Pie Party 2012

As the howling winds blow through my great city toppling trees; water surges flooding nearby neighborhoods, towns and states.  As the lights flicker in my home, I couldn't take my eyes off the tree outside my kitchen window swaying back and forth.  At that time, it feels like I'm cast in an awful horror movie.  I try to occupy my mind on writing about a happier time to stay calm.  I recall just days before the storm, a community of food bloggers got together to enjoy each other's company as well as dozens of pies.  I wish, at that moment, life can be simpler; but life, as we know it, is about a series of obstacles. Nevertheless, just like we have done in the past with help from loved ones, support and communities, we shall overcome.
Parade of pies
The second annual Pie Party hosted by the dynamic party-throwing duos, Jackie and Ken, was held at the GE Monogram Design Center.  The design center houses many top of the line ranges, ovens and refrigerators.  It set a beautiful scene for the pie party, and many of us who love to cook were thrilled to see the gorgeous kitchen showrooms.  GE also provided their resident Chef Tageré to prepare an array of delicious appetizers for us to enjoy.  She also gave us a pie-crust making demonstration at the party.  Smirnoff Vodka featured their Kissed Caramel and Iced Cake flavored vodka with signature cocktails.  Of course, who can make a delicious flaky pie crust without butter, so we're thrilled that Kerrygold also sponsored the event, and gave away butter for us to take home.  There was no shortage of pies at the party because Dubpies also fed us well with their variety of delicious mini pies as well as gave us pies to take home.  Many of us are thankful to have them during the storm.  So I want to start off by thanking each and every one of the sponsors.  They truly outdid themselves, and help make this pie party a success.

As to the epic pie party, it was attended by over 70 food bloggers.  Everyone brought a savory or sweet pie. We received the save-the-date notice back in August.  Even though I usually don't commit to making a dish that early in advance, an idea came to mind.  It was originally inspired by a childhood favorite snack of mini curry chicken hand pies that my mom usually buy at one of the few bakeries in Hong Kong.  She would take me and my sister to ballet classes each week, then go to the bakery below and pick up snacks for us to eat after class.  I sometimes wonder if I went to dance class just so I can have this pie afterwards since I couldn't get enough of them.  I loved the flakiness of the pie crust and the spicy chicken filling.  Another contributor to my decision was when I received my October issue of Food & Wine Magazine in September, I came across a Curried Lamb Pot Pie recipe, and it confirmed that I should adapt this recipe to make my Curry Chicken Pot Pie.

Curry Chicken Pot Pie with Kale and Butternut Squash

4 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs (trimmed off excess fat and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes)
2 onions - chopped
4 cups of chicken stock
4 cups of butternut squash (peel and cut into medium size cubes)
4 cups of chopped kale
1 1/2 cup of coconut milk
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
2 tbsp of unsalted cold butter (cut in small dice and keep refrigerate)
4 tsp of Madras curry powder
1 large egg with 2 tsp of water for egg wash
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Pie crust
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp of salt
2 stick of cold unsalted butter (cut into small dice - leave in fridge until ready to use)
1/2 cup of ice water

Start by making the crust as it needs to be refrigerated for at least 1 1/2 hour until firm.  In a food processor, combine flour and salt, add butter then pulse until it starts forming pea size dough.  Drizzle ice water then pulse until the pastry starts to form one big ball.  Shape the dough into a 6-8 inch disk, wrap in plastic then refrigerate.

Marinate the chicken cubes with 3 tsp of curry powder, salt, pepper and a tsp of olive oil for at least 1/2 hour.  Heat a large Dutch oven, add a tbsp of olive oil, brown chicken pieces in batches until they're browned on both sides.  Reserve the chicken pieces, pour off excess oil in the pot, add the onions and sauté until transparent, season with salt and pepper.  Add the chicken stock slowly to deglaze and scrape up any fond on the bottom of the pan.  Once the liquid comes to a boil, put chicken pieces back in the pot, uncover; and braise in a simmer for at least an hour until liquid thickened.  Add butternut squash, kale, coconut milk, the remaining 1 tsp of curry powder and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for at least 10 - 15 minutes until vegetables are tendered.  Add the chopped parsley, then use a slotted spoon and transfer the filling into a 8 x 13 baking pan that is at least 2 inches deep.  Simmer the remaining sauce in the pot and reduce at least by half, add the cold butter to thicken the sauce.  Pour the sauce on top of the filling and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Take the pastry disk out of the fridge, and on a lightly floured surface, start rolling out the dough to 16 x 12 inch rectangle.  Brush the edges of the pan with the egg wash, then carefully fold the pastry in half onto the rolling pin to transfer the pastry onto the pan.  Crimp the edges covering the pan and brush the pastry with egg wash.  Cut four small vents on top of the pastry and bake for 40 minutes. Raise the heat to 450 and bake for at least another 15-20 minute until the pie is cooked through.

Other than thanking the major sponsors above, I also want to thank Harvard Common Press for sponsoring as well as these great folks; Abby Dodge and Zagat, who provided us with wonderful gifts to take home. Below is a slide show of some of the pies and the scene of the party.  Thanks again Jackie and Ken for organizing such a great event. 

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