February is the month of love, and nothing says â€œI love youâ€ better than your sweetheartâ€™s favorite pie. Unfortunately, Iâ€™ve never mastered making a good pie crust. Mine always tear or come out dry, not tender and flaky. Thatâ€™s why I love shortbread pastry dough. Because this dough has lots of butter, itâ€™s soft, easy to work with and quite forgiving. It makes terrific pies, tarts and turnovers, and the crust is tender, almost like a shortbread cookie. So I was delighted when Crystal Anstey of Experience Twillingate in Newfoundland offered her grandmotherâ€™s mini pie recipe made with delicate shortbread crust.
We met Crystal, a visual artist and tour guide, on a motorhome trip of Newfoundlandâ€™s eastern coast. She lives on the island of Twillingate, on the edge of â€œIceberg Alley,â€ the watery path giant pieces of glacial ice take southward from Greenland.
Crystal and her family have lived in the Back Harbour region of Twillingate for generations; so long, in fact, that Anstey Point is named for her ancestors. She grew up exploring its shores, foraging its bountiful food sources and enjoying food from the sea and shore on its beaches. â€œIâ€™ve grown up here, with the sound and smell of the ocean and its beautiful landscape, and itâ€™s influenced my art, my cooking and my outlook on life.â€
Wanting to share and preserve her historic and authentic experiences of Newfoundland, Crystal began Experience Twillingate (www.experiencetwillingatenl.com), a local tour company that gives visitors a â€œsea-to-plate experience, right on the beach.â€ The menu is wild and local â€” with hints of rustic sophistication. She serves cocktails cooled by chunks of 12,000-year-old icebergs. The menu features shellfish and fresh fish, and locally foraged berries and edible plants.
Guests dine on the beach with delicious fare like sautÃ©ed scallops and mussels, and whole Maine lobsters steamed in seawater. Itâ€™s all cooked over an open fire and served on Crystalâ€™s rustic handmade pottery. There are no fancy linens, no suits nor evening dresses. Just authentic food in an unparalleled setting that invites visitors to relax and enjoy.
And, if youâ€™re lucky, for dessert youâ€™ll be offered Nanny Ansteyâ€™s Mini Pies. Crystal says, â€œMy grandmother grew up eating and baking these pies. She spoiled her children and grandchildren with this recipe. On my tour I serve a trio of different flavors of jam pies. You can make them yourself and share them with those you love and cherish.â€
Have a favorite pie recipe youâ€™d like to share? Email Bobbie with â€œpieâ€ in the subject line.
Mini Love Pies
Makes 24-36 tiny pies (depending on how thin you make the crust)
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons powered sugar
- Â½ pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
- Jam (one or several flavors)
- Whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
- Mix together ingredients. (Donâ€™t overwork or dough will toughen.) Pinch off pieces (about 1 tablespoon) and flatten between your hands. Press firmly into the bottom and sides of mini muffin tins. Bake for 10-12 minutes until light golden.
- Cool and fill each pie with 1 teaspoon of your favorite jam/filling.
- Whip cream and top each pie with a dollop of cream.