Chess! Now, I know what you are thinking; when did this blog get so nerdy? Don’t worry, I still have no idea how to play the game, and this post is not going to teach you (us).
Instead I want to bring to your attention that the late, great Marcel Duchamp would have been 128 years old yesterday, and not only that, but the dude loved chess. How much did he love chess, you ask? Marcel Duchamp basically retired from making art in 1923 to devote his time to perfecting his game and playing in professional tournaments. In fact, he was such a skilled player that he participated in the Chess Olympiads (nerd alert!) a few times, as a member of the French National Team.
Duchamp’s love of chess led him to design two chess boards, the first, in 1920, was a more traditional board, and the second, designed in the early 1940s, which was designed to be a more portable, pocket-set.
Chess was also a subject that Duchamp brought up in his art (pre-retirement), and can be seen as a central and fairly obvious subject in The Chess Game (painted in 1910) and Portrait of Chess Players (painted in 1911). What a difference a year made in his style; while The Chess Game is brightly colored and energetic, Portrait of Chess Players shows the influence of Cubism in his work. The color palette is limited and muted in earth tones, and the figures are fragmented and angular. Despite this, Duchamp wasn’t fully committed to Cubism – his figures are in constant motion, actively engaging with each other as they hunch close together over a chessboard.
Much like Duchamp’s unexpected obsession with chess, this pie has a surprise flavor addition: lemongrass. Adding lemongrass to the coconut takes this pie to another level – I’m thrilled with how it turned out! The coconut milk and eggs provide the richness we expect from this traditional Southern pie, yet I can’t help but think that the lemongrass adds a certain lightness to each bite, which makes me feel a tiny bit better about indulging in it 2 ½ weeks before my wedding!
Speaking of running down the aisle (for those of you reading along this spring/summer as I’ve worked towards my goal of logging 200 miles before my wedding) I am currently at 173 miles with 27 more miles to go before August 15th. Wish me luck! 🙂
Coconut Lemongrass Chess Pie
Butter Crust (for a single-crust pie):
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup whole wheat flour
pinch of salt
2 teaspoon sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
small bowl of ice water + a healthy swig of apple cider vinegar
4 eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 stalk lemongrass
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon white vinegar
½ cup unsweetened coconut, toasted
Make the crust the night before:
Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl of a large food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is made up of pea-sized pieces of butter. Add 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture at a time (I needed 3 total), continuing to pulse with the food processor until incorporated. Stop only once the mixture resembles a dough you can work with. If you add too much water, don’t panic, just add another tablespoon or two of flour.
Flatten the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill overnight.
The next day, lightly flour your work surface as well as your rolling pin, and slowly roll the dough out, starting from the center, until you have a 12-13 inch circle. Carefully transfer the crust to your pie plate, gently pressing into place, and leaving about an inch of overhang. Trim and shape your crust, and then poke a few holes throughout with a fork. Let chill while you get your filling ready.
To make the filling:
Remove the tough outer layer of the lemongrass stalk, and finely chop the bottom 4 inches. Place in the bowl of your food processor with the sugar, and pulse until combined. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, vanilla extract and melted butter. Add in the lemongrass sugar, cornmeal, flour and vinegar. Slowly pour the filling into your chilled crust. Top with toasted coconut and bake at 350°F for 50 minutes, or until the pie filling has set and the top is golden brown. Let cool for at least an hour and then dig in!