Fame Bites - Michelle Branch
April 7th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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Fame Bites goes inside the belly of the entertainment beast. We're dishing out where the celebrities are eating, what they're eating and who they're eating with.

Michelle Branch first burst onto the music scene in 2001 at the ripe age of 18. Three hits - "Everywhere," "All You Wanted" and "Goodbye to You" - and a year later, Branch found herself accepting a Grammy Award with Carlos Santana for their single "The Game of Love."

Now at 27, Branch is back in the studio working on an album, which will be released by Warner Brothers Records in 2011 - but music isn't the only thing she's making. She's also making some sweet, sweet pie.

Who taught you to love food?
"My mom mostly. She is a fantastic cook and we were really spoiled growing up because if we didn’t like anything that she made for dinner, she would go, 'OK, then what would you like instead?' and make it for us.

She is part Dutch and Indonesian, so we had really interesting food growing up. I remember being one of the first of our friends to try Indian food and Thai food among my friends."

How are you teaching your daughter to love food?
"Fortunately, she is a fantastic eater. She loves pretty much everything, and that was something I wanted to approach early on. I didn’t want her to just eat chicken fingers and hot dogs. At a really young age, we never gave her other options. We never cooked children specific meals.

She is more adventurous than I am! She eats oysters and sea urchin and octopus. She is impressing her friends when she eats weird stuff. We were out at one of our favorite restaurants in Nashville - City House - and a friend was over at the other table and sent us a pig heart since he knew I wouldn’t eat it. I turn around and my daughter is chewing on it saying it's delicious and that it tastes just like steak. I’m hoping that’ll continue.

We have a beautiful vegetable garden in our backyard and pet chickens. We want to teach our daughter where food comes from - and if you can go run out into the garden and pick spinach and make a salad, she enjoys it so much more."

What is your signature dish to make?
"My daughter’s favorite dish: spaghetti with clams. I don’t make it that often, but if she’s asking for me to make something, she is asking for me to make that. There is a really fantastic Tyler Florence recipe that is a one pot thing.

I get some fresh clams from Whole Foods and I put it in a roasting pan with pancetta and olive oil and red chili flakes, and you throw it into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes and they open up. Then, you put cherry tomatoes and basil. I was scared at first when she asked me to cook clams because it is daunting, but if you find reliable place to buy seafood, it is much easier."

What is one thing you cannot go a day without eating or drinking?
"I have to go a day without drinking it, but red wine. I love it and have to watch out so I don’t become a wino.

On the road, I love to have a glass of wine before I go on-stage. It calms the nerves if you have any - and warms up my chords. My favorite is not particularly fancy, which is even better.

There is a Pinot Noir, when I was first of age to drink, that I called my dad and said I’m sending you some wine that I think you’ll like, it's not expensive but it's hard to find. He went to the mail and got it and started laughing and said you are my daughter.

I sent him a Robert Stemmler Pinot Noir. He went on vacation with his friend once and went to the vineyard. He bought a case there and had been trying to find more of it since."

Who is your dream dinner date?
"I’m a chef groupie and I love being around food people, and I’ve come to realize most chefs are more rock and roll than rock stars are. I’m a really geeky fan of Anthony Bourdain. I would love to have him and his wife, whom I follow on Twitter - and the pastry chef Dorie Greenspan. I would want them, and them to cook for me. It would be too nerve-wracking!"

What was the last meal that made you cry?
"I don’t want to sound conceited because I made it, but when we had it we were like we are going to cry it's so good. I made a pineapple brown sugar pie.  I’m working on opening up my own pie shop. I don’t want to give too much away but hopefully it’ll be open by the end of the year.

Pie is so classic and evokes all these different memories of growing up and distinct opinions. It’s a classic America dessert. It will be in Los Angeles. Hopefully, if I’m not too busy on tour, I’ll be baking in the back! I love food as just as much as music and if my career in music didn’t work out, I probably would’ve gone to culinary school to learn all about pastries.

...In my opinion, pie is one of the absolute best things on earth. My new favorite recipe is for a deliciously luscious brown sugar pineapple pie. Pineapple upside-down cake is one of my favorite desserts. It occurred to me recently that nobody makes pineapple pie, so I got the idea to try and marry my two favorites. I especially love the topping (or is it the bottom?) of pineapple upside-down cake.

It's gooey, buttery, brown sugar perfection and that's the flavor I wanted most out of my pie. The first time I made this, my family could barely wait until it cooled because the whole kitchen smelled like butter and brown sugar. It's best to let this pie cool at least and hour before serving. When it's still slightly warm, I recommend putting a scoop of vanilla or coconut ice cream on top to go along with it. Heaven!"

Brown Sugar Pineapple Pie
Filling

3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) of unsalted butter (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon spiced rum or rum extract (optional)
1 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple (in its own juice)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

With an electric or stand mixer, beat eggs until they are light and fluffy. Add both brown and regular sugar and mix.

Add the flour, corn syrup, butter and extracts one by one, stirring to mix in between each addition.

Add the pineapple and stir by hand with a spoon or a spatula.

Pour filling into prepared pie crust. Place in oven for 40 minutes.

At 40 minutes, carefully sprinkle the topping onto the pie and return to oven for 20-30 more minutes until the crust is golden brown. Let cool for 1 hour before serving.

Pastry for 9-inch pie

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled
2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons ice water

Pulse first three ingredients in a food processor three or four times or until combined.

Add butter and pulse five or six times or until crumbly. With processor running, gradually add water 1 tablespoon at a time and process until dough forms a ball and leaves sides of bowl, adding more water if necessary. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Roll pastry to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Place in a buttered 9-inch pie plate; trim off excess pastry along edges. Fold edges under and crimp.

Crumb topping

1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup shredded coconut
10 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor three or four times or just until crumbly.

Devna Shukla is an Associate Producer for CNN's AC360°.

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Filed under: Baked Goods • Bite • Columns • Fame Bites • Make • Pie • Recipes


soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Sara

    Didn't even know pineapple pie existed until a couple years ago when someone made it for me in Alabama . It was amazing . It's now a must for one of our Thanksgiving pies. Can't wait to try this recipe . But here is the simpler one I was learned from my Southern friend and it was amazing and easy.

    Pineapple pie

    Make a crust (oil, flour, salt) unbaked in shell .
    (Or just buy a pre-made refrigerated shell from the grocery store)

    Mix:
    1 large can of crushed or tidbit pineapple , drained .
    1-3 teaspoons real vanilla
    3 eggs
    1 cup sugar
    1 stick (or one half stick?) melted butter
    Stir up .
    Pour in crust . Bake 350 for 45 min

    July 22, 2014 at 9:30 am |
  2. squidbilliesepisodes

    Great post, do you mind if I re-blog this (with full attribution and linking)? I really want to share it with my readers, they would find it very useful.

    http://watchsquidbillies.com

    July 29, 2011 at 5:59 am |
  3. Mike

    Interesting site, I am glad I stumbled upon your Brown Sugar Pineapple Pie recipe, That is going to be for desert tonight. Van't wait.
    -----
    Thanks and Regards
    Mike

    blenders and food processors

    April 11, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  4. Derek

    Just tried her recipe tonight and gotta say it's pretty good. Definitely going to use the pastry again for my other pies.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:24 am |
  5. Sarah

    I am not sure about some of the comments on top. What do people have against this woman? She's talented, beautiful, down to earth and a wonderful mother. I think you would have to get to know some one well before insulting them. I am so excite about her tour this summer with the Goo Goo Dolls. Already got my tickets for her show at Ravinia! :)

    April 9, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  6. Jdizz

    Holy crap. She looks like shit compared to just a few years ago. What happened?

    April 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • WTH

      What the hell are you talking about... She got hotter with age.. she was all so cute and adorable before... Now she is cute and adorable and freaking GORGEOUS. And she cooks!!! She's freaking awesome!

      April 9, 2011 at 8:08 am |
  7. mouse

    Oh my! whats happening?

    April 8, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  8. Michael Benya

    all right let's behave. Michelle, love your music and loved this sharing of you we just read!

    April 7, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  9. squidbillies

    Anyone who is passionate about food, music and wine is OK in my book...

    April 7, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  10. Jessica White-Bryand

    Michelle, thank you so much for sharing your love of food and meat with us! Thank you also for teaching your daughter where food comes from other than the grocery store! American Animal Agriculture is under attack by the Animal Rights groups such as HSUS and I applaud you for not being afraid to be public about what you eat!

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/VoteNoOnPropB/111017052290808

    April 7, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  11. Quackles

    pie pie pie pie! there is a pie in my crotch! it's still warm!

    April 7, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Jdizz

      Word.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  12. louis

    I am really having trouble trying to relate michelle branch to cooking the same way I cannot connect Gwenyth Paltrow to cooking.

    April 7, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  13. Wzrd1

    I prefer my clam sauce without the tomatoes or pancetta. I DO a simpler basil, olive oil, chili pepper, garlic sliced for a different textured flavor and reduced white wine. Then, add the clams with their juices.
    You can salt yours if you want, but we're doing the low salt thing here because of blood pressure issues.
    My red pasta sauce has been declared its own food group. OK, not quite, but it's been a hit on three continents.
    My lentil soup is also popular and I refuse to use vinegar that many recipes use, but use the spice sumac instead.

    April 7, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Suzanne

      Okay, Wzrd1....sounds like I am need of your lentil soup recipe, but what the heck is sumac and where do you get it?

      April 7, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  14. Chloé

    No wonder she wasn't around for so long. Miss her music.

    April 7, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
  15. Will

    Michelle who?

    April 7, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Debbie Downer

      Branch

      April 7, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • Michael J.

      You're a moron.

      April 7, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
    • Won't

      You got the years old line wrong, kid. It's "Who's Michelle Branch?"

      April 7, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Tyrese Jackson

      Will you big duma$$

      April 7, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Jerv@Will

      Will who? Here, have a nice warm mug of stfu cappuccino. On second thought, why waste a good mug of cappuccino on an epic p rick. Just stfu.

      "Carlos Santana for their single "The Game of Love." That song rocks! When I get home tonight I'm going to listen to that song and put it on repeat and get really drunk. FU Will.

      April 8, 2011 at 7:56 am |
  16. TawnyMarie

    I miss her music! Looking forward to more of her music. Enjoy her Facebook Updates :)

    April 7, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
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