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Entries tagged with “Pie”.


Friday Pie-Day: Banana Cream Pie

Let me first say that this is not a pie for the faint of heart. Which is perfect, because the person who requested this pie is a steely-eyed life commando.

It is not for the faint of heart because this pie is a full on fat-filled, dairy-laden, velvet-mouthing, obese-inducing, culinary orgasma-rama. It’s pretty good.

I admit, at first I was not that jazzed about this suggestion. The only good banana cream pie I ever had was at a little diner in Okmulgee, Oklahoma called Coleman’s. I was probably nine years old. It was actually that memorable. But their coconut cream was even better.

Every subsequent banana cream pie has tasted like it was cobbled together with box pudding. It has been cloying, gelatinous and had some kind of manufactured after taste.

So, I really researched this one. I put some of my recipes side by side and decided on Emeril Lagasse’s. Well, most of Emril Legasse’s. You know how I like to screw with things.

I added a little cinnamon and a little nutmeg. I also made my own crust.

This is time-intense pie. You need to be serious about making this one, but it is a big pay-off. It will take you two days.

Because it is so time-crazy, I am going to break it into its four sections as four separate recipes. Got it?

Here is The Crust recipe:

50 Nilla Wafer cookies, processed to crumbs in food processor
1 tbs sugar (I used vanilla sugar for this)
¼ cup butter or margarine
1 tbs rum

Preheat oven to 375º.

Mix all ingredients together and let it sit for a couple of minutes.

Press it into a 9” pie pan

Bake it for 10 – 12 minutes.

Let it cool.

Okay, now for The Cream:

2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and seeds scraped (Yes, I did use a real vanilla bean. I wasn’t screwing around with this one! I got mine from Penzy’s)
3 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1/2 cup cornstarch (Yeah, you read that right. I didn’t believe it when I read it, either, but trust me, it’s not too much.)
take a cinnamon stick and grate some of it with a microplane, break the rest of it up.
five or six grates of a nutmeg

Combine 2 cups of the cream, the milk, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the vanilla bean, and the vanilla seeds in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

Combine the egg yolks, eggs, cornstarch, and 1 cup of the sugar, in a medium bowl, and whisk pale yellow in color. Set aside.

Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks (this is called tempering). Gradually add the egg mixture to the hot cream, whisking constantly. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly with a large wooden spoon to cook out the cornstarch and the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.

At this point the mixture started to glob up. It looked like it was curdling. So I let it go for a bit and then removed it from the heat, then I hit it with my hand blender (whisk attachment). Totally smoothed it out.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Yes, you read that right. Emeril is a bastard for this. My arm nearly fell off. But it does a couple of things. First it removes all the detritus, like the cinnamon bits and the vanilla bean. It also smoothes out any globules that may have formed. So, all-in-all, bastard move that it is, it is a good thing to do.

Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. This is really important.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. I did it over night.

The Assembly

a bunch of bananas, more than you think you’ll need (I’d go for, say, nine) It will vary.
the crust
the cream

Cut the bananas into ½ inch coins.

Spread 1/2 cup of the custard over the bottom of the prepared crust, smoothing with the back of a large spoon or rubber spatula.

Arrange enough banana slices in a tight, tiled pattern over the custard, pressing down with your hands to pack them firmly.

Repeat to build a second layer, using 3/4 cup of the custard and enough bananas to cover, smoothing down the layer evenly.

For the third layer, spread 3/4 cup of custard over the bananas and top with the remaining bananas, starting 1-inch from the outer edge and working toward the center.

Spread 1 cup of custard evenly over the bananas to prevent discoloration.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Okay, so I had left over custard and bananas left. So I soaked a bunch of Nilla Wafers in some Godiva Chocolate Liqueur for about a minute (no longer or they fall apart). Then I lined a medium ramekin with the soaked wafers. Put in some custard, then sliced bananas, then custard, then sliced bananas, then custard. Then I topped it with more soaked wafers. It’s still sitting covered in the fridge. It is calling me.

The Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar and the vanilla extract and whip again until stiff peaks form.

Pipe the whipped cream onto the pie. I liked the star dollop piping.

The Over-Doing It

3/4 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 pound semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Scald the half-and-half and butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat.

Place the chocolate and vanilla in a medium, heat-proof bowl.

Add the hot half-and-half and let sit for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth.

Put into a squeeze bottle (or you can just drizzle with a spoon, but the bottle makes it infinitely easier) and drizzle over pie.

The Cutting

Dip your knife in warm water between each slice.


Orgasma-yum!

I would check to see what the wife says, but she is in Boston. That, and if she actually ate this pie, the evil god Lactocon would rend her asunder and use her writhing body as a battle horn to call the demons of Methania together creating a host that might very well kill us all. So…

But I say it was worth it.

NOTE: Wanted to add a little shout out to the MTG for watching the kid and chatting so I could get this pie done. Kudos and a piece is on the way.

This has always been one of my favorite comfort foods, even though it comes out slightly different every time. It’s just no one of those dishes that you shouldn’t measure, you know? It’s easy and it should stay that way.

Shepherds Pie, or Cottage Pie because it has meat, in England, hasn’t been around as long as I thought would have been. I was thinking it was medieval,  but I didn’t even think about the late introduction of the potato to Europe. So this dish hasn’t really been around since the mid 18th century.

Supposedly the term “Shepherds Pie” was first coined in the 1870s.

This is what you need:

Potatoes
Butter or Margarine
Bacon (if you want)
Onions
1 lb of ground chuck
Sage
Thyme
Carrots grated (and/or parsnips (if you want, or turnips or celery (if you want, or celeriac))
Peas (frozen)
Bottle or can of Guinness Stout
Rolled Oats (if you want)
Maybe some corn starch
Egg (scrambled)

Mashed Potatoes

Okay, this recipe is super easy if you have a good amount of leftover mashed potatoes, but if not…

Take whatever potatoes you have lying around. I like a mix of potatoes and I make it rustic, but you can totally go smooth if you want. But I don’t. So I steam a bunch of patotoes. This last time I steamed some fingerlings, reds and couple of Viking potatoes.

I mash them with butter/margarine and a little chicken stock. Add in a lot of salt, a lot of pepper, and some onion powder. The mashed potatoes must taste good. Otherwise why bother?

Filling

Brown the bacon, add some butter, then brown the onions.

Reserve onion mixture. Then in same pan brown the ground chuck, add back the onion mixture.

Add in some sage and thyme and salt to taste.

Add in the carrots and cook for a few minutes.

Add in a bottle of Guiness. I like to add in a whole bottle then thicken with corn starch.

Add in frozen peas and a handful or two of oats and cook for a couple of minutes.

The Pie

Pour the filling contents into a casserole dish.

Cover with the mashed potatoes and smooth out sealing the filling into the dish.

Pour the egg over the mashed potatoes and make sure all the potatoes are covered in egg.

Bake in 375º oven for 30 or so minutes.

This is one of my simple pleasures of Autumn. I hope you enjoy.

Friday Pie-Day: Bourbon Maple Pecan Pie

Okay, as most of you know Thanksgiving is coming up. Something that has always been a staple at my family TGs has been Pecan Pie. I love the stuff, but there is always something cloying about it. Some years it makes my teeth feel soft.

I just happened upon the phrase Bourbon Maple Pecan Pie in, I don’t know, I think it was Real Simple magazine. It seems silly that this is the first year that I read about this pie because it sort of seems like a no-brainer now.

I found a ton on recipe’s on line, most of them following Martha Stewart’s version word for word. That sort of made me want to steer clear of that one. Then I found a vegan version, but it used corn syrup, which I am definitely not into.

Finally, I happened upon on from a web site called Barbara Adams: Beyond Wonderful. Yes, the name of the web site makes me a little nauseous — in the same way that some Pecan Pies make my teeth feel soft. But liked her recipe: It had more maple syrup and more bourbon than the others. So her recipe is what I used for my base.

So, the critique: I really liked this pie. I think it is the best one yet. My wife and I disagree on this. She still dreams about the Chocolate Pie.

This pie is the most complicated flavor-wise, which I particularly liked. The first thing that hits is a bit of a citrussy bite. This comes from the orange zest, but also from the hit of orange blossom water that I’ve been adding to things lately.

There is a breathy smooth nose of bourbon to the chewing that is only placeable if you know about the bourbon. This is enhanced by a middle sweetness that is just right for me.

There is a soft grittiness to the internal custard that I quite like. I have always found the smooth, toothless, gelatinous middles of most Pecan Pies (especially the mass-marketed variety) to be almost repulsive.

My only real problem with this pie is the crust, which is totally my fault. I used Alton Brown’s Applejack crust —except with Bourbon as my liquid — which wasn’t the problem. The problem is that I overworked it in rolling it out and didn’t parbake it long enough.

So, make sure that you parbake your crust until it’s done (which I guess isn’t parbaking).

Okay, here is the recipe:

1 9-inch pie crust
2 cups pecan halves
4 large eggs
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup real maple syrup
3 tablespoons good quality bourbon (Maker’s Mark works well)
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon orange blossom water
1/2+ teaspoon sea salt or fleur de sel
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Soak the pecans in enough bourbon to cover them for at least an hour. Then let them dry for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out the piecrust and place it in the pie pan. I used a tart pan because it looks cool.

Spread the pecans on a cookie sheet.

Place the piecrust and pecans on different racks in the preheated oven. Bake both for 10 minutes. The crust can take longer, so keep an eye on things. But make sure to remove the pecans before they burn. Remove and cool both completely.

Turn the oven down to 275 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, maple syrup, bourbon (I used the bourbon from the previous pecan soaking— orange rind, vanilla ½ teaspoon of orange blossom water, and ½ teaspoon salt.

Whisk in the cooled butter.

Roughly chop one cup of the toasted pecans and add them to the egg mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell.

Place the rest of the pecans decoratively on top of the pie, making sure to coat the pecans in the pie mixture.

Sprinkle with another pinch of sea salt. This is key.

Bake for 1 hour.

Cool completely.

Serve with freshly whipped cream flavored with a few teaspoons of bourbon and sugar to taste.

Let’s see what the wife says:

The filling is delectable, not too boozy. But the crust is eh…not flaky, just there.

Yup.

Don’t know what pie is for next week, so email suggestions.

Also, hoping for a big announcement Monday. Stay tuned!

Friday Pie-Day: Blueberry Planning-Ahead Pie

Whoa Nelly! I can’t tell whether this pie decision is a positive test or some kind of culinary curse.

I truly had fun several years ago with the cookie thing (though time may have tempered that memory). I could find a cookie recipe, tweak it, and turn it around in about three hours.

This pie thing is complicated. Naïve? Sure! Why else would I have started this thing?

Okay, for today I chose another American classic: the blueberry pie. There are aspects of this recipe that take time. But those same aspects, I think that make this pie a kind of throw it in and bake it later kind of thing. Stay with me on this.

I am, of course, using an Alton Brown recipe as a base, and his is a whacky one.

For the Filling

20 ounces blueberries, approximately 4 cups
4 ounces sugar, approximately 1/2 cup
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 ounces tapioca flour, approximately 5 tablespoons
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
a drip of Orange Blossom Water *
Okay, take half of the blueberries and mash them. Add the orange juice, zest, and orange blossom water. Mix the sugar, salt, and tapioca flour together then add to the mashed blueberry mixture. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes then fold in the whole blueberries.
Line a 9-inch pie plate with aluminum foil. Place the blueberry mixture into the foil and place in the freezer until solid, approximately 6 to 8 hours.
Once the filling is frozen, remove from the aluminum foil and wrap in plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag for up to 3 months.

This may seem like it’s crazy, but it is crazy genius. In fact, if you like it, you can make a double batch, and there you are: one for now, one for later.

Now Alton Brown uses a new (new to me at least) crust recipe. But I thought that it would work well with the apple crust we did earlier. I’ll print it below. Also, I put in the Applejack, but I think, next time I would use Lemoncello (I’ll add that to the below recipe).

Anyway, set your oven to 325º, put one crust into the pie pan and dock it by poking holes into it with a fork. Slide in the still frozen blueberry disc. Yes, it should still stay frozen.
Roll out the other crust and slice it into 1” strips. Brush the edge of the crust with an egg yolk ¼ cup water wash to create a kind of pastry glue. Lay the strips out into a lattice over the frozen disk and press the edges together. Cut off any overlay crust.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the lattice is golden brown.
Let cool for at least an hour and a half before eating.

I quite liked this pie. I generally enjoy blueberries, though. The filling was wonderfully flavorful and held up well when removing a piece from the whole pie. The crust was flaky and had just a hint of the apple.

Let’s see what the wife says:

Look, it’s blueberry pie. If there were an apple pie, a chocolate pie, pecan, peach and a blueberry pie, I will always take the blueberry last. ‘Cause it’s just blueberry, okay. Why are you looking at me like that? Yes, the crust is pretty awesome, but the pie is blueberry. Look, you asked, okay.

I think next week I will make a Bourbon Maple Pecan Pie. If you want any blueberry pie, email me or stop by. I’m sure there will be a couple extra pieces this week.

*I have really been turned onto this Orange Blossom Water since hearing about it on a Splendid Table Podcast. It really does add something interestingly unknowable to a consumer of the finished product.

Previous Applejack Crust Recipe

6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces*
2 ounces vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces*
5 to 7 tablespoons applejack, although I would use Lemoncello for the Blueberry Pie recipe #
12 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 2 3/4 cups, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
* After cutting the butter and vegetable shortening put them in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes or in the fridge for an hour to make them really cold
# Keep the applejack in the fridge to make sure it’s cold too
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar by pulsing 3 to 4 times. Add the butter and pulse 5 to 6 times until the texture looks mealy or sandy. Add the shortening and pulse another 3 to 4 times until incorporated. You don’t want to over process it as the larger bits of fat will help with the flakiness of the crust.
Remove the lid of the food processor and sprinkle in 5 tablespoons of the applejack. Replace the lid and pulse 5 times. Add more applejack as needed, and pulse again until the mixture holds together when squeezed. Weigh the dough and divide in half. Shape each half into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
When your dough is done in the fridge, take one disk out and roll it out, floured, between two sheets of wax paper, or in a large freezer bag with the sides slit (as Alton does in “I Pie”).
When the disk is larger than your pie pan, set one of the pie pans onto the rolled out disk. Flip the pan and the dough over so that the uncooked crust drapes over the upside-down pie pan. Make sense?
Then put the second pie pan over that and flip it back over. Voila! You have set a perfect crust, when you remove the top pan of course. It’s kind of brilliant.

Friday Pie-Day: Chocolate Cream (Lactose Free)

In honor of my wife and her ongoing lactose intolerance, I worked this week on a dairy-free cream pie, of which there are few.

Cream pies are creamy usually because they contain, well, cream — or at least some creamy goodness, which usually means dairy, either in milky or buttered form.

I chose a chocolate pie because we both love chocolate, and I thought that the chocolate might be a bit more forgiving in the taste world.

First the critique: This pie isn’t bad. It isn’t great, either. It has some very nice components, but it doesn’t fill my chocolate silk fantasy.

The crust, for instance, is quite nice. There are a few things I would do differently with it, though. I might blind bake it for a few minutes so the bottom gets the chance to crust up. The sides are nice and crispy and the bottom turned out a little soggy.

Here is the crust recipe as I would rework it.

20 Oreo cookies crushed to the consistency of cement sand (this means with little pebbles in it)
½ stick of margarine, melted
1 tablespoon of Godiva Chocolate Liqueur or a coffee liqueur

Mix everything together and press it into the bottom and sides of a pie pan.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes then blind bake it in a 375º oven for 10 minutes.
Let cool before adding pie filling.

The pie filling was okay though it was particularly sweet. I added more sugar and cocoa than the original recipe called for, so it was my fault. I’d keep with the cocoa, but pull back on the sugar. It is chocolatey, but not as much as I had hoped for.

It also uses tofu, which concerned me, as it seemed rather lumpy when I was done blending it. But it turned out fine. I think next time I would add some nuts, some pecans or walnuts to the filling, but I’m a nut fan so that could just be me.

Also, I might dispense with the Cool Whip topping. It may have been the culprit that made the pie cloying.

Here are the ingredients for the filling:

1 pound silken tofu
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup white sugar (here I used vanilla sugar instead)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (here I used a tablespoon of liqueur instead)
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 tub Cool Whip
4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Blend tofu with an electric mixer or in a food processor until smooth. Blend in cocoa, sugar, vanilla (liqueur) and vinegar.
Pour into prepared crust.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
Refrigerate at least for 1 hour.
Whisk 4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar into Cool Whip to thicken it up.
Place Cool Whip mixture on top of pie and mold it into a dome.

Eat with a large coffee.

Again, I wanted this thing to hit the fence, but it really didn’t.

Let’s see what the wife says:

The crust is both crunchy and chewy. Yum! The richness of the chocolate is nicely tempered by the whipped topping. I will dream about this pie tonight. Get it out of my house.

Okay, perhaps it was better than I thought. I did make it for her, though, so I guess that was good.

Think I’m going to try a blueberry next week.

Inaugural Friday Pie-Day: Apple Pie (or at least the crust)

Okay, so during my last year of teaching things were pretty gray for me. It was tough motivating me to get there. The only things bringing into the building were the kids — most of them — and a handful of colleagues. It was a bleak year.

To counteract my outlook, I pledged — and succeeded — to bake and bring a different recipe of cookie for each week of the school year. I’m afraid that I have since lost the list of cookies and their corresponding names, but there were Chocolocos, Bronx Cheers Bars, Raisin Rum Runners, Maya Golds, and Holy Shit What’s-In-Heres, just to show show you the top of that dough-filled iceberg.

I got pretty good at baking cookies.

This year … I’m taking on pies. I’m going to make each Friday of the Blah Blah Blog Friday Pie-Day.

Let me first say that my wife is already concerned. I am not a svelte man, and I think she is concerned about the amount of pie that will be sitting around the house.

So…I am inviting my friends out there to come over for a piece of pie, if you are so inclined. You can also email me to set aside a piece if you like. I can only guarantee four pieces per pie (say that ten time fast: pieces per pie pieces per pie pieces per pie — I only got to three times) as I am sure the wife and I will most likely consume two pieces each. I mean it, now.

Okay, so I decided to start with the American classic: Apple Pie.

I used Alton Brown’s recipe from his Good Eats show entitle “Apple of My Pie.”

Let me confess that I adore Good Eats. This show is one of the most informative innovative cooking shows out there.

Having said that, Alton usually includes some pretty funky stuff. For instance, for his apple pie, he uses a spice called Grains of Paradise (alternately called Melegueta pepper, alligator pepper, Guinea grains, and Guinea pepper) which is ridiculously expensive and nearly impossible to find — except on the internet where often the shipping costs double the cost of the spice itself.

However he also has some wonderfully innovative suggestions, such as his replacement of Apple Jack brandy for water and the use of two pie pans (which I’ll explain later) from his show “I Pie.”

Having said that, I’m just going to give you his recipe for the crust. The whole recipe for his Apple Pie is available at this link, but it didn’t really send me over the moon. It was a lot of work for a little bang.

But his crust? Yeah, that was super tasty. Here it is. It makes two layers of crust, so you can halve it for a single crust or make the second and freeze it.

6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces*
2 ounces vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces*
5 to 7 tablespoons applejack #
12 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 2 3/4 cups, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
*After cutting the butter and vegetable shortening put them in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes or in the fridge for an hour to make them really cold
#Keep the applejack in the fridge to make sure it’s cold too

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar by pulsing 3 to 4 times. Add the butter and pulse 5 to 6 times until the texture looks mealy or sandy. Add the shortening and pulse another 3 to 4 times until incorporated. You don’t want to over process it as the larger bits of fat will help with the flakiness of the crust.

Remove the lid of the food processor and sprinkle in 5 tablespoons of the applejack. Replace the lid and pulse 5 times. Add more applejack as needed, and pulse again until the mixture holds together when squeezed. Weigh the dough and divide in half. Shape each half into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

When your dough is done in the fridge, take one disk out and roll it out, floured, between two sheets of wax paper, or in a large freezer bag with the sides slit (as Alton does in “I Pie”).

When the disk is larger than your pie pan, set one of the pie pans onto the rolled out disk. Flip the pan and the dough over so that the uncooked crust drapes over the upside-down pie pan. Make sense?

Then put the second pie pan over that and flip it back over. Voila! You have set a perfect crust, when you remove the top pan of course. It’s kind of brilliant.

Then you can fill the crust with whatever filling and bake it for the requisite time, or you can blind-bake. If you are blind-baking, make sure to dock it with a fork, slip on a piece of parchment paper and put in some dry beans to weigh it down. Then you can bake it at 425˚ for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans then give it another 5 minutes or so.

This apple crust is a tasty crust. It has just a hint of apple flavor from the brandy. I actually think it would enhance virtually any other fruit pie, and I am planning on using it for just such a thing.