Category: Pie crust

Cherry-Berry Pie for the 4th of July

Cherry-Berry Pie for the 4th of July

BEST SUMMER SIDES FROM MORE TIME AT THE TABLE HERE.

It’s more than ironic that many of the best fruit pies need to be made when the weather is sizzling, sultry, humid, or plain old drippy hot. As a cold-weather fiend, I particularly find this one of the most unhappy cooking situations. I am thus incredibly blessed to live in Colorado where the summer days may be hot, yes, but might also occasionally dip down into the 40’s and even more often into the 50’s with the advent of a good, old-fashioned hail and/or rain storm. In fact, nightly fifty-some temps aren’t unusual even without rain. (Of course that’s why our tomatoes don’t do squat. Thank God we have the best beer in the country to partially make up for that.)

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Mother’s Day Bluebarb Pie with Violet’s Pie Crust

Mother’s Day Bluebarb Pie with Violet’s Pie Crust

Chris, left and Violet, right

I think of Violet as my loving friend Chris’s mom because that’s who she was to me. Of course Violet was VIOLET. And if you lived in Atwood, Kansas (population 1,222), you knew who that was.  You knew her rather well indeed if you happened to be a member of Atwood United Methodist Church where she directed the choir, organized many church suppers, and was the leader of the Altar Guild for oh-so-many years.

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THANKSGIVING BAKING FAVORITES FROM MORE TIME AT THE TABLE

THANKSGIVING BAKING FAVORITES FROM MORE TIME AT THE TABLE

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 More Time’s Apple-Pear-Cranberry Pie 

More Time’s Thanksgiving Basics and Organization

More Time’s Thanksgiving Starters, Soups, and Sides

More Time’s Vegan and Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Buffet

More Time’s Cranberry Thanksgiving or How to Get the Kids Involved

Baking at Thanksgiving. It’s a big deal to some people and a late afternoon stop at the grocery for others. Perhaps because often folks are cooks OR they’re bakers and rarely both. The pumpkin pie may have all the memories the turkey never garnered and the homemade yeast rolls and butter just might be why your grandson shows up.  On the other hand, it could be all about the dressing, gravy or even the ham at your house where no one looks twice at dessert. I once brought turkey and dressing to a summer potluck, where a close friend refused to eat a bite. When I asked why, she said, “You didn’t make gravy. I don’t eat dressing without gravy.” She truly had some serious food traditions and it’s not unusual.  Listen to your friends and family talk about Thanksgiving and you’ll see.

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Peach-Blueberry Pie

Peach-Blueberry Pie

As the bittersweet arrival of the last of the northwest blueberries coincides with the happy coming of the first glorious Colorado peaches, the two together feel exactly like a match made in heaven in my kitchen on a beautiful cool morning.  With just a smidge over 5 cups of beginning-to-pucker and wilt Oregon blueberries in the fridge, I had not quite enough for a 9-inch pie. A case of peaches sat wafting their keen aroma from the mudroom, so I followed my nose out there and snagged a couple of not-too-ripe beauties to peel and slice for the bottom of the pie, filling that empty extra inch of space. The buttery sweetness from the berry mixture on top would provide plenty of juicy goodness for the still somewhat tangy peaches.  Making something with peaches that aren’t quite ripe or up-to-snuff?  Add a pinch of ground mace to increase their flavor.

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Pie 101-Cherry (Helen’s Cherry Pie- Constructed, Deconstructed and Reconstructed)

Pie 101-Cherry (Helen’s Cherry Pie- Constructed, Deconstructed and Reconstructed)

 

“Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?  Can she bake a cherry pie, charming Billy?”

She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother….  is poor Billy’s lament.  She can, however, bake a cherry pie quick as a cat can blink an eye!  (Click on above link to hear the song; guitar chords included.)

I was just minding my own business.  I had stuck the hot cherry pie on a rack on an empty shelf in a kitchen cupboard.  A good place to cool pie if you have two golden retrievers. (I made four different pies for Thanksgiving; everyone deserves their favorite once a year.  I’m convinced.  Cherry is my sister Helen’s favorite.   Hence “Helen’s Cherry Pie.”  Also my loved “niece,” Kathy’s.)

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Pie 101 – Alyce’s Step by Step Instructions for Making and Baking Pie (Rhubarb is the Sample Lesson Pie)

Pie 101 – Alyce’s Step by Step Instructions for Making and Baking Pie (Rhubarb is the Sample Lesson Pie)

R for Rhubarb

This post now featured on Rachel Rappaport’s PIE FAIR LADY blog!  
Thanks, Rachel.  Bake pie! 

I don’t know why you want to make pie and searched for Pie 101.  Me-oh-my.  You love pie? (I adore the movie “Michael”)  Someone you love loves pie, maybe?  You want to make beautiful things and don’t paint–right.  You want to bring pie to Thanksgiving dinner:  “Oh, I’ll bring the pie,” would be fun to say. You’d like to celebrate Pi Day in a more meaningful way.    Making pie, or wanting to make or eat pie, is sort of a passion.  It’s not anything like, “I think I’ll scramble eggs and make toast because I’m hungry.”  Or even “Let’s make a pot of vegetable soup; it’s cold outside and sounds good.”   I mean, no one really needs pie.  People, do, however, desire (is not too strong a word) pie and are sort of sometimes heart-starved and/or breathless for it.  Think of the look on your uncle’s (aunt, cousin, boyfriend, co-worker, super) when words like, “coconut cream” or “strawberry-rhubarb” cross their lips.  Or the rush through a potluck meal if a pie sits alone, waiting, down at the end of the counter in the kitchen.    Is it fond memories of  your aunt’s pumpkin from Thanksgiving of 1967 or your best friend’s apple (from her own tree) in 2009?  Is it the crappy diner crust on a short, slim piece of pecan late one night after a restaurant shift when you had to have something sweet and that’s all there was?

If, by chance you’re looking for gluten-free pie dough, please just go to Gluten-Free Girl…a great blog; here’s one post on pie dough there.

I’m just guessing that usually there’s a lot of love goes into pie.  Making it is not an endeavor one embarks on lightly.  Like weeding the flower bed out back or picking up a gallon of milk at the store.  It’s kind of a devoted, warm-fuzzy, all around commitment.  Bake with a band on sort of thing.  (Being both a cook and musician gives me license for such sentences.)

Whatever reason brings  you to pie, I hope this little (not really so little) tutorial will be of help.  It contains the story of my own pie-making, a photo-essay on making the rhubarb pie (including crust), and the recipes/basic info you’ll need to make it all happen.  FYI:  This long pie post is truly a work in progress.

No fear.  Pie is near.

How I Came to Pie:

Kathy’s Apple Pie

When I was newly married in the mid-seventies, pie-making was already an art not necessarily pursued by the typical home cook.   Oh, of course there was pie.  But it might have been made with a frozen crust from the grocery store or a tube of pie dough you bought prepared but not yet rolled out.  It could have come from any one of a bunch of great bakeries; there are fewer of those now.  Many pies appeared with graham cracker crusts and then you could even buy those pre-made.  To put a point on it, I didn’t know another 20 year old who was baking pies.

In those days, it was the cool thing to take the easy way out with food.  Women were leaving the kitchen and going to work.  They didn’t want to be  tied down to cooking or baking all day and reveled in ready-made products or short-cut techniques.   Think cake and pudding mixes and frozen vegetables, Stouffers’ frozen meals.  Maybe we were the Jetsons’ or the Space Program Generation and somehow perhaps thought cooking food was about to be passe; it would soon appear magically behind Door #3.

Crostatas

But I knew people who baked pie.  My mom, for instance (though she might pull out a frozen crust once in a while herself late in life) and Dave’s Aunt Kathryn–the Morgan pie-baker.   In college, the wife of our department head (the late, beautiful Cindy Izzo), made pie when we ended up there one snowed-out Thanksgiving when we couldn’t get home.   I think each family sort of depended on one person to be in charge of pie.  Often it was someone who was simply willing.  I also had a couple of friends (older than me) who baked beautiful pies.  I really wanted to be one of  those people and so I began.  “Oh!  You make pie?”  Learning to bake  pies goes slowly as most cooks don’t make them often.  We wait for holidays and then wonder why our pies are lopsided.  If you want to bake pie, bake one more often than at holiday time.

 

Coffee Cup Pie for One
Pumpkin Pie

My own early attempts didn’t look too bad or sad (or maybe they did), but were under baked. (Lesson One:  Bake pies in a clear glass pie plate so you can see that the bottom crust is done.)   To say that my husband loves pie is an understatement and I kept trying.  I learned to throw a piece of aluminum foil on top if it browned too much or to put a collar of aluminum foil around the pie from the beginning.  Finally, I began pies at a high temperature and lowered them to a moderate one after 15 minutes so that the pie got done but didn’t burn.  I learned to underbake pumpkin pie just a teense so that it barely shivered when moved and only a few moist crumbs stuck to the knife when I tested it.  Custard should be creamy, not jelloey or like rubber.  I discovered fruit pies maybe needed a few more minutes so that the filling really was making a run for it through the slits in the top crust and the crust had some nice brown to it here and there.  No soft pallid pies for me.

Over the nearly forty years of pie baking, I’ve made everything from banana cream to sweet potato to apple crostatas to pear tarts to quiches.  I’ve made big pies and little pies and even coffee cup pies.  Most of the pies pictured are on the blog; you can search them if you’re interested; most have links.

 
Sour Cream Crumble Apple Pie

“Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?  Can she bake a cherry pie, charming Billy?”
Or What to do with a pie that falls off a shelf, crashes and burns…  Make Cherry Pie Parfait, of course!
Very fast Kiwi Tart .  Crust is made by pouring hot pastry cream on an ultra thin gingersnap cookie !
Turkey Pot Pie from Thanksgiving Leftovers
Strawberry-Hazelnut Shortbread Tart
Derby Pie
Helen’s Cherry Pie (intact)
Pie Crust Cookies (Trimmed-extra- pie dough twisted, fried, and rolled in cinnamon sugar)

 

Betty White’s Mexican Quiche

 These days I am often working on dishes, meals, or recipes for foods that are in season or are being featured at farmer’s market.  The past couple of weeks, rhubarb’s been popping up, and last year I wrote up the recipe for farmer’s market rhubarb pie  for Dinner Place and for Examiner.com.   Not only that, but I had then finally photographed (and my photos are not all that great) the process for making pie dough.    This year, a fellow blogger wrote to me, “I wish I could make crust like that!”  When I went to this blog, there was no long how-to post on pie-making to send her!  And since this blog is much more the all-purpose cooking and baking blog, I began working on this lengthy post, which I will continue to revise and add to.  But, whatever– I just want you to begin baking pies.  I’ve taught any number of people to make a pie crust (and how to put the whole thing together) right in all of my tiny kitchens where I sometimes nearly had to roll pie dough up the wall.  The filling is easier for most people.  Try my methods a few times; don’t give up after once or twice and become one of those who whine, “I just can’t make pie crust.”

If someone asks, I promise I’ll swear I never said this…but if you just can’t make pie dough (and I don’t think there’s anyone who can’t), please buy a refrigerated pie crust –not frozen–at the supermarket or ask a friend to make you a few for a birthday gift each year.  Making pie, however you do it, is really a worthwhile experience.  Even for people like me, who prefer piece of incredible chocolate cake.  There, I said it.

We have a lot of chances to make pie.  Take one!

Whatever you bake, have a light heart about it and your pastry will take it’s cue from you.  Be gentle with it (and yourself)  and get it to do what you want as quickly as possible–the goal is to get it into the oven as cold as possible.  Your warm hands, while perfect for many things, are not its friend.  Keep some fun music on (remember “cook with a band on?”)  and keep everyone else out of the kitchen so you can concentrate.  If you  have a veteran pie-baker friend or partner in the house, tell them exactly what kind of help you need if you haven’t asked them to be your wing man.

But not to worry how things look or turn out…  Nothing is perfect, particularly not pie.  (It’ll get eaten no matter.  Ice cream, or better yet whipped cream, hides a plethora of sins.)  Think of the Amish quilters who intentionally sew one imperfect patch into every quilt because only God is perfect.  Keep baking and your pie-making will improve much like your piano playing, typing, hammering a nail, or baby-handling did as you went along.  I include pictures of all sorts of imperfect pies and crusts; it’s just how it rolls.   Happy Pie!

Time to get your pie on…

rhubarb pie…step by step photos  (scroll down for recipes)

  This dough is made in a Cuisinart food processor.
  See recipes below for information on making by hand.

   Hint #1   Start in the morning or very early afternoon when you have a lot of time; it takes time to make/ bake pie and it takes even more time to cool. Hot pie is a mess.  Also, in the summer, when great fruit is plentiful, it’s hot.  Dame, get up and bake your pies early in the morning.  Like 5a.m. mid-summer.) 

We begin here:  Flour, salt, sugar-if using-, and butter mixed in the food processor work bowl –fitted with steel blade– and pulsed until pea-sized and smaller and larger pieces exist in the mixture.  This is called “cutting in the butter.”  It keeps the crust crispy to have pieces of fat in the dough.

 

Iced water added. Processed until just coming together or just starting to come together.  Don’t overwork the dough.  When you pinch a bit between your thumb and index finger, it should stay together.

 

Meantime, or ahead,  chop the rhubarb into about 1/2″ pieces, place in a bowl and stir together with sugar, flour, and salt.  Set aside.

Hint #2  Make mostly in season, but also a little out of season pie.  Rhubarb in the spring, blueberries in early summer, apple in the fall…Buy extra fruit when it’s beautiful and cheap; freeze enough for a couple of  pies you’ll enjoy at the holidays or mid-winter.  Picture a February evening and a hot blueberry pie cooling on the counter.

Take dough out of bowl, divide in half.  Put half in frig and press other half between 2 sheets of waxed paper.  Some people use plastic wrap.  You can also chill it all for an hour (or up to two days) and pull it out later.  Many people like chilled dough.  Freezing is another option.  (See below for rolling dough using flour on the board/counter.)

 

Roll out from center, going around the dough like the hands on a clock, lifting dough and paper occasionally, until more than big enough for pie plate. Put plate upside down on crust to measure.  Extra pie dough is no problem; make pie dough cookies or a baby pie.

 

Flip dough over and roll quickly-once!-with rolling pin to release dough from waxed paper.

 

Gently peel that side’s paper off.

 

Turn dough over onto pie plate and carefully pull the other sheet of paper off.

 

Gently press dough down into pie plate as evenly as possible so no air pockets exis  Edges should hang over.

 

Alternate method:  Dust counter, dough and pin well with flour and roll your dough out from the center.  Lift and move the circle of dough up from the floured board several times while rolling in order to prevent the dough sticking to the board.  You may have to sprinkle a bit more flour on the board, dough or pin each time you move the dough.

 

Into the pan, trim with a small sharp knife or kitchen scissors so that you have 1″ of dough beyond the edge of the pie plate.   Crimp (pinch) edges quickly; you don’t want to heat the dough with your fingers any more than you must.

 

Fill with rhubarb mixture and dot with butter.  The butter and the flour in the rhubarb will create the thickener.  Now for the top crust…

Hint #3:  Don’t skimp on the amount of fruit or filling for your pie.   Fruit particularly will cook down and, once baked/cooled, the finished pie won’t be nearly as tall as when you first put it together.  If you’re going to go to all the trouble of baking pie, fill that baby up.  (Custard pies will rise  while baking and then settle back down a bit when cooled. For custard pies only: place your unfilled pie crust in the pie plate on a baking sheet that is already in the oven with the oven rack just barely pulled out; fill it there to avoid spilling and then gently push the rack into the oven and close the oven door.)

Take that top or second piece of rolled-out dough and loosely roll it around your rolling pin.   
Alternate method:
Fold dough carefully and gently first in half and then into quarters.

 

Lift it on to  the pie, being careful of placement so you don’t have to do it twice. If you’ve folded the crust, place it on the lower left quarter of the pie with the corner right at the center of the filling so that you can gently unfold it to cover all of the filling.  It needn’t be perfectly round!

 

There, it’s on and covered and just needs trimming.

 

Trim evenly with sharp knife or scissors. (I like to make pie crust cookies out of extra dough.)

 

Seal or crimp edges quickly; don’t over work dough.
You can use your index finger or thumb to press down into the edge every 1/3″ or so or use the tines of a fork pressed down all around the edge of the crust.  If you don’t seal the pie, filling may run out toward the end of baking.
Below:  Don’t forget to make slits in the top of the pie so the heat can escape.  I’m a bit artistic-ha!- and put quite a few.

 

Place on a rimmed baking sheet (not your favorite cookie sheet) in case of boil overs.

 

It’s done when it’s browned and bubbling through slits. Glass pie plates help you see if it’s done.

 

So close and yet so far away.  This must cool nearly completely or you’ll cut it and have a sea of filling all over.

 

I love pie.  A little ice cream wouldn’t hurt.  See how the filling stays put in the pie because it cooled completely before I cut it?

Hint #4  The amount of sugar you need for your pie is not static.*  If your fruit is very ripe and sweet, you’ll need less.  I like a sweet-tart rhubarb pie; some recipes call for 2 cups of sugar.  Mine has 3/4 cup and even less if you choose a sweetened pie dough like Dorie Greenspan’s “Good for Anything” dough.


Here’s the rhubarb at the St. Paul Farmer’s Market.  Trim and dispose of leaves carefully; they’re full of oxalic acid and are poisonous.

rhubarb pie

Coming home in my basket

alyce’s recipe

  • 2- 9″ pie crusts, purchased or homemade *
  • 5 cups rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 1/2″ pieces (leaves are toxic)
  • 3/4 c white sugar  If you sweeten your crust, use 1/2 cup sugar.
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Dash salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into small dice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together rhubarb, sugar, flour, and salt.
  3. Place one pie crust in a 9″ pie pan (preferably glass).
  4. Gently spoon rhubarb mixture into crust.
  5. Dot rhubarb with butter evenly.
  6. Place second crust on top.  Trim edges evenly around the pie pan. Crimp, pinch, or press down with fork tines the edges of the crust to seal the pie.  (If you have a lot of leftover crust, twist each small piece, fry it up in hot canola oil and roll in cinnamon sugar.  Eat pie crust cookies while warm.)
  7. With a sharp, thin knife, cut vents into the top crust to allow steam to escape from filling.  You can make a favorite design (smiley face, your daughter’s first initial, etc.) or just make 4-6 arrows or wide “v”s spaced evenly.  If you’d like, you can gild the lily by sprinkling the top crust with a dusting of white sugar or by brushing on a whisked together mixture of an egg yolk and a tablespoon of heavy cream or milk.
  8. Bake pie on a rimmed baking sheet  at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 and cook another 45 minutes or so until crust is golden and rhubarb is bubbling through the slits.  If crust is browning too quickly, cover lightly with a sheet of aluminum foil or cut 4″ wide pieces of foil and wrap them around the edges of the pie.  You’ll need 2-3 pieces.
  9. Cool completely on rack before cutting.  (or the filling will run all over)
  10. A fruit pie can remain stored and covered well at room temperature for a day or two.  If not using within two days, refrigerate.  If you must freeze, I recommend freezing your rhubarb, not the pie.  See below.  (In a hot, humid climate? Cool completely, wrap, and refrigerate from the get-go.)

{printable recipe for rhubarb pie}

Pie Dough…about it:

Pie Dough Recipes:

I often use an old recipe (below) from the small manual that came with my first Cuisinart in the early ’80s maybe.  It’s a pâte brisée (paht bree-say) dough, which is typically for a French tart (add a little sugar) or quiche.  I particularly like it for custard pies (including pumpkin pie), pies made with a blind crust (i.e. a cream pie that’s filled after the crust is baked), or quiches.  This is a “short” crust (more crumbly than flaky–as in “shortbread”) and quite dense, which helps to keep the crust crisp versus soggy within a day or so.  It is also an all-butter crust in a baking age where vegetable shortening is sometimes frowned upon as a processed and somewhat unhealthy ingredient.  

Shortening?  Lard??  How about no crust at all?

I will say this about shortening:  I do not  pretend to know the ins and outs of the health side of shortening (my can now says “no trans fats”), though it has come to replace lard in baking for many people. (Though not all.)  I do know two things about shortening:  it makes a flaky crust and it makes a crust that holds up well to a fruit pie.  We also do not eat many pies.  It’s not as if you’ll consume shortening, or even lard, daily.    You can make all shortening (Crisco, for example) crust or you can make a part butter, part shortening crust as does Dorie Greenspan (“Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough”), who has written several baking books, as well as a first class blog.  If you do use shortening (it’s cheaper and some people really like it better or simply must avoid dairy), make sure you chill it thoroughly or even stick it in the freezer for a while. Cold fat is the key, though baking pies in the middle of life (nursing babies, re-writing a proposal, doing the wash) can leave you baking a pie with room-temperature dough. (It bakes.  It eats. And there’s usually not time enough to begin again.  Just go on.)

I have never baked a pie with lard (rendered pork fat), so I don’t have much to say about it.  I can say that there are amongst us veteran pie-bakers (one of my dearest friends) who would  not use anything else for their flaky crust. In the course of cooking history, I just guess bakers have used fats from many sources–usually the most easily (closest and/or cheapest source) available.  Witness my mom who kept bacon grease in a tightly closed tin and used it to cook all kinds of things, particularly eggs.  (Never for pie that I remember–though it might not be bad in a pot pie.)  Oddly enough, I remember that tin sitting on the counter and not in the refrigerator.  Butter has always been a choice and expensive ingredient, especially when you had to milk the cow, allow the cream to separate, and make the butter yourself.  Pies use a lot of fat, which adds considerably to the cost of the finished product.  Hence a history of using less-expensive fat.

If you cannot eat all the fat involved in a pie crust, many pies can be made with just one crust, which will also cut a lot of calories,  or no crust at all.  Quiche, too, can often be made with no crust.  Grease pans well for crustless pies. 

Here’s a little pie (pumpkin) I bake in individual ramekins with no crust at all.  It can be made in the oven or microwave (1 minute)  It’s actually just custard, right?  You can really do a whole pumpkin pie in a 9″ pie pan without crust.  This one has a dollop of creme fraiche on top, as well as an extra sprinkle of Penzey’s Vietnamese cinnamon.

Pie storage:  Invite friends and eat it up! Pie is best the day it’s made. 

Any pie made with a filling including eggs and  milk must be stored in the refrigerator if not consumed on the day it’s eaten.  Do not pay attention to pumpkin pies that sit for a week on the shelf at Sam’s.  If your pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving is made on Wednesday night, store it in the garage where it’s cold-if you live “up north”  or refrigerate it. Take it out a couple of hours before to dinner so that you eat it at room temperature, which is how you want to consume custard pies.   If you make it early Thanksgiving morning (as do I–custard pies are best the day they’re made), it’s fine on the table until Thursday night.  When you eat it for breakfast Friday morning, it had better be cold.

A fruit pie (made with a butter or a shortening crust) can sit out covered on the counter for a day or two with no harm and is, in fact, tastier than if you chill it.  It’s not something you want to refrigerate; think of refrigerated bread.   However,  use your own good sense…if it’s in the nineties and you want to keep that fruit pie three or four days, refrigerate it, too, or you’ll have moldy pie. 

About sizes of pies and pie plates:

Just about any pie can be made in any size pie plate or pie pan, as some bakers say.  Typically pies are 8″, 9″, or 10″ in diameter; tarts are about 9″.  There are are also 4″ individual pies and 3″ -or smaller- – individual tart pans.   But the standard size these days is 9″.  In fact, it’s hard to find recipes that detail pie recipes for different size pies, but that information is still available in old cookbooks and might be out there on the net.  It’s just as difficult to find something like an 8″ pie plate, but you can still find them in pie shops, antique shops, and places like Goodwill or the Arc.  It’s well worth the time to hunt out several sizes of pie plates because you might not always have enough ingredients for two 10″ pies, for example, but you might have enough for one 10″ and one 8″ or one baby pie. You can also pull out a ramekin or an oven-safe small bowl (or other oven-safe container) and make your pie.

Pâte Brisée— Made in a Cuisinart — This is the dough I use most often.
                                                        for each 10″ pie shell 

1 1/3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup or 1/4#  unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 8 pieces (1 stick) 
1/4 cup ice water (measure 1/4 cup water into a 1 cup measuring cup half full of ice)

Place flour and salt in the work bowl of the food processor fitted with steel blade.  Pulse a couple of times to distribute salt.  Add cold butter and pulse briefly several times until butter is worked into flour in several different sizes (1/4″ – 1/2″).  With machine running, slowly pour water through feed tube until dough begins to come together.  Stop machine and carefully remove dough from work bowl.  Working quickly to avoid melting the butter within the dough, form into a ball and then flatten into a disc.  Roll out and fill immediately (see above) or chill, well-wrapped,  1 hour or up to two days ahead.

You can also make this dough up to two months ahead and store it in the freezer.  If you store it rolled out in the pie plate (Pyrex or metal pans are freezer safe.), you can just make your pie and bake it with a frozen crust. 

If you do not have a Cuisinart, make this pie with a pastry cutter (here’s another video) or two knives.   Recipe courtesy CUISINART.

Several other pie dough recipes can be found here.

Smitten Kitchen’s take on Cook’s Illustrated fool-proof crust with vodka here. 

Baking Books for Pie:

I  typically recommend general baking books for pie like out-of-print (but still available) The Fanny Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham or Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan,  though there are certainly entire tomes donated to pies and pastries.  Unless you’ve mastered basic techniques and are ready to move on, these books should provide plenty of recipes.   I, for years, made pie from my Betty Crocker Cookbook  (early ’70s) and found it really useful, particularly when I wanted to bake pies of different sizes.

If you’d like a book devoted to pies and tarts, try The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum , Pie and Tart from Williams-Sonoma, or Martha Stewart’s  Pies and Tarts, the 2011 version.  An oldie, but goodie, is Bernard Clayton, Jr.’s The Complete Book of Pastry Sweet and Savory, which is out of print, but still available.  My copy, purchased in l985, has this inscription:

l985! Bought myself!  Mostly to learn Danish technique.

This book contains everything from pie to quiche/tarts to puff pastry to pizza to Danish.

One specialized book I’m quite fond of is Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan.  There are super desserts from Parisian patisseries and the Whole Lemon Tart is tops and fairly simple.  It’s also a, “Paris, Take Me Away” book if you’re unable to make the trip and taste the pastries yourself.  Ah, Paris!   (Sigh.)  New in the lineup for pie books is Pie it Forward by Gesine Bullock-Prado (just published in April of 2012), and while I haven’t read it, it looks like a book that includes lots of excellent pie information – including a recipe for pizza pie.

Pie Blogs

There are a lot of baking blogs, but I haven’t seen one that’s just about making pies until now.  Try Rachel Rappaport’s Pie Fair Lady; she features pie from all kinds of people…including me!   When I first wrote this post, there weren’t any blogs devoted solely to pie-baking. There were blogs ABOUT PIE–as in finding it, buying it, where are you getting any…..:  The baking blogs at the top of the heap of flour can be found here. 

I also like Rose Levy Beranbaum’s blog, though it deals with lots of baking info, not just pie; read it here.

*My Nastiest True Pie Story
 
My much-loved father-in-law loves lemon pie (especially lemon meringue) and my much-loved mother-in-law always tried to make it for him–just like his mother did.  She’d try and try and it’d never come out.  You know this kind of story, right?  One time, she asked Grandma Morgan, “What’s your lemon filling recipe?”  The answer was lemon pudding mix.  Ok, so that’d bake; that was fine.  She did that.  All’s well, huh?  But, no; it wasn’t.  The pie was always too sweet, as was any lemon meringue pie my my mother-in-law came up against. “Too sweet.”  “Too sweet.”  “Too sweet.”  And so on.  For years and years.  Ye gods and little fishes.

One year, I think it was 1999, I just heard enough of “Too sweet.”  My in-laws came to visit and I baked the most beautiful lemon meringue pie that ever was baked.  I’m not kidding; it was stunning.  It could have won awards.  (I’m not a contest person, though–too much fear of failure, I think!)  But there was one thing about this pie:  there was barely any sugar at all in it.  I mean, like almost none.  This is something you maybe could get away with if you had terribly sweet fruit or something, but not with LEMON.  My sweet sister-in-law took the first great big bite and froze with it in her mouth.  Her eyes came up to mine and I put my finger in front of my mouth, “Shh.”  She ate no more.  But my mother-in-law started in on hers and ate it all without a word.  Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I said, “How was that pie?  Not too sweet?”  The answer was (and I’m honest here), “No, it was great!”  Needless to say, no one but her ate that pie.  She had it all to herself.

I can’t believe I did that, but I did.  You can ask Dave.

So tell me your pie stories?


Sing a new song as you bake with a-band-on,
Alyce

All photographs copyright Alyce Morgan.  Please ask for permission before using.

Parts of this post were originally posted on my blog Dinner Place (Cooking for One) 6-2-11.
This post last updated 11-6-12.
Pie 101 —  Apple Pie              (Kathy’s Apple Pie)

Pie 101 — Apple Pie (Kathy’s Apple Pie)

Kathy’s pie

Why my Pie 101 — Apple Pie is called “Kathy’s Apple Pie”

My hairdresser works about a half-a-block from my house.  Her name is Kathy.  I chose her because… she works about a half-a-block from my house.  When we moved here, I cried at leaving Jen, my hairdresser of 13 years in Colorado.  So I didn’t even look for anyone special; I just chose the closest “girl” and tried her.  I mean, you’ve seen my hair.  What could go wrong?  And, if it did, how much time would it take to grow a bit?  Luckily, everything has worked out fine.  My hair’s just right.
When Kathy did it the first time, I sent Jen a pic on my cell phone.  “She’s got the color spot-on, but it’s a wee bit short,” said Jen.

My hair’s been the same for…let’s say for a while.  (With Britta last March.)

Outside Kathy’s shop is a sign that says, “Curl Up and Dye.”  Underneath:  “For Hair.”

Kathy and I hit it off right away.  We’re both “of an age,” though she still has a couple of kids running around sometimes at home.   She also has lots of dogs–more than I do.   There’s tons of great stuff about her, but I like her because you can just talk about anything when you’re in her chair:  houses, food, kids, husbands, church, jobs, horses, dogs, clothes, shopping, shoes, ETC.   She’s given me the info on great places to find and do all kinds of things, but mostly helped solidify my forever dedication to the lovely institution of the St. Paul Farmer’s Market where her family has a bagel breakfast sandwich and coffee stall.  (Dave and I frequent that hot spot.)  Sometimes we talk about whether or not it’s worth it for them to start baking their own bagels.  Having watched Dave make bagels (I don’t make them!), I lean toward buying them from the great bagel maker down the street–just like they have been.  Why mess with a good thing if you’re still making a tidy profit?

One time, in a whimsical voice, Kathy said, “Ah, gee.  In fall, I really miss apple pie.  My Mom always made great apple pie.”  She was sad.  I don’t think Kathy bakes apple pies, but I think she was missing her mom as much as anything.  So I figured next time I went to get my hair cut, I’d bring her a pie.  I make a lot of pies, though I rarely eat them.  In fact, pie makes people so happy that I don’t know why I don’t eat them. (Naturally, I eat the great coconut cream pie in the cafe on the square in Santa Fe… or my own cherry pie from our Colorado cherries.  I’m more of a chocolate woman overall.)

Late this morning, I started Kathy’s pie.  I had no idea how her mother made pie, but my pie wouldn’t be like Kathy’s mom’s no matter what, so I just baked the pie.  Pretty much like I always do, but with a little bit of a twist all around.  Lots of butter, great Honeycrisp apples, Penzey’s cinnamon right on top of the unbaked bottom crust.  Cream brushed top crust.   A recipe I’ll share.  You might like it for Thanksgiving.  If you make it now and don’t bake it, you can wrap it tightly in foil, freeze it, and bake it frozen (on a foiled sheet pan) early Thanksgiving morning.  It’ll take longer to get done, but done ahead is done ahead.

Kathy’s Apple Pie  makes 1 9″ pie; serves 6-8

2 9-10″ pie crusts (recipe below)

5-7 medium Honeycrisp apples, cored, peeled, and sliced thinly+
2t fresh lemon juice
3/4 t Chinese cinnamon, divided (some for crust and some for the apples)
1/4 t grated fresh nutmeg
1/8 t salt

3T flour
2/3 – 3/4 c granulated white sugar  plus 2 tsp for bottom crust and top crust (use 2/3 for sweeter
apples and 3/4 for tarter ones like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith)
2T cold butter, diced
1t heavy cream, half and half or milk

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place one pie crust in the 9″ glass pie pan, trim, and crimp (pinch) edges.
3.  Use about 1 tsp of the sugar and mix with 1/8 tsp cinnamon.  Dust the entire bottom crust with the cinnamon-sugar  mixture.
4.  In a large bowl, mix apples and lemon juice.  Add flour,  3/4 cup of sugar, the rest of the cinnamon, the nutmeg and the salt.  Toss gently, but well.  Carefully pour or spoon apple mixture into the crust.
5.  Drop the diced butter evenly over the apple mixture.
6.  Place top crust over the pie and trim so that there’s about an inch overhanging the pie.
7.  Pinch together the crust and either press edge of crust into the pie plate with the tines of a fork or crimp.
8.  Using pastry brush, brush top crust with cream or milk and dust evenly with the last teaspoon of sugar.
9.  Make several small slits (evenly spread) through top crust for venting the filling as it cooks. You can make a design; I made a “K” for Kathy and a few “arrows.”
10.  Bake 15-20 minutes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, and lower oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake another hour or so until pie is golden brown and juices are bubbling out of the slits. *  Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

+Honeycrisp apples, developed at “The U” here in Minnesota, hold their shape well.  Because of that, I slice them thinly.  They won’t get terribly soft and break down.  If you’re using a softer apple, cut them in larger slices.  Also, some folks like the skin left on their apples for pie.  Do as you like.

*If it’s getting too brown, carefully lay a piece of aluminum foil loosely on top of the pie.

Prep note:  I usually prep the apple mixture and put  that aside.  Then I tackle making the crust.  I roll out the bottom crust and place it in the pie pan.  In goes the apple mixture and I set the whole thing aside while I take the second crust out of the frig and roll it.  I next roll the second crust loosely around the rolling pin (or you can carefully fold it in half and then in half again) and gently lay it on top of the buttered apples. Trim, crimp, and it’s ready for the oven.

Here’s the pie before baking.
I had enough for a coffee cup pie for Dave.

Double Pie Crust Recipe — Pâte Brisée*

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup salted butter, cut into 1″ pieces
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup iced water  (Use a 1 cup measuring cup and pour in 1/2 water; add ice and use quickly.)

*In food processor, place flour, butter and salt. (This may also be done with a pastry cutter or two knives.)  Pulsing, cut butter into the flour until there are 1/2″ sizes pieces (and some smaller and some larger) of buttered crumbs.
*With machine running, pour in water slowly.  When the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the machine, stop the machine, and turn dough out onto a well-floured board or counter.
*Gently and quickly pat dough into a ball and divide ball evenly in half.
*Wrap one half and refrigerate it.  Take the other half and press it into a flat disc.  Dust the dough with flour, and, with a floured rolling pin, roll from the center out to the edges moving clockwise around the dough until the dough is about 10″ in diameter.  Move the dough every few rolls of the pin so it doesn’t stick.  You may need to keep putting a bit of flour sprinkled underneath.
*Remove dough from frig and repeat for top crust.

All baked up with somewhere to go.

*The recipe for this dough is from an old CUISINART cookbook–one of those thin, small books that came with my first CUISINART in the early ’80s maybe… This was the first Pâte Brisée I ever used and I’ve been using it ever since. Thanks, Cuisinart!

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the Hood…..

Next Monday, November 21, I direct a pick-up choir at St. Frances Cabrini Church,  1500 Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN,  for an Ecumenical Thanksgiving.  Want to sing?  Show up at 6pm for rehearsal of easy anthem,”Simple Gifts” for worship service that begins at 7pm.  Hope to hear you!

This is up on the blog next–a braised leg of lamb with vegetables.  Perfect alternative Thankgiving.
The start of a neighborhood birthday/wine-tasting dinner….I did the lamb above.  It was potluck.
Friend Mac at the table Friday night.
Long night, eh, buddy?
We have a monthly concert series at Prospect Park–Here’s SHOUT! from Lake Harriet U Methodist
Today’s cardinal + flowering geraniums still living in neighbor’s window boxes!
Floor’s done and I’ve been painting.  The color, appropriate to the season, is “Pumpkin Pie.”
Gorgeous trees still golden ’til just a few days ago.
Last roses of summer….

We haven’t had any really cold weather yet and that’s unusual.  Several days ago, I finally cut the last of the roses and brought them in for a vase.  I rarely cut my flowers, thinking they look best where God placed them.  But when it’s going to be 22 degrees F, I cut them all!

Still blooming the second week of November

A foil packet salmon done in 20 minutes I wrote for Examiner.com.

Dave said, “This is the best salmon I’ve ever tasted.” I couldn’t believe how tender it was.

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust or Get a Pedicurist Who Cooks

Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust or Get a Pedicurist Who Cooks

Having my toes done is one of the guilty pleasures in life.  I guess you might call it getting a pedicure.  I go every month in the summer, sit with my feet soaking, and allow someone to trim and paint my feet.   And I love it.  I do it in the winter, too, but not so often.
There’ve been a few toe-artists over the years, but the latest may be the best.  She’s great at what she does, but also likes to cook.  Double dose of fun for me.

Over Christmas, when my toes always turn bright red (called “I’m Not Really a Waitress” though I was for years of high school and college), she described this gratin that’s baked in a crust.   In fact, she described it so well (after a story about her new pans) that I knew I could go right home and make it.  Being able to describe a dish and its prep that well is a definite talent.
Still, by the time I got around to making it (after Christmas!), I thought I’d see if I could find the recipe online.  Search, hunt.  Well, well.  The recipe came from SOUTHERN LIVING (which I knew), a notoriously fattening publication, but the award-winning food blog, The Bitten Word had blogged it and I got the recipe there. 
Clay Dunn and Zach Patton of The Bitten Word blog (photo-Chris Leaman/CC)
I’ll share it here, but note that it calls for store-bought pie crusts and I like to use my own.  Si place, as my conducting instructor (Angie, Angie)  at University of St. Thomas would say.  It means, “Do as you like.”  I have nothing against store-bought crusts, but can make a crust at home faster than I can drive to the store.   And I do like mine better.
This is a show stopper dish.  Touted as a side for tenderloin or something equally luscious at holiday time, it could also be a brunch dish or a lovely vegetarian lunch with a big crunchy salad.
I’m leaving the pics all in a row for you to see…
While it was quite a process, it wasn’t difficult, and was well worth the effort.
I agree with The Bitten Word that it needs to bake longer than the recipe allows, but then again, I’m at altitude.  I’ve made notes for adjustments.
Just when I know you needed salads or stir fries (frys?)….here’s something gooey, warm, heartening, and fattening.  Sorry.  Check out examiner.com (Colorado Springs Entertainment–Food and Drink) for a healthy Chicken Minestrone–quick version I published yesterday if you need something slimming.  Meantime, this should be shared. Dave and I ate it twice and then I shared it with my book club.  I froze a little bit just to see how it’d hold.  I couldn’t throw it out.
P.S.  As is sometimes the case, the Gruyere was cheaper at Whole Foods than at King Soopers.  (This is true of chicken broth, orange juice, other cheeses and other stuff, too.)

Here goes… I forgot to photograph making the pate brisee (pie crust made with butter) in the food processor.

I made my own version of pate brisee in the food processor.  Carefully possible.  You might want to wait to put the rosemary and cheese on until after you put the first crust in the pan.  See pic below as I roll the crust onto the pin.
Do buy Gruyere.

Grate the cheese in the food processor if you have one.  Save your hands.

This is one way to move a crust from the counter to the pan–wrapped very loosely around the rolling pin.

The edge of this crust is purposely quite thick and will be very crunchy.  There’s no way to get it looking perfect.  (Though is will taste that way!)

Get a kitchen scale.  Don’t guess at weights. Scales at groceries are inconsistent.  3 potatoes can weigh 3/4# or 1.5#, depending on their size.

I slice most potatoes in the food processor.  The mandoline, while perfect for some, is dangerous for me!

Warm the cream and garlic in the microwave.  Buen idea!!!

After removing foil and before second baking.  Looking yum already.

Oh dear.

 

Ready for its closeup.

Once more for grins and giggles.

And now that you’ve gained a pound just looking, you’re done.  Hey, let me know if you make this.  It’s not any harder than scalloped potatoes really…and the presentation is just WOW.  Here’s the recipe:

Total: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Yield: Makes 10 servings
Ingredients

  • 1  (14.1-oz.) package refrigerated piecrusts* (I make my own–recipe at end.)
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground pepper
  • 2  cups  (8 oz.) shredded Gruyère cheese, divided (Grate in food processor)
  • 1 1/2  pounds  Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 1/2  pounds  sweet potatoes
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 2/3  cup  heavy cream
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • Garnish: fresh rosemary sprigs

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 450°. Unroll piecrusts on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle rosemary, pepper, and 1/2 cup cheese over 1 piecrust; top with remaining piecrust. Roll into a 13-inch circle. Press on bottom and up sides of a 9-inch springform pan; fold edges under. Chill.
2. Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice Yukon gold and sweet potatoes. (Slice in food processor.)
3. Layer one-third each of Yukon gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, and salt in prepared crust. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layers twice, pressing layers down slightly to fit.
4. Microwave cream and garlic in a 1-cup microwave-safe measuring cup at HIGH 45 seconds; pour over potato layers in pan. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Cover pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet.
5. Bake at 450° for 1 hour.  (I added 10 minutes here.) Uncover and bake 25 minutes (I added 5 minutes here) or until potatoes are done and crust is richly browned. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully transfer to a serving plate, and remove sides of pan. If desired, carefully slide gratin off bottom of pan using a long knife or narrow spatula. Garnish, if desired.  Note:  At altitude, I still though this could have used an extra 10-15 minutes.


Alyce’s Double Pate Brisee Crust Made in the Food Processor


2 2/3 c unbleached white flour
1/4 t kosher salt
12 T salted butter, quite cold, cut into chunks
1/2 c ice water (you might need a tad more if flour very dry)

In the bowl of your food processor, blend flour and salt.  Add butter and pulse until some pieces are pea-sized, some are smaller and some are bigger.  With machine running, pour water through food tube and process until dough comes together.  Stop machine and remove dough.  Carefully pat together into a ball and divide in half.  Sprinkle counter with some flour* and place one half of the dough on it.  Sprinkle dough and rolling pin liberally with flour.  Quickly (trying to keep it cold here), roll out into 12-13″ circle.   Roll the dough loosely around the pin and place crust in pan.  Sprinkle crust with the cheese and rosemary.  Refrigerate pan.  Roll out other crust, roll it around the pin, and place on top of refrigerated crust.  Press top crust into bottom briefly and turn edges under, trimming crusts if needed.   Pinch edges of crust together quickly; don’t spend long on this.  Continue as above.

* You can also roll dough between  two pieces of waxed paper (some of the crust will escape!) and leave out the floured counter entirely:

First–dampen the counter by wiping it well with a very damp cloth.  This insures the waxed paper will stay put and not slip around.  


-Place half of the dough between two sheets of waxed paper, place “package” on damp counter and, with rolling pin, roll out (start at center, roll to edge, and repeat- Go around the crust clock-wise) until crust is 12-13″…

–  Flip the crust over, quickly give one roll with the pin on that other side, take off that paper, flip again and, as you gently ease the crust into the pan, peel off the second piece of paper. 

–  Throw that paper away, get new paper and repeat procedure. 

Reading, Listening, Viewing, Whatever else and Cooking Currently:

I’m so late.  I just finished THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein for book club.   I love the idea of a dog talking, but wish he’d re-write this in 20 years.  The club, over all, liked the book and, I think, all of them read it! 

I am reading -all at once!- DEVIL’S TRILL by Gerald Elias (2009), THE APPRENTICE  by Jacques Pepin (biography) and MATHILDA SAVITCH by Victor Lodato.  I continue to read Dorie Greenspan‘s newest book, AROUND MY FRENCH TABLE, as well as Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite.     Want cookbooks?  Buy these gems.

I am listening to Hildegard von Bingen…a Christmas gift.

We saw “The King’s Speech” last weekend and were bowled over.  Stunning film.  Go.
This week, I made a point to find out when “Glee” was on and watched an episode.  Interesting, but I couldn’t figure out what all the hoopla was about.   Maybe because I’m a choir director.

I am playing things I haven’t played in months.  Did Advent intervene here?  Maybe.  But I spent an hour playing and singing last night before I read DEVIL’S TRILL.  Singing your heart out is good for you.  Remember singing around a camp fire?  Or on a road trip?

I am not dreaming this week (I’m not a big dreamer), but I did wake up over and over one night thinking about a new job I’ve applied for.  As I glanced out the windows in the dark, I saw (and  I’m near-sighted) a white bird–a big one–fly into a tree in the wildwood between our house and Mike and Sara’s.  I laid there a minute or two, wondering if I’d imagined it and finally got up to put my glasses on and peer out into the gloom of early morning.  No bird then, but there was a falling star!! I haven’t seen one since Emily and I beat it up the road of the campground in Brown County, Indiana to hit the outhouse in the middle of one long night.

I talked to Tina from Prive (lovely, lovely Oregon winery)  today about our upcoming shipment.  While they did make wine, they made a lot less.  Oregon weather just didn’t cooperate for a large yield.  A cool fall meant delaying and delaying picking, though they had pruned hugely in September and knew they might not get much, but they’d get tasty.  And so it happened.  She’s concerned that the wine being shipped now (last year’s) will travel through places with temperatures under freezing, thus not just compromising, but ruining the wine–blowing the corks for the cardboard to drink the fine Pinot.  Tina and her husband Mark have a capital T Teensy vineyard in Oregon Pinot country, where they make boutique Pinot Noir (there’s another name, I’m thinking) from their own on-site grapes and also a couple of other wines  from grapes they borrow and whip into shape from Washington (a Syrah and a red blend).  Between the pristine, reminiscent of France winery and their house is a comfortable patio replete with tables, chairs, plants, flowers and, the piece de resistance, an outdoor pizza oven.  Now I envy Mark his vineyard and Tina her winery, but what I really covet is the pizza oven.  Wineries like Prive sell pretty much on futures only; you must buy ahead (barrel tasting that vintage sometimes) or  you get no wine.  These wines don’t appear in stores or restaurants often, though you might have a better chance in Oregon itself.  So our wine, waiting for shipment in her cellar, is well worth the wait for good shipping weather.   It’ll keep just fine right there.  Our Sunday weather promises a snow storm and -12.

Our friends (and students)  Jacque, Tom, Joel and Miss Ellie moved this last week.  Current cooking includes a big pot of bean soup (I do this a couple of times a winter and make 20 qts or so), a slab of corn bread and hazelnut brownies (with Valhrona chocolate frosting)  I’ll take to them tonight for dinner.  A big, fat bottle of Cotes du Rhone goes with it, along with some sparkling apple cider for the kiddoes.

For dinner, I’m trying a halibut with pico de gallo in the oven in foil.  Yes, I actually do have to stop eating things like Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust.  Let you know how it comes out.

Two-Dog Kitchen–

Was this a self-indulgent blog?  Surely was, but it’s been a while since I did one.  Thanks for putting up with and reading as you
Sing a new song,
Alyce