Einstein photo

Iconic Einstein photo

Recently (Okay, last June), a friend of mine earned her Master’s degree in Technical Writing.  Her thesis had something to do with Einstein and popular science writing (but much dryer than that), so for the party in her honor I decided to make an Einstein Pie.  She loves lemon meringue pie so that part was a no-brainer!

Pie that looks like Einstein

I was really surprised to find no pictures of anything like this out there!  🙂

Pie crust from Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Pie and Pastry Bible.  My absolute favorite, although I take a shortcut or two.

Lemon meringue pie recipe also from that same book, although I altered to avoid dairy where needed.

Chocolate drops for the eyes, and a strawberry for the tongue, and we were all set!

Leftover strawberries used in this pie:

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Which is tartification of a strawberry rhubarb pie recipe from I don’t remember where, at this point!  Oops.

Looked nice but very goopy.

My free time these days is pretty much taken up by my three hobbies: kitten fostering/rescue, bagpiping, and quilting.

But now that I’ve figured out how to get back into my WP account (I won’t even say how long it’s been), I might post a thing or two…

Kitten asleep next to a practice chanter

Sorry, she’s been adopted!

Yesterday was the official opening of a new pie-based restaurant in Raleigh, so of course we were there!

(How could we miss out on a place whose motto is, “Our mission is to make and sell the finest quality all natural pies in Raleigh and beyond.”?)

Finding it was pretty simple – they’re on Person St, just north of Peace St, across the street from the Krispy Kreme (so on the E side of the street).  There appeared to be plenty of street parking in the evening.

We arrived around 6pm, at which point they were out of quite a few things (most appetizers, the quiche, and all hand pies, darn it), but there was still plenty to try.

We were seated quickly by a friendly person.  The decor is bright and cheerful, sort of a retro-kitschy feel (as the logo above embodies).  Our seat towards the back had a nice view along the side wall towards the front:

It’s still a bit bare-bones (some art on the bare brick walls would liven it up a little), with a bright, clean feel to it.

The menu had us drooling; I decided on the Mushroom Tart, while my companion had the Madras Curried Vegetable Pot Pie.  Both came with a side – we each chose salads, mine with balsamic vinaigrette, his plain (no dressing).

There were some opening-night bobbles in the service – it took a long time for us to get drinks, even longer for our salads and entrees to arrive (we got several rounds of a card game in between drinks and salads), and we watched the ice cream on our dessert pie melting away at the back for a good five minutes before we were able to alert our server that they were ready (when she came to apologize for the wait).  However, the staff were friendly and obviously trying hard, and I imagine they’ll get staffing and efficient service sorted out soon enough.

So, how was the food?

In a word: excellent!

Salads:

The salad was mixed greens, cucumber, tomato, and a bit too much red onion.  Perfectly fine.

Curried Madras Vegetable Pot Pie:

Came with a delicious raita and mango chutney.  I found the filling a bit uninspiring (sort of reminds me of English-style curry), but it also had no peppers, which is a plus for me.  And sweet potatoes, yum!

My dish, however, totally won on flavor (Mushroom tart):

Wild mushrooms and delicious caramelized onions on a pie crust base (yum!), with herbs and whatnot..  Very rich and deliciously yummy.  It was hard to share, even though we’d agreed 🙂

And of course we had to try dessert pies.  I got cherry:

Which inexplicably had powdered sugar sprinkled on it.  (?)  Now, I’m from Michigan (where cherries are grown), so I’m a bit particular about my cherry pie.  So when I say that this was nothing special, that’s not to say it was bad.  Just that it wasn’t… anything special.

My dining companion, however, totally won with the Apple-Crumble pie served with locally-made ice cream:

More inexplicable powdered sugar, this time with cinnamon (tasty!).  The ice cream, as you see, was a bit melted by the time we got the pie at the table, but still tasty.  The granola-crumble topping was fabulous.  Yummy!

We also got a coconut-cream pie to go, but haven’t heard back yet from its recipient how it was.  Looked yummy, though:

Total bill came to less than $50 including tip for two entrees w/sides, drinks (non-alcoholic, I think their license isn’t active yet?), and desserts, plus a takeout slice of pie.

Verdict: totally tasty, some service wobbles that I imagine will improve, and did I mention tasty pie?  We’ll definitely go there again.

What, you say? No pumpkiny goodness? What about the pumpkins?

Later, later. All in good time. For now, we move on to that great southern delicacy, sweet potato pie.

Buttermilk Sweet Potato Pie with fall colour

Buttermilk Sweet Potato Pie with fall colour

So, I grew up in the Midwest, and although my mom’s side are from Kentucky and I grew up eating plenty of southern-derived dishes, when it came time for Thanksgiving, it was pumpkin pie all the way.

Now that I live in the South, I figured I should give sweet potato pie a try – I mean, how different could it be? Nicole at Baking Bites had posted a recipe recently for Buttermilk Sweet Potato Pie that looked terrific, so I gave it a whirl! Notes on what I thought about it after the recipe…

Buttermilk Sweet Potato Pie

1 cup cooked, pureed sweet potato
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 9 or 10-inch graham cracker pie crust [I replaced with a regular pie crust, partially pre-baked, using my favorite pie crust recipe. Some day, I’ll post that, but not today 🙂 ]

Preheat oven to 350F.
Press sweet potato puree through a wire strainer to make it as smooth as possible, adding a tablespoon or two of water if you are working with leftover potatoes to make them a bit more pliable.

[note: Nicole had mentioned that it was difficult to get homemade puree as smooth as store-bought, but I cooked it down and then pureed the heck out of it with the immersion blender, my favorite whirly blades of death tool I own, and it was totally smooth, so YMMV]

In the bowl of a mixer, combine all ingredients except the flour and mix until smooth. Add in flour and mix until incorporated.

Place the pie crust on a baking sheet and place baking sheet on the middle rack of a preheated oven. Pour filling into pie crust (it is thin enough that it will slosh if you put it in the pie crust and attempt to carry it over to the oven).

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until pie is set and jiggles only very slightly when the pan is bumped.
Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight, before serving.

Serves 10

So, I tried a tiny little slice before sending it off to work with Jeff. “Is this how it’s supposed to taste?”, I asked him. He tried a little bit and allowed that, given that he didn’t like sweet potato pie and so hadn’t eaten any in decades, it tasted just like he remembered although the buttermilk gave it a nice tanginess.

The comments from his coworkers seemed to indicate that this was, indeed, a perfectly acceptable representative of the species (in fact, they loved it).

My verdict? Sure isn’t replacing pumpkin pie in this house. It had this weird sort of gummy starchy mouth-feel to it – like you’d made a pie with potatoes. Which we had, really. It made these weird little bubbles on the surface, as well, although they didn’t seem to be related to texture at all. Not sure what was up with that.

The flavor was really nice – the sweet potato and buttermilk played together very nicely, and the crust, as usual, was perfect. But really, not my thing.

Weird little bubbles. Pretty leaves.

Weird little bubbles. Pretty leaves.