Arkansas Times readers rightly selected former state Treasurer Martha Shoffner, currently awaiting trial on charges she steered state bond business to a bond broker who paid her more than $36,000, as the person who exemplifies the Best Misuse of Taypayer Funds. (She was also chosen runner-up for Worst Arkansan — because, really, no one is worse than winner Jason Rapert.)
Shoffner is of course innocent until proven guilty, but the FBI did catch her on tape accepting a pie box containing an apple pie and $6,000. Which made the Times wonder, what's a $6,000 pie look like? For the answer we turned to Monica and Stephanos Mylonas, proprietors of the much-beloved Mylo Coffee Co., a roving bakery and coffee shop that sells (and often sells out) at the Hillcrest and Bernice Garden farmers' markets and takes special orders during the week (they also say they have some "exciting news to share soon," hopefully about a forthcoming brick-and-mortar space); and Autumn Hall, who's responsible for the delectable pies and desserts at Big Orange and Local Lime.
6,000-Clam Pot Pie
By Mylo Coffee Co.
Requires 3' x 5' baking tray and approx. 40 lbs. of puff pastry — now that's a lot of dough! This is a rich dish; serve with plenty of lettuce.
Poor man's version: Serves 6-8. Use a deep pie dish or quart-sized casserole.
"Rough puff" pastry:
2 cups organic unbleached plain flour
½ tsp. sea salt
½ cup cold water
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter
1 tsp. vinegar
60 clams, or about 6 pounds with shells on
½ onion, roughly chopped
½ bell pepper, roughly chopped
1-2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
6 slices of bacon
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tbsp. organic plain flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp. milk
pinch of salt
To make the pastry:
Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix to partly combine. Mix the water with the vinegar and gradually add this to the floury mixture. As soon as the pastry comes together, turn it out onto a floured surface. Roll out into a rectangle and fold in thirds like a letter. You will see streaks of butter marbled through the pastry. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
Remove from fridge and roll out (but don't stretch). Repeat the letter-fold and rolling process until the pastry reaches a uniform thickness. Wrap and chill until ready for use.
Preparing the clams and stock:
Rinse the clams, place in a large pot, and cover with two inches of water. Roughly chop and add half an onion, half a bell pepper, and 1-2 stalks celery. Bring to a boil, then give the pot a good shake and reduce to a simmer for an additional minute. Remove from heat. Pull meat from open shells and chop; discard unopened shells. Strain the stock and reserve.
Preparing the filling:
In another pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp; transfer to a lined plate to dry. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat and add the butter. Add the onion and potatoes and cook until tender. Then add the 3 tbsp. of flour and cook the roux, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of the reserved stock (or clam juice) and simmer for 15-20 minutes (until the potatoes are cooked). Add the cream, milk, and Worcestershire sauce and cook the mixture, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until it is thickened. Finally, add the chopped clams, crumbled bacon, parsley, and thyme. Finish with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.
Preheat the oven to 375. Divide the puff pastry in two. On a floured surface, roll each piece into a circle, 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 -1/4 inch thick. Drape the first circle across your rolling pin to lift and carefully lay it into your pie pan. Pour in the filling and brush the rim with egg wash. Drape the second circle across the top of the pie. Trim the excess with a knife; use whatever crimping method you like to press the layers together. Make a slit in the middle of the pie for steam to escape. Brush with egg wash and bake for 35 minutes. If the crust browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil. The juice will bubble through the slits when it is done.
Fourth-of-July Berry Pie
By Mylo Coffee Co.
Serve with a large stack of festive dead-president "napkins."
3 cups organic unbleached whole-wheat flour
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter
1/3 cup ice water
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh blackberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tbsp. butter, cubed
For best results, use a 9-by-9-by-2-inch (deep-dish) pie pan.
For the crust:
Place the flour, sugar, zest and salt in a large bowl. Use your hands to rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Make a hole in the center of the mixture, pour in some of the ice water, and gently mix and add water until the dough comes together.
Divide the pastry in half, wrap in plastic, and chill for 20-30 minutes.
For the pie:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the berries and toss to coat. On a floured surface, roll each piece of pastry into a circle, 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 -1/4 inch thick. Drape the first circle across your rolling pin to lift and carefully lay it into your pie pan. Spoon in the berry mixture and dot with cubed butter. Drape the second circle across the top of the pie. Trim the excess with a knife; use whatever crimping method you like to press the layers together. Make a slit in the middle of the pie for steam to escape. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes. The juice will bubble through the slits when it is done.
Chocolate Whiskey Pie
By Autumn Hall of Big Orange and Local Lime
You pick the whiskey. The three tablespoons used in this one would run you about six grand.
1 1/2 cups of chocolate graham cracker crumbs
5 tbsp. melted butter
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine crust ingredients and press into pie shell. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until crisp.
3/4 cup cream
1/4 cup whole milk
5 oz. dark chocolate 60 percent-72 percent cacao, finely chopped
5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate or milk chocolate, finely chopped
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve 1955
Combine cream and milk in a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until just barely bubbling around the edges. Add both chocolates to milk and stir until smooth. Set aside. Beat egg, egg yolk, flour, and whiskey. Slowly add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture while whisking briskly until well blended. Pour filling into crust and bake for 20-25 minutes. The edges should be set, but the middle of the pie should jiggle slightly. Cool at room temperature for 15 minutes then refrigerate for at least two hours.
Whiskey Whipped Cream:
1 tbsp. Glennfiddich JSR Reserve 1955
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
4 tbsp. powdered sugar
Using a hand or stand mixer, beat all three ingredients until soft peaks form. Spoon onto pie. Garnish with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings.