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American AppleCherrPear Pie

American apple pie

Well, this was supposed to be a Pi Day post and I did not get the option to schedule publishing. Now you have time to run to the market for your ingredients and make an American AppleCherrPear pie for National Pi Day.

Happy Pi (Pie) Day! This year I created a new fruit pie recipe based on a family favorite. The town where my Aunt Bonnie & Uncle John & cousins and Grandma & Grandpa lived had a landmark called Bun’s Bakery which served a Delaware, Ohio-famous chappleberry pie. You can figure it out the pie is a decadent fruit combination of cherry + apple + blueberry. Nothing against Bun’s creation nor blueberries, but I don’t like blueberries in pie. I adore blueberries fresh or in a pancake or a muffin, but not so much in pie. So my twist on Bun’s signature pie is apple + cherry + pear. I consulted my Grandma’s 1950s edition of the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook to combine a few tried-and-true pie recipes. I always make a homemade pie crust and am baffled that Food Network personalities claim frozen is just as good. It is not. Start this Pi (Pie) Day recipe with a proper homemade pie crust.

Homemade Pie Crust

Sift together: 2 cups flour + 1 tsp salt.
Cut in: 2/3 cup shortening.
Add and toss lightly with a fork to mix dough: 6-7 Tbs cold water, adding and mixing 1 Tbs at a time.
Gather dough into a ball and knead a couple times. Divide dough into two portions; form into disks; wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate to chill until ready to roll.
After making pie filling, roll first portion of dough onto floured board; roll out enough that dough will hang over edge of pie dish. Roll pie dough onto rolling pin and lift gently to transfer rolled dough to pie dish. For fruit pie, I prefer to use a deep pie dish. Fill with delicious apple+pear+cherry mixture. Roll out second portion of dough; transfer rolled dough to top of pie. Fold extra dough under and pinch to seal two crusts; crimp the edges to make a pretty crust; cut slits in top of pie to allow steam to escape.

AppleCherrPear Filling

1 cup frozen pitted dark sweet cherries
1-2 fresh pears (Bartlett); pared, cored, thinly sliced
2-3 fresh baking apples (Granny Smith); pared, cored, thinly sliced
Zest from 1 navel orange
1/4 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup sugar (can substitute turbinado raw cane sugar or organic coconut sugar)
2 Tbs unbleached flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch kosher salt
1-2 Tbs butter

Measure frozen cherries into bowl. Add orange zest + almond extract; lightly toss to mix; set aside.
Prepare fresh pears and apples by paring, coring, thinly slicing. Add sliced pears and apples to cherry mixture.
Mix together: sugar + flour + spices + salt. Sprinkle sugar mixture over fruit; lightly toss to evenly coat and mix fruit.
Spoon fruit mixture into bottom pie crust; spoon 1-2 Tbs remaining juices over top of fruit; dot with butter. Place top pie crust; fold extra dough under and pinch to seal two crusts; crimp the edges to make a pretty crust; cut slits in top of pie to allow steam to escape.
Bake at 400* for 50 minutes. Check pie at 25-30 minutes; when pie crust is golden cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning; continue baking. Cool pie on wire rack.

Serve with vanilla bean ice cream, homemade or from your local creamery. Just say “with ice cream” because this is my American AppleCherrPear pie. “A la mode” would be too fancy and, well, not American. Thank you, Bun’s Restaurant, a small-town America establishment, for many happy family memories and the inspiration. 

Lanie’s Chicken Pot Pie

IMG_1017

Happy Pi/Pie Day! Last year I celebrated National Pi Day (3/14… those clever mathematicians!), by creating a recipe for Black Bottom Pecan Pie (March 2015 archives). I didn’t think I could top that decadent dessert, so this year I decided to strive for a savory pie and have been working out a recipe for homemade chicken pot pie. This recipe is pretty darn delicious, and the leftovers make a satisfying lunch too. This is my creation:

Double-Crust Pastry

Sift together: 2 cups flour + 1 tsp fine table salt.
Cut in: 2/3 cup shortening.
Add and toss lightly with a fork to mix dough: 5-7 Tbs cold water, adding and mixing 1 Tbs at a time.
Gather dough into a ball and knead a couple times. Cut dough ball in half with sharp knife; form each dough ball into a disc; wrap each dough disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate…

Chicken Pieces

Chicken pieces (I tend to use 1 breast, 2 wings, 1 thigh. You can also season and re-heat leftover chicken.);
Olive oil;
Kosher salt; Pepper; Rosemary; Thyme; Oregano.

Preheat oven to 350* and drizzle baking sheet lightly with olive oil. Season chicken pieces on both sides. Bake, skin side up, until chicken is cooked through, 20-25 minutes.
Remove chicken to a cutting board to cool; scrape drippings into cast iron skillet to begin roux. Turn oven up to 400* to pre-heat for pie.
When chicken is cooled enough to handle, pick chicken meat from bones into bite-size chunks.

Pot Pie Filling

1 Tbs + 1/3 cup butter;
1/3 cup flour;
1 cup chicken stock;
1/2 cup milk;
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced;
4 carrots, chopped in nickel-size rounds;
1 clove garlic, minced;
1 cup frozen veggies (I tend to use 1/2 cup frozen peas + 1/2 cup frozen corn. I’ve also mixed in frozen green beans.);
Kosher salt; Pepper; Rosemary; Thyme.

Start with chicken pan drippings in cast iron skillet. Turn heat to medium and add 1 Tbs butter to melt. Add onion; sprinkle with 1/2 tsp kosher salt; add carrots. Sauté until onions are soft; lower heat; add garlic; stir briefly to warm garlic. Push sauté mix to edges of skillet to make room to start roux.
Add to pan and melt 1/3 cup butter; slowly add and whisk in flour; keep working to mix butter and flour and to allow flour to cook for a couple minutes. Slowly add and whisk in chicken stock; then slowly add and whisk in milk. Add seasonings to taste, about 1/2 tsp each. Push sauté mix back to center of skillet and stir in with roux. Add and fold in frozen veggies; add and fold in chicken pieces. Turn heat up to medium and stir gently until pie filling thickens and bubbles.

Double-Crust Pastry con’t

…When pie filling is prepared, roll out one chilled dough disc on floured board; roll out enough that dough will fit into pie dish and come up the sides. Roll pie dough onto rolling pin and lift gently to transfer rolled dough to pie dish. For chicken pot pie, I prefer a deep-dish.
Carefully add hot pie filling and then, roll out second dough disc on floured board; roll out enough that dough will fit over top of the filled pie shell. Roll pie dough onto rolling pin and lift gently to transfer rolled dough to place on top of pie. Tuck edge of top pie crust under edge of lower pie crust; pinch edges together to seal and make a pretty crust. Slash design in top pie crust with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape while baking.
Bake in pre-heated oven (400*) ’til pastry is golden, 30-40 minutes.
Cool pie so filling can set before serving.

This dish is hearty and includes your veggies, so I serve just fresh fruit on the side.

Lanie’s Black Bottom Pecan Pie

IMG_1037Happy Pi/Pie Day! Last year when I learned that March 14 is celebrated as National Pi Day (those clever mathematicians!), I vowed to participate by posting a pie recipe this year. I have been working out a Black Bottom Pecan Pie recipe since Thanksgiving and treated Hubby to my creation for Valentine’s Day and again for our anniversary. Here’s how my recipe came about…

Ever since I was introduced to Southern fare, I have liked the idea of pecan pie. No offense to any wonderful bakers, but I’ve never had a piece of pecan pie which meets my expectations because I find I don’t like the goopy sugary filling. Also, the pecan halves look pretty but do not slice cleanly. I consulted many cookbooks and on-line sources, but mostly I used my imagination to come up with a pecan pie with dark chocolate filling to support chopped pecans. I started with the dark chocolate base from my Mother-in-law’s black bottom pie recipe and modified my own Spiced Pecans recipe (November 2013 archives) to come up with a winning combination for the filling. Then I topped it with homemade whipped cream. This is my creation:

Baked Pastry Shell

Sift together: 1 1/2 cups flour + 1/2 tsp salt.
Cut in: 1/2 cup shortening.
Add and toss lightly with a fork to mix dough: 4-5 Tbs cold water, adding and mixing 1 Tbs at a time.
Gather dough into a ball and knead a couple times. Do not over-handle the dough. Form dough into a disk and roll out on floured board; roll out enough that dough will hang over edge of pie dish. Roll pie dough onto rolling pin and lift gently to transfer rolled dough to pie dish. For black bottom pie, I prefer to use a quiche dish. Fold extra dough under to make a finished edge, and crimp edge to make a pretty crust. Prick pie crust all over with a fork.
Bake in very hot oven (450*) ’til pastry is golden, 10-12 minutes.
Cool pie shell completely before filling.

Candied Pecan Topping

Preheat oven to 350* and brush cookie sheet lightly with canola oil. Spread 2 heaping cups pecan halves on cookie sheet; bake for 4 minutes; rotate cookie sheet on oven rack; bake for another 4 minutes. While pecans are toasting, prepare rum glaze and sugar mix.

For rum glaze, melt and whisk together:
1 Tbs Jamaican rum*;
1 Tbs water;
1 Tbs butter;
1 tsp brown sugar.

For sugar mix, grind together with mortar & pestle or spice grinder:
2 Tbs sugar;
1 tsp smoked sea salt;
1/4 tsp cinnamon;
1/4 tsp Hershey’s dark cocoa powder;
1/4 tsp instant espresso powder;
1/8 tsp ground cloves;
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg;
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper.

Transfer toasted pecans to mixing bowl; pour rum glaze over pecans and toss to coat evenly; sprinkle sugar mix over glazed pecans and toss to coat evenly; spread pecans back on cookie sheet to cool completely.

While pecans cool, make black bottom custard… Then coarsely chop cooled pecans and spread on top of black bottom filling.

Black Bottom Custard

1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs corn starch
2 cups whole milk, scalded
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 tsp Mexican vanilla
12 oz Hershey’s Special Dark chips
Combine sugar + corn starch. Scald milk. Slowly add milk to egg yolks. Stir in sugar mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until custard thickens and coats spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Stir chocolate chips into custard until melted.
Pour dark chocolate deliciousness into cooled pastry shell. Top with coarsely chopped pecans. Chill pie.

Homemade Whipped Cream

Whip to thicken: 1 cup heavy whipping cream.
Whip in: 3 Tbs confectioners sugar + 1 tsp Mexican vanilla.
Whip a little more to thicken; be cautious not to over-beat the cream.
Pile over pie or serve on the side.

*Originally, I intended to make my pecan pie with Bourbon Pecans (February 2015 archives) because I think Kentucky bourbon is a proper ode to pecans. But I tried the pie with Jamaican rum, a take-away from my & Hubby’s honeymoon which I sneak into my Mother-in-law’s black bottom pie recipe, and we really like the rich marriage of Jamaican rum and dark chocolate. Either variation is divine, or just substitute water as in the original Spiced Pecans (November 2013 archives) recipe.

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