August 12, 2011

A Tahini Chocolate Pie for Mikey

It seems that sometimes food bloggers can get a bad rap. Some people are quick to draw a line between real writer and blogger. And many people joke at the enormous number of folks who now own a web address and talk about the delicious nature of food. Which is pretty on point. Because really, who doesn’t own a food blog these days?

But over the past two years of being a part of this community, I have witnessed something extraordinary.

Whenever a disaster strikes, no matter where or to whom, this group of strangers, all connected by their love of making and sharing recipes, gathers together. They rally. They support. They fundraise. They bake sale. They give back, no questions asked and no thank yous necessary. And whether or not these people are real writers or even cooks, they are truly all generous.

Perhaps it is the nature of the subject.

Food is about gathering one’s community. And when you share food with others, you are telling them you care. And when you eat what you have been given, you are sending that love right back.

Food is about connecting. Food is comfort.

The first time I ever lost a loved one was when I had just turned thirteen and my grandmother passed suddenly of a heart attack. There are three parts of those first days of mourning that I remember most. I was at my friend’s bat mitzvah when my parents came to tell me the news. I saw my father cry for the first time. And a friend brought over fried chicken.

The chicken came in a picnic basket with a note. This was a special recipe, one that only appeared when someone was experiencing loss.

Without having to say anything, this fried chicken expressed all the condolences, hopeful thoughts, and juicy words of wisdom that anyone could impart. And that first night, we sat silently as a family, chewing through that basket. Left alone to simmer in our thoughts, yet constantly hugged by the warmth and care of others with every bite.

That’s how I get to this pie.

A few days ago a loved member of this food blog community suddenly lost her beloved. Out of no where. No explanation.

One day they were walking hand-in-hand. And the next, she was letting his go.

Tweets, facebook posts, comments, and other 14o words of support have been flooding the internet. Some people are close (both in proximity and in friendship) to Jennifer.  And others, like myself, have had mere exchanges online. But everyone has once again come to the rescue, pouring out affection and a desire to help in anyway they can. Heartbreaking and uplifting all in one breath.

In a moment of inspiring strength and clarity, Jennifer left the community a note on her blog.

For weeks, she says, she was planning to make her husband his favorite peanut butter pie. And every day she would promise herself that this day, she would finally sit down and make it…

And today, her one request is for everyone to make that peanut butter pie. To hug those you love. And to share it with those you hold dear.

So this is my pie. For you all, for Jennifer, and for Mikey.

This is my pie that helped me slow down and enjoy the traffic. To revel in the fact that I had a to-do list and that even if I didn’t cross off all the items, I enjoyed the ones I accomplished. A pie that I made with my mother. And a pie that I ate with friends I don’t see often enough, many of whom have also experienced untimely loss.

This is my pie that reminded me to live in the moment. To always tell people that you love them. To never go to bed mad. To not sweat the small stuff. And to replace stress with chocolate and whipped cream.

This is my pie that celebrates life. The flakey crust, the bittersweet chocolate, and the rich filling.

And this is just one pie out of the hundreds, maybe even thousands, that celebrates Jennifer and Mike.

So today, I implore everyone to be a food blogger, a real writer, a cook, and rescuer. To join this community at our big, ever welcoming virtual table. To cheers to Mikey and to appreciate eachother, one bite of pie at a time.

Chow on.

adapted from Jeniffer Perillo’s Peanut Butter Pie

….if you do make a pie, and you’re on Twitter, the hashtag is #apieformikey. If you tag your post with that, Jennie will able to find them all someday

Salt-Free, Nutty Chocolate Pie for Jennie and Mikey

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup ground matzo crackers or matzo meal (about 5 large crackers)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 5 tablespoons ice cold water
  • 4 ounces chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz plan Greek (FAGE) yogurt
  • 1 cup tahini butter
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Directions
1. Place the matzo crackers, brown sugar, and chilled butter cubes in a food processor and pulse until it forms fine crumbs. Add the cold water (1 tablespoon at a time) until the crumbs come together to make a dough. Then press the mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the side of a 9-inch springform pan.
2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or a microwave. And then pour it into the bottom of your matzo cracker crust, spreading to the edge with a spatula. Place it in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
3. Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or a hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a small bowl and store in the fridge. Place the yogurt and tahini buter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until it gets light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the coconut milk, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.
4. Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the tahini filling mixture and then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the springform pan (over that melted and now hardened chocolate). Drizzle more chocolate on top or use a microplane to grate chocolate dust over the pie.
5. Keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving or place in the freezer 15 minutes before you’re ready to eat to make sure the filling is firm. Eat with loved ones and enjoy.
and for more amazing pies and people, check Food Network’s FN DISH blog for the ever growing list

waiwa August 12, 2011 at 9:57 am

you’re a good lady SG. thanks for sharing such a great story with us

lolabean August 12, 2011 at 10:09 am

Beautifully written and thank you SG for an important reminder to all of us to live in the moment and be grateful for every day.

Jenni Field (@onlinepastrychf) August 12, 2011 at 10:27 am

Lovely post. We do tend to rally, don’t we? I love it. :)

Jan J. Harris August 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm

So true and so beautifully written SG!! My family would love this pie and I intend to make it tomorrow enjoying every moment in making it and remembering how lucky to love and be loved.
Thank you SG for helping us to remember what really matters in life and how life is so precious. Thank you to Jennifer for sharing her pain to help remind us of how to stop and appreciate what is right before us!

Magdalena CAbrera August 13, 2011 at 2:48 pm

My heart strings are played once again reading your blog posting, SG. Loss always feels “untimely,” no matter when it hits. Thank you for the reminder to be in the moment, to give and receive love in its many forms and to cherish those around us, friend and foe alike. We are all one People.

AP August 15, 2011 at 7:39 am

Yum! Looks fantastic. And I can get all those items here in Africa! May just have to whip one up:)

sodium girl August 15, 2011 at 8:03 am

ANNE! So good to hear from you. Please keep us updated of your Africa adventures. I miss you so.

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