Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pie, Me Oh My!

One of the most important things you should know about me is my serious affection for pie. I love to talk about pie, I especially love to sing about pie, but mostly, I love to eat pie. I hold an equal opportunity devotion for all pie-like items regardless of shape, crust, or filling. So, to kick off what is sure to be the first of many pie-themed posts, I give you Cornbread Chili Pie.

This recipe was inspired by Christina Pirello’s Black Soybean Stuffed Cornbread, from her book Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Whole Foods But Were Afraid to Ask. Christina’s story is a true vegan miracle, and a testament to the benefits of eating well. At age 26, she was diagnosed with leukemia, and given little hope for recovery. After she met her now husband, Robert Pirello, he introduced her to a vegan diet based on greens, beans, and vegetables. After just fourteen months, her cancer was gone, and she has spent the last 27 years living, and teaching the lessons she learned.

The chili recipe is my own, cobbled together from whatever sounds good to me that day, so feel free to make changes. The cornbread is adapted from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion diced
1 carrot diced
1 red bell pepper diced
1 ear corn, kernels cut off the cob
1 garlic clove minced
½ teaspoon ground ancho chile pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cans black beans drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can vegetable stock (I recommend Swanson’s; many other brands are inedible)
Salt and Pepper to taste

1½ cups non-dairy milk
1½ tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons canola oil
Optional: ½ to 1 cup corn kernels or green chilies, or 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Heat olive oil in a large pot and add the onions, carrots, bell pepper, and corn kernels. Sauté until the vegetables are softened. Add the garlic and the spices to the pot and sauté for one minute. Add the beans, tomatoes (with liquid) and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook on the stove for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

While the chili is simmering, prepare the cornbread. Preheat the oven to 375 º. Pour the milk and vinegar into a small bowl, and whisk to combine. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the oil and the milk mixture to the dry ingredients, and whisk until blended. Add any optional ingredients at this time.

Pour half of the cornbread batter into a greased 9” pie dish, brownie pan, casserole dish, etc. Spoon 3 to 4 cups of the chili over the cornbread. Pour the rest of the batter over the top of the chili. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Ladle extra chili over individual pieces of pie and enjoy immediately!

For extra enjoyment, here are my favorite songs about pie:
"The Pie Song" - Andie MacDowell, from the movie Michael
"Baby Don't You Cry (The Pie Song)" - Quincy Coleman
"The Worst Pies in London" - from Sweeney Todd

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