Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pie, Pie.... Me Oh My!.... We all love Pie!....

For some reason I can't explain, Pies seemed to fall out of favor or go out of style, like they seemed old fashioned and belonged to another age..... Grandmothers made pie (mine didn't but maybe yours did...), old style diners served pie but modern people had other more upscale desserts and pie was relegated to the past. Why?..

I love pies, all kind so pies - fruit ones so juicy and sweet, custard ones are wonderful, cream pies can be smooth and elegant, vegetable pies so savory and light, tarts, quiches, nut pies..... you can go on an on and the possibilities are so endless that you're sure to find one to suit your every mood and occasion.

Join me on a little walk to the past and let's remember why pies are so great, maybe I'll even inspire you to try one or two, who knows? We might bring back pies into style, so how about it?

The Most Famous Pie of All.- Old Fashioned Deep Dish Apple Pie

  • 4 lbs Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, and cored
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 2 tbl freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbl freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tsp to sprinkle on top
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • Pie Crust, recipe follows
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tbl water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each apple quarter in thirds crosswise and combine in a bowl with the zests, juices, 1/2 cup sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.Roll out half the pie dough and drape it over a 9- or 10" pie pan to extend about 1/2" over the rim. Don't stretch the dough; if it's too small, re-roll it.

Fill the pie with the apple mixture. Brush the edge of the bottom pie crust with the egg wash so the top crust will adhere. Top with the second crust and trim the edges to about 1" over the rim. Tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and crimp the 2 together with your fingers or a fork. Brush the entire top crust with the egg wash, sprinkle with 1 tsp sugar, and cut 4 or 5 slits. Place the pie on a sheet pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the crust is browned and the juices begin to bubble out. Serve warm.

Perfect Pie Crust:
12 tbl very cold butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbl sugar
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tbl (about 1/2 cup) ice water Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 min. (You can also do this without a food processor: put the ingredients into a cool bowl and add the butter and cut into it with a pastry cutter or fork, don't handle too much or the crust will be tough, then roll out as usual).

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust.

Lemon Meringue Pie.- Perfect for summer days....Crust

  • 6 tbl butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tbls sugar
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sour cream or yogurt
  • Lemon Filling:

    • 1/3 cups sugar
    • 1 tbl cornstarch
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
    • 2 tbl freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)
    • 1 tbl finely grated lemon zest
    • 3 tbl cold butter, cubed


    • 1/4 cup egg whites (about 2 large eggs)
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
    • Pinch fine salt
    • 1 (6-cup) standard non-stick muffin tin (or whatever pan you like)

    Crust: Beat the butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high until smooth. Add the sugar and salt and continue to beat until evenly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the egg yolk. Add half of the flour, beating until just crumbly. Scrape down the bowl again; add the remaining flour and then the sour cream or yogurt, beating just until the dough is evenly moistened. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly to bring it together.Roll the dough between 2 generously floured sheets of waxed or parchment paper into a circle about 1/4" thick with a rolling pin. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

    Cut out 6 (4 1/2") rounds using an inverted bowl or round cookie cutter. Place rounds in the muffin tins and, using a small shot glass or your fingers, press into the corners and about halfway up the sides for a snug fit. Freeze dough in the muffin tin for 30 min. Or place the dough into the pan you chose and proceed the same way.

    Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Spray the outside of 6 standard muffin liners with cooking spray and place in the crusts. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake crusts until just brown around the edges, about 25 to 30 min. Remove from the oven and cool for about 1 min; then carefully remove the muffin liners and baking beans. Return pan to the oven and continue to bake until crusts are cooked through and evenly browned, about 15 to 20 min more. Cool slightly. Then carefully remove crusts from the muffin tin and cool completely on a rack.

    Lemon Filling: Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and yolks in a nonreactive saucepan. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture is smooth and sugar dissolves, about 1 min. Add the lemon and lime juice and zest and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is as thick as sour cream and is just about to simmer, 3 to 4 min. (Take care to stir into the sides of the pot so that all curd thickens evenly.) Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Whisk in the butter a little at a time, until smooth. Stir occasionally until cooled. (Setting the bowl in a larger bowl of ice will speed this up.). Fill each tartlet with 1 1/2 tbl of the cool lemon filling.

    Meringue: Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a saucepan that can hold a standing mixer's bowl above the water. Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and salt in the bowl by hand. Set the bowl above the boiling water and continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch (135 degrees F) and the sugar dissolves, about 1 to 2 min. Transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the whites at medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. Increase speed to high and continue to beat to make a stiff, cool meringue, about 10 min. Dollop or pipe on top of the filling.

    Just before serving, preheat the broiler to high. Set the pies on a baking sheet, and place under the broiler until the meringue is evenly toasted, about 2 min. (Or, brown meringue with a blowtorch.) Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Coconut Dream Pie.- For those of us that love coconut.....

    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
    • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
    • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • 5 egg yolks
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 cup flaked, unsweetened coconut
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tbl butter
    • 1 (9-inch) baked pie shell, recipe follows
    • 1/3 cup toasted coconut
    • Whipped cream, for garnish

    In a nonstick 1-quart saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar, coconut milk, and 1 cup milk. Scald mixture. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch together to make a mix ("slurry"). Whisk egg yolks with salt in medium bowl. Temper yolks by adding 1/2 cup scaled milk mixture to yolks and whisk well. Add yolk mixture and slurry back into milk mixture and whisk vigorously over medium heat until thickened, about 2 min. Remove from heat and add coconut, vanilla, and butter. Whisk until uniformly incorporated.

    Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Chill the pie completely, about 2 hours.To serve, top with toasted coconut and a dollop of whipped cream.

    Pie shell:
    2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
    6 to 7 tablespoons ice cold water

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Mix well. Add the shortening and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the water and let sit 1 minute. Either using a fork or your hands, carefully press the mixture together to form a soft ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 min.

    Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a circle about 12" in diameter and 1/4" thick. Gently fold the circle of dough in half and then in half again so that you can lift it without tearing it, and unfold into a 9" x 2" deep-dish pie pan. Crimp the edges and chill again for 30 min before baking.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake pie shell until golden, about 25 to 30 min. Remove from the oven and cool completely before using.

    Note: For lazy method: Get 1 package coconut cookies and put in blender until almost fine crumbs. Make 2 cups. Add 6 tbl melted butter (to hold it together) and you can add 1/4 cup sugar if you like but I find the cookies are sweet enough. Melt the butter and add it to the crumbs and work with your fingers so it's like wet sand. Press into dish so it's even and up the sides. Bake it in 350 degree oven for about 6-7 min and then cool before filling. You can have these frozen and ready ahead of time and fill with whatever..... you can use all sorts of cookies for this too, like: Oreos with cream center, lemon cookies, ginger snaps, cinnamon cookies.... go wild.

    I hope you will find inspiration from my suggestions and decide to make a pie. Your family will thank you and the satisfaction of making such "down home " food is priceless. It doesn't get much better than this folks except for cobblers, crisps, betty's..... Mmmmm, more inspiration is on it 's way and don't forget, summer's comming and with it come summer fruits!

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