Category Archives: Pies

Peach Hand Pies

What tastes like a pie, but fits into a hand?  A “Hand Pie”!  Hand pies are perfect for those who don’t want to make an entire pie, or those who just like the compact, individualized size.  Hand Pies can be made with any pie filling and are perfect for picnics, road trips, or (dare I say it?) the kids lunch boxes.

 

I chose peaches for this blog since a dear friend gave me a peck of tree-ripe peaches fresh off the farm!  You don’t need a peck of peaches for this recipe as 4 medium sized peaches will make 6 hand pies.

 

In a strainer place and allow to drain for 15 minutes:
4 medium – large Peaches, peeled and diced
 
To drained peaches add:
3 Tabl. Brown Sugar
2 Tabl. AP Flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 drop of Almond Extract (optional)
 
     
Thaw and roll out 1 sheet of frozen puff dough.  Cut into 6″ circles (re-roll the dough if necessary).  Place a large spoonful of peaches on 1/2 of the circle of pastry.  Brush egg wash* on the edges of one half.  Fold the dough over and use a fork to seal the edge.  Place these on a parchment lined baking sheet and place the baking sheet in the freezer until firm.

      

   

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Remove frozen pastries from the freezer.  Brush each with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Using a sharp knife, cut slits in each.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp and lightly browned.

*Egg wash – 1 egg and 1 Tabl. water

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Often found in diners and family restaurants, this fresh strawberry pie is quick and easy to make.  Calling for a pre-baked pie shell, you can make your own crust or purchase one, it’s the only baking required.  On these hot days, bake your shell early in the morning, while it is still cool.

Ten short minutes standing over the stove and you’ll be putting this baby in the refrigerator to serve up on a hot summer night. Serve a slice of pie with fresh whipped cream, and enjoy!

This recipe is based on Sarah’s from “Short Stop”.

 
1 pre-baked pie crust
 
   
 
2 Qts. Fresh Strawberries, washed, hulled, divided in half
 
In a food processor, pulse 1 Qt. of Strawberries to small chunks
    
 
Place the processed berries in a pan and add:
3/4 cup sugar 
3 Tabl. Cornstarch
1/2 tsp. Salt
 
Stir to incorporate and add:
1/2 Lemon, squeezed

   

Cook for approx. 10 minutes until it is very thick.  You’ll notice that initially the berry mixture is whitish.  Once the cornstarch has cooked, the mixture will turn red and glossy.

   

Remove the sauce from the heat and cool for 20 minutes.  Stir in the remaining berries, sliced.  Place  the filling in the baked pie shell and smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 4 hours before serving.

   

Fresh Blueberry Tart

It’s blueberry season!!  Blueberries are so delicious – rich in antioxidants and  many health benefits have been attributed to them.  In my opinion, all fruit (and vegetables) should be enjoyed while fresh and in season.  Just in time for the abundance of juicy blueberries, I bring you this easy, no-bake fresh blueberry tart.  This tart features the blueberry two ways: cooked and fresh to provide smoothness and a little “crunch”.

I used a graham cracker crust in my tart pan, because it is way too hot to heat the oven just to bake a crust for a few minutes.  You can use a tart crust if you choose.  The blueberry filling in this tart is all prepared on the stove top in just a matter of minutes.  You’ll find this much more tasty than store-bought canned filling and it is quite refreshing on a hot day – not to mention it’s easier than baking a pie!

This recipe is for a 10″ tart which will serve 8-10.  If you desire to skip the tart shell altogether, serve the filling with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Combine in a saucepan:
1/4 cup water
1 pint of Blueberries, washed and checked for stems, paper towel patted dry
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tsp. Fresh Lemon Zest
3 Tabl. Fresh Lemon Juice
dash Salt
 
      
Allow the above to come to a boil and then cook down for 4 minutes.  The filling will appear too juicy at this point.
 
Make a slurry (thickening) of:
2 Tabl. Cornstarch
2 Tabl. Water, cold
 
Stir the slurry into the cooked berries and stir constantly for 3 minutes to thicken.  It will continue to thicken as it cools.
 
Remove the filling from the stove and stir in:
1-1/2 pints Blueberries, washed, and checked for stems, paper towel patted dry
 
      

Immediately pour the filling into your tart crust.  Spread the filling around.  Press plastic wrap down on top of the filling and refrigerate until cold.  Serve with whipped cream and garnish if desired.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Pie

The calendar and the heat index are reminding us that summer is around the corner, and with it, many reasons to entertain.  Whether you are making a complete meal or a “come for dessert” for guests, you’ll like the simplicity – not to mention, popularity of this refreshing pie.

Start with a graham cracker crust, store bought or homemade (see the index for a recipe).

CHOCOLATE GANACHE:
Place in a bowl:
1 cup Chocolate Chips (Milk or Dark – I use 60% Dark)
 
Bring to a boil and pour over the chips:
2/3 cup Heavy Cream
 
Stir well to melt the chips and create a smooth ganache.  Allow this to set at room temperature until cool and thicker.  Pour cool ganache over the bottom of the graham cracker crust.
 
             
 
PEANUT BUTTER FILLING:
In a bowl, cream:
8 oz Cream Cheese
 
Add and continue to cream:
3/4 cup Peanut Butter (smooth or chunky)
1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
 
Mix in:
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 of a container of Cool Whip, thawed

Smooth the peanut butter filling over the chocolate ganache layer.  Garnish with bits of a Peanut Butter Cup.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

When I lived in Ohio, practically everyone I knew grew rhubarb.  All you had to do was ask and someone would happily hand over a bag full.  Here in this section of NY, no one even seems to know what it is – even the local farms I went to who looked at me like I had four heads when I asked them for it.  But wait…I FINALLY found it at a local market and you’ll never guess how much – $9.00 a pound!!!!  Sorry for the excessive use of exclamations marks, but, really??!!!  Anyway, since rhubarb is only seasonal once a year for a couple of weeks, I sprung for enough to make one Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.

Since rhubarb is so tart and requires quite a bit of sugar, the strawberries are a wonderful addition to help sweeten and add intense flavor.  This recipe comes from the Amish in Ohio and makes enough for 1 deep dish pie.

 
In a large bowl stir together:
4 cups Strawberries, washed and quartered
3 cups Rhubarb, washed and cut into 3/4″ chunks
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Cornstarch
dash Salt
1 tsp. Orange Zest (optional)

*Prepare pie crust for double crust pie following instructions under pies in index to the right OR 2 store bought crusts

          

           

Roll one pie crust and place in the bottom and up sides of the pie pan.  Fill the pie crust with the filling (it will look like too much, but strawberries and rhubarb cook down a lot).  Place little bits of butter (about 2 tsp.) on top of filling and top with the top crust.  Crimp the edges of the pie.  Cut slits in top for venting of the steam.  Cover the edges with foil to prevent over browning.  Place on baking sheet and bake in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes and then remove the foil from edges.  Continue to bake another 30-45 minutes until juices are bubbling over.  Cool completely before cutting.

Key Lime Pie with Pretzel Crust

While waiting for Spring to finally arrive, I’m thinking of springy, light desserts.  Key Lime Pie is quick and easy to make and it’s quite tangy and refreshing after a heavy meal or  warm day.  Key Limes are very small and it might be difficult for you to find them but, key lime juice is available on your grocer’s shelves.  I use “Nellie and Joe’s Famous Key Lime Juice”.  For the zest, just use “regular” limes.

Traditionally, a key lime pie is made with a graham cracker crust.  While graham crackers are great, I prefer a pretzel crust because the saltiness of the pretzels and nutty taste they give are perfect with the tart limes.  If you’d rather a graham cracker crust, just exchange the pretzel crumbs for grahams.


FOR CRUST:
1-2/3 cups pretzel crumbs (Use food processor to crumb)
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted 

In a 9″ pie pan press the crumb mixture around the bottom and up the sides.  Set the crust in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to set up before filling. 

In a bowl, whisk together:
1 can of Condensed Milk (not evaporated)
3 Eggs, whole
2 Egg Yolks
1 Tabl. Lime Zest
1/2 cup Key Lime Juice

Pour the filling into the crust and bake in 300 degree oven for 25 minutes or until set in the center.  Garnish with Whipped Cream and a thin lime slice or lime zest.

Best Ever Pumpkin Pie

If you love pumpkin pie, you will love this recipe I created years ago and have used in bakeries ever since.  It’s creamier than the traditional, a bit more “spicy” – but so good!!  It’s definitely not low in fat, but hey, it’s once a year, right?
 
This recipe makes a large 10″ deep dish pie.  If you use a smaller shell, you will have enough left to make small pies or just bake as custard in ramekins.
 
 
In a bowl combine and whisk until smooth:
3 cups Pumpkin, (solid pumpkin – not pie mix)
2 cups Brown Sugar
2 cups Heavy Cream
4 Eggs, whole
2 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Ground Ginger
1 tsp. Ground Cloves

Pour into unbaked pie crust.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower oven temp to 350 degrees and continue to bake 1 hour or until set in the center.  Cool completely before serving.

Pie Crust – A Primer

I’m going to repeat a post today because it is timely and will help you to get ready for those Thanksgiving pies.  Everything you need to know about pie crust is here.  You can make your dough, roll it out, place it in the pan and freeze now for use later.

My preference for a tender, flaky crust is a combination of butter and vegetable shortening (my choice is Crisco).  It’s the combination of both fats that gives a crust its flavor and flakiness.  Pay careful attention to 2 keys that are necessary to making a great pie crust: COLD INGREDIENTS and SHAGGY dough.

Now ~ what do I mean by SHAGGY?  The biggest mistake people make when making pie crust is they mix it until it forms a nice, smooth ball.  Doing this will result in a tough, dry, non-flaky crust.  “SHAGGY” describes when the dough is mixed enough, which is to say, not a uniform ball, yet incorporated.   The dough will NOT be a ball at all, it will resemble a shaggy “mess”.

Here’s how to test if you have added enough water.  If you think it’s at the SHAGGY stage, but are not sure, stop adding water and pinch a bit of the dough in your fingers.  If it compresses and stays together its ready!  If it does not, you need to add a bit more water until the dough is able to do this.  Don’t worry, with some practice, you’ll be able to spot when you are at the SHAGGY stage.        

In a bowl measure:

3 cups Cake Flour

2 Tabl. Sugar

1 tsp. Salt

Place this bowl in refrigerator and allow flour to get COLD.

Grate: 1/2 cup COLD Butter into the flour and lightly toss with your fingers.

Add: 1/2 cup Shortening to the flour mixture and lightly toss with your fingers.

Mix together:

1 Tabl. Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1/4 to 1/2 cup Water, ICE COLD!

Gradually Add small amounts of the liquids to the bowl while tossing it with a fork –  STOP ADDING WATER the second the dough looks “SHAGGY”.  You want to see chunks of butter/shortening! As the chunks of the fat melt, the steam will cause air pockets ~ that’s what causes the flakiness!

Dump the bowl onto the counter, divide and carefully press into 2 disks (BE CAREFUL NOT TO KNEAD OR OVERWORK – that will make the dough tough).

Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple hours.  Alternatively, dough can be kept refrigerated for a couple of days or frozen for months.

Unwrap one disk of COLD dough, leaving it on the plastic wrap.  Dust lightly with flour and roll out into a circle.

HOW TO ROLL OUT PIE CRUST:

Start in the center and roll towards the outside.  Pick up the dough and rotate slightly. Rotating keeps the dough from sticking.  Add a dusting of flour if necessary.  Repeat this process of rolling and rotating until the dough is circular and rolled fairly thin and is slightly larger than your pie pan.

(If you are confident to roll directly onto the counter, lightly dust the counter with flour and follow the above directions.)

HOW TO GET THE PIE CRUST IN THE PAN:

Place your pan near the dough you’ve rolled out.  Now, pick up the plastic wrap and flop it over onto the pan.  Pull the plastic wrap off to release.

(If you’ve rolled your dough on the counter, place the pie pan near by the dough.  Fold your dough in ½ and then pick it up and place in 1/2 of pie pan.  Unfold the other 1/2 of dough.)

FINISHING THE PIE CRUST EDGES:

If this is going to be an opened-faced, crumb topped pie or custard filled pie, you can finish the edges of your crust: Fold the edges under all around the rim of the pie pan.  Using a fork, mark the edges all around the crust, or use your thumb to press indentations all around your crust.

If this is going to be a double crust pie, place the filling in crust and repeat the rolling process to make the top crust.  Then follow the above directions for finishing your crust.

No Bake Creamy Cheese Pie

Pie crust can be a little intimidating.  In fact, most people would bake a cake before they’d make a pie, because they assume pie crust is more difficult to make.  I think the secret of feeling comfortable making pie crust is having a good recipe and practicing. (By the way, I have step by step instructions for no-fail pie crust in the archives.)

It’s not always necessary to turn the oven on to produce a delicious pie.  This recipe is a perfect example of how easy making a pie can be ~ and no intimidating pie crust!       

Prepare a graham cracker crust:
In food processor, process:
1-1/2 packets of graham crackers
3 Tabl. Sugar
Add:
1/3 cup Butter, melted

Mix just until crumbs stick together when pressed in your palm.  Spread these crumbs and press firmly into the bottom and up the sides of a pie tin.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.

In mixer, cream until smooth:
12 oz. Cream Cheese, room temp.
1/2 cup Sugar
 
Add to above and mix until smooth:
1 cup Sour Cream
1-1/2  tsp. Vanilla Extract
6 oz. Whipped Cream, soft peak (or you can use Cool Whip)

Spread above into the crust.  Refrigerate.  Top with your favorite fruit before serving. I chose strawberries, but even canned (can’t believe I’m saying this) cherry pie filling will be great.

Quiche

Quiche is definitely under-rated.  It is a well-rounded meal featuring eggs and dairy. It is one of the most simple and yet, versatile foods.  Simple in it’s ingredients ~ crust, eggs and milk.  Versatile, in that nearly any food can be incorporated into the egg base.

Bacon and Swiss and Broccoli and Cheese are 2 of the more recognizable types of quiche.   One of my personal favorites is caramelized onions and rosemary.   For vegetarians, any vegetable can be added, the more the merrier!

Today, I share with you the basic quiche recipe, tomorrow, I’ll take you a step further and share my very favorite quiche.  First, some basic quiche tips.

 

PIE CRUST FOR QUICHE:

Of course you can use a store bought crust.  Make your own Pie Crust as can be found in the recipes category of this blog.  It is necessary to pre-bake a crust for quiche.  Use a removable bottom tart pan.  Press dough into the bottom and up sides*.  Bake in 375 degree oven for 13-15 minutes. 

Tip for crust –  Roll the crust out to a round bigger than your tart (or pie) pan , slightly thicker than for a pie.  Place the crust in the pan, press the dough in around the bottom and sides of the pan, but leave the dough hanging over the top of the pan all around the edges.  WHY?  Because the dough will shrink when partially baked and this will allow for the shrinkage.  So don’t trim the top of the dough.  Now, place parchment paper over the crust and fill with something that can be heated: stores sell pie weights, some use dried beans, but I use my stainless steel measuring cups and spoons.  You really just need something to weigh down the crust.

 

BASE FOR QUICHE:

Whisk together:
4 Eggs, whole
1 cup Half and Half
Salt and Pepper

Pour the base into a partially baked HOT pie crust .  Return to the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until knife comes out clean when stuck into the center. Cool for 10 minutes before serving so it will set up a bit.  Use a knife to trim the top edges of crust around the quiche now that it has baked to make it nice.  (Yep, that’s it!  How easy is that??!)


Tips for “add-ins” – Always lightly sauté vegetables before adding to the quiche.  Use pre-cooked meats (this is a great way to use leftovers).   Place any of these ingredients in the bottom of the pre-baked tart pan before pouring the liquids over.

* You may have extra “base” leftover when filling a tart shell because of the add-in ingredients you have chosen to add.  Don’t over-fill the crust.

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