A Pie for Pi Day

Vegetable TartToday is Pi Day! Celebrate the beauty of the mathematical constant for the ratio of the circle’s circumference to its diameter! Yeah, beautiful. Geometry class was a circle, too…a circle of Hell. Just thinking about pi conjures up a curious mixture of anxiety and ennui. Perhaps I’ll join the Tau Movement.

Celebrating 3/14 by baking a pie is much more fun than thinking about circles and ratios and angles. Although most pies are round. And those wedges…they’re triangular! Oh, for the love of a2+b2+c2! There’s no escaping pi! This is why I’m a math athiest.

I chose a savory tart for this year’s pie – mostly because we have a lot of grilled veggies hanging around (this tart is perfect for leftover veggies) and because I like to use my tart pan with the removable bottom, for a classy look.

The press-in pastry is a favorite, especially for people who don’t have a lot of experience with rolling pie crusts. A little rye flour – just a couple of tablespoons – makes the crust seem more rustic. Or something. Now, I know that some of you will drag out one of those refrigerated, pre-rolled things. As a pie snob, I would never use one; as a pragmatist, I understand that we’re all busy, etc. What worries me is, how does Pillsbury achieve that smooth, Play-Dohesque consistency?

It’s a mystery, like math itself.

Grilled Veggie ‘n Feta Tart
(9” or 10” tart)

1 recipe Press-in Tart Pastry (see recipes)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, sliced
1-1/2 Cups grilled veggies (peppers, zukes, etc.)
2 large eggs
¾ Cup heavy cream
Small handful fresh herbs, minced
Fine dry breadcrumbs
4 ounces feta, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400OF.  Prepare the pastry and press into the tart pan. Partially blind-bake the pastry for 10 minutes; remove weights and bake 5 minutes longer. Cool.

Saute onions in oil 5 minutes. Add the veggies and stir for about 1 minute – just to warm them through. Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and cool.

In a bowl combine eggs with cream, herbs and salt and pepper.

Place the tart shell on a baking sheet. Sprinkle bottom of pastry with breadcrumbs. Spread veggies in the shells; crumble cheese on top. Pour egg-cream mixture over the top.

Lower oven temperature to 350OF. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until set. Cool 5 minutes before cutting.

Press-in Pastry
(9” or 10” tart shell)

1 1/2 Cups flour
1/2 Cup cold butter or solid Crisco, or a mix of the two
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1 large egg

Mix together dry ingredients. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until fine crumbs form.  Add egg; mix with fork until dough begins to hold together.  Add 1-2 t. very cold water if mixture seems too dry.  (You can do this all in the food processor, too.)

Spray a 9″ or 10″ tart pan with removable bottom with Pam.  Press dough into bottom and up sides of pan.

TO PARTIALLY BLIND BAKE:  Dock pastry well with a fork.  Line tart shell with foil, shiny side down.  Weight shell with 1 Cup dry rice or beans.  Bake @ 425 degrees F for 10 minutes; remove foil and weights; bake 5-10 minutes longer.