Posts tagged with pie:
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.
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?
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.
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.
I cut the other disc of dough into strips for a lattice crust… kind of rustic, right? I was in a hurry!
and about 45 minutes later…
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!
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)
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
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
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)
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.
Happy Birthday to my wonderful sister!
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
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
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
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.)
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.
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
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.
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 satisfying. Served with a little whipped cream, or some vanilla ice cream, it is summer on a plate. The recipe is from Comfort Me With Apples.
1 recipe pie dough (for a single crust pie)
2 pounds apricots
1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
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.
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!
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)
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
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!
Banana cream pie has always been one of my favorite desserts. It simply oozes comfort between the satiny smooth banana filling and the light and airy sweet whipped cream. I was so excited when I found the recipe for the banana cream pie served at Bubby’s Pie Co. Restaurant in New York City.
This restaurant was actually the setting for my niece’s wonderful Bat-Mitzvah party some years ago, so even before I tasted this banana filling I felt a devotion to Bubby’s.
I have adapted the recipe, making it in a tart form instead of the pie, and substituting a buttery cookie crust for their walnut pastry crust. I also added the whipped cream topping rather than the candied nuts callled for in their pie. But, the filling for this pie needs no adapting…it is perfect! So for all of you banana cream pie/tart lovers out there don’t wait too long before trying this…you’ll go bananas over it!
Banana Cream Tart (adapted from Ron Silver’s Banana Cream Pie)
For the Crust (From Blueberry Tart, marthastewart.com)
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour(spooned and leveled), plus more for dusting
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt and butter, process until large moist crumbs form (dough should hold together when squeezed).
2. Transfer dough to a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom; with floured fingers, press evenly into bottom and sides. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes;prick bottom of dough all over with a fork.
3. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes; cool completely.
Vanilla Pudding (makes 3 cups)
2 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
1 cup sugar, divided
tiny pinch salt
1/2 cup egg yolks (about 6 yolks)
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick unsalted butter, cubed)
In a large, heavy non-reactive saucepan (aluminum reacts and will cause a pudding to turn grey), combine the milk, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the vanilla bean and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks, remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch until smooth.
Have the whisk, a ladle and a large glass or ceramic dish handy. Heat the milk mixture in the saucepan until it just comes to a boil, whisking it a bit as it gets steamy. When you see the first bubbles boiling up, take the pan off the heat and place it on a potholder next to the egg mixture. (To make life a little easier on yourself, put the egg bowl on the right if you’re right-handed, or on the left if you’re left-handed. Use your stronger arm to whisk; use your weaker arm to ladle the hot milk.
During the next steps, stir constantly or the eggs will coagulate and you’ll have scrambled eggs. This is quick work. Take a ladleful of hot milk and pout it in a thin stream into the eggs, whisking constantly. Continue stirring, and add a few more ladlefuls of hot milk to the eggs in the same way.
The tempered eggs are now ready to add back into the hot milk. To do this, whisk the hot milk constantly and pour the tempered eggs in slowly.
When fully combined, put this mixture back on the stovetop over medium heat and continue to whisk constantly. The mixture should be ready to come back to a boil very quickly. When the custard nears the consistency of pudding, take very short pauses in stirring to look for signs of a bubble surfacing (it is more like a single volcanic blurp). Don’t look too closely, or you’ll risk getting spattered with hot pudding. Just stir, pause briefly, stir, and so on.
When you see the first blurp, remove the pan from the heat immediately and whisk in the cubes of butter.
Whisk until fully combined and immediately pour the pudding into a large glass or ceramic dish to cool it down. While the pudding is still very hot, stretch plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding. Smooth out any air pockets to make the pudding airtight. This will prevent a skin or condensation from forming on top of the pudding.
Refrigerate the pudding until completely cold-at least 4 hours.
Stir the cold pudding and retrieve the vanilla bean. Squeeze out the excess seeds (those little black specks) in the interior of the pod with your thumb and forefinger-pinch and slide your fingers down the length of the bean, freeing the black seeds as you go. Do this with each half of the bean, returning as many seeds as possible to the pudding. discard the pod.
4 medium size ripe bananas, sliced 1/4 inch thick- (select ripe bananas without any spots or green near the stem)
1 and 1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Slice the bananas to get about 3-4 cups and immediately toss them in the lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Stir in the sour cream gently.
Layer the coated bananas in the tart crust, and flatten them gently.
Layer the pudding on top and smooth it with a spatula.
Refrigerate the tart, covered with plastic wrap for at least 2 hours, and preferably more, before adding the whipped cream.
1 and 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, very cold
2 tablespoons sugar
Chill the stainless steel bowl and whipping attachment in the freezer while preparing the tart.
In the chilled bowl with the chilled whisk attachment beat the heavy cream, slowly at first til frothy. Add sugar, and increase speed, beating until cream is sufficiently whipped.
Place whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and decorate the tart.
My best friend’s birthday was this week. We’ve been friends for twenty-two years, going back to when we first moved into our new homes on the same street of a spanking new development. Although she and her family moved from Cleveland, and we moved from Chicago, we were each experiencing the same feelings of excitement, ambiguity, and trepidation that such a move can elicit. Our husbands were beginning new jobs, our children new schools, and all of us were leaving old friends behind.
Long after the crates are unpacked and everything in its new place seemingly settled, the unsettled feeling within us can remain. I don’t know of a better fix for that than to find a new old friend. And thankfully, my friend and I found each other. We are drawn to others initially because of similar interests, but a lasting friendship is ultimately based on much more. It is life’s experiences, both good and bad, shared over time that create the bonds of friendship. And of that my friend and I have many. So naturally when one of our birthdays comes around it is a cause for celebration, and for me celebration is a cause for eating! That, by the way, is another thing we agree on.
So what to make for my best friend’s birthday? Something special for someone special, and this year it was Salted Caramel Apple Pie! This recipe I found online after having seen and read much about the two sisters from South Dakota who opened their pie shop called Four and Twenty Blackbirds recently in Brooklyn. It’s a fabulous pie. The apples are flavored with fresh lemon juice and spices before layering them with the caramel sauce, balancing the sweetness with the tartness. The buttery caramel also adds just the right amount of richness to the pie. And the addition of sea salt and raw sugar sprinkled on the crust before baking adds a wonderful crunch to the pastry.
Although they prefer using an all butter pastry for the crust, I have used my favorite pie crust recipe which includes vegetable shortening along with the butter for extra flakiness. Otherwise I followed the recipe pretty closely, with a few exceptions that are noted. And if I’m ever in Brooklyn I plan to stop by Four and Twenty Blackbirds for a piece of pie and a cup of coffee. I hope you’ll do the same.
Four and Twenty Blackbirds Salted Caramel Apple Pie
Recipe courtesy Melissa and Emily Elsen
Prep Time:1 hr 30 minInactive Prep Time:1 hr 30 minCook Time:55 minLevel:IntermediateServes:1 (9-inch) pie
- Pie Crust
- 1 recipe your favorite (2-crust) butter pie crust
- Salted Caramel
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) fresh unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup fresh heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (recommended: Maldon sea salt flakes)
- Apple Filling
- 4 to 6 lemons
- 5 to 6 medium to large apples*
- *Cook’s Note: A mixture of Crispin, Granny Smith, and Cortland is nice if you can.
- Apple Filling Seasoning
- 1/3 cup raw sugar (castor, unrefined, large granule sugar)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 to 3 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 egg beaten
- Raw sugar, for sprinkling on top
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (flake)
- Special equipment: Mandoline for slicing, and a pastry brush.
To make the pie crust:
Prepare one 2-crust batch of your favorite all butter pie crust. Roll the bottom crust to fit a 9-inch pan, and cut the top crust as a lattice, approximately 1-inch in width or as desired. Chill the rolled crust while you prepare the salted caramel and apple filling.
To make the salted caramel:
Cook the sugar and water together over low heat until just dissolved. Add the butter and bring to a slow boil. Continue cooking at a low boil until the mixture turns a deep, golden brown color, almost copper.
Cook’s Note: This process can take awhile depending on the heat source. Keep an eye on it, if the caramel begins to smoke, you’ve burned it and you’ll have to start over.
Once the mixture has turned a copper color, remove it from the heat and immediately add the heavy cream - the mixture will bubble rapidly and steam - be cautious as the sugar will be very hot.
Whisk the final mixture together well over low heat and sprinkle in the sea salt. Set the caramel aside while you prepare the apple filling.
To make the apple filling:
Juice the lemons into a large mixing bowl. Core, peel, and thinly slice the whole apples. Cook’s Note: A mandolin works great for producing very thin slices.
Dredge all the apple slices in the freshly squeezed lemon juice to prevent browning and to add flavor. Set the prepared apples aside.
To make the apple filling seasoning:
In a large measuring cup or small mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and Angostura bitters. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples in the mixing bowl. Use your hands to gently mix and coat the apple slices.
To assemble the pie:
Preheat the oven to 375 to 400 degrees F (depending on the hotness of your oven).
Gather your rolled pie crust, salted caramel, and apple mixture. Begin by layering 1/3 of the apples in the bottom of the crust so that there are minimal gaps. Pour 1/3 of the caramel over the apples. Add 1/3 of the apples and caramel for a second layer, and then add a third layer of apples, and then the caramel again. Cook’s Note: Save a small portion of the caramel to pour on top once the lattice is assembled.
Assemble the lattice crust and flute the edges of the crust. Pour the last bit of caramel on top. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and lightly sprinkle with raw sugar and sea salt.
Bake the pie on a baking sheet larger than the pie pan for 20 minutes (otherwise the caramel will bubble over and burn on the bottom of your oven). Reduce the oven temperature to 325 to 350 and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. You can test the apples for doneness with a long toothpick or small knife. The apples should be just soft.
Let the pie cool, then slice and enjoy.
Note: I made the following changes: I made a 10 inch pie so I increased the number of apples to 7.
I used sugar in the raw (natural cane turbinado sugar).
I used 4 large lemons.
I used my regular sea salt that I had, but ground it . (I’ll look for Maldon next time)
I used a combination of granny smith, stayman, and honey crisp apples. The honey crisp may be a bit too juicy, but it worked.
I doubled the amount of spices to accommodate the larger amount of apples.
I carefully sliced the apples with a sharp santoku knife because I don’t have a Mandoline.
I omitted the Angostura bitters. (didn’t have it in my bar)
While most cooks prefer either cooking to baking or vice versa I must admit I love both, which may explain why I’m in my kitchen all the time.
More often than not I decide to make something based on what I have on hand. With homemade pie dough in my freezer, a basket of red raspberries, and a basket of strawberries in the fridge this pie seemed a good choice for last night’s dessert.
Pastry for 9 inch double crust pie (if you make a lattice crust top save any remaining dough in your freezer for small tarts or pastry cut-outs for decorating a future pie)
For the fresh berry filling:
71/2 cups mixed raspberries and sliced strawberries
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Stir together berries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Fill chilled pie crust with berry filling (If you like, sprinkle a small amount of sugar on the bottom of your shell before filling).
Brush the top of the pie with an egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar for a golden crunchy crust.
Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet til juices are bubbling and top is golden brown (if you have a convection bake setting on your oven I recommend using it).
If I had had more time, and the kitchen was cooler I may have woven the lattice instead of simply placing it on as I did, but there’s something about a homemade pie looking homemade that I like. Either way the beautiful color and bright flavor of the fresh berries makes this combination one to try!