Bite by Bite
Conquering My Culinary Bucket List One Dish at a Time
By Emily Banks Wooten
Sunday was the third anniversary of “Bite by Bite,” which I still find hard to believe. The first one appeared on Sunday, March 15, 2020 and was about pie since it ran the day following Pi Day. As time has gone by, I’ve made a point of earmarking the anniversary each year by going back to the beginning … and talking about pie.
So you’re not familiar with Pi Day? Well let’s bring you up to speed. Pi Day is an annual, international celebration of the mathematical constant π (pi). What is pi, you ask? When a circle’s circumference is divided by its diameter the answer is approximately 3.14 or pi. Always. Pi Day is observed on March 14 (3-14) because three, one and four are the first three significant digits of π. While Pi Day has generally been observed by math afficianadoes since it became a thing, over time it has been co-opted by pie-lovers. Get it? Pi Day … Pie Day. Hmmm. Now we’re talking.
As I wrote in that first “Bite by Bite,” once I discovered the existence of Pi Day I decided it was my responsibility – even perhaps my culinary duty – to observe it gleefully each year with a piece of pie and a cup of coffee. Pi Day usually falls during our daughter’s spring break and we’re often traveling on some getaway so it becomes my quest to find just the right place to have that celebratory, annual piece of pie.
One year it was a piece of pina colada icebox pie in Rosebud. One year it was a piece of Texas trash pie in Round Top. I typically think of sweet when I think of pie, but last year I decided to throw some savory pie into the mix as well. I observed Pi Day with a big piece of homemade classic chicken pot pie followed by a piece of creamy hazelnut pie. I think that made for a nice balance so I endeavored this year to come up with another savory pie, in addition to a sweet pie.
This issue will come out a few days before Pi Day. I planned that purposely to give you a couple days to think about what kind of pie you want to eat on March 14. For the savory version, we recently enjoyed a cheeseburger pie that was super easy and good too. It’s one of those recipes that you can easily tweak and make your own. For the sweet pie, I made a grapefruit lime pie that I saw Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli make on an episode of The Kitchen. I’ve always had a soft spot for grapefruit so I knew I must try this. It was light, refreshing and not at all too tangy as some might expect.
As usual, Pi Day falls during Daughter’s spring break, which this year, will be spent going on some college tours. Between you and me, however, I’m already scoping out potential places to enjoy the perfect slice of pie.
-1 Tablespoon olive oil
-1 pound lean ground beef
-½ cup chopped yellow onion
-½ teaspoon kosher salt
-1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
-Nonstick cooking spray
-2 large eggs
-1 cup whole buttermilk, room temperature
-1 Tablespoon salted butter, melted
-½ cup all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-Pickle slices, for serving
-Ketchup, for serving
-Burger sauce, for serving
•Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
•Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, ground beef, onion, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is browned and crumbly and onions are softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain any excess fat from the pan. Add the Worcestershire sauce and cook until absorbed, about 2 minutes more.
•Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the meat mixture to the pie plate.
•Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter in a medium bowl until smooth. Add flour and baking powder; whisk until smooth. Pour over the hamburger mixture in the pie plate.
•Sprinkle all over with cheese. Bake until the top is browned and the center is set, about 25 minutes.
•Serve the pie in slices with pickles, ketchup and/or burger sauce alongside.
—I think I’d omit the olive oil next time. As the ground beef cooks, it produces enough fat to cook the onions.
—Before I baked it, I topped it with some pickled jalapeno slices because we love jalapenos.
—We didn’t fool with pickles, ketchup or burger sauce because we just didn’t think it was necessary.
Grapefruit Lime Pie
By Alex Guarnaschelli
-6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus additional for greasing
-1 ½ cups finely ground graham crackers (about 12 graham crackers) (see Cook's Note)
-¼ cup sugar
-½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
-½ teaspoon ground ginger
-Pinch of kosher salt
-2 cups sweetened condensed milk
-½ cup sour cream
-½ cup fresh grapefruit juice
-2 Tablespoons fresh lime zest
-¼ cup fresh lime juice
-Fresh grapefruit segments from 1 pink grapefruit
-3 cups unsweetened whipped cream, optional
Make the crust:
•Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie dish with some melted butter and set aside.
•In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, a pinch of salt and the rest of the melted butter. The texture should resemble wet sand. Use the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to press the crust into an even layer on the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pie dish. Place the dish on a sheet pan and bake until the crust firms and browns lightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Make the filling:
•In a medium bowl, combine the condensed milk, sour cream, grapefruit juice, lime zest and lime juice.
Bake the pie:
•Pour the filling into the crust and jiggle the dish to smooth evenly. Place onto a sheet pan and bake in the center of the oven until firm, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours. Chill in the fridge.
•Cut the pie into wedges and serve with grapefruit segments and whipped cream if desired.
— To make graham cracker crumbs, break the crackers into smaller pieces and place into a food processor. Pulse and then process into crumbs. Alternatively, put the crackers into a resealable plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush into crumbs.