THE RECIPE BOX - Love of reading inspires savory pie recipe

THE RECIPE BOX - Love of reading inspires savory pie recipe

GLOCESTER – “I used to get in trouble for staying up too late and reading my books under the covers,” said Kate McPherson. She grew up in North Smithfield with one older brother and two younger sisters.

She loved to read fantasy based books, coming-of-age kinds of stories and her favorite author then was Brian Jacques, who wrote a series of novels telling the stories of the many animals that live in and around Redwall Abbey.

His books were known in part for their descriptions of the foods the animals ate and about alternate worlds with sentient animals – mice and badgers that did battle against snakes and rats, to name a few.

In one of the stories they referred to an incredible feast where the moles made “Deeper ’N Ever Pie,” Kate said. “So my dad (Greg) helped me to develop a recipe relating to the story.” Of course, this recipe has changed a lot since she was an 8 year old.

It began as a root vegetable pie with a flaky crust. The first one had mint in it, she recalled. “It has definitely evolved,” Kate shared. No more mint! There were some seasonings and the basic vegetables were pureed. Needless to say, the early pie was not a masterpiece.

Her interest in critters and the environment really blossomed after attending the University of Rhode Island and studying wildlife biology and management. It was there that she met her husband, Keith, whom she has been with for 18 years, and married to for the last six.

Kate works with Save The Bay as a river keeper. Her work basically involves anything that has to do with the watershed and advocacy work for waters that drain into the bay, coastal towns such as Taunton and Worcester, Mass., and Northern Rhode Island.

“But it’s not coastal towns like the beaches. Think about towns like Cranston, Scituate and the Pawtuxet River, small rivers that drain into the bay.” She does permitting, in particular, involving fresh water wetlands. “I’m a voice for the voiceless,” Kate said.

Kate also belongs to a cookbook club because a good friend, Jess, runs one in Barrington. “I combine my love of cooking and reading.

“Did you know that modern cookbooks often have stories to go along with the recipes?” Kate asked. It’s a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be, she said. So once a month they have a potluck relating to the book of the month. “I love a potluck,” said Kate.

Her dad introduced her to foods that other people would think were crazy for a youngster. Both her mother and father cooked, but dad did more of the special occasion cooking. “He grew up in Michigan near a German town and he came from a family where his parents were farmers, they had traditions.

“Smoked oysters, pate and other items,” she said, were on the table. Every once in a while, he’d take over the kitchen for a day. He was definitely creative and one time he made egg rolls, “just because,” Kate shared.

The recipe for Deeper ’N Ever Pie has evolved for well over a decade. “Now that I’m part of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) I’ve been introduced to root vegetables that never were a part of my growing-up years,” she added.

The crust is nice and flaky and there are vegetables such as turnips, carrots, parsnips, and Jerusalem artichokes inside this pie. “Depending upon the fullness of the vegetables, sometimes I’ll top it with another crust, other times I cover the top with mashed potatoes,” she said. And always, the vegetables are cubed and sauteed in a cast iron frying pan first. This savory pie recipe has a very sweet memory attached to it.

Deeper ’N Ever Pie

For the crust:
3 tablespoons ice water, plus extra as needed
1.5 tablespoons sour cream
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry or all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces and frozen for 10 to 15 minutes
For the Filling:
3/4 lbs carrots
3/4 lbs turnip
1/2 lb celery root
1/2 lb leeks
1/2 lb parsnip
1/2 lb sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichoke)
Or 3.5 to 4 lbs total of a mix of root vegetables of your choice.
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup vegetable stock

For the Topping:
1.5 lbs. potatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions for crust
Cut the butter into 1/4 inch pieces and put in freezer while you assemble your ingredients.
Mix the ice water and sour cream together in a small bowl until combined.
Process the flour, herbs, and salt together in a food processor until combined.
Scatter the butter pieces over the top of the dry ingredients and pulse the mixture until the butter is the size of large peas (about 10 pulses).
Pour half the sour cream mixture over the flour mixture and pulse until incorporated, about three pulses. Repeat with the remaining sour cream mixture. Pinch the dough with your fingers; if the dough feels dry and doesn’t hold together, sprinkle 1/2 to 1 tablespoons more ice water over the mixture and pulse just until the dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains (3-5 pulses).
Turn dough onto a moistened towel and flatten into a disk. Cover with a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Scrub your root vegetables well. Peel celery root (reserve peel for stock).
You may leave peels on remaining vegetables if thoroughly cleaned.
Dice filling vegetables to 1/2 inch pieces and place in a large bowl with the seasoning. Mix to coat. (This step may be done up to 24 hours in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator)
Before rolling the pie dough out, let it sit on the counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes. Place rolled dough in a deep dish pie plate, dock the dough with a fork, and press the edges into the top of the pie plate. (Optional: line the crust with a double layer of tin foil and fill it with pie weights.) Bake until the pie dough looks dry and is light in color, 20-25 minutes. Transfer the pie plate to a wire rack and remove the weights and foil.
While the crust is baking heat oil over medium heat in your largest skillet or dutch oven. Add vegetables and cook, creating crispy edges on some of the vegetables. Cover if necessary to prevent scorching and to cook vegetables through to just done. Add the vegetable stock and scrape up the fond (browned food bits) that has formed on the bottom of the pan. Bring heat to low and simmer until just thickened. Use additional vegetable stock as necessary. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. The filling should resemble a thick stew.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, quartered if potatoes are very large, to the water and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving about a cup of the cooking water. Mash the potatoes as you like, adding cooking water, milk, salt and pepper (perhaps some sour cream?). Make them looser than normal.
Assemble. Place root vegetable stew filling in the pre-baked pie crust. Frost with mashed potatoes. Place back in oven until bubbly and the topping has acquired a nice crust. Serves 8

Kate McPherson, of Harmony, shares a sweet story for a savory pie recipe.