Last night’s meal started with a bottle of wine, as many good nights do. Actually, it goes back farther, to a $50 Pinot Noir glass from Riedel that I found for a dollar at St. Vincent de Paul’s. Obviously, I wanted to try a nice Pinot in the glass, and the fantastic wine steward of Eugene’s Marché Provisions, Ryan Stotz who happens to be a family friend, helped me out with that by selecting a 2007 Pinot Noir from the Loire valley of France.
Though I was too busy talking cocktails with Ryan to remember to ask him about food pairings, I was lucky enough to catch another wine steward, Ziggy of Kiva, when Becky and I were buying groceries there. We eventually decided on a baked macaroni and cheese to go with the wine.
We wanted to make something remarkable, not just a box mac n’ cheese (though nothing wrong there, of course). We had some tortellini we decided would be our pasta (not actually macaroni, but whatever). Then I set about making the Roux, a blend of butter and flour cooked on a very low heat for a very long time.
After I cooked off the flavor of the flour, I added the cream, and then cheese, and sherry. Cheese was a blend of mozzarella and English white cheddar. The soft and light mozzarella worked really well with the nutty sharpness of the cheddar, and the sherry added a sweetness and made it thinner and more workable. I also added a bay leaf and some pepper.
Meanwhile, in our cast-iron I was sautéing orange pepper, onion, and garlic that Becky had already diced for me. Finally I combined the Holy Trinity (Cuban variation), tortellini, cheese-sauce, and some peas in the Le Creuset Dutch Oven, topped it with feta, and baked at 350.
Since I’ve been moving in, we let our otherwise immaculate kitchen get a bit cluttered. Unfortunately, the presence of fresh summer fruits, open bottles, cut limes and a smoothie-dirtied blender meant we had a minor infestation of fruit flies. Still, they would not get our Pinot Noir!
After Alex had put the mac and cheese creation in the oven to bake, I started making our dessert. We had decided to make a pear pie with gruyere baked into the crust, inspired by the show we are currently watching, Pushing Daisies. In the show, two of the characters regularly have a pear-gruyere pie delivered to them from The Pie Hole, the pie shop that one of the main characters owns. It sounded so delicious that we thought we should make the pie while we watch the show, and to further reference the show, we decided to make our fruit pies in miniature (on the show they are called “cup pies”).
Because this pie seemed pretty obscure, I wasn’t expecting to find a recipe to follow and planned to improvise the creation of our cup pies. However, with a quick search on Tastespotting, I found this recipe, which provided a recipe for pear-gruyere pie inspired by Pushing Daisies! I didn’t follow the measurements on this recipe, but I did reference it for the basic ingredients; mostly I thought it was pretty funny how easily I found a recipe that so closely matched what I was looking for.
Here’s how it went:
First, I made the dough. I didn’t measure any of my ingredients exactly, but first chopped about a half a stick of unsalted butter into cubes.
Then I added probably somewhere around a cup of flour and used a fork to combine these two ingredients. I also added a bit of sugar.
The addition of cold water added a little bit at a time helped the dough form into something moldable.
Next I worked on the filling. We had bought two smaller riper pears and one bigger, less ripe one but the two little ones were enough to fill our cup pies (any more fruit would have probably overflowed in the oven).
I mixed the pears with lemon juice, sugar, a little corn starch, a little butter, and cinnamon.
I filled my small Le Creuset baking dishes with the dough (no rolling necessary – these cups are so small it was easy to just press the dough in with my fingers).
Next I spooned the pear filling into the baking dishes.
And finally, I topped the cup pies with a circle of dough on top and sealed the edges, poked two vent holes in the top crust, added finely grated gruyere cheese on the top, added two dough hearts on top, and sprinkled the top lightly with sugar.
Then I baked them for a while (20-30 min.) at 350 degrees. Check out the finished product!!
The cup pies turned out great. Alex and I both thought the pear flavor worked well in a pie, and it complemented the crunchy golden gruyere crust beautifully. We ate them while we watched Pushing Daisies and want to make them again!
An extra note on booze:
The Cup Pies were wonderful, and I wanted a nice liquor to go with them. I was out of porto, so I decided we should each have a small spot of Clear Creek Apple Brandy, from the illustrious Portland Distillery.