Monday, 16 September 2013

Pine Nut Pie

Custard pies are a simple affair of milk, eggs and sugar in a pie crust. But chef Stephane Raimbault of the L'Oasis restaurant changes all that by infusing the custard with essence of orange tree flowers and incorporating a topping of caramelized pine nuts. These ingredients transform a simple recipe to a sensational gourmet pie that is worth trying.

At the heart of the custard pie is an infusion of milk with the orange tree flowers. These flowers are traditional ingredients in Moroccan, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, particularly in cakes and scones. The essence is simply in the form of orange flower water, which is bottled after it undergoes a steam distillation process.

While you may not easily imagine milk and orange in the same mixture, the chef balances out these two ingredients. The addition of the orange blossoms lends a strong floral and citrus taste and fragrance to the pie. As if you’re an in apothecary kitchen, make the orange blossom essence yourself. The decoction is made by mashing the petals and boiling it together with the milk and the vanilla bean pods.

Acquire the orange tree blossoms from organic specialty stores, an orange grove that does not use pesticides in its plants, or your own garden. Rinse the flowers in cold water to get rid of any dirt. Lay the flowers on a paper towel to dry. Remove and discard any rotten leaf or blossom from this batch. Use a mortar and pestle to crush the petals and make a thick paste. Strain it using a fine strainer or cheesecloth after making the decoction. But you can also use a cheesecloth or tea bag to wrap the petal paste and simply remove afterwards.

Make your own pie crust or purchase a ready-made pie crust from the store. Make sure it is frozen so it holds shape. Take it out of the freezer or chiller only when you are ready to bake the pie.

½ cup milk
1 vanilla pod
¼ cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 lbs. cream
orange tree flower
pine nuts

1. Crush the orange tree flower in a mortar and pestle. Prepare the decoction by boiling together milk, vanilla, and the crushed orange tree flower. Allow to infuse for a couple of hours. Strain in a fine sieve or using a cheesecloth.

2. Prepare the custard. In a bowl, mix sugar and egg yolks until smooth and pale. Add cream and whisk. Gently combine this mixture with the infused milk. Set aside.

3. Make the caramelized topping. In a pan over low heat, melt some sugar until it becomes syrup. Add the pine nuts and caramelize. Let cool. Crush this mixture and set aside.

4. Take out the pie crust and layer it in an 8-inch tart mold.

5. Fill the tart with the orange tree flower custard. Bake for 45 minutes in a 200 degrees F oven. Remove from oven and sprinkle with caramelized pine nuts and powdered sugar. Serve warm.

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