I still have some more photos to share from Montreal, but our final evening there was capped off by a visit to Au Pied de Cochon. If you’ve seen the episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain visits and is nearly killed with food by Chef Martin Picard, then you know that we were in for quite the treat. We sat right at the bar, so we could see what the chefs were doing right in front of us. It really was dinner and a show. I felt no qualms about being over-eager to watch these guys work quickly and beautifully, and neither did Kramer. Sure, we spoke during our meal, but our eyes glazed over as we watched the cooks break down lobsters, make dough for tarts, slice off impossibly thick pieces of foie gras, and spoon out big dollops of butter laden mashed potatoes. If you go, I highly, highly recommend sitting at the bar, too. We started our meal with the pickled beef tongue, upon a friend’s recommendation. It was perfectly tender with the right amount of acidity, and bonus: it was $4! In New York, I always have to mentally prepare myself before I go out to eat at a nice restaurant, and remind myself that I am paying for both the quality of the food and the experience. But Au Pied de Cochon is different. It is fancy, to be sure, but it’s unpretentious and totally affordable. The portions were huge! We ordered twice as much food as we needed in the end because we were expecting the plates to be small, tasting-sized portions and we were hungry. In fact, they were big, hearty Quebec-sized portions. There’s no better surprise than that. After the lengua, we got to the hard stuff. We ordered the namesake item on the menu (au pied de cochon), which was a pig’s foot stuffed with perfectly cooked, caramelized pork and foie gras. We had to get it. And it was jaw droppingly good. Sitting on top of those previously mentioned buttery mashed potatoes and skin crisped to perfection, it was an incredible dish. Along with the trotter, we had some of the best blood sausage (boudin) that I’ve ever had, alongside some parsnips and spinach because, you know, vitamins. Kramer and I clearly couldn’t finish all of this, so we ended up taking the trotter and the blood sausage home and having some of it for breakfast the next morning alongside our bagels. I know, we’re monsters. But we were monsters on vacation. Anyway, while we didn’t have room for all of that porky goodness, we somehow found space for a slice of heavenly lemon meringue pie. We ate the whole slice and literally waddled home. Thank goodness we had a little bit of a walk ahead of us and a heavy doggy bag to carry (see: weightlifting). What a meal, indeed.
Trotter with foie gras, pickled beef tongue, blood sausage and the restaurant itself.
I don’t know why I haven’t made pie crust cookies before. I love making pie. I’ve made Pumpkin Pie, S’mores Pie, Berry Slab Pie, Mini Bourbon Pecan Pies, Mini Blueberry Pies, Old Fashioned Apple Pies, Apple Pies with Lattice Tops, Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies and probably a few more. Pie is the best dessert – it’s just a plain fact. I turn up my nose at cupcakes, cakes, cookies, brownies and all other things sweet in favor of pie, with its buttery, flaky crust and gooey filling, inevitably oozing out of whatever holes and cracks the crust allows. Every time I make a pie, though, I throw out the scraps and then think, “Dammit! I should have made cookies!” I do this every single time. I suppose it’s just muscle memory to open the trash can lid and throw the scraps of dough away before I even think about it. This time though, I won out over my stupid brain and thought about pie crust cookies before I even made the pie. Go figure. I’ll share the pie I made with you next week, but for now, let me count the ways I love these cookies.
These cookies are golden and crisp, flaky and buttery. I added a dusting of cinnamon sugar on top for crunch, and I couldn’t resist making a batch of Homemade Marshmallow Fluff to go with them – pie crust fluff sandwiches, anyone? I brought these to a World Cup viewing at my friend’s apartment and they were immediately devoured (albeit one marathon runner probably did most of the eating – Jessie, you know how to make a baker happy). I loved how when you bite into one of these cookies, there are little air bubbles of deliciousness on the inside, showing you each layer and reminding you that yes, these are pie crust cookies. I personally always reach for the thickest piece of pie crust on my plate when I’m enjoying a slice of pie, saving it for last to be used as a scoop to insert any remaining filling into my face, but there never seems to be enough of these treasured thick pieces of crust. Well, problem solved. I don’t have children and I am unfamiliar with their ways, but I would imagine that this would be a fun way to get kids involved in the kitchen, too. The pie crust is super forgiving and easy to cut out, so you can make any shapes you want, and hell, if you want to throw some sprinkles on top of these before you bake them, who am I to judge? I bet they’d be even more adorable that way.
Bagels, cocktails, one last beer and heading home.
I made these cookies with scraps from a pie I will share with you soon.
As you can see, I placed the cookies quite close together, as they won’t rise or spread much.
Brush with your egg wash, then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and flaky.
Serve with ice cream or all on their own. I brought along some marshmallow fluff to spread on top.
- 3¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1⅓ cup unsalted butter, COLD (NOT room temperature), cut into pieces
- ⅔ cup ice water, plus more as needed
- 3 teaspoons distilled white vinegar or vodka
- 1 egg + 1 teaspoon water, lightly beaten
- ½ cup granulated or sanding sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add in the chopped pieces of cold butter (cold is essential for a flaky pie crust). Blend together with your hands (or, alternatively, a food processor) until you have coarse crumbs (it doesn’t have to be perfect). You can use a pastry cutter, too, if you like.
- Place the dough back into the fridge for 15 minutes or so, so it stays cold. I don't always do this if I'm short on time, but if you can spare the minutes, it helps the dough a lot. Mix together the water and vinegar or vodka in a small bowl. When ready, slowly drizzle it over the dough, a tablespoon or so at a time, gently stirring the mixture with a fork or pulsing with your processor, until fully incorporated and the dough forms into a nice ball. You may not need all of the water. It might seem a bit too wet at this point, but it will dry up while it sits in the fridge. Form the dough gently into 2 loose balls, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours or as long as overnight (obviously, overnight is best - I sometimes let this dough sit for 36 hours).
- At this point, you can use this pie crust to make whatever pie you like, or you can use all of the dough to make cookies, or even freeze half of the dough and use the other half to make cookies.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F to make the cookies, let the dough sit out on the counter for a few minutes so you can roll it out more easily. Roll the dough out to about ¾-inch thick, then cut out into your favorite shapes. Place the cookies on parchment lined baking sheets - you can place them pretty close together because they won't rise or spread much. Brush the cookies with your egg wash, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, then sprinkle all of the cookies with this mixture.
- Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes, until golden and flaky. Allow to cool slightly, then remove from the pans. Enjoy these warm alongside some ice cream or cooled, all on their own. These will keep well at room temperature in an air-tight container or sealed bag for up to 3 days.