Tag Archives: Pie

Savory roasted vegetable galette

I got this idea from a pin I saw on pinterest…and was devastated to find it was one of those “broken” pins that didn’t link to anything :(.  I spent the next hour unsuccessfully trying to track down the source of these beautiful photos, only to decide that this was something I was just going to have to figure out myself!

I’ve written a lot about pies here…but never have I made a galette.  It’s the same thing, just free-form, with no pan or dish to hold it together.  You could turn any pie, save for perhaps the most liquid-y, into a galette.  The whole concept lends itself to creativity.

For the crust

I searched high and low for the perfect galette crust and finally found one I loved right in one of my old cookbooks that I hadn’t cracked open in a while:  Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.  This was not a flakey, pie-like crust, it was yeasted and therefore a little more like pizza dough.  It was VERY easy to put together and work with — I am SO NOT talented with doughs and pastries like my husband is, and I loved working with this.

Yeasted tart dough with olive oil
Yields one 9-11 inch galette, or 6 to 8 individual shells — I made 4, one for each person dining, and they were generously sized.

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.75 cups AP flour

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water in a large bowl and let stand until bubbles begin to form.

Add the oil, egg and salt and then mix in the flour.  As the dough stiffens, turn onto the counter, dusted lightly with flour, and knead with your hands until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes.

Coat another bowl with olive oil and turn the ball of dough inside the bowl to completely coat.  cover with a towel and let sit until the dough has doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour.

In the meantime, make the filling…

Roasted vegetable filling

I used my favorite vegetables:  brussels sprouts, tomatoes, mushrooms, leeks, pecans…but you can use whatever are your favorites.

About a half stalk of brussels sprouts (about 20-25 sprouts), ends trimmed, sliced into thirds
2 large leeks, sliced and thoroughly rinsed
handful cherry tomatoes, ends scored
Mushrooms of choice, sliced
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup white wine
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Salt, pepper, seasoning to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Chop and prepare all veggies.

Toss brussels sprouts, mushrooms and tomatoes in olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast on a baking sheet in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, until sprouts are just browning.

In the meantime, create a little sauce on the stove top.  In a large skillet, saute the leeks and garlic, plus a little freshly ground pepper.  Add about a quarter to a half cup of white wine and turn down heat, simmering until wine is reduced and syrupy. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese.  If you like, you can also try adding cream or milk to make a cream-based sauce.  Yum.

Toast the pecans on a dry skillet until browned and fragrant, and add to the sauce.

Combine everything for the filling and allow to cool to room temperature before making the pies.

To assemble…

Divide the dough into however many pies you would like.  Roll each piece into a ball in your hands and then, on a well-floured surface, roll out with a rolling pin until the crust is quite thin, about 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch.

Place filling in center of the pie and gather the edges of the crust around it, pinching tightly as you go. The idea here is to be rustic, not perfect, so don’t worry about how it looks!

Brush the crust with an egg wash or melted butter.  Place in the oven at 350° for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Mmmmmmmmm.

-R

 

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Day nine: chocolate chess pie

Not gonna lie:  I am growing a little bit tired of pie!  In spite of our efforts to share as much pie as possible with our friends and family, our fridge is just about overflowing.  It’s just so much butter!  And cream!  I can’t handle it all!

So this pie is being given away in its entirety.  I’ll report back from our friends whether or not it was a success.  But for now I’ll just post the recipe without any feedback.

Chess pie is a traditional southern dessert, with a rich custard filling for which there are several variations, including lemon.  The chocolate version is an uncomplicated filling that is sure to please any chocolate lover.

Chocolate Chess Pie
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs
1.25 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1.5 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon whiskey or rum
1 partially baked 9-inch pie crust

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler, or a metal bowl set over a pot of boiling water.

In a separate bowl, gently beat the eggs.  Sift the sugar, salt, and flour together and stir into the eggs.  Then add the cream and the melted butter/chocolate.  Finally mix in the vanilla and alcohol.

Pour filling into a partially baked pie crust and bake in an oven preheated to 325 for about 35 minutes.

Center should be set and the top a bit crusty when it is done.

Recipe from Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie by Bill Neal

-R

Day eight: curried vegetable mini pies

Hand pie, hot pocket, turnover — whatever you want to call it, these mini pies are the perfect snack, portable lunch, or single-serving dessert.  Ever so versatile, they can be filled with sweet or savory goodness, deep fried, sauteed, or baked.  Make a large batch and freeze the extra, or bring them to a potluck — who wouldn’t want their own mini pie that they don’t have to share?

It is rare that I ever see vegetarian versions of these, and I have been meaning to try making them myself.  I was pleased to discover that while the process took a while, it was surprisingly easier than it sounded.

The dough

When making a turnover, you will want the dough to be nice and pliable, so it doesn’t tear or explode.
I used the same chickpea flour dough I made for my spinach pie the other day, which, though not perfect, as it easily tore, worked well enough.  I didn’t experience any major mishaps.  I think you could easily make this dough vegan and/or gluten-free as well.  Just replace the butter with earth balance spread and the milk and yogurt with a vegan alternative, and replace the 3/4 cup AP flour with either 2/3 more of the chickpea flour or whatever equivalent amount of GF AP flour.

I don’t think the chickpea dough would taste very good in dessert variations, so if you want to go that route, I would be sure to seek out a dough recipe tested specifically for hand pies.  Alton Brown has one that I have not tried myself but is well reviewed.  Here is another.

The filling

Don’t be afraid to get creative with this.  You can use a more traditional dessert pie filling, or just a simple combination of vegetables, seasoning, cheese, etc.  Keep it simple and try thinking in terms of things you’re already familiar with — like spanakopita, stromboli, etc. I was inspired by samosas and came up with a curried vegetable filling.

Curried vegetable mini pies

Ingredients

For the filling:
1 medium onion, finely diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup each of:
–finely minced carrot
–finely diced potato
–frozen peas
–frozen cut green beans
1 chili pepper, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder (freshly ground preferable)
1 tablespoon flour
Approximately 2 cups water or stock
Salt, pepper to taste
1 batch chickpea flour dough

Saute the onion in ghee or vegetable oil for 2-3 minutes, until translucent.  Add the garlic, curry powder, and some freshly ground black pepper, and saute until spices are fragrant.  Add mixed vegetables and cook about 5 minutes, until they have softened.

Just barely cover veggies with water or stock, and simmer for 30 minutes.  Thicken with a tablespoon of flour as necessary (I used the chickpea flour and it worked wonderfully).  Season to taste with salt, and allow to cool before using.

While the mixture is simmering and/or cooling, make the mini pie circles.

Roll dough to about a half inch thickness and cut into circles with a 2-3 inch diameter.  You can use the rim of a glass, a biscuit cutter, whatever you have.

Roll each of these circles as thinly as possible, to about a 5-6 inch diameter.

Place a scant tablespoon of filling into the middle of each round, carefully fold over and press together to seal, brushing on a layer of water if necessary.  Crimp edges with the tines of a fork, and cut a slit or dock the top of the pie to vent.

Now they are ready to cook.  You could deep fry them, pan fry them, or bake them.  We decided to try both pan frying and baking.

To pan fry:  heat a generous amount of oil in a skillet and saute pies for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

To bake:  place on a baking sheet and into an oven preheated to 350 for about 30 minutes, until edges are nicely browned.

The pan fried pies were delightfully crisp.  And in spite of some tearing, they sealed back together nicely in the pan.  In fact, I practically ripped one in half while transferring it to the pan, but you couldn’t even tell when I removed it.

The imperfections were a bit more noticeable on the baked pies, though they still held together well enough to be transported.  Though they lacked the crispy fried awesomeness of the others, they still tasted pretty darn good.   And they’re a little easier on your stomach.

The pan fried ones came out so well I am not sure I would even bother with deep frying them.

This recipe took a while, but now my fridge is stocked with enough single-serving pies to last me all week.  You could even freeze uncooked ones to make them as needed at a later date.  Why buy the frozen kind when a fresh, homemade version can be whipped together on a Sunday night?

-R

 

 

Day five: coconut creme pie

I am not really sure why Mr. R put coconut pie on our list.  Perhaps he likes a challenge?  And I must admit, the creation process was kind of fun — it’s not often that I make recipes that recommend use of a machete and/or hammer.  But I suppose this series wouldn’t be complete without at least one disaster.  And here it is.

We were insistent on using fresh coconut, as the pre-shredded kind can be laden with all sorts of preservatives and “enhancers.”  At the grocery store, we searched unsuccessfully for the hard, brown coconuts one usually imagines.  But I did notice these weird, conical, white things labeled as coconuts, and added one to our cart.  What I didn’t know at the time was that this was actually a young coconut — a coconut harvested before it is ripe, primarily for its water, which allegedly holds all sorts of homeopathic health benefits.  As the coconut ripens, this water will transform to the meat we all recognize, but young coconuts have only a small amount of meat that is more gelatinous in texture.

So this is what I had to work with.  And it first begs the question:  how the heck do you open this thing?

A little bit of googling later, it was determined that the best approach would be to hack off the top using  a chef’s knife and a hammer, and then carefully pour out the water.

Keep cutting away until you are able to wedge out the top.  Drain the water.  You can drink it if you want to…but I thought it was kind of gross!  Probably should have recognized this as a sign…

And keep working at it until you can sort of pull it apart.

With young coconuts, the meat came out very easily with a spoon.  I am guessing it is a bit more difficult with a mature coconut?  You may need to use a knife or a vegetable peeler.

We ended up with…not quite one cup as required by the recipe.  But the middle of a snowstorm in Maryland is NOT the time to make a quick emergency run to the grocery store.  Oh well…

Grate the coconut…or mince it finely in a food processor as we did.

We followed the following recipe, again adapted from Bill Neal’s Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie.

Ingredients
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh grated cocnut
2 tablespoons white rum
1 partially baked pie shell

Combine all the ingredients for the filling and beat well by hand.  Pour into a partially baked shell and bake for about 40-50 minutes, until center is set.  Do not allow it to puff up excessively.

When this first came out of the oven, I was already hesitant.  It had an unappealing gelatinous texture.  And let’s just say it did not smell even vaguely of what I think of as coconut.

We had been planning to bring it to a party, but wasn’t sure I was willing to subject others to this, uh, “pie.”  A few of us sliced some samples.

I took one bite and almost had to spit it out.

One member of the family, however enjoyed it:  the dog.  She somehow managed to pull it off the counter in the middle of the night  and ate every last bit of the filling, leaving the crust intact.  Luckily, she hasn’t gotten sick and I guess we don’t have to worry about what we are going to do with this monstrosity!

I am sure that our use of young coconut had a lot to do with the failure of this recipe.  Maybe I would try it again with real coconuts.  But I am not in any rush.  Thankfully there is no shortage of delicious pie in our household right now!

-R

Day two: pumpkin pie

**Updated:  now with photos!**

Well I am out of town today, and though I have a computer and my camera, I am without means to connect the two.  So tomorrow I will update this post with photos, but I do want to make sure I keep my word on posting a new pie recipe every day!

Mr. R and I have been in the kitchen all afternoon making a huge batch of pie crusts.  Let me tell you, rolling out fresh pie dough is SO much easier than one that has been frozen or chilled overnight!  So we had the genious idea to roll them out right away and freeze them right in the pans — much better!  I’ll also update the pie crust post with photos that look a little less laborious and intimidating.

Anyway.  Back to today’s pie.  Pumpkin.  I must admit that pumpkin ranks among my most favorite pies.  Perhaps even tied for #1 with key lime.  Maybe it’s because it is so closely associated with the holiday season, celebrations, and lots of good food.  Either way, there’s just something so inviting about that special blend of spices and its silky, custardy texture.

This time of year you see a lot of pre-made pumpkin pies pop up in supermarket bakeries — but I find that, for whatever reason, they are not even comparable to the real thing.  Pumpkin pie is a pretty fool-proof recipe anyway, so I encourage you to make it yourself!

The following has been adapted from various recipes over the years.

Ingredients
2 cups pumpkin puree (or one can)
1 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each of:  ground ginger, ground cloves, freshly ground nutmeg
(feel free to adjust the spice amounts as desired)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 9-inch pie crust (instructions)
Optional:  heavy whipping cream

Method
Mix pumpkin puree, half and half, salt and spices in a saucepan over medium heat.  Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.  If using fresh pumpkin, make sure all water is evaporated.  Remove from heat and allow to cool no less than 10 minutes.

While puree mixture is cooling, whisk together brown sugar with eggs and egg yolk.  When the pumpkin is cooled (so as not to cook the eggs), mix that in too.

Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust and place in an oven preheated to 450.  After 15 minutes, reduce temperature to 350 and bake approximately 40-50 minutes more, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool for a minimum of two hours.  Beat heavy cream with your choice of sweetener (I like maple syrup when serving with pumpkin pie) until it peaks.

Serve and enjoy!

-R

Day one: classic pecan pie

For the first installment of the Twelve Days of Pie, we have made a classic southern dessert:  pecan pie!

I am from Maryland, and though it is below the Mason-Dixon line, whether it qualifies as a truly southern state depends on whom you ask.  My husband, however, is most definitely from the south, and pecan pie is one of his favorites.

Pecan trees are a species of hickory native to the southeastern United States.   Though packed with healthy unsaturated fats and antioxidants, they are traditionally mixed with brown sugar and served in various desserts, which obviously lessens their nutritional value. Pecan pie is perhaps the most quintessential of these desserts.

Here is a recipe adapted from Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie by Bill Neal, which has never failed us.

Ingredients

5 Tablespoons butter
1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
2/3 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup toasted pecan halves
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon dark rum
Pie dough for one 9-inch pie (see recipe and tutorial here)

Method

Position rack into the lower portion of your oven and preheat to 450.

Dry toast the pecans in a skillet until fragrant and just starting to brown.

In the meantime…

Cream the butter with an electric mixer and gradually add in sugars.

When sugars are fully combined, beat in flour and salt.

Add beaten eggs.

When fully combined, mix in the pecans, vanilla and rum.

Roll out pie dough and fit into pie pan, trimming off excess and crimping edges as necessary and/or desired.

Pour pecan mixture into pan.

Place pie in oven and immediately reduce temperature to 325.  Bake for approximately 40 minutes, until center of pie is set.

Finally, try your best not to eat the whole thing in one sitting.

Untested variations:

Chocolate pecan pie

Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie

I have these recipes bookmarked to try but haven’t gotten around to it yet.  I will report back when I do.  But you really can’t beat the classic version, with its creamy center and caramelized surface.  SO GOOD.

Now stay tuned for 11 more days of pie!

-R

The twelve days of PIE

My husband has become something of a pie connoisseur over the past few years.  While it is no secret that baking is not my forte, I have happily enjoyed the results of Mr. R’s culinary pursuits in the art of pastry.

And so as a tribute to his passion for pie-making, and in conjunction with the holidays (and the completion of his third semester of law school) we have decided in these last two weeks before Christmas to conduct the Twelve Days of Pie.  That’s right, beginning tomorrow, we will bake a pie daily until Christmas spanning everything from classic favorites to new twists on traditional recipes, from healthy, savory pies to completely decadent, buttery treats.  And then post about it here.

So get ready!

But first, a primer on the most important and defining aspect of pie:  the crust.

Pies have been a part of our diets at least as far back as we have written record of what human civilizations have consumed.  There is evidence that the ancient Egyptians ate a primitive sort of pie involving items mixed into a dough, and the ancient Romans are believed to have created the more recognizable form of pie crust known today.  In the days before kitchen utensils and cooking wares, dough was used as the primary vessel in which food was cooked and served.  It fulfilled a highly functional purpose and was likely not terribly tasty.  But after several centuries, numerous cultural interpretations, and the advent of the modern kitchen, the creation of a pie crust has become something of an art form.

When baking a pie, despite whatever filling you choose, the crust is always the common denominator.  It can truly make or break a recipe and elevate an otherwise forgettable pie to something of the divine.  So allow me to begin by imploring you to resist the temptation to use pre-made pie crusts.

Actually, let me say that again.

Do not ever use a pre-made pie crust!

Yes, making pie dough from scratch and rolling it out into perfection is intimidating and takes a bit of practice.  Do not expect your first attempt to look particularly attractive.  But I promise you it will taste 100 times better than whatever kind of crap they stock in the freezer of your local supermarket.

Just as a reference, here are the ingredients in a Pillsbury frozen pie crust:

Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Partially Hydrogenated Lard (Adds a Trivial Amount of Trans Fat) with BHA and BHT Added to Protect Flavor, Water, Sugar, Whey, Salt, Baking Soda, Sodium Metabisulfite (Preservative), Colored with Yellow 5 and Yellow 6.

Um, gross.

Even the most organic, natural, highest-rated pre-made pie crust I could find contains palm oil.  Palm oil! Not going to get into that issue right now, but I think I’d rather have butter myself…

Really, the results of making your own crust from scratch will be worth the effort.

The following instructions are adapted primarily from the book Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie by Bill Neal.  This book is Mr. R’s go-to resource for many of the pastry recipes he makes and you are likely find it open on our counter on any given day of the week.

Alton Brown also has a good tutorial on making pie crust (though his ingredients differ significantly):

Pie crust
yields two single or one double crust

Ingredients

3 Cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons butter, chilled
4 Tablespoons shortening
7 Tablespoons cold water

Instructions

Preparing the dough
Sift together flour and salt.  Cut chilled butter and shortening into pieces and mix into flour by hand until fully combined (Alton Brown uses a food processor for this part).  Texture will still be coarse and only slightly less dry.  Avoid overworking; you want the butter to remain cold (re-chill in refrigerator if this happens).

Keep a bowl of icewater next to you and work it in, tablespoon-by-tablespoon.

When dough is complete, divide into two pieces, wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.  Dough can also be chilled overnight or even frozen, but will be a bit harder to work with.

Rolling out the dough
Remove one piece of dough from fridge and turn out one piece onto a lightly floured surface.  You want to avoid using too much flour, which will dry out the dough, but do use enough to prevent sticking.

We have a silicone mat for this purpose which helps prevent sticking and over-flouring.

If dough is very hard (such as after freezing) you may need to knead the edges a bit to get it going.  When it is soft enough to roll out, sprinkle with a bit of flour, and press outward, not down.

Dough can be quite finicky; sometimes, as in the above picture, it is easy to work with, and other times, as below, it is difficult.  It depends on a multitude of factors, such as how long you knead it, how long it has chilled, or even the ambient temperature and humidity.  Don’t get discouraged if your dough looks more like the second picture — this crust had been frozen, which exacerbates the cracking — no one can tell the difference once the pie is assembled.

You may wish to shift the dough around or turn over, to prevent sticking and ensure even rolling.

Roll out until it is roughly a circle with a 13.5 inch diameter.

Again, do not worry about aesthetics.  The results will be the same whether you have a beautifully crimped crust or one that took a little finagling.

Assembling the pie
Fold the crust in half, and then into quarters, so that you can easily center it over a pie pan.

Press the pie into the pan.  If pieces have torn or broken off, don’t fret — just stick them back together.

Trim the edges as necessary and use them to patch up any holes or cracks.  For a decorative look, crimp with a fork or with your fingers like so:

For most pies, simply pour the filling into the pan and bake per the instructions of the recipe.

Some recipes, however, do call for a partially or completely pre-baked crust.  To pre-bake a crust, just line the bottom with a piece of foil and add some dried beans or rice to weigh it down.  Bake at 450 for 8 minutes, remove, and prick bottom all over with a fork. Return to oven for another 8 minutes and remove for a partially baked shell.  If the recipe calls for a fully baked crust, first check if any more pricks are needed (crust is puffing up excessively), and then bake for a final 8 minutes.

See?  It’s not so bad.  One bite into that pie and you will be so thankful you took the time to make the crust yourself.

-R (and Mr. R)