Every few days since I wrote the last entry, I would say to myself, “I really should update the blog.” I’ve been cooking, and taking pictures, but when it comes to writing things down, I’ve just gotten lazy. Let’s blame it on… shorter days, less sunlight, hibernation-with-book tendencies, busyness at work, misaligned planets, rain on Tuesdays? Finally today, Nico said to me, “You know, you’ve been making Thai tea ice cream for ages.”

I made these a couple of weeks ago. On the phone with my dad one Saturday morning, I said, “What should I cook today?” and he relied, “Sweet potatoes and wine.” Very doable. I felt like some weekend baking, and I wanted something that I could eat casually but didn’t mind taking some time to work on. Stumbling across this recipe on Real Food Rehab, I cooed and headed straight into the kitchen.

This is a great pie crust recipe, using an egg to help it stand up to the little bit of mauling necessary to make the half-moon shapes. I’d never made little pastry pockets like this before, and as I pressed the ends of these together with a fork, I kept looking at them and going, “….aw.” When I ate them, though, cuteness turned into lustiness. Rich sweet potatoes spiked with wine and laced with 7-spice powder: how can you go wrong?

Lebanese 7-spice powder (in some cases it’s Syrian) is the ace up my spice rack’s sleeve. If you can find this in a Middle Eastern grocery, you’re in like Flynn. If you can’t, don’t despair – use a combination of allspice and black pepper. I made the filling vegan by using soy creamer and Earth Balance, but I’d be hard-pressed to let go of that egg in the crust.


Sweet Potato and Pear Hand Pies
crust recipe from Kate Neumann, as printed by Dana Joy Altman
makes about 16

3 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
10.5 ounces (about 2.5 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold and cubed
2 eggs, cold & gently beaten
1/4 cup ice water

1 medium-sized sweet potato, 1″ dice
sweet white wine
1 medium-sized pear, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
1 teaspoon Lebanese 7-spice powder
2 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup apple butter
1/4 cup brown sugar

Combine flour, sugar, salt and butter in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, work the fat in until it’s broken down into pea-sized pieces. Add one of the eggs and mix with a wooden spoon. Then, pour ice water in tablespoon increments until dough looks “shaggy”, feels a bit wet, and holds together only if you smush a bit in your hands. Knead the dough together by hand, no more than a minute, and form into a round disc, cover with plastic wrap and let chill in fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make filling: Bring salted water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan and add diced sweet potato, along with maybe half a cup of wine. Cook until sweet potato is very soft, then drain. Put sweet potato in a large mixing bowl along with remaining filling ingredients. Mash until… well, until it’s mashed. Add another glug of white wine and stir that in.

On a well-floured counter or pastry board, roll dough out to 3/16″ thickness and cut out 4″ rounds. (You can use the outline of the rim of a bowl and trace it out with a knife.) Place each cut round on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and a light dusting of flour. The scraps can be combined and rolled out again. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of each disc.

Whisk the egg. Brush a half circle of egg around the edge of exposed pastry to act as “glue.” Fold the circle in half and press down the edges with a fork to seal. Chill for at least one hour, and preheat the oven to 375F.

Before baking, brush surface of the crust with egg, cut three slits as vents and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 45 minutes until golden brown.