It is March 14th—“Pi Day” (since the date is 3/14). Today mathematicians celebrate the famous irrational number, while everyone celebrates delicious pie. I am certainly no math person, so I am going to give you my favorite pie recipe. There was a year when I made a lot of pies and I feel like I still owe a sort of debt to the beloved desserts. Here is the story: I quit drinking and I made a pie every time I really wanted a drink, which was frequently. I must have made a hundred pies that year (I should probably stretch this story out with some comic anecdotes and use it to get a book deal and become a celebrity chef). Anyway, this is a pistachio pie which I “invented” during that time—by modifying a very fine pudding recipe which I found on the internet.
This is a really easy pie which is incredibly delicious, but it requires good ingredients. It goes in a graham cracker crust which you can make yourself—however since all the recipes for graham cracker crust start with graham crackers (a store bought cookie) I always just buy a premade crust.
1 premade store-bought graham cracker crust
OK so you have a graham cracker crust. Now obtain a blender, a saucepan and these following ingredients for the pudding filling.
1 cup salted shelled pistachio nuts
1/3 cup white grain sugar
2 tablespoons water
Another different 1/3 cup white sugar (I know that sounds weird, but bear with me)
2 cups whole milk
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
First put half the nuts in a blender with 1/3 cup sugar and the 2 tablespoons of water. Obliterate them until they are a dense swamp-green paste. Then throw the remaining nuts in on top of the paste and chop them up fine with the blender.
Put the blended nuts in your saucepan with the 2 cups of milk, the sugar, the cornstarch, and the salt. Getting the pistachio paste out of the blender is the hardest part (it is a dense sticky sludge which adheres to the blade apparatus). Maybe use the milk to wash out every bit of this disgusting yet heavenly paste?
Heat the ingredients on medium low heat until they begin to thicken, but DO NOT BURN THE PUDDING! You will need to hover over it constantly stirring it with a big wooden spoon and muttering oaths which sound like they are from the old country. Once the mixture thickens you should hastily whip the egg yolks in a little ceramic bowl with a whisk. Grab a big metal spoon and pour some of the hot nut milk (?) mixture into the egg yolks and whip it together into a satisfying hot yellow viscous gel. Immediately pour this gel into the saucepan while it is hot and hastily whip it into the pudding in such a way that the eggs do not cook but rather integrate as a custard. Whip this on the stovetop with a whisk for a minute or two then remove the sauce pan and add the butter and vanilla. Stir them into the hot pudding until they are fully integrated.
You will now have a greenish brown pudding which you should pour into the pie shell. Put the pudding pie in the fridge for a couple of hours until it is set. Now make the whipped cream topping (which sounds inconsequential but is nearly as important as the pudding for the pie to taste right). The ingredients for this are:
1 pint of heavy cream
A few tablespoons of sugar
½ teaspoon of real almond extract
Mix a pint the cold heavy cream with a handful of sugar in a frozen metal bowl with a hand mixer. Once the whipped cream starts to form peaks add the almond extract to the whipped scream and finish whipping the topping into stiff peaks. Spread it on the pie with a rubber spatula/scraper thing.
You now have a cream pie which looks like an abomination from the three stooges (except with pudding the color of a pneumonia victim’s coughing). But pay no attention to the pie’s crude appearance. It tastes as though it was stolen from the table of the gods themselves. It is one of the best pies ever! Enjoy (and be sure to tell everyone where you got the recipe).