I’ve been lucky to meet a lot of wonderful people over the past few months, while doing publicity for the Outlander Kitchen Cookbook. One of the Very Special folks I’ve been privileged to connect with is Kate McDermott, pie expert and author of Art of the Pie, a much-anticipated new cookbook released this week.
Kate and I connected with the help of a mutual friend. Despite living so close to each other (she is just south of me on her own little island), our busy summer schedules have kept us from meeting in person thus far, but I look forward to heading down to her Pie Cottage one day, where we will sprinkle flour and roll out our dough at the same table, sharing stories we haven’t yet told each other via Facebook Messenger.
From the cover overleaf: “Kate McDermott has taught this and made pies with thousands of people across the country at her Pie Camps. Her confidence comes through in every recipe, and will inspire readers to don an apron, grab a rolling pin, and get cooking. (The stunning photographs in this book won’t hurt either.) Over the years, McDermott developed more than a dozen crusts, half of which are gluten-free, and in this book she gives detailed instructions for making, rolling, and baking crusts. A pie needs filling, too, and she does not neglect a single detail when describing her ingredients, methods, and tricks for making the filling and finishing off the pie.I devoured Art of the Pie over the weekend, and loved everything about it.”
I literally read it cover to cover. Kate’s recipes are logical and easy to follow, her hints and tricks helpful to even the most experienced pie baker. Her level of expertise is through the roof, and her confidence shines through in everything she says, from tips about leaf lard, to her advice on life, as told from perspective of a dedicated baker, mother, and practitioner of kindness.
Nestled between Kate’s prose are Andrew Scrivani’s gorgeous photos. It’s hard not to like pie, but it’s impossible not to fall in love with every single one of Scrivani’s photos. He made it difficult for me to decide what recipes to test, but in the end, I decided on my favourite, a Lemon Meringue, and My Englishman’s favourite, a savoury Pork Pie.I used Kate’s recipe for an All-Butter Crust for my lemon meringue pie, and loved her method for making it in a food processor. My hands don’t work as well as they used to. They’ve lost some strength and maneuverability, and working dough between my fingers is no longer the joy it used to be. I depend on my processor and stand mixer to do those jobs I can no longer do.But I still enjoy the craft of rolling my chilled dough out, and creatively crimping the edges. Kate’s got a number of tricks to make this go smoothly too.
What a pie! We had this for dessert last night, and it was to die for! Adding the meringue to the top of the hot curd kept it from separating from the filling, and the weeping was minimal. We both loved the tart sweetness of the curd, and the meringue sweetness complimented it nicely, without being cloyingly sweet.
And then there was the pork pie. This recipe is a bit of a project, but the results are spectacular. I’ve attempted traditional English Pork Pies in the past, but Kate’s recipe is by far my biggest success, both aesthetically and gastronomically.
I have to fess up and admit I did not have the leaf lard for the hot water pastry. I substituted butter for that, and uncured bacon for the pork belly. On a small island, I often have to use what I have on hand, and these substitutions worked well. The pastry crisped up nicely and took on a good brown. The filling was perhaps a little smoky from the bacon, but my Englishman, a self-declared expert on pork pies didn’t complain. He didn’t say a word — his mouth was full.
It is my joy to recommend Art of the Pie. Pick up a copy today…the baking season is upon us!