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Holiday Pies

Nov. 9, 2011- Rhonda Hair,

Custard Pies

pgs. 70-71 in The Chameleon Cook: Cooking Well With What You Have

These are baked pies that use eggs for thickening. Mixing details are given on the first recipe; use the same procedure and temperature for the others.

*Pumpkin Pie
2 c. pumpkin puree (pg. 19) 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk 3 eggs ¾ c. sugar, brown or white (brown has more flavor) ½ tsp. each cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt Pastry for a single-crust pie, rolled and fitted to a 9” pie pan Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Beat together pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, spices, and salt. Pour into the pastry-lined pan, put on the lowest rack so the heat will set the crust. Immediately reduce temperature to 325 or 350 degrees. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until all but about 1” of the center is set. Jiggle the pie to check that. Cool on a rack. The center will continue to cook as it cools. Store in the fridge.

Cranberry Pie:
1 ½ cups (1/2 bag) cranberries, ½ c. water, 1-2 eggs, 1 c. sugar, 1 T flour, 1 tsp. vanilla.

*Lemon Chess Pie:
Mix 5 eggs, 1 ¾ c sugar, 3 T fresh lemon juice, 1 T lemon zest, 2 T cornmeal, ¼ tsp. salt, ½ c. melted butter.

*Pecan Pie:
½ t. salt, 6 large yolks (or two whole eggs), 1 ½ c. toasted and chopped pecans –scatter pecans on bottom of crust, pour filling over them. You may use any other nut for this, substitute toasted rolled oats, or use half dates (or oats) and half any dried fruit. If using dried fruit, reduce sugar to ½ cup.

Pumpkin-Praline Pie:
Bake Pumpkin Pie, above. Cook a few minutes extra, so the center IS set; you’ll get some cracks in the surface. This makes it firm enough to hold this topping. Stir together 1 c. finely chopped pecans, ½ c. brown sugar, a pinch of salt, 2 tsp. corn syrup or honey, 1 tsp. vanilla. Mix well, then scatter over top of the baked pie. Sprinkle with 2 tsp. sugar, return to oven for 10 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

Rhubarb Custard Pie:
Mix 3 eggs, 1 ½ c. sugar, 6 T. flour, a sprinkle of salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, 4-5 cups finely chopped rhubarb.

Pie Crusts

pgs. 71-73

Tips for making pie crust *Use all-purpose flour or pastry flour, not bread flour. It shrinks. You can substitute whole wheat or nut flour for some reg. flour. *Butter gives the best flavor but doesn’t hold shape as well, shortening gives more tender flakiness & dough is easier to handle, lard is the flakiest. Try a combination. *Every detailed instruction has a pro and con, so decide what’s most important to you: flakiness, shrinkage, flavor, speed, whatever. It doesn’t have to be perfect unless you’re trying to prove something! *When measuring water, the bottom of the meniscus (the curved skin of the water) is what should be at the measuring line.

*If you get big bubbles in the crust when it bakes, afterwards press down gently with a kitchen towel while the crust is still hot. *To make ahead: The baked crust can be stored at room temperature, wrapped tightly in aluminum foil, for up to 2 days, or wrap well and freeze. Best within a month, but it will taste good until freezer-burned. Thaw before using. *Remember pie crusts are good for main dishes, too, not just desserts. For savory fillings, only use the rolled-out crust or the pat-in-pan; the others are too sweet. You can chop up leftover roast or other meat, mix with leftover cooked vegetables (or some from a can), and use either beaten eggs with milk, or a white sauce, to bind the ingredients together. Top with a crust, and bake until bubbling.

*Pat-in-Pan Crust
Looks and tastes just like a rolled-out crust, but is much easier. 1 stick butter (1/2 c.) softened but cool 2 oz. cream cheese, softened but cool 1 ¼ c. flour 2 Tbsp. sugar ¼ tsp. salt Coat a 9” pie pan with cooking spray. Beat together butter and cream cheese until very smooth. Add all else, beat 20-40 seconds more until it looks like coarse cornmeal. Scrape sides of bowl, beat until large clumps form. Set aside 3 Tbsp of dough for top edge. Evenly press remaining dough onto bottom and up sides of the pie pan. On a floured surface, roll each Tbsp reserved dough into a 9” rope, put around top edge of pan; flute edge. Wrap and chill 1 hour, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll out and prick with a fork; bake until golden, 35-40 minutes. Cool on rack. If you’re making multiples of this, it’s easiest to use the Bosch and wire beaters. You’ll use about two cups of the dough, loosely packed, for each crust.

*Rolled-out Crust
This makes a single crust. Recipe can be doubled. 1 ¼ c. flour, spooned in to measure ¼ tsp. salt 1/3 c. shortening or coconut oil, or 6 T. cold butter, sliced ¼ c. cold water Combine ¾ c. of the flour with salt and shortening. Mix with an electric mixer for 30 seconds, until it is a paste and just starts to clump. Add remaining flour, mix in a couple short bursts just til evenly mixed. Sprinkle with water, a fourth at a time, lightly mix until it holds together when you grab a handful. Form into a ball, wrap, and chill 30 minutes. (You can freeze it at this point, too.) Chilling helps gluten relax, re-firm the fat, reduce sticking, and keep from shrinking. Roll out on floured surface, shape, fill, bake. Less handling= less gluten= more tender.

*Stabilized Whipped Cream pg. 80
Makes about 2 cups. This will not separate or go runny. You can pipe it on cakes or pies. ½ pint (8 oz.) whipping cream ½ tsp. vanilla 2 Tbsp. sugar or ¼ c. powdered sugar ½ tsp. vanilla or other flavor 1 tsp. Ultra Gel OR 1 tsp. unflavored gelatin (Knox) If you’re using Ultra Gel, stir it into the sugar, then add cream and vanilla and whip until stiff. Spread or pipe onto cake or pie. If using gelatin, put it with a tablespoon of water, let it sit a minute to soften, then microwave for 12 seconds to dissolve it. Whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla until they start to thicken a little, then slowly pour gelatin in while still beating. Whip until stiff. Store airtight in the fridge.