Though our family served this only on special holidays such as Christmas or Easter, this is comfort food all the way. I usually use small or medium potatoes, as they take less time to cook than larger ones. Ground beef can be substituted for lamb.
The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, more commonly known as the Shakers, is a Christian sect founded in England in 1770 by a woman named Ann Lee. Ann Lee, who was thought to embody the second coming of Christ, established four basic tenets: communal living, celibacy, regular confession of sins, and isolationism from the outside world. The Shaker story is an intriguing study of a social and religious experiment in utopian community in early American history. They were radical for their time in many ways: they practiced social, sexual, economic, and spiritual equality 75 years before emancipation and 150 years before suffrage. They strongly believed in gender equality, even though their responsibilities were separated by sex.
Rappie Pie: A Matheson Family Tradition
Slab pies turn out to be the perfect solution for cocktail hour. Inspired by a phyllo filling from The Silver Palate Cookbook, I first combined spinach, gorgonzola, and walnuts in my early 20s when I decided to have a cocktail party. I made so much, I spent five days filling and freezing tiny phyllo appetizers. They were devoured and everyone was amazed, but I never did it again. Since then, I’ve shied away from large fussy projects and tend toward simplification. Pie is all that. And this pie is all that and more.
This recipe is inspired by the now famous Salty Honey Pie served at Four and Twenty Blackbirds in New York City. I have added tahini and chocolate to my pie as they are natural bedfellows and seem to bring out the best in each other. Add a pinch of sea salt flakes and a touch of vinegar to round things off and this is what you get.
It was the Blackberry Pie recipe from What a Cook Ought to Know about Corn Starch (1909) that inspired mine. I love the bare-bones filling instructions: “Wash blackberries, drain and fill plate quite full. Sprinkle well with sugar. Sift over all, one generous tablespoon . . . [cornstarch].” Done and done. I added lime juice and zest (for a little zing), a bit of butter atop my filling (for richness), and arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch (for a less cloudy filling), and tucked it all into a tender and flaky cream cheese crust.
The hallmark of Dutch apple pie is its creamy apple filling, but we didn’t rely on the traditional cream to achieve it. Instead we added melted vanilla ice cream to the apple filling for extra creaminess and a rich vanilla flavor that nicely complements apple pie.
Unlike most pie lovers, if I’m given a choice between a fruit- or custard-filled one, I always reach for the custard one first. The rich, custardy smoothness draws me in every time. This pie is no exception; the added brûléed sugar top gives the ensemble a slight crunch and added dimension in flavor.
Though we claim to be rhubarb purists as our grandmother was, we do believe it pairs very well with tart raspberries.