A new volume of Our Local Commons highlights the best of Charlottesville’s food community. 

The team behind Our Local Commons is at it again. Charlottesville-based photographers Sarah Cramer Shields and Andrea Hubbell along with writer Jenny Paurys have released Our Local Commons—Volume 3, a 152-page softbound book celebrating all things delicious in the Charlottesville area.

The artfully illustrated book is divided into four sections—spring, summer, fall and winter—and features 16 stories, eight cooking tutorials and more than 30 recipes provided by area chefs, mixologists and other tastemakers. Host a brunch party with simple baked eggs and lemon ricotta pancakes courtesy of MarieBette Cafe & Bakery, mix up a pumpkin and birch sour from Micah LeMon of the Alley Light bar, or try your hand at vegetable khichuri thanks to longtime Bengali cooking instructor Mahabuba Akhter.

But there’s more to the food scene in Charlottesville than the folks in the kitchens and behind the bars. The book also highlights producers like a barley farm in Nelson County, the University of Virginia’s student volunteer-run organic garden, and a Highland County family of foragers.  

Here’s just one of the book’s thoughtfully curated recipes, perfect for fall:

American Pie Dough

Courtesy of Jenny Peterson, Paradox Pastry, Charlottesville


The key to success with pie dough is keeping the ingredients cold, says Jenny Peterson, owner of Paradox Pastry. “Temperature is everything with pie dough.”

Another tip from Peterson is to partially bake the crust, also called parbaking or blind-baking, before adding the filling to prevent it from getting soggy. “It just keeps it crisper, especially with liquid fillings like quiches or pumpkin,” she explains. Another baker’s secret Peterson reveals is that bakers at Paradox often add vodka to the dough because alcohol inhibits gluten formation, which helps to make the crust flakier and more tender.

Makes 2 crusts, enough for 2 single-crust pies or 1 double-crust pie.

2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp. table salt

2 tbsp. sugar

¾ cup cold unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), cut into ½-inch cubes

½ cup chilled solid vegetable shortening or lard, cut into 4 pieces

4 tbsp. vodka, chilled

4 tbsp. cold water

1 large egg, beaten with 1 tbsp. water for egg wash

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter and shortening and toss with a fork to coat. Mix on medium-low until texture resembles coarse breadcrumbs and butter pieces about the size of small peas remain. Sprinkle with the cold water and vodka and mix on low just until dough comes together and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Do not over mix. Divide dough in half, flatten each half into a disk, and wrap each in plastic. Chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 5 days. (Or wrap the plastic in aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 months.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator. Roll into a 12-inch circle about ⅛-inch thick on a lightly floured counter. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and gently unroll it onto 9-inch pie plate, letting excess dough hang over the edge. Gently press dough into the pie dish. Refrigerate until dough is firm, about 15 minutes.

Trim the dough to ½-inch beyond the lip of the plate. Fold the overhang under itself and flush with the edge of the plate. Flute dough or press with tines of a fork to flatten it against the rim. Freeze or refrigerate until dough is firm, at least 30 minutes.

Line crust with aluminum foil or parchment and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake another 5 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and crisp. Set aside to cool.

Use in your favorite pie recipe or in the Chicken Potpie recipe that follows.

Chicken Potpie

All-American classic comfort food, chicken potpie is not typical fare in the French patisseries that inspired Peterson to open Paradox Pastry in 2012, but its crisp, buttery crust and creamy, savory filling have made it a customer favorite. Serves 6-8.

American Pie Dough (see previous recipe)

2 tbsp. dry sherry

3 large bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves

3 tbsp. olive oil

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

3 cups chicken stock

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 large yellow onion, chopped

¼ cup flour

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup sliced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes

¼ cup chopped parsley

1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Follow the recipe for making American Pie Dough; parbake the bottom crust as directed and roll out reserved dough into an 11-inch round and refrigerate.

Rub chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 35–40 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and when cool enough to handle, discard the skin, remove the meat from the bones, and cut into cubes. Heat stock in a saucepan. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat until sizzling and sauté onions until translucent. Add flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Whisk in hot stock and simmer over low heat, stirring until sauce is thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in chicken, peas, carrots, and parsley and mix well.

Adjust oven temperature to 375 degrees. Pour hot filling into prepared pie shell and drape the top round of pastry over the filling, trimming dough to fit inside the edge of the bottom crust. Brush dough with egg wash and cut four 1-inch slits in the top crust to vent.

Place on a baking sheet and bake 20–25 minutes, or until filling is bubbling and crust is a deep golden brown.
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