Archive for the 'pie' Category

Blueberry Cheesecake Tart

I’ve been on summer break almost a week now. I mentioned to my friend the other day that I was a little bored, and she told me I should enjoy this boredom now because after the kid comes, I’ll probably never be bored again. Good point, I should probably stop complaining…not only for that reason, but because I realize that having summers off is a huge perk that a lot of people are jealous of, and it’s kind of obnoxious to take it for granted.

So no more complaints here! I think I just had a tough time transitioning to spending my day with hundreds of teenagers to sitting quietly at home with no papers to grade or lessons to plan. But there ARE workouts to do, things to knit and bake, and books to read. Oh and that baby to get ready for…

My sister was here last weekend and she’s a better baker than I am. She doesn’t have a blog, but I keep telling her she needs to guest post on mine because she takes more pictures of food than I do and makes AMAZING cupcakes and cakes and cookies. She also happened to get the shot of me in action.

It took us FOREVER to decide what we wanted to bake when were hanging out this weekend, but the huge container of blueberries from Trader Joe’s beckoned and we settled on this. Our mom used to make something similar when we were little, and it’s delicious. I’d never made it in a tart pan before, but Mike said I have too many different pans that I never use so I had to prove him wrong. Score one point for maturity there! It would work well in either an 11″ tart pan or a regular pie pan.

Recipe:
(adapted from Notes From My Food Diary)

crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 Tbsp butter, melted
3 Tbsp sugar

filling and topping
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs

3 cups fresh blueberries, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp freshly-sqeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease an 11″ tart pan (or a 9″ pie pan).

Combine the cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar and press into the tart pan. If the mixture seems especially crumbly, add a little extra melted butter so it holds together. Place in the fridge while you prepare the filling and topping.

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese on high until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, and mix on medium until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the zest, eggs, and sour cream, then mix on medium until smooth.

Pour into the crust and spread evenly. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until set and slightly puffed up (it will settle as it cools). Cool to room temperature, then make the topping.

Combine 1 1/2 cups of blueberries with sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until fruit is soft and has released juices (about 5-7 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and remaining berries. Cool to room temperature, then pour over the cream cheese layer, spreading evenly. Chill about 3 hours before serving.

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Pecan Pie

This has been the month of revisiting foods that were difficult to make in the past.  Although I’ve never used this recipe before, the last time I made pecan pie, the top burned and the inside was a liquid mess.  However, since my husband had never had a real pecan pie, I decided to make another attempt.  Although I may have let this bake a tiny bit too long (the crust got fairly brown and so did the nuts – but nothing turned black), it was still delicious and the inside wasn’t runny at all.  Another keeper from Pioneer Woman!

I like to use Dorie’s crust recipe, which you can find in this post.

1 unbaked pie crust
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup melted butter (regular, salted)
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 heaping cup chopped pecans

Mix sugar, brown sugar, salt, corn syrup, butter, eggs, and vanilla together in a bowl. Pour chopped pecans in the bottom of the pie shell. Pour syrup mixture over the top. Bake pie at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, being careful not to burn pecans and crust.
Allow to cool for several hours or overnight. Serve in thin slivers.

Apple Pie with Cinnamon-Crunch Topping


We had a party for my neighbor, who is getting married next month.  I asked her what dessert she wanted, and she requested apple pie with a crunchy topping.  I used Dorie Greenspan’s apple pie recipe, then added some cinnamon-streusel topping.  It just cries out for a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side!

[from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan]
Crust:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp sugar
1 1/4 sticks (10 tbsp) very cold butter, cut into cubes
2 1/2 tbsp cold shortening, cut into 2 pieces
3/4 cup ice water
Combine dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times.  Drop in the butter and shortening, and pulse until there are pieces from rice grain to pea-sized.  Pulsing the machine, gradually add about 3 tbsp of water.  Keep pulsing and adding water, a little at a time, until the dough looks evenly moistened and so it sticks together when pinched.
Gather the dough into a ball and press into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill.
Pie:
6 apples (I used 2 Gala and 4 Granny Smith) – about 3 1/2 pounds
3/4 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
2 tbsp quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 tsp gound cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp graham cracker crumbs
Roll out the dough so it is about 1/8″ thick.  I like to roll it between two sheets of plastic wrap so I don’t have to add flour.  Fit the dough into a pie plate and trim so there is a 1/2″ overhang. 
Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Core the apples and slice 1/4″ thick.  Place in a large bowl, and mix in the zest, tapioca, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  
Take the crust out of the refrigerator and sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over it, then pile in the apples.  Put the pie on a baking sheet and make the topping.
Cinnamon-crunch topping:
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp flour
4 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pulse the sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a food processor.  Cut the butter into small pieces and drop into the dry ingredients.  Pulse several times, until you have small rice grain-sized pieces.
Sprinkle onto the pie, and put the pie (on the baking sheet) into the oven.  
Bake for 15 minutes, then lower to 375 F.  Bake another 45 minutes at that temperature, then remove to cool on a wire rack. 

Strawberry Pie

I could never name a favorite fruit; I love way too many kinds, but I am partial to strawberries, especially this time of year when I can buy 3 baskets for $6 at the farmers market.   I grew up in Oregon, where I’m convinced the best strawberries in the world grow, and the season was painfully short.  I am now incredibly spoiled to live in a place where strawberries grow pretty much year-round.  True, they may be slightly inferior to Oregon berries, but they are still very good, and there is never a shortage around.
I was going to make a strawberry tart, but I decided I really wanted something with graham cracker crust.  So, I took the pastry cream, fruit, and glaze that would normally be found in a tart, and switch
ed it up into a pie.
Some people bake their graham cracker crust for a few minutes before they fill it…I just chill mine while I prep the pastry cream and fruit.
Crust:
12-14 graham crackers (put in the food processor to make 1 1/2 cups of crumbs)
6 tbsp melted butter
1/3 cup sugar
Pastry cream: (from Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan)
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup corn starch, sifted 
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
2 pints strawberries
Glaze:
1/4 cup fruit preserves (I used raspberry because that’s all I had)
1 tsp water

To make the crust:
Combine ingredients in the food processor, then press into a 9″ pie dish.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and chill while you make the pastry cream.

To make the pastry cream:
Whisk together egg yolks, corn starch, and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan.  Boil the milk in a small sauce pan.
Gradually stir the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly.  Place the pan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils.  Stir for one minute while boiling, then remove from heat.
Let the mixture sit, off the heat, for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the vanilla.  Let sit five minutes more, then stir in the butter.  Place the pan in a large bowl of  ice water and stir occasionally until cool (about 20 minutes).
Meanwhile, wash, drain, stem, and cut in half about 2 pints of strawberries.
Remove the crust from the refrigerator and pour the pastry cream in.  Smooth with a rubber spatula.  Arrange strawberries on the pastry cream, then make the glaze.
Heat the preserves in a small saucepan over low heat until runny.  Strain through a sieve into a bowl, and stir in 1 tsp water.  Use a pastry brush to evenly distribute the glaze over the berries.
And there you have a strawberry-vanilla custard pie!