Posts tagged with pie:

Peach Tart

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With peaches at their peak a couple of weeks ago this fresh Peach Tart from the Food 52 website was the perfect ending to the meal I prepared for our friends from Maryland on the first evening of their arrival.

Not only is it delicious it is so simple to prepare.  Here is what Amanda Hesser has to say about her recipe…

"Every cook needs a good dessert recipe that can be whipped up anywhere-especially when you’re away from your kitchen and its mixer and rolling pin and comforting gadgets.  this peach tart is that recipe for me.  To make it all you need is a knife, a bowl, and some kind of a pan.  A tart pan ideally, but I’ve even made it on a baking sheet with one sideshored up with aluminum foil.  And when I’ve been without a bowl, I’ve even mixed the dough right in the pan.

The dough is made with oil, milk and almond extract, and is pressed into the pan.  there is no blind baking nonsense.  you just top the dough with the peaches, and then shower it with a sugary, salty crumble and send it on its merry way to the oven.

I got the original recipe from my mother, who uses all vegetable oil in the crust.  I use half vegetable oil and half olive oil.  she neatly peels her peaches.  Lazy kin, I do not.  Hers is probably better, but you are stuck with me.  I can promise you, however, that whoever you serve this to will not mind.”

I made it just as she suggests, and it is definitely a keeper.  Here is the recipe…

Peach Tart ( recipe from Amanda Hesser, Food 52)

Makes one 11-inch tart; serves 8

1and1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

1/4 cup mild olive oil

2 tablespoons whole milk

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter

3 to 5 small ripe peaches, pitted and thickly sliced (about1/2-inch wide)

1.  Heat the oven to 425 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, stir together 1 and 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar.  Stirring enables the salt and sugar to sift the flour, so you don’t need to sift it in advance.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oils, milk, and almond extract. 

Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and mix gently with a fork, just enough to dampen; do not over work it.

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Then, transfer the dough to and 11-inch tart pan ( you can use a smaller one if needed), and use your hands to pat out the dough so it covers the bottom of the pan, pushing it up to the sides to meet the edges. 

This will work if you pat firmly and confidently, but not if you curl your fingertips into the dough.  It should be about 1/8-inch thick all the way around; trim and discard excess dough.

2.  In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the butter.  (If your peaches are especially juicy, add 1 tablespoon additional flour.)  Using your fingers, pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly, with a mixture of fine gramules and tiny pebbles.

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3.  Starting on the outside, arrange the peaches overlapping in a concentric circle over the pastry; fill in the center in whatever pattern makes sense.  the peaches should fit snugly.

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Sprinkle the pebbly butter mixture over top. (it will seem like a lot).

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Bake for 35-45 minutes, until shiny, thick bubbles begin enveloping the fruit and the crust is slightly brown.

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Cool on a rack.

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Serve warm or room temperature, preferably with generous dollops of whipped cream, (or, in my case, vanilla ice cream).

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Grilled Salmon Dinner

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For the past couple weeks my brother, sister-in-law and niece who live in New York have been visiting the west coast. 

They began their vacation in LA where they were able to connect with various extended  family members including my older son and his girlfriend among others. 

After successfully accomplishing this no small feat which entailed covering a lot of ground around greater Los Angeles, they headed up the coast to spend several days in Big Sur, before heading back down the coast to visit us in San Luis Obispo for six days.

Along their way from LA they stopped by for a quick tour of our new home and a short walk to one of our favorite places for lunch here.

We last saw them a year and a half ago when we went back east for a cousin’s wedding, and in all this time we have been talking about our new house and this new hometown of San Luis Obispo, sometimes ad nauseum, I’m sure.

So all that talk turned into a reality as they stepped over the threshold to see our beautiful new home.  It was such a good feeling to have them here!

After they pulled away to continue on to Big Sur (where they would meet up with our younger son and his girlfriend for an afternoon) we were thrilled to have my now  23 year old niece stay with us for a few days. 

For many years when she was younger she would spend a week with us in the summer in Maryland.  So having her here now was just icing on the cake.

I planned a relaxing dinner at home the evening they returned from Big Sur. 

While we enjoyed many fantastic meals out at local restaurants,  I was eager to serve a few home cooked meals as well.  Here is the menu…

For starters we  had  some appetizers on the deck… a Caprese platter with some beautiful local heirloom tomatoes…

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and a platter of melon and prosciutto de Parma…

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 My husband grilled fresh wild sockeye salmon fillets. 

The salmon was simply prepared with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, freshly cracked pepper, a bit of chopped fresh dill, and a squeeze of lemon juice. 

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As long as the grill was hot we grilled an assortment of summer squash with peppers…

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and a platter of assorted new potatoes, all tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper…

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And some homemade tzatziki on the side for dipping with any or all of the above.

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A green salad with a Blood Orange Vinaigrette completed the meal.

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Except of course for that Sour Cherry Pie I had promised my brother.

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We had a fun packed week, and still found time to relax, and just hang out. 

We showed them around our neighborhood and walked  our very walkable downtown.

We impressed them with our Mediterranean micro-climate.

We went to the vineyards, the beaches, and the farmer’s market.

We went hiking (got a little lost, but found our way),  and enjoyed delicious meals at many of the marvelous farm to table restaurants that surround us.

We love our home, and we love our new hometown, but being able to share it all with our family is what really makes it feel like home. 

We will be looking forward to our other family members and friends  coming to visit us as time goes by, and repeat visits from all.

Through the entire process of our move I continued to tell myself that although change is hard at times change is good, and I do believe that.

 But with my brother’s visit this past week i am reminded that some things never change, and that is a very good thing.

 

Sour Cherry Pie

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If you have been following my blog you will remember that before our home was completed we had lived in a hotel for one month, then a lovely rental with a small kitchen (finally I could cook again), where we stayed for 6 weeks.

Due to a previous booking at that time, and our home still not ready, we found ourselves looking for yet another rental. 

Every cloud has a silver lining and ours came in the form of an amazing studio apartment above a garage that I found in the rental listings I had been scouring for availability.

I immediately emailed the owner who immediately called me back.  He responded to our plight of needing a place to live for an indeterminate amount of time by saying he would love to help us out, and we should come by and take a look at the apartment.

It was a really great space with a state of the art kitchen you would rarely find in a studio above a garage! 

The owner generously offered to allow us to stay there for as long as we needed to which freed us from the burden of possibly having to find a 3rd rental at some point. 

So he agreed to not accept any other renters until we let him know our actual moving date!  I know I mentioned it before, but the nicest people  really do live here in San Luis Obispo!

He and his two children came for dinner last night.

After showing them our home we sat down to a dinner of Caesar salad,  grilled pork loin with herbs and garlic, sauteed apples, roasted carrots with onions and twice baked potatoes.

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His son who will be going into sixth grade, and his daughter, who will be going into fifth, were a pleasure to have at our table. 

Their social skills, and sophisticated palates surprised both my husband and me.  They can dine with us any day.  I would be happy to cook for them!

Dessert was this Sour Cherry Pie. 

The cover of the June issue of Bon Appetit magazine featured a fresh sour cherry pie. 

I had hoped to try that recipe, but was unable to find fresh sour cherries.  I know there is a small window for finding them and I had apparently just missed it.

But the photo of the pastry crust was calling my name. I decided to make that crust and fill it with a delicious tart cherry filling I’ve made before that  uses canned sour cherries. 

These canned tart cherries sometimes known as “pie cherries” are  not to be mistaken for that awful bright red artificial goopy pie filling you see on the grocery shelves!

The consensus at dessert last night was they make a really delicious cherry pie with just the right amount of tartness!  And the buttery crust was the perfect vehicle for them. And a scoop of good vanilla ice cream will put it over the top.   Here’s how to make it…

Sour Cherry Pie

Crust (Sour Cherry Pie,Bon Appetit, June 2014)

1/3 cup almond flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 and1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface

1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 large egg yolks

Crust

Pulse almond flour, granulated sugar, salt and 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour in a food processor.  Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

Whisk egg yolks and 1/4 cup ice water in a small bowl and drizzle over the flour mixture.  Pulse, drizzling in more ice water as needed, until dough just comes together(a few dry spots are okay).

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Gently knead dough on a lightly floured surface until no dry spots remain, about 1 minute.

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Divide dough in half, and pat each piece into a disk; wrap in plastic.  Chill at least 2 hours.  (Dough can be made 3 days ahead.  Keep chilled).

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Filling and Assembly

Filling (adapted from a source unknown)

Note: the following is for 1 and 1/2 x the original recipe because I like lots of cherries

1 and 1/2 cups sugar

4 and 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

generous pinch of kosher salt

3 - 14.5 ounce cans pitted tart red cherries in water, and 1/4 juice reserved

1 and 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

In a large bowl combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt and stir til well blended.  Add the drained cherries, reserved juice and lemon juice and stir til thoroughly combined.  Set aside at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Let dough sit at room temperature to soften slightly, about 5 minutes.

Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12 inch round.  Transfer to a parchment- lined baking sheet and chill.  Repeat with remaining disk of dough.

Carefully transfer 1 crust to a 9 inch pie dish.  Lift up edges and allow dough to slump down into dish.  Trim edges to even out crust if needed.  Scrape in cherry filling.

Using a 3/4” diameter pastry tip or cookie cutter, punch out holes in remaining crust, covering an area just smaller than the diameter of the pie dish. 

Place over filling.  Fold edge of top crust underneath edge of bottom crust and press together to seal.  Crimp as desired.  (Alternatively, assemble pie, then cut X’s or slits into crust.)

Brush crust with egg and sprinkle with sugar.  Chill pie until crust is firm, 20-30 minutes.

Place pie on a parchment-or foil-lined baking sheet.  Bake until crust is golden, about 30 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake, tenting with foil if crust is browning too quickly, until juices are bubbling and crust is golden brown, 50-60 minutes longer.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool at least 4 hours before slicing.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream…

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Do Ahead:  Pie can be baked 1 day ahead.  Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

From Meyer Lemon Curd to Lemon Meringue Pie

Recently I made a batch of my favorite Meyer Lemon Curd. http://dinneratsheilas.com/post/14642659492/meyer-lemon-curd

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Besides slathering it on toast, scones, or muffins, it is also delicious sandwiched between gingersnaps or other cookies of your choice.

  For an elegant dessert set out bowls of assorted fresh berries along with a bowl of lemon curd for dipping, or fill mini or small tart shells with a spoonfull or two of the lemon curd and top with a little whipped cream or meringue.

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But, if my husband has a vote those last couple of jars will be used to make a Lemon Meringue Pie with a Graham Cracker Crust. 

Fill a graham cracker crust (store bought or homemade), with the Meyer Lemon Curd.  It is already cold cause it’s been in your fridge, so no waiting for it to cool before you whip up a mile high meringue. Slather it on, making little peaks which will brown nicely when you place it in the oven for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

The hardest part of this whole recipe is waiting for it to chill thoroughly for a few hours before digging in !

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Blueberry Pie

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These days I have been spending most of my time packing.  The movers come Saturday, ready or not, and I would much rather be ready when that truck pulls up.

Our dining room has turned into the staging area for packing. 

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I can go at it for some time, but eventually I need a break.  When that happens I find myself in the kitchen rooting through the fridge, freezer, and pantry to see what I can create. 

I haven’t been to the market since before Father’s Day, and so far I haven’t had much trouble coming up with something to make with what I find hanging out in my kitchen.

The other day I made chopped chicken liver (my husband’s favorite snack on a cracker). 

In looking through the freezer I discovered a small amount of chicken livers.  With lots of onions sauteed in a little rendered chicken fat hiding out also in the freezer, and some hard boiled eggs, lots of kosher salt and pepper I made a pretty fantastic spur of the moment chopped liver.

Along with a big fat pickle what more can you ask for?

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The truth is I really liked the ratio of more eggs and onion to less chicken livers.  It was really yummy!

Next up was the Blueberry Pie you see in the photo above.  While retrieving the chicken livers from the freezer I noticed 2 discs of pie dough in plastic wrap hidden under some other items.

Here’s the story…Last Thanksgiving I had seen a recipe for an apple and pear pie with a walnut crust that looked great.  I immediately decided to make it as one of our Thanksgiving desserts, so without hesitation I made the dough. 

While the rounds of dough were chilling I looked over the rest of the recipe a little more closely only to realize that it was pretty time consuming…precooking the apples and pears, refreezing the pastry filled dough before baking,  and on and on…

While this might be fine at any other time, this was the day before Thanksgiving and with all that I had to do I decided to scratch that and freeze the dough for another day when I would have time to make that pie. 

Well, that day never came, and honestly I forgot the pastry was still in there until I just discovered it.  So I pulled it out and thought what do I have that I could fill it with….and there was a container of fresh blueberries, not enough for a whole pie. 

  However, I’ve had a huge bag of frozen wild blueberries in my freezer in the garage which I have been trying to work my way through so I combined the fresh berries with the frozen and tossed them with some cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice, and a little salt for a blueberry filling.

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When it came to rolling out the pie crust I realized two things.  First, I had used up all of my flour recently  and didn’t replenish it since we are moving. And second, I had packed all 3 of my rolling pins!

I searched the pantry and came up with a small bag of rice flour which worked fine for dusting the buttery pastry to roll it out. And an unopened bottle of wine stood in for the rolling pin.

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I cut the other disc of dough into strips for a lattice crust… kind of rustic, right?  I was in a hurry!

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and about 45 minutes later…image

After a piece of pie and a glass of milk I was relaxed, full, and ready to continue packing!

The next day for my break I found myself making Barbeque out of some extra ground chuck left over from making burgers the  night before. 

I simply sauteed it with onions and peppers and added my special home made Sweet and Sour BBQ Sauce, and served it on a potato roll.

And tonight we dined on a vegetable soup I threw together with some chicken stock, roasted tomatoes, veggies, barley, and farfalle pasta.

After dinner I packed most of my cookware, leaving out just a few pieces so cooking the next couple of days should be even more challenging!

Coconut Cream Pie

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My sister came to visit this past weekend so we could all celebrate her birthday.

  Our best friends who have become good friends to her as well joined us for  a terrific dinner Saturday evening in DC at a wonderful restaurant called District Commons. Check it out.

Our cocktails, appetizers, entrees, salads, and desserts were all great and it was a really fun evening. 

After dinner we cruised our beautiful nation’s capital which is particularly  amazing all lit up at night. 

We passed by The White House, the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, numerous beautifully designed government buildings and more before heading for home. 

Having lived here for the past 25 years with these treasures practically in our backyard, and knowing that by this summer they will be almost an entire country away, my appreciation of them and all they represent has grown even deeper.

We plan to go into DC more often over the next four months to savor all that is here before moving to the west coast this summer.  It is one more thing to add to our growing list of things/people that will be hard to leave.

After our scenic tour we all came back to our house for coffee and yes, a second dessert.  I had made a Coconut Cream Pie for the birthday girl knowing this is one of her favorite desserts.

I have always adhered to the belief that it is not a birthday unless there is a birthday cake, or in this case, pie!  That’s just the way it has to be.

After scouring the internet for all forms of coconut cream pie, I landed on this version which comes from a fellow food blogger, and it is amazing.  It is Lorie’s Coconut Cream Pie from her blog Mississippi Kitchen.  I won’t be looking for another version after having made this one. 

Here it is…

Lorie’s Coconut Cream Pie (from Mississippi Kitchen Blog)

Crust:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup shortening

1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

1 teaspoon white vinegar

2-3 tablespoons ice cold water

 

Filling:

1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1 envelope (about 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 (13.5-ounce) can pure coconut milk

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 large whole egg
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon coconut extract

1 (15-ounce) can cream of coconut

2 1/2 cups shredded, flaked coconut, divided

 

Topping:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening and 1/4 cup cold cubed butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the vinegar and 2 tablespoons water, until mixture forms a ball, adding more water if necessary. Pat into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Roll dough out to fit a 9 1/2-10 inch glass pie plate. Place crust in pie plate and trim and crimp edges.  Place the dish on a baking sheet for easier handling.  Prick the bottom and sides of the crust well with a fork.  Line the inside of the crust with a piece of foil, allowing edges to extend several inches beyond the perimeter.  Place 2 cups of dried beans in the crust to weight it down during baking and prevent shrinkage. 

(Note :  I used parchment paper to line the pan and filled it with  uncooked rice instead of beans)

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Bake for 15 minutes or until crust is no longer raw on bottom.  Remove the foil and beans by carefully lifting the foil out by the overhang.  Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool completely. 

Place 1/2 cup cold milk in a mixing bowl (preferably with a pouring spout) and sprinkle with the gelatin. Set aside to soften for about 5 minutes.

Bring the remaining milk and coconut milk to nearly a boil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat.

When the gelatin is soft, add the sugar, cornstarch, egg and egg yolks and whisk until very well blended. Gradually whisk about a 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into the gelatin mixture; repeat this process once or twice using about 3/4 cup of the hot milk mixture. Pour the warmed gelatin mixture into the saucepan with the hot milk and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for about 2 minutes or until mixture is very thick.

Strain the pastry cream through a fine wire strainer into a large clean bowl; whisk in the butter, coconut extract, and cream of coconut until smooth. Stir in 2 cups shredded coconut.

Pour into the cooled the pie shell and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

To make the topping, beat the heavy cream in a large bowl on high speed until foamy.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat until soft to medium stiff peaks form.  Spread over the pie.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup coconut.   Keep refrigerated.

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Happy Birthday to my wonderful sister!

Spiced Apple Pie

In 1980 we moved from our apartment in Chicago with our sons who were ages 6 and 2 at the time to a very spacious apartment around the corner.  This was our third move around the same square block which faced a wonderful park called Indian Boundary Park in the West Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, complete with a playground, tennis courts and even a small zoo.

Our first apartment was a large one bedroom on the first floor of a 6 flat building directly across from the tennis courts.  We moved there before our first son was born and when he came along we converted the ample entryway foyer to a makeshift nursery for him.

This worked for a time until he became too aware of his surroundings at which time we gave him our bedroom and converted our large dining room to a combination dining room/family room by day and our bedroom by night  where we slept on a sofa bed.

Months later when the owners of a 2 flat building a few doors down were renting the upstairs apartment we grabbed it as fast as we could.  The landlord and his wife lived on the first floor, it had a small fenced in yard and had the feel of a house rather than an apartment. 

It had  2 good sized bedrooms, and a small enclosed room with a large bay window off our bedroom which eventually became our younger son’s nursery when he arrived.  So for several years it was a wonderful home for our family of four.

Then in 1980 we moved into the huge New York style apartment on the second floor, again in a 6 flat building, but this time around the corner.

It is there that we met our good friends when they subsequently moved into the unit above us on the third floor. 

We became fast friends. She became my running partner (every morning at 6 am sharp she would knock on my door and we would go out for a 5 mile run even in the harshest  winter days).  She convinced me to run the Chicago Marathon with her in 1983!

Our husbands became good friends as well with shared interests in sports and business.

As couples we were close, and spent good times together, many of them centered around food as this was an interest we all shared.

In the years that followed we eventually moved to a home in the suburbs of Chicago, before moving to our current home in Maryland, and our friends moved from Chicago to Atlanta to Memphis to Fayetteville, (AR), and to Wichita, their current home.

There are friends and there are friends and the distance that grew between us has not diminished the friendship we built over 30 years ago when we lived like the Riccardo’s and the Mertz’s.  (a reference for all those “I Love Lucy “fans out there).

They came for a visit this past week before going on to a conference in Baltimore.  For 4 days we caught up (we hadn’t seen each other for about 6 years), eating, drinking, laughing and reminiscing as we watched old slides and talked of those days so long ago.

I planned special meals for them.  This Spiced Apple Pie was dessert the first evening they arrived after a dinner of Boeuf Bourguinone served on toasted country bread with pappardelle egg noodles and a green salad dressed with a lemon vinaigrette.

This pie is one I have been making for years from a 1998 Bon Appetit.  The recipe makes 2 pies, so it is always possible to have an extra couple of pie crusts in the freezer if you are not making 2 pies at the time.  Just halve your filling ingredients.

It calls for cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice and the combination of spices makes this pie. 

The crust is also fantastic. This time I baked it on my convection setting which really enhances the crisp flakiness of the crust.

The recipe also suggests using all Granny Smith apples, but I used half Granny Smith and half Jona Gold, and I loved the combination.  Either way you can’t go wrong.

With Thanksgiving around the corner I think I’m going to have to use that extra pie crust in my freezer to make another one of these.  I think you should too!

Spiced Apple Pie (Bon Appetit, Feb 1998)

Makes two 10-inch pies

CRUST

5 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 and 1/4 cups(2 and 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces

1 large egg

7 tablespoons (or more) ice water

FILLING

6 pounds tart green apples (such as Granny Smith), peeled, quartered, cored, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices (I used half Granny Smith and half Jona Gold)

1 and 1/2 cups plus 2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon milk

Vanilla ice cream

FOR CRUST

Combine 5 and 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1and 1/2 teaspoons salt in large bowl.  Add butter and vegetable shortening and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Whisk egg and 7 tablespoons water in small bowl to blend.  Add to flour mixture, tossing until moist clumps form and adding more water by tablespoonfuls if dough is dry. 

Gather dough into ball.   Divide into quarters.

Flatten each quarter into a disk.

Wrap disks separately in plastic; chill 1 hour. (Crusts can be made 1 day ahead.  Keep refrigerated.  Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)

FOR FILLING:

Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees.  In large bowl, mix apples with 1 and 1/2 cups sugar, flour, lemon juice and spices.

Roll out 1 dough disk to 14-inch round.  Transfer to 10-inch diameter glass pie dish.  Brush edge of crust lightly with water.  Repeat with second dough disk and another 10-inch pie dish. 

Divide apple mixture between crusts, mounding slightly in center.

Roll out remaining 2 dough disks on lightly floured surface to 13-inch rounds.  Place 1 dough round atop each pie; press top and bottom of dough overhang to seal.  Trim dough overhang of each pie to 1 inch; fold under. 

Crimp edges decoratively.  Cut several slits in each crust to allow steam to escape.  Brush crusts with milk.  Sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon sugar.

Bake pies 30 minutes.  Wrap foil around edge of crusts to prevent over-browning.  continue baking until crusts are golden brown, juices bubble and apples are tender, about 30 minutes longer.

Transfer pies to rack to cool.

Serve with ice cream.

Blueberry Streusel Pie

Our best friends were bringing pizza over for dinner last night.  I promised not to fuss since we are leaving in 2 days for the west coast.  Those who know me know that me not fussing is an oxymoron , but I tried.

The challenge was to see if I could avoid going to the store (or should I say sending my husband) since we’ll be gone for a week.  As it is, I’ve been trying to empty out the fridge and pantry this week anyway.

I made a huge salad with all the veggies left in the crisper to serve with the pizza.

To go along with drinks  I served store bought hummus, Trader Joe’s Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant and Garlic, and Trader Joe’s Green Olive Tapenade, with assorted crackers and chips.  All things I had on hand, and if you haven’t tried them, you should.

Realizing I had a lot of eggs still in the fridge I made deviled eggs to serve as appetizers as well.  Still no trips to the store needed, and the eggs were a big hit!

What to serve for dessert?  I had home made pastry for one crust in the freezer so I defrosted it.  In the fridge were 4 to 5 cups of blueberries that if left for the week would spoil, but were just ripe enough for a blueberry pie filling.

Since I didn’t have a second disc for a top crust I decided to make a streusel topping with oats, sugar, and butter.

This pie was really delicious, and was the result of checking about 3 different recipes and picking and choosing from each.  I’m hoping I can remember exactly what I did because this is a blueberry pie worth passing on to you, and I will definitely be making it again.

Oh, and my husband only had to make one trip to the store for the vanilla ice cream to top the pie!

Blueberry Streusel Pie

(adapted from Plum-Blackberry Streusel Pie, Gourmet, July, 2009 and Summer Berry Pies, Martha Stewart Living, July 2010, and Farm Journal’s Complete Pie Cookbook)

Dough for one single crust pie

5 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and picked over, stems removed

1 and 1/3 cups sugar (more or less depending on sweetness of the berries)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Streusel Topping

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

1/2 teaspoon salt

9 and 1/2 to 10 inch pie plate

1. Place a foil-lined baking sheet in lower third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees.  I used the convection bake feature of my oven, but regular bake is okay. 

note: If you do have a convection feature you will find it results in an especially flaky pie crust.  If yours does not automatically reduce the temp you will need to reduce the temp by 25 degrees, and most likely cut back a bit on the baking time.

2.  Toss the blueberries with the sugar, tapioca, cornstarch lemon juice and salt in a large bowl.

3.   Roll out dough into a 13-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin.  Fit into a pie plate.  Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang.  Fold overhang under and press against the rim of pie plate, then crimp decoratively.  Chill while making the streusel.

Note:  An easy way to fit the dough into the pie plate is to roll it up on the pin and then unroll it over the pie plate, gently fitting it into place. 

4.    For streusel, stir together oats, flour, and 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Blend in butter with your fingertips or pastry blender until mixture forms small clumps. 

Mound filling in shell.

Crumble streusel evenly over filling.

Bake pie at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Then reduce oven temp to 400 degrees and bake another 15 minutes or until streusel is golden and juices are bubbling.   If the top begins to brown too much cover loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.   Cool completely, 3 to 4 hours.

Apricot Pie

Every so often I love to look at Ruth Reichl’s Blog.  She is an acclaimed author, food writer, and past restaurant critic for The New York Times, and was both the food editor and restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times.  She was the editor of Gourmet Magazine for 10 years until its closing in 2009.

Her list of accomplishments in the food world seems endless.  She was a  part of the culinary revolution that took place in Berkeley, California in the 1970’s.

She infuses her writing with not only her culinary knowledge, but with the wisdom of her experiences and a delightful sense of humor.

This recipe for Apricot Pie was recently posted on her blog.  On my last visit to one of our local farmer’s markets I purchased these beautiful apricots with this recipe in mind.

 

She refers to this as the World’s Easiest Pie, and she says…This is not only the fastest pie I know how to put together( it’s even faster if you use a frozen pie shell), it is also the most satisfyingServed with a little whipped cream, or some vanilla ice cream, it is summer on a plate.  The recipe is from Comfort Me With Apples.

Apricot Pie

1 recipe pie dough (for a single crust pie)

2 pounds apricots

1 stick butter, melted

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup flour

fresh nutmeg

Roll out the pie dough, fit it into a 9 inch pie pan, crimp the edges and put it into the freezer for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Break the apricots apart with your fingers; do not peel them, but remove the pits.

Melt the butter.  Stir in the sugar (brown sugar is fine), then the flour.  Grate in a bit of nutmeg.

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Put the apricots in the unbaked shell.  Cover them with the sugar mixture and put the pie on the bottom rack of your oven.   After 10 minutes turn the heat down to 375 degrees and bake for 35 or 40 minutes more, until the top is crusty and golden.  Transfer to a cake rack and cool before serving.

Ruth was right…this is the World’s Easiest Pie!  If you love apricots, you will love this pie.

I was amazed at how good the top crust was with its buttery, sugary crunchiness, which played well against the sweet yet tartness of the  apricots. 

Serve it with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.  Thanks, Ruth!

Cherry Pie

With the 4th of July just around the corner you might want to try this cherry pie from the July, 2007 issue of Bon Appetit.  As the intro to the recipe states…

Too tart to eat raw, sour cherries were born to be baked into a pie-this all-American version gets added sophistication from a gorgeously flaky crust and a filling, enhanced with an unexpected hint of cinnamon, that is not overly sweet.

Sour cherries are available at many farmer’s markets now.  In fact, as I was making my way into a market last Sunday, a customer was leaving carrying 6 quart boxes of sour cherries.  I immediately made my way to them, and grabbed a couple of quarts for myself…and went home to make Cherry Pie.

Cherry Pie (Bon Appetit, July, 2007)

For Pastry

2 and 1/2 cups all-ourpose flour

1 and 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening (preferably trans-fat-free)

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 to 7 tablespoons ice water

1 tablespoon sugar

For Filling

3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

1 vanilla bean or 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 and 1/4 cups sugar

6 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) pitted sour cherries (2 lb)

Whole milk for brushing

Make Dough:  Blend together flour, butter, shortening,and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps.

Drizzle 5 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.  Do not overwork, or pastry will be tough.

Turn dough out onto a work surface and divide into 8 equal portions.  With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat.  Gather all dough together with a pastry scraper. 

Divide dough with one half slightly larger, then form each piece into a ball and flatten each into a disk.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Make Filling And Bake Pie:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F with rack in middle and put a large baking sheet on rack.

Finely grind tapioca in grinder.

Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds into a large bowl with a small knife.  (If using extract, add with fruit).

Whisk in ground tapioca, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, and sugar, then add cherries and toss well.  Let stand 30 minutes.

Roll out larger piece of dough (keep remaining piece chilled) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 14-inch round.  Fit into a 9-inch pie plate.  Trim any excess dough to leave a 1/2-inch overhang.

Chill shell while rolling out top crust.  Roll out remaining dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round.

Toss cherries well again, then add to shell and cover with top crust.  Press edges of crust together, then trim, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. 

Fold overhang underneath,then crimp decoratively and brush top crust with milk.  Cut out 5 (1-by1/2-inch) teardrop-shaped steam vents 1 inch from center and sprinkle with sugar (1 tablespoon).

Bake pie on preheated baking sheet 30 minutes, then cover edge with a pie shield or foil and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F.

Continue to bake until crust is deep golden and filling is bubbling in center, 50 minutes to 1 hour more.  Transfer pie to rack to cool completely.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Note:  although I believe many kitchen gadgets on the market today are unnecessary I have to say I am a big fan of the cherry/olive pitter.  I purchased mine many years ago at one of the specialty shops where I worked, and am always glad to have it when I am making cherry pies…it works like a charm!