Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies [NOOK Book]


Legendary Recipes from Virginia's Queen of Pie Mrs. Rowe, known fondly as "the Pie Lady" by legions of loyal customers, was the quintessential purveyor of all-American comfort food. Today her family carries on this legacy at the original Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant and Bakery in Staunton, Virginia, as well as at the new country buffet. The restaurant's bustling take-out counter sells a staggering 100 handmade pies every day! With the pies being snapped up that quickly, it's no wonder that Mrs. Rowe urged her ...
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Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies

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Legendary Recipes from Virginia's Queen of Pie Mrs. Rowe, known fondly as "the Pie Lady" by legions of loyal customers, was the quintessential purveyor of all-American comfort food. Today her family carries on this legacy at the original Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant and Bakery in Staunton, Virginia, as well as at the new country buffet. The restaurant's bustling take-out counter sells a staggering 100 handmade pies every day! With the pies being snapped up that quickly, it's no wonder that Mrs. Rowe urged her customers to order dessert first. In Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies, recipes for Southern classics like Key Lime Pie and Pecan Fudge Pie sit alongside restaurant favorites like French Apple Pie and Original Coconut Cream Pie. Additional recipes gathered from family notebooks and recipe boxes include regional gems like Shoofly Pie and Lemon Chess Pie. With berries and custards and fudge--oh my!--plus a variety of delectable crusts and toppings, this mouthwatering collection offers a little slice of Southern hospitality that will satisfy every type of sweet tooth--and convince even city slickers to take the time to smell the Fresh Peach Pie.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Writer and poet Bryan follows up 2006's Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant Cookbook by zeroing in on the Virginia establishment's highly lauded desserts. Bryan's compilation of 65 recipes hits all the sweet spots, offering reliable standards like peach, blueberry, coconut cream and sweet potato pies, as well as caramel coconut, german chocolate and watermelon variations. Though most of the recipes are basic, achieving the perfect crust isn't; Bryan offers patient tutelage and step-by-step photos, but acknowledges that Mrs. Rowe's technique took years to master. Even experienced pie makers should pick up a trick or two; Virginia's Almost Impossible Coconut Pie, for instance, has no crust-the custard filling creates a firm outer layer when baked. Those looking to tweak their crust might want to consider cream cheese, which makes a tangier product than butter and flour alone. Bakers stymied by weeping meringues, meanwhile, will be comforted by the restaurant's "weepless" version, bolstered with salt and cornstarch. Seasoned pie pros and newbies will both find this ode to southern desserts a helpful and lasting resource.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781607741350
  • Publisher: Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony
  • Publication date: 6/1/2011
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 229,668
  • File size: 9 MB

Meet the Author

Mollie Cox Bryan is an award-winning writer, essayist, and columnist. She has written for GRIT magazine, Relish magazine, Taste of the South magazine, NPR's "Kitchen Window," the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Sun-Times, and parenting magazines across the country. The author of Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant Cookbook, she is also a family life columnist for the Daily News Leader in Staunton, Virginia. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Waynesboro, Virginia.

What was your first job?
I worked at a little country restaurant/truck stop called "Mary's" in Raccoon Township. I scooped ice cream and made donuts, which I loved because I could make the icing any color I wanted and decorate it creatively. Eventually I was fired for my inefficiency–I used too many nuts and sprinkles.
Do you eat your vegetables?
I am a vegetarian and can't think of a vegetable that I don't like.

Who would you cast as yourself in a movie of your life?
Myself–Kerri Russell
Mrs. Rowe–Maggie Gyllenhaal

Are you "six degrees of separation" away from anyone famous?
My grandfather's cousin was Jean Harlow.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I've always been a writer, but I have had some other ambitions, like dancing and acting. One time, when I was 14 or 15, the circus came to town and I decided I wanted to join as an acrobat. I even got the application, and filled it out, but because I was under age, I needed my mother's legal consent. Of course, that did not happen.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Read an Excerpt

When I bite into a slice of coconut cream pie at Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant and Bakery, in Staunton, Virginia, I know where I am. One taste tells me with extraordinary smooth and rich flavors that take me home--or what I'd like home to be--a place of warmth and comfort where mothers and grandmothers fawn over me with delicious temptations from the oven. "One more slice, honey. Everything will be all right." Another bite and I absolutely believe it. That is the magic and glory of pie. Pie takes you home even when you're sitting at a table in a restaurant that seats 250 and serves half a million meals a year. Even the waitresses buzzing around, the countless murmuring conversations, and the clanking of dishes and silverware don't detract from the ultimate pie experience. No food conjures images of home and hearth the way that pie does. Pie is center stage when you walk into Mrs. Rowe's Staunton eatery, one of the most successful family-owned restaurants in the state of Virginia, a family business since 1947. Glass cases brim with puffy meringues, some dotted generously with chocolate chips, some just nicely browned, enticing eaters to wonder what delicious secrets lie beneath the sugary mounds. Often passing glances turn into stares as the hostess attempts to get people seated. "What kind of pie is that?" one man wants to know. "Lemon meringue? Coconut Cream? Chocolate? Butterscotch?" Answer: all of the above. Pie. Some are born to make it; it's in the flick of their wrist, the intuitive touch in the tips of their fingers, and exacting instincts about how it should taste, look, smell, and even feel in the mouth. Mildred Rowe was one of those people, blessed with sensitive, practiced hands and an extraordinary palate. She gladly filled the role of "Pie Lady," a nickname her customers gave her. Her green eyes sparkled, her hands went to her hips, and a smile spread across her face. "If you want some of that blackberry pie, you'd better order it now." Knowing that the specialty, seasonal pies would go fast, Mildred advised her customers to order dessert before anything else--just one of her personal touches that made customers feel special. Of course, that it was good for business did not escape her. Mildred's extraordinary pies became legendary. Even as she earned the title of the undisputed "Queen of Pie" in the Shenandoah Valley, and maybe the state, she never took her role for granted. She was always seeking better recipes, better ingredients, and better financial success, balancing good food, reasonable prices, and staff management with the need to earn a living. Now that Mildred is gone, her family and staff carry on. They strive for balance and efficiency in a constantly fluctuating business environment. Now the balancing act includes holding true to Mildred's vision while meeting the growing demands of over half a million increasingly younger customers each year. Pie is one of the mainstays that has allowed the business to expand. Mildred once served slices of coconut cream, strawberry rhubarb, or chocolate pie to restaurant customers exclusively. Then, seeing a business opportunity, she began to sell whole pies to other local restaurants. At least four restaurants now buy whole pies from Mrs. Rowe's. Whole pies are also sold to locals on a regular basis, especially around the winter holidays. The homemade pies Mildred made famous remain the most popular dessert at her restaurant. Throughout much of the country, pie is passé, having given way to fancy desserts like mousse, crème brûlée, and the inevitable biscotti lining coffee shop counters. But at Mrs. Rowe's, in the heart of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, pie has never gone out of fashion. Maybe it's the way the valley is wedged between the Alleghenies and the Blue Ridge, but change takes its time here, where folks still make a date for pie and a plain cup of coffee. With its paneled walls, homey green-checked placemats and menus, Windsor chairs, and lacy curtains, it's the kind of establishment that provides the perfect backdrop for catching up with family and friends. And if customers are lucky, Tootie McLear, an employee of thirty-five years, will be perched behind the cash register to fill them in on the weather and the latest local news--or she'll just smile and look pretty. Mike DiGrassie, Mrs. Rowe's son and heir, and the general manager and owner of Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant and Bakery, moves around behind the counter, watching over the food as it comes out of the kitchen much the same way his mother did (except she sat on a stool). One minute he's at the register helping out, the next he's flying into the kitchen, and the next he's packing up a bag of Mrs. Rowe's delicious cookies to go. Mrs. Rowe's restaurant business has more than doubled in the years since her death. Mike, his wife Mary Lou, and their son Aaron created M & M Management, which is the umbrella organization for all of their interests. Not only does Mike manage two restaurants--the newer one is Mrs. Rowe's Country Buffet in Mount Crawford--he has also expanded the business to include three cafeterias at local businesses and a catering company. Mary Lou, who manages the burgeoning catering arm, says its most requested desserts are the mini-pies. Mike, Mary Lou, and Aaron are passionate about the family business and about keeping up the quality of the food, especially the pie--mini or not. Pie is just as popular at Mrs. Rowe's Country Buffet, located in the middle of Virginia's Mennonite community, as it is at Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant and Bakery. The pies stand on their own island, across from the long buffet tables of sweet sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, lima beans, fried chicken, and other American fare. The pies offer a cascade of color, from the deep brown of chocolate to the light tan of peanut butter, and from the golden hues of custards and lemon pies to the red, purple, and yellow shades of fruit-filled pies with juices spilling out the side. Already sliced, these pies sinfully lure innocent passersby. "We have customers who eat three or four slices of pie every time they come in," says Susan Simmons, once the kitchen manager at the buffet, who now works for the catering branch. "It's incredible, but true." Mrs. Rowe's Country Buffet is located off Interstate 81, twenty miles north of the Staunton restaurant. Aaron DiGrassie, Mike's son and Mildred's grandson, is the general manager. A chef by training, he stays in the kitchen, either overseeing the cooking and baking or doing it himself. His wife, Nicole, a new mother of the DiGrassies' only grandchild, is the business manager. At Mrs. Rowe's Country Buffet, travelers get a real slice of Shenandoah Valley life alongside their slice of pie. While the restaurant is popular with locals who live contemporary lives, it is also a favorite with some Old Order Mennonites. The ladies wear white prayer caps and modest, simple dresses. The men also wear plain outfits. Some are family farmers. Some drive automobiles, while others depend on a horse and buggy. They all enjoy eating pie at Mrs. Rowe's Country Buffet. They feel welcome in the down-home country atmosphere, where cookie jars line the walls and silk flowers adorn every table. This book includes several Mennonite pies, most notably the shoofly pie, which reflects the Pennsylvania German influence in Virginia. The Mennonites are keepers of Pennsylvania German foodways because of their general shunning of modern conveniences like electricity and therefore refrigerators. Today, Old Order Mennonites, the strictest group within the religion, still have no electricity. As a result, the recipes have changed little over the years since the mid-1700s, when the Shenandoah Valley's Mennonite population, masters of this pie, came down from Pennsylvania to Virginia, where land was cheaper and more plentiful. Shoofly pie became a traditional treat in this part of the South, along with a few other pies, including raisin and sour cream and raisin. This book also includes a regional recipe that might surprise some readers: the Old-Fashioned Monterey Maple Syrup Pie. Although most people think of states like Vermont when they think of maple syrup, Virginia has its own sweet stock of it, especially in the "Little Switzerland" of Monterey, in Highland County. Southerners have been tapping maple trees for generations--and often getting a head start on their Northern neighbors. They can start tapping in January or February, whereas Northern tappers must wait until March. Of course, this book also contains many of the signature pies of Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant and Bakery, including a few classics that first appeared in Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant Cookbook: A Lifetime of Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley. And finally, this book features some "attic classics"--recipes discovered in hand-scribbled notebooks and dusty recipe boxes, published for the first time in these pages. Bertha, Mildred's sister, who chronicled the family recipes, had a notebook that was especially fruitful. Willard Rowe, Mildred's second husband, also kept a small black notebook full of recipes and restaurant management notes, which yielded recipes including his namesake Willard's Chocolate Pie. Defining a vast and diverse region by its pie was a daunting task. I am merely a writer intrigued with Southern food and its stories. I searched and searched for a definition of "Southern" pie that spoke to me and rang true in my heart. Southern cook, baker, and cookbook author extraordinaire, Damon Lee Fowler, penned a definition of Southern baking in New Southern Baking: Classic Flavors for Today's Cook. I think it's a perfect description of "Southern" pie: "Its strength and beauty, like so much of the South's rich jazz, blues, country, and gospel music traditions, lies in its blending." Hallelujah, and please pass me another slice.  Pie Tips from Mrs. Rowe's Bakers and Our Recipe Tester, Kate •   For pies with a top crust, use an egg wash to create a nice golden brown hue. •  If you're going to fill a pie shell with a cooked filling, prick the crust with a fork to keep it from bulging up in the middle. This will help keep the shell level in the bottom and on the sides. •   Fruit pies have a tendency to run over, so always place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet for baking. It's a good idea to do this for all pies--just in case. •   Chill all rolled dough; the resting time lets the gluten relax. Cold dough is less likely to shrink as it bakes. The dough will hold its shape, then the fat melts and produces steam pockets, which make it flaky. So, cold dough + hot oven = flaky, nonshrinking crust. •   Let frozen pies stand at room temperature for five minutes before cutting. •   Custard fillings continue to cook when the pie is taken out of the oven, so don't overdo it. •   Pies are usually best served at room temperature (except for frozen and cold pies, of course). You can refrigerate them to preserve them longer, but remove them from the refrigerator about an hour before mealtime to create a more fresh-baked quality. •   To keep the crust from shrinking or bubbling during prebaking or parbaking, place a sheet of parchment on the pie crust and weight it down with dry beans or pie weights. •   The amount of liquid needed in a pie crust can depend on the weather. On a dry day you need more, on a wet day you need less. So try putting in one-half to two-thirds of the total amount of liquid, then see where the dough is and add more liquid as needed in tiny increments.  Mrs. Rowe's Baking Tips •   Always read the recipe through first, checking to see if you have all of the ingredients. Assemble the ingredients and utensils. •   Margarine may be substituted for butter, but it's no substitute for flavor.  •   Eggs give more volume when used at room temperature. Large eggs weigh about 2 ounces. If small eggs are used when large eggs are called for, the batter won't be the right consistency. Always use large eggs for the recipes in this book. When the recipe calls for separating eggs, the whites should be beaten until very stiff before folding them into the batter; then fold them in gently, just until there are no remaining patches of white. •   To measure dry ingredients, heap the ingredient in the cup or spoon, then level with the back of a knife. When measuring flour, don't shake the cup, as this can pack in the flour and add as much as an extra tablespoon or two of flour. •   Preheat the oven and always place pans in the center of the oven, on the center rack.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  •  viii
Introduction  •  1
Chapter 1  •  14
Crusts and Toppings
17  Plain Pie Pastry 
19  Vinegar Pie Crust
20  Cream Cheese Crust
21  Chocolate Cookie Crust 
22  Gingersnap Crust 
23  Graham Cracker Crust
24  Mrs. Rowe's Meringue 
25  Weepless Meringue
26  Sweetened Whipped Cream
27  Caramel Sauce 
28  Chocolate Sauce 
Chapter 2  •  29
Fruit, Berry, and Nut Pies
31  Apple-Dapple Pie
33  French Apple Pie
35  Caramel Apple Nut Pie
36  Crabapple Pie
37  Granny Smith Apple Pie
38  Fresh Peach Pie
40  Mrs. Brown's Grape Pie
41  Damson Plum Pie
42  Blueberry Pie
43  Strawberry Pie
45  Blackberry Pie
46  Gooseberry Pie
47  Simple Cherry Pie
48  Spicy Pumpkin Pie
49  Sweet Potato Pie
50  Butternut Squash Pie
52  Mrs. Brown's Winter Squash Pie
53  Chestnut Pie
55  Hickory Nut Pie
56  Mincemeat Pie 
58  Green Tomato Mincemeat Pie
Chapter 3  •  60
Cream and Custard Pies
63  Virginia's Almost Impossible Coconut Pie
64  Original Coconut Cream Pie
66  Coconut Custard Pie
67  White Christmas Pie
68  Susan's Banana Cream Pie
70  Classic Banana Cream Pie
71  Sour Cream and Raisin Pie
72  Strawberry Sour Cream Pie
73  Never-Fail Lemon Pie
75  Key Lime (or Not) Pie
76  Chocolate Chess Pie
77  Tar Heel Pie
79  German Chocolate Pie
80  Willard's Chocolate Pie
81  Chocolate Meringue Pie
82  Smoothest Ever Peanut Butter Pie
83  Peanut Butter Custard Pie
84  Cinnamon Sugar Pie
Chapter 4  •  85
Frozen and Icebox Pies
89  Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri Pie
90  Frozen Strawberry Margarita Pie
91  Watermelon Pie
92  Peanut Pie
93  Mudd Pie 
94  Grasshopper Pie
96  Layered Ice Cream Pie
98  Caramel Coconut Pie 
99  Make-Your-Own-Flavor Chiffon Pie
Chapter 5  •  100
Pies for the Cupboard
102  Brown Sugar Pie
103  Brown Sugar Pie from the Attic
105  Shoofly Pie
107  Brownie Pie
108  Pecan Fudge Pie
109  Raisin Pie
110  Lemon Chess Pie
112  Old-Fashioned Monterey Maple Syrup Pie

Index  •  113

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Beautiful photos and captions makes you hungry for pie!

    I am a dessert junkie and collect cookbooks, especially cookie and dessert cookbooks. Among the favorites in my collections are "comfort food", "soul food" and anything "Southern". Yes I am a GRIT (girl raised in the south) and we love our food, I came across this at the B&N store and the photos made me want to run home and make every pie. While the results are quite delicious I found some of the recipes may be tedious and complicated for the beginner cook/baker. I consider myself an experienced cook and like to fancy myself a semi-pro baker (it is my passion), but I had some minor difficulty understanding some of the instructions and found myself reading and rereading to make sense of a few of the receipes. The outcome was always beautiful and delicious, but I had to rely on my experience and knowledge to achieve these results. For this reason I am only giving 4 stars instead of 5, I do understand that the receipes were taken from Mrs. Rowe's written notes and since she herself was an expert cook/baker she did not have to rely on a full receipe in order to produce the delicious pies that people would drive great distances to eat at her restaurants. Those pies are still being produced due to the knowledge she handed to her family. The receipes for "Banana Cream Pie" and "German Chocolate Pie" are worth buying the book. I made the banana cream at Thanksgiving for my niece who is a banana pudding fanatic. She gave it two thumbs up and would share it only with me (since I made it) and only gave me a small sliver of a slice at that!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2012

    Mrs. Rowe's pies are super popular for a reason. If you want to

    Mrs. Rowe's pies are super popular for a reason. If you want to make great southern pies with yummy flaky crust this book's a keeper. As an inexperienced baker, I found the recipes that I've tried so far to be idiot-proof.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2010



    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    It's OK.

    The recipes seem great and I enjoyed the little side notes and quotes but there are very few pictures. I am a very visual person and I was disappointed by the lack of photographs. I am five times more likely to try a recipe that has a picture.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    great book!

    It looks wonderful - have not tried any of the recipes yet.
    We have eaten her pies over the years - always delicious.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012


    I am a white she wolf with black paws and gray-green-blue (combanation of colors) eyes. I have a energetic atitude but am very respectful. I would love to have pups if Sage alows it too.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 21, 2011

    Nice collection of pie recipes - recommended

    This contains a varied selection of pie recipes, some with unusual ingredients and/or techniques. I haven't actually tried any of the recipes, but I plan to over the holidays.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    Yummmmm i guess

    Im a billion aire and i deserve better books than this....

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted May 20, 2010

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    Posted June 6, 2011

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    Posted January 17, 2010

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