Sunday, April 25, 2010
Bird Under a Brick
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I love buttermilk and I'm not shy about admitting it. I'm not going to flaunt it the way people wear I ♥ foie gras t-shits, but if you see me pour the last 6 oz of a carton of buttermilk into a glass and drink it, I'm not apologizing.
Step 1: Blind bake your crust. Custard pies always benefit from a blind baking; your pie crust gets a head-start on cooking and develops a toothsome, rather than gummy integrity that contrasts well with the custard filling.
Roll your pie dough out to somewhere between a 1/8 and 1/4" thickness and transfer to a pie plate. I like to roll the edge of the dough underneath itself before fluting to give the ends a little more thickness. Refrigerate the formed pie shell for at least an hour, up to overnight. Preheat oven to 400. Spread a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil over the chilled dough so that it hangs a couple inches off of the sides of the pan. Pour in your beans or rice or pie weights, and bake the pie for 10 minutes. This weight gives the dough the structure it needs for baking, otherwise the sides would collapse. After 10 minutes, remove the pie from the oven and carefully remove the parchment or foil and all of the weights. Prick a few holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork and return to the oven (without weights) for another 3-5 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool. Pie crust can be made several hours ahead or even the day before.
In another bowl, or with an electric mixer, whisk egg whites until they form soft peaks (when you pull the whisk up through the whites, they should hold some of their shape). Gently fold egg white mixture into buttermilk mixture, by hand, until just combined. Mixture will be somewhat lumpy.
Pour filling into pie shell. Bake in middle of oven until pie is the palest shade of brown and the filling is mostly firm but for a bit of jiggle in the center, 45 to 50 minutes. Depending on how acidic the pie is, it may not brown much. The slight jiggle will tell you when it's done. If edge of crust browns too quickly, cover with foil. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or chilled, with fresh berries.
Friday, April 16, 2010
So long, old friend
In the year 2000, before there was Whole Foods and luxury condominiums in the Pearl, a friend and I opened up a tiny little cafe across the way from Powell's Books. We named it Half & Half. We made a wren our mascot, had a taxidermy display, sold cigarettes and fluffernutter sandwiches, and didn't put out a tip jar until our customers yelled at us. We were the only coffee shop selling Stumptown coffee in a 5 mile radius. A lot has changed in 10 years. I like to think that Half & Half contributed to the food and arts culture in more ways than just making great pie and deviled eggs. We invented more than 300 sandwiches, and painstakingly named every single one. We sold coffee delivered to us by bicycle. We made iced sweet tea for all you displaced southerners. We served unemployed musicians, artists, architects, students, strippers, construction workers, freaks and ad-folks with equal zeal. You can find us in a YACHT video, a Gus Van Sant movie, and a TV spot for the Oregon Lottery. If it wasn't for Half & Half, I probably wouldn't be working at Wieden + Kennedy. And now, after 9 years and 7 months in business, we are closing shop. On April 30th, we will make our batches of deviled eggs and iced coffee and we will say goodbye to a community that helped create some of the best 500 sq feet the world has to offer. Half & Half could not have existed in any place but Portland, in any time but the last decade, and without the customers and staff who supported and sustained it.
In the next 2 weeks, I hope you have the chance to eat or drink there for your first or last time. On April 30th we're taking customer portraits outside the cafe and we'll be making sandwiches, deviled eggs and serving Miller High Life until we run out of inventory. We have the space till midnight, so let's see what happens.
Courier Coffee Roasters will be taking over the space at 923 SW Oak. We've been serving Joel Domreis' hand roasted, bicycle-delivered coffee since 2007 and I know the neighborhood is in excellent hands.