I came up with this recipe as an entry for Cathy Erway's blogging contest over at www.noteatingoutinny.com. The challenge: to create a seasonal pie using local ingredients for a chance to win tickets to the Just Food fifth annual Let Us Eat Local fundraiser and party. Please check Cathy's blog later this week to vote for your favorite pie (um, this one, right?) Just do it!
I've been seeing beautiful concord grapes at the farmer's market lately, and my first thought was a lovely concord grape pie. A quick search on the interwebs turned up some promising recipe ideas. Then I remembered that my expert pie-making friend, Karol Lu, was making a Peanut Butter & Jelly Pie and using, duh, concord grapes... Geez...
Luckily, inspiration was as close by as my kitchen, where my roommate's CSA share included some of these Bosc beauties:
The pears reminded me of a great recipe I posted for Pear & Cardamom Bread Pudding, and the thought of cardamom reminded me of the masala chai tea I had recently on a promising first date. I don't usually order chai, but he took me to Radiance Tea House and Bookstore where I was presented with an encyclopedic tea menu (and a second, slightly smaller book/menu of their iced tea varieties.) The chai was fantastic, if highly caffeinated, and the date wasn't bad either.
So chai-pie it was, with local pears from the McCarren Park Greenmarket and home-ground cardamom. I put my iTunes on shuffle and made this pie while thinking about Date #2, which was scheduled that evening.
Chai-spiced Pear Pie with Walnut Crumble Topping:
Use your favorite recipe for the crust. You can skip the topping and do a double crust pie, or adjust your recipe to only make enough dough for the bottom. For this pie, I used a puff pastry crust which was taking up valuable room in the tiny freezer of my new apartment.
To grind your own cardamom (recommended!): split open the cardamom pod with a blunt object and remove the seeds into a clean spice grinder, discarding the empty pods. Process until finely ground.
Dough for crust, plus flour for work surface.
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 lbs Bosc pears
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
1 tablespoon cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
MethodOn a lightly floured surface, roll out your desired dough for the crust and arrange in a 9" pie plate; chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees with a baking sheet on the center rack.
Put the lemon juice into a large mixing bowl. Peel, core and cut the pears into 1/2" slices, adding them to the lemon juice as you go, to prevent browning. Toss occasionally to coat the slices. Add flour, brown sugar, salt, fennel seeds, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and cardamom. Gently stir until the pears are evenly coated.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and salt. Add the butter and mix together with your fingers until large clumps form. Stir in the walnuts. Chill until ready to use.
Assemble and Bake:
Fill the prepared dough with the pear mixture, dot with the cold butter. Loosely tent with foil and bake on the baking sheet for about 30 minutes, until pears are beginning to soften. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 375 degrees. Sprinkle crumb topping over the filling and return to oven for another 50-60 minutes, until the top is browned and the pears are cooked through.
Cool on a rack for 2-3 hours.