Thursday, September 17, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing?

OK, so I know what you're thinking at this point--in this age of HDLs and  LDLs, who eats pie, let alone who bakes pie??? But let's just rethink this concept. The average piece of pie is not even close to being as bad for you than the double latte, the lame donut at the office break room or heaven forbid a trip through the drive-through.
Calorie bombImage by Jan & Peggy via Flickr
Of course, I'm not talking pie everyday or even a pie every week but think of it this way--isn't it worth skipping the double mocha with whipped cream to have a great homemade piece of perfection like pie?? What about pie on Sunday?--that's an American tradition. Pie as dessert for a dinner party--I guarantee you everyone will be thrilled since they probably haven't had a home baked pie in years. Good grief, you really should bake a homemade pie for Thanksgiving, it's the patriotic thing to do! If you can't bear the thought of actually baking a pie (even though that is the fun part) there's always the Pie-for-Life Club--for real.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Apple Tart

Apples are everywhere right now--the Farmer's Market has apples at every turn. This quick Apple Tart is easy to make and would be a great dinner party dessert. In researching Apple Tart recipes I came across Ina Garten's version. I used her butter crust which actually turns out to be a lot like a shortbread cookie--very rich and buttery. It's really quick to make in the food processor, easy to roll out and looks really fancy if you use a fancy cutter on the edges.After I had made the crust I noticed that she says she uses frozen puff pastry when she is in a hurry--go figure! I thought the recipe was really easy BUT it isn't anything like puff pastry and I think the dessert would be totally different. I'll try it with the puff pastry dough next time.

To make her pastry from scratch, you just throw the ingredients into the processor, roll it out, cut the edges, then refrigerate it while you cut up the apples. So easy, why would you ever use readymade crust?

Tart Crust a la Ina Garten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons butter, cold
1/2 cup ice water
Place flour, salt and sugar in food processor and pulse until crumbly. Add butter and pulse until crumbly again. Add ice water and pulse until dough just comes together. Empty processor bowl onto floured board and knead slightly into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. Roll out with rolling pin until it reaches approximately 11x14 (size of full cookie sheet), trim with fluted pastry cutter or pizza cutter so that it is a rectangle shape. Dough will be about 1/4" thick. Stick it back in frig until apples are ready.
Apple Tart
1 tart pastry crust recipe or frozen puff pastry thawed
4-6 apples (more or less depending on size)- use a crisp, tart apple
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup liquer of some kind (Calvados, Triple Sec, ?)
1/2 cup jam of your choice-peach,orange
a little butter

Preheat oven to 400. Roll out the pastry to approximately 11x14 (or size that will fit on your cookie sheet). Place on parchment sheet on cookie sheet. Refrigerate until apples are prepared. Peel and core apples and slice into 1/4" slices. Overlap apple slices on crust on the diagonal until pastry is cover completely. Sprinkle with sugar, dot with a little butter and bake for 45 minutes on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper until apples and crust are brown. Mix jam and liquer together and micro until warm, then stir. Use pastry brush to brush jam mixture over apples after removing from oven, To serve, use a pizza cutter to cut into squares and top with whipped cream. Yummy. This freezes well, cut into squares and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Open tin foil wrapper to reheat in oven.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Four and 20 Blackbirds

Pie Birds
I've discovered there are a few tools which can make the whole baking thing much easier--and then there are a few like these pie birds that just make it more fun. What is a pie bird you ask? Well, the concept is that the steam produced when the pie is baking needs to escape or what--the pie might explode??? Apparently, they are meant to prevent fruit pies from boiling over which would be nice since I recently had charred peach juice all over the bottom of my oven. Here's some instructions on how to use them. The whole concept kind of reminds me of the King Cake tradition in New Orleans, although, in this case you can actually see the bird sticking out of the pie--guess that would defeat the purpose if the baby was peeking out of the King Cake? Pie birds have in recent years become quite the collectable although I haven't seen any in the flea markets and antique mails I've cruised through. If anyone has tried one, give us some feedback. Next fruit pie, I will give it a shot and let you know how it works--you've got to admit it really looks cute.
*check this cool site with vintage pie birds!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Coconut/Pecan/Peach Pie--again???

Coconut/Pecan/Peach Pie--again??? This pie was so good that I needed to make another one before peach season ends here in Colorado. This time we ate a couple of pieces and I put the remaining pieces in individual freezer containers for peach pie cravings in the (probably not to distant) future. Oh summer is starting to wane, can you stand it? It has been so great this summer in the high country of Colorado--lots of wildflowers, great temperatures, plenty of rain and so far no wildfires. But it's time to start thinking apples!! This little town is the center of apple country in Colorado and the yearly Applefest is coming up in September. I have three old apple trees in my yard & the apples are starting to turn red so it won't be long. I'm searching for apple pie recipes and will have several up soon. Enjoy the last of summer.~Annie
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Coconut/Pecan/Peach Pie

The question was, can I possibly make yet another peach pie? How decadent, but those incredible fragrant Colorado peaches were just sitting there. I did freeze a bunch and make some jam but the idea of a fresh peach pie which is something you can make for only a few short weeks was just too compelling. So I started looking for something a little different and found a recipe for a Peach Pie with Coconut Almond Topping in the cookbook: Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie (Paperback).
I hadn't really thought of putting coconut on a peach pie but it sounded interesting. Taking a look at the recipe, I realized the only ingredient I didn't have was the almonds, but...I did have pecans, so I figured I would go for it. I made the bottom crust, the peach filling, had oven heating when I realized that I was supposed to food process the topping ingredients to a mealy text
ure. Hey, I don't have a stinking food processor up in the mountains! Too late to back up now so I just mixed the topping with a fork and went for it. End result--this is a fabulous pie! If you have peaches, you have to try it--make the original recipe or my variation, I think you will agree!

Peach Pie with Coconut Topping
-one single pie crust


2 lbs peaches
1 & 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 nutmeg

1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced pecans
1/2 cup sweentened flaked coconut
6 tablespoons butter cut in to small pieces
1 tablespoon milk

*I used a little more coconut and pecan pieces

1. make bottom crust, place in pan and chill until peaches are ready
2. combine peaches, lemon juice,lemon zest, 1/3 c. sugar in bowl and mix and let sit.
3. preheat oven 400 degrees
4. mix cornstarch with the 3 tablespoons sugar and sprinkle over peach mixture. Stir in vanila and nutmeg and turn peaches out into chilled pie crust and bak for 30 minutes.
5. make the topping by combining flour, sugar,salt, almonds (or pecans)and coconut in food processor and pulse. Scatter butter over mixture and pulse again until fine crumbs. add milk and process again until gravelly. (I DIDN'T DO THIS AND THE PIE WAS GREAT--I DIDN'T HAVE A FOOD PROCESSOR-SO WHAT). Refrigerate until ready to use.
6. remove pie from oven and reduce temp to 375 degrees. dump crumbs on top of pie and spread evenly pressing down just a bit to compact.
7. return pie to oven and bake until juices bubble all around edge (it just got slightly brown)
8. cool 1 hour before slicing
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Coconut Cream Pie

I use my 1979 version of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook for a lot of basic recipes. If you didn't know, Fannie Merritt Farmer published the original book in 1896 under the title “The Boston Cooking School Cook Book”.

In the Fannie Farmer Cookbook she has a lot of great pie recipes but one that I use most often is her basic cream pie recipe. You can use this for Banana & Coconut and by simply adding some unsweetened chocolate it makes a fabulous chocolate cream pie. Because the cream part of the pie calls for egg yolk, I typically make a meringue topping rather the whipped cream topping, which makes it a little lighter.

Pastry dough for 9-inch pie plate (use basic crust recipe from July 09 post)

Cream Filling:
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C flour
1/4 t salt
3 C whole milk
3 egg yolks, room temperature slightly beaten (reserve whites for meringue)
2 T butter
1 t vanilla
1/2 C shredded coconut plus more for topping

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line pan with pastry dough and prick with a fork and bake for 12-15 minutes. Set aside. Combine the sugar, flour, and salt in a saucepan. Stir in the milk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thick. Add the egg yolks and continue to cook, stirring for about 3 more minutes. Remove from the stove and add vanilla, butter, and coconut. Cool slightly. Pour into pie shell. At this point if you choose to make a coconut cream pie with whipped cream, refrigerate pie for 2- 3 hours and then add whip cream topping with a little toasted coconut on the top.
If you want to make the meringue topping then to the following:

Meringue Topping
5 egg whites room temperature (add 2 to the 3 your reserved)
1/2 C sugar
1/4 t salt

Place in mixing bowl and mix at high speed until stiff and shiny. Top your room temp pie filling with the meringue. Sprinkle with coconut and bake at 425 degrees for about 5 minutes or until coconut and meringue are slightly brown. Watch closely, it can burn quickly.

Once this has cooled completely refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Store both your cream pie and your meringue pie in the refrigerator and it will keep for 2-3 days.
Mary Etta
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Key Lime Pie-a Birthday Hit

Recently my daughter threw herself a birthday "Indoor Crawfish Boil" inviting family to enjoy treats she and her husband loved when living in New Orleans. Her Key Lime Pie was a big hit, as she put it: "actually, it was about the only hit. No one had any Ramos fizzes and it turned out that most of the crowd didn't like crawfish!" After consulting several cookbooks, she went online and found a recipe she adapted from "Catahoula's Restaurant" at:

Here's the recipe for this good looking pie:

Brooke's Key Lime Birthday Pie


1 stick unsalted butter, melted

3 tbsp. sugar

15 graham crackers


1 cup Key lime juice (depends how big they are but I ended up using 30 Key limes)

2 14 oz. cans Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks (use the egg whites to make yourself 2 Ramos Gin Fizzes)

1 tsp. lime zest

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Either food process the graham crackers into homogeneous crumbs or do like I did and put them in a ziplock and beat them mercilessly with a rolling pin. Combine melted butter, graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Press mixture into a pie tin with fingers. Bake for about 8-10 minutes being careful not to burn. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

  1. Add eggs and egg yolks and mix with beaters until thick and light yellow. Add condensed milk and ½ of lime juice and blend until very smooth like pudding. Add lime zest and the rest of the lime juice and blend on low for a few seconds. Pour into cooled pie crust.

  1. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until center is firm but pie filling is still a bit jiggly. Allow pie to cool then refrigerate. Top with freshly made whipped cream and a little lime zest.

My granddaughter loooooves dessert--any kind of dessert. She's a great audience for testing recipes and she gave this pie two thumbs up! Annie