January: Blueberry Peach Pie

Crust:

2 cups flour, pinch of salt, 1 Tbls sugar. Blend in Cuisinart. Add 6 T. Butter, blend til fine. Add 4 generous T. Crisco. Blend til well mixed. Slowly dribble in 3-4 T. of ice water. The weather will determine the amount. Blend until it holds together. Take out and finish forming on a sheet of waxed paper. Cut in half and shape into two rounds. Pastry has memory so shape those rounds. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight.

Filling:

4 cups of fresh blueberries. 6-8 peaches thinly sliced. Squeeze over this the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Mix together 1 cup of sugar, 3 T tapioca, 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, and the grated rind of one lemon. Mix into the fruit and let sit while you roll out the crust.

Roll out the bottom crust. Place in pie plate. Pour in the fruit. Spread out evenly. Roll out top crust. Lay over the fruit. Seal the edges with your favorite technique. Cut 4 vents into the top crust. Dust with sugar.

Place in a preheated 400 oven on a heated baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes or until the fruit bubbles out of the vents. If your oven runs hot, be certain to turn the oven down after 15 minutes.

Serve with cinnamon whipped cream or Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla ice cream.

 

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NOVEMBER: Yankee Pecan Maple Pie

Ingredients:

Lemon Crust

1 & 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 T. sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) well-chilled unslated butter cut into pieces
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 egg yolk
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 or 2 T. cold water

Filling

6 T. (3/4 stick) unslated butter, room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 T. all purpose flour
1 cup pure maple syrup
3 T golden rum
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp grated lemon peel
2 & 1/2 cups toasted pecans, chopped coarsely
1 cup pecan halves
Vanilla-Rum Whipped Cream (see below)

For crust: Blend flour, sugar and salt in food processor. Using on/off turns, cut in the butter and lemon peel until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the machine running, add egg yolk, lemon juice and just enough water to bind the dough. Gather dough into ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap in waxed paper and plastic. Refrigerate for at least three hours and up to 1 day ahead.

Roll pastry out on lightly floured surface to 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick round. Transfer round to 9-inch pie pan with 1 1/2-inch sides. Double edges over and crimp to form high, decorative edge. Refrigerate at least three hours.

Position rack on lower third of oven and preheat to 425û F. Pierce crust all over with fork. Line with parchment or foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans. Make until crust is set, about 12 minutes. Remove weights and paper. Continue baking until light brown, about 6 minutes more. Cool on rack. Reduce temperature to 350û F.

For Filling: Using electric mixer, cream the butter until light. Add sugar and salt and beat until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs 1 at a time. Blend in flour, then maple syrup, rum, vanilla, and lemon peel. Fold in chopped pecans.

Pour filling into crust. Place pie on a foil-lined heavy baking sheet with rim. Arrange pecan halves around edge of pie. Place pie on baking sheet and into the oven, baking until filling puffs slightly in center, about 40 minutes. Cool completely on rack. Serve with Vanilla-Rum Whipped Cream.

Vanilla-Rum Whipped Cream

Makes about 4 cups

2 cups well-chilled whipping cream
3 T. golden rum
1 T. plus 1 1/2 tsp powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Whip all the ingredients together in a large bowl until soft peaks form.

8 servings

 

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APRIL: Double Pie Crust

Pie season is almost upon us — time to brush up on our crust-making technique.

Ingredients:

2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp of salt
8 tbsp cold butter, cut in pieces
2 tbsp cold Crisco
4-5 tbsp ice water

Blend flour and salt in food processor.  Drop in butter pieces.  Blend till coarse cornmeal in texture.  Stop machine and add 2 tablespoons Crisco. Blend.  Slowly dribble in ice water one tablespoon at a time until dough forms.

Remove from bowl. Use the palm of your hand to bring together. Divide in half. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for one hour. Roll out.

Variations:

1. Instead of the butter and Crisco above, use 6 tbsp butter amd 4 tbsp crisco. Butter and shortening make pie crust much easier to roll and shape, and also flakier — lighter in texture and flavor. All butter has great flavor, but it softens in the oven and does not keep that crisp looking fluting. Your pie will bake to a deeper brown using more Crisco and less butter.

2. Add  1 tbsp sugar for a sweet crust.

3. Use 1 tbsp lemon juice instead of water. Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar are often used in crusts instead of 1 T. of cold water. I don’t have a technical explanation of the lemon juice, but I find that it compliments certain pies and completes the flavors. I use it if there is lemon or citrus in the pie itself. The apple cider vinegar is great for apple pies.

SINGLE TART CRUST   (for 10 or 12 inch tart pan)

1.25 cups of flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Crisco
3-4 tbsp ice water

Follow above method.

 

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OCTOBER: Deep Dish Phyllo Pie with Swiss Chard and Beet Greens

A friend of mine brought over a huge bag of Swiss chard and beet greens from her garden last week. I sauté these with garlic in the winter to serve on Polenta, but I wanted to do something different.  I remembered my Spanakopita recipe so I used that as a base.

Ingredients:

2 large bunches of Swiss cshard
1 bunch of beet greens
4 T. olive oil
1 bunch of scallions, sliced
1 lb ricotta
1/2 lb feta
6 eggs
1/2 cup of grated parmesan
1/2 cup of parsley, chopped
1/2 cup of golden raisins, soaked and drained
1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
4 sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped ( substitute the oil for the olive oil above )
Dash of pepper and nutmeg
1/2 lb phyllo dough
1 stick of melted unsalted butter  ( you may need more depending on how generous you are)

Wash  and stem the Swiss chard and beet greens. Discard stems. Slice greens crosswise.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and saute with the scallions until just wilted.

Mix the next group of ingredients, ricotta and nutmeg, in a large bowl. When the greens have cooled add to the cheese mixture.

Melt the butter. Using a 13 x 9 2.5 inch deep casserole layer 1/4 of a pound of the phyllo dough brushed with butter between each layer.  The phyllo will come up the sides of the casserole. Pour the filling into the dish. Layer the second 1/4 of a pound, again  brushing with butter between layers.

Fold the phyllo down the sides to seal the pie. Lightly make straight lines the length of the pan at 2.1/4 inch intervals. Do not cut through. Then cut diagonally across using the same measurement.This will make it easier to cut once it is baked and give you correct portions.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until the top is nicely golden. Can be frozen and reheated.

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NOVEMBER: Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Thanksgiving is almost here and this is the recipe that my family requested, again! and again! and the year before….

Ingredients:

CRUST
1.5 cups of finely ground gingersnap crumbs.
1/4 cup of soft butter

FILLING
3/4 cup of dark brown sugar
1 envelope of unflavored gelatin
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
3/4 cup of whole milk
1 can of pumpkin puree

MERINGUE
3 egg whites
1/3 cup of sugar

Whipped cream for garnish

First, make your crust: Mix the gingersnap crumbs and butter, and press into a 9” pie plate. Bake at 375 for 6 – 8 minutes. Cool. I find that it is soft and has slid down a bit while baking. I often use a spoon to press it back up the sides and then let it cool.

Next, make your filling: Combine the brown sugar, gelatin, salt, and spices in a saucepan. Combine the milk and egg yolks, and stir into the sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat until the mix comes to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add 1.5 cups (1 can) of pumpkin puree. Chill until the mixture mounds when you add a spoon.  Do not let it get too stiff.

Finally, make your meringue: Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks. Gradually add sugar. Fold the pumpkin mix thoroughly into the whites and turn into the crust. Chill until firm.

Garnish with whipped cream if desired.

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FEBRUARY: Cranberry Pear Pie

CRUST:

2.5 cups of all purpose flour
.5 tsp salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter
4 T. chilled vegetable shortening
4 – 6 T. ice water

Place flour and salt in Food Processor.  Pulse to mix. Add Butter cut into tablespoons, pulse until mixed. Add Shortening. Pulse again until the mixture is granluar.

Slowly add ice water a little at a time. Pulse until the dough comes together between your fingers. If it still crumbles add a bit more water.

Pour out onto waxed paper. Form into a large ball. Cut in half . Shape one half into a circle, the other into a square.  Refrigerate wrapped in waxed paper and a plastic bag 2 hours or until cold enough to roll.

FILLING:

2.5 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries
1.25 cups of sugar
1/4 cups of water or cranberry juice
2.5 T. cornstarch
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cardamon
2-3 medium ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced thinly. Enough for 3 cups
1 T. unsalted butter
1 egg beaten with 1 T. milk or light cream for glaze
whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Put cranberries, sugar and liquid into a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir, and cook until the skins start to pop, about 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch, allspice and cardamom in a small bowl. Stir into hot cranberries and continue cooking and stirring until it comes to a full boil, thickens and the liquid looks clear.

Remove from the heat. Peel core and slice pears.  Add to the cranberry mixture, stir and let cool.

ASSEMBLY:

Preheat oven to 375
Place a half sheet pan into the oven.  This will help cook the bottom crust.

Roll out the round piece of pastry on a floured board into a 12 inch circle. Fit into a 9 inch pie plate. Trim the pastry to 1/2 inch of an overhang. Turn the cranberry pear filling into the pie. Dot with 1 tablespoon. butter.

Roll the rectangular piece into approximately a 10 x 6 rectangle. With a pastry cutter or sharp knife cut 12 – 14 strips, 1/2 inch wide and 10 inches long.  Weave the strips over the filling to make a lattice crust. I like to lay one set of strips down and weave the second set into the first layer. Crimp the edges together and decorate by fluting or pressing with your own style.

There will be extra crust. Roll the crust out and using a small leaf patter cut as many pieces as possible.  Transfer these to a parchment lined half sheet pan.

Carefully brush the lattice, the crust and leaves with the beaten egg wash. To prevent browning cover the edge of the pie with tin foil.

Place the pie into the baking sheet in the oven. Place leaves into the oven as well.
Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil. The leaves should be checked at 20 minutes.  Bake these until golden brown and remove from oven. After 30 minutes remove the foil and continue baking until the crust is a golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool.

Decorate the pie with the pastry leaves, all around the edges or over the lattice. Be creative.

Reheat at 350 for 10 minutes before serving.

Adapted from “The Dessert Lover’s Cookbook” by Marlene Sorosky. If you can find this cookbook it is a winner.  I received it in 1987 for my birthday.

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September: Peach Cream Tart

Ingredients:

Butter crust for tart shell –  9 inch

3-4 peaches
.5 cup cream cheese softened
.5 cup ricotta
.25 cup sugar
a few grains of dried organic lavender

1 lemon, rind and juice
3 Tb. sugar for topping
1 egg

Apricot jam and lemon juice

Peach TartRoll out the crust for the tart. Freeze for half an hour. Prick bottom and line with aluminum foil, cover with weights.  Cook at 425 for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven, remove weights and foil and let cool.

Whisk the cream cheese, ricotta and one egg. Blend in the sugar and a few grains of lavender.

Blanch the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds or until the skin starts to peel.
Remove to cold water bath and peel the peaches. The skins should slip off very easily.
Halve the peaches, remove pit and then cut each half into 6 pieces.

Line the pre-baked crust with the cream cheese mixture. Decoratively place the peach slices on the filling in a concentric pattern, overlapping as you go. When you have done this squeeze the lemon juice over the peaches.

Mix the rind with the 3 Tbl sugar and sprinkle on the peaches.

Bake at 350 for 40 – 50 minutes or until the peaches are bubbly and set.

Let cool.

Cook .5 cup of apricot jam with a little lemon juice to thin it. Let it come to a boil. Strain through a fine sieve. Using a pastry brush carefully spread the thinned jam over the peaches and let set.

I garnished mine with Borage flowers.

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Blueberry Pie

July is blueberry month here in Vermont, and what better way to celebrate the advent of this tasty fruit is with blueberry pie!

Ingredients:

Crust :
2 cup all purpose flour
1 T. sugar
1 tsp salt
6 T unsalted butter
4 T Crisco
5 – 6 T. ice water

Filling:
6-7 cups of blueberries
juice and rind of one lemon
3/4 cups of sugar
3 T tapioca
.5 tsp mace

Combine flour, sugar and salt in Cuisinart. Blend. Add butter and crisco. Pulse til just blended. Add ice water by the T. until it starts to come together. Gather into a ball. Divide in half. Make 2 rounds, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

Combine the filling ingredients in a large bowl and toss.

Roll out the bottom crust 2 inches larger than your pie plate. Lay in pie plate. Fill with blueberry filling. Roll out top crust and cover. Crimp edges. Cut vents in the top.

Beat 1 egg yolk with 1 tsp water. Brush the top of the pie. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake on a sheet pan in a 400 degree oven approximately 50 minutes.

HALF WAY THROUGH COVER WITH TIN FOIL AS THE EGG WILL BROWN THE CRUST QUICKLY.

Serves 8 – 10

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Vermont Apple Pie

Crust:

6 T. Chilled Butter
4 T. Chilled Crisco
2.25 cups of all purpose flour
.5 tsp salt
4 – 6 T ice water

Put flour and salt in Cuisinart. Blend. Add crisco and butter in chunks. Blend til crumbs form. Slowly add water through the top. You may only need 4 T depending on the weather. Blend just until the crust comes together. Remove from the bowl and finish forming with your hands.

Flatten into 2 equal circles. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Filling:

3 lbs of apples (used Granny Smiths and Pink Lady Apples this time. No rules on this one but I like apples that hold their shape.)
1.5 T fresh lemon juice

2 T flour
.5 cup dark brown sugar
1.5 T fresh lemon juice
.5 tsp cinnamon
.5 tsp allspice
.25 tsp ginger
.25 tsp nutmeg
.25 tsp cloves
4 tsp butter, unsalted

Peel and core apples. Slice thinly and place in a large bowl. Toss with the lemon juice.

In a small bowl mix the rest of the ingredients, except the butter. Toss with the apples.

Roll out the bottom crust to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Mix 1.5 T each flour and sugar and spread evenly on the crust.
Fill with the apples. Dot with the butter.

Roll out the top crust and place on top. Crimp the edges. Make a few cuts in the top to let the steam out and to see when the juice is flowing.

Set the oven to 375. Place a sheet pan on the rack. When the oven has reached its temp place the pie on the sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes at 375 then turn the temp. down to 350. Bake until the juices are running and the crust is golden. Usually 40 or 50 minutes more depending on you oven. If the crust starts to burn cover with a piece of tin foil.

Let cool a bit before cutting.

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