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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