Pie Crust

Peach Blueberry PiePie Crust is the foundation of a good [no] a great pie.  Commercial crusts will hold the filling but not enhance the experience of eating that wonderful piece of pie. If all you crave is dinner or dessert, then commercial crusts, canned fillings, aluminum pans [we’ll get to the pan issue as we blog], and even frozen pies may work for your taste buds [oh well].  But, if you want a WONDERFUL pie experience you will want to pay attention to PIECRUSTS.  This blog will take you on a journey through the process, the textures, the tastes, the presentation, and the pleasure of PIE whether savory or sweet.  From meat pie to milk pie, apple dumplings to shoofly, tomato spinach to lime meringue — stay tuned for a delicious trip.

COMMENTS are encouraged and your experience with pie is needed.  PIECRUSTS is looking for an exchange of ideas, recipes, successes, and failures.    And, tips on your favorite equipment for making the PERFECT PIE.

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Covered in PINK

It’s been way too long since my last post [… & no promises that I’ll be consistent]. My intentions have been good, but somehow even though I had a plan, blogging about pies has taken a back seat to PINK. [she is already 19 months] That sweet, bright, wacky little girl has consumed her “mammie” … we’re actively working on our G’s!  Sadly, her parents have just purchased a house and are moving a whole mile away! For most “grands” this distance would be a dream, but for G&I it smacks of tragedy because for the past year, PINK has been in our backyard. However, there is a bright side, they have a huge yard with mature blueberry bushes … hooray!  So, this weekend I will be baking a fresh blueberry pie & possibly a blueberry peach confection [with fresh peaches from our Community Market] compliments of PINK’s new backyard.

Needless to say, I haven’t stopped the pie baking.  And, I must say that my crust keeps getting better each time.  It’s the vodka [in the crust, not in me] that is doing the trick as well as using approx. 2/3 Crisco & 1/3 unsalted butter. 

My new favorite tools for “accessorizing” the pies are the Williams Sonoma pie cutters.  They come in several different shape 4/packs … www.williams-sonoma.com and are perfect for decorating the perfect pie crust. 

Next up, a chocolate zucchini cake … the garden is producing at a rapid rate and this is a yummy alternative for veggie consumption.  Rich, moist & chocolaty … now the big decision … do I pull out the ice cream maker for some homemade vanilla delight?  I’ll keep y’all posted!

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My PINK gift!

In my last post, I promised PINK! Well, she’s here and she is the inspiration for some goodness out of the garden. G & I continue to work on our raised bed square foot garden and have already enjoyed lettuce, radishes, onions,  herbs, yellow squash, zucchini, green beans, and finally tomatoes. Little Miss PINK will be dining on a puree of green beans steamed with fresh spearmint – no salt – just that hint of mint makes them very tasty. I ‘ve also made her applesauce … simple & delicious.
 

Baby “PINK” Applesauce — 1 bag of “sweet” apples (gala, Rome, Mackintosh);
Core & quarter the apples (don’t peel – the redder the apple the “pinker” the sauce);
Place apples in a large sauce pan in about 1/2 inch of water;  Bring to a boil and cook (covered) until very soft (saucy);  Transfer apples to a food mill and mill into a bowl, discard the peels [great in your compost pile];  puree in a blender or food processor for infants eating the 1 & 2 level foods;  Once you puree, I add about 1/2 teaspoon of organic cinnamon [optional].  At this point you can place in either ice trays [cover with plastic wrap & then foil] or in small “freezer-friendly” containers and freeze.

Next up, fruited hot, hot, hot pepper jellies … and of course, more pie … mixed berry!

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Wedded “PIE” Bliss

     

Last October, G and I attended the wedding of the daughter of BF’s … on farm land just outside of our beautiful little university community. What makes this interesting is that the bride (from Chicago) and groom (from LA) live in LA, so WHY a deep South small town wedding?  The very short version … the bride spent a good bit of her childhood soaking up the “specialness” of the South and with both the B & G in creative fields … ta da!!!   Anyway, it was a rehearsal “event” and wedding not to be missed…beautiful, unique and fun, fun, fun!   Half of Chicago [loads & loads of cousins] and many from LA [hooray for Hollywood] made the journey and added a bit of “spice” to small town life … which brings me to the reception.   Not only were we on the most beautiful acreage in the county, but memories of the brides’s southern childhood created a storybook event.    Dinner was family-style with true southern fare … fried chicken, black-eyed peas, okra, and much more, served on a variety of vintage china patterns … gorgeous presentation.  

   But, of course, the best  part was the PIE BAKING CONTEST … beautifully presented, great tastes and yours truly as a participant … my entries were APPLE RASPBERRY and PUMPKIN … and not that it was rigged … but magically, I won the “blue ribbon!”  Very much fun and needless to say, my pies were the tastiest :-].  

Tips for APPLE RASPBERRY PIE:

Crust:  make with Vodka as 1/2 of the liquid and add up to 1/4 cup sugar & a tablespoon of cinnamon to the flour mixture. 

Filling:  thinly slice Granny Smith apples [peeled, of course], sprinkle the bottom of your pie crust with enough flour to lightly cover the raw crust, add 1/2 of the apples [which have been sugar & spiced], randomly place approximately 1/2 cup fresh raspberries on the apples, add the rest of the apples and another 1/2 cup +/- raspberries, dot with butter [real] cover with the top crust & bake and eat!  Next blog, we’ll be in the PINK.

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At last!

It has been quite a while since my last post, life has been busy. The best is that our son & daughter-in-law gave us the gift of a beautiful baby girl. As a new “Grammie” I seem to be doing a bit more shopping for PINK than even I expected. The other BIG life event is that after 30+ years as a business owner … I am now blissfully retired! A littlle disoriented by the change, I spent the first months of my retirement baking PIES. Needless to say, G & I had fabulous dinners & desserts, but are now on a calorie reduction program:-( That said, I certainly won’t stop making piecrustie delights … I’ll just eat smaller pieces (hopefully)!

It’s summer and that means fresh berries & fruit! Next post will be mixed berry pie & a few pics of my little PINK prize. Also coming up are pics from a friend’s daughter’s wedding, the pie baking contest reception, peach pie, deep dish shoofly, and other goodness. Happy baking!

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Secret to a FINE PIE CRUST

Needless to say my weekly “dream” of posting to PIECRUSTS has not yet been realized…hopefully it will work out soon. Anyway, a quick update on a FINE PIE CRUST … vodka! Yes, it’s true, the legendary suburban housewife’s best friend has found a legitimate purpose in the kitchen — a perfect liquid for the making of pie crust. I have made the change in the Basic Pie Crust & Quiche posting. Try it!

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Spring Showers Bring Gooey Chocolaty Brownies

G & I anticipated getting up to a very rainy Saturday, but by morning the predicted “spring storms” were looming, but not yet here.   At 8:00 am, we decided to rush to get the final load of dirt into our raised bed garden, mow the “little house” yard, add another load of dirt to fill in an area in the front yard, finish planting the coleus, and pot the begonias …. We were absolutely sure that at any moment the heavens would open up.  Four hours later and with barely a sprinkle, we were admiring our raised beds that were now ready to plant, the mown lawn, the beds full of color and the flowering pots.  And, still no significant rain, so off to the garden store to select our squash, zucchini, peppers, eggplant and cucumbers for planting.  The rain is still coming … but, not yet, so it’s back to the planting because by the middle of the summer, I will be able to make delicious vegetable pies & quiche with my very own homegrown veggies.   Between the morning yard work and the afternoon planting, I did manage to make a batch of very chocolaty brownies – no pie crust involved – but, worth sharing the recipe:

 

 

Boston Cooking School Brownies – makes 9 large brownies – this recipe for gooey, yummy brownies was originally published in Fannie Merritt Farmer’s The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book [Little, Brown, 1911]

  • 16 tbsp. butter, plus more for greasing
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract [real not imitation]
  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans or walnuts [optional]
  • 1 cup flour [White Lily, of course]

Heat oven to 325 F. Grease an 8 x 8 “ baking pan with butter.  Line the pan with parchment paper; grease the paper.  Set pan aside.  [I use a glazed ceramic baking dish greased with the butter, but not with the parchment paper]

Melt butter and chocolate together in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Remove pan from heat and stir in the sugar.  Add the eggs and vanilla; stir until the batter is smooth.  Add the nuts & flour and stir until incorporated.

Pour batter into the baking dish and spread evenly.  Bake for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let brownies cool for at least 2 hours.  Cut & enjoy!

These brownies remind me of my maternal grandmother.  They smell like fudge and Nana made fudge every Sunday when all of the family gathered at her & Pappy’s house for dinner.  She also baked a very similar brownie and served it with homemade vanilla ice cream.   I’m thinking that Apple Dumplings will be next … these are the ultimate for a pie crust lover and if you can find Devon Clotted Cream … wow!

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The Arts & Super Bulldogs

April 16-18  was a special weekend in our town.  The Cotton District Arts Festival and Super Bulldog Weekend joined forces to offer the visual arts, crafts, dance, poetry, music, food and sports.  And, this year, this beautiful spring weekend brought my daughter and friends [including 4 lovely dogs] to stay in the “little house” and enjoy our spring rites — which always involve food and ultimately “pie crust.”   Friday night – a simple BBQ of grilled chicken & shrimp/veggie kabobs.  Pie crust showed up at dessert in a very easy fresh berry “crustie.”   I’m sure these pie crust “pockets” are called something else in the official language of food, but “crustie” seems appropriate.  Saturday was very busy, once the girls recovered from a festive evening participating in the local party scene.  You must understand that these two events can almost double our population with university alumni, family and friends — needless to say, the evening bar scene becomes reunion central.   Back to Saturday … we walked, and walked, and walked … to the Cotton District Arts Festival with a stop for lunch at Bulldog Dog Deli, shopping the festival and downtown and back for a quick dinner [BBQ Chicken & Broccoli Quiche and Bacon & Baby Vidalia Onion Quiche both in the Basic Pie Crust with Cayenne Pepper & a green salad] … after dinner the girls were off to campus to join friends for the free concert in the amphitheater.  Sunday morning was a stroll through campus to Perry Cafeteria for Sunday Brunch and a visit to the Barnes & Noble Campus Bookstore to browse,  shop and ride the only escalator for miles & miles.  At noon our girls were headed back to the city with 4 very tired pups napping in the back of the SUV — actually, 3 pups in the back & 1 tiny pup [Lola the royal chihuahua] in her “mom’s” lap.    We’re looking forward to the next visit and possibly a quick class on making pie crust … no time this visit … too much to do!  

Visit www.lagniappegourmet.blogspot.com … Charlene’s [one of our visiting girls] blog … from what the other girls tell me, she is a fabulous cook!

For the recipes for basic pie crust & Quiche reference my last post.  The “crustie” recipe  follows:

FRESH FRUIT CRUSTIES pictures to come when I bake another — we ate it before I thought about a photo!

  • Basic Pie Crust [from previous post] — try adding a little granulated sugar to the crust [instead of cayenne pepper — which I add for the Quiche crust]
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca or flour
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • pinch of cinnamon [optional]
  • fresh whipped cream, creme fraiche, or Devon clotted cream [optional]

Combine the fruit & sugar in a medium bowl, add the tapioca or flour and let rest.  Roll out 1/2 of your pie crust to [approximately] a 10″ circle & place flat on a pizza pan or cookie sheet.  Spoon the fruit mixture into the center and fold the edges of the pie crust toward the center leaving a 3″ [approximately] opening over the fruit.  Place the butter “pat” on the exposed fruit, sprinkle the crust with granulated sugar and bake at 350F until the crust is browning slightly and the fruit is cooked  — 20 – 30 minutes.  Top with whipped cream, creme fraiche or Devon clotted cream — can be served either hot or cold.

 

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