Can’t. Stop. Baking.

Ok, I know I keep harping about how much I love my oven and can’t wait to get at it during the long, hot summer months we live through in this part of the world. But I’m beginning to think my ‘oven-love’ is starting to turn into more of an obsession. Or whatever you call it when you just. can’t. stop. baking.

The very day after thanksgiving, I cranked that oven up and began making pies- savory and sweet- to do something with all our leftovers. Right now, we have four different pies in our fridge, and that doesn’t include the various treats I’ve been giving away to friends and neighbors.

The first was an obvious leftover solution, though I married a few cultures together to come up with a Moroccan-inspired all-Americana shepherd’s pie. Now, to be completely honest with you, I got the idea for this recipe from a dear friend who’d recently made something along these lines, though I certainly changed the theme and ingredients involved. Kudos to my pal Kara though for inspiring my baking muse! For my Turkey B’stilla Pie, I used every leftover dish we had, and I have to say, I think I found a new favorite ‘what to do with leftovers’ meal.

The key to this recipe is not so much what you put into it as you make it, but the original ingredients that make up your leftovers in order to get all the succulent, full flavor we’ve been enjoying this past week. Our leftovers included recipes from my book: Maple herb-rubbed turkey, apple jack gravy, wild mushroom-hazelnut-cornbread stuffing, pecan green beans, caramelized onion relish, and cinnamon cranberry sauce. But whatever you have leftover, as long as there is rich, flavorful goodness in the original ingredients, should combine to make a fine B’stilla/shepherd’s pie. Once you have assembled all your ingredients, all that remains to be done is to layer your leftovers in a casserole topped with phyllo pastry leaves brushed with butter, and bake away!

But that was just the tip of the iceberg. We had leftover pumpkin, so into the oven went another pumpkin pie. I also had decorated our table with persimmons and baby apples. And in our house, waste is a very, very bad word.  So I puréed the persimmons, sliced the apples, and mixed both together with sour cream, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon to make up a creamy, tart persimmon-apple pie with walnut-crumble topping. We had to get that out of the house or start running a lot more. Last, with leftover cranberries, I made up a cranberry-amaretto torte in my favorite cinnamon-lemon crust. That too had to walk out the door to a neighbor’s house. Can’t. Stop. Baking. Help!!

I think I’m starting to wind down now. Though ideas keep popping up: what about avocado pie? Foie gras tart? My grandma always used to say that you can put anything into a pie, and for some reason, it seems like I’m taking Grandma’s advice as almost a challenge. Maybe I’ll even write another book just to get all this baking out of my system! Meanwhile, I’ve got some onions and tomatoes calling my name: I think I’ll go make up a nice savory tomato pie and see if that doesn’t tide me over for a day or two. Happy cookin’, wherever you are. Stay warm, and I’ll see you in the kitchen next time around, RD

Published December 15, 2011 Associated Press