Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Week 12- Key Lime Pie

This week, I received a request for a pie and since I didn't have anything planned, I decided to make it.  The request comes from a person I will call ""Squishy" (and no, I was not the person who made up that alias, nor is this person my husband.)  Squishy loves all things citrus and so he asked me to make a key lime pie.

I looked online at Martha Stewart's website and made my shopping list.  Off I go to the supermarket to buy a bag of key limes.  I looked at the bag and thought, "God, what else am I going to make with all these limes?" Little did I know then that each key lime only has about 5 drops of liquid in it.  I used up all 24 limes to get the amount needed for the recipe.  My composter is now filled with little lime carcasses.

As I settled down to make the pie, I decided to use my hard copy volume of "Martha Stewart's Pies & Tarts".  But I quickly realized that the recipe online and the recipe in the book are not the same.  I didn't have the right ingredients.  So I decided to go with the online version.  That Martha, she's tricky.  You've got to stay on your toes to keep up with her.

I did add one thing to the recipe.  After last week's green pie, I decided my key lime looked anemic and added the rest of the tube of green food coloring.  Don't hate me.

All in all, the pie was easy and tasty.  Sadly, Squishy thought the pie was too tart (perhaps I should have only used 20 limes), but everyone else who tasted it thought it was yummy.

Key Lime Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Television
Key Lime Pie Recipe

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons sugar
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup key lime juice
1 tablespoon key lime zest (I forgot to zest the limes, so I did not include this in my recipe)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

-Heat oven to 375.  Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and 3 tablespoons sugar.  Mix well.  Press into pie plate and bake about 12 minutes.  Cool
-Lower oven to 325.  Whisk together condensed milk, egg yolks, lime juice, and zest.  Pour into cooled crust.
-Return pie to oven and bake about 15 minutes.
- Before serving whip cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Spoon over cooled pie.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Week 11- Grasshopper Pie

Happy St. Patrick's Day! And happy belated Pi Day! 

In honor of both holidays, I decided to go retro for another week and make Grasshopper Pie.  Now I'll be honest with you- I've never had a piece of Grasshopper pie so as I read through recipes, I wasn't sure which one to pick. 

But then I remembered watching an episode of Nigella Lawson's show where she made the pie.  God, how she makes everything look so effortless.  Boil marshmallows, no problem.  Whisk cream by hand, sure.  Oh Nigella.  You even make eating leftovers from the refrigerator in your bathrobe look good.  I, however, have a window in my kitchen that lets me know that when I (clothed in my pajamas) decide to snack straight out of the pie plate late at night, well, I just look sad and desperate.

Oh well, back to the pie.  Here's the thing about Grasshopper pie.  It's basically a drink in a crust.  Which meant I had to go to the package store with 2 kids in tow and fork over $15 for liquor I will never use again. Sigh....

Also, look at this picture of my bottle of crème de menthe.  Notice anything?

It's not that unholy green that it's supposed to be.  Thank goodness I had a full tube of green food coloring.

The pie was actually really easy to make. Except for the crust which I found confusing.  Every recipe called for some equivalent of Oreos (actually Nigella's original recipe calls for bourbon biscuits which I have no clue about.)  But even after reading people's comments, it's still unclear to me whether you leave the cream center in the cookies when you make that crust.

So I defaulted  to the  chocolate graham cracker crust I used for the red velvet pie a few weeks back (actually I should say that my daughter and I made the crust.  She's getting quite handy at pies).  And seriously, that crust is so good, I want to be buried in it.

The end result- the pie was OK.  It really is just like a minty whipped crème in a crust.

But I do believe in leprechauns now; because even though my husband and I claimed we didn't really  like the pie, it disappeared in the middle of the night. :)

Grasshopper Pie
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
Link to Nigella's Grasshopper Pie

3 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup crème de menthe
1/4 cup crème de cacao blanc
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Green food coloring

Melt the marshmallows and milk over low heat.  Once the milk foams, take off the heat and stir until the marshmallows are smooth.

Pour the mixture into a heatproof bowl, then whisk in the cream de menthe and the cream de cacao.  Leave it to cool (I would suggest putting it in the fridge while you do the next step.)

In a medium bowl, whisk the cream until it has soft peaks then add in the cooled marshmallow mixture.  Whisk in some green food coloring.

Put the filling into your prepared crust and let chill for at least 4 hours.  I would recommend letting it sit overnight since the flavors were much better the next day.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Week 10- Mystery Pecan Pie

I'm not much of a cookbook reader; but I do have a soft spot for flipping through old, vintage cookbooks. I get a kick out of reading how to prepare the perfect relish tray or making deviled "insert a random protein".  My sisters have fueled my habit by buying me books like "Better Homes and Gardens Snacks and Refreshments" circa 1963.  All I have to say is with the amount of space devoted to "Treats to pick you up after 10pm", I realize the 60's were so much more awesome than 2013.  By 10 pm, I'm usually asleep on the couch.

So my sister also directed me to a completely awesome website called "The Mid-Century Menu".
Link to Mid-Century Menu

I love this site. They take all those retro recipes and they actually try them out. Jello molds, chocolate cakes made with tomato soup, frankfurter loaf- stuff that I think must taste like poop, but I'm totally intrigued by them.  And my God, they have a whole section on making cute, white-frosted lamb cakes.  Do you know how badly I want to make one of those?

Well I decided to use one of their recipes for this week's pie.  I have to admit, I am not as brave as they.  I searched all their "best" recipes for pie and came up with mystery pecan pie.  What's the hook?  It's pecan pie with a cheesecake layer.

The other news this week- my husband decided that he could make a better pie crust than I can.  So this week, he was my guest crust maker.  When I asked him what recipe he was using, he had no idea.  I was hoping it would be a miserable flop, but dang if he didn't find the Pioneer Woman's recipe for pie crust and it was yummy. (Although I did have to stop him from using all of the dough from the recipe that makes 3 pie crusts.)

As for the pie, it was delicious.  Except for one thing, it oozed a bit (which gave me flashbacks to the Fudge Pie from Week 3.)  I'm not sure if there is some trick to working with corn syrup or if the corn syrup I'm using has some issues.  It just seems like every time I make something with corn syrup, it's a bit of a weepy mess.

I have to say that one thing I dislike about pecan pie is that it is usually cloying sweet.  The creamy cheesecake layer in this recipe gives a nice balance to the sweet stickiness of the pecan/sugar layer.  Definitely one to try again!

One funny note: my younger daughter is 2 so she's learning how to talk.  Today was the first day that she said "Pie".  I gave her a piece and she ate half of it!

Mystery Pecan Pie- aka Pecan Pie with a Layer of Cheesecake
Link to Pecan Pie recipe
Adapted from the blog "The Mid-Century Menu"
Originally from the 1964 Pillsbury Bake-Off

1 8 oz package cream cheese
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup light corn syrup
1 deep dish 9 inch pie shell

Combine cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 egg. Spread into bottom of pie shell.

Sprinkle pecans over the cheese layer.

Combine remaining eggs, sugar, vanilla, and corn syrup.  Pour over pecans.

Bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

The man crust
Pecan pie

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Week 9- Sweet Potato Pie

It's Week 9 and I'm not even going to lie to you- I don't have a cute story as to why I made sweet potato pie.  I'm just treading water here until I hit some holidays where I can make a themed pie or until yummy fruit season. 

I have to say, when I mention sweet potato pie, everybody's reaction seems to be "Meh".  One person asked me "Why make sweet potato pie? Pumpkin tastes the same and it's a lot easier."  Well, I sort of have 52 pie slots to fill, that's why.  And I actually like sweet potato pie. 

However, I did make one tactical error with timing.  This pie was slated for the same day I promised my older daughter I would make her favorite side dish, mashed potatoes.  After mashing various types of potatoes all day, my right arm is sore.

Getting a little help...

As I reviewed recipes, I decided to go with a sweet potato pie from Joy the Baker.  I really enjoy her blog, but I don't think I've ever made one of her recipes.  This pie intrigued me because a) it was her dad's recipe.  The pie world is all about recipes passed down from moms and grandmas.  It's rare to see male ownership of a pie recipe.  And b) it also features a no- roll crust which I wanted to try.

The pie was really good.  My older daughter actually asked for a piece and deemed it "delicious."  The filling was sort of custardy and a little bit spicy.  The crust didn't look too great- it cooked a bit faster than I expected, but it was tasty.  It wasn't flaky, but thicker and buttery.  I would definitely use it again, but would shield the crust so it didn't brown too quickly.  Also, I wouldn't call the crust "easy".  While you don't need to roll the dough, you do need to grate frozen butter on a cheese grater. Trust me, that's not super easy after you've been mashing potatoes.

Something I wanted to share this week, is a cute little thing I've been doing with my older daughter.  She is learning how to write so for Christmas I bought her a notebook that we keep as her "pie journal".  Each week I write down the pie and make a few comments about it.  Then my daughter writes the pie too (I thought it would be cute to look back at the end of the year and see how much she's progressed.)  Here is this week's entry...

Dad's Sweet Potato Pie
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Recipe for Sweet Potato Pie

2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes (I used 2 large sweet potatoes which was just over 2 cups)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 5 ounce cans evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla

I cut up the sweet potatoes and boiled them.  When they were soft I mashed them up.  Now Joy says there should be no lumps.  LOL- I'm lazy.  There were some lumps.

Measure 2 cups of the potatoes and put in a medium sized pot with the brown sugar, spices, melted butter and one can of the evaporated milk.  Cook on low for about 5 minutes or until it bubbles.  Remove and let cool.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs.  Add the second can of evaporated milk, sugar and vanilla to the egg mixture and stir until creamy.  Pour the sweet potato mixture into a large bowl and then whisk in the egg mixture.  I refrigerated this while I made the pie crust.

Pie Crust

1 1/2  cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup frozen butter that has been grated on a cheese grater
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon cream cheese
2 tablespoons cold milk- (although I ended up adding more milk)

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. 

Add the frozen butter and the cream cheese to the dry ingredients.  Combine with a fork, making sure that all of the flour mixture is introduced to the liquid.  I used about 4 tablespoons of milk since my mix was too dry.  (This didn't surprise me because I always have to add extra water to my go-to pie crust recipe.)  Dump the dough into a pie plate and press into the pan.  This part was very similar to what you do with a graham cracker crust.

Put the prepared crust into the freezer while you preheat the oven.

When the oven is preheated, add the sweet potato filling to the crust.  I had a good amount of filling that didn't fit into the crust.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees with a cookie sheet inside.  Put the filled pie shell on the hot cookie sheet.  Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then lower the temp to 325 and bake for 1 hour more until the center is raised an puffed.

Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 1 hour.

Note: Joy's dad does know how to make a good pie!

Excuse me, there's a camel in my pie.