News Of The Day, Food Friday, Crossword Century

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As popular as it is today, when the crossword puzzle first emerged a century ago, it was a flop. Veronica Rueckert and Cynthia Schuster explore the history behind the puzzle. Then they track the news of the day and get a cooking lesson on savory pies from chef Ian Knauer.

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  • Put Summer Vegetables To Good Use In Savory Pies

    As gardens, farmers markets, and CSA boxes start brimming over with fresh vegetables, consider the savory summer pie as a way to put them to good use.

    So says Ian Knauer, host of the PBS series “The Farm.” Knauer, who’s also the author of a cookbook by the same name, said he believes that pies are ideal for abundant vegetables, since sizeable amounts of vegetable are needed for each pie.

    “Zucchini is a great example of one of those vegetables,” said Knauer. “Once you get one out of your garden, you have a dozen and you don’t know what to do with them — you’re just making zucchini bread the rest of the summer.”

    When using zucchini in a pie, Knauer recommends thinly slicing the zucchini to avoid a soggy crust, tossing with cheddar cheese and a bit of parmesan, and then sprinkling finely sliced chili pepper on top.

    But, according to Knauer, the perfect early summer pie has to be the cherry tomato pie.

    “When mixed together with a mix of fresh herbs then baked into an olive oil crust, (cherry tomatoes) remind you why you’re alive,” he said.

    Before getting to the recipe, a note about the crust, which can be a major stumbling block for many novice bakers: Knauer suggests using olive oil.

    “One of the easiest (approaches) is to make an olive oil crust,” he said, adding that these crusts first became famous in the 1920s by the Wesson Oil Co., which added their recipes to labels.

    Ian Knauer’s Simple Olive Oil Crust Recipe
    Makes 1 crust

    “This is the simplest and most fool-proof of all pie crusts,” according to Knauer. “No need to worry about melting butter or lard with your hands. Although this dough feels wetter to roll out, an easy solution comes on the form of wax or parchment paper which prevents it from sticking to your work surface.”

    • 11/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
    • 3 to 4 Tbsp. water or milk

    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

    Whisk together the flour and salt in a bowl. Stir in the oil with a wooden spoon or spatula until it is incorporated and looks lumpy. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the water and squeeze a handful of the dough. If it is still crumbly, stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon water. Form the dough into a ball and place on a sheet of wax paper. Flatten the dough into a disk, then flour the top and roll into an 11-inch round with a floured rolling pin, dusting the dough and pin with more flour as needed.

    Place a 9-inch pie plate over the dough, then using the paper as a guide, turn the dough into the pie plate and peel the paper away. Press the dough into the pan and fold the edge under to form an edge. Crimp the edge of the dough if desired. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork and chill at least 30 minutes.

    Place a sheet of aluminum foil in the dough and fill with pie weights. Bake the crust until it is set, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue to bake the crust until golden, 20 to 25 minutes more. Let the crust cool completely before continuing with the recipe.

    Cherry Tomato Pie
    Serves 8

    • 2 Tbsp. corn starch
    • 2 Tbsp. minute tapioca
    • 1 Tbsp. sugar
    • 11/2 tsp. kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
    • 2 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved if large
    • 1 cup mixed chopped herbs, such as basil, oregano, chives, savory
    • 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
    • 2 Tbsp. capers in brine
    • 1 blind-baked olive oil pie crust

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

    Pulse the cornstarch and tapioca in a spice grinder, then whisk together with the sugar, 11/2 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Cut the tomatoes in half then stir into the cornstarch mixture. Fold in the herbs, mayonnaise and capers, then place in the pie shell.

    Bake the pie until the filling is bubbling, 35 to 45 minutes. Let the pie cool completely on a rack before slicing and serving.

  • Savory Pies

    For Food Friday, we get inspired about garden-fresh ideas for savory summer pies.

  • 100 Years Of Crossword Puzzles

    The crossword puzzle turned 100 last year. In the last century, it’s celebrated a rich history. At first a flop, it eventually gained wide appeal and has been a pleasant, perplexing, sometimes frustrating way for many to pass the time. A quizmaster explains what makes crossword puzzles so popular and introduces us to some of the masterminds behind them.

Episode Credits

  • Cynthia Schuster Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Marika Suval Producer
  • Cynthia Schuster Producer
  • Ian Knauer Guest
  • Ian Knauer Guest
  • Alan Connor Guest

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