dough comes together, adding a little more a bit at a time if you need it. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disc, wrap it in plastic and chill for at least half an hour. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a 14-inch circle (don’t worry about it being perfect); drape over the rolling pin and transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Put the fridge while you make the filling.

Meanwhile in a large, heavy skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, add the apples and cook until they start releasing their juices. Sprinkle the sugar and salt overtop. Cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring often, until the moisture evaporates and the syrup thickens, and the apples start to turn golden. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.

To make the crumble topping, blend all the ingredients in a bowl or food processor until well combined and crumbly. Preheat the oven to 375F.

Pile the cooled apples onto the pastry, mounding it the middle and spreading it out to within 2 inches of the edge. Fold the pastry over, letting it fold where it wants to. If you like, brush the folded-over part with a little milk or beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Scatter the crumble mixture over top.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbly and golden. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before sliding carefully onto a cutting board to serve. Serves 8-10.

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September 11 2011 10:19 pm | dessert

47 Responses to “A Pie Party”

  1. H-woman on 11 Sep 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    I’m sorry I missed it!

  2. JulieVR on 11 Sep 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    Next time! I’m sure there will be others!

  3. wendy on 11 Sep 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    Dang, I wish I lived near you! Oh well, I’ll just have to do my own, I guess.

  4. Cassie on 11 Sep 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    Oh boo, I wish I would have read about this sooner than after it’s already done! Next time you have a party I shall be there! Looked like a blast

  5. CathyD on 11 Sep 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    It was SO much fun! As you know, I don’t usually really eat anything sweet/sugary. But holy cow, I tried SO many kinds of pie! (And was nearly hanging off the walls from the sugar rush, ha). I’m just sorry B couldn’t have been there.

    Everyone had such a great time. And Mike even knew in advance this time, bonus! Hee hee!

  6. Jenna on 11 Sep 2011 at 11:10 pm #

    Aw! Pie perfection. Thank you!
    I’ve posted about the potluck, and the recipes are there as well! :)


    Thanks for hosting Julie. See you soon.

  7. sara on 11 Sep 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    This sounds like so much fun! What a great idea for a potluck! :) Your apple-cheddar pie sounds really yummy…I love those flavors together.

  8. Amber on 12 Sep 2011 at 12:45 am #

    My family had a pie party on New Year’s Day one year – both savoury and sweet. I remember tortiere but not sure what the others were. Maybe a good one to have in the Fall, with cooler weather! Mmm now I want pie…

  9. Natalie B on 12 Sep 2011 at 6:08 am #

    It’s too bad we don’t live in your area (or vice versa), my husband made blueberry pie this weekend – three of them to be exact, with fresh end of season blueberries. We ate two of them between the two of us in three days! (aside from one piece for my mother). We gave the third away to a friend (I had serious reserves about this) who had made us meals with the birth of our baby. On that note let me just say that there ain’t no better midnight breastfeeding session snack than a pie of homemade blueberry pie!

  10. Dana on 12 Sep 2011 at 6:29 am #

    We’ve been contemplating a pie party for a while now. Pie is just so awesome. I’m happy you had lots of fun.

  11. Kathy on 12 Sep 2011 at 7:33 am #

    Yum. I am so going to be there for the next potluck. If I hadn’t woken up w/ a migraine at 3 am that day I woulda been able to make it, I think, the flu thing I wrote about before was better and I could have worked around the tiling of the backsplash (i.e. no stove) somehow!

  12. Carol SB on 12 Sep 2011 at 7:35 am #

    What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Your idea of a ‘pie potluck’ would work in so many situations. It’s a wonderful way to start a conversation with a bunch of folks you don’t really know yet, too!
    I went home and phoned my (adult) daughters to give them the lowdown, and how excellent *all* the pies were. Gluten free is actually awesomely fantastic! I realized later, you’d put those (gf) choices in the kitchen and the others in the dining room, so’s to quarantine the serving implements. Brilliant, dear lady, and subtle too.
    As I was making my daughters weep with descriptions of pies, I kept raving about my new favorite: the apple pie with cheese IN THE CRUST!! Brilliant. I didn’t know who’d made it, but I was darn sure *I* was going to figure it out and make it… and it was yours! Here is the recipe! I am going to be soooo popular.
    -Carol S-B

  13. Fiona on 12 Sep 2011 at 7:41 am #

    Ah! I’m so sorry I missed that. I forgot to put my e-mail in my comment, and then I was going to e-mail you for details, and then it turned out I couldn’t make it anyway. Next time. (And weird, I toyed with the idea of making apple pie with a cheddar crust!)

  14. Robyn on 12 Sep 2011 at 8:11 am #

    if i came to the pie party i would have brought s’mores pie!

    “do axe murderers even like pie?” – hilarious!

  15. Lana on 12 Sep 2011 at 8:25 am #

    Love this post and so wish I could have attended. BUT you have inspired me to perhaps host one of these myself. I was thinking of an October Harvest potluck, but just pies would so darn easy, and SO yummy.


  16. CathyH on 12 Sep 2011 at 8:58 am #

    I loved the previous potluck, but could not attend the Pie potluck because of a cowboy wedding We had pie there, so I was with you in spirit ~ appple, strawberry rhubarb, bumbleberry.
    Tequila Lime pie!!!! Recipe please……………

  17. Diane on 12 Sep 2011 at 9:25 am #

    Jullie, I LOVE pie parties. I grew up in Calgary but live in U.S. now. I have finally got the whole Thanksgiving celebration thing (bigger than Christmas down here) but we are always too full to eat the yummy pumpkin, squash, pecan, etc. pies. So we started a new family tradition – PIE NIGHT – the night before Thanksgiving. A huge hit and so much pie to eat without guilt because we basically have no dinner – just pies. Love to follow your blog.

  18. Aga on 12 Sep 2011 at 9:42 am #

    Such a great afternoon! Thank you again Julie. The boys and I had a blast!
    I’d love the recipe for the ginger-pear galette. It was a standout.
    The tequila-lime pie is a breeze to make and was my cheater attempt to avoid having to make a real pie crust. For the crust, mix 6 tablespoons melted butter with 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs and bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, blend together one and a half cans of sweetened condensed milk (about 450 ml), 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 tablespoon grated lime zest, 3 tablespoons tequila (or more if you’re feeling daring) and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Let it stand about 5 minutes to thicken and then pour into the cooled crust. Refrigerate for at least two hours to set. Just before serving, whip together 1 cup of cream with about a tablespoon of icing sugar. Pipe cream onto pie and garnish with lime slices, if desired. This is from a fabulous book called The Art of Pie.

  19. LisaD on 12 Sep 2011 at 9:44 am #

    My husband keeps asking why I keep on about emigrating from the South of England to Canada … not sure I should mention your potlucks as one of the motivating factors! I need enough notice to plan a family holiday round one, but in the meantime I will enjoy reading about them all and drooling over the gorgeous pies!

  20. Amanda on 12 Sep 2011 at 9:45 am #

    Damn, I missed a good party… no matter, I’ll be there next time, and now I have lots of pie recipes to look up… pie crust doesn’t count as a carb right?

  21. Avery on 12 Sep 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Aga, that lime pie was great! They all were… I tried my hardest to sample as many as I could (such a hardship, I know). Great to meet some new and returning potluck faces!

  22. JulieVR on 12 Sep 2011 at 10:31 am #

    Aga – thanks for sharing! Your tequila lime pie was definitely a hit.

  23. Jennifer Jo on 12 Sep 2011 at 10:36 am #

    You are not crazy.

    I’m contemplating stealing this idea, too. Do you mind?

  24. Shaun on 12 Sep 2011 at 11:06 am #

    Julie, What a wonderful afternoon! Thank you again!

  25. JulieVR on 12 Sep 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Jennifer – Are you kidding?? I’d love it if more people had pie potlucks! the more the merrier!

  26. Jennifer B. on 12 Sep 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    Get. The. Heck. Outta. Here.

    Seriously, Julie, if my friend and I didn’t live so blasted far away (Harrisburg, PA), we’d have been there with forks in hand and napkins neatly tucked in the necks of our shirts. In fact, when I shared this with my BFF (Willetta) and told her we should have just driven right up there, she replied, “That would teach her to put stuff like this out on the Internet where just anyone of a pie-loving nature and a GPS can find it.” Alas, you’re a bit too far away so I must live vicariously through the words of a blog.

  27. Donna on 12 Sep 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    Wow- What a great selection of pies !
    Next time I will make it.
    Meanwhile -I’ll make pie. Thanks for the recipes.

  28. Jennifer B. on 12 Sep 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    P.S. And, for the record, we’re not axe murderers.

  29. molly on 12 Sep 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    Remind me, again, why I don’t live closer?

  30. Lauren on 12 Sep 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    Julie, I had so much fun. I loved seeing all the gorgeous pies, and even getting to eat a few! And that mint lemonade! Love. Thank you for all of the kind words. It’s always a joy to see you, whether or not it’s over pie :).

  31. bev on 12 Sep 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    I would TOTALLY have loved to be there, and I am immediately going to try the apple pie with cheddar crust. Also, Robyn, I want a recipe for smore pie!!

  32. Words Of Deliciousness on 12 Sep 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    Wow, I don’t think I have seen so many pies all in one place before. Sounds like you had fun trying all the pies.

  33. CanadyAnna on 12 Sep 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    It was so great to finally meet you live in the flesh, over pie and lemonade, and discover connections like catching up with the Winters who I ahve been buying turkeys from since the mid 70’s (used to be out of the back of his truck!) And the pies were stellar – even taking the tiniest of slices couldn’t try them all. And for Aga’s benefit – the Ginger Pear galette was a riff on Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” Apple Galette recipe. Used pears instead, added chopped candied ginger, some grated fresh too, sprinkled on some homemade sweet rhubarb wine in lieu of lemon juice and put some crushed gingersnaps down to soak up excess juices before piling the chopped fruit, then layering the slices on top before folding the galette dough edges up. I think we should do this again – maybe come winter with savoury pies!

  34. susie on 13 Sep 2011 at 8:32 am #

    Pie Fries! What an awesome name for them. Since I was a little girl, it was the part I most anticipated. My Grandma always baked the scraps with cinnamon sugar, and I do the same even now. How wonderful these bits of joy have an apropos name!

  35. Jody on 13 Sep 2011 at 11:42 am #

    What a fantastic looking fete! Gorgeous pictures and I could feel the good vibes just by looking at them!

  36. Catherine on 13 Sep 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    Thank you for opening up your home and being such an amazing host! It was so nice to meet you, Julie! I enjoyed meeting and bonding with so many people over our mutual love for pie. Sweet, delicious pies.

  37. Kristin on 14 Sep 2011 at 4:22 am #

    A pie party sounds like my kind of party! Everything looks beautiful. Love the idea of pie fries to dip into dulce de leche!

  38. Erica B. on 14 Sep 2011 at 8:31 am #

    Looks like it was a fantastic time-my stomach is rumbling just reading this! I’m sorry to have missed yet another potluck. We took a pile of BC peaches home with us – can’t wait for the peach pie & galette recipes pretty please :)

  39. JulieVR on 14 Sep 2011 at 8:41 am #

    Erica – sorry, people brought those! I don’t have the recipe!

  40. Kathy on 15 Sep 2011 at 7:36 am #

    Here is a song about pie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXG3l4FdviU&feature=player_embedded

    I’m not sure what movie this is from.

    Also in the comments posted on this youtube, someone remarks that there is a National Pie Day in January! Who knew?

  41. Natalie (GA) on 16 Sep 2011 at 5:34 am #

    Looks like so much fun….wonderful pies and great memories. you are always an inspiration, Julie!

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  47. Kim mcd on 21 Jan 2015 at 7:55 pm #

    Pie!! Do this again, I can come and will bring me!!

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