shoot&eat > Pie

A Pie Party is Thrown (But Not in Your Face)

Another year and another terrific Pie Party has been thrown by the imitable Jackie Gordon (aka The Singing Chef and The Diva That Ate New York) and Ken Leung (aka The Hungry Rabbit). This year, the fifth Pie Party since its inception in 2011, was hailed by those who attended as the best one yet. This Pie Party was particularly special for me because it was held at my alma mater, The Institute of Culinary Education at their brand spanking new state-of-the-art cooking school in downtown Manhattan in the newly remodeled Brookfield Place.

This year the Pie Party had some titans of the culinary world as sponsors. Along with The Institute of Culinary Education as host and sponsor, there was Cabot Cheese, King Arthur Flour, Wüsthof , Anolon, Dub Pies, Tovolo, Honey Ridge Farms, and Wild Hibiscus. Cocktail sponsors included Reyka Vodka, Tromba Tequila, and Mizu Shochu.

Pie Party ICE 2015

The anticipation of chowing down on pie was high as people mingled, met, had cocktails, and nibbled on hors d’oeuvres that were supplied by the Institute of Culinary Education. Jackie and Ken were the consumate hosts as they made their rounds through the room to greet old friends and new alike. Before the cutting of the pies, there was a baking demonstration, people entering to win prizes from the sponsors, sponsor representatives on hand to answer questions about their products, and plenty of food love to go around for all.

There were impromptu tours of the Institute of Culinary Education throughout the day. The school has come a long way since I attended (I graduated in 2005) and they moved from their 23rd Street location to their new facility. The new digs even has a chocolate lab that was set up by Michael Laiskonis. What a dream that place is. Wow!

Pie Party ICE2 015

It’s always hard to leave such a fun event like this one, but all good things must come to an end. On the way out everyone was rewarded with a swag bag filled with all kinds of delectable culinary treats. Thanks to all of the sponsors for their support, the Institute of Culinary Education for providing a great space and to Jackie and Ken for hosting another successful Pie Party.


Spicy Chicken Empanadas

After Pie Party Potluck Live, you’d think that I would have had enough of pie for awhile. Well, not really. Because I was back in the kitchen, flour in hand, deftly flicking my wrist to spread the flour over my work surface just so and then taking my rolling pin in hand and making even more dough. This time for more spicy chicken empanadas.

Since my chicken empanadas were a big hit at the pie party, I thought that some people may like to have the recipe. The recipe for the chicken filling is a variation of a Cooks Illustrated recipe for chicken tacos.

The chicken filling is extremely versatile. I’ve used it in tacos, sandwiches, and just eaten it plain with no bread. It would great on nachos with some black beans, sour cream, and guacamole.

So here is the recipe. Have fun with it.

Spicy Chicken Empanadas

The Crust:

1 egg

1 tablespoon of water

3 cups All Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons lard or butter

1 whole egg + 1 egg white

½ cup Water

Combine egg with 1 tablespoon of water, mix, and set aside. This is for the egg wash that you will use later. Combine the flour and the salt in a food processor. Add the lard or butter and blend until it is incorporated into the flour. Add the eggs and the water and pulse just until the dough comes together. Remove the dough from the food processor and knead until you form a ball that is not too wet and not too dry. It should be elastic and bounce back if you poke it. Flatten the dough ball into a disc, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


Chicken filling:

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Large Onion, julienned

2 cups Orange Juice

1 or 2 Chipotle Peppers (depending on how spicy you want it), finely minced

3 Chicken Breasts (boneless or bone in)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons Butter

Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the sliced onions and sauté them until barely caramelized.

Pour in the orange juice and add the chopped chipotle peppers.

Salt and pepper the chicken breasts and place them in the orange juice. Cover, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 9 minutes. Remove lid, turn the breasts over to the other side, recover and let them cook for an additional 9 minutes (or until an instant read thermometer registers 165° F).

Remove the chicken from the braising liquid and turn the stove off. If the liquid has gotten too thick, add a little more orange juice.

Let the chicken cool for 5-10 minutes and then shred the chicken.

Turn the heat back on. Add the mustard and Worcestershire sauce and cook the liquid down until it has thickened a little bit.

Add the butter.

When the butter is melted, add the chicken back to the mixture and cook and stir until the chicken is coated.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove from heat.


Take the dough out of the refrigerator. Place the dough on a floured work surface and roll it out until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out the desired size of empanadas that you’d like. Place a generous portion of the chicken on the dough round, but not so much that it will be oozing out. Lightly wet the edges of the dough with water so that it will stick together. Fold the dough round over on itself so that you now have a semi-circle. Pinch the dough together and then crimp with a fork. Repeat this until you have used all of the chicken filling.  Place the empanadas on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Brush the tops of the empanadas with the egg wash and place into a preheated 350°F oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the dough has turned a light golden brown color.



Last June, Shauna Ahern, cookbook author and good friend of mine made a pie. On the spur of the moment she decided to bring all of her Twitter, Facebook, real, and virtual friends together through a virtual pie party.

The goal was to bring a community together through pie, old friends, and friends not yet found. People baked pies, shared stories online with friends, and met new friends. It was a huge online success. More than 1,500 people participated.

Fast forward to October. Shauna’s success spurred an idea in Jackie Gordon’s  and Ken Leung’s minds. They borrowed Shauna’s idea but made it a real live event instead of virtual. Jackie and Ken started tweeting and blogging about the event–inviting everyone that they know to bake a pie and gather for an afternoon of culinary delights and great conversation. And their idea came to fruition on Saturday October 15, 2011 at Rodeo Bar in New York City.

Twitter was alive with talk of pies even before the party started. The night before the party and the morning of the party tweets were buzzing about pie—people talking about their pies, how they were looking forward to the event, and tweeting photos of their culinary creations.

On Saturday morning Larry and I arrived a bit early for the party with chicken empanadas and a sadly melted lemon icebox pie. Note to self: When toting a pie across town, DO NOT take one that will melt on the way. Luckily Lily, the manager of Rodeo Bar offered to try to freeze the “lemon milkshake” back into a reasonable facsimile of a pie. And speaking of Rodeo Bar, they were great! Thank you Rodeo Bar for hosting this event. It was a great space with a super staff.

Some of Rodeo Bar’s beautiful and delicious dishes.

Click on a thumbnail for full size image.

Soon, pies of all description—and their bakers—filled the room. There were savory pies, sweet pies, galettes, jalousies, empanadas, and all kinds of beautiful, scrumptious pastries.

For a few moments before people started eating, it looked like the paparazzi had arrived, as people gathered around the beautiful pastries to the sound of camera shutters and flashing lights filled the room with energy and excitement.

Eventually, the crowd was diverted from their photography frenzy by the sound of Jackie tapping on a glass and someone whistling for the crowd’s attention. Jackie kindly thanked everyone for coming and proclaimed, “It’s time to eat some pie.” The sound of camera shutters was replaced with the clinking of forks on plates as the foodies in the room began to make pie carnage. Old friends were reunited and new friends were made, thanks to Ken and Jackie.

When the eating subsided (which took quite awhile), it was time for door prizes. Many door prizes. Everyone gathered around in anticipation of winning one of the fabulous items.

Among them were many great cookbooks, and handily, the authors were present at the party to sign the books. What a sweet deal winning one of those it must have been.


The party started to wind down after the door prizes were awarded and Ken and Jackie again thanked all for participating. And then Lily, the manager of Rodeo Bar, offered hugs to all while thanking everyone for coming to her restaurant. What a wonderful, welcoming place Rodeo Bar is for food lovers of all backgrounds.

And now, I find myself already looking forward to the next Pie Party Potluck Live. There is going to be a next one, right?