Thursday, December 25, 2008

Elizabeth's September Pies - Chocolate Cream Cheese Pie and Sour Cream and Honey Mousse Pie

It's one of my New Year's resolutions to post my submissions quicker. Plus it's going to be part of the new rules. Blech. Did you know we are doing cakes next year?? Our Year of Cakes! Hurray, I broke the news first!!

In September I made 2 pies, because I was sick of not making pies for so many months. I mean, Cutie Pie was tough to make and all, and pretty rewarding (I guess), but dang it, it was time for some regular ol' pie! Both of these recipes come from Icebox Pies, by Lauren Chattman (my mom got it for me for my birthday! Yippee!)

Chocolate Cream Cheese Pie
I made this pie for my friend's birthday party. Fabulous!! It tastes like a mousse. This pie is not to be missed, so don't go missing it.
(I'd like to point out that while Ann repeatedly accuses me of making chocolate pies over and over again, this was my FIRST one of the year. In SEPTEMBER. Eat THAT, Ann! ...No, seriously. Eat that. Dem's tasty pie!)

12 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled (divided)
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1 chocolate cookie crust - 9 inch

1. Put 2 inches or water in a medium-size saucepan and bring the pot to a bare simmer. Combine the chocolate, 1/2 cup of the heavy cream, and the corn syrup in a stainless-steel bowl big enough to rest on top of the saucepan. Place the bowl over the simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Heat, whisking occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and set the mixture aside to cool until it is just warm, 5 to 10 minutes. Using an electric mixer, beat in the softened cream cheese until the mixture is smooth.

2. In a medium-size mixing bowl using an electric mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup heavy cream until it just holds stiff peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture.

3. Scrape the filling into the prepared pie crust, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until the filling is completely set, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.

I also smoothed whipped cream over the top and sprinkled cocoa powder over that. Apparently I took no photos. Surprised?

Sour Cream and Honey Mousse Pie

A picture!

I served this at my September church book club meeting (that's the September meeting of my church book club, not the book club for the church I attend in September). I thought the honey taste was too intense in this pie, but my guests seemed to enjoy it -- sort of. One of them commented that after the first bite, you don't taste it quite so much, but I'm not exactly going for the "Pie That Tastes Nasty on the First Bite But Improves Thereafter" award.

The addition of sliced toasted almonds on top is genius, and really makes the pie. The only problem is that the almonds don't stay crunchy on the leftover pie. If I ever make a pie with toasted almonds on top again, I am going to just add the nuts to each piece as I serve it. That way the leftovers don't taste yucky.

3 T cold water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup full-fat sour cream
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 graham cracker crust - 9 inch
1/2 cup slice almonds

1. While you're baking the crust, place the sliced almonds on a baking sheet and toast them until they are golden, 4-5 minutes. Let them cool completely.

2. Place the cold water in a small sauce pan and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let the gelatin stand to dissolve. Whisk together the sour cream and honey in a medium-size mixing bowl.

3. Put the sauce pan on the stove and heat the gelatin, whisking constantly, just until it melts, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk the gelatin mixture into the sour cream mixture until the consistency is smooth.

4. In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds soft peaks. Gently fold the sour cream mixture into the whipped cream.

5. Scrape the filling into the prepared pie shell. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until the filling is completely set, at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.

6. Just before serving, scatter the toasted nuts over the pie.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ann's September Pie - Cornish Pasties

I've been interested in making a savory pie since the beginning of the year, despite my knowledge that Sue Anne , the pie maven, looks down upon them. However, I am devoted to a restaurant at home that has opened since I moved away called The Cornish Pasty Co., and decided to try my own traditional pasty. (Some of the best pasties at the restaurant are unusual variations like chicken tikka masala and carne adovada...seriously, this is one of the few things I look forward to when I go home).

So I invited my friend Ol' Blue Eyes over for some hand pie. He lived by an exclusive source of hand pies until recently and would often supply me with copious amounts of discount cherry pies during movie watching. I'm not sure if this was a good thing, but in any case, it seemed fun to make a theme out of the evening with both savory and sweet hand pies. It was also my first opportunity to premiere my new pride and joy:

"Jeg ønsker mig så'rn Foodprocessor!"
That is a joke for my brother.

Yes, my mother gave me a food processor for my birthday this month. I was soooo excited - no more grating butter for me!!!!!!

I looked for recipes for pasties online and found one from a blog called The Barefoot Kitchen Witch. I liked her step by step instructions, and I really love home food blogs. It seemed like a more authentically British story than many of the other recipes I found (most of them came from Michigan mining traditions, which is fine, but not exactly what I wanted). I decided to adapt her recipe to my own uses.

I got my ingredients at the grocery store (who knew that you couldn't find turnips in Kroger?) and went to work cutting up steak, potatoes, rutabagas, and onions. I mixed up my pastry, and got it to a consistency I thought would work. However....

I didn't put nearly enough water in the dough to make it form together, and rolling it out was impossible. I ended up pinching pieces together, placing bits of meat and vegetables on them, splashing it all with Worcestershire sauce, dried parsley, salt and pepper, and then pinching more dough pieces on top. You can see the filling peaking through in the picture. At one point, I was just pressing the crust onto the filling like I was making mud pies or something. This was the most frustrating pie I've made, and I was very afraid of the result.

The pie gods have once again smiled upon me, because these turned out surprisingly well. The dough had a nice flavor, and was crisp, flaky, and golden, and the filling was good. I've definitely had better pasties before, and I would have liked more of a gravy inside, but it was good enough to get a review of "if this were a girl, I would ask her out" from Ol' Blue Eyes.

Control had just returned from a performance of Sweeney Todd. I'm quite surprised she was interested in eating a meat pie afterward. I swear I didn't plan these events to happen the same night.

He is naturally suspicious. This is nothing new.

Me with dessert: apple hand pie.

Cornish Pasties

4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
8-12 (or more) T ice water

Combine the flour and salt in the food processor, add the shortening, and pulse until the mixture looks like small peas of flour. Add the water in batches until the dough forms into small clumps. Pat it into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Cut up 1 lb of steak into small pieces, slice 4-5 potatoes, 1 rutabaga, and 1 onion. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. When the pastry is ready, separate it into 8 even pieces, and roll out each piece into a 1/8-inch thick circle. On one half of each circle, place enough meat and vegetables to fill the pastry, but leave room on the edges to seal the crust together. Splash with Worcestershire sauce, and sprinkle with dried parsley, salt, and pepper. Fold over the other half of the pastry over the filling and roll the edges together to seal them. Place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment. Pierce with a knife to vent the dough, and brush with an egg wash for color. Bake for 30 minutes, checking every five minutes thereafter to see if they are done. They should be golden brown.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Elizabeth's August Pie - CUTIE PIE!

For the month of August, I finished growing a human in my belly. When he was done, I pushed him out. Here is my Cutie Pie:

What?? You say that's cheesy? Well, just think of what I could have written:

Take 1 cup cuteness, 2 tablespoons adorable, 3 1/2 teaspoons sweet cheeks, and a dash of grumpy. Bake for 9 months. Yield: One fabulous baby!

So thank your lucky stars, chump.

(Dedicated to Luke Nielson, one serious cutie pie, born August 12, 2008)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ann's August Pie - Lemonade-Peach

I....have a confession. I didn't make this pie in August. Here's the thing: much like Listle, I had an eventful summer. Unlike her, I didn't birth a child. Or did I???? No, I didn't. But in August, I was dealing with my new church calling and getting things set up for the new school year, and I also moved into a new apartment. This combination created one of the more stressful months of my life, and thus I didn't make this pie until after the first of September. Deal with it! It was still awesome.

I wanted to make some more summery fruit pies, and I had a lot of choices in the pie book. Here is the one I picked. The lemonade helped to heighten the flavor of the peaches - it was bright and fresh, like a summer pie should taste.

The crumbly top was luscious! I love any pie that involves melting butter crumbles and fruit, so this, with it's sunset-colored filling, fit my craving perfectly.

Lemonade-Peach Pie

From Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie by Ken Haedrich

1 unbaked deep-dish pie shell


4 cups peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced ripe peaches

1/3 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

1/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

Streusel Topping:

3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, frozen

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Combine all the filling ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Turn the filling into the unbaked pie shell and smooth the top with a spoon. Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 25 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make the topping. Mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in bowl. Grate the frozen butter over the dry ingredients and rub between your fingers to make large, buttery crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.

4. Remove the pie from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Careful dump the crumbs on the pie, spreading them evenly over the surface with your hands. Tamp them down slightly. Return the pie to the oven, placing it so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. Just in case, slide a large aluminum foil-lined baking sheet onto the rack below to catch any drips. Continute to bake until the topping is golden brown and the juices bubble thickly around the edge, about 25 minutes.

5. Transfer to the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Elizabeth's July Pie - Lemonade Pie

I went easy in July. I was super sick with Baby #4, and I couldn't make a decent pie of any sort.

The product of a bad pie month: Lemonade Pie!

1. Make graham cracker crust. Cook it.
2. In a bowl, mix lemonade (6 0z.) and vanilla ice cream (quart). Pour into crust. Freeze.


There are actually better versions of this pie, some of which involve whipped topping, cream cheese, and/or sweetened condensed milk. I know it sounds preposterous, but I couldn't even pull one of those off. It doesn't matter, though. My kids loved this, but my kids pretty much ate toast for all of July, so them loving this pie was the equivalent of the troops in Iraq loving a USO tour from Cher.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ann's July Pie - Summer Fruit Crostata

It's been really important to me to take advantage of summer fruit for my pies while it's in season. I had planned to go fruit picking a few times (I did make it for blueberries!), but unfortunately had to be content with grocery store fruit for July. Lame! I didn't even get it from the farmer's market! Oh well, at least I'm staying true to my original plan by making a nice juicy fruit pie. I thought it might be fun to go with a crostata - free-form pie! And who better to turn to than the delightful Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten. Listle and I are both MASSIVE Ina fans - so much so that we often call each other to talk about how much we love her, how we wish we were best friends with her, etc. In fact that a couple of years ago we gave each other her latest cookbook, just to say we had given them to each other instead of buying them for ourselves. So I went to her house for Thanksgiving, and we went to the bookstore and each bought a copy, and then were going to exchange them. BUT the joke was on her because I secretly switched out the copy for her with one of her America's Test Kitchen books so she would get all mad that I hadn't followed the plan. BUT THEN even better, when we passed the bags to each other, she took out the book and didn't look at it and then started dancing around, showing it to her husband and brother-in-law and singing something about how we had the same books. Oh man, she looked stupid!!!!!

This recipe comes from that cookbook, Barefoot Contessa at Home. I've never had bad results from an Ina recipe, and the streak still holds. This pie was AMAZING. I didn't have all the correct ingredients for the filling, so I used what I had, which I thought would be okay with Ina. I went with a filling of nectarines and blueberries, which I picked with my own hands!

The crust came together like lucious creamy velvelty goodness. I was told by more than one person that it was the best crust I'd made all year. The recipe actually makes two crusts, so I doubled the filling to make two crostate.

After placing the filling on the crust, you make a crumbly, buttery topping to cover the fruit. Once in the oven, it melted into the crannies of the nectarines, leaving the top crusted over the almost creamy inside. It's the perfect contrast against the juices of the fruit and the flaky pastry. Go, make this. Make it, friends!!!!!! After all, my best friend Ina gave me the recipe, so I'm just happy to pass it along.

Summer Fruit Crostata

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten

Makes 2 crostate

For the crust:

2 cups flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks cold unsalted butter

6 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:

3 lbs. nectarines

1 pint blueberries

2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup flour

2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 grated lemon zest

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoons salt

1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced

For the pastry, mix the flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Freeze the butter for 15 minutes, then grate into dry ingredients. Mix together until the butter and flour mix resemble course crumbs. Add the water slowly, incorporating after each addition until the dough just begins to come together. Form into a ball, cut in half and form into two flat disks. Wrap in plastic and refridgerate for at least an hour. (The second disk can be frozen if not needed - if you aren't making two, halve the filling ingredients.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to the sheet pan.

For the filling, slice the nectarines into a bowl with the blueberries. Toss them with 2 tablespoons of flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, the lemon zest and juice. Place the mixed fruit on the dough circle, leaving a 1 1/2 border.

Combine the 1/2 cup flour, the 1/2 cup cup sugar, and the salt in a bowl. Freeze the butter for 15 minutes, then grate into the dry ingredients. Mix until the mixture is crumbly. Rub it with your fingers until it starts to hold together. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Gently fold the border of the pastry over the fruit, pleating it to make an edge.

Bake each crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the fruit is tender. Let it cool for at least five minutes, serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Elizabeth's June Pie - Gianuia Pie

Sorry I'm so late on this post. I birthed a child so shut up.

My June pie was AWESOME!! It is called Gianduia Pie and it comes from a book I got from the library called Icebox Pies, by Lauren Chattman.

In the words of the author, "This pie tastes like Baci, the yummy Italian version of a chocolate kiss." I would agree, although at the event I took this to, no one had ever heard of Baci or Gianduia, but they had all heard of Nutella, so no problems there! Besides, it tastes amazing, meaning there is really no need for explanation anyway. Plus, it's easy as, well...pie. (Come on, we all know you've been waiting for someone to make that joke for 6 months of pie posts.)

No pictures of my pie, I hate to report, but you can preview it by checking out the cover on the book above. It's the featured pie!

I took this to a baby shower and everyone loved it. I ended up having heart palpatations as I was trying to leave (pregnancy-related junk I have to deal with each time I have a baby), and so my friends had to help me back inside so I could lie down. No one thought to rescue the pie. (How dare they?) and so the leftovers died in the car. Jeff didn't get to taste it, so I still want to make it for him. Nummers.

This pie is easy but still has a little drama to it, which is a great combination. Enjoy!


Gianduia Pie (Makes one 9-inch pie; 6-8 servings)

3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
One 13-ounce jar Nutella
1 prepared chocolate cookie and nut crust

1. Place the skinned hazelnuts in the workbowl of a food processor and chop them very fine.
2. Combine the cream and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to whip the cream until stiff peaks form.
3. Place the Nutella in a medium-size mixing bowl and stir in one quarter of the whipped cream. Gently fold the lightened Nutella mixture back into the remaining whipped cream. Fold in the chopped hazelnuts.
Scrape the filling into the prepared pie shell and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until the filling is completely set, at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.

(My changes: I could only find chopped hazelnuts at the store so I didn't skin them. The pie still tasted great. I also covered the top with whipped cream and sprinkled hazelnuts over that.)

Chocolate Cookie and Nut Crust

22 Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers (about 1 cup crumbs)
1/2 cup skinned hazelnuts
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place cookies and nuts in the workbowl of a food processor and process them until they are finely ground. Combine the crumb-and-nut mixture, butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a medium-size mixing bowl and stir until the crumb-and-nut mixture is moistened.
3. Press the mixture evenly across the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate and all the way up the sides of the pan, packing it tightly with your fingertips so it is even and compacted.
4. Bake the crust until it is crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Let it cool completely before filling it. (The crust may be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ann's June Pie - Rhubarb Custard

I had been quite keen to make a rhubarb pie during the year - after all, it is the pie plant. Being from Arizona, I have no idea of when things are in season, except for citrus - it's one of the 5 C's! Someone clued me in that early summer is rhubarb season and said that she'd seen some at the local farmers' market, so I headed down the next Saturday on the lookout. I was so disappointed to come home empty-handed! (Well, not quite - I was talked into three pounds of organic ground beef for $10.) This was actually the same weekend I made the watermelon pies, and had planned to just make an extra pie for kicks for the sake of getting a rhubarb pie this season. It seemed so Midwestern, and I just had to have one. So I mentioned this to Miss Hass's fiance, Ike, who lives on a lovely, picturesque farm just outside of town. I took pictures with my cell phone of a recent trip out to the farm, but I can't get them out of my phone and onto a computer screen. Suffice it to say that there were rolling hills, a white clap-board house, and tractors. You know, south-central Indiana at its finest. Anyway, back on topic. So I told Ike that I'd wanted to make a rhubarb pie and he said that his neighbor currently had a ton and he could get me some. We discussed how silly it is that so many people don't like rhubarb (what is there not to like?!). This reminded me that my dad's favorite pie is strawberry-rhubarb, so I considered making one in his honor. However, I found a recipe that I couldn't pass up...guess where????

According to the freaking awesome Pie book, Sumner, WA is considered the rhubarb pie capital of the country by more than one source. So Ken Haedrich called up the mayor and asked for the best recipe, and this is the one she supplied. It's from the St. Andrew's Church cookbook, which I think is great because it's a passed down recipe. That's what pie is all about!

It looks like Christmas pie!

This pie was so easy to make. I had a dough already made in the freezer (although it looked kind of greyish when I pulled it out, but it baked up fine), and then I mixed the rhubarb with sugar, eggs, milk, and nutmeg, which gave it deeper flavor than I expected from a summer pie, but was mellow and soothing to the plucky rhubarb. As multiple friends noted, it seemed like a breakfast pie, which I suspect came from the nutmeg. Mr. Haedrich also pointed out in this notes that this isn't a thick custard pie, but rather a light custard that sinks beneath the fruit (is rhubarb a fruit, though? I don't know). Some of my tasters weren't crazy about this pie, but they just don't understand the pleasures of rhubarb with it's sour, vinegary flavor offset with sugar. It's heavenly to me!

La Dolcezza modeled the pie for me because I looked wretched that day...something about rain and exercise. I also made a travesty of serving it - somehow all the pieces fell apart, but they tasted so good!

Sumner, Washington, Rhubarb Custard Pie

from Pie: 300 Tried-And-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie by Ken Haedrich

1 single pie crust, rolled out and fitted into pie plate, chilled for 15 minutes before filling


3 cups diced fresh rhubarb stalks
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Big pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into small pieces

Combine the rhubarb, sugar, flour, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Toss well, then set aside for several minutes to juice. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a small bowl. Add to the fruit, stirring well to combine. Scrape the filling into the chilled pie shell, smoothing the top of the fruit with a spoon. Dot the filling with the butter.

Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake until the top is crusted over and the filling is set, 50 to 55 minutes, rotating the pie 180 degrees halfway through the baking, so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool. Serve barely warm, at room temperature, or chilled, with a dollop of whipped cream.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Elizabeth's May Pie - Creamy Lemon Cheesecake Pie

I KNOW! By the title, wouldn't you think this was going to be super tasty?!? Well, it was just so-so, and a disappointing edition to the Year of Pies.

The background:

I didn't make my May pie until the end of the month. While I was at the grocery store on the 28th, I realized that I hadn't made my monthly pie (lots of things on my mind that month---I usually don't forget my pie!) and I decided that I should take a pie to an event I had going that very night. I called Ann on the cell phone and said, "What should I make?" I don't remember if it was her idea or my idea to look at the backs of packages for pie recipes, but I do know it was specifically her idea to look at the back of ready-made pie crusts. Excellent suggestion!

I looked at pie crust packages and wasn't in love with the offerings, so I still looked at the back of flour bags, chocolate chip bags, baking powder containers, graham cracker crumb boxes, etc. Well, it seems that America is afraid of pies! I found lots of recipes for "bars" that could be converted into a pie recipe, but I just decided to return to the pie crusts anyway.

I memorized the name of the recipe on the back of the Keebler pie crust package, but when I went to find it on the Keebler site (because of course I didn't buy the nasty ready-made crust), it wasn't there! I remembered most of the ingredients, so I found it elsewhere on the internet. (Oh boy, is Matthew going to love the details of this post or what!)

The HEEElarious thing to me about it, is that I found the recipe on a blog called, "Pie is the New Toast." What a fabulous title!! What possibilities for greatness, right? No, instead it is a lame personal blog about someone's back pain, and sleep problems, and stress. Not a single pie recipe was posted except for this one. (She'll probably google her site name and find my comment, so for her sake let me say this: Jennifer, your blog is not lame to you, I'm sure. But it is a personal blog about your own issues, and those are always lame to people who don't know you. Sorry. Now, GIVE UP THAT GREAT TITLE!!)

I made the pie. It was just a standard cheesecake filling, and it didn't taste lemony as I poured it into the crust, despite the name.

Then....... I baked it 45 minutes too long. Or was it 30 minutes too long. I can't remember, but it was CRAZY long. I was talking to Matthew on the phone and I forgot about it. He was telling a story and suddenly I said, "Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!" and ran down the stairs to rescue my pie from ashes in the oven. Luckily there weren't any actual ashes. No, it was still very edible, but cracked and dry.

I covered it entirely with sliced strawberries that I just happened to have in the fridge (all the cracks looked too ugly to serve it like that!), and then I made a glaze with raspberry jam, lemon juice, and water. It looked pretty but it tasted boring.

Hardly anyone ate it at the event that I took it to. I arrived quite late (another conflicting event, for which the pie would have been inappropriate) so most people had already eaten, PLUS it was a "mom's night out" which is a bad event for pie. Moms aren't into sweets as much as you'd imagine. I think it's too many PBJs for the kids at lunchtime that takes the edge off of the sweet tooth. Besides, young moms are usually skinny and trying to remain so. I didn't imagine it would be gobbled up in that crowd, so I didn't take it personally when it wasn't. People commented on it being pretty, but only 2 people even tried a piece. Bad forum for pie.

I acknowledge that I screwed up this pie by overcooking it. However, the question remains: would this have been an excellent pie had I not cooked it too long? I don't think so. It was just a cheesecake in a pie crust, and a mediocre cheesecake at that. No water bath, no sour cream topping. Just boring. Sure, I'd like to taste it when it's not overcooked, but not enough to make it again. I have other fabulous cheesecake recipes for that.

The Pie
(Don't knock yourself out)

Creamy Lemon Cheesecake Pie

Makes 6 Servings

1 lb cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp fresh grated lemon peel
2 eggs
1 9-inch graham cracker crust (homemade, of course!)

Beat cream cheese in bowl (if you have an electric mixer use that) until creamy.

Add sugar; beat until well-blended

Add sour cream, lemon juice and lemon peel, mix well.

Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended.

Pour batter into pie shell, bake at 325F for 35-40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool completely on wire rack. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ann's May Pie - One Fruit, Two Pies: Watermelon Chiffon and Watermelon Rind

I've been really excited since the beginning of the year to make some summer fruit pies - it seems like the essence of Midwestern life. In fact, I attribute much of my interest in pies to the almost intrinsic all-American atmosphere that I've discovered and embraced since moving to Indiana. I played around with some ideas, but as usual, the items I had in my fridge determined the end result. I'd bought a massive watermelon at Sam's Club and had to find various ways to use it. I wouldn't have decided on watermelon pie, but the fabulous Pie book by Ken Haedrich (seriously, why have I not bought my own copy yet?) had a couple of intriguing recipes: Watermelon Chiffon and Watermelon Rind. I kept rolling them around in my mind all month, even as I planned on making something else. In the end, though, the recipes proved too intriguing to pass up.

I made a graham cracker crust for the chiffon pie and then my first double crust for the rind pie, using the recipe from The Dessert Bible. Once again, I had the fun of grating frozen butter and shortening into the dry ingredients. However, I need to stop making pie crusts at 1 am the night before I plan to finish the pie - I'm always rushed, and everything I've read about crusts says that you shouldn't rush them. I'm guessing that it's by luck that I haven't screwed up a crust too much yet - or maybe all the pie books are lying! I don't know...

The chiffon pie was a bit of an experience. The recipe said to mash the chunks of watermelon with a potato masher. Unfortunately, I don't own one. It's one of those tools that I always wish that I had, but don't remember that I want one until I actually need it in that very moment - too late, of course, to run to the store to buy one. So I spent some quality time with a fork, crushing the individual cubes of watermelon in batches. Then I passed the resulting pulp through cheesecloth and luckily got exactly the amount of watermelon juice that I needed. I would recommend buying a potato masher instead of this method.
For some reason I can't remember, I had to go someplace in the middle of making these pies (I think a movie or something?), so I added the gelatin and checked on it shortly before leaving to see if I could finish the pie off with whipped cream and egg whites. It didn't look like it had set up at all, so I left. When I came home, it was in the same state - until I took the bowl out of the fridge the next day and realized that it just looked like it hadn't set up - it was a completely solid chunk of watermelon juice. I called my mom to see how I could fix this, and she said that I should melt it down a little bit to see if I could get it into a kind of loose consistency. However, it melted completely, so I added two more packages of gelatin, and it seemed to get to where it needed to be. I folded in the whipped cream and beaten egg whites, and crossed my fingers. In the end, it set up nicely, but I still wasn't completely sold on this pie. There wasn't anything wrong with it at all - in fact, most of the people that tried it liked quite a bit, but the flavor of watermelon without the crunch and texture of it seemed kind of wrong to me. I'd rather have just eaten the watermelon and saved the rind for the next pie. But it was still worth making since it tasted so summery; I just don't know that I'd do it again.
Get your hand out of that pie, La Dolcezza!

I didn't do a perfect job of folding in the egg whites...

The filling for the rind pie was fairly simple: after removing the flesh to be used in the chiffon pie, I peeled all the green skin from the left-over rinds, diced them, and then cooked them in sugar water until soft. I think I overcooked them a bit - the recipe said to drain them when soft, but all the water had cooked out of my batch and the rind pieces were quite caramelized. I don't think this was a bad thing, however; it could only add a nice smokiness to the flavor as long as they weren't burnt. To the cooled rind, I added walnuts, raisins, brown sugar, and vinegar, creating a filling similar to mincemeat (according to the heading of the recipe - I've never actually had mincemeat) or maybe a mock-apple pie. The filling didn't seem to be enough for the pie shell, so when I added the top crust, it kind of slumped down into it, but I crimped the edges with a fork and hoped for the best. In the end, it baked beautifully - the crust evened out with the perfect amount of browning on both the top and bottom, and flaked enticingly with each touch of my fork as I cut into it. It was buttery, tender...all the words you're supposed to think of when you eat really good pie crust...and I made it! I really enjoyed the rind filling - the browned rind pieces had a bit of a sour, tart flavor that was nicely accentuated by the vinegar, but the brown sugar and nuts made it feel like a comforting walk-through-leaves kind of pie, unlike the chiffon pie which tasted like summer. The friends that tried it said that they liked it (some liking it better than the chiffon pie), but that it was better suited for fall. Since watermelon is most definitely a summer fruit, I wonder if I can freeze some left-over rinds during the summer months to be used later in the year - I'm not very knowledgeable of the do's and don'ts of freezing, so I'll have to ask around. But this pie would be perfect at Thanksgiving, and it's even more fun when you can make people guess what's in it! I liked it much more than the chiffon pie - the vinegar flavor completely set it apart from other pies (like apple) with similar flavor components, making it really distinctive and special. And wow, that was a good crust.

It may seem shameless to put two pictures of myself in my post, but I look skinnier than I have in a long time in these pictures, and I'm willing to run with that.

Watermelon Chiffon Pie
from Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie by Ken Haedrich

6 cups watermelon flesh (seeds are fine)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup cold heavy or whipping cream
1 cup confectioners' sugar

1. Prepare the graham cracker crust.
2. Combine the watermelon and granulated sugar in a very large bowl. (I actually can't remember doing this...hmmm....) Using a potato masher, mash until the mixture is quite liquid. Set aside for 15 minutes. Drain the mixture through a strainer, reserving almost 2 3/4 cups of the watermelon juice. Discard the pulp and seeds.
3. Put 1/4 of the juice in a medium-size bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set aside for 3 to 4 minutes to dissolve. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 cup of the juice in a small saucepan over medium heat to a near boil. Whisk the hot juice into the dissolved gelatin. Pour the remaining 2 cups of watermelon juice into a large bowl and stir in the gelatin-watermelon juice mixture. Stir in the lime juice. Place in the refrigerator.
4. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites in a medium-size bowl until stiff peaks form. Set aside. Clean and dry the beaters. Using a chilled medium-size bowl and chilled beaters, beat the heavy cream with the mixer until it holds soft peaks. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat until smooth and stiff but not grainy. Refrigerate.
5. When the watermelon juice mixture starts to firm up, add about one-quarter of the whipped cream and beat with the electric mixer until smooth. Add the beaten egg whites and remaining whipped cream and gently fold them in with a large rubber spatula. If necessary, use a whisk - very briefly - to smooth the mixture and break up any large globs of whites or whipped cream. Pour the filling into the cooled pie shell, shaking the pan gently to settle the filling. Cover with loosely tented aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. To serve, garnish with confectioners' sugar and whipped cream, if desired.

Watermelon Rind Pie
from Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie by Ken Haedrich

3 cups peeled and diced watermelon rind
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Granulated sugar

1. Prepare the pastry and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.
2. Combine the watermelon rind and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar in a large saucepan. Add water just to cover. Bring to a boil, partially cover, and continue to boil until the rind is tender and translucent, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain well, then transfer the rind to a large bowl and let cool.
3. On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the larger portion of the pastry into a 12-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9-inch standard pie pan, center, and peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and let the overhang drape over the edge. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
4. Stir the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar into the cooled rind. Stir in the raisins, nuts, vinegar, and brown sugar, then stir in the flour, spices, and salt.
5. On another sheet of floured waxed paper, roll the other half of dough into a 10-inch circle. Turn the filling into the chilled pie shell, smoothing the top with your hands or a spoon. Lightly moisten the rim of the pie shell. Invert the top pastry over the filling, center, and peel off the paper. Press the top and bottom pastries together along the dampened edge. Trim the pastry with scissors or a paring knife, leaving an even 1/2-inch overhang all around, then sculpt the overhang into an upstanding ridge (I crimped the edge with a fork). Poke several steam vents in the top of the pie with a fork or paring knife; put a couple of the vents near the edge of the crust so you can check the juices there later. To glaze the pie, lightly brush the pastry with the beaten egg white and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar.
6. Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and rotate the pie 180 degrees, so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. Just in case, slide a large aluminum foil-lined baking sheet onto the rack below to catch any spills. Continue to bake until the top is dark golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. This is not a particularly juicy pie, so you may or may not see juices bubbling up through the steam vents.
7. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Master Recipe for Foolproof Handmade Pie Dough, double crust variation
from The Dessert Bible by Christopher Kimball

9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
9 tablespoons cold all-vegetable shortening
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
About 1/2 cups ice water

Follow this method for pie dough. Separate into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Elizabeth's April Pie - Blackberry Raspberry Pie (NOT blueberry FOR SURE!)

If you read my March pie submission, you will know why I made this pie. In short, my friend Carol said that she wanted a pie with "frozen blackberries and raspberries, but definitely not blueberries."

I used the classic America's Test Kitchen (Cook's Illustrated) recipe for pie crust (not the prebaked version that Ann refers to in her March pie post). I did something wrong, though. This is normally a fool-proof recipe that I've used often, but I was too much of a fool this time. I accidentally forgot to add the shortening while the ingredients were in the food processor, so I tried to blend in the shortening while the dough was on the table about ready to be rolled. I should have thrown it all back into the food processor, because the finished product wasn't smooth and flaky as it should have been. It was kind of bumpy like a cobbler. Not the prettiest crust I've seen, but it tasted fine.

I served this pie with vanilla ice cream, and there's no way I could eat more than a bite of the pie without it. I don't love cooked berry pies like this, so without the ice cream the flavor is just way too much for me. It was good for one slice, but I left the remaining 3-4 slices with my friends and their kids.

(Not my photo. Too many blueberries.)

The recipe comes from Jenn Hall at I used frozen berries, as some of the recipe reviewers did, and I changed the wording here to account for the type of berries I used.
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups frozen raspberries
  • 2 cups frozen blackberries
  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar and cornstarch. Add blackberries and raspberries; gently toss until berries are coated. Allow fruit mixture to stand for 15 to 30 minutes, or until fruit is partially thawed.
  2. Line a 9 inch pie plate with half of the pastry. Stir berry mixture, and transfer to the crust lined pie plate. Top with second crust, and seal and crimp the edge. To prevent overbrowning, cover the edge of the pie with foil.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 50 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Cook's Illustrated Best Pie Dough - Double Crust 8-9 inch

The following pie dough is one in a series for different size pies. When rolling out the dough, roll to a thickness of about 1/8-inch thick (about the thickness of two quarters).

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
11 tablespoons unsalted butter , cold, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
7 tablespoons vegetable shortening , chilled
4 - 5 tablespoons ice water

1. Mix flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat butter with some flour. cut butter into flour with five 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal with butter bits no larger than small peas, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if dough will not come together. Shape dough into two balls with your hands, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten into 4-inch-wide disks. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ann's April Pie - Hippie Pie

I went home to Arizona for a triumphant reunion of all of my siblings during the last week of April. I knew before I left that I wanted to make an Arizona-themed pie to share with the family while I was there, and spent days looking for something appropriate. I considered a southwestern-flavored savory pie or quiche, or something with a name that sounded like it came from my home state: sun, or diamondback, or snake, or get the idea. I was sure that I'd find something online, but I searched and searched and found nothing. I turned to the archives of Sue Anne's Pie of the Month site, and found a couple of possiblities, the best being Dry Pie. However, you will notice in the recipe that a key ingredient is pumpkin puree. Now I must make a confession: the ONLY food in the world that I hate is pumpkin pie. I loathe it. I try every year to eat some at Thanksgiving and it is just as bad as I remember. Moreover, only my parents like pumpkin pie in my family; my mom has asked every year at Thanksgiving how I can be my father's daughter when I hate pumpkin pie so much. Knowing that I'd be serving my pie to my pumpkin-hating siblings, it didn't seem quite fair to force us all to eat it - and to leave my mom with the entire thing. Therefore, I went with an Arizona theme I could get behind: ice cream pie.

Specifically, I made a family favorite: hippie pie. Hippie pie is not to be confused with hippie pie, which is like the Pizzookie at Oregano's and is perfect and delicious. Hippie pie is an ice cream pie that my family eats after watching fireworks on the Fourth of July. I decided that the best thing I could do for my month's pie would be something that my family would all love and we could enjoy together. There's actually another version of hippie pie that has cherries and chocolate flakes, but this is the one we eat every year.

This is such an easy dessert to make because it's just layering the different ingredients. You start with an Oreo crust and layer vanilla ice cream, raspberry sorbet, chopped walnuts, blueberry jam, and fruit. Voila! Hippe pie.

Here I am with the finished pie, and two random kids that wanted to hang out with me. Okay, I'm related to them. They're Listle's kids, Badam and Bella.

Can you see why it's called hippie pie? Psychadelic!!!

It tasted just like summer to me. Since I'm not going home for the Fourth of July this year, I was glad to get to share it with my family - we probably won't be in the same place together for a long time (Lee is moving to China with her family, and Pat is moving to Philly), so it was great to be home and remember happy memories. Despite the fact that we all got food poisoning over the next few days from the Mexican take-out we'd had for dinner, it was hot, summery, Arizona perfection.


Ann's Hippie Pie (not to be confused with Hippie Pie)

1 chocolate cookie crumb crust
Vanilla ice cream
Raspberry sorbet
Walnuts, chopped fine
1 jar blueberry jam
Fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
Fresh blueberries

Spoon vanilla ice cream into the crust until it is halfway full. Smooth to create a solid layer. Spoon a layer of raspberry sorbet over this, then top with more vanilla ice cream, mounding up in a rounded dome. Smooth out. Spoon blueberry jam over the top - be careful, it may spill down the sides, so put a plate underneath the pie shell to catch any drips. It may be a good idea to create a ring of foil around the edge of the shell to keep the jam from spilling over (I didn't do this - I just let it get all over my brother's freezer). Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the top, and then layer the strawberries and blueberries in whatever pattern you'd like. In fact you could use whatever fruit you want - different ice cream flavors, etc., but since this is Fourth of July themed, my family uses this combination. Place in the freezer and allow ice cream to re-harden for several hours before serving- or just eat it when you feel like it. What's the worst that can happen?

Chocolate Cookie Crumb Crust

16 Oreo cookies (with filling), broken into rough pieces, about 2 1/2 cups
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled

1. For the Crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, process cookies with 15 one-second pulses, then let machine run until crumbs are uniformly fine, about 15 seconds. (Alternatively, place cookies in large zipper-lock plastic bag and crush with rolling pin.) Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle with butter, and use fingers to combine until butter is evenly distributed.
2. Pour crumbs into 9-inch Pyrex pie plate. Following illustration below, press crumbs evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie plate. Refrigerate lined pie plate 20 minutes to firm crumbs, then bake until crumbs are fragrant and set, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack while preparing filling.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Elizabeth's March Pie - Classic Apple Pie

My March pie was chosen for an odd reason. The end of March was drawing near, and we had been invited to dinner at the home of some friends. While I was talking to the wife, I asked her what I should bring. She thought about a few options, but kept realizing that she already had the ingredients. Then she said, "Is there anything you want to bring?" I said, "Yes, a couple of pies!" (They have 8 in their family and we have 5 in ours, so one pie didn't seem sufficient.) She said, "Okay, bring an apple pie, because that's what my oldest likes, and bring a berry pie --- raspberries and blackberries, no blueberries --- because that's what the rest of us like. Just go to the freezer section of the store and get the bag of mixed raspberries and blackberries. No blueberries. Okay?"

Who does that???! Who tells someone what pie they're going to make!? I'll tell you who---my friend Carol! The thing that's so funny about it is that she didn't say it because they're picky about their pies----they actually like lots of pies and would have eaten anything I brought. It's just what she had in her head right when I said "pie" and Carol says whatever is in her head. If I had said, "Whatever, lady! I'm bringing something else," she would have said, "Great!" and not thought another thing of it. She's actually not crazy controlling, despite what this story sounds like. She just says what she's thinking, and lots of times it's hilarious.

I actually don't mind people who say ultra-bold in-your-face kinds of things (I know I didn't give any examples of this, but Carol is one of those people who says things that shock people). In fact, I even like it. BUT so often the same person who is ultra-bold is also easily offended, and I can't STAND that (luckily Carol is not like that at all). It seems that some people are ultra-bold only because they can get away with it and scare everyone into submission. I hate that. Some of the boldest people I know are also the touchiest. That's such a bad combination.

Anyway, back to the pie:

So since I didn't have anything in mind, I laughed about her boldness with her, but then said, "I don't have anything else in mind, so I'll just make the pies you mentioned anyway!" I knew I could only count one of the pies I made for Our Year of Pies.

.....Or so I thought......

I finished making the apple pie at 10 pm the night before our get-together. (I will get into its fabulousness later.) Jeff called as it was cooling and said, "I misread my schedule. We can't go to dinner with Fred and Carol tomorrow." I was SO deflated!! I was now stuck with a whole pie that Jeff and I hate! I couldn't believe it. Still, I was able to give lots of slices to my visiting teachees the next day, AND I was able to count it for Our Year of Pies, so it worked out okay. And the very next week, in April, we got together with the Fred and Carol family, and I made ANOTHER apple pie AND also the blackberry and raspberry ("no blueberry") pie that I had promised. KaCHING! My April pie, in the bag!

Now, for the amazing info about the APPLE PIE!!!!!!!!!

I love this pie!! I love it so much!!! This pie converted me to apple pie! This is the only apple pie I have ever liked in my life (though I must admit that many, many times I have turned down apple pie, so it's not like I've tasted a lot of them). This is the Pie of the YEAR!!!!!

Two reasons:
Reason #1 that this is Pie of the Year: There is nothing so visually satisfying --- NOTHING! ---- about opening the oven and seeing a movie pie... a CARTOON pie.... a mounded double-crusted ALL-AMERICAN PIE staring back at you. It was the craziest thing. I could not stop staring at it after it came out of the oven. I kept coming back into the kitchen to stare at it. I kept saying, "I made that! I made that! I made that! I made that!"I cannot describe to you the craziness of that. You just have to make one and see. It looks just like this:

No lie!!

Reason #2 that this is Pie of the Year: This pie made me love pie crust! I didn't really like it all that much before, and I was kinda making it just because I had to. I always thought it took away from the pie filling, and with a cream pie I still think it does. However, the interplay between the not-too-sweet apples and the flaky pie crust is phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal. With a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream..... OUT OF THIS WORLD!

I still don't think I'll ever crave an apple pie, and I probably won't start picking up Hostess Apple Pies when I go to the store (ack... that makes me gag), but I loved this pie. It definitely was my favorite of the year so far.

The recipe, from America's Test Kitchen:

Classic Apple Pie

If you are making this pie during the fall apple season, when many local varieties may be available, follow the recipe below using Macoun, Royal Gala, Empire, Winesap, Rhode Island Greening or Cortland apples. These are well-balanced apples, unlike Granny Smith, and work well on their own without thickeners or the addition of McIntosh. Placing the pie on a baking sheet in the oven inhibits cooking, so cover the bottom of the oven with a sheet of aluminum foil to catch a dripping juices. The pie is best eaten when cooled almost to room temperature, or even the next day. See the last procedural step for do-ahead instructions.

Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour , plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter , chilled, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
8 tablespoons vegetable shortening (chilled)
6 - 8 tablespoons ice water

Apple Filling
2 pounds Granny Smith apples (4 medium)
2 pounds McIntosh apples (4 medium)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest from 1 medium lemon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg white , beaten lightly
1 tablespoon granulated sugar , for topping
1. Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor workbowl fitted with the steel blade. Add butter and pulse to mix in five 1-second bursts. Add shortening and continue pulsing until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal, four or five more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl. (To do this by hand, freeze the butter and shortening, grate it into the flour using the large holes of a box grater, and rub the flour-coated pieces between your fingers for a minute until the flour turns pale yellow and coarse.)

2. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 2 tablespoons more ice water if dough will not hold together. Squeeze dough gently until cohesive and divide into two equal balls. Flatten each into a 4-inch-wide disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap separately in plastic, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, before rolling.

3. Remove dough from refrigerator. If stiff and very cold, let stand until dough is cool but malleable. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 425 degrees.

4. Roll one dough disk on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Fold dough in quarters, then place dough point in center of 9-inch Pyrex regular or deep dish pie pan. Unfold dough.

5. Gently press dough into sides of pan leaving portion that overhangs lip of pie plate in place. Refrigerate while preparing fruit.

6. Peel, core, and cut apples into 1/2-to-3/4-inch slices and toss with 3/4 cup sugar and lemon juice and zest through allspice. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into chilled pie shell and mound slightly in center. Roll out other dough round and place over filling. Trim top and bottom edges to 1/2 inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute edging or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits at right angles on dough top. Brush egg white onto top of crust and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, (omit if freezing unbaked pie, see below).

7. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to almost room temperature, at least 4 hours.

8. Do-Ahead: Freeze the unbaked pie for two to three hours, then cover it with a double layer of plastic wrap, and return it to the freezer for no more than two weeks. To bake, remove the pie from the freezer, brush it with the egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and place directly into a preheated 425 degree oven. After baking it for the usual fifty-five minutes, reduce the oven to 325 degrees, cover the pie with foil so as not to overcook the crust, and bake for an additional twenty to twenty-five minutes.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ann's March Pie - Strawberry Glace

As I've mentioned before, I like to think of some reason to make a certain pie each month, generally out of necessity to use something up. But this month, I went with subtle hints directed towards me. My roommate Scholarastastic has regaled me with stories of her mother's magical strawberry pie that she makes for Valentine's Day each year, and since she had a birthday in March, this pie seemed as good as any to make. I didn't make it for her, per se, but maybe in honor of her.

To start, I'm not sure about the name. The recipe is written as "strawberry glace", Scholarastastic pronounces it "strawberry glass", but glace means "freeze" in French, and glacé, which is what I thought it was called, means "frozen". Neither of these apply to the method or result of the pie. I know that it's supposed to be refering to the glaze, but I don't know what the name is actually supposed to be. Maybe if I spoke French, I'd get it. Stupid Romantic languages.

Anyhoo, I love the idea of this recipe because I knew it'd be gorgeous and that I could try out some new skills, but most appealing is the fact that it is a family favorite and that's what pie making really should be all about. However, the recipe didn't come with a specific crust, so I decided on a butter-and-shortening crust since I hadn't made one yet. I did some research, and decided on a recipe from The Dessert Bible by Christopher Kimball (of America's Test Kitchen fame, and Elizabeth's secret boyfriend). I liked that he had a handmade method instead of requiring a food processor, and I especially liked that the recipe said to freeze the fats and then grate them into the dry ingredients. How fun! This allows the fats to be in small enough pieces without a food processor and cuts them down quickly so they can remain as cold as possible as the dough is incorporated together. And it just looks cool:

Is it mozzerella... or butter and Crisco???

The dough came together fairly easily - I think I ended up adding an extra tablespoon or two of water to make it form a ball, but it wasn't bad at all. After I put it in the fridge, I looked at the recipe again to see what I'd need to do for the rolling out and prebaking processes..and then I saw the separate recipe for crusts that require prebaking, which is what I wanted. Gah!!! I really felt like I had read the recipe through and understood it, but how can I compete with a cookbook that doesn't tell me that the recipe I want isn't actually the recipe I want? How would I know that there would be a different recipe if you want to prebake the crust? I thought that was just part of what you did with pie crusts of this nature!! I guess there must be pies that you don't prebake first - clearly, this is something I need to look into. So you'll get different results from the slightly different amounts of fat, which must be true because Chris Kimball says so. He also says "The single most difficult culinary task for the home cook is prebaking a pie shell." Yikes! What was I up against???

Actually, the crust rolled out BEAUTIFULLY - absolutely no dry edges, pliable, perfect. Chris Kimball recommends refrigerating the dough first and then freezing it briefly before baking it to help prevent the crust from shrinking. At this point, I transfered over to Miss Hass's house to finish the pie since we were going to a Scholarastastic's birthday party a little later and it was closer to her apartment. Plus, she promised to take pictures with her amazing camera in exchange for pie. Hooray!!!

The crust didn't bake as nicely as I'd have liked, I think because the oven got REALLY hot fast - ovens can be so tricky, as I've learned since living in various apartments. Anyway, so now for the filling. We took a trip to Sam's Club for strawberries, and so I could gawk at everything (as La Dolcezza recorded in her blog recently) - I also bought bulk cheese and a skirt! We hulled them and mashed some with sugar and water for the glaze. To start, I spread softened cream cheese on the bottom of the crust. Next, I arranged the berries in a lovely pattern.

Then, the glaze:

And then it was basically done! Here is the finished product:

Come, little children, don't fear the pie...

Poor Greta gets no pie:

And then it went into the fridge for several hours - we didn't eat it until the next day in the end.

The strawberries we bought were amazing - they completely made the pie. I don't think it would be worth making without gorgeous, ripe berries, and there's something so satisfying about seeing a mound of perfect glistening red presented to you. However, there are things I would change about the recipe. The glaze was good, but it didn't taste great after the first day - it was more gelatinous than a glaze, so you either ought to eat the pie all at once or make a different kind of glaze. Also, once the pie had chilled, the cream cheese just set up in a very solid layer which I didn't particularly enjoy. Scholarastastic checked with her mom and found out that she usually does a mixture of sour cream and cream cheese, which would make a world of difference. I would whip them together with some lemon juice and zest for extra tang - similar to the top layer of the blueberry sour cream pie in January. Num num nummy!

Of course, Scholarastastic was quite pleased with the result. Happy Birthday!

Strawberry Glace Pie
courtesy Betty Crocker via Barbara S.

9-inch prebaked pie crust
approx. 8 cups strawberries (4 pints)
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water)
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened (per Scholarastastic's method - 3 oz. cream cheese, 3 tbs. sour cream, 1 tbs. sugar)

Mash enough strawberries to make 1 cup. Mix sugar and cornstarch in 2 quart saucepan. Stir in water and mashed berries gradually. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute; cool. Beat cream cheese until smooth, spread on bottom of pie shell. Fill with rest of strawberries; pour cooked mixture over top. Refrigerate until set, approximately 3 hours.

Master Recipe for Prebaked Pie Shell, hand variation
from The Dessert Bible by Christopher Kimball

(Note: this the recipe I should have used)

5 tablespoons cold all-vegetable shortening (e.g. Crisco)
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

1. Freeze the vegetable shortening (Crisco) and butter for 30 minutes. Mix flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl with a whisk for 30 seconds. Grate the butter and shortening into the bowl containing the flour mixture. Use your fingers to gently toss the grated butter and shortening with the flour. The flour mixture should turn slightly yellow and take on a course, cornmeal-like tecture. Do not overmix at this point or the butter will melt and the dough will become sticky and hard to handle.

2. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon ice water onto the mixture and gently toss with your fingers to mix. Add an additional tablespoon and toss and then a third. Check the mixture by taking a handfull and squeezing. If the dough holds together, it is done. (It is better to use too much water than not enough.) If not, add another tablespoon of water, toss, and then squeeze a handful to check. Gather the dough into a ball, turn onto a lightly floured surface, and flatten into a 4-inch disk. Dust very lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

3. If dough has spent more than 1 hour in the refrigerator, let warm up a few minutes on the counter before proceeding. Roll out dough and place into a 8- or 9-inch pie pan. Push dough gently down the sides of the pan. Trim dough around edge of pan, leaving 1/2-inch border. Fold excess dough underneath the edge of the dough and shape edge using fingers, or press with the tines of a fork. Place in refrigerator for at least 40 minutes. Place in freeze for 20 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

4. Remove pie shell from freezer and fit a double thickness of heavy-duty aluminum foil (the extra-wide rolls are best; if the foil is too narrow, use two sheets) over shell, fitting foil carefully into the bottom of pie shell and pressing against the sides. Add pie weights or dried beans, enough to generously cover bottom of pie plate. Pile up the weights around the sides of the shell to help hold them in place.

5. Bake on lower rack for about 21 minutes, or until sides of pie shell are set. (They should not be moist and should be firm.) Remove foil and weights and bake another 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. (Note: this cooking time was too long for my pie - after removing weights, watch carefully to make sure the crust doesn't brown too much.)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Elizabeth's February Pie: Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie

For February I decided to throw my husband a bone, since he only got a half slice of the Chocolate Cream Pie in December and I made a Coconut Cream Pie in January. Jeff hates coconut, but he LOVES peanut butter, so I decided to make him a Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie. I know most people call it a "Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie," but I want the focus to be on the peanut butter, so I'm listing it first in the title.

(Side note: when Jeff is eating something he likes, he very often comments that it would be better with more chocolate and more peanut butter---even if the item has none of either ingredient. He doesn't seem to say it to be funny; he legitimately thinks every food in the world would be better with more chocolate and more peanut butter. I usually think it's funny, but sometimes I want to shout, "ACK! Not everything in the world has to taste like a Reeses!")

(Other side note: around here in Ohio, lots of people say "ReesEEs" with a long e at the end, instead of Reeses, with a short e. I'd never heard it before and I think they're wrong. The commercials never said ReesEEs! What do you say?)

I've made peanut butter chocolate pies before, but they were never just right. Jeff and I have been searching for the "perfect" peanut butter chocolate pie, and America's Test Kitchen is no help! Stupid ATK!! (Just kidding.... Chris, Julia, Bridgette, Adam, Jack.....How could I be mad at you???)

The recipe I came up with is actually a combination and tweaking of 5 separate recipes. It comes as close to the perfect peanut butter chocolate pie that Jeff and I have yet encountered, but there is still some tweaking to go. I will explain that later.

I went with a Nutter Butter crust, a fudge layer, a peanut butter/cream cheese layer, and a ganache top. Fabulous! I'm the perfect combiner of recipes! And using hot fudge topping for the fudge layer was all my idea. I'm brilliant!!

Here is the combo RECIPE that I used:

14 nutter butters
3 Tbl butter melted

Fudge layer:
Mrs. Richardson's Chocolate Fudge Topping (NOT Hershey's)

5 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups chilled heavy cream

Ganache Topping:

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the crust by combining cookies and butter. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9" pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly browned.

2. Spread fudge topping on the bottom of the crust to the thickness you prefer. Go slowly, be patient, and use an offset spatula so that the act of spreading the fudge doesn't pull up the crust. Chill the crust after the fudge goes in.

3. Filling: In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer set on high, whip cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add milk, peanut butter and vanilla. Beat until well mixed.

4. In a separate bowl, whip remaining chilled cream until stiff and fold into peanut butter mixture. Spoon gently into chilled crust, using a spatula to smooth the surface of the pie, and refrigerate for at least 5 hours.

5. Make the ganache: In a medium glass bowl, combine the chocolate with the heavy cream and microwave at high power in 20-second intervals until the chocolate is melted and the cream is hot. Stir the ganache until blended, then let cool to barely warm, stirring occasionally.

6. Spread the ganache over the peanut butter filling and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Note: It is vital that you chill the pie for the required time. Otherwise it just weeps all over. When it is properly chilled it slices like a dream and tastes a million times better than a weepy pie.

1. I would add more fat to the crust. A total of 4-6 Tablespoons. The crust didn't hold together as firmly as I would have liked.

2. I would make a thicker fudge layer. More topping. That is Jeff's suggestion, not mine. It is true, though, that that layer wasn't really "present."

3. I would use less sugar and more peanut butter in the filling. I don't like my pies to taste like a candy bar, and even though everyone who ate it gushed at how much they loved it, it was too sweet for me, and I'm the cook, so I get to fiddle with it!

4. I would garnish it with chopped peanuts around the edge of the pie.

5. I would have remembered that it was my friend's birthday that night and actually have said "Happy Birthday" and maybe even have had everyone sing the song, instead of forgetting all about her birthday because of my stupid dinner and pie. I didn't know it was her birthday when I invited her family to dinner, but when she told me that it would be her birthday that night, I certainly planned on doing something for it!! What's my problem? I LOVE birthdays! Who would have thought I would have missed a birthday???!!!