Paul Saginaw Takes Las Vegas at the Circa Casino and Hotel

We may be in Las Vegas, but Saginaw’s Delicatessen located in the posh and very hip 1.25- million-square-foot, $1 billion Circa Casino & Hotel in the trending upwards historic Las Vegas district called the Fremont Street Experience, certainly has a Michigan spirit to it all. Paul Saginaw, who dropped out of graduate school and co-founded Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor almost 40 years ago, helping to grow the little Jewish delicatessen into a business that brings in over $45 million a year and has upwards to 600 employees.

Now at an age when many people are planning on retiring, Saginaw has rented a condo that’s just an eight-minute walk away. That way he can put in 12 to 18 hour days at his deli which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“My friends think I’m insane,” Saginaw tells me over a lunch the includes many of the sandwiches recognizable by those who have eaten at Zingerman’s Deli—such as their corned beef topped Swiss Emmental cheese, coleslaw & Russian dressing on Jewish rye bread, kreplach—the house made chicken broth with a brisket-filled dumpling, latkes, and knishes.

But despite the hours, Saginaw says that owning a place in Vegas is exactly where he wants to be.

Saginaw is a storyteller, often breaking into asides. Talking about growing up in the Detroit area, he says his sisters taught him to dance because he wasn’t handsome. That couples with being able to make women laugh was how he snagged his wife Lori Saginaw decades ago.

I’m torn, wanting to write everything down which is, of courses, why I’m here, but also nibble on the food that’s spread out on the table in front of us. Not exactly sophisticated of me, was it?

But here’s the gist of how our meeting went.

As I take a bite out of Ben Sherman’s Corned Beef & Pastrami, the  house-made Russian dressing drips on my notebook. I’m torn between whether to try to clean it up with a napkin, eat more of the sandwich, or take notes as Saginaw tells me about how as kid, he ground-up chicken livers for his Grandmother Sherman as she prepared Friday Shabbat dinner. That quickly leads him talk about making gribenes from schmalz (chicken fat)—a necessary if complicated step to create what he describes as the most sublime chopped liver dish ever. 

He recites the entire recipe for his grandmother’s or as its listed on the menu Bubbe’s chopped liver, but by now I’m too busy eating a matzoh ball. Talking about Grandma Sherman leads us next to Saginaw’s great uncle Charles “Chickie” Sherman, the number one Detroit bookie who was first arrested in 1925 and then added at least another 64 to the score before the big bust at Detroit’s Anchor Bar in 1971. That’s when two guys playing pool all of a sudden jumped over the bar and announced, “this is a raid.”  

Chickie and 151 other people including about 15 policemen were arrested. Saginaw tells me he read the transcripts of the wiretaps the Feds made before the raid which ran thousands of pages. But Chickie’s business problems didn’t hurt the bookie’s popularity. When he died three years later, his funeral at the Ira Kaufman Funeral Chapel in Southfield, Michigan set the all-time record for attendance.

As an aside, those who want to take a stroll through Detroit’s mob days, the Anchor Bar is still in business.

Uncle Chickie is a big part of why Saginaw, who co-founded the very famous Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor with Ari Weinzweig back in 1982, is in Vegas.  He’s always wanted to be here since first coming when young and hearing  Chickie ask for chips and the pit boss ordering five big ones be sent over.

Indeed, we may be in Vegas, but really—as I mentioned earlier–there’s a lot of Detroit here as well. Derek Stevens, who owns the Circa, used to eat at Zingerman’s when he was a student at University of Michigan. When he emailed and asked Saginaw to open up a place at his new casino, what could Saginaw do but say yes.  There are other East Michigan restaurants at Circa and as well as Stevens’ The D Las Vegas also part of the Fremont Experience as well including Andiamo Steak House, a high end Italian-inspired restaurant and the family owned American Coney Island. Owners Chris Sotiropoulos and Grace Keros also started up their first new concept Victory Burger & Wings Co in over one hundred years at Circa. The restaurant overlooks Circa’s sportsbook – the world’s largest, in fact.

 As if Saginaw isn’t busy enough, he and partner Steve Mangigian also developed Jack Pots for Circa, a contemporary coffee stand serving their only-at-Circa coffee blend.

Honoring the original Detroit Tiger Stadium in Corktown where Stevens spent a lot of his youth, Circa’s Overhang Bar is located on the top floor of the Sportsbook, which by the way is the largest in the world. It was created to look like one of his favorite overlooks at the sports venue.

 There’s also, though this has nothing to do with Stevens’s hometown of Detroit except that it’s every Michigan sports fans’ dream, a three-story, high-definition 78 million megapixel television screen. Don’t even think about buying one, because it cost approximately $20 million.

All in all—Stevens has brought Michigan to the desert.

“This has been on my bucket list forever,” says Saginaw who says he had a fascination with downtown Las Vegas versus the stretch of casinos on Las Vegas Avenue further south called the Las Vegas Strip.

But it’s not only restaurants that migrated out here. Saginaw brought along a lot of Zingerman’s menu items including the corned beef made exclusively for them by Sy Ginsberg at United Meat & Deli in Detroit.

According to Zingerman’s blog, when they first opened, “Sy delivered our corned beef out of the back of his Volkswagen. Then he’d stick around the deli for a few hours during the lunch rush to help out on the sandwich line. Paul sometimes introduces Sy as ‘the man who made the first corned beef sandwich at Zingerman’s.’”

As for the bread, well, it seems that though we’re still in U.S., there’s enough of a difference between the water and the climate that Saginaw worked for several years with Carlos Pereira, a well-known Vegas baker to perfect the rye bread so it tastes like what you get at the Ann Arbor deli.  Cheeses come from  Zingerman’s Creamery and sweets from Zingerman’s Candy in Ann Arbor along with other items made by their eleven community-based businesses.

The décor at Saginaw’s Delicatessen also reflects Detroit. An entire wall—a very large one—has blown up photos for the family including Great Uncle Chickie, who standing with his wife, doesn’t look like a mobbed up bookie but rather just an ordinary guy. Lori Saginaw was also at the deli the day I was there. She works with her husband and comes out to Vegas regularly. 

“They branded me,” says Saginaw about the big stature of him by the deli’s entrance. Indeed, Saginaw’s name has become so connected with Zingerman’s quality foods, that drawings of his trousers with suspenders, jaunty hat, and black glasses are used in ads. But while Saginaw and Zingerman’s always had a type of hippie-ish ambience going on, there’s a lot of glitz at the new delicatessen in keeping with Circa itself whose tag line is “The Conduit Between the Las Vegas of the Past and the Las Vegas of tomorrow.” 

As for Saginaw—well, he describes it as “a dream come true.”

Some recipes to try from Zingerman’s.

Zingerman’s Curried Chicken Salad

  • 4 cups roasted turkey, diced and packed
  • ¾ cup roasted cashews, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ½ medium red onion, diced small
  • ½ bunch scallions, sliced
  • ¾ cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Épices de Cru Trinidad curry blend
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until well combined.

Serve the turkey salad on a bed of greens or your favorite Zingerman’s bread. To do it up Zingerman’s Deli style, place a couple generous scoops of curried turkey salad topped with microgreens between two slices of toasted Zingerman’s Bakehouse pecan raisin bread.

Bea’s Molasses Cookies

  • 2 1/3 cups Zingerman’s Bakehouse All Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 3/4 cups butter
  • 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup molasses

Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice

Cream butter and sugars. Beat in egg and vanilla. Then molasses.

In thirds, add dry ingredients to wet, mixing between additions. Wrap in plastic, chill 30 minutes up to overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat an oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll 2″ balls of dough, roll in sugar. Place on baking sheets 2-3″ apart, flatten slightly with fingers.

Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on racks.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sprinkle the corned beef with a little water, wrap it tightly in aluminum foil and steam it in the oven.

Meanwhile, put the whole loaf of rye bread (unwrapped) into the oven. Bake the bread until the crust is very crunchy, about 15 minutes. Set the bread on the counter and let it cool for about 5 minutes.

When the rye bread is cool enough to handle place it on a cutting board. Hold the bread knife at a 45-degree angle and cut 12 slices.

Take the corned beef out of the oven and unwrap it. Spread each slice of bread with Russian dressing. Layer half of the slices with corned beef, sauerkraut and slices of Swiss cheese, then top the sandwiches with the remaining slices of bread (dressing-side down).

Heat 2 large heavy skillets over medium heat. Brush the bread with butter. Put the sandwiches in the pans and weight them with a lid or heat proof bowl topped with something heavy. Cook until the first sides are crisp and golden about 7 minutes then flip the sandwiches. Cook until the second sides are also well toasted, and the cheese is melted. Lift the sandwiches onto a cutting board. Cut each in half diagonally and serve.

Russian Dressing

Yield: 2 cups

  • 3/4 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 to 3 tablespoons chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons chopped curly parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced Spanish onion
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced dill pickle
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine the mayonnaise, chili sauce, sour cream, parsley, onion, pickle, lemon juice, horseradish and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl and mix well.

USA Today: Michigan’s Best Coney Dogs!

Before I was asked by USA’s 10Best team to suggest the 20 best places for Coney Dogs in the state of Michigan, I had thought Coney dog toppings were made with a mixture of ground beef, some type of tomato base and a bunch of spices and herbs.

Virginia Coney Island
Jackson, MI

I also knew, despite the name Coney, they didn’t originate at Coney Island Amusement Park in Brooklyn, New York but instead in Detroit having first shown up on Michigan menus in the early 1900s. Indeed, many of the most famous Coney dog places including Virginia Coney Island in Jackson which opened in 1914, Muskegon’s G&L Chili Dogs (1926), Coney Island Kalamazoo (1915) and Detroit’s American Coney Island (1917) and Lafayette Coney Island (1917) date back a century ago.  I also had a vague knowledge that the originators of the Coney Island-style hot dog were Greek immigrants.

What I didn’t know is that the sauce (that’s what they call the Coney Island topping) often contains ground beef hearts and indeed, a large portion of beef hearts sold for human consumption in Michigan go for Coneys. I guess with all the other ingredients, the beef hearts aren’t that noticeable.

My friend Susan Pollock, who like me is a food and travel writer, was also asked to make suggestions. It wasn’t the first time we’d been asked by USA10Best. In 2017 they asked us, along with a few other writers, to make suggestions for Michigan’s Best Destinations. Once we make suggestions, then they’re put up for an online vote reader who get to vote for their favorites.

The 10Best from number one to ten are as follows:

  1. Virginia Coney Island – Jackson
  2. Bobaloon’s Cafe – Escanaba
  3. Mussell Beach Drive In – Bay City
  4. Old Town Drive In – Saginaw
  5. One Stop Coney Shop – Grand Rapids
  6. Dog n’ Suds – Muskegon & Montague
  7. G&L Chili Dogs – Muskegon
  8. Lafayette Coney Island – Detroit
  9. Johnny Dogs – Munising
  10. Grand Coney Diner – Grand Rapids

        I thought it would be fun to include a few recipes of the winning types of Coney dogs. Surprisingly, for a dish this simple, there are a myriad of recipes some with ground beef heart. Even in the ones that call for beef heart, ground beef can be substituted

Coney Dogs for Thanksgiving

Dog N’ Suds Coney Dog

 I pound ground beef

2 tablespoons ground mustard

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

⁄1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 small onion, chopped

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon water

¼ teaspoon celery seed

ketchup, as needed

In a salted skillet, brown ground beef with onion over medium heat, breaking up meat with a fork to crumble it fine.

Drain off fat. Add remaining ingredients, except catsup.

Mix well, then add enough catsup to keep mixture loose.

Simmer, partially covered, 1 hour, adding catsup as needed.

Detroit-Style Coney Island Hot Dog

For the Coney Sauce:

1 pound ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

2 cups water

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard

1 tablespoon dried onion flakes

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon celery seed

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

For each hot dog:

1 hot dog bun, warmed

1 natural-casing beef and pork hot dog, grilled or boiled

Squeeze of yellow mustard

2 tablespoons white onion, diced

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef. Use a potato masher to break beef up into the smallest chunks possible. Halfway through cooking, add onions, and cook until onions begin to turn translucent. Add garlic, stir to combine, and cook for an additional minute.

Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, or until sauce thickens. If sauce seems too “chunky,” transfer to a food processor and pulse in short one second bursts until chili reaches desired consistency.

To serve, place a cooked hot dog on top of a steamed or heated bun. Ladle with a big coop of chili, and finish with yellow mustard and chopped onions.

Makes:12 Coney Dogs. The chili sauce freezes well, so make extra.

Detroit Coney Dog

The hot dog

6 pork and beef blended frankfurters with natural casings

6 hot dog buns

1 white onion, chopped ne

Yellow ballpark mustard

The Coney sauce

1 pound ground chuck

1/2 pound ground beef heart

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 large onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 teaspoons American chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1.5 cups chicken or beef broth

4 ounces tomato paste

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

In a small bowl, mix the American chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper.

Cook. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef and beef heart for 5 minutes or until brown. Crumble it as it cooks so it is brown all over.

Pour the meat into a strainer and drain the fat into a small saucepan. Discard all but 3 tablespoons of fat. Whisk the fat and flour together over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until it turns amber, about 15 minutes. Then whisk in the chicken stock, tomato paste, and vinegar. Let it sit on low a few minutes on low while you handle the next few steps.

Add the onion, garlic, and red bell pepper to the ground meat in the skillet and cook for another 5 minutes.

Push everything aside and add the spices and cook in contact with the bottom of the pan for 2 minutes, stirring so the spices don’t stick to the bottom. Then mix them in with the meat.

Add the roux mix ingredients and stir it in. Simmer for at least 15 minutes, an hour is better.

Pour 1/3 the mix into your blender and puree it until it is pasty, and mix it back in. If you prefer you can use a stick blender to get the mix thick.

Split the frank down the middle but don’t cut it in half. Brown the meat.

Steam the bun. Put the frank on the bun, split side up. Squirt a line of mu

Jackson Coney Sauce

1 ½ pounds ground beef heart

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 teaspoons garlic salt

2 t4easpoons chili powder

2 t4easpoons cumin powder

2 teaspoons paprika

Brown meat in oil, add spices and enough water to moister mixture. Simmer, stirring occasionally until mixture is somewhat dry, bring careful not to allow it to dry completely and it burns. Spoon on top of hot dog and top with chopped onions and mustard.

Jane Ammeson can be contacted via email at  

Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit

Lisa Ludwinski, owner of Sister Pies, began her business in her parents’ kitchen in Milford, Michigan, making pies and cookies.  Within a year, the demand for her baked goods was such that she determined to open a bricks and mortar store. The problem? Money, of course. Winning the Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest which awards up-and-coming entrepreneurs a $50,000 grant was a great start.

brandy pecan pie
Reprinted with permission from Sister Pie,  copyright © 2018 Photography by E. E. Berger. Published by Lorena Jones Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House


But Ludwinski still needed more to achieve her dream. Her solution? Hold a 24-hour Dance-A-Thon with the pledge to raise $25,000 by dancing from 9 p.m. on a Friday night to the same time  the following night. 11 hours later she’d raised $25,335 and by the end of her dancing, the total was $26,135, Now the award winning Sister Pie is so popular that Ludwinski is planning on opening a second location. Her bakery abuzz and her first cookbook Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit (Lorena Jones Books 2018; $25) recently released, Ludwinski embarked upon a month long book tour that includes a stop on November 2, at Granor Farm in Three Oaks, Michigan just a few miles north of the Indiana state line.

Granor Farm 2018 Farm Dinner. Three Oaks, Michigan
Photo courtesy of Jamie and Eric Photography

“Lisa’s visit is part of our Book + Supper Club Series, where I build a menu around the author’s work,” says Abra Berens, Chef at Granor Farm. “For me it continues Granor’s original mission to be a place of continued education, especially around food. We started the farm primarily to offer our Farm Camp for kids. That emphasis on education–and food–was part of my initial interest in what Granor was doing. It is a great way to share the knowledge of various experts in the field and, personally, for me to continue to grow as a chef by working with other amazing talents.”

Berens says the dinner will be a mixture of Ludwinski’s recipes and her own interpretation of those recipes.

apple sage gouda
Reprinted with permission from Sister Pie,  copyright © 2018 Photography by E. E. Berger. 

“At the start we will give a brief overview of Granor Farm and then give Lisa the floor to talk about her bakery, her book, and her general outlook on life,” she says, noting that she is a big fan I’m fan of what Ludwinski does.

Lisa with pie
Reprinted with permission from Sister Pie,  copyright © 2018 Photography by E. E. Berger. 

Ludwinski, who grew up in Milford and studied Theatre Arts at Kalamazoo College, originally moved to New York to become a director but gravitated instead to baking before returning home to start her own business. Savvy with social media(she has almost 49,000 followers on Instagram (@sisterpiedetroit) and a happy, fun-filled personality, Ludwinski isn’t afraid to mix it up, creating a delicious blend of sweet or savory and sweet and savory pies such salted maple pumpkin, strawberry rhubarb lavender and apple sage gouda. Also on her menu are scones, muffins and cookies. But when she says she uses seasonal, she’s serious.

sweet potato coconut
Reprinted with permission from Sister Pie,  copyright © 2018 Photography by E. E. Berger. Published by Lorena Jones Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.


“There’s no apple pie in May and there’s no cherry pie in December,” she says. “The reason why is it tastes better. That takes people a little while to get used to, but usually when they taste whichever pie we have available, they understand. Working with the seasonal structure allows us to be super creative, too. If I know I’ve got rhubarb, then I can ask myself – ok, what will make a rhubarb pie unique? We love to pair the seasonal ingredients with herbs, floral tones, alternative flours, citrus, nuts, cheese, etc. Basically everything that’s delicious to eat. We’re also big on the sweet-and-salty.”

Those combinations include oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip cookies with a flake or two of sea salt on top and black pepper tarragon and honey shortbread.Jamie and Eric Photography

019GranorDinner2018 (1)
Photo courtesy of Jamie and Eric Photography

Community and people working together is important says Ludwinski.

“That’s another reason we’re not getting strawberries from some huge farm in California that grows them all year long–we’re getting them from Norm who runs a small farm in Ida, Michigan,” she says. “His strawberries are fleeting and delicious, and a special treat.”

_AUTHOR PHOTO Lisa Ludwinski (credit E.E. Berger) (1)
Reprinted with permission from Sister Pie,  copyright © 2018 Photography by E. E. Berger. Published by Lorena Jones Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Sister Pie, 8066 Kercheval, Detroit. (313) 447-5550;


What: Granor Farm Book + Supper Club with Lisa Ludwinski

When: Friday, November 2, 5:30-9 CST

Where: Granor Farm, 3480 Warren Woods Road, Three Oaks, MI

Cost: $95 a ticker which includes dinners and a copy of Sister Pie.


The following recipes are courtesy of Sister Pies.

Apple Sage Gouda Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

2 pounds Northern Spy, Idared, or Golden Delicious apples, peeled and sliced

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

3⁄4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons minced fresh sage

1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar

1⁄4 cup tapioca starch

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 disc Aged Gouda Pie Dough (see below), rolled out and fitted into a 9-inch pie pan but uncrimped, and refrigerated

6 lattice strips made with Aged Gouda Pie Dough, placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerated

1 teaspoon turbinado sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons (1⁄4 stick) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

1 large egg, beaten

For the filling:

Transfer the apples to a large mixing bowl and toss with the lemon juice.

In a medium bowl, combine the granulated sugar and sage, massaging together with your fingertips. Add the brown sugar, tapioca starch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add to the apples and toss with your hands until evenly distributed.

When you’re ready to assemble the pie, remove the unbaked crust and lattice strips from the refrigerator. Sprinkle the sugar-flour mixture all over the bottom of the crust. Layer the apples on top, being careful not to mound them in the center. Dot the apples  with butter cubes.

Place one strip of lattice  across the center of the pie. Take another strip and lay it on top, perpendicular to the first one, creating a cross. Lay the next two strips on either side of the first strip you laid down, so they are parallel to both each other and the original strip. Next, working with the original strip, fold back both ends toward the center, and then place the last two lattice strips down on either side of the second (perpendicular) strip. Fold the original strip back down, so that it lies across and on top of the newly placed strips. It should look like a woven lattice.

Tear off the ends of the lattice pieces so they are flush with the perimeter of the tin. Roll the edge of the crust in, sealing the lattice. Crimp, using the technique described on page 49, being careful to push the crimps down and into the pie, as opposed to keeping them too loose on the edge. Put the assembled pie in the freezer for a 15-minute rest.

Preheat your oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the pie from the freezer, place on the baking sheet, and brush the lattice and crimped edge with the beaten egg. Transfer the baking sheet with the pie on it to the oven and bake for15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust is evenly golden brown. Turn the temperature down to 325°F and continue to bake for 50 to 70 minutes, until the pie juices are bubbling in the center.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool for 4 to 6 hours. When the pie is at room temperature, slice it into 6 to 8 pieces and serve.

Store leftover pie, well wrapped in plastic wrap or under a pie dome, at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Aged Gouda Pie Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted European-style butter, straight from the fridge

1 ounce aged Gouda, grated

1⁄2 cup ice-cold water and apple cider vinegar mixture, or more if needed

In a large stainless steel bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt  and stir to mix well. Place the sticks of butter in the bowl and coat on all sides with flour. Using a bench scraper, cut the butter into 1⁄2-inch cubes. Work quickly to separate the cubes with your hands until they are all lightly coated in the flour mixture. Grab that bench scraper once again and cut each cube in half.

Switch to the pastry blender and begin  to cut in the butter with one hand while turning the bowl with the other. It’s important not to aim for the same spot at the bottom of the bowl with each stroke of the pastry blender, but to actually slice through butter every time to maximize efficiency. When the pastry blender clogs up, carefully clean it out with your fingers (watch out, it bites!) or a butter knife and use your hands to toss the ingredients a bit. Continue to blend and turn until the largest pieces are the size and shape of peas and the rest of it feels and looks freakishly similar to canned Parmesan cheese. Speaking of cheese, now is the time to add the Gouda and mix it in quickly with the pastry blender until it is evenly distributed.

At this point, add the water-vinegar mixture all at once, and switch back to the bench scraper. Scrape as much of the mixture as you can from one side of the bowl to the other, until you can’t see visible pools of liquid anymore. Now it’s hand time. Scoop up as much of the mixture as you can, and use the tips of your fingers to press it back down onto the rest of the ingredients. Rotate the bowl a quarter-turn and repeat.

Scoop, press, and turn. With each fold, your intention is to be quickly forming the mixture into one cohesive mass. Remember to incorporate any dry, floury bits that have congregated at the bottom of the bowl, and once those are completely gone and the dough is formed, it’s time to stop.

Remove the dough from the bowl, place it on a lightly floured counter, and use your bench scraper to divide it into two equal pieces. Gently pat one into a 2-inch-thick disc, working quickly to seal any broken edges before wrapping it tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap. Pat the other half into a 6-by-3-inch rectangle.

Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or, ideally, overnight. When you go to roll out the crust, you want the disc to feel as hard and cold as the butter did when you removed it from the fridge to make the dough. This will make the roll-out way easier.

Makes enough for one 9-inch lattice-topped pie.

Jane Simon Ammeson can be contacted via email at

All photos of Lisa Ludwinski and her pies are:

Reprinted with permission from Sister Pie,  copyright © 2018 Photography by E. E. Berger. Published by Lorena Jones Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House