Lately, my life has been nothing but a whirlwind of deadlines and stuff to do and, as you may have noticed, this is not good for my blog. Today, I forced myself to take the afternoon off and spend it normally-weeding the soft fruit bushes, which were filled with grass, puttering around the sewing room, and then, finally, doing some recreational cooking. My eye flitted over The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book and I knew that I had to make something out of it.
This beautiful cookbook is written by the two owners of a pie shop in Brooklyn. It is of the modern style of cookbook that I think of as being heavily influenced by blogging. Lots (and lots and lots) of beautiful pictures, styled within an inch of their lives. If you look at old cookbooks, there might be a few diagrams, a few sparse pictures just for clarifications, but piles of pictures? Goodness, no. And, I have to say, while I am fond of old cookbooks, I appreciated lots of pictures.
The recipes have to be some of the best pie recipes I've ever seen-interesting pie crusts from a chocolate all-butter crust, a cornmeal crust, a pistachio coconut crust, an animal cracker crumb crust. And those are just a smidgen of the gorgeous pie crust recipes. But wait, we haven't even delved into the pies themselves. Chamomile Buttermilk Custard Pie, Apple Rose Pie, Concord Grape Pie (in a gorgeous design), Cinnamon Apricot Pie with Vanilla Pouring Cream, Bourbon Pear Crumble Pie....
Pie is something that has a bit of a bad reputation. It's viewed as something that is terrify and impossible to do, particularly the crust part. This cookbook calms all these fears. The writers of this cookbook seem to assume that, of course, it's easy to make a pie. Of course, pie is not the easiest thing in the world, but it is not an unsurmountable task. And these writers communicate this through their cheerful, confident approach to pies. There is probably about 40 pages at the beginning of the book just going over the basics and I really recommend that everybody read those thoroughly, although I still maintain that the best way to learn to bake a pie is to look over an experienced pie baker's shoulder. However, this is definitely the next best option. I loved how carefully they covered everything from utensils to types of flour to using locally sourced ingredients, all accompanied, of course, by stunning pictures. Who knew that a pile of winter kitchen scraps was so beautiful?
While I love a good basic peach or apple pie for everyday, I am an experimenter cook at heart and so I really appreciated this kind of cookbook. However, I know lots of cooks who prefer to stay with the tried-and-true and perfect the basic recipes. If you are that kind of cook, then I probably wouldn't recommend buying this book. But everybody needs to at least check this out of the library.
Tonight, I will be serving a lovely Buttermilk Chess Pie made with a cornmeal crust. What a treat! Now, go out and get your hands on a copy of this cookbook and improve your pie baking skills.