I’ve said it before, but it’s true. I always have a pie crust or two sitting idle in my freezer for such an impromptu idea as whipping together a quick simple pie or tart. Cruising through the store the other day the strawberries and blackberries were on sale and they looked divine, so I picked up a few cartons. Summer is all about simplicity when it comes to desserts and this is no exception. When you make a pie crust, get in the habit of making double and park that crust (wrapped really well in plastic wrap) in the freezer. Crust is the most time consuming part when it comes to whipping a pie together. The filling is the easy part, especially when it comes to berries because unlike say apples, there is minimal prep work. This simple pie would also work with throwing in some blueberries as well in place of some of the strawberries. Take note that because the strawberries carry a lot of liquid, the pie is best eaten the day it is made.
It’s best eaten when the filling is still warm and the crust is crispy. Vanilla ice cream optional. Mmmm
1/2 recipe fearless pie crust (or your favorite pie crust)
3 1/2 C fresh berries (mixture of strawberries and blackberries)
1/3 C sugar + more for sprinkling edge of pie crust
1 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 C almond meal
1 tsp. orange zest
heavy cream (or half and half for brushing pie crust)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Seedless Strawberry or Raspberry Jam for finishing
Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Roll out pie crust to approx. 1/8 inch thickness. Place the pie crust onto the prepared sheet pan. Toss the almond meal, flour and orange zest together and sprinkle onto the rolled out pie crust, leaving about a 2 inch border.
Wash and dry the berries. Cut the strawberries in half or quarters depending on size. Aim for the same size as the blackberries. I found strawberries that were really small in size so I just halved them (leave the blackberries whole). Toss the berries with the sugar (right before you assemble the pie). Place the berries onto the bed of the almond meal mixture in a nice high pile and fold in the sides of the pie crust, pressing lightly. Brush the crust with the cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake the pie in a preheated oven for approx. 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Note: you may need to cover the pie with tinfoil for the last 10 minutes or so if the crust is getting browned too quickly.
In a small bowl mix the jam vigorously to smooth out any lumps. Allow the pie to cool slightly then brush with jam and serve warm.
There is something about eating a juicy ripe peach hunched over the sink. I am talkin’ about a really ripe peach, the kind that you NEED to eat over the sink because the juice is dripping down your hand and arm. When you get a good one, you feel like it’s finally Summer. If you can score some peaches picked at the peak of their flavor burst then treat yourself and your family and make a beautiful pie.
1 Recipe Fearless Pie Crust or your favorite pie crust recipe
9-10 medium size fresh ripe peaches (about 2 1/2 lbs), peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch wedges
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 Cup flour
3/4 Cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling top of pie
1/4 Cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
For assembling pie:
egg white, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1. Make the pie dough and allow to chill for at least 30 minute before attempting to roll out. Roll out dough and line a 9 inch pie plate. Brush the bottom and sides with beaten egg white and return to chill in fridge for another 30 minutes (the chill ensures that the crust does not shrink, and the egg white ensures that the bottom does not become soggy). While the dough is chilling make the filling.
2. Make filling: In a large mixing bowl combine the peach slices with the lemon juice and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, sugars, spices and salt with a fork. Pour the flour mixture over the peach slices and toss gently to coat.
3. Pour the filling into the chilled and prepared crust. Note: If you choose to make muffin size individual pies it is best to cut the peaches into a coarse chop instead of slices. Dot the filling with little pieces of the butter, then cover with either “groovy” flower cut outs as I have done here, or top with crust and crimp and decorate as desired. If using a top crust, make sure to pierce the top with some slits to allow steam. Brush top of cut outs (and/or top crust) with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a preheated 425° F oven for 10 minutes, then decrease to 375° F and continue to bake for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown and center is not loose. Cover edge of pie with either a pie shield or tin foil as necessary to prevent crust from burning.
4. Note: if you want to make muffin size mini pies; bake at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes. To prepare muffin size pies: spray muffin tin with baking spray and line and fill as above.
Who doesn’t love a good “pot pie?” The Husband, that’s who. When I first got married The Husband informed me “Never make chicken pot pie”. That was the only food flare he shot up. Now, this is a man who will EAT ANYTHING, and I do mean anything. I mean, he hails from Taiwan- the island of stinky tofu for God’s sake. He’s like a clone of Andrew Zimmern, the man would eat rattlesnake if I served it. The back story behind this aversion to the pot pie stems from his childhood. You see, apparently growing up, every Friday night (or maybe more-and I’m sure he’ll clarify it after reading this) his parents would go out to fulfill military social obligations and leave him a frozen pot pie to heat and eat. This little ritual went on for a number of years, hence the extreme aversion. These little gems aren’t really a pot pie. No scary peas and carrots hiding inside. Think of them as an individual pocket of spicy Cajun goodness. Filled with juicy chicken, fresh summer sweet corn, onion, fire roasted red pepper, cilantro and lots of Cajun spice, and topped off with a Serrano chili (if you dare). What’s not to love?!
I mean, seriously, does this filling not look good, or what? there is nothing to fear…
Individual Cajun Chicken Pies
recipe adapted from “Pocket Pies” by Pamela Clark
yield: 4 individual “Texas size” muffin pies
Short crust Pastry:
1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
4 oz. cold, butter chopped, kept cold
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp. ice water (approx.)
In a food processor place the flour and salt and pulse a few times. Add butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly. Add yolk and 1 1/2 Tbsp. water and pulse until dough comes barely together, and add more water as necessary. Knead pastry lightly on a floured board until smooth. Press into a flat circle and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill dough for 30 minutes before attempting to roll out.
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 fresh corn cob, kernels removed (if you don’t want to use fresh you can substitute 1 cup frozen corn kernels)
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning (I like “Slap Ya Mama” brand- can be found at Cost Plus Markets)
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into about 1/2 inch pieces
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/4 Cup diced roasted red pepper (purchased in jar)
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 Cup chicken broth
2-3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
fresh Serrano chilies (optional)
For egg wash: one egg beaten
1. Heat olive oil in large saute pan add onion, corn and garlic and cook over medium heat until onion softens. Add Cajun seasoning and saute for 1-2 minutes. Remove to a bowl.
2. Heat another 1 Tbsp. oil in the same pan and add chicken and seasoning. Cook the chicken until browned. Stir in the diced red pepper. Add the flour and cook, stirring for about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken broth and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture thickens. Stir in the onion corn mixture and stir. Stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust any seasoning as necessary (I actually added a sprinkling of cayenne and paprika). Remove to a bowl and allow to cool before assembling pies.
3. Note: if you don’t want to make fresh pastry dough you can also use purchased pie dough, or purchased empanada dough rounds. You could also use puff pastry dough and make hand pies.
To assemble and bake:
Brush or spray 4 wells of a texas size muffin pan. Cut out 4 rounds of dough into 5 inch circles. Place the dough rounds into the wells; pressing the sides and bottom to fit. Fill the wells evenly with the chicken mixture. Cut out 4 more rounds that are 4 inch size and brush one side with the beaten egg, then turn over and place the egg side down over the filled pies. Brush the tops of each pie with egg wash, and (if desired) pierce the top and insert a fresh Serrano chili. Bake in a 400° F preheat oven for 24-25 minutes. Cool in the pan until cool enough to remove.
Several years ago I went on a Caribbean cruise with a stop in Jamaica. It was a quick stop and I really, really, really, wanted to go on this agricultural tour, so I signed up since I’m a total geek when it comes to things like that (I love anything that involves a working plantation where they show you how they harvest crops). I’m a sucker for it-I Love it. It did not disappoint. I was able to see trees of cocoa pods, allspice trees, and various other tropical fruits and plants. After our tour we were taken to another part of the island to have a catered lunch which had Jamaican meat patties as part of the spread. OMG, where had these little beauties been all my life. Well- duh- they were in Jamaica. I needed these in my life. Eventually of course I forgot about them until fast forward, years later when I came across an actual recipe for them by chef Lucinda Scala Quinn. You may know her by the show Mad Hungry. She apparently spent quite a bit of time in Jamaica in her day and her cookbook-which I checked out from the library has some amazing authentic recipes. I did tweak the recipe slightly by adding a pinch of cinnamon, a little more salt than her recipe, and ended up using empanada premade dough rounds found in a Hispanic market, but I’ve included her original recipe for her dough here.
Jamaican Meat Pies “Patties”
recipe: slightly adapted from Lucinda Scala’s Cookbook: “Lucinda’s Authentic Jamaican Kitchen”
Pastry: recipe from original recipe which I did not use*
*Full disclosure- I used store bought Goya empananda dough rounds-which I found in a Hispanic market in the frozen food section. They worked perfectly! They came 12 in a package- which ended up working to use exactly all of my filling. If you can find them it saves a lot of time, but here is the original recipe for the pastry.
2 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 Cup butter (1 stick)
3/4 Cup ice-cold water
(optional: 2 Tbsp. curry powder- I personally would omit this– it’s part of the original recipe) by Lucinda (I’m not a huge fan of curry and I thought the curry in the filling was suffice)
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and (optional curry) in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl. Working quickly; using fingertips, squeeze together the flour mixture and butter and toss together by scooping under the mixture with both hands. When mixture resembles a very coarse meal, add the water to the bowl. With floured hands, mix and squeeze the dough just until it forms a ball. Knead it once or twice to combine it fully (avoid too much kneading). Form the dough into 2 pieces, flattening each into a thick pancake shape. Wrap in plastic and set them in the fridge to chill for at least 15 minutes. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before using it.
Roll out each dough round on a lightly floured surface and cut 4 3/4 inch sized rounds. (This is the size of the Goya empanada rounds I found and thought the size was perfect).
Place a large spoonful of the cooled filling on one side of the dough round, and using a clean finger, paint water around the border. Fold over the opposite side of the dough; being careful to press out any air bubbles and press to crimp. Use the tines of a fork to crimp to seal. The patties may be frozen at this point and saved to bake off later. To bake: brush with egg wash, sprinkle with (optional) a little bit of kosher salt, and bake in a preheated oven at 400° F. for about 16-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Egg wash: one egg whisked together with 1 Tbsp. water.
1 lb. ground beef (I used 90 % lean)
1 small-medium onion, diced
3 scallions, chopped fine (white and green parts)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Habanero peppers, seeded, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. curry powder
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cinnamon
2 Cups water
1/2 Cup plain (dried) bread crumbs
1. In a large bowl mix the beef, onion, scallions, garlic, peppers and thyme. In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat and add the beef mixture. Fry until the meat is browned and the moisture is evaporated. Add the curry powder, salt, black pepper, and cinnamon, stirring constantly and allowing a crust to form somewhat on the bottom of the pan; scraping frequently to avoid burning. Add the water and stir the mixture, scraping the bottom to incorporate any browned crust. Add the bread crumbs and stir. Cover, and reduce heat to very low and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the meat mixture to a bowl and allow to cool, refrigerate if you plan to assemble the pies on a separate day.
You know my obsession for mini desserts, right? The shaker lemon pie is no exception. I love these little dainty lemon pies. Perfect for a shower or garden party or a brunch.
Since Summer is coming, and the last thing you want is a hot kitchen, they are perfect when you don’t want the oven on for too long, as they only take about 20 minutes of baking time. The recipe makes 24 mini pies. If you don’t have a silicon mini muffin pan I highly encourage you to buy one as it will make removing these SO much easier; there is no breaking or tearing of the crusts when you need to remove them, you simply just push them up out of the pan. I purchased mine quite a while ago and I LOVE love love it. If you plan to make a lot of mini muffin sized desserts it is a good investment. I have several silicon pans of different sizes and they are my favorite.
Mini Shaker Lemon Pies
4 organic (preferably unwaxed) lemons
1 1/3 Cups sugar (divided), plus more for sprinkling
1/4 Cup water
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pans (if not using silicone pans)
3 large eggs
one recipe fearless pie crust dough (or your favorite pie crust)
flour (for rolling out pie crust)
egg white for topping prep
1. Take 2 of the lemons and slice very thinly; removing seeds as you go along. Place in a medium saucepan with 1/2 cup of the sugar and 1/4 cup water and stir to combine. Heat over low heat until sugar dissolves and lemon slices turn translucent. Remove from the heat and scoop out the candied lemon slices, and place onto a parchment or wax paper lined tray. (Keep the lemon syrup). Once the candied lemon slices have cooled, cut them into quarters and save for assembling the pies; you may wrap them in parchment or wax paper and store in the fridge.
2. Grate the rind from 1 1/2 lemons as well as squeeze all the juice; add to the lemon syrup. With the remaining half of lemon- slice paper thin slices to equal roughly 1/4 cup (I used a mandolin for this) and also add to the syrup. Add the butter and remaining sugar to the syrup and then heat over low heat until butter is melted. Once butter is melted, remove from heat.
3. In a small bowl beat the eggs, then using a strainer- add the eggs to the syrup mixture-a little at a time while whisking after each addition to ensure the eggs do not scramble. Once all the eggs are added, return the pan to the heat and cook gently while stirring frequently until the mixture becomes thickened and the consistency of jam. Increase the heat a little bit if needed, but be careful to ensure it does not get too hot, or the eggs will curdle. Remove from the heat and transfer the filling to a bowl and allow to cool. You may make the filling the day before and store in the fridge if you like.
4. Prepare mini muffin tins by lightly greasing; or as I prefer- use a silicone mini muffin pan. No need to grease if using a silicon pan. Roll out half of the pie dough thinly on a lightly floured surface. Stamp out 24 circles using a 2 1/2 inch cutter. Press each dough circle into prepared pan(s), rerolling trimmings as needed. When pressing the dough into the wells make sure to allow an edge of the dough so there is a bit of ridge around each well; this will help when placing the tops on to adhere to form a seal.
5. Using the other half of the dough cut out 24 circles with a 2 or 2/14 inch cutter with scalloped edge. Cut 3-4 slits in the tops of each of the dough tops. Fill each well of the prepared bottom crusts 3/4 full and top with 2 pieces of the candied lemon slices you made in step one. Brush the top edge of each of the filled pies with beaten egg white (I prefer to use a clean finger as opposed to a pastry brush for this as it is easier), then top each filled portion with the dough tops and press well to seal. Brush the tops of the completed assembled pies with beaten egg white, (rescore your vent slits at this time if need be) then sprinkle each pie with sugar and bake in a preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool over a rack for about 10 minutes before removing carefully. Serve slightly warm or cool.