Strawberry-Lemonade Meringue Pie

INGREDIENTS:
makes one 9″ pie

for pastry:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 6 Tbspn ice water

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 230 degrees C.
  2. In a food processor, combine flour and salt. Cut in the butter in ~Tbspn-sized chunks.
  3. Process the flour, salt, and butter for a few pulses.
  4. Slowly add in water, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing between each addition.
  5. Process just until water is integrated and the mixture is the texture of tiny pebbles. When you press the mixture between your fingers, it should form a dough.
  6. Dump the dough onto a piece of parchment paper or a lightly floured board and form into a ball. If the dough has warmed up too much during this process, freeze for ten to fifteen minutes before continuing.
  7. Roll out the pastry dough and place into pie plate. Prick the bottom of the pie several times with a fork. Return to the freezer for ten to fifteen minutes if the dough has warmed up too much in the rolling process.
  8. Before baking, line the inside of the pie crust with a piece of parchment paper and weigh down with pie weights (or dry beans, which is what I use).
  9. Bake in the oven for ~15-17 minutes, until the outside rim of the crust begins to turn a golden brown. Carefully remove the pie weights and parchment paper, lower the oven temperature to 190 degrees C, and continue to bake for 5-7 minutes more, until the pie crust has turned golden brown and is no longer shiny. Remove from the oven and let cool.

for strawberry-lemonade curd filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbspn cornstarch
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbspn butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 Tbspn freshly grated lemon zest

METHOD:

  1. In a food processor or blender, puree the strawberries until smooth.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually blend in the strawberry puree and lemon juice.
  3. Add the egg yolks and butter, blending until smooth.
  4. Gradually add in the boiling water, stirring constantly.
  5. Place the saucepan on medium high heat and bring to a full boil, stirring gently with a spatula and scraping the bottom (to prevent burning). Once the mixture begins to thicken, reduce the heat and simmer for one minute.
  6. Remove the curd from heat and mix in the lemon zest. Let cool.

for lemon curd filling:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbspn cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tbspn freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 Tbspn butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 Tbspn freshly grated lemon zest

METHOD:

  1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually blend in the lemon juice.
  2. Add the egg yolk and butter, blending until smooth.
  3. Gradually add the boiling water, stirring constantly.
  4. Place the saucepan on medium high heat and bring to a full boil, stirring gently with a spatula and scraping the bottom (to prevent burning). Once the mixture begins to thicken, reduce the heat and simmer for one minute.
  5. Remove the curd from heat and mix in the lemon zest. Let cool.

for meringue and assembly:

  • 7-8 egg whites
  • 1/2 tspn cream of tartar
  • 8 Tbspn granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tspn vanilla extract

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 165 degrees C.
  2. Place egg whites in a large bowl and sprinkle in the cream of tartar. Stir using a whisk until the surface of the egg whites is completely covered with foam.
  3. Increase speed and whip the egg whites, gradually adding the sugar, until the whites hold glossy stiff (but still a bit rounded) peaks. Do not overbeat!
  4. Add in the vanilla extract with a quick stir.
  5. Fill the pre-baked pie crust with strawberry-lemonade curd and then swirl in the lemon curd.
  6. Top with meringue, making sure to seal the meringue to the pie crust at the outer edges.
  7. Bake for fifteen minutes, until the meringue is just barely golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool for at least one hour at room temperature before serving.

Peach and Lemon Verbena Pie

INGREDIENTS:
makes one 8-inch deep dish pie

for pastry:

  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks (226 g) butter, cold
  • ½ tspn salt
  • 1 Tbspn almond extract
  • 6 – 7 Tbspn water, cold

for filling:

  • 3 lb (1.36 kg) ripe but firm large yellow peaches
  • 10 – 12 lemon verbena leaves
  • ½ cup (100 g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (30 g) tapioca flour
  • 1 tspn almond extract
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 2 Tbspn heavy cream
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

METHOD:

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour until the size of small peas. Add the almond extract and mix briefly. Gradually add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together when pressed between two fingers. There should still be chunks of butter. Do not overmix! Form the dough into a disc, wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and pit the peaches, and cut each peach into 8 slices. Toss the peach slices with the lemon verbena and sugar. Transfer the peaches to a strainer suspended over a saucepan. Let macerate for 1 hour.
  3. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator. Reserve about  ⅓ of the dough. Roll out the other ⅔ of dough on a lightly-floured surface to ⅛-inch thick. Place the dough in a 8-inch springform pan, trimming the excess. Combine the excess dough with the reserved dough and roll out to ⅛-inch thick. Return both the pan and the prepared dough to the refrigerator to chill.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220° C, with the baking rack in the bottom-most position.
  5. Transfer the peach slices to a bowl. With the juices in the saucepan, cook over medium high heat for 12 – 15 minutes, until bubbling and thickened. Pour the reduction over the peaches. Add the tapioca flour and almond extract and toss to combine.
  6. Separate the egg. Whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream. Remove the prepared pie shell and pre-rolled dough from the refrigerator. Brush a layer of egg white on the bottom of the pie shell. Fill the pie shell with the peaches. Cut strips of the rolled dough and create a lattice pattern on top of the pie. Brush the top with the egg yolk wash, and sprinkle very generously with turbinado sugar.
  7. Bake the pie on the bottom-most oven rack for 20 minutes. When the top of the pie turns brown, place a piece of foil lightly on top. Reduce the oven to 190° C and bake for 40 more minutes, until the fruit is bubbling. Remove from oven and let cool briefly on a wire rack. Serve warm or cooled, but preferably on the same day the pie is made.

Pumpkin pie with caramel brandy hard sauce

INGREDIENTS:
makes two 4.5″ piesfor pumpkin puree:

  • 1 small pumpkin

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 165 degrees C.
  2. Split the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Discard the seeds.
  3. Place the pumpkin halves face down on a baking sheet with sides.
  4. Bake for 1 hour until fork-tender. Remove from oven and let cool.
  5. Puree the pumpkin pulp in a food processor until smooth.

for pastry:

  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold, in small cubes
  • 4 Tbspn water, cold

for pumpkin filling:

  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbspn dark brown sugar
  • white sugar, to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • pumpkin pie spices, to taste (try: ginger, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, white pepper)
  • heavy cream, opt., for crust
  • turbinado sugar, opt., for crust

METHOD:

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Using a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour until the size of small peas.
  3. Gradually add the water, 1 Tbspn at a time until, when you press the dough between your fingers, it holds together. Do not overmix!
  4. Wrap the dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
  5. Meanwhile, make the pumpkin filling. Combine the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, white sugar (if using), eggs, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 1/4 cup whole milk into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
  7. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out, about 1/8″ thick. Place the dough into the pie plates and crimp the edges. Using a fork, pierce the bottom of the crust several times.
  8. If the dough has become soft from rolling, place in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes.
  9. Line the inside of the pie crusts with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dry beans.
  10. Bake for 15-17 minutes, then remove from oven. Remove the beans and parchment paper and, if desired, line the edge of the pie crust with foil. Return to the oven for 5-7 more minutes until the crust is golden. Remove and fill with pumpkin filling.
  11. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake the pumpkin pies for 30 minutes, then brush the exposed crusts with heavy cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar, if using. Return the pies to the oven and continue to bake for ~10-15 additional minutes until pie is mostly set but jiggles just slightly in the middle when gently bumped.
  12. Remove from oven and let cool briefly. Serve warm with caramel brandy hard sauce (recipe below).
Caramel brandy hard sauce

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbspn butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1-2 Tbspn brandy, to taste

METHOD:

  1. Have all ingredients pre-measured and ready next to the stove.
  2. In a small light-colored saucepan (with tall sides, preferably), wet the sugar with just enough water to make it the consistency of wet sand (~1 – 1 1/12 Tbspn water).
  3. Cook the sugar on medium heat.  Do not stir once the sugar starts boiling–swirl the pan around gently instead to insure even cooking. Cook until the sugar is a deep amber color. Immediately add the butter and whisk thoroughly. Be careful–this will splutter!
  4. As soon as the butter has completely melted, remove from heat and carefully add the heavy cream, whisking continuously.
  5. Once the cream has incorporated, pour the caramel into another heat-resistant container to cool, straining through a fine mesh sieve to remove unevenly cooked sugar, if necessary. Let cool briefly and whisk in brandy to taste. Caramel will continue to thicken as it cools.

Key Lime Pie

DSC_4141

INGREDIENTS:

makes ~24 mini hearts
for graham cracker crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

METHOD:

  1. Combine graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Mix in butter.
  2. Press the crumb mixture into (sprayed and lined) the bottoms of the pans, about 1 Tbspn per heart.  Use something like the side of a small rolling pin to press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and a little bit up the sides.
  3. Put the crust in the freezer while making the filling.

for filling:

  • 2 14oz. cans condensed milk
  • 8 large egg yolks (save those whites for meringues/macarons!)
  • 2-3 Tbspn key lime zest
  • 1 cup key lime juice (~25 key limes… have fun!)
  • green food coloring

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 165 degrees C.
  2. Combine milk, yolks, zest, and juice in a bowl.  Whisk until smooth.  Whisk in one to two drops of food coloring for a light green color.
  3. Pour mixture into the crumb-prepared pans, filling about to about two-thirds full.  Bake for 13-15 minutes until the center looks set but moves like jello when you give the pan a bit of a gentle shake.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Keep the pies in the pans until you are ready to serve.

White Cheddar and Cinnamon Apple Hand Pies

INGREDIENTS:
makes ~12-14 pies

  • 2 cups (260 gr) AP flour
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 4 oz.(113 gr) extra sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 2/3 cup (151 gr) butter, cold
  • 5-6 Tbspn water, cold
  • 500 gr apples
  • 1 Tbspn lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (25 gr) sugar
  • 1 tspn ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tspn ground cloves
  • 1/2 tspn freshly grated nutmeg
  • heavy cream
  • turbinado sugar

METHOD:

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Coarsely grate the cheese. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the cheese and cold butter into the flour until the size of small peas.
  3. Gradually add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together when pressed. Do not overmix!
  4. Wrap the dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Peel, core, and chop the apples into small chunks. Toss to combine the apples with the lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
  6. Preheat oven to 230 degrees C.
  7. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out to about 1/8″ thick. Cut out 5 inch circles. Fill each circle with apples and fold in half. Press the edges together tightly, crimping with a fork. Cut three small slits on the top of each pie. Chill the pies in the refrigerator or freezer briefly if the dough has softened.
  8. Before baking, brush the tops of the pies with heavy cream. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  9. Bake at 230 degrees F for five minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 15 more minutes, until the crust is golden.
  10. Remove from oven and cool briefly before serving.

Blueberry Rhubarb Deep Dish Pie

INGREDIENTS:
makes three 4.5″ deep dish piesfor pastry:

  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 2/3 cups butter, cold
  • 6-7 Tbspn ice cold water

for filling:

  • 12 oz. rhubarb, chopped into small, 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 lb. blueberries
  • freshly grated zest of 1 orange
  • 3 Tbspn orange juice
  • 1/2 cup (100 gr) sugar
  • 4 Tbspn corn starch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbspn heavy cream, and more for serving
  • turbinado sugar

METHOD:

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Using a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour, until the size of small peas.
  3. Gradually add the water, 1 Tbspn at a time until, when you press the dough between your fingers, it holds together. Do not overmix!
  4. Wrap the dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 205 degrees C.
  6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out, about 1/8″ thick. Place dough into the pie plates (preferably springform), reserving the leftover dough for the lattice top. Keep the prepared dough cold.
  7. To prepare the filling, combine the chopped rhubarb, blueberries, orange zest and juice, granulated sugar, and corn starch in a bowl.
  8. Spoon the filling into the pie crusts. Top with cut strips of pastry.
  9. Whisk together the egg yolk and 1 Tbspn of heavy cream. Brush the egg wash lightly over the lattice crust. Sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar.
  10. Bake for 205 degrees C for about 45 minutes. If the tops start to get brown, around 30 minutes, place a layer of foil over the pies and continue to bake until the rhubarb is cooked through.
  11. Remove and let cool. Serve with a splash of heavy cream.

Blood orange honey-glazed five spice tart with almond cream

INGREDIENTS:
makes one 9″ tart

for pastry:

  • 260 grams AP flour
  • 1 1/2 tspn five spice powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 7 Tbspn butter, cold and cut in pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3-4 Tbspn cold water

METHOD:

  1. Using a food processor or pastry cutter, mix the flour, five spice powder, and sugar until combined. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the size of small peas.
  2. Add the egg yolk and gradually add the water just until a dough begins to form when you press it between two fingers. Do not overmix.
  3. Form the pastry into a ball and refrigerate for at least one hour. (or stick it in the freezer for a shorter amount of time.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
  5. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and press the dough into the tart pan. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork, cover with parchment paper, and weigh down using dry beans or pie weights. Return to freezer for a few minutes if the dough has softened.
  6. Bake for ~13-15 minutes until the edges just begin to turn golden. Remove the beans and parchment paper and continue to bake for 3-5 minutes more, until the crust has completely turned golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

for filling:

  • 8-12 small or medium thin-skinned blood oranges, in 1/8″ thick slices
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar

METHOD:

  1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add the orange slices to the boiling sugar water and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the pith turns translucent. Be careful not to overcook the oranges because they will become mushy.
  3. Strain and remove the orange slices from the liquid. Reserve 2 Tbspn of the liquid. Lay the orange slices out on a wire mesh rack to drain and cool.

for glaze:

  • 2 Tbspn orange candying liquid, reserved from oranges
  • 1/4 cup honey

METHOD:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the reserved liquid and the honey. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the top.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. The mixture should be syrupy.

for almond cream:

  • 1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbspn powdered sugar
  • dash of almond extract

METHOD:

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the chopped almonds and 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover tightly with a lid, and let cool. Continue to let the cream steep, covered, in the refrigerator until cold, preferably overnight.
  2. Strain out and discard the almond pieces from the cream. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream.
  3. Whip the cream just until you reach soft peaks (I like mine extra soft for this purpose.) Gently stir in the powdered sugar and almond extract.

To assemble the tart, layer the orange slices in the cooled tart shells, brushing the honey generously on each layer. Serve with almond cream.