Cherry-Cream Cheese Hand Pies

Margaux says…

I was at the farmer’s market yesterday and saw that sour cherries are still available around here.  I was surprised, because I know that sour cherries are only available for a short while…and we picked ours a month ago!  But of course I wasn’t thinking about the fact that there are a few different varieties of them, and the ones available now are a darker red shade, but still just as sour.  So, I wasn’t going to post this recipe because I thought the season was over, but we’re in luck around here!  Grab some this weekend and bake these…I promise you won’t be sorry.  The crust is heavenly, and I love hand pies because the crust to filling ratio is perfect.  And these are a perfect dessert to bring to your friend’s BBQ!  No serving hassle at all…just put them on a plate and watch them disappear.

sour cherry hand pies - sweet & savory kitchens

Sour Cherry-Cream Cheese Hand Pies

adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe for rhubarb cream cheese hand pies

The Crust:
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small cubes
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Using a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas. Gently stir in 3/4 cup buttermilk with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Using your hands, knead it just two or three times to form a ball. If it doesn’t come together, add remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does, then gently knead again. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days or slip plastic-wrapped dough into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

The Cherry Filling:
1 lb. pitted sour cherries (about 4 cups)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp instant tapioca

Place cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan with sugar and tapioca and stir to combine. Cover and cook at medium-low heat for 15 minutes, no need to stir. Increase the heat to medium, remove the lid and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, until thick enough that if you run a spoon across the bottom of the pot, you can see a trench quickly form and disappear. Spread mixture on a large plate in the fridge or freezer to cool quickly, then scrape into a bowl. Keep cold until needed; it will be thicker and easier to “scoop” onto the pie bases.

The Cream Cheese Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 large egg yolk

Beat cream cheese, sugar, zest, juice and yolk together in a small bowl with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Keep cold until needed.

Assembly:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
Coarse sugar

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line two to three baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat your remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water and keep aside with a pastry brush.

Dust your counter or pastry mat with a lot of flour, unwrap the first half of your dough and start rolling your dough by pressing down lightly with the floured pin and moving it from the center out. Be patient about rolling, don’t press too hard, and it won’t crack as easily. Roll until 1/8″ thick. I cut mine into circles using a 3″ biscuit cutter, but you can also cut into 3″ squares using a pizza wheel or pastry cutter. You won’t have as much dough scraps left if you cut into squares, but I really wanted rounds. If doing rounds, you’ll have quite a bit of scraps, which you can form back into a ball, refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then re-roll and cut some more. It will make for slightly tougher crust on those, but I didn’t think it made that big of a difference. If your dough becomes soft, slide onto baking sheets and freeze for 15 minutes. It will make it easier to assemble.

Brush half the squares very, very lightly with the egg wash; these will be your bases. Cut a small vent in the other half of the squares; these will be your lids. In the center of each egg washed square, put a small dollop (a measured teaspoon) of cream cheese, then cherry filling on top. Don’t overfill! Top each filled base with a vented square. Press outer edge of top and bottom all around to seal with your fingertips or a fork. Transfer pie to a baking sheet, spacing 1-inch apart. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle generously with coarse sugar. Repeat with remaining dough, including second half from fridge, and fillings (you will probably have some fillings left over…you can do what I did and re-roll the remaining scraps a third time and make a tiny little pie for someone who won’t mind tough pie crust, like my son. 🙂 )

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed and golden, and even more brown at edges. Transfer to cooling racks and cool to room temperature before serving.

Sour Cherry Pie

July 20, 2014

Tart Cherry Pie ~ Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

My family farm has a couple of cherry trees, and this year we just happened to be in town (its 2.5 hours south of Chicago) when they were ready to pick!  We picked as many as we could in 20 minutes, and got just enough for a pie and some hand pies I made a week later.  Last year we got lucky with cherries, too, and I made this slab pie, which is also fantastic.  It’s always hard to decide what kind of dessert to make when you only get cherries once a year.  Next year, I vow to spend more than 20 minutes picking cherries (someone will have to entertain the children!), so that we have enough to freeze for later.  Then I can make a pie, a slab pie, this sour cherry crumble pie that Aunt Suzy posted about years ago, and this cake that looks really good.

Cherry Picking Cherry Picking Cherry Picking

I found this recipe while reading a Smitten Kitchen blog about a strawberry rhubarb pie recipe that I used recently.  The idea is that you bake the crust before baking the pie, so that the bottom crust isn’t soggy.  I like that idea.  It’s what I do with my single crust baked pies, like peach and custard pies, so why wouldn’t I do it with cherry?  The results were just as I wanted…no soggy bottom crust.  Instead it was nice and crisp, buttery and delicious.  Instead of a traditional lattice top, I used a round cookie cutter to make a decorated top.  I could have layered them and added more, because I didn’t think about the fact that they would shrink during baking.  So I recommend putting more on than you think are needed.

 

Tart Cherry Pie ~ Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Twice-Baked Sour Cherry Pie

adapted from Melissa Clark’s recipe in The New York Times

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, more for rolling out dough

3/8 teaspoon kosher salt

15 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

1 cup sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons instant tapioca

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 pounds sour cherries (about 6 cups), rinsed and pitted

1 tablespoon kirsch or brandy

3 tablespoons heavy cream, or 1 egg yolk lightly whisked with 1 tbsp water

Demerara sugar, for sprinkling.

1. To make dough: in bowl of a food processor pulse together flour and salt just to combine. Add butter and pulse until chickpea-size pieces form. Add 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until mixture just comes together. Separate dough into 2 disks, one using 2/3 dough, the other using the remaining. Wrap disks in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days) before rolling out and baking.

2. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place larger dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12-inch circle, about 3/8-inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Line dough with foil and weigh it down with pie weights. Bake until crust is light golden brown, about 30 minutes.

3. While pie crust is baking, prepare filling. In bowl of a food processor, combine sugar, tapioca and cinnamon (use more tapioca if you prefer a thicker, more solid filling, and less if you like a looser, juicier filling). Run the motor until tapioca is finely ground. Place cherries in a bowl and add sugar and tapioca mixture. Drizzle in kirsch or brandy and toss gently to combine.

4. When pie crust is ready, transfer it to a wire rack to cool slightly and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Remove foil and weights. Scrape cherry filling into pie crust.

5. Place smaller disk of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it 3/8-inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter (or several round cookie cutters of different sizes) to cut out circles of dough. Arrange circles on top of cherry filling in a pattern of your choice.

6. Brush top crust with cream or egg wash and sprinkle generously with Demerara sugar (as you can see in photos, I forgot my sugar. Oops.)  Bake until crust is dark golden brown and filling begins to bubble, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool for at least 2 hours, allowing filling to set before serving.

 

Coconut Cream Pie

May 31, 2014

Coconut Cream Pie - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

We really love coconut around here.  It seems like every other yummy treat I make has coconut in it.  Last week I made coconut almond granola (just tweaking my original granola recipe a bit, taking out cashews and maple flavoring and adding coconut extract and slivered almonds), and coconut cream pie.  Whenever I make a quiche, which is what we had for dinner last Thursday, I make a full recipe of pie dough and save the other half for a single crust pie.  I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve made coconut cream pie…it’s one of my favorites!  This recipe is simple, classic, and delicious.

Coconut Cream Pie - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Coconut Cream Pie

adapted from Joy of Cooking

Prepare a baked 9″ pie crust.  My favorite recipe is this.

Prepare the coconut: Spread 1 1/3 cups shredded sweetened dried coconut in a 9″ cake pan and toast, stirring occasionally, in a 300 degree oven until golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Set aside.

The filling:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups milk
5 large egg yolks
3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tbsp pure coconut extract

Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan. Gradually whisk in the milk. Vigorously whisk in the egg yolks until no yellow streaks remain. Place over medium heat and bring to a bare simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Remove from the heat, scrape the corners of the saucepan with the spoon or spatula, and whisk until smooth. Return to the heat and, whisking constnatly, bring to a simmer again and cook for 1 minute. Off the heat, whisk in the butter, vanilla and coconut until the butter is melted and completely incorporated. Stir in all but a few tablespoons of the coconut (set the rest aside for later), and then spoon the filling into the prepared pie crust. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface and cool to room temperature. Move the pie to the refrigerator and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Meanwhile, make the whipped topping:
Beat 1 cup whipping cream and 1 tsp coconut extract on high speed in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, adding sugar to taste as it’s beating, until stiff peaks form (I like my whipped cream on the less sweet side, so I only add about 1-2 tbsp sugar).

Top the cold pie with whipped cream, and then top the whipped cream with the reserved toasted coconut. Serve immediately. It will keep, sealed with plastic wrap and refrigerated, for a couple of days.

Best Pumpkin Pie

November 26, 2013

Best Pumpkin Pie - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite pies, and we have them at our house more than just for Thanksgiving.   I like to use Joy of Cooking’s recipe, which yields a crispy, flaky crust, and custardy, delicious filling that’s not grainy or soggy.  The key is the blind-baked crust, which is pre-baking your pie crust lined with foil and pie weights.  I like to do this with all of my one-crust pies, ever since I read about it in Joy.  It really does produce superior results.

Blind Baking a Crust - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

 

Blind Baked Crust with Egg Wash - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I have made only a few pumpkin pies in my time. It seems for holiday gatherings, others make the pumpkin and I bake apple or pecan-sweet potato pie – like this Thanksgiving!  And I usually follow Mom/Granny’s lead and use the recipe on the side of the can of pumpkin. 🙂  I’ve always been satisfied with the results, but then I’ve never had this version!  One thing I will say is that I think pumpkin pie is best made with canned pumpkin. Every time I’ve had it with fresh pumpkin puree, it seems watery. How about you Margaux? What are your thoughts on fresh vs. canned pumpkin?

Margaux says…

I definitely ALWAYS use canned pumpkin.  Not only does it seem watery with fresh, but often grainy and stringy.  Yuck.  It’s really not worth the extra step, because canned pumpkin is just that…pumpkin, no additives.  You would have to have commercial grade equipment to get it the consistency that canned is, which is perfect for pies.  I was happy to see that there was a little section about it in the November issue of Martha Stewart Living…their test kitchen came up with those same results.

Best Pumpkin Pie - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Blind Baked Pie Crust

1/2 recipe pastry dough, like this one

1 egg yolk

salt

Roll out pie dough.  Carefully place it in a 9″ pie plate, trim the edges leaving a 1″ hang over, fold it under and crimp.  Place in freezer and freeze for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Take pie shell out of freezer and cut a large piece of aluminum foil.  Place foil into pie plate, shiny side down, carefully pressing it into the corners and leaving a good amount hanging over the sides.  Fill with pie weights, dried beans or rice (I keep dried beans on hand and use them over and over again).  Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, and carefully remove foil.  Prick crust all over with fork and put in oven again for another 5 minutes or so, until the crust is golden.  Meanwhile, beat egg yolk with a pinch of salt.  When crust is done, brush with egg yolk all over and bake for another minute or two, until the glaze is set.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

A note about eggs in the recipe: If you like your pie more custardy, use 3 eggs.  If you like a stronger pumpkin flavor and a denser filling, use only 2.  I like to use 3.

2-3 eggs (see note above)

2 cups pumpkin puree

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1 1/2 cups evaporated milk or half-and-half

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk eggs together in a large bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

While mixture is sitting for a few minutes, place foil around the fluted edges of the crust (or use an aluminum pie sheild…one of my favorite kitchen gadgets).  Warm crust back up by placing it in the oven for 1-2 minutes, until it is hot to touch.  Pour filling into the hot crust, place in oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until center seems set but quivery, like gelatin, when you tap the side of the dish.  Cool on a cooling rack to room temperature.  Serve within one day, store in the refrigerator.

Whipped Cream

1 cup cold heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp sugar

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium high until soft peaks form, no longer.  Serve dollops on slices of pie.  Store remainder in refrigerator in airtight container.  Whip with a wire whisk for 10-15 seconds when ready to use again.

Sour Cherry Slab Pie

July 22, 2013

Sour Cherry Slab Pie - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…
My family has a farm that dates back to the mid-1800’s. We call it “the Big House.” It is pretty big, and one of my aunts lives in it now. It is one of my favorite places on earth.  There are two Montmorency cherry trees there that were planted in 1967 for my Aunt Gigi’s birthday, and this year we just happened to be down in central Illinois when the cherries were ready to be picked!

cherry picking

cherry pickingWe got just enough cherries before the kids started going bonkers (Stella seriously needed a nap).  I always make pie with the cherries, and this year I really wanted something different.  While browsing Smitten Kitchen (I really used a lot of her recipes this week!), I came across this one.  OMG I will be making this again!!!  You really should try it before this very short cherry season is over! (It might already be…it’s taken me way too long to get around to writing this).

Cherries(Yes his shorts are backwards…oops!  Four-year-olds still sometimes have a little trouble getting dressed.  🙂 )

Sour cherry slab pie

 

Sour cherry slab pie - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

 

Sour Cherry Slab Pie

from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 recipes flaky butter pie dough, divided, patted into thick rectangles, wrapped in plastic and chilled for at least an hour in the fridge

6 cups sour cherries, pitted (fresh or frozen will work; if frozen, defrost and drain first)
3/4 to 1 1/4 cups of sugar (depending on how tart your cherries are.  I used 1 cup.)
1/4 cup cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch or two of salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream or one egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water

Glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk or water or 1 tablespoon water plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Stir to combine; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough into an 18-by-12-inch rectangle.

Transfer to a 15-by-10-by-1-inch rimmed baking sheet, (pastry will hang over sides of pan). Pour cherry mixture into lined baking sheet; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out remaining piece of dough into a 16-by-11-inch rectangle. Drape over filling. Bring bottom pastry up and over top pastry. Pinch edges to seal. Using a fork, prick top crust all over. Brush with heavy cream or egg wash.

Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 40 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes.

In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk, water or lemon juice (or combination thereof) until desired glaze consistency is achieved. Use a spoon to drizzle over top. Serve warm or room temperature.

 

Classic 2-Crust Apple Pie

December 1, 2012

Aunt Suzy says . . . . 

In our recent Dutch Apple Pie post, Margaux mentioned how shocked we were that we had not shared even one apple pie recipe.  Shocked because we love apple pie and make it regularly in the fall!  So we both got in gear and baked our families’ classic apple pie.  Note that I used the plural of family – when we dug into the apple pie recipes used by Margaux’s Grandma Major and Granny Teegarden (my Mom), they were basically the same recipe.  Any slight variations have to do with ingredient quantities and method.  In both cases, this is a regular vs. deep dish pie, and is elegant in its simplicity. Margaux and I make it somewhat differently, so we will describe both approaches.  So Margaux?  Serve with ice cream or not?  I like the pie plain – no ice or whipped cream – with a strong cup of coffee.

Margaux says . . .

I usually like my pie just straight up…no ice cream!  I’m a big sweets eater, though, so I do usually get a scoop of ice cream, too, and just eat it separately.  🙂  I make apple pie probably more than any other dessert, other than maybe brownies.  I usually use Jonathan apples, but if I can’t find them I prefer Golden Delicious (recommended in Joy of Cooking), Macintosh or Rome.  I never use Granny Smith because they become mushy when baked.  One time I read in a Cook’s Illustrated article that it’s best to use a few different varieties, one tart, one sweet, etc…which I did once and it was great.  But usually I’m making an apple pie because I need to do something with the bag of apples I bought that are going to go bad soon, so that’s not possible!

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

Depending on how many people you are serving you might want to make 2 pies.  In our house, apple pie goes fast because we eat it for dessert and, best of all, for breakfast!

Ingredients

Dough for a 2-crust pie – here’s Margaux’s favorite recipe

6-7 medium baking apples – Jonathan is our favorite variety

a little lemon juice, optional

2/3 -1 cup sugar

2-3 tablespoons flour, depending on how juicy the apples are

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter

Additional sugar for dusting the top crust

Aunt Suzy/Granny Teegarden’s Method

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Separate the dough for the crust into two equal balls.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or more).  Remove one ball from the fridge and roll out into a circle. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough, patting into place.

Peel, core, quarter and slice the apples to 1/4-1/2-inch thickness.  Place directly into the dough-lined pie plate.  Occasionally add a few sprinkles of lemon juice to prevent the apples from turning brown.

You’ll know you’ve added enough sliced apples when they form a rounded mound that is somewhat higher than the sides of the pie plate.  Next sprinkle the sugar evenly over the apples.  Continue by adding the  flour, then the salt and cinnamon.  Lastly, cut the butter into chunks and place on top of everything.  Don’t forget the butter!!  (Although if you forget, you can poke the chunks through the top-crust vents, something I know well from experience!)

Roll out the other half of the dough to a circle.  Place on top of the apples.  Fold the top and bottom crust together and lightly press onto the rim of the pie plate.  Crimp or flute the edges to seal the crusts.  Cut vents into the top crust in a pattern of your choice and sprinkle with sugar. Bake on a rack in the middle of the oven at 425 for 15 minutes.  Turn the heat down to 350 and bake another 30-40 minutes until the filling is bubbling.  You might want to line the bottom of the oven with foil in case the filling spills over.  Remove from the oven.  I like pie room temp, so I cool completely on a rack.  If you like it warm, cool to desired temperature.

COOK’S NOTES: Most apple pie recipes instruct you to toss the apples with the dry ingredients and then turn into the pie crust and top with the butter.  I have done that, but I like this way better because it’s easier with one less bowl to wash and no noticeable difference in results. Plus you always know exactly how many apples to use – you just stop when the pie plate is full.  I tend to like things less sweet so always use 2/3 cup sugar or less. Last tip – don’t forget the salt in the crust nor in the pie filling.  I made two pies recently, the first with not enough salt and it was bland!

Margaux/Grandma Major’s Method

My ingredients are almost exactly the same…I use 6 cups of sliced apples (about 2 1/2 lbs) and 3/4 cups sugar.  I mix the apples, sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl before I roll out the pie dough.  I let the apple mixture sit while I’m rolling out the crust, stirring it every once in awhile.  Next I pour the apple mixture into the prepared crust, dot with the butter and close with the top crust, and sprinkle with 2 tbsp sugar.  I bake the pie at 425 for 30 minutes, turn down the oven to 350 and bake another 30-45 minutes, until the apples feel just tender when speared with a fork.  I usually need to cover the outer edge with my pie crust cover, which can also be done with foil, when I turn the oven down to 350.

 

 

Dutch Apple Pie

October 24, 2012

20121019-153038.jpg
Margaux says . . .
This week I bought a bag of Rome apples, mainly because they looked the best, but also because I’ve never tried them and as a huge apple lover, I feel I need to try all of them. I used to carry around a huge list of all the varieties of apples, what their season is, what their taste and texture is, and what their uses are. (I know, a little obsessive, but i LOVE apples!) That list was stolen along with my purse, and it was one of my biggest losses. So I was winging it with these Rome apples. Needless to say, they are not eating apples…But they have great flavor. I looked it up online, and apparently they’re good for cooking, so, oh darn, I have to make a pie.
20121019-133417.jpg
20121019-134326.jpg

I went onto our blog to find our Dutch apple pie recipe, because I was certain that Aunt Suzy had posted it, and discovered that we had not one single apple pie recipe posted!!! WHAT?? I’m still in shock about this. I make apple pie, like, once a month in the fall and winter. Remember how I said I love apples? Well, I really love apple pie. And I know Aunt Suzy probably makes apple pie pretty often, too. So what have we been doing? Yeesh, I’m sorry to our readers out there…we’ve really done you a disservice. My Granny’s apple pie, while totally basic, is the best out there. And this Dutch apple pie is pretty stellar, too! And I have other apple recipes that I realized, while looking for this recipe, I also haven’t posted. I will do my best to get these posted ASAP, before apple season (sadly) ends!

20121019-135431.jpg

20121019-135726.jpg

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I saw this recipe in Food & Wine a couple of years ago. It caught my eye because I’ve only made my Mom’s (aka Granny) basic apple pie over the years.  As Margaux said, that pie is delicious, but I’ve always wanted to make one like this with the streusel topping.  I agree that this one is really good!  And, thanks, Margaux for the reminder that we need to post more apple recipes.  We will indeed be doing a public service :-).

20121020-183451.jpg

Preheat the oven to 375°. Set a baking sheet on the bottom rack.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed, for the crust

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, for the topping

1/4 cup ice water

6 large cooking apples—peeled, cored and thinly sliced (I used 8, but my apples were small)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup sugar (Aunt Suzy uses a little more than 1/2 cup, I used almost a cup)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

The Crust

In a food processor, pulse 1 1/4 cups of the flour and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Add 1 stick of the butter and pulse until it is the size of peas. Drizzle on the ice water and pulse until evenly moistened crumbs form; turn out onto a surface and form into a ball. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm. (Or just make your favorite pie crust recipe for one crust. )

On a floured surface, roll a disk of the dough to a 13-inch round; fit it into a deep 10-inch glass pie plate and brush the overhang with water. Crimp the overhang.

The Topping

In a bowl, whisk the remaining 1 cup of flour, the light brown sugar, the baking soda and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add the 6 tablespoons of butter and cut it with pastry cutter until sandy (I cut it in until the butter was pea-sized, then used my hands to rub it together make it sandy). Add the walnuts and mix.

The Apples and Assembling the Pie

In a bowl, toss the apples, lemon juice, sugar, 1/4 cup of the flour and the cinnamon. Spoon the apples into the prepared pie crust. Press the topping mixture into clumps and sprinkle over the pie.

Bake the pie in the center of the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the crust is golden. Cover the edge of the pie if it begins to darken. Let the pie cool for at least 4 hours before serving.

COOKS NOTES: Depending on your oven, this baking time might be too long. Check after 55 minutes.

Chicken Pot Pie

October 27, 2011

Margaux says…

After 15 years in Chicago, I’ve come to really dread winter.  I think it was last winter that did me in, and they say that this winter is going to be even worse.  I used to love winter!  The biggest problem is having to bundle up a toddler in a million layers, and buckle all those layers into a car seat, etc, etc, etc.  Bah humbug, right?  Plus, towards the end, I really start to get those end-of-winter blues, and it doesn’t help that the winters seem to keep getting longer in this town.

The up-side to this sad problem of mine is that I cook A LOT in the winter.  Winter seemed to officially kick-off here last week (60 mile-an-hour winds, temps in the 40s, and rain for 3 days straight), and the serious cooking started: I made beef stroganoff, this amazing turkey stew that I’ve made several times in past winters, brown sugar cookies, Granny’s apple cake (which I promise I will post soon…apples never tasted so good), applesauce, chicken stock (of course!), roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy….and I topped off the week with these chicken pot pies.  I think I gained 10 pounds, (and I kind of felt like Paula Deen with all the butter I used) but the cooking and baking frenzy kept my spirits up!  Luckily we eat a lot of salads to counter-balance all the fat.  Of course, also like typical Chicago, after 4 days of really crappy weather, it was beautiful again for several days…totally teasing me!

These pot pies are nothing like the gross frozen ones of our childhoods (at least my childhood-I had a mother who didn’t like to cook).  Last month’s Martha Stewart has the most beautiful pot pie on the cover, and several more inside, and I decided that this will be the winter of pot pies in our house, starting with this classic.  My husband is totally on board…while eating these he said he wished I made pot pies more often.  Wish granted!

For the chicken, the recipe called for 2 1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes. Instead, I made a pot of chicken stock the day before with a whole chicken, and just used the cooked chicken in the recipe, cut into the cubes. It ends up being about the same amount of chicken (maybe a little less, but it still turned out great). And then you have chicken broth on hand for other recipes!

For the pie crust, I found I needed more than a half-recipe of pie dough, so I used the remainder of the dough to make a couple apple hand-pies for our dessert since I happened to have apples on hand.  The unfortunate part about pie dough is that you can’t re-roll out the extra after cutting out the crusts because it will get really tough.  So make sure you’re being very conservative when cutting out the pie circles so that you waste very little dough.  Also, I didn’t make an all-butter crust for this recipe because I thought it would be too rich (can you believe I just said that??), and instead did one stick of butter and 1/2 cup of Crisco.

Chicken and Mushroom Pot Pie

makes eight 4-inch potpies, serves 8
make ahead: you can refrigerate the filling for up to 3 days in an airtight container

for the filling:
1 1/2 oz. bacon, finely chopped (about 2-3 strips)
1 tbsp EV olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
3 medium carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
2 1/4 lbs. chicken, cubed
3 tbsp heavy cream

for the topping:
1 recipe pie dough (but using 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup Crisco in place of the 1 cup of butter and 1/4 cup Crisco, and omitting sugar)
1 large egg, for egg wash (which I forgot to do, and it turned out just fine)

1. Make the filling: Cook bacon in a large skillet over low heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate using a slotted spoon. Raise heat to medium, and add oil. Add onion, and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms, carrots, and celery, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in flour.
2. Add stock, and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and cream. Simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 5 minutes (if using cooked chicken, there’s no need to cook 5 minutes). Return bacon to saucepan. Let cool.
3. Divide filling among 8 4-inch (12 oz.) ramekins.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make the topping: Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut out 8 circles that are 1 inch wider than the ramekins. Top ramekins with dough, and crimp edges with a fork to seal. Brush dough with egg wash.
5. Bake until toppings are golden and fillings are bubbling, about 40 minutes.

I can’t let good pie dough go to waste, so I made a couple apple hand pies with it (luckily I had apples on hand).

Peel, core and slice a good baking apple, like Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Macintosh or Granny Smith. Place apples on one side of the pie dough, leaving about an inch or so on the edge for crimping. Cover apples with about 2 tablespoons of sugar, and about 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. Dot with about a tablespoon of butter, cut into small pieces. Fold dough over the apples and crimp the edges (it should be pretty full and packed in there…the apples will shrink when baked). Sprinkle sugar on top, and cut a few small holes in it. Bake for about 30 minutes or so…keep a close eye on it because baking time will vary based on the size of your pies. Take out and cool completely before eating!

 

Margaux says…

When I saw the recipe for this pie, I had to make it.  I’ve never had apricots in pie before, and the combination of coconut and apricots was intriguing.  The combo does not disappoint…it’s really delicious!  I love the tartness of the apricots with the sweetness of the crumble.  The pie is pretty easy to make, too; the crumble can be made in a food processor and you don’t have to peel the apricots, so prep time is minimal.  The Martha Stewart version also has shaved toasted coconut piled on top in the center for a lovely decorative touch (which I did not take the time to do).

 

Apricot Pie with Coconut Crumble
from Martha Stewart Living

For The Topping
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Coarse salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut (3 ounces)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
For The Filling
1 3/4 pounds apricots, cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges (6 cups)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Coarse salt
Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make the topping: Whisk together flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Pulse coconut in a food processor until finely ground. Add butter and brown sugar, and pulse to combine. Add flour mixture, and pulse until clumps form.

Make the crust: Roll out pie dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate, and trim crust to a 1-inch overhang using kitchen shears. Fold edges under, and press to seal. Crimp as desired. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Make the filling: Stir together apricots, sugars, cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour filling into piecrust. Sprinkle with topping, squeezing some of the mixture into medium to large clumps and leaving a 1-inch border.

Bake pie on middle rack, with a foil-lined baking sheet on bottom rack to catch juices, until vigorously bubbling in center and bottom crust is golden, about 1 1/2 hours. (Loosely tent topping with foil after 30 minutes to prevent burning.) Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool for at least 2 hours (preferably longer) before serving.

Peach Custard Pie

July 23, 2011

Margaux says…

Various peach-custard pie recipes have really been catching my eye this year, and it looked so simple to make that I decided to just take the plunge and make one, even though we had no plans for company or anything.  Now that I’m working full time, it’s hard enough for me to be able to cook dinner, let alone give in to my baking desires.  But peaches are one of my favorite fruits, and I just couldn’t let the season pass me by without indulging just once!  And I’m so glad I gave in.  This pie is so good!  You must have good, in-season, juicy peaches for it to be good.  And for you pie-for-breakfast people out there, this one is perfect!  I had it for breakfast two days in a row!

If you don’t have a pie ring, and you are an avid pie-baker, I highly recommend it.  To me, there’s nothing worse than wrestling with a piece of tinfoil to try to get it to adequately cover the edges without burning yourself.

Peach-Custard Pie

1 recipe single pie crust

4 medium ripe (but firm) peaches, peeled
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Make the crust: Roll out dough to a 1/8″ thickness on a lightly flour surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate, and trim crust to a 1-inch overhang. Fold edges under, and press to seal using the tines of a fork. Prick bottom of pie all over with fork. Freeze for 15 minutes.
2. Line crust with foil, shiny side down, and fill with dried beans or rice. Bake for 20 minues. remove from oven; remove beans and parchment. Bake crust for another 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool.
3. Meanwhile, make the filling: Peel peaches by boiling them for one minute, then allowing to cool enough to touch and peel the skin easily off. Quarter the peaches, but leaving one half intact (for the center).
4. Whisk together eggs, sugar, butter, flour, salt and nutmeg. Pour filling into pie crust. Place peach half in the center, and surround with wedges.
5. Bake for 45 minutes. Tent foil ring around crust edges after 15 minutes to prevent burning (or use a pie ring). Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.