Save room for Pie On9 pie contest Aug. 1 in Ninth Square

Even the crustiest among us won't be able to resist this event

National Pie Day might be celebrated in January, but New Haven’s celebration of the all-American dessert takes place in the heat of summer from 6-8 p.m. Aug. 1 on Orange at Crown Street. City Seed’s second Pie On 9 pie contest and block party features all-you-can-eat pie, Ashley’s Ice Cream, cash bar by 116 Crown and entertainment thanks to DJ Tootskee. And while you are indulging, you will also be benefiting CitySeed’s food stamp program.

Pies such as Shaker lemon pie are often associated with a group of people and, of course, others like pumpkin and mincemeat are synonymous with Thanksgiving and Christmas, respectively. There seems to be a pie for all seasons as well as pies for all regions. Think key lime pie and Mississippi mud pie.

The sky is the limit as to what seasonal ingredients can be used in a pie and how to bake it. Think an oven is the only place to bake a pie? A recent issue of Bon Appetit showed how to bake a pie on the grill.

Come out to taste the Pie On 9 creations. Will the number of entries exceed last year’s which was 86?

Want to enter a pie (sweet or savory) and get a free ticket?

For the freshest ingredients for your pie, checkout www.buyctgrown.com for the farmers markets and pick-your-own locations.

Want to just eat pie and ice cream? Adults $15, children $5.

For info, tickets, pie-maker registration, acceptable pies and recipe inspiration, go to cityseed.org and click on Pie On 9. Interested in volunteering to help set up and serve pie? Community service time granted for NHPS high school students; contact: tagan@cityseed.org

Pies will be judged in the following categories: most beautiful pie, best fruit pie, best savory pie, best CT-grown pie, best pie made by a kid, best most fabulous pie. Grand prize: $100 in gift coins for CitySeed Farmers Markets and prizes for all categories.

And who will have the difficult task of judging? New Haven Mayor Toni Harp; Ihsan Abdussabur, a budding young chef in CitySeed’s Master Cooks program; John Turenne of Sustainable Food Systems; Adrienne Kane, author of “United States of Pie,” aka “the Pie Lady”; George Krivda of the CT Department of Agriculture and self-proclaimed pie expert; Jocelyn Ruggiero, aka foodie fatale; Kathy Riegelmann of Katalina’s Cupcake Bakery; and Steve Ross of Cast Iron Soul.

To whet your appetite for Pie On 9, Tagan Engel, event organizer and City Seed’s chef in residence, asked, me to share her recipe for Peach and Plum Slab Pie With Almond Cream, a delicious and easy-to-make summer stone fruit, free-form pie.

The almond cream (frangipane in French) is a great addition, spread over the uncooked pie dough. It cooks up between the nooks and crannies of the fruit. You can substitute almond flour for whole almonds if you don’t have a food processor. Homemade pie dough is fabulous and not as hard as you might think; but if you want to substitute frozen puff pastry or phyllo dough for the crust, that would work fine, too.

If there are any splits in the crust, pinch them together or just tear off a few extra pieces of dough and attach them with a little water, it will add to the rustic look, and no one minds eating a little more delicious buttery pie dough.

Peach and Plum Slab Pie with Almond Cream

All Butter Pie Crust

2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 cup cold water

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup ice

Stir flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add butter pieces. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut butter into flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain; be careful to not over-blend.

Combine the water, cider vinegar and ice in a small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture at a time over the flour mixture, fully incorporating after each addition. Add water until mixture sticks together when pinched, but some dry bits remain. You will not use all of the water.

Bring all the dough together into 1 flat rectangular mass, about 4 by 10 inches. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month. – Crust Recipe adapted from the “Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book.”

Almond Cream

1 cup almonds or almond flour

¾ cup powdered sugar

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1 large egg

2 tablespoons flour

1½ teaspoons almond extract

Grind almonds, (if not using almond flour) and sugar in a food processor until very fine. Add butter, egg, flour and almond extract. Puree until very smooth and creamy.

Peach and Plum Filling

7 large plums

7 large peaches

¾ cup light brown sugar

4 tablespoons cornstarch or instant tapioca ground to a powder

Sugar (coarse or granulated) for sprinkling

Slice fruit into ½-inch thick wedges, discarding pits. Toss fruit with sugar and cornstarch or tapioca.

To Assemble Pie: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll pie dough to a ¼-inch thick rectangle about 1 inch longer and wider than a 18- by 13-inch cookie sheet or sheet pan. Poke the surface of the dough, minus a 2-inch border with the tines of a fork. Place rolled dough in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill.

Spread the almond cream over the chilled dough in an even layer over, leaving a 2-inch border around the edge, without cream. Top with fruit and any juices from the bottom of the bowl. Fold the 2-inch border over the fruit, folding and pinching the corners as needed to seal the fruit and cream in. Brush the pie edge with water and sprinkle coarse or granulated sugar over the edge.

Bake for 25 minutes in the center or bottom of the oven. Reduce heat to 350, and continue baking until pie is golden all over (peek under the bottom of the crust, too), and fruit is tender and bubbling with the juices thickened, about 45 minutes more. Cool slightly before serving or serve at room temperature. Cut slab pie into 20 or more rectangular pieces and serve with ice cream, whipped cream or thick yogurt.

Note: If you want a glistening pie, you can melt some apricot or peach jam and brush it over the tart, but it is lovely just as is.

Desperately seeking

Kelly Brant, food editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, Ark., a fellow member of Association of Food Journalists wrote, “Has anyone heard of this dish? It is made with home-canned tomatoes, white bread and sugar. Some cooks add onion and bell pepper.

“One of my readers is compiling a collection of family recipes as a wedding gift for her granddaughter, and this is the one recipe she has not been able to find. She remembers her grandmother baking the dish, but her cousin says it was cooked on the stovetop. Does this sound familiar to anyone? I’ve looked in all of my cookbooks and did an Internet search with no luck.”

Do you have this recipe so Kelly can help her reader?

Culinary calendar

Cheese 101: English Cheeses, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, free, Elm City Market, 777 Chapel St., New Haven, 203-624-0441. England has a rich cheese-making history. English cheese is known for its slow-aged, intense flavors made from traditional recipes handed down through generations. Robin Williams and Lisa Maresca, your cheese mongers, are going to talk about and taste some of the oldest and most popular English cheeses that reside in the co-op.

Berries & Melons: Noon-2 p.m., July 27, free, Elm City Market, 777 Chapel Street, New Haven 203-624-0441. Keep summer in full swing with this tasting event. Wander the produce department on this day and taste all different kinds of berries and melons. See what you like and what you don’t like. This is a great opportunity for the little ones to test out their taste buds with new fruits.

Elm City Iron Chef Dinner: With Chef Alex Morales of MAMBO Cocina Latina in collaboration with Gathering Wines and Amity Wine & Spirits, 6:30 p.m. July 29, $60 all inclusive, 758 State St., New Haven, 203-562-0660. Chef Alex, winning chef of the 2014 Elm City Iron Chef competition, sponsored by Gateway Community College and Visit New Haven, will re-create the dishes he created using the “secret ingredient,” which was Kennedy Kitchen’s kettle-popped corn. The evening begins with passed hors d’oeuvres followed by a three-course dinner paired with wine. See the complete menu at www.mambonewhaven.com/events.php. Reservations required. A portion of the proceeds will benefit scholarships for Gateway Community College hospitality and culinary arts students.

Send us your requests

What restaurant recipes or other recipes would you like to have? What food products are you having difficulty finding? What cooking questions do you have? Send them to me at the contact info below.

Contact Stephen Fries, professor and coordinator of the Hospitality Management Programs at Gateway Community College, at gw-stephen.fries@gwcc.commnet.edu or Dept. FC, Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven 06510. Include your full name, address and phone number. Due to volume, I might not be able to publish every request. For more, go to www.stephenfries.com.