Today, 3/14, is Pi Day. And if you’re culinarily inclined like we are, it’s Pie Day. The best kind of Pi(e) Day? One where the only math involves divvying up pies, and that’s pretty easy. It’s hard not to love something delicious wrapped in pastry, and that’s why pies are enjoyed worldwide. Whether you go the savory or sweet route, there’s something about this dish that definitely merits its own food holiday. Choose a filling that speaks to you, then grab some flour and a rolling pin and create something crave-worthy.
There is enough dough to make a standard double-crust pie. If you make a lattice crust, you’ll have some leftover pastry. You can use any of it to make little hors d’oeuvre tartlets to fill and bake with a savory quiche filling.
Recipe: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
We used to grow our own strawberries when I was a kid. Considering how often my brother and I raided the strawberry patch, it’s amazing my mom was able to gather enough for any pie at all, but when she did she always paired them with rhubarb. It took me a long time to enjoy the taste of rhubarb, but now it’s one of my favorite pairings for berries. The tart bite of the rhubarb is just enough to temper the sun-soaked sweetness of the strawberries. I really like making strawberry rhubarb pie with people who have never had rhubarb; it’s fun to offer them a small bite of the unsweetened rhubarb and watch their faces sour-pucker with disgust. Rhubarb is definitely pucker-worthy when it’s raw, but it’s delicious once baked into a pie.
When I was little I would beg my mom to put a few spoonfuls of her coffee into my hot chocolate so I could be a lady and drink a “mocha.” This pie reminds me of that, the way the light and fluffy chocolate is piled high and topped with whipped cream with just a hint of espresso to surprise your taste buds. (Since I don’t have an espresso maker, I go to my local coffee shop and ask for a shot of espresso to go.) This pie is similar to the more traditional French silk (and also requires a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer to make), but here the espresso and blackberries lend some unexpected twists. In a manner similar to layering strawberries into the bottom of a traditional French silk pie, I like to spoon a sweet blackberry compote over the slices of this one when serving. It reminds me of my time in Seattle, where I was surrounded by coffee and blackberries at every turn.
Frozen-treat gurus Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarborough have a new book out dedicated to the art of topping with all manner of sweet, icy goodies — sorbets, custards, gelatos and more. With masterful pairings for your favorite pastries, À La Mode challenges the home cook to discern the main event from its accoutrement.
Recipe: Texas Grapefruit Pie
This pie is reserved for the true blue Texas grapefruit fan, and not for the faint of citrus. The texture is that of a key lime pie with the appearance of a lemon chess pie. Kate Nelson developed this recipe for the Texas Grapefruit Dinner, hosted by chef Graham Dodds. “He provided me with the best batch of Rio Grande Valley grapefruit that I’d ever seen,” says Nelson. “My goal is to create the freshest farm-totable pie that I can. I always have wonderful luck at Dallas Farmers Market.”
Recipe: Maple Pumpkin Pie
This is my favorite dessert of the season, and I cannot wait for the excuse to make it every year. A little secret: My favorite way to eat it is cold, straight from the fridge, and sometimes for breakfast!
Recipe: Banana Rum Truffle Tart
Don’t be fooled by this tart’s appearance. While it looks like a simple chocolate cream tart, a thin wedge of this rich, fudgy confection is all that’s needed to satisfy one’s chocolate passion.
Recipe: Cranberry Pecan Pie
Warning: This pie has a tart and tangy filling that might not be sweet enough for some people. That said, I love the tangy quality of this filling and wouldn’t want it to be any other way. By the way, since the filling is cooked before the pie is baked, you can taste it and add a little more sugar if you want. My late friend Joseph Viggiani shared this recipe years ago; I have no idea where he might have found it.
Recipe: Chard-Wrapped Vegetable Pie
With its exhilarating aroma and vivid flavor, this is not your usual lasagne — instead of layers of egg pasta, here we use crunchy leaves of chard, giving this dish the appearance of a beautifully wrapped present. To me, herbs make up the personality traits of a dish. I like to use sage and basil here, but you can personalize this bewitching pie with any herb you fancy. Go on, make it yours.
Recipe: Chinese Duck And Five-Spice Pies
When it comes to the basics, look no further than a cookbook by renowned Test Kitchen master Pamela Clark. Her simple, triple-tested recipes are delicious and genuinely foolproof. Her newest book, Pocket Pies, celebrates empanadas, pastries, turnovers and more from the world of sweet and savory handheld pastry. First up: Rather than choose between Chinese takeout and homemade savory pie for dinner, why not find a happy compromise?
Recipe: Chicken And Asparagus Pie
We always look forward to the English asparagus season. In this pie, the spears form a great partnership with chicken — a real treat for a family supper or an informal dinner party. The woody ends, often discarded, are used here to make a tasty stock for the sauce.
Recipe: Cheese And Egg Pie
When I was ten, still living in the Soviet Union, I went with my family for a vacation in Abkhazia, a province of Georgia. The memories that I retain from that trip are all sensory: the sharp, cool scent of cilantro that grew everywhere, the musky aroma of ripe figs, and the taste of a crusty cheesy pie our Jewish landlady baked for us. Many years later, when I bit into a khachapuri in a Georgian bakery at Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, memories from that long-forgotten holiday came rushing back to me.
Recipe: Chicken Chile Relleno Pies
There is now a San Francisco fan base for this pie. I tested and tweaked the recipe given to us by the folks at Oh My! Pocket Pies, in Houston, Texas, producing multiple batches that I shared with friends. The response was amazing: These pies got the loudest cheers of any pie in this book. I heard about how many pies were scarfed at one sitting, and of wives hiding the pies from their husbands.
Recipe: Wild Greens Pies
Feel free to play around with the flavorings here. Grated fennel is very traditional, and finely chopped wild garlic or herbs such as sorrel are wonderful additions. Or you could try a little feta. The pies are a classic example of the ingenuity of island cooks: The herbs and greens are often foraged from the islands’ stunning mountainous interiors. Living in a city, I’ve used spinach instead.
Recipe: Italian Meat Pie
In an Italian-American kitchen, spring comes not with a whimper, but with approximately five pounds of cured meat. Italian meat pie is an Easter tradition, and like all good holiday institutions, this one is studded with salumi and cheeses. The manliest quiche in the world, the pie is called pizzagaina by some, pizza rustica by others and delicioso by all. It has a crust so simple it basically prepares itself, and the recipe can easily be doubled to feed a crowd. Better still, the pie tastes even better a day or two after it’s baked, making it the ultimate do-ahead dish. Bravissimo.
Chef Bobby Flay loaned us a hearty winter recipe that has never left the menu of his NYC restaurant Bar Americain in its entire 10-year run. Thanks for the classic, Bobby! This spin on traditional chicken pot pie, a cold weather comfort food staple, is a fun alternative to the tried-and-true, with some smoky flavor from chicken (or chipotle seasoning, depending on how you spin it). The crust features a little sweetness and color from the sweet potatoes. Make it for a crowd and watch everyone dig in with delight.