Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Week 16- "Pies I Don't Like" or do I?

I'm usually pretty live and let live about people's food choices.  You like what you like and that's OK.  My one rule for my girls is that they have to at least try everything on their plate.  If they don't like it or don't want to eat more than one bite, that's fine.  And luckily, that's worked for us since I always get compliments on what good eaters the kids are.

But there is one thing that has always driven me crazy- and I have several family members that do this.  They will only eat one preparation of a food.  For example, they will eat tomato sauce, but not tomatoes or tomato juice or anything that has come into contact with a cut tomato.  And I can never remember which type of the food it is that they will eat.  It's all very confusing.

I, however, realized I am a hypocrite.  I do the same thing with one type of food.  Blueberries.  I like fresh blueberries.  They're not my favorite so I don't buy them much but when they're in season or in a fruit salad I enjoy them.

But cooked blueberries.   A totally different matter.  I don't mind blueberry muffins as long as the blueberries don't clump together.  But pies and cobblers are always too sweet and jammy for me.  So blueberry pie was added to the list of pies I don't like.

However, it seems ridiculous to exclude blueberry pie from a list of 52 pies.  And it's one of my taste tester's favorites.  And it just seems un-American to not make a blueberry pie.

I decided to go with a Martha Stewart recipe for blueberry pie since I wasn't feeling very adventurous.  It calls for 7 cups of blueberries.  Now blueberries aren't quite in season yet so they were on the pricy side. So not only was I making a pie I didn't like, I was making an expensive pie I didn't like.

I planned to save a piece for my husband and give the rest of the pie to my taste tester.  We were going away for Spring Break so we wouldn't be around to eat the pie anyway.   Well, I decided to try the pie.  And it was so delicious I ate two pieces. The berries were big and juicy, not jam like at all.  You could really taste the fruit in this pie.  The recipe also called for cinnamon which I thought was a bit odd, but the spice gave a nice warm tone to the pie,

That night, I received this email from my taste tester:

Subject: Dang
Freaking tasty pie- 4 of us agree.

Apparently blueberry has been added to the list of pies to make again!

Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts
Link to Blueberry Pie Recipe

Pie crust (we had frozen some pie dough a while back so I used this for the crust)
2 lbs (about 7 cups) fresh blueberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar ( I used a scant cup so the pie wouldn't be too sweet)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 large egg yolk, for egg wash
1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash
Sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare dough for pie crust.

In a large bowl, toss together berries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice. Pour mixture into uncooked crust.

Roll out the lattice top.  Now Martha expects you to make 10 strips with a fluted pasty wheel.  HA!  I got 6 thick strips with a pizza cutter.  But seriously people, pizza cutters are your best friend when making a lattice.

Carefully arrange dough strips, weaving to make a lattice.  (Anyone who has seen my child's braided hair knows that I'm not exactly a master of attention to detail with braiding.  But a "lattice" like structure was made.)  In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and cream for egg wash.  Brush on top of dough.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Now Martha tells you to refrigerate the pie for 30 minutes, but I had vacation packing to do and I skipped this step.

Bake pie on a foil or parchment covered baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees  until the crust begins to brown, about 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake about 55 minutes long (I put on a pie shield at this step.) Remove pie and let cool on a wire rack.

Yes it's ugly and Martha would never let that out of the kitchen, but it sure was good!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Week 15- 1st in the series of "Pies I Don't Like"

Monday night I sat down to post my weekly pie  and I just couldn't do it.  My heart was filled with so much sadness after learning of the senseless attack on innocent people at the Boston Marathon.

 I had called my mother when I found out because years ago we had watched the Marathon together just a few blocks from my house in Boston.  That day will always be special to me because it was an incredibly fun day with my Mom; there was so much joy, so many people who were just glad to be a part of the race whether they were running or cheering.

Yesterday there was no joy.  There was a lot of me sneaking off to check Facebook and email to make sure friends and fellow runners were OK.  There was me making up a "hide your eyes" game for my girls when I turned on the TV (since I wasn't sure what channel we had left it on or what would be shown.) 

Luckily, there were also wonderful stories.  Doctors who ran the race and then stepped up to help the injured.  Spectators who helped people get out of the area.  Bostonians who opened their homes to people who had no place to go in the mayhem.

 My thoughts are with the people of Boston and all the runners who trained so hard and didn't get to finish or may never run again. 

I know the joy will be back some day but it will take a while.  :(

So this was the entry I had planned to post. 

This week begins a short series of "Pies I Don't Like."  When I told my taste tester, Squishy, about the series he asked quizzically "Why would you do something like that???"

Well because I have 52 pies to make and there are some pies I feel like I should make even though I don't like them.  And because perhaps someone else might like them even if I don't.  And that someone could be Squishy.

This one was a request by my sister to make a mocha pie.  And that request came with a recipe attached.  So I figured why not?

Now I don't like coffee AT ALL.  I don't drink it and can't stand the smell of it. But it's my sister and I knew she would like it.  And my husband had some instant coffee in the house after last fall's hurricane when the only way he could get coffee was to have instant made with water boiled on a hot plate.  And I'll do anything to get that coffee out of my house.

The pie is a bit of a cheat.  It's made with pudding and Cool Whip so it's not a real homemade pie.  But I did make the crust from scratch, so I'm counting it.

For the record, I could not bring myself to try this pie.  I really do hate coffee.  But my sister and Squishy enjoyed it and apparently the pie disappeared in a couple days.

Mocha Cappuccino Pie

1 baked graham cracker crust
1 3.5 ounce package of chocolate pudding
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 cup cold milk
1 container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Combine pudding mix and coffee granules. Add the milk and then whisk.  Fold in 1/3 of the tub of whipped topping.

Chill for at least 30 minutes.  Top with additional whipped topping.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Week 14-Seriously yummy...

Yes, I'm still chomping at the bit to make a fresh fruit pie.  I promised myself I would wait for fruit to be in season, but it's been a long winter.

I found this recipe for White Chocolate Strawberry pie on Tasty Kitchen.  Even though strawberries aren't in season yet, I decided to give it a go.  It also amused me because the recipe uses Cool Whip- something I don't think I've ever bought before.  I'm totally confounding the people who try to find patterns off my Stop & Shop loyalty card, cause this project is making me buy some weird stuff.

The pie was super easy to make, except for one step.  Melting white chocolate.  I usually melt regular chocolate chips in the microwave and the recipe recommends the same.  But white chocolate doesn't melt the same way and both times I tried to melt the chips they got sort of pasty.  I ended up using the melted chips anyway so I had a few "pieces" in the pie, but that was OK.

In fact, both my husband and my older daughter thought the pie was "awesome".  Definitely one to make again- and probably a good one for Valentines' Day with the bright red strawberries on top. (I forgot to take a picture of the pie before it was eaten!)

White Chocolate Strawberry Pie
Adapted from a recipe by Caprice at The Home Heart
Link to the recipe

1/2 cup white chocolate chips
12 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups Cool Whip
1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
Dash of salt
1 prebaked graham cracker crust
1 lb strawberries, sliced (I used less, but enough to completely cover the pie)

Melt 1/2 cup white chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir and then keep microwaving in 30 second increments until completely melted.

Mix cream cheese until smooth.  Then add the powdered sugar until well combined.

Add the Cool Whip, orange juice, salt and melted white chocolate.  Mix until everything is smooth (except for a few white chocolate lumps :)

Spoon the mixture into the prebaked graham cracker crust.

Top with the sliced strawberries.

Note, the recipe calls for an additional 3 tablespoons of white chocolate chips to be melted and poured as a glaze on top.  I skipped this step because I had trouble with the chips and the pie was still delicious!

Chill for one hour and then enjoy!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Week 13- Ricotta Pie

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Italian-American.  I grew up in a town where you were pretty much one of the following: Italian, Irish, Polish or African American (or some combination.)  It always puzzled me when I was a kid reading my history books because everybody seemed to come over to the US from England; by the time they got around to when my folks came on over to the US it was usually about 3 weeks from the end of the school year.

As I moved around, I realized a few things.  Not everyone eats pasta at Thanksgiving dinner.  Not everyone has an Uncle Tony or grew up knowing someone named Fabrizio.  Not everyone had seen the movie "The Godfather" by the time they were 8. 

So, imagine my surprise when I was researching pies for Easter and there is an Italian Easter pie made with ricotta cheese. 

Now when there is something "Italian" that I don't know about, I tend to say "That must be Northern Italian" so as not to sound totally ignorant.  In this case, it might be because my family doesn't bake.  So I called a fellow paisan who is well versed in Italian stuff and asked her if she knew of this pie.  To which she responded, "You mean it's a pizza pie with ricotta?"  OK, so I'm not the only one who doesn't know about this.

I figured I would try it.  And the description said it was like a cheesecake pie, so how bad could it be?

Let's just say, this is not a pie that will be a family tradition.  It was OK, very dense and it had a sort of curdy texture due to the ricotta.  For some reason I thought it would be smoother, more like a cannoli filling.  I used a nip of Amaretto in it (you see, I really am Italian, I like Amaretto) which gave it a nice flavor.  The "crust" wasn't a true crust, it was more like the crumb-like bottom of a cheesecake.

Even the Easter bunny would pass on this one :)

Ricotta Pie
Adapted from the King Arthur Flour website
Ricotta Pie Recipe


1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 2-3 graham crackers)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup almonds
pinch of salt
3 cups ricotta cheese (I used whole milk, but the recipe says you can also use part skim)

6 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur, optional (it's not optional for me!)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter the pie pan.
-To make crust, process graham crackers, sugar, almonds and salt together.  Pour crumbs into pan to make a "crust".
-Mix the rest of the ingredients together.  Pour into the "crust".  At this step, my mixture looked really liquidy, but it set up well in the oven. I also had a good amount left over.
-Bake the pie for about 45 minutes.  Use a thermometer to make sure the inside of the pie has reached 160 degrees.  The pie will look unset at this point, but that's OK.
-Let the pie cool for an hour and then put it in the fridge.

Buona Pasqua all! :)