Tag Archives: pie

A Pie in the Hand Is Worth…

A lot.

Hand pies are great, aren’t they?  I mean, the fact that a piece of pie doesn’t require a fork to eat it is pretty cool.  And, that is not just because I don’t have a dishwasher.  No, I’m more impressed by the ease in which it can move from the pan to my mouth.

I wanted some pie this weekend, and I liked the idea of not using forks, but I didn’t want to roll out and press a bunch of individual pies.  So, I made a slab pie instead.  (ASIDE: When I told my husband that what he was smelling was a slab pie baking in the oven.  He replied that he had never tasted slab, but he hoped it was good.)  No, silly, it is called slab pie for its shape, not its flavor.  It is long, flat, and rectangular, like a stone slab.  I figured it was a sturdy enough pie that once it was cut into slices, it could be eaten out of hand.  I was right.

Strawberry Blueberry Slab Pie
Serves 8 to 12

Crust:

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
18 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice (I mean it, really cold)
3 Tbsp cold vegetable shortening
1/3 cup cold water

Filling:

4 cups berries (I used equal parts sliced strawberries and blueberries)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp orange juice
1/2 Tbsp orange zest

To make the crust:
I experimented with a Fine Cooking recipe for pie dough because I wanted to use my food processor.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can still make this recipe by hand,  though.

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor.

Add the really cold butter and vegetable shortening.

Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  It took me about 10 pulses.  You want the fats cold when you mix with the flour so it will stay in little pieces and make your crust flakier instead of just melting together.

Sprinkle 1/3 cup cold water and pulse until it just starts to come together.  It took me about 8 pulses.  Be careful not to overprocess.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and with your fingers shape into a rectangle that is about 8 x 12 inches.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Make filling:
In a bowl, toss together  berries, salt, sugar, cornstarch, orange juice, and orange zest.  Set aside.

Assemble and bake pie:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

Retrieve the dough from the refrigerator and turn out on t0 a lightly floured work surface.  With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough to about 1/4-inch thick rectangle.  You can probably get as large as 12 x 18 inches, but it is okay if it is smaller.  You may need to add a bit more flour as you roll, so it doesn’t stick.  If you want it pretty, you should trim the dough and make the sides straight.  If you don’t care how it looks, just how it tastes, leave it alone.

Transfer the dough to your prepared baking sheet and turn it so the long side if facing you.  Spoon/spread the berry filling along the bottom half, leaving about a 1/2-inch border.  Because my berries were so juicy, I used a slotted spoon to move the berries onto the pie crust.

Fold the top half down to cover the filling.  I lifted the exposed bottom layer on top of the top layer to seal the pie, but you can line up the edges, if you prefer.

To seal the filled pie, press a fork along the seam or edges to secure the sides.  Press the fork down gently, just enough to create a good bond, but not so hard that you push through to the second layer of dough and pierce it, which could cause the filling to leak. (Like what I did.)

In a small bowl, beat an egg with about 2 tsp of water to create an egg wash.  Brush this mixture over the top of the sealed pie.

Using a sharp paring knife, cut 5 or 6 steam vents into the top of the dough.

Bake until the pie is golden brown, about 50 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

When ready to serve, use a serrated knife to cut into slices.  It is best eaten within 24 hours, but it will keep for a couple of days, well-wrapped in the refrigerator.

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When Life Gives You Icky Sugar Cookies…Make Lemon Pie!

You know those boxes of cookies you see in the grocery store bakery?

Well, I don’t like them.  I know that some people must like those cookies though, because I witness them being purchased, and I see them at potluck parties.

A box of these cookies showed up at a party that my friend Kate attended last weekend, and no one touched them.  Okay, maybe one person touched them because the box was short one cookie.  Anyway, the party ended and there sat a nearly full box of cookies.  It seemed wrong somehow to Kate, and the sweet and clever girl that she is, she brought them home.  She knew that we could see to it that those cookies served a better purpose…a higher purpose.

And, you know what?  I think we did.

Lemon Icebox Pie with Sugar Cookie Crust
Makes one 9-inch deep dish pie

Crust:
box of stale grocery store sugar cookies
7 Tbsp butter

Filling:
4 egg yolks
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup lemon juice

Meringue Topping:
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Start with the crust.  You want to reduce those not-so-great cookies into crumbs.  I used my food processor, but you could also put them in a sealed zip-top plastic bag and pound on them with a rolling pin.

You need to finish with 3 1/2 to 4 cups of cookie crumbs.  Dump those crumbs in a bowl.

Melt the butter and add it to the crumbs.

Stir to combine.

Press the buttery crumbs into a deep-dish pie pan with your fingers.  Evenly distribute the crumbs to cover the entire inside of the pan.

Now for the filling…Separate the eggs by putting the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another.  Add sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice to the bowl with egg yolks.  Blend well – I used a handheld electric mixer.

Pour the filling into the cookie crumb crust.

Finally, on to the topping.  Take the 4 egg whites you set aside, and sprinkle them with cream of tartar.  The cream of tartar helps make your egg whites more manageable.  Using clean beaters for your handheld electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff glossy peaks form.

Spread the whipped egg whites onto the lemon filling.

Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until the meringue is lightly browned.  Cool completely before slicing.

The pie keeps for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

VARIATION:  I made meringue, but you could top your pie with whip cream instead.  Just bake the filling and crust for about 15 minutes.  Let it cool and then spread with whipped cream.

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And The Bourbon Trail Goes On…

We’ve continued to savor the flavors of Kentucky since returning home.  I especially enjoy the combination of booze and dessert.  Here are a couple of my favorites…

Since a barrel may be used only once to age bourbon, Kentucky has a flood of used bourbon barrels.  Many are used to age scotch, but recent years have them holding beer, as well.  We picked up two varieties of bourbon barrel beer – a stout from Bluegrass Brewing Company and an ale from Alltech.

Both are delicious and our a wonderful companion to vanilla ice cream in a beer float.

Bourbon Barrel Beer Float
Makes 2 floats

4 – 6 scoops premium vanilla ice cream
12 oz bottle bourbon barrel beer (ale or stout)

This is a super easy dessert.  Put two to three scoops each of vanilla ice cream in two pint glasses.

Slowly pour 6 ounces of beer in each glass.

Sip through a straw and try not to pour yourself another…

A popular dessert in Kentucky is a pie made with bourbon, chocolate, and nuts.  A version is sold in most restaurants, but only Kern’s Kitchen can call it “Derby Pie” after having it trademarked both in Kentucky and the Federal Government.  The family rigorously defends this trademark, so in restaurants or recipe books you will see the pie referred to as “First Saturday in May Pie,” “Pegasus Pie,” “Thoroughbred Pie,” or other such winks to the reference.

The Dessert That Cannot Be Called Derby Pie for Fear of Trademark Violation
Makes 1 9-inch deep dish pie

9-inch deep dish pie crust
1 1/4 cup pecans
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup light Karo syrup
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup bourbon
1 cup chocolate chips

I won’t provide pie crust instructions here, but you can follow mine, or create your own.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread pecans onto a baking sheet and place in oven for about 10 minutes or until fragrant and slightly toasted.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Line pie pan with pie crust, flute edges, and place in refrigerator while you prepare filling.

Blend melted butter, sugars, and Karo syrup in a medium bowl.  Stir in beaten eggs, vanilla, and bourbon.  Set aside.

Take out pie crust and sprinkle chocolate chips and pecans in bottom of pan.

Add egg and sugar mixture.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until filling is set, and crust is lightly browned.

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Peachy Keen for Pie

I’ve been feeling a bit homesick lately.  I find that I usually turn to cooking dishes from home to help me through those feelings.  The brisket we smoked this weekend definitely helped, but so did the peach blueberry pie.

July is usually the sweetest month for peaches in the Hill Country of Texas.  If I were back in Texas now, I would have already gone peach picking and made a ridiculous number of peach dishes.  And, I would have made myself sticky with all the sweet peachy juice.  Mmmm.

According to Texas media sources, the area’s favorable fall and winter conditions, paired with no late killing frosts or harsh thunderstorms, have resulted in the best peach crop in years in the Texas Hill Country.  The peaches harvested in the Hill Country are known for truly exceptional taste and quality. The perfect combination of sandy soil, optimal moisture, warm days, and cool nights create a special flavor that folks travel from far and wide to experience.  There is nothing like a fresh-picked Hill Country peach!  I hope you can try one someday, but in the meantime, enjoy the fresh-picked peaches in your area.

Peach Blueberry Pie
Makes one 9 1/2 inch deep dish, double-crust pie

For crust:
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup Crisco
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup ice water
I cube the butter right out of the refrigerator and place in a bowl with Crisco and flour. I then place this bowl in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes. It is important to keep the ingredients and dough cold.  Then, I use my pastry cutter to blend until it is consistency of pea-sized crumbs.
Drizzle on the ice water and stir with a fork until crumbs are moistened and it is starting to clump together.
Press the dough into a ball and divide into two pieces, one slightly smaller than the other (that will be top pie crust). Flatten into disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.

For filling:
4 cups of fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup cornstarch

Mix peaches and blueberries with sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch.  Taste.  You may want to add more sugar, if it is too tart for you.  I usually err on the side of less sugar so as to allow the fresh fruit taste to come through.  Plus, I usually serve pie with ice cream that adds some sweet. You may also want to add more cornstarch if your peaches are particularly juicy.  Let it sit while you make the crust and you can judge before putting it in the crust.

When ready to create your pie, roll out the larger circle of dough on a floured surface until it is about 1/8 inch in thickness and around 13 inches in diameter.  This is the bottom pie crust for your 9 1/2 inch deep dish pie pan.

Pour the fruit filling into the crust.  Roll out the second round of pie dough now.  You can roll it into a circle a little smaller in diameter that the last one to cover the pie completely.  Or, you can roll it out into a rectangle and cut strips to weave into a lattice.  Or, you can roll it out into a rough shape and use cookie cutters to cut shapes and lay on top of the fruit.  Be creative.  This time I rolled the dough into a circle about 11 inches in diameter and used two sized star-shaped cookie cutters to cut designs into it.  Then, lay it on top of the filling and seal edges.

Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for 1 1/2 hours to 2 1/4 hours until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown.

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Mmmm…Pie

My husband and I were invited to dinner by my husband’s friend Tony this week.  He grilled up some steaks while we played with his two-year-old daughter.  What a cutie!

I thought it was the perfect occasion to make the cherry pie I’d been contemplating.  Plus, it would use the rest of the tart cherries.  I love to make pie, but it is a bit much to make for just my husband and myself.  It is a better dessert to share.  However, you don’t want too many people to share it with because then you don’t have any pie to eat the next day or later that night!

It took me a while to feel like I mastered pie crust. I tried several different recipes and techniques and it took me a while to be satisfied.  I think a crust that uses both butter and shortening is key.   I think the flavor of a butter crust is best, but the shortening makes it a little more forgiving and easier to work with.

You also need to practice.  Don’t expect your crust to come out perfectly the first time…it takes time to get the feel of rolling it out.  It is worth it, though, and it isn’t bad to have to eat pie regularly.  We certainly enjoy it!

Cherry Pie
Makes one 9 1/2 inch deep dish, double-crust pie
For crust:
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup Crisco
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup ice water
I cube the butter right out of the refrigerator and place in a bowl with Crisco and flour. I then place this bowl in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes. It is important to keep the ingredients and dough cold.  Then, I use my pastry cutter to blend until it is consistency of pea-sized crumbs.

Drizzle on the ice water and stir with a fork until crumbs are moistened and it is starting to clump together.

Press the dough into a ball and divide into two pieces, one slightly smaller than the other (that will be top pie crust). Flatten into disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
For filling:
7 cups of pitted tart cherries
1 1/2 – 2 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of cornstarch
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and let it sit for a few minutes to dissolve the sugar and cornstarch.  If it is super juicy, you may want to add just a touch more sugar and cornstarch.

When ready to create pie, roll out dough on floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick and around 13 inches diameter. This is the bottom pie crust that goes into the pie pan.  Place this in the bottom of your 9 1/2 inch deep-dish pie pan.

Pour the cherry filling into the crust.  Roll out the second round of pie dough now.  You can roll it into a circle a little smaller in diameter than the last one in order to cover the pie completely.  Or, you can roll it out into a rectangle and cut strips to weave into a lattice shape.  Or, you can roll it out in a rough shape and use cookie cutters to cut shapes and lay on top of the fruit.  Or, a combination there of…

I used a star cookie cutter to make shapes to lay on top of the cherries this time.  It felt more festive to me.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hours until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown.  You need to be careful of leakage.  These cherries were very juicy and the pie started oozing juice over the edges of the pan.  I placed the pie pan on top of a cookie sheet to catch the leaking juice and to save me cleaning the oven.  It can still cause some smoke as the sugar burns, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Lemon Meringue Memories

I was feeling nostalgic as I planned our Easter meal, so I decided to make a couple of pies that my grandmother always made – Chocolate and Lemon Meringue.

I couldn’t find her recipe for Lemon Meringue, so I tried to re-create it based on some online research.
I felt sure it would come out well. I mean, look at how pretty it looks. And, my husband and I had a lot of fun making it together. However, once we sliced it for our guests, it was still a bit soupy. Any advice or suggestions are welcome. Here’s what we did…
Lemon Meringue Pie
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp butter
juice of two lemons (about 1/2 cup)
zest of 1 lemon
1 9-inch pre-baked pie shell
Whisk egg yolks and set aside. In medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, water, sugar, and salt. Turn heat on medium, and stirring frequently, bring to a boil. Boil for at least 1 minute. Remove from heat and use it gradually to temper the egg yolks.
Return egg mixture to saucepan, turn down heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for at least one more minute. Remove from heat and add butter, lemon juice, and zest until well combined.
Pour mixture into shell and top with meringue while filling is still hot. Bake for 12 minutes until meringue is golden.
We cooled the pie on a rack, and then kept in overnight in a pie carrier in the refrigerator. The meringue didn’t weep much at all and the flavor was pretty nice, but the filling sure was runny.

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