Archive for the Category ◊ Pies & Tarts ◊

16 Nov 2010 Sweet Potato Pie

A friend asked me, “How does Sweet Potato Pie compare to Pumpkin Pie?” and I answered, “Sweet Potato Pie is Pumpkin Pie’s richer cousin.” How about that? Sometimes words don’t fail me! I got it exactly right!

I looooooove me some Sweet Potato Pie.  The best Sweet Potato Pie I ever tasted was from Everett & Jones BBQ in Jack London Square, Oakland.  I wish I had their recipe, but since I don’t, I’ve worked hard at creating the best darn possible recipe for Sweet Potato Pie that I can.  It’s been years of trial and error.  Well, no error.  I’ve never met a Sweet Potato Pie I didn’t like.  It’s been years of upping spices and enriching the filling.  The latest enrichment has been to add a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger.  I saw that Cat Cora put fresh ginger in her Sweet Potato Pie, so decided to add it to mine.  I still like Everett & Jones’ Sweet Potato Pie better, but just a bit!  I suspect they must put at least double the brown sugar in their pie than what I put in my pie, but I don’t know for sure.  I think a field trip is in order.  I need to investigate this further.  After all, I am a serious food blogger now! As for Cat Cora’s pie, I think mine is better.  I don’t remember maple syrup, dark brown sugar, or whipping cream being in her pie.

Here’s MY best recipe for Sweet Potato Pie, and here’s an oddity; this recipe is not made with sweet potatoes, it’s made with yams!  Use Beauregard yams; the long yams with the purple skins and orange flesh. Sweet Potato Pie is a “must have” on our Thanksgiving dessert table.   Walk away from the pumpkin pie, and say “Hello” to its richer cousin!

Sweet Potato Pie

  • 1 unbaked pie crust in a 9 inch glass pie pan, chilled
  • 1½ cups cooked, mashed “sweet potatoes” / Beauregard Yams, about 2 large (To cook the sweet potatoes: microwave whole potatoes [don’t forget to prick them] about 6 minutes on each side OR bake in a 400º oven for about 1 hour. Cool and scrape the flesh out. I prefer to bake the potatoes, rather than microwave.)
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup (Grade B has a more robust flavor)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix cooled mashed sweet potato with brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, spices, fresh ginger and salt.  Stir well to combine.

Whisk in eggs and cream.

Pour pie filling into prepared pie crust.

Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until filling is set in middle and slightly puffed around the edges.

Cool completely.  Cover and refrigerate.  Can be made up to two days ahead.

Serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream-some people will declare their undying love and affection for you if your beat 1-2 tablespoon of Bourbon or Rum in with the sugar to each cup of whipping cream-or, better yet, cinnamon ice cream (see recipe on this blog).

I hope you enjoy Sweet Potato Pie as much as I do 🙂  If you are ever in the vicinity of Everett & Jones, pulllleeeese  bring me back one of their sweet potato pies.  I’ll love you forever!

18 Oct 2010 Pear Crisp

Ahhh, fall comfort food!  I love baked pears and I love an oatmeal rich crisp topping.  This is a basic Pear Crisp recipe, if you want something fancier, check out my Drunken Pear Crisp with Cherries recipe.  I cut this recipe from a Cooking Light magazine years ago.  I’ve fooled with it quite a bit, more spices, more oatmeal, more pears… LOL!  The quantities here fit nicely into a 8 or 9 inch square baking pan.  If you have a lot more pears, just up the quantities by by 50% and bake in a 9 inch by 13 inch pan.

Ummm, true confession time.  We like this best at room temperature, for breakfast.  Hey! It’s oatmeal! It’s fruit!

A few years ago I asked my son to type the recipe out for me, with my changes. He did, but he embellished it a bit. I have retyped his version here, edited just a bit for clarity.  He was young at the time, not the big hunk of 19 year old masculinity he is now… Nevertheless, he’s going to crawl into a cave and hibernate when he finds out his mom published this on her blog. Oohhhhhhh, the embarrassment of it all! Don’t anyone tell him about this, puleeeeeese!

My Lovely Mom’s Pear Crisp

6 cups sliced ripe pears (5 or 6 lbs)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
A tiny bit of hard work
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
A whole bunch of JOY
1/3 cup flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons chilled butter
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
½ cup chopped walnuts (if you must)
A pinch of happiness

Directions

Look around you.  Take in your surroundings.  Be thankful. Feel wonderful about yourself and those around you. {Laugh at your son. He’s so FUNNY!} Read the recipe and do what it says.

Preheat oven to 375º.

Combine peeled and sliced pears with the lemon juice, toss gently to coat and then place in baking dish.

In another bowl combine sugar, cornstarch, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg. Stir to combine.  Pour mixture over over pears and mix lightly.

Do one thing, every day, that you have never done before.

In the same bowl (because it’s empty now and who wants to wash another dish?) combine flour, brown sugar, another ½ teaspoon cinnamon and another ¼ teaspoon nutmeg.  Cut in 3 tablespoon cold butter or grate the butter into the flour mixture with a grater (that’s what my mom does) and combine until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs.  Stir in oats and optional nuts.  Sprinkle mixture evenly over pear mixture in the baking pan.

Bake at 375º for 30-40 minutes or until pears are tender and topping is golden brown.  Cool at least 20 minutes before eating (hot pears in melted sugar burn).

Smile. You’re all done.

My son is home from college today.  I made this for our breakfast tomorrow.  He and I will enjoy some Pear Crisp and some lattes.  I’ll read the newspaper.  He’ll read something about American history…and then we will probably argue about something stupid.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, hope you enjoyed the Pear Crisp!

14 Oct 2010 Cheese Danish, just like those in the fancy bakery!

My daughter, who shall remain nameless (so I don’t embarrass her, HA!), has a crazy crush on a French exchange student. It’s one exchange student in particular, but there are about thirty others she’s crazy about if this one doesn’t work out.  Her roommates bragged to the French students about my nameless daughter’s cooking skills.  They told the French students she can make cakes, she can make cookies, she can make Rice Krispie treats… Then one of the Frenchmen looked at her and whispered, in a very excited voice, with that wonderful French accent, “Can you make pastries?”  She answered, “Sure!”  Then she flew home (a two hour drive) to learn how to make pastries!  She succeeded, too, she took back with her a large Glazed Fruit Tart, a dozen  Cheese Danish and, being a first generation American teen, a big tray of Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats.  I haven’t heard from her since, but she has been posting on Facebook how very wonderful her life is and how much fun she is having…

Abby (Oops! Blew her cover) found many pastry recipes on line.  She printed out about a dozen, and made this one.  Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.  Winner, winner, winner, winner, winner.  Ina Garten rocks!  I wish I had known how easy these were to make years ago.  I could have wowed so many people!  But never mind, I am going to start wowing them NOW!

These are so easy to make.  Really.  Easy.  And they are beautiful.  And delicious. And impressive.

Abby followed the recipe for the first time, and made  four pastries with one sheet of puff pastry.  We decided the pastries were wonderful, but a bit too big, so she cut smaller squares, and made 8 pastries with the second sheet of puff pastry.  I have left the directions as she originally found them, but feel free to cut the pastry into  smaller squares.  We found the quantity of the filling to be more than adequate, so no need to skimp!

Ina Garten’s Cheese Danish

8 oz. of cream cheese, at room temperature (if you are in a hurry, soften slightly in the MW)
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons Ricotta or Mascarpone cheese (we used Mascarpone)
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
grated zest of one lemon
1 box (2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
egg wash (one egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
Sprinkling of raw sugar  (optional)
Sprinkling of powdered sugar (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.

With an electric mixer,  cream the cream cheese and sugar together.  Reduce the speed to low and stir in (don’t beat or whip) egg yolks, ricotta or mascarpone, vanilla, salt and lemon zest.

Unfold the defrosted puff pastry and roll out, on a lightly floured board, to a 10 x 10 inch square (approximately).  Cut sheet into quarters (or smaller, see note above).

Brush border of each pastry square with egg wash, and then place one tablespoon of filling into the center of each square.  Fold the 2 opposing corners together over the filling.  Squeeze the pasty corners together so they stick. Brush pastry with egg wash.  Sprinkle lightly with raw sugar (if desired)

Place pastries on prepared pan.  Refrigerate pastries on the prepared pan for 15 minutes to re-chill the puff pastry.

Remove pastries from refrigerator and place in a preheated 400° oven for 20 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and golden brown.  Rotate the pan once during baking time.

Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, just before serving. These are even good the next day!

It’s nice to be back in the kitchen. THANKS for stopping by.  Now I have a new camera, there shouldn’t be any more two week breaks!

20 Sep 2010 Chocolate Mocha Tart

I wish I’d had this recipe decades ago!  I had three kids. I had to take a lot of food to a lot of potlucks, meetings, classes, games, gatherings and parties.  I also had to pull together a lot of nice dinners at home for meetings, holidays, and guests. I worked full time. I was a single parent.  Time was not something I had in abundance.  This recipe could have saved my arse a hundred times over.  Not only is this an easy, quick recipe, it’s an AWESOME recipe. This. Is. One. Fantastic. Chocolate. Tart.  If you could only make  one of my recipes, make this one. After you make this once, you’ll save the recipe in that file with the kids’ birth certificates and the pink slip for the car. I know you will!

I found this recipe on The Hungry Housewife,  who has even posted a video on how to make this…, and how she reacted when she found ¼ of her tart was gone…!

Chocolate Mocha Tart

1 Premade Chocolate Graham Cracker Pie Crust (or make your own, but why?  This is a quick and easy recipe!)
4 Ounces of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, at room temperature
¾ cup Heavy Cream (but regular whipping cream works, too)
¼ cup Sugar
¾ Tbsp Instant Espresso Powder
1 Bag Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (like Ghiradelli or Guittard)

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt cream cheese.  This will be a bit tricky.  Stir constantly. Whisk in the heavy cream and sugar. Add in the instant espresso powder and mix until combined. Bring mixture to just under a boil (bubbles will be forming around the edges). Remove from heat.

Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate chips and let sit 5 minutes without stirring.
After 5 minutes, whisk the chocolate until smooth. Pour into your pie crust and place in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight until set. Or, if you are really short for time, place pie in the freezer for 45 minutes.

Serve small slices plain, or with whipped cream  (in a perfect world, I’d like to have some concentrated raspberry syrup on the plate, too, like they do in fancy restaurants).

Tart can be made several days in advance.

This was a good, good day to stop by my kitchen, wasn’t it?

13 Sep 2010 Drunken Pear Crisp with Cherries

Everyone who tried this last night (last night refers to one night in the fall of 2009) loved it…, except for me.  I didn’t fall in love with it until about an hour ago, when I had a bite of the leftovers.  Soooo GOOD!  What was I thinking earlier?  I had to scrape the bottom of the serving dish to get a leftover helping for myself.

This crisp is made with almost a full bottle of Zinfandel. I’ve served the crisp  with small scoops of homemade vanilla ice-cream, and with whipped cream.  I am going to have to make another batch to figure out which option I like better! Besides that, the picture above is horrible and I definitely need a new picture… (if you make this, can you send me a picture to use in place of this one?)

I made one change to the “Pear Crisp with Dried Sour Cherries”  recipe from “The Top 150 American Recipes” cookbook (aside from renaming the recipe), I thought the filling needed a thickening agent, it did.  I’ve added it into the recipe below.

Start this one day before you plan to serve it—the cherries need time to get drunk.  Kids probably won’t like this…. Let them eat the ice-cream!

Drunken Pear Crisp with Cherries

1 cup dried SOUR cherries (I bought mine at Trader Joe’s)
Approx ¾ bottle of Zinfandel
5 cups thickly sliced pears (about 2 ½ lbs, 8 medium)
1 T. tapioca or cornstarch
½ cup sugar (divided use)
1 ¼ c. flour
1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds
1 T. finely chopped toasted sliced almonds
¼ c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/8  t. ground nutmeg
¼ t. cinnamon
8 T. (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled

In a small saucepan over medium heat combine cherries with enough Zinfandel to cover by 2 inches.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, then remove from heat and let cool.  Place cherries in the refrigerator and let soak overnight (or, at least 8 hours).  Drain the cherries, but reserve the wine.  In a large bowl combine the sliced pears, drained cherries,  ¼ cup white sugar, and cornstarch or tapioca.  Toss well.  Add ½ cup of the cherry-Zinfandel liquid and then let stand for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In another bowl combine flour, remaining ¼ c. sugar, 1/3 cup toasted almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Slowly drizzle in the melted butter.  Stir with a fork until mixture comes together in crumbles. (Do not over-mix and get a big ball of dough-break up any clumps bigger than one inch).  Spoon fruit mixture into a 2 qt. baking dish (8 x 8).  Evenly sprinkle crumbs on top of the fruit mixture. Sprinkle 1 T. finely chopped almonds over the crumbled topping. Bake until mixture is bubbling and topping is browned, about 50 minutes.  Serve hot or warm, with or without ice-cream or whipped cream. Guard the leftovers with your life!

Inviting friends over this fall?  Serve this for dessert.  Trust me.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! 

07 Sep 2010 Mixed Berry Pie

Been to the Farmers’ Markets this weekend? Did you buy a bunch of berries? Time for a Mixed Berry Pie! It is still cool enough that it’s OK to turn on the oven making it the perfect time to make this delicious pie. The orange peel sets this pie above all other berry pies, and the cornstarch-flour thickening is perfect. The pie is great served slightly warm for dinner, with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or a bit of whipped cream on the side and absolutely divine room temperature, with a cup of hot coffee on the side, for breakfast.

I haven’t mastered pie crust yet, so use your favorite recipe, or that Pillsbury unroll and bake stuff (like I did) which will enable you to get this pie in the oven in 20 minutes or less. Ready, set, goooooo! You’re going to knock the socks off your dinner guests!

Mixed Berry Pie

1 double crust pastry
1 c. sugar
3 T. cornstarch
2 T. flour
grated zest of 1 medium orange
pinch of salt
6 c. mixed fresh berries*
1 T. cream or milk
pinch of sugar

Prepare pastry. Roll out half the pastry and line the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate. Refrigerate the lined pie plate and the leftover pastry while you mix up the berries. In a large bowl mix sugar, cornstarch, flour, orange zest and salt. Add berries and toss gently to coat each berry. Pile berry mixture into pasty lined pie plate. Roll out second half of pastry. Cut slits in pastry. Lay pastry over berries and tuck into bottom pastry. Decoratively crimp and trim the top and bottom crust to seal together. Brush top pastry with a bit of cream or milk. Sprinkle with a pinch of white sugar. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pie on a baking sheet, and place in oven. Bake 50-60 minutes or until pastry is golden and filling is bubbling. Cool completely on rack before serving (juices need to cool to thicken).

*recipe originally came with these proportions: 2 cups blueberries, 2 cups blackberries, 1 cup fresh raspberries, 1 cup quartered fresh strawberries. I wouldn’t use any more strawberries than 1 cup (they don’t hold up well) but the rest of the proportions are mix-and-matchable. Do what I do, buy one or two baskets of everything at the farmer’s market and what makes it home gets put in the pie. If you are a bit short of the required six cups of berries, peel and chop an apple or pear to add into the mixture.

I made the berry pie at the top and my friend Louise made the beautiful berry pie below.  Both of us believe that Mixed Berry Pie is most people’s favorite pie, if it’s not, it’s because they have never tasted this one!

Thanks for stopping by our kitchens today, see you tomorrow!  What shall we make…??