Category: pie

Amish baking at it’s best… Shoo-fly pie.

Amish Shoo-fly pie.

Shoo-fly pie is one of those extremely interesting pies that’s really nothing more than sugar. It’s a goo-pie, really. Made with sticky molasses & sugar. And a little flour, and baking soda. But mostly sugar.

Obviously, it’s one of my favorite things.

So back when Jay surprised me with a new cook book, I was pleased to find out that it was this one!

The Amish Cook's Baking Book (and a recipe for shoo-fly pie!)

It’s filled with amazing pies & cakes & cookies & Amish stories. The first thing I wanted to make was the shoo-fly pie.

However, truth be told, I was hesitant to try to make a shoo-fly pie. See, Dutch Haven in Lancaster, PA makes THE BEST shoo-fly pie, ever, and I’ve eaten enough of it to know. Most shoo-fly pies aren’t as sweet as theirs, and that’s what I love about it. It’s a lot to live up to. Trust me, I know this well. Jay & I once went in three times in one day to sample it (they offer everyone who enters a sample!). We bought three to take home. And ate them. In like a week. So yes, I know all too well the high standard of shoo-fly pie.

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Lemon pie with Duchy Originals ginger shortbread crust (& a giveaway, too).

Lemon pie with ginger shortbread cookie crust PLUS a Duchy Originals giveaway!

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. “Lemon pie? In February?” It might seem like a warm-weather dish, but this isn’t. Trust me. Want to know why?

Because of the crust.

I mean, winter is citrus season anyway, so you can use all those Meyer lemons instead of just starting at them in that pretty bowl on your table (not that I speak from experience). But it’s really the crust. The crust is made from Duchy Originals stem ginger shortbread; meaning it’s warm & spicy. Yes, the filling is cool & refreshing, as lemon is, but the crust gives it a new spin. It’s NOT a lemon meringue pie, it’s not quite a full-on icebox pie, and it’s not just a lemon cream pie. It’s somewhere in the middle. Clowns to the left, jokers to the right.

A lemon pie & ginger shortbread cookie crust made with Duchy Originals stem ginger shortbread cookies (plus a giveaway!)

That’s the pie sans the mess o’ whipped cream I piled on it. It’s even pretty that way, isn’t it?

It’s pretty amazing. And simple. I reserved some cookie crumbs from the crust & sprinkled them on top.  You could also use some finely chopped candied ginger,  but a piece of candied lemon zest would work too.

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Four & Twenty Blackbirds baked in a salty honey pie.

A few months ago, back during the height of “pie season”, my mother sent me a link to Daily Candy that featured this pie. The name intrigued me: Salty honey pie. Sounded awesome. As far as I’m concerned salted anything is pretty delicious- salted caramel, salted chocolate, etc.

I know of this pie shop & the name is pretty awesome. Not only that, but the cover of the book is awesome too:

The Four & Twenty Blackbirds pie book.

So anyway, now that the holidays have wound down & I’m not on a baking schedule of specific traditional treats, I thought I’d make this salted honey pie & see how it is. See if it lives up to the idea of deliciousness that I (& everyone else) has in my head. I made it twice (this is the second one). The first one didn’t look that great because I used a larger pie plate than I should have for the sake of convenience, and the crust slid down into the filling. This one was ultimately the better-looking one, so aesthetically speaking it “won.” However both tasted fantastic.

Salty honey pie recipe from Four + Twenty Blackbirds pie shop.

I think it’s Jay’s new favorite pie.

And I am always, ALWAYS bad at pie crust. Always. I just can’t get it perfect, ever. Oh well.

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A pie for the ages: bourbon sweet potato pumpkin pie!

I’m publishing this pie today, because I wanted to give you time to make it for Thanksgiving. I purposely didn’t post it too early, and I specifically waited until this date. I wanted to give you enough time to really absorb what you’re seeing. Then get up, go out to the store & get the ingredients you need to make this, then come home & plan to do so on/by Thursday. I felt it had to be done this way. So I’m giving you a few days, and I expect you all to make it. You must. Seriously.

It’s THAT good.

Don’t believe me?

Bourbon sweet potato pumpkin pie, anyone?

It’s the pie to end all pies.

It’s a pie for the ages!

Bourbon. Sweet potato. Pumpkin. With toasted meringue. Toasted bourbon meringue, that is.

Sweet potato pumpkin pie with bourbon! And more bourbon in the meringue.

Say word.

A motherflippin’ bourbon sweet potato pumpkin pie with toasted bourbon meringue! 

When I told Jay of my plans to make it, his jaw dropped open. And he doesn’t even really like pumpkin anything! I knew I was on to something. Although, in hindsight, it might have just been the mention of bourbon. Either way, I combined a few different recipes for a few different pies & came up with this: the holy grail of autumn piedom.

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Peach bourbon black walnut crostata.

Peach bourbon black walnut crostata; the lazy woman's dessert.

Also known as: “The Lazy Woman’s Dessert.” No, but seriously. It’s an amazingly easy thing to make. It’s a pie without being a pie. A pie without the fancy fuss of a pie. A tart without being too perfect. You don’t even have to make a pie crust look pretty for this.

Also… literally, I had no clever puns for the title of this post. But this crostata doesn’t really need one, it speaks for itself. Fresh, juicy peaches, chopped black walnuts, a little Blanton’s bourbon with sugar & a rough-edged pie crust come together to make a heavenly dessert.

As a matter of fact… I don’t even have a recipe, really.

Peach bourbon black walnut crostata.

There was no way I was going to post this at all, actually. I made it because I received another large box of peaches & nectarines right after canning up all the rest of those gorgeous Washington State peaches. So I figured before I got into more canning, I’d bake something up. I threw it together in no time at all, totally winging it. Listen- I follow recipes for things all the time. I put up jar after jar of jams, fruit & pickles & I follow cake recipes; 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon this, 1 cup that. Sometimes I like to just go wild & crazy & throw some things together to see if it’ll work out. And it just so happens it usually does, and this time it was pretty enough visually. Anyway, I took some photos (because I take photos of everything I make- true story), and posted a little picture on Facebook & Instagram.

All of a sudden… I had a ton of requests for the recipe. Really?

Okay. Except there isn’t one.

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Blueberry cream pie for Dad, plus a bonus jam.

This is my dad. Well, it’s him in the 1970′s, anyway.

Mein papa, 1970's.

My dad likes food.

My grandpa Butch liked food too, but he was my maternal grandpa, so there was no blood relation between them. However, between the two of them, I think that’s where I inherited my love of eating, my ability to eat more food in one sitting than a truck driver twice my height & weight, and also… my ability to inhale food as if it was the last meal on earth. Honestly, I eat faster than anyone on the planet. Everyone yells at me, tells me not to rush, to enjoy it. AND I’M NOT RUSHING. I DO ENJOY EVERY DAMN BITE. I JUST EAT FAST. Get over it. I once had someone ask me if my parents were in the military, because they knew someone who grew up in a strict military house where meals were timed. No. My parents were not insane drill sergeants, and neither of them were in the military. I just friggin’ fast, okay? Sheesh.

Anyway…

Other things I get from my dad: my height (I’m 5’9″ or 5’10″, somewhere in there), my stubbornness, and I’m sure my mother could tell you many more.

My dad also likes blueberry pie (I did not inherit this).

Pie prep!

Blueberry cream pie for Father's Day! The only baking involved is the crust.

For Christmas, a guy Jay works with went and picked up a bunch of pies from this place out on Long Island called Briermere Farms. They’re known for their pies, and they’re pretty incredible I have to say. Even though the only one I’ve had so far is the chocolate cream, I’ve seen how they look & visually they look… well… they look like pies you want to dive into headfirst, basically. And the fact that they’re all natural, homemade & don’t contain nasty preservatives or fake stuff? Even better. From the website:

All of our pies, bread, muffins, cookies, cakes, jam, and jelly are made right here on our farm from scratch. There are no pre-prepared ingredients or fillings bought for use. Most of the fresh fruit used in our bakery is grown right here on our farm.

But anyway, this guy drove all the way out there with a list of pies that other guys ordered, and picked them all up, just because the pies are that good. I’m talking like 30-something pies. They’re that big of a deal. So Jay ordered us a chocolate cream pie for dessert, as well as blueberry cream pie just for my dad, since he’s such a big blueberry pie fan.

And it definitely lived up to the hype. Even Jay liked it- and he hates berries more than I do. So I thought, gee, when Father’s Day comes around next spring, I should try & duplicate that pie.

Blueberry cream pie!

And so Father’s Day is here. And who better to look to when recreating a fantastic, cream-filled pie than Paula Deen? I mean, really.

So I found Paula’s version of the blueberry cream tart, and I decided it seemed pretty damn good. Now I’m not sure if it tastes anything like the one from Briermere Farms, but my dad sure likes it. I adapted it slightly from Paula’s original recipe. And looking at this pie, I take back what I said about not being a pie person. I make a pretty awesome looking pie!

And I guess we won’t have to order this particular pie from Briermere Farms anymore.

Easy & delicious blueberry cream pie. Perfect for Father's Day or a summertime barbecue.

BLUEBERRY CREAM PIE (adapted from Paula Deen’s Blueberry Tart recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 9-inch deep-dish pie crust
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 pint (8 oz. or roughly one cup) fresh blueberries (I used Driscoll’s*)
  • One 21-ounce can blueberry pie filling (or equivalent amount of homemade blueberry pie filling)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F.
  2. Make your pie crust, and press it into your pie dish, poking holes in the bottom and sides with a fork. Bake for 10-12 minutes (or as directed on the package if using frozen) until golden, then remove and let cool completely.
  3. Beat the cream cheese with the confectioners sugar. Beat the heavy cream with the granulated sugar until it forms soft peaks, then fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Add the vanilla. Fold in the fresh blueberries gently.
  4. Spoon the cream mixture into the cooled pie shell and top with blueberry pie filling. Refrigerate until well chilled.
  5. Serve to your dad & tell him to enjoy!
 *I used Driscoll’s berries because I really liked what I read about them over at Food in Jars.

Easy & delicious blueberry cream pie.

I’m sure you could probably use a cookie crust, like graham cracker, and there wouldn’t be any baking at all! You can totally make your own blueberry pie filling, and on the same note you can use a frozen pie crust if you prefer.

Yes, there are people who will tell you not to, yes there are people who’ll rip you a new one for not making your own everything… but do what’s best for you. If it’s your first pie, then take baby steps. Pie crust can be rough for a beginner (it took me a long time to get a handle on it and I still suck at fancy crusts!). Of course, this is an easy pie to start with if you’re new to pie-making: there’s relatively little to do, not a lot of baking involved, and not too much prep.

And not for nothing, I think this idea would work really well with cherries, too, and probably even raspberries.

Fresh blueberries for blueberry cream pie (and blueberry basil jam!)

And if you’re like me and you buy more fresh blueberries than you need, you can make a simple little jam, too.

I decided to create something a bit more unique than your average blueberry jam, however. An added Father’s Day bonus for dad, if you will. My friend Chrisie made blueberry basil preserves last year & ever since then I’ve been dying to do that myself. It sounded so different, like it wouldn’t work. But yet the smell of the blueberries cooking with the basil totally made sense. It’s a genius idea, really, even more so than my raspberry-jalapeño-cilantro jam.

So what I did was I took Love and Olive Oil’s recipe for blueberry basil preserves and used Food in Jar’s recipe for small-batch blueberry ginger jam and kind of made a Frankenstein monster of blueberry recipe jamminess.

Blueberry basil preserves.

SMALL-BATCH BLUEBERRY BASIL PRESERVES

Makes about 12 ounces; either one half- pint (8 oz.) + one 4 oz jar or three 4 oz. jars

Ingredients:

  • 1 dry pint fresh blueberries, washed & dried (again, I used Driscoll’s)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4-5 large basil leaves, washed & torn

Directions:

  1. Smash your blueberries a bit and place them in a bowl with the sugar. In a mortar & pestle, bruise the torn basil leaves slightly and add to the blueberries & sugar. Toss together & let sit for one hour.
  2. Meanwhile, sterilize two 8 oz. jars or one pint jar, and put the lids in hot water to soften the seal.
  3. When ready, put the fruit mixture into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 15-25 minutes or until it passes the plate test/reaches 220° F. This might take longer or maybe even less time; it will depend on the weather, how much liquid is in the berries, the ripeness, your stove, the type of pan you use, etc.
  4. Pour into warm prepared jar(s). Wipe rims, place lids & bands, and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

If you’re umfamiliar with term “the plate test“, you have no idea what I mean when I say “sterilize your jars“, then click those links, and if you’re totally new to the canning thing but you desperately wanna start… then go read my post Canning for Dummies.

Blueberries are like little bombs of pectin, so I’m not sure why people always want to add more pectin to blueberry jams. They don’t need it! Let them cook down on their own. Oh, and wear a dark-colored apron when you make this. Blueberries like to attack sometimes.

Blueberry basil preserves.

4-ingredient blueberry basil preserves.

I can’t speak on the taste, but it sure looked pretty. And that pool of clear blueberry “liquid” is actually gelled, & wrinkles when pushed, so the preserves aren’t as loose-set as they appear. I tried to show in the photos that there are indeed basil leaves in there, but those suckers were hard to find. You’ll have to trust me.

Happy Father’s Day to all the awesome dad’s out there. Enjoy your day!

 Sources & credits: Longaberger black 11″ pie plate, Sur La Table marble rolling pin, vintage silverware, Ball® 8-ounce jars can be purchased at freshpreserving.com.

Some stout pie shenanigans.

The Irish (and English, for that matter) love their pies. And I don’t mean fruit pies, I mean meat pies. Hot, cold, warm or room temperature, they love them some meat pies. It’s a famous pub dish; a flaky pie crust or puff pastry topping over a beef-stew like filling. You can make them in individual pie plates or as one big pie. Similar concept to Shepherd’s pie, except this pie actually has a crust on top, whereas the former has mashed potatoes.

meat pie is a pie with a filling of meat and/or other savoury ingredients. Principally popular in EuropeAustraliaNew ZealandCanada, and South Africa, meat pies differ from a pasty in the sense that a pasty is typically a more portable, on-the-go item, as opposed to a more conventional pie.

-Wikipedia

A few weeks ago, I went to a pub that Jay’s friend opened in Brooklyn, and somewhere around the third or fourth Guinness we decided to have a beef & stout pie. It was just a simple little pub with no kitchen, so the pie was an instant microwaveable one. But it gave me an idea: make your own, Marilla!  And at some point, in between then and now, I picked up this book, which conveniently had a recipe listed on the cover for beef & stout pies. SCORE.


How perfect is that?

Anyway, I decided I’d give ‘em a try this week, and they turned out pretty amazing.

And quite easy, actually. In the opinion of the Irish (according to the book), the only stout suitable for cooking with beef is Guinness. If you have another stout you want to use, then so be it. I stick with Guinness for this kinda stuff though- it’s sweet, but not too sweet. Perfect for a stew.

IRISH BEEF & STOUT PIES

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. boneless chuck steak or eye of round steak, cut into 1″-inch pieces
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups meat stock
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 or 5 large carrots, peeled & sliced into “coins”
  • 4 or 5 medium/large potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 cup Guinness stout
  • 1 pound store-bought puff pastry or store-bought pie crust
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • vegetable oil, for frying

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl, then toss the (patted dry) beef in the mix until evenly coated.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the beef, in batches, and transfer to a flameproof casserole dish or dutch oven. Deglaze the skillet with 1/4 cup of the stock, and add the liquid to the casserole dish.
  3. Heat another 1-2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet and cook the onion and carrots for 6-7 minutes or until onions are soft.  Add to the casserole dish with the tomato paste, thyme, stout, potatoes and remaining stock. Heat the casserole dish or oven over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, then simmer gently with the lid slightly askew for around 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Check the seasoning, and add salt or pepper as needed. Drain the meat mixture in a strainer set over a large bowl. Reserve the liquid, letting rest until cool. Preheat the oven to 425° F and put a baking sheet in the oven to preheat.
  5. Divide the meat mixture among four individual pie plates or 5 -5 1/2″ ramekins. Pour in enough liquid to not quite cover the filling. Dampen the rims of the plates or ramekins with water.
  6. Cut your pastry into four pieces, each one large enough to cover the tops of the pies including a 1″ hangover.  Make holes in it or two or three slashes to allow air our and place them on top of the filling, pressing the edges down. I used a fork to push the dough onto the rim. Brush with egg yolk.
  7. Places the pies on a the preheated baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 400° F and bake for 5 more minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving so no one burns a tongue!

It isn’t the most attractive looking meal, but trust me. It’s way better than it looks! Potatoes, beer, beef, carrots… how can that be bad!?

If you wish, you can lessen the amount of carrots & potatoes, but add in some cremini mushrooms (just the caps, quartered- no stems). I’m not a big mushroom lover. I left them out. If you do choose to add mushrooms, add them with the onions and carrots in step 3. Also, I used frozen pie crust for the tops. Puff pastry will be puffier, obviously. You can also use homemade, if you’ve got a great recipe you like. For the sake of time I went with frozen. Sue me. 

I also made four ramekins, each one measures about 5″ across and 3 1/2″ high. I actually bought them at Pier 1 Imports, so here they are, the larger size. Vintage embroidered Irish linen napkins not included.

And that, my friends, is that. Serve with a hearty bread, or a bit of Irish soda bread, and a pint of Guinness! Or Harp. Or whatever. It doesn’t really matter what you pair it with, just so long as you enjoy yourself.

I hope you all have a happy & delicious St. Patrick’s Day!

This little pie is the apple of my eye.

This pie is something I made after seeing a beautiful French apple tart David Lebovitz posted on his Instagram page. The apples had been cut into roses, and placed on top of a tart dough. It looked as if there was something else underneath the apples, but I couldn’t quite tell. It was stunning. The presentation alone was enough to make someone who didn’t even like pie want to dive right in.

Or at the very least it made me want to take a closer look!

As soon as I saw it, I thought it’d make a fantastic Valentine’s Day dish. Simple, easy, fairly healthy (all things considered) with very few basic ingredients… yet insanely impressive looking. It ends up looking like one of those things you learn in culinary school. And of course, I had these little tart pans I bought & never used, so I thought I’d make little individual rosey apple pies. Or tarts.

Apples contain a lot of symbolism, especially when it comes to love, sex & seduction, which make it perfect for the upcoming holiday of love. We all know what the apple really was in the Bible, don’t we?

Its association with knowledge is an allusion to the revelatory states described by some shamans and users of psychedelic mushrooms.[3][4][5] At times artists would co-opt the apple, as well as other religious symbology, whether for ironic effect or as a stock element of symbolic vocabulary. Thus, secular art as well made use of the apple as symbol of love and sexuality. It is often an attribute associated with Venus who is shown holding it.

-Wikipedia

Rosy cheeks is commonly a complimentary term. Plus, the old saying, “the apple of my eye” clearly means that you’re looking upon someone favorably. So the apple has long been attached to the sweeter side of life… however because of that, it’s also been tied to the lure of the not-so-sweet; i.e. in fairy tales such as Snow White.

But for our purposes, let’s just keep it happy… & rosy.

“COMING UP ROSES” MINI APPLE TARTS (OR PIES…)

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch pie crust dough (enough for one 9″ circle or whatever tart or pie pan(s) you’re using)
  • 5-6 apples (Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Macintosh or a combo) cored and sliced paper thin but NOT peeled (again, amount of apples depends on pan size/amount of pans)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375° F. Press your prepared pie crust into the pan or pie plate you’re using. You can use individual pie or tart tins as I did, a full-size pie plate, a full-size round tart pan or a rectangular tart pan.
  2. In a bowl, combine the super-thinly sliced apples with the lemon juice, butter, sugar & cinnamon, tossing to coat. Put them in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to soften them enough so they bend without snapping. Using them in order of size, make roses using the slices. I found it easier with the small tart pans to start from the outside and work my way inside to the center, but with larger pans or a pie plate you’d have to start from the center coil & work outwards. For small tarts, make one rose per pan, for larger pans make as many as you can fit/as many apples as you have. If you have extra slices, roll them in little coils & stick them in between the large roses (only if you’re making one large pie or tart). Alternately, if you want to, or need to, you can make leaves out of extra dough to fill in empty spots. Just use a cookie cutter or knife to cut the shape, brush with some egg and stick around the roses.
  3. Once you’re done, bake the pie or tart for 30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven, allow to cool until room temperature, and serve with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar. A side of whipped cream works too.

I’m telling you, this is not as hard as it looks or sounds. Yes, it takes time. Of course it does- you’re rolling thin apple slices into rose petals! But it’s not hard. It takes some patience, though, for sure. And you might have to re-zap them in the microwave to soften them again as you go along. You want them very soft & pliable, not crisp. Basically you want them the opposite of how you’d typically prefer your apples.

You can also make these into individual apple-rose garnishes by rolling the slices in a long strip of pie crust dough, then baking it until they’re golden. Just lay the strip down, brush it with egg white, and lay the slices next to one another, facing the same way (skin side up, cut side down). Make sure that they’re slightly overlapping. Then gently start to roll it from the edge, and when it’s all rolled just use some more egg white to “seal” the pastry to itself. Then bake. I’d say on a cookie sheet, at 325° or 350° until browned. You can then use them on top of cupcakes, or on top of an apple pie, etc.

And don’t worry- imperfection isn’t a bad thing. Nothing is perfect in nature, anyway, so as long as it even vaguely resembles a rose… you’re good! Mine aren’t that perfect.

Also, I’m aware this is not apple season. But you can still get some beautiful apples at the supermarket or local fruit markets for a decent price. Or, maybe you’ve got some in cold storage that you can use. Either way, it’d be a shame to miss out on making these gorgeous little pies… tarts… whatever. A combination of different colored apples would make for beautiful roses. You could even toss some Granny Smith’s in there if you like, maybe on the inner coils. For me, one Gala apple made roughly FOUR roses that perfectly fit in my mini-tart pans, which are almost 3″ in diameter. This will vary based on the variety & size of your apples, obviously, so I’d err on the side of buying more apples than you think you’ll need.

‘Cause really, you can never have too many pommes.

 

Winter warmth in the form of… squash.

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Christmas is over. The cold weather is just kicking into high gear here in New York, as is expected.

I’m guessing most people in your house are preoccupied with new gadgets or toys right about now. That’s the best part of the week after Christmas: playing with your new toys! And sleeping late, too, if you’re able. Because pretty soon it’s back to business. Back to work, back to school… and it’ll be cold out there. So when it’s blustery & cold, and the hubbub of Christmas has worn down, and even when the new year doesn’t feel so new anymore, it’s important to have something warm & comforting to look forward to. Or to come home to. You know, a reason to turn on the oven. And of course, for me, that warmth almost always comes in the form of desserts. Although a beautiful new coat & some boots doesn’t hurt either… this is about pie.

Black pie plate from Longaberger, black appetizer plate from Ikea, little cocotte from Le Creuset

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I found this recipe way back in November when I bought a little book that contained a variety of best-loved pie recipes; all kinds, for all seasons, from frozen to fruity to creamy to nutty. I originally made it for Thanksgiving, and since it was such an enormous hit, I felt lucky to have some leftover frozen squash in the freezer so I could make it again. And that I did, just this week. The beauty of it is that you can use any of the following squash:

  • Acorn Squash
  • Blue Hokkaido Pumpkin
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cheese Pumpkins
  • Delicata Squash
  • Hubbard Squash
  • Kabocha Squash
  • Red Kuri Pumpkins
  • Rouge Vif d’Etampes Pumpkins
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Sugar Pie Pumpkins
  • Sweet Dumpling Squash
  • Turban Squash
  • White Pumpkins

Depending on the kind you use, your pie will have a slightly different color. I used butternut squash, myself, so my pie has an orange-y brown color that isn’t quite a pumpkin-y color. A white pumpkin might yield a more yellow color, a rouge vif d’etampes would give a redder color, etc. Also, while you can in theory use any of the aforementioned squash, depending on the variety you use you may have to puree the flesh or dice it more finely before using it- especially the varieties that hold their shape while cooking.

Winter squash is a summer-growing annual vegetable,[1] representing several species within the genus Cucurbita. It differs from summer squash in that it is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage, when the seeds within have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. At this stage, most varieties of this fruit can be stored for use during the winter. It is generally cooked before eating.

Winter squash is a low-calorie, good source of complex vegetable carbohydrates and dietary fiber.

It is an excellent source of vitamin A, a great source of vitamin C[citation needed], potassium, dietary fiber and manganese, and a good source of folate, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B1 (thiamin), copper, tryptophan, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid).[2]

It is also a source of iron and beta carotene. Usually, the darker the skin is, the higher the beta carotene content.

-Wikipedia

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WINTER SQUASH PIE

Ingredients:

  • 1 single 9″ pie crust (frozen works just fine if you need to use it, just defrost according to package directions)
  • 12 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) frozen (or fresh) winter squash, chopped into 1/2″ pieces (thawed & drained first if frozen)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted (for topping)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° degrees F. Prepare your pie crust, place it into your pie plate and crimp the edges. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the squash, sugar, vanilla, egg & sour cream thoroughly. Add in pumpkin pie spice and salt, and whisk. Then whisk in the evaporated milk.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared pie crust. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until set (mine took about 55 minutes).
  4. Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Serve with whipped cream and top with toasted hazelnuts, if desired.

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It was so quick to make, the hardest part (and the longest part) was making the pie crust. May I just say, I think this is one of the best pies- visually- that I’ve made so far. The crust came out great, which is usually a problem for me. I’m so impatient I have a hard time making a pretty crust. I just wanna get it into the pie plate and start baking. But this time I ended up with a beautiful pie.

And what’s pie without whipped cream!?

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I decided to make a brandy whipped cream, a spin-off on that bourbon whipped cream I made before Thanksgiving. It was absolutely perfect with the pie. Regular whipped cream would be just fine, but you know me, I always have to be different. Besides, my grandma always used to say that brandy was “warming”… so it just makes sense to use it at a time when everyone wants to be warm & escape the cold. Not for anything, but check out that big, billowy brandy whipped cream. It’s to die for. I prefer to serve the whipped cream & hazelnuts on each slice individually, but you could also pipe the whipped cream around the edges of the pie and then sprinkle the nuts on top of it before you bring the pie out to serve it. That is, if you’re sure there won’t be much leftover, if any- the whipped cream doesn’t hold up well in the fridge (it’d have to be re-whipped due to lack of stabilizers & preservatives). It would make a lovely presentation that way. I know my audience, though, and that they can’t finish a pie like this in one sitting. So I keep everything separate.

It’s also easier to eat the whipped cream by the spoonful that way. But don’t tell anyone I told you that. Stay cozy & well-fed my friends.

Sources & credits: Recipe from Best-Loved Pies, Longaberger black 11″ pie plate, Ikea black plate, Le Creuset mini coccottes in “Twilight” (black shown).

A lemon cranberry crumble worthy of a Prince.

A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from the folks at Duchy Originals, asking me to use a some of their shortbreads & biscuits in recipes for the holidays. I was really excited about this, for a few reasons: one, I love shortbread. Two, I love a challenge, especially one that involves creating recipes. Three, I’m a bit of an Anglophile (which ties into the next point…) and finally, the company’s history really intrigued me. Turns out, while I had heard of Duchy Originals, and I’d seen blurbs on the internet, I had no idea of the amazing background of the company! It was started in 1992 by HRH Prince Charles in order to promote organic food and farming and to help protect and sustain the local countryside and wildlife. Who knew!?

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Today, in partnership with Waitrose, it is one of the U.K.’s leading organic and sustainable food companies, producing a range of over 250 products from biscuits to preserves and gifts to garden seeds. A donation from the sale of Duchy Originals products is given to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation. More than $1 million is raised annually in this way for distribution to charitable causes all over the world. Duchy Originals from Waitrose shortbreads and cookies are baked by the world famous Walkers Shortbread in the Scottish Highlands. Walkers is also a proud sponsor of the ASPCA, which makes me really happy, as an animal lover.

Here’s a little more about Duchy Originals’ shortbreads & where the money goes:

The shortbread and biscuits are made using wheat and stone-ground oats from U.K. organic farms, including from The Duchy Home Farm, The Prince’s estate in the beautiful Cotswolds region of southwestern England. The Duchy Home Farm became fully organic in 1986, and is now an internationally-recognized model of best practices in organic farming.

Duchy Originals from Waitrose are all-natural, OU Kosher and suitable for vegetarians. The brand does not support the use of GMOs in its products. No bovine growth hormones are given to the cows that yield the milk that is used to produce the butter. The Duchy Originals from Waitrose items have a suggested retail price of $5.99 and each reflects the quality of the ingredients and the bakery expertise of Walker Shortbread. A donation from the sale of Duchy Originals from Waitrose products is given to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation. The foundation funds worthwhile causes throughout the world and in the U.S. it has helped fund education rebuilding initiatives in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, urban regeneration projects in Atlanta, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, the Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and the Harvard AIDS Institute.

The Duchy Originals Good Food Charter assures that every Duchy product “Is Good” by using a smaller environmental footprint as a result of more locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and less packaging; “Does Good” by providing a fair deal for the people who grow and make the food and generating funds for good causes; and “Tastes Good,” being made from the finest natural ingredients. The cookies are produced in partnership with Waitrose, the foremost purveyor of premium food in Great Britain and a division of the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership.

-via Duchy Originals

That’s pretty great, isn’t it? Especially the fact that a portion of the profits goes to Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Being the daughter of a survivor, that’s important to me. As a matter of fact, every cause listed there made me all the more happy to get involved with spreading the word about Duchy Originals cookies. So of course, I took one for the team and took on the burden of creating some recipes using them. *siiiigh* It’s a rough job, you know. But someone has to do it! Alright… so, you get the idea. Enough about all that. Let’s get to the goods.

I received a couple of different boxes of cookies from Duchy Originals: Two boxes of all-butter Highland shortbread, one box of Sicilian lemon all-butter shortbread, one box of Stem Ginger shortbread and a box of Oaten biscuits (the first Duchy product ever made).

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All just for me to play around with and come up with recipes for! How fun. After an initial taste-test of each, the first recipe that came to mind is super easy, and great for holidays. Lemon shortbread cranberry crumble.

Simple, quick, and it contains two flavors that are not only seasonally appropriate but work spectacularly together: Lemon & cranberry. Plus it uses the delicious Duchy Originals all-butter Sicilian lemon shortbread in both the crust & the topping. Oh.. and in case you’re wondering… the Sicilian lemon shortbread are most definitely my absolute favorites.

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DUCHY LEMON SHORTBREAD CRANBERRY CRUMBLE

Ingredients:

  • 3 5.3 ounce boxes Duchy all-butter lemon shortbread cookies
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300° F. Once it’s fully preheated (around 20-30 minutes depending on your oven), melt 7 tablespoons of the unsalted butter in an 8″ x 8″ brownie pan. Carefully remove the pan from the oven when the butter is completely melted.
  2. Finely crumble 1 1/2 boxes of Duchy all-butter lemon shortbread cookies, either in a food processor or with a plastic bag & mallet, and then combine it thoroughly with the flour. Then mix that combo into the melted butter, patting down, using your (clean) fingers or a fork. Make sure that all of the cookie crumbles get buttered. Set pan aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, add the cranberries, lemon juice & sugar. Cook over medium heat until the cranberries have popped and it begins to thicken just slightly & resemble cranberry sauce. Remove from the heat & spoon the mixture over the cookie crust. Once again, set it aside.
  4. Melt the remaining butter (2 tablespoons) in a small saucepan. Once melted, add to a bowl and crumble the remaining half box of Duchy lemon shortbread into it, mixing well. This mixture shouldn’t be as finely crumbled as the crust, a chunky mix is okay. Spoon this on top of the cranberry mixture and bake for 25 minutes, or until heated through & slightly bubbling on the edges.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough that it’s just warm. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream & enjoy!

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It’s a very easy dessert, but a very pretty one. I guarantee that it’ll be a big hit with your family for Christmas. It’s like a shortcut version of a cobbler, made seasonal with cranberries instead of cherries or blueberries (which, in warmer weather, you could totally substitute for the cranberries!). Or, it’s like the fruity, more pie-like version of the infamous Christmas 7-layer magic bars. Another idea: add some flour & sliced almonds to the topping. It would make it more “streusel-y” in texture.

I was really looking forward to creating more fun things with my remaining boxes of Duchy Originals products. But the cookies didn’t last that long! They were gobbled up too quickly. *sad face*

Previously, Duchy Originals were only available in the U.K. But as of this past summer, they’re now available in the U.S.! So you can find them in select gourmet & natural food stores. But if you can’t, and you’re in the U.S. (like me) or you’re otherwise outside of the U.K., you can buy Duchy’s shortbread & biscuit line from the Walkers Shortbread website, and also through Amazon by clicking here. If you’re in the U.K., you probably already know where to buy them, namely Booths & Waitrose, but you can also buy them online at Waitrose.com & the Walkers website. And if you’re really interested, there’s even a cookbook! It looks pretty awesome too. Thank you to Walker’s and Duchy Originals for asking me to do this. Speaking of awesome & the Royal family: congratulations to the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge on the news of their impending arrival! That’s a lovely Christmas present, isn’t it?

And on that note, Christmas is a week away. Insane. I hope this inspires you to make merry in the kitchen! It doesn’t always have to be difficult to be delicious, and your family doesn’t have to know that! Let them think you’re as magic as Santa Claus.

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* Disclaimer: while all the Duchy Originals products featured in this post were sent at no cost to me, all thoughts, recipes & reviews of those products are my own. I was not financially compensated for this post or told what to say.

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