My good friend, next-door neighbor, and sometime cooking student, Mike (below), knows that if you really don’t want to make pie dough, it’s fine with me that you use purchased refrigerator case pie dough (not frozen). I’d love for you to bake pie however it happens. Hopefully next time –or sometime–you’ll try to make dough; practice definitely improves the product. Take it from me.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Other food bloggers or food writers will get this: Thanksgiving is so over photographed, written about, schmoozed on, slobbered over, that we usually just don’t know what to do with it that hasn’t been done ad nauseum. (How about another post on SIDES??? Another torch-browned turkey on the front of a magazine?)
There’s this odd baker’s conundrum every summer and it’s all about having the best fruit of year on the days when it’s really too hot to bake. Even with air conditioning. I usually get up really early –you’ll know this if you’re a regular reader– and get it done before light comes over the eastern plains horizon.
There seem to be fruit people and chocolate people when we’re talking dessert. You know who you are. I, for instance, am definitely not crazy about apple pie. (I love fresh apples.) I make a mean one and will have one small slice on the day it’s baked. It then belongs to Dave, his Dad, Sean, or whoever else is a pie lover. I love chocolate. Dave’s never loved chocolate, though in the last few years he’s begun to eat some. No longer are all the chocolate things in the house exclusively mine. At formal dinners when chocolate mousse or cake was served, both portions ended up in front of me; for years, he wouldn’t touch them. Then one day, he began eating his chocolate dessert, leaving me in the dust. He occasionally drinks a cup of decaf coffee, too. I don’t know what’s happening to my world. The coffee pot has always been totally mine.
I’ll admit, though, that I’m crazy about rhubarb or pie plant, (which is now in season in Colorado) just as I am about cranberries. The two have a lot in common when it comes to cooking and eating them. Both are so rude, crude, and sour that they’re inedible without some sweetening and cooking. Both are gorgeous, glorious, royalty red. I adore either mixed with other fruits; apples do well as a companion for rhubarb and cranberries.
Last year, I made a much larger Rhubarb-Blueberry Crisp with cinnamon and oatmeal: recipe here.
And, of course, all berries happily couple with each. Both of these red gems freeze perfectly with no great work. Throw the cranberries in a heavy plastic bag and dip into them for a year for muffins. Chop rhubarb in the spring, place just as it is in quart freezer containers, and you can have rhubarb-apple pie for Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas Day brunch. Stewed rhubarb or cranberry sauce can be frozen in small or large amounts; I like the small containers for topping yogurt or ice cream:
To stew rhubarb: Heat 2 cups chopped rhubarb with 1/3 – 1/2 cup granulated sugar and water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, and cook until tender–maybe 15 minutes. Cool and place in two small freezer containers or serve on yogurt or ice cream. Also good on a peanut butter or a cream cheese sandwich. Makes about 4 small servings. Can double or triple, though make sure and taste the liquid as it cooks to see if you’d like more sweetener. (Optional: 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon for each 2 cups rhubarb.) You can also make rhubarb sauce. Just continue to cook until the rhubarb is mushy and mash with a potato masher.
Since Colorado springs are long and complicated–often punctuated by big snow or ice storms–our spring crops come later than in the rest of the country; rhubarb and other true spring happinesses are only now showing up. Asparagus is at the market now late in May, and gorgeous birds, like this Western Tanager in my side yard, are now making nests or filling up before flying on…
If you’re still into spring or just have some rhubarb (I notice the newest food magazines are all summery-grilling issues), enjoy a little crisp. There might not exist a faster baked dessert for your inner pie-lover:
RHUBARB-RASPBERRY ALMOND CRISP
While vegetable gardening isn’t exactly possible up here on the mesa with our herd of daily deer, there are places in which things do grow. My Colorado rhubarb plant died while we lived in Saint Paul, so this crisp is made from rhubarb bought at the store. The cashier says, “Is this chard?” I’ll plant a new patch this fall.
- 4 cups trimmed rhubarb cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 1/4 cups raspberries (about 6 ounces)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3/4 cup each: all-purpose unbleached white flour, brown sugar, and granulated white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup finely chopped toasted almonds
- 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) butter
- Ice cream or whipped cream for serving, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place rack in the center of the oven.
To an ungreased 2-quart, oblong baking dish, add the rhubarb, raspberries, salt, and almond extract; toss. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the flours, sugars, cinnamon, and almonds. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until well combined — big crumbs — using a pastry cutter, your fingers, two knives, or pulsing slowly in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pour out the flour mixture on top of the rhubarb and raspberry mixture, spreading evenly.
Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 40-50 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired. Store totally cooled leftovers tightly wrapped on the counter for 2 days and then in the fridge for another 2 days. (Basic fruit desserts without cream or eggs needn’t be refrigerated. They are best warm or at room temperature.)
Truth in Recipes: The basic idea and proportions for my crisp came from an old ’70’s BETTY CROCKER cookbook, which appears periodically as a much-loved guest in my blog. I hope you’ve just such a good old dependable cookbook in your kitchen arsenal. I’ve jacked the basic crisp up with the berries, the almonds and almond extract, and changed both the kind of sugar and amount called for. Perhaps the recipe is nearly mine by now, but I’m happy to share credit with Betty any day.
Just a no reason shot of “the babies,” Tucker and Rosie, whom we often call “Miss Bo-Bo,” as she’s just a tad nutty about running from window to window announcing every person, dog, cat, bird, and bunny that just might be visiting our yard while I bake or nurse a bad cold. I live with a pocketful of kibble trying to persuade her to act otherwise. Exhale.
Sing a new song; sweeten up a little rhubarb today,
EASY FRENCH 3-COURSE MEAL FOR VALENTINE’S DAY AT HOME: 2-HOUR COOKING CLASS @ SHOUSE APPLIANCE THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5: 5-7PM. INTRODUCTORY OFFER 2 FOR 1. $50.00 for two students–includes food, recipes and ideas for wine pairing. Email me or leave me a message. Can’t wait to cook with you! Ok, now on to the pie…
I make this apple pie for special people. Special times. I make it when I have a little extra time to think and bake. It’s not simple. I can never remember exactly how to make it. I have two recipes and I never use either one. I use a combination of the two with my own little caveats including a crust I’ve come up with over the years. I think I might have actually documented it now. Make it and let me know. Continue reading
|Turkey Pot Pie|
You might have lived when pot pies were a regular feature of your mom’s menus. Maybe you had them instead of TV Dinners. I have a sketchy memory of frozen pies from the grocery @10 for $1. This undoubtedly dates me in an unkind way. I did not have a mother who refused to cook; she cooked a lot. That didn’t mean we never had a frozen pot pie. I remember liking them, though I maybe haven’t tasted one in fifty years.
If you go out to eat at any number of restaurants these days, you’ll find homemade pot pies are on lots of menus and people order them over and over. Definitely comfort food. Certainly fattening. But oh so filling and often luscious. They’re full of all kinds of things–poultry, vegetables, roast beef, sea food, etc.
Before Thanksgiving, I set out to make the best turkey pot pie (using leftovers) I could. No more expensive restaurant versions and certainly no more frozen pies. I invited a group of people for a turkey and roasted root vegetable dinner and then had my way with what was left. I discovered it was a. simple and b. better than the 10 for $1 ones from Garofalo’s on Crawford Avenue. I served it up with a side of lemoned broccolini and a scoop of my red hot cranberry sauce, as well as a handsome glass of Oregon Chardonnay or maybe a French Côtes du Rhône–a lovely, medium-bodied and inexpensive wine that flatters oven-roasted vegetables, as well as pork or poultry. (And lots else)
Dave and I both liked the pie better than the meal from which it came. Go figure.
Feel free to take this filling and top it with biscuits–even Bisquick biscuits– in a 2 qt greased rectangular glass casserole dish. (I made chicken pot pie often for my kids growing up…usually with biscuit topping.) Or buy the Pillsbury pie dough from the refrigerator section. But do make it. You’ll be glad you did. I promise. *If you’d like to make my crust, use the recipe I made for Kathy’s Apple Pie; that’s a good all-purpose crust.
Alyce’s Turkey Pot Pie
There are three parts to this recipe: 1. Crust 2. Filling 3. Sauce
2 9″ pie crusts* (Plus 1T melted butter -or 1 egg white beaten with a bit of water- brushed on top crust before baking.) Made or bought.
1 Tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery with leaves, diced
4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon each fresh thyme and tarragon (or 1/2 t each dried)
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh sage (or 1/4 t dried, powdered sage)
2 cups chopped roasted root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, potatoes, winter squash, etc)
2 c chopped cooked turkey, white or dark meat
Sauce: (Basically a velouté with added cream or milk)
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon each ground sea salt and ground white pepper
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup (8 ounces) chicken stock
1 cup milk, cream or half and half
1. If you have made or bought pie crusts, put one in the pie pan (trim and pinch) and place the other between two sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate the pan and the wrapped dough while you make the filling and the sauce.
2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat and add onion, celery, and mushrooms. Cook until vegetables are softened, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic during last minute of cooking and stir in herbs.
3. Take out pie pan with bottom crust and spoon onion mixture evenly over the bottom of the dough. Top with chopped vegetables and turkey.
|Spoon onion mixture into pie pan.|
|Top with roasted vegetables and turkey. Pour on sauce.|
|Add the top crust and brush with butter or egg whites. Make slits for steam.|
4. Make sauce (see below) and pour over the turkey and vegetable mixture. The turkey and vegetables should be just about covered. If not, drizzle in just a little more chicken stock, milk, or cream.
5. Take the top crust out of the refrigerator and place on top of the filled pie. Trim edges and pinch together edges of the two crusts.
6. Brush entire top crust with butter or an eggwhite beaten with a bit of water. Make several slits in the top crust (for steam to escape) and bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake until browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
7. Place pie on rack and cool 15 minutes or so. Slice and serve hot with broccolini (squeeze lemon on top) and cranberry sauce.
Making the sauce: In a 2qt saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add salt, pepper, and flour. Stir for 2-3 minutes for flour to cook a little bit and slowly whisk in chicken stock and milk or cream. Simmer, stirring often, until just barely thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings. A quick sprinkle of nutmeg is a possible addition, as is a drop or two of hot sauce.
Two-Dog Kitchen or Around the ‘Hood
A few really random pics from our Thanksgiving Trip to Illinois
|Turkey Soup… of course…Yesterday!
Read my recipe for the above soup on examiner.com
|Visiting with sister and niece on way home.|
|Grandpa and Grandma’s Dining Room|
|Turkey ready for its sauna. 4 cups turkey stock with lots of veggies at bottom of roaster makes for great gravy.|
|Dave’s Tomatoes with Smoked Oysters, Capers, and Horseradish|
|Making Turkey stock. Yes, use the giblets and the neck., though our turkey had NO NECK!|
|Pumpkin Bread with Candied Ginger and Pecan Topping|
|Cauliflower Gratinee from SILVER PALATE|
|Making a wine cork wreath in the garage.|
|Needs a bow.|
|Grandpa–a last mow of the yard.|
|Me–making homemade rolls.|
|Leftover pumpkin pie filling–in the microwave for a quick dessert.|