I’ve been excited about Dynise Balcavage’s new book Pies and Tarts with Heart for a while. I loved her first two books, and I new this one would be just as good, or even better. Dennis was happy when he heard about it too, because if he could, he would eat all of his meals in pie form.
Pies and Tarts with Heart is chock-full of recipes for, yes you guessed it, pies. There’s a wide variety of pies here, both sweet and savory. There are chocolate pies, raw pies, nutty pies, holiday pies, artsy pies, dinner pies and even impostor pies like whoppie pies and boston cream pie. There’s also a chapter on homemade pie toppings. There’s plenty of info to get you started on your pie making adventure, such as how to stock your pie-making pantry, notes on ingredients and how to make perfect pie crusts.
I’m happy to be hosting Dyinse on her blog tour today, with her recipe for Booze-Infused Mushroom Polenta Pie. I love both mushrooms and polenta, and I don’t mind a bit of booze now and again, so this recipe seems as if it was written just for me. Be sure to enter my giveaway contest for a chance to win your own copy of Pies and Tarts with Heart.
Booze-Infused Mushroom Polenta Pie
I realize that using “booze-infused” in a recipe title is not my classiest culinary writing moment. But to be honest, I’m a bit weary of foodies who glamorize even the simplest of dishes. And this dish is simple: honest-to-goodness, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. This recipe is not difficult, but it is a bit time-consuming, perfect to make on a chilly winter day when you have cabin fever or when you just feel like puttering about the kitchen. It’s wonderful with a bowl of veggie soup or a tossed spinach salad. And if you want it to sound fancier, just insert the name of the booze you use in the title, such as “Marsala-Infused,” “Sherry-Infused,” or “Vermouth-Infused.”
Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) pie
- 2 cups (470 ml) mushroom (preferred) or vegetable broth
- 1 cup (140 g) cornmeal
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt, to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) one of the following liquors, in my order of preference: Marsala, amontillado sherry, dry vermouth, dry red wine, brandy
- 4 cups (280 g) sliced fresh mushrooms (cremini, button, shiitake, or a mixture)
- ¼ cup (60 ml) nondairy creamer
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 cups (60 g) chopped fresh spinach
- ¼ to ½ cup (20 to 40 g) nutritional yeast
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC, or gas mark 5). Spray a pie pan with cooking spray.
To make the crust: Heat the broth in a large saucepan over medium heat until just steaming, about 5 minutes; do not boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal, about ¼ cup (35 g) at a time, to ensure the batter does not get lumpy. Add the seasonings and stir well. Bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low/medium-low and cook until very thick and no longer soupy, about 10 minutes. Careful! It bubbles up and can spatter. Spread about ½ cup (130 g) or so in a 6 x 3 x ¼-inch (15 cm x 7.5 cm x 6 mm) layer (give or take) on a sheet of waxed paper. Let the remainder of the batter cool slightly, then spread in the prepared pie pan. Use a small cookie cutter to cut some shapes from the cornmeal layer. Keep it simple: stars, hearts, and circles work best, because cornmeal dough can be fragile. Set the shapes aside. Bake the pie crust for 22 to 25 minutes, or until golden.
To make the filling: Heat the oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the garlic and onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until softish. Turn the heat to high, add the Marsala, and deglaze the pan. Lower the heat to medium and add the mushrooms. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring to coat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the creamer and cornstarch to make a slurry. Add to the mushrooms and continue to cook over low to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and scraping any bits from the bottom of the pan, until the mushrooms are soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the spinach and cook for about 1 minute, then stir in the nutritional yeast and remove from the heat. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
Remove the crust from the oven, but leave the oven on. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then fill with the mushroom mixture and decorate with the polenta cutouts. Bake for 5 minutes more. Remove and let cool for 1 hour before serving, either warm or at room temperature. This is best reheated in the microwave, because it helps retain the moisture.
Take It Slow!
Onions and garlic browning too quickly? Reduce the heat and sprinkle with salt. The salt draws out water and slows down the cooking.
Enter to win a copy of Pies and Tarts with Heart! Contest ends at midnight EST on October 20th. US residents only, please.