Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Flavorful Pies and the PERFECT Crust

Monday, 12/8
The Complete Book of Pies by Julie Hasson

Just in time for your holiday baking and another wonderful show on TRB. Listen here.

Julie Hasson has shared her expertise through articles and recipes for well-known magazines including Bon Appétit, Cooking Light and Vegetarian Times, as well as in numerous newspaper and web articles. Julie is currently working as a spokesperson for the Sugar Association and is one of the hosts of the cooking show and DVD “15 & Done” (Banyan Entertainment). She has done numerous television appearances around the country.

Her cookbook has 200 recipes both sweet and savory, glazes, sauces, fillings, resources and tips for equipment. Vegan Friendly.

Recipes from The Complete Book of Pies
Double-Crust Spiced Apple Pie


My husband, who can be quite picky about his apple pie, declared this pie perfect. The apples are soft as silk, the flavor is light, and everything is wrapped up in a rich, crisp crust. I dedicate this pie to you, Jay.

Serves 8
• Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C)
• 9-inch (23 cm) glass pie plate, greased
• Rimmed baking sheet

1 recipe Sour Cream Pie Pastry Dough or 1 Large-Batch All-Purpose Vegan Pastry Dough, chilled (see recipes, below)

6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar (see Tips, below)
1⁄4 cup (50 mL) all-purpose flour (see Tips, below)
1 tablespoon (15 mL) sweet Marsala, optional
1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground nutmeg
1⁄2 teaspoon (2 mL) ground allspice
Cream, milk or soy milk
Coarse or granulated sugar

Divide pastry dough into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other. On a lightly floured surface, roll out larger piece of dough into a circle large enough to fit pie plate, dusting work surface and dough as necessary to keep the dough from sticking (or roll between 2 pieces of waxed or parchment paper). Press dough into prepared pie plate. Place pie plate in freezer or refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes to chill while you prepare the filling. Roll out remaining dough for top crust and set aside at room temperature on sheet of parchment paper.

In a large bowl, gently combine apples, sugar, flour, Marsala, if using, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, making sure apples are well coated. Transfer filling to prepared bottom crust, gently pressing the apples into pastry with your hand and mounding them slightly in the center. Lightly brush edge of pastry with a little water. Place top crust over apples, trimming and fluting edge. Cut steam vents in top of pie. Brush top with cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Place pie plate on baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F (180°C) and continue baking for 50 to 60 minutes more or until top is nicely browned, apples are tender and juices are bubbling. Insert a knife through one of the vents in top of pie to make sure that apples are tender. If pie starts to get too brown before it's finished baking, cover loosely with a piece of tented foil. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour before serving.

You may need slightly more sugar, depending on the tartness of the apples. Add an additional tablespoon (15 mL) all-purpose flour if your apples are very juicy. To easily peel, core and thinly slice apples, look for one of the many available apple peeler/slicer/corer gadgets. I love mine and have used it for years.

Substitute your favorite spirit for the Marsala, such as whiskey, bourbon or rum.

Large-Batch All-Purpose Vegan Pastry Dough

If you've been looking for a flaky pastry that doesn't include butter, eggs or dairy, stop right here. This recipe makes a very flaky pastry, which will work well with a sweet or savory pie.

Makes enough dough for one 9-inch (23 cm) double-crust pie or two 9-inch (23 cm) single-crust pies

• One or two 9-inch (23 cm) glass pie plates, greased

3 cups (75 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (25 mL) confectioner's (icing) sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon (2 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons (90 to 120 mL) ice water

In a food processor fitted with metal blade, pulse flour, sugar and salt until mixed. Add shortening, pulsing until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add 6 tablespoons (90 mL) ice water to flour mixture, pulsing until moist clumps form, stopping to test the dough with fingertips to see if it's moist enough to hold together. If dough is too dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 25 mL) more ice water as needed. Remove blade and divide dough into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other if making a double-crust pie or equal-sized for making 2 single-crust pies, flattening each into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For rolling and pre-baking instructions, see above.

I like to use a non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, as it's a much healthier choice, although some purists feel that the hydrogenated version makes a somewhat flakier pastry.

Savory Crust: Omit the sugar in this recipe and use it to make the pies in the Savory Pies & Tarts chapter.
Almond-Scented Crust: Add 1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure almond extract along with the ice water.

Sour Cream Pie Pastry Dough

Diane Morgan graciously shared this recipe with me. Diane pairs this rich and flaky crust with berries for her famous Thanksgiving Cranberry Blueberry Pie (see recipe, page 39). This crust is also wonderful paired with just about any other filling you choose.

Makes enough dough for one 9-inch (23 cm) double-crust pie or two 9-inch (23 cm) single-crust pies

• One or two 9-inch (23 cm) glass pie plates, greased

2-1⁄2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (10 mL) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) cold vegetable shortening
1⁄3 cup (75 mL) sour cream
2 tablespoons (25 mL) ice water

In a food processor fitted with metal blade, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and shortening, pulsing until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add sour cream and ice water to flour mixture, pulsing until a ball of dough begins to form. Do not over-process. Remove blade and gather dough into 2 balls, one slightly larger than the other if making a double-crust pie or equal-sized for 2 single-crust pies, flattening each into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

For rolling and pre-baking instructions, see above.

To chill butter and shortening for this recipe cut butter into pieces with a knife and place on a small plate. Place shortening on another plate and place plates in freezer for 15 minutes or until very cold. Once shortening is cold, you can cut or chop it into pieces. Use immediately from freezer in recipe.
Coconut Cream Pie

Since we can't take romantic vacations in Hawaii as often as we'd like, I present you with this luscious tropical pie. One whiff of the coconut will send your senses reeling. Not only does the pie taste great, it will save you thousands in travel expenses.

Serves 8 to 12

1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup (50 mL) cornstarch
Pinch salt
1 cup (250 mL) unsweetened coconut milk
4 egg yolks
2 cups (500 mL) whole milk
1 cup (250 mL) packed sweetened flaked coconut
1 tablespoon (15 mL) butter
1 9-inch (23 cm) store-bought or homemade Graham Cracker Crust (below)

1-1⁄4 cups (300 mL) whipping (35%) cream
2 tablespoons (25 mL) confectioner's (icing) sugar
1⁄4 cup (50 mL) sweetened flaked coconut, toasted

In a large saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in coconut milk until smooth. Whisk in egg yolks until smooth. Whisk in milk. Cook mixture over medium heat, whisking continuously, until thick and bubbly. Reduce temperature to low and continue to cook, whisking, for 2 minutes more or until mixture is very thick.

Remove saucepan from heat and strain filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Stir in coconut and butter until butter is melted. Pour into prepared pie crust, pressing a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely. Refrigerate pie for 4 to 6 hours or until filling is firm enough to slice.

Just prior to serving pie, in a bowl, using an electric mixer or whisk, whip together cream and confectioner's sugar until soft peaks form. Swirl whipped cream over top of pie and garnish with toasted coconut.

This pie is wonderful served with chocolate sauce or Hot Fudge Sauce (see recipe, page 235) on the side.

Substitute the Toasted Coconut Crust (see recipe, page 196) for the Graham Cracker Crust.

Graham Cracker Crust

When you mention Key lime pie, this is the buttery crust that usually comes to mind. This crust is quick to make, is a perfect shell for creamy fillings and has a wonderfully buttery taste.

Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) crust

10 whole graham crackers, ground (about 1-1⁄3 cups/325 mL crumbs)
5 tablespoons (75 mL) butter or margarine, melted
3 tablespoons (45 mL) packed light brown sugar

Grease a 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate. In a large bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and brown sugar, mixing well.

Transfer crumb mixture to prepared pie plate, pressing into bottom and up side of pan.

Chill crust until firm. Fill with prepared filling or, alternatively, bake crust in preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for 10 minutes or until crust is set and fragrant.

Spiced Crust: Add 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon (1 to 2 mL) ground ginger or cinnamon to the crumb mixture.
Vegetarian Pot Pie with Biscuit Top

My kids love pot pie so much that they will devour the entire dish. Fortunately, pot pies aren't hard to throw together and are even easier with a biscuit top. Besides being scrumptious, this version is lower in fat than a traditional pot pie.

Serves 8

5 small red-skinned potatoes (about 1 pound/500 g)
1 bag (10 ounces/300 g) frozen broccoli florets, thawed, chopped if large (about 3 cups/750 mL)
2 cups (500 mL) refrigerated or frozen vegetarian chicken-style strips, thawed (and cooked if necessary) (see Tips, below) or an additional 2 cups (500 mL) vegetables or seitan
3⁄4 cup (175 mL) frozen peas, thawed
1 recipe Vegetarian Gravy (see recipe, page 176)
1 teaspoon (15 mL) dry sherry, optional
2 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄2 teaspoon (2 mL) dried thyme leaves
1⁄2 teaspoon (2 mL) dried sage, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 recipe Buttermilk Biscuit Crust made with 1-1⁄4 cups (300 mL) buttermilk (see recipe, page 196)

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°F). Grease a 12-inch (30 cm) cast-iron skillet or 10-inch (25 cm) deep-dish glass or ceramic plate.

In a large pot of boiling water, cook potatoes for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. Drain and let cool to the touch. Peel potatoes and cut into pieces.

In a large bowl, combine potatoes, broccoli, vegetarian chicken, peas, and hot gravy. Add sherry, garlic, thyme, sage, and salt and pepper to taste. You want the mixture to be hot. If it's not, heat in microwave oven for 2 minutes or until hot to the touch.

Scoop vegetable mixture into skillet or dish, smoothing top. Drop scoops of biscuit dough over filling, covering pie (it's okay if not every spot of filling is covered). Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until biscuit topping is golden brown and cooked through.

It's important to make sure that the filling is hot when assembling the pot pie, because otherwise the biscuit topping tends to be a little raw underneath. Vegetarian chicken-style strips are often found in the freezer section or in the produce section with the veggie burgers.

Substitute a pastry or puff pastry crust for the biscuit dough.

Recipes from THE COMPLETE BOOK OF PIES by Julie Hasson
(Robert Rose, Inc.; October 2008; $24.95/trade paperback)

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