As both math nerds and foodies, it is practically our duty to celebrate Pi(e) Day. For those of you uninitiated in the ways of Pi(e), let us help.  In mathematical terms, Pi describes the relationship between a circles circumference and it's diameter. There is a long history of Pi and why it is necessary for engineering, architecture, mathematics, science, and general happiness.
In food terms, Pie is the substance the Pit will beg and plead for the Picky Girl to make for him. The Picky Girl's preferred pie to make is Alton Brown's Apple Pie recipe, however for this Pi(e) day she decided to take a risk and make her own recipe.  The results you can see pictured above.  (I like to think Alton Brown is giving his approving smile to say "Yep, I told you to put booze in that pie crust and it worked."  Take a look at the recipe below if you want to try and make your own.  Please note, picky girl baking is slightly random and disheveled so recipes are approximate.  Lessen or add ingredients if it feels or tastes wrong to you.

Mixed Berry Chocolate Pie

Crust Ingredients:
  • 6 oz Unsalted Butter
  • 2 oz Shortening
  • 2 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 5 tbsp Whipped Cream Vodka (or the high alcohol content drink of your choice)
Filling Ingredients:
  • 16 oz Strawberries
  • 6 oz Raspberries
  • 6 oz Blackberries
  • 6 oz Blueberries
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Whipped Cream Vodka (or the high alcohol content drink of your choice)

Directions:
1. Sift Sugar, Salt, Cocoa Powder, and Flour together in a bowl.
2. Chop the chilled butter and chilled shortening into small, half inch or so, pieces. 
3. Add the butter and shortening to the dry ingredients and mix.  I like to hand mix dough, but if you have a food processor or nice standing mixer that will probably be less messy. 
4. Gradually, pour in the Whipped Cream Vodka, until the dough is cohesive, but not too sticky.  If it's too dry add more Vodka, if it's too sticky add more flour, just be careful not to over work the dough.
5. Form the dough into a disk, cover, and refrigerate.
6. Wash the berries.  Remove the tops from the tops from the Strawberries and quarter.

7. Gently combine the Blueberries, Strawberry pieces, Blackberries, Blueberries, and Sugar.
8.  Preheat the oven to 425 F and grease a 9 1/2 inch pie pan.
9.  Roll out the pie crust dough, liberally dusting with flour.  (I completely stink at this activity.  My best advice is that if you have a thin plastic cutting board, roll out on top of this and then flip onto the pie pan. Some people use wax paper, but I'm so bad at this I need something with more strength.)
10.  If you're like me you will then spend the next few minutes fixing your imperfect crust, when finished gently scoop the berry sugar mixture inside, until level with the top of the pan.  Pour the Whipped Cream Vodka over the filling.
11.  Roll out the rest of the pie dough.  Use a knife or pizza cutter to create 3/4 inch dough strips.  Weave over the top of the pie.  Use berry juice to join separate dough pieces.
12.  Cover the pie pan with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.  Remove the aluminum foil and cook 10 more minutes.
13.  Let the pie rest for 20 minutes, then go nom nom nom nom nom!


And now for your nerd enjoyment.
 
 
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Denver Restaurant Week starts this Saturday!  If you don't have your reservations go get some!  $52.80 for a fine dining experience for two!  The selection isn't as good as last year but the list of participating restaurants still has some amazing gems...

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It's Fat Tuesday and besides public indecency and excessive drinking, it is time for King Cake!  I like my King Cake unfilled and basic.  Here is a nice recipe for King Cake and some other Mardi Gras favorites if you want to go it on your own.  Or if you are lazy like me the Colorado King Sooper's makes a surprisingly cheap and tasty King Cake.

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Tomorrow is National Margarita Day and Westword is holding a contest to win $100 of free tacos and margaritas from Pica's Mexican Taqueria in Boulder.  Or follow these instructions from the folks at Taste Terminal to make your own Margaritas.

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Scientists are now making hamburger in a lab and it is all over the news.  Would you eat it?  I'd like to see the blind taste test between clinically produced moo-cow and the regular ole supermarket kind.  It makes me squeamish on principal, but in actuality it could provide a lot of environmental benefits.

 
 
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Besides being an amateur foodie, this Picky Girl is a serious bibliophile and when my passion for reading collides with my stomach than I am indeed a happy camper.  Cook-A-Doodle-Doo by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel is one of those places when food and reading merge into what could become a perfect weekend tradition with your kids.  (Or surrogate kids for those of us who haven't yet added breeder to our resumes.)  The story follows an adorable Rooster who teaches his animal friends to cook while making a scrumptious Strawberry Shortcake.  The story meshes the recipe and plot together so seamlessly that kids will love helping you bake in the kitchen.  The little ones can lean the basics of measuring, sifting and mixing while you spend some quality family time and get a mouthwatering dessert all at the same time.  And the book is incredibly realistic about cooking, when the whole animal team makes a catastrophe of the first attempt, I'm sure you'll remember at least one kitchen mishap of your own.  Or maybe I am the only one who learns to cook via epic failure...  And of course I have to mention the local connection, the book's illustrator Janet Stevens is a graduate of the University of Colorado.  I guess this means combining three things I love: eating, reading and all things Colorado.   

 
 
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A few years ago our dear friend Bob gave us what is possibly the best campfire bread recipe ever and it translates to a just as amazing pizza crust.  This weekend we hosted a baby shower using the same recipe and it was a big hit.  So we decided to share the crust recipe with everyone and one of our favorite topping combinations.  This dough is tasty, versatile and will work with just about any topping combination.

Pizza Dough Recipe

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To start with you will need:
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2.25 tsp yeast (1 pkg)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasonings
  • Cooking spray

1.  Dissolve sugar into the warm water to hot tap water.  Add the yeast, breaking up any clumps that form, and let stand for 5 minutes.  

2.  In a separate bowl mix salt, flour, garlic powder and Italian seasoning.

3.  Add the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients and hand mix until it forms a dough ball.  Knead the dough ball for about 5 minutes.

4.  Spray mixing bowl with Pam (or whatever cooking spray you use), add dough ball, spray with more Pam and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow dough to rise for 1-2 hours in a warm place.  

5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees once dough has risen.

6.  Divide dough into 4 parts for 8 inch round pizzas. Roll and place on a baking sheet. (If using a pizza stone build your toppings then place on a preheated stone, for a baking sheet you can add your toppings on the sheet.)

7.  Add toppings and bake for 10-12 minutes and crust is GBD (golden brown delicious!).  If you are doing a thick sauce and a giant pile of toppings cook at a lower temperature (375 degrees) and for a longer period of time.

8.  Eat.  The Pit's favorite step.

Balsamic Prosciutto Delight Topping

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For this topping you will need:
  • Prosciutto
  • Mozzarella  (grated)
  • 3/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar  
  • 1-2 Tbsp Honey 
  • Arugala  
  • 1 tsp Flour 
  • Salt and Pepper
This makes enough topping for 2-3 8 inch pizzas.

1.  In a sauce pan whisk vinegar, honey, flour, and a dash of salt and pepper until everything is dissolved.  Heat on high until mixture comes to a boil. 

2.  Reduce temperature to low and allow to simmer until the sauce reduces by half.

3.  Allow sauce to cool.

4.  Drizzle sauce or apply thin coat onto rolled out pizza round.

5.  Sprinkle on mozzarella and place prosciutto slices.

6.  Bake as directed above.

7.  Add fresh arugula to the baked pizza and eat.  Nom Nom Nom.
 
 
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Even if the recipes sucked, this book would rule simply due to the camp humor awesomeness, but it looks like this book can tickle the taste buds as much as the funny bone.  Frank DeCaro gathered recipes and cooking anecdotes from the legends of the silver screen and mixed it together into a tasty pop culture stew with offerings like Alfred Hitchcock's Quiche Lorraine and Liberace's Sticky Buns, pun intended. The inherently cheap part of me is against buying print cookbooks when so many recipes are available online, however, this book makes me rethink that rule.  For entertaining on oh so many levels pick up a copy at you local book store.  The Trekkie nerd in me can't wait to try out DeForest Kelley's Swiss Cheese Potatoe Casserole!

 
 
While most of us have already enjoyed the drunken, skanky costume portion of Halloween this weekend, there is still time for many of the traditional halloween food moments.  It's never to later to carve your pumpkin (or 12th) and along with carving comes the baking of the pumpkin seeds!  Sadly, if you take our tips on carving you will probably end up with an ER visit and real blood on your pumpkin, however we can offer advice on the best way to bake your pumpkin seeds.  If you don't bake your seeds, you should start now!  They make a tasty, healthy snack.  Enjoy our super simple yet still tasty recipe and have a Happy Halloween!

1.  Take your gloopy pile of pumpkin innards and wash them in a colander while tossing by hand.  Don't worry about getting all of the mess separated, just get the big chunks.

2.  Spread them on paper towels to dry. (You can try patting them dry, but waiting is really the only practical method given the stickiness factor.)

3.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

4.  Toss the dry seeds with olive oil or clarified butter and sprinkle with salt.  Spread seed evenly on a cookie sheet.

5.  Bake for 15 minutes or until your liking.  

6.  Wait to they are cool then munch and enjoy!  

 
 
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Many moons ago while browsing through the Tattered Cover l stumbled across the Diane Mott Davidson culinary, murder mystery series.  I am not normally a murder mystery kind of girl, except there was something special about these books.  Maybe it is because they are set in Colorado, or that the lead character runs her own catering business (in between solving murders), or maybe it is the recipes included in every book.  Sounds cheesy?  With titles like "Dying for Chocolate" and "The Main Corpse" the cheesiness is half the fun.  The writing style is much more beach read than thought provoking and yet I keep coming back for these simple, tasty delights.  There are currently 16 novels that follow the cooking and capers of Goldy Schulz and I would highly recommend the series.  If not for the read than at least to  pull out the recipes for such treats as sonora chicken strudel, cereal killer cookies or crustless jarlsberg quiche!