Showing posts with label Pie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pie. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Going pumpkin.

In my family, apple pie traditionally wins out over pumpkin. If we have to choose one kind of pie to eat at Thanksgiving, we're going to choose apple. That's just how we roll.

That said, I actually rather like pumpkin pie, especially when it's a bit light and custardy, and served with some whipped cream. (To be honest, I like everything better when it's served with whipped cream.) And, as you know, I have a special sweet spot for anything boozy, particularly if said booze is bourbon.

And since we have a big group at Thanksgiving this year, which means multiple pies, I decided it was time to finally try the recipe for bourbon pumpkin pie from the late Gourmet's very last issue. (Fitting, I think, that it went out on one of its stellar Thanksgiving showings.) I'm lucky enough to have a proving ground for my Thanksgiving pies: my office does an annual potluck lunch a couple weeks before the holiday, which means I get to try out my recipes on a wide and willing audience.

This year, the response was definitely positive: bourbon pumpkin pie FTW! Which, I have to tell you, made me pretty happy. Not only is the pie tasty, it's also supremely easy to make. Rolling out the crust is pretty much the most intensive task; other than that, all you really have to do is parbake it, mix up the filling, and bake everything together for one last round. Super, super simple.

My kind of pie, and yours too, unless you're some kind of crazy person who doesn't like easy, delicious pie. In which case, that's cool.

Bourbon Pumpkin Pie
Adapted from Gourmet

1/2 recipe Queenie's pie crust
15 ounces pure pumpkin
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
3/4 cup plus 1 tbs. turbinado sugar, divided
3 1/2 tbs. bourbon
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt

Roll out dough between two lightly floured sheets of plastic wrap into a 12-inch round and fit gently into pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang under and lightly press against rim of pie plate, then crimp decoratively. Lightly prick bottom all over with a fork. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes (or freeze 10 minutes).

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights. (If you don't have pie weights, just use rice. Pour the rice back into a jar when you're done, and use again the next time you need pie weights. See? Now you have pie weights!)

Bake until the sides of the crust are set and edge is golden, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove weights and foil and bake shell until very lightly golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes more. Cool completely.

Whisk together remaining ingredients (leaving aside one cup of cream and one tablespoon of sugar) and pour into cooled shell.

Bake until edge of filling is set but center trembles slightly, about 45 minutes (filling will continue to set as it cools). Check on the pie occasionally, and if you notice the shell getting too dark for your liking (a strong possibility with a parbaked crust), cover the visible parts of the crust with a ring of aluminum foil, or with one of these. Cool the pie completely before serving.

The pie will keep overnight in the fridge; just make sure to cool it completely, then cover it with plastic wrap. Store on a level surface in the fridge. Make sure to bring the pie out early enough to return it to room temperature before serving; I'd give it at least 90 minutes.

Just before serving, whip the remaining cup of cream with the remaining tablespoon of sugar, just until it forms soft peaks. Serve the pie with generous dollops of the whipped cream.

Serves eight.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gearing up.

It's November, which means the holidays and - more importantly - the baking of many, many pies are upon us. I can almost taste the buttery, flaky goodness right now.

I make at least two pies at Thanksgiving: one for my office's potluck lunch (which is today) and one for Thanksgiving dinner. This year, it's looking more like at least three pies, since we'll have a crowd at dinner. (Yay!) At times like these, I'm reminded of how nifty it is to have an easy pie crust recipe in my back pocket.

My recipe is super-simple, and can easily convert from a pâte sucrée (a sweet crust) to a pâte brisée (a savory crust) by simply removing the sugar from the mix. I use it for everything from galettes to quiches to tarts to old-fashioned deep dish apple pie. It takes about five minutes to blend together, but you must (must) allow time for it to rest in the fridge before rolling it out; this gives the gluten you've activated in the blending a chance to relax, and will ensure a flaky crust in place of a tough, chewy one.

As for rolling this sucker out, I've recently become enamored of Food52's ingenious technique: place the dough between two floured sheets of plastic wrap and go to town. This method makes turning the crust for even rolling simple as can be, and also helps ensure a smooth transfer to the pie plate. Amazing, right? Right. You can see it in action in this video!

Queenie's Pie Crust (Pâte Sucrée or Pâte Brisée)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbs. granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, very cold and cut into 1/2 inch dice
5-8 tbs. ice water

Place the flour, salt and sugar (omit the sugar for a savory, pâte brisée crust) in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add the butter and pulse several times, until the mixture turns mealy and the butter is mostly in pea-sized chunks.

With the processor running, add the water a tablespoon at a time, until the dough just begins to come together into a coherent mass. (There will still be a smattering of mealy crumbs. That's okay.)

Dump the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a ball. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, and up to 24 hours, before using. If you've left the dough in the fridge for more than an hour or two, you should bring it out and set it on the counter for 30 minutes or so before rolling it out.

Makes two nine-inch crusts.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Going free-form.

When I was little, strawberries were one of my favorite foods. And, frankly, they still are. I greet the arrival of strawberries to the market with something akin to glee; something, admittedly, rather childish. I get giggly and squirmy and, let's face it, a bit competitive. I want those berries, and have them I will, Greenmarket crowds be damned.

This weekend's berry haul was particularly tasty - tart and sweet in that way that only berries really are, and absolutely beautiful to boot. I ate a full pint dipped in crème fraiche and topped with dark brown sugar one night, cooked another quart into a batch of strawberry-rhubarb compote, and decided to make some crostatas with what was left.

Crostatas are free-form cousins to pies and tarts, and they're ridiculously easy to make. Hate transferring your rolled-out pie crust to your pie plate or tart pan? Don't have a pie plate or tart pan? Crostatas are for you, my friend. A little food processor action, a bit of rolling, a spot of folding, and you have a finished dessert. The best part? They're beautiful and show off the jewel-like fruit in a way normally reserved for lattice-top pies, and they impress people in a rustic, Tuscan sort of way.

Go ahead. Show off.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crostata

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup polenta
2 tsp. turbinado sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, very cold or frozen, cut into 1/2-inch bits
3 tbs. ice water

For the filling:
5 stalks rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pint (1/2 quart) ripe strawberries, hulled and cut in half lengthwise
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

1 tbs. butter, cut into small bits
1 egg, beaten
Softly whipped cream or crème fraiche, for serving

Place the flour, polenta, sugar salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse together until the mixture is mealy and most of the butter is about the size of small peas. With the processor running, stream the water in one teaspoon at a time until the mixture begins to come together in one or two big clumps. You may not need all the water, depending on the humidity in your ingredients and the air. (Alternately, you can make the pastry in a medium bowl, using a pastry blender. A food processor is super-fast, but a pastry blender works well, too. Make sure to chill the bowl ahead of time.)

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and mold into a large disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Let the dough rest for at least an hour; it can sit in the fridge for up to 36 hours before you use it.

When you're ready to make the filling and bake the crostata, take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit; this will help take the chill off a bit. In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Combine the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl. Stir to coat the fruit in the sugar, and continue to stir until it begins to dissolve. Set aside while you roll out the pastry.

You can use the pastry to make one large tart or several (three or four) little ones. No matter what size you're after, the method is the same. Lightly flour a piece of parchment paper and place the dough in its center. Flour your pin and use it to whack the disk of pastry once or twice, then start rolling it out from the middle outward, spinning it if you need to, until you have a roughly circular shape about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the crust (on the parchment paper) to a cookie sheet.

Spoon the filling into the middle of the tart, leaving about two inches of crust as a border. Starting anywhere you'd like, fold the pastry up over the filling. Continue to fold in triangles as you go around the tart (Refer to the photo above; it's easy to do once you take a look at a finished version, I think.) until all the edges are folded over the filling, leaving a nice circle of pretty fruit exposed. Using a pastry brush, paint the crust with the beaten egg; this will give it a nice sheen. Dot the exposed filling with the butter.

Place the tart in the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes, depending on your oven, rotating the tart halfway through baking. Bake until golden-brown and bubbly; the crust may leak some juices, but should hold up pretty well in any case, despite the liquid. Once the tart is done, remove it from the oven and transfer it, on its parchment paper, to a cooling rack. Cool at least slightly before slicing. Serve topped with crème fraiche or whipped cream.

Serves 6.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Apples, cranberries, crumble.

Much to my brother's dismay, I'm constantly looking for the perfect apple pie. While his tastes run to a sweet, traditional pie, my own are sated by a tarter version. This year, a Gourmet recipe for a cranberry-apple crumble pie caught my fancy.

I tested the recipe out at my office potluck two weeks ago, and had a good bit of success. The pie uses Gala apples, as opposed to the more typical (and tarter) Granny Smiths. The Galas cook up beautifully, their slightly grainy texture turning to silky (but durable) velvet in the heat of the oven.

To counter the sweetness of the Galas, the recipe calls for brown sugar in place of white and adds a handful of cranberries to the mix. The cranberries (plus a bit of lemon juice) turn the pie filling a gorgeous pink color and add a different texture to the mix.

The real star, though, is the crumble topping. A basic mixture of flour, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon is made special by the addition of chopped pecans, which turn rich and dark during baking. I wasn't sure the topping would be contrast enough for the filling, but it was - very much so.

Next year I might do my experimenting with the pumpkin pie and let Jeremy have his traditional version of the apple...or not.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Queenie's Treasury

Now that I'm back home in New York, it's time for Queenie's Treasury to start back up! It's been a crazy couple of weeks for me, both personally (I turned 30 on October 1st) and professionally, so I'm happy to be back in the groove, checking out what's going on out there on the interwebs - so let's get to it, shall we?

First, a lesson in perfect boiled eggs, courtesy of Serious Eats' Food Lab. While boiled eggs are pretty much my least favorite egg preparation, I'm still fascinated by the science behind the technique.

Looking for some pie porn? Getting ready to enter your holiday baking phase? Check out this amazing post from the Cookbook Chronicles' Lorna Yee for some major inspiration. Lorna participated in Seattle's Queen Anne Farmers' Market pie contest, and came in 4th out of 20 entrants! (She thinks this is a middling result; I am duly impressed, as I think you will be.)

Finally, a slight departure from food. I don't know about you guys, but as soon as I feel fall's chill in the air, my mind turns to thoughts of Christmas. Christmas music, Christmas foods, Christmas decorations. Etsy has fueled my obsession with that last one this week, showcasing a few decorations on their Storque blog. My favorites were these feather balls and woolen acorns, both of which would look just perfect mixed with my crystal snowflakes and hanging from some bare branches. Indeed.

Monday, December 15, 2008

When life hands you Pinot Noir, pie?

I spent Thanksgiving at my mom's new home in St. Augustine, Florida this year. She just moved in two months ago, and so she's in the box phase - you open one, you see what you see, and what you see is probably not what you need.

Case in point? The rolling pin was nowhere to be found, so I rolled out the pastry dough for my apple pie with a bottle of Pinot Noir, something I do not recommend to anyone but which certainly made for an interesting image (and a slightly lumpy crust). Of course, we didn't really care so much, since the pie in question turned out to be so darned ambrosial.

Typically, our family goes in for a very traditional apple pie: not too deep of dish, apples sliced fairly thin, filling flavored with cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, and perhaps a bit of lemon juice. This time around, I decided to splash out and make Ina Garten's deep dish apple pie. She keeps her apple slices thick and hearty - they're more chunks, really - and uses a whopping four pounds of them. She adds orange and lemon juice and zest, and rounds out the spices with a bit of allspice.

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that this is the best apple pie I've ever tasted. It is complex, but not overwhelming, and not even a little boring. Plus, that final egg wash makes things awful pretty, no?
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