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Pie primer: Tips for perfecting pie, plus terms and savory recipes

It's time to start getting reacquainted with that buttery seasonal mainstay: pie. • Not just sweet pies, but savory ones, like shepherd's or chicken pot or — arguably the most popular category of savory pie — quiche. Really, it hardly matters what the filling consists of. The crust makes the pie. Pretty much anything can be dumped into that flaky shell, and it will taste like comfort. • A pie is everything we want a dish to be during the final two months of the year: warm, gooey, fattening and relatively simple to put together. It's worth mastering the art of the pie, not only for those beloved sweet ones we trot out at Thanksgiving, but for the following savory examples that can be an exciting counterpoint to the one-dish casserole. • Consider this your pie cheat sheet, a way to pump up your tart game. We've got tips for basic crust, recipe ideas and a glossary of pie terms you can throw around at your holiday party when you really want to impress people. Actually, your cooking can do that for you.


• A good rule of thumb is to handle the dough as little as possible. This can make it tough and more dense.

• It's best to keep all of your ingredients, especially the butter and the water used to make the crust, cold.

Bon Appétit suggests that before baking a pie, you place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This helps the butter, which has likely warmed up after you've shaped the dough, cool down. And cold butter ensures a flakier crust.

• Place your pie on a sheet pan before placing it in the oven. That allows for easier handling and prevents your oven from pie spillage if things start to bubble over.

• Cook your pie on the bottom rack of the oven. That way, the bottom crust cooks through.

• It's always good to let your pie sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. This not only prevents your guests from scalding the roofs of their mouths, but the pie will actually taste better, too, once its flavors have a chance to sit.


Tart: Put simply, a tart is a pie with no lid. It is a pastry shell filled with goodies and served open-faced.

Galette: This term comes from French cuisine and is used to describe more of a loose, free-form pie. Typically, galette recipes begin with one layer of piecrust, onto which toppings are heaped, then the crust is folded mostly over the toppings. A galette does not concern itself with being perfect.

Crostata: This is the Italian name for a baked tart or pie. These are typically sweet.

Pate a choux: This is a type of dough, also popular in French cooking. It's a lighter pastry dough than piecrust, often used when making beignets, eclairs, quenelles and even gnocchi. It contains ingredients similar to what's in piecrust, but with the addition of eggs.

Phyllo dough: This unleavened dough is made up of many paper-thin layers and is typically used in pastrymaking. In a pinch, roll out a sheet of this dough as a substitute for piecrust.

Shepherd's pie: This is a mixture of, usually, ground meat and vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes that act as the crust.


Caramelized Garlic, Spinach and Cheddar Tart

2 piecrusts (see recipe)

All-purpose flour (for surface)

5 large eggs

3 heads of garlic, cloves peeled


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)

2 cups baby spinach

¾ cup creme fraiche

¾ cup heavy cream

Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface, enough to make a 14-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch-diameter pie dish. Lift up edge and let dough slump down into dish. Trim, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Fold overhang under. Freeze 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, roll out second disc of dough on a lightly floured surface until about ⅛ inch thick. Cut into ¼-inch-thick strips. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. If dough is soft, chill until just pliable. Working with three strips at a time, braid dough, returning braids to baking sheet as you go. Chill until just pliable.

Beat 1 egg in a small bowl. Brush edge of dough in dish and bottom sides of braids with egg. Arrange braids along edge, trimming and gently pressing sections together as you go. Freeze 15 minutes.

Line dough with parchment paper or foil, leaving some overhang. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is dry around edge, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove parchment and weights and brush crust with egg. Bake until crust is dry and set, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, cook garlic in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes; drain. Wipe saucepan dry and heat oil in pan over medium-high. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until cloves start to turn golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until garlic is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add maple syrup, rosemary and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is syrupy and coats garlic, about 5 minutes.

Scatter cheese over crust; top with spinach. Whisk creme fraiche, cream and remaining eggs in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Pour over spinach. Add garlic with any syrup. Bake until custard is set and golden brown in spots, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Serves 6 to 8.

Source: Bon Appétit


Root Vegetable Tarte Tartin

1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled, sliced into ½-inch rounds

1 medium sweet potato, peeled, sliced into ½-inch rounds

2 medium carrots, peeled, sliced into ½-inch rounds

1 medium parsnip, peeled, sliced into ½-inch rounds

1 small red onion, sliced into ½-inch rounds

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

⅓ cup sugar

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh sage

4 ounces fresh goat cheese

1 piecrust (see recipe)

All-purpose flour (for surface)

Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 400 degrees. Toss potato, sweet potato, carrots, parsnip and onion with oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper and arrange vegetables in a single layer. Roast until golden around the edges and tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, cook sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is amber-colored, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add vinegar and a pinch of salt, swirling pan to combine. Quickly pour caramel into a 9 inch-diameter pie pan; tilt and rotate pan to evenly coat bottom with caramel. Scatter rosemary and sage over top.

Arrange potatoes, carrots and parsnips snugly in a single layer on top of caramel, using smaller carrot and parsnip pieces to fill in any holes. Scatter onion rings and crumble goat cheese over vegetables.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch round. Drape over vegetables, tucking edges into pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until crust looks dry, about 20 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake until crust is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Let tart cool 5 minutes before inverting carefully onto a large plate.

Serves 6 to 8.

Source: Bon Appétit


Swiss Chard and Mushroom Galette

1 piecrust (see recipe)

1 cup ricotta

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 ounces maitake mushrooms, torn, and/or crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 bunch large Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into bite-sized pieces

All-purpose flour (for parchment)

1 large egg, beaten to blend

1 cup mixed fresh tender herbs (such as flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, dill and/or chives)

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season ricotta with kosher salt and pepper; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; season with kosher salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add half of chard, season with kosher salt and pepper, and cook, tossing, until slightly wilted. Add remaining chard and cook, tossing occasionally, until completely wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured sheet of parchment to a 14-inch round about ⅛ inch thick. Transfer on parchment to a baking sheet. Spread three-fourths of ricotta over dough, leaving a 1 ½-inch border. Top with reserved chard, then mushrooms. Dollop remaining ricotta over vegetables. Bring edges of dough up and over filling, overlapping as needed, to create a 1 ½-inch border; brush with egg. Bake galette, rotating once, until crust is golden brown and cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheet.

Toss herbs with lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl; season with pepper. Top galette with herbs, zest and sea salt.

Serves 4.

Source: Bon Appétit


Green Chile Tamale Pie ON THE COVER

1 cup masa harina

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

1 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 ounces ground sirloin

1 ½ cups chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 poblano chile, seeded and chopped

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces tomatillos (about 8 small), chopped

1 cup frozen baby lima beans

2 tablespoons butter, melted

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ cup (1 ounce) crumbled queso fresco

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

4 lime wedges

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the masa harina, ¼ teaspoon salt and ground red pepper, stirring well with a whisk. Add boiling water and stir until a soft dough forms. Cover until ready to use.

Heat a 9-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add beef to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add onion, garlic, poblano chile, remaining ¾ teaspoon salt and black pepper to pan; saute 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add tomatillos and lima beans and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add butter and baking powder to masa mixture, stirring until smooth. Dollop batter over filling and spread into an even layer. Cover pan with foil; bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned around edges. Remove from oven; let stand 3 minutes. Sprinkle with crumbled queso fresco and cilantro; serve with lime wedges.

Serves 4 to 6.

Source: Cooking Light


Shepherd's Pie With Eggplant

For the topping:

1 pound (2 large) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 pound (1 large) sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch slices

8 whole cloves garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

cup low-sodium chicken broth or heavy cream, or a combination of both


Freshly ground black pepper

For the filling:

¼ cup olive oil

¾ pound unpeeled eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes (4 cups)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces sliced white or baby bella mushrooms

1 small yellow onion, chopped (¾ cup)

1 pound lean ground lamb (or beef)

3 medium cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup tomato sauce

3 ounces ( cup) crumbled feta or freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Chopped chives, for garnish

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Lightly grease a six-cup casserole or fluted deep-dish pie plate with nonstick cooking oil spray.

For the topping: Combine the potatoes, sweet potatoes and whole garlic cloves in a large pot; cover with salted water. Cook over medium-high heat until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain and put potatoes and garlic through a ricer into a large bowl. Add the oil and the broth and/or heavy cream, stirring until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat; cover loosely.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the filling: Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the eggplant and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until it is lightly browned and soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste; transfer to a bowl.

Return the pan to medium-high heat; add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the mushrooms and onion; cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have exuded their juices and have browned. Add the lamb, breaking it up with a spoon but not crumbling it completely. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until no traces of pink remain.

Drain all but a thin coating of fat from the pan (either first removing the lamb mixture and then returning it to the pan or by holding the mixture on one side of the pan as you drain). Add the chopped garlic, thyme, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Stir in the tomato sauce. Cook for 1 minute, then fold in the cooked eggplant.

Spoon the lamb-eggplant mixture into the bottom of the prepared dish. Spread the mashed potato mixture over the lamb, covering it completely.

For assembly: Top with crumbled feta or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and bake for 45 minutes, until lightly browned. Garnish with chopped chives and a drizzle of the extra-virgin olive oil.

Serve immediately.

Serves 6.

Source: Washington Post


Basic Piecrust

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for rolling the dough

½ cup cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

In a food processor, pulse the flour, butter, sugar and salt until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-sized clumps of butter remaining.

Add 2 tablespoons of the water. Pulse until the mixture holds together when squeezed but is still crumbly. (Add more water, a little at a time, as necessary.) Avoid overprocessing, which will make the dough tough.

Place the still crumbly mixture on a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape it into a 1-inch-thick disc, using the plastic wrap to help. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. (The dough can be frozen at this point for up to 2 months.)

Place the disc of dough on a floured piece of parchment or wax paper. Using your knuckles, make indentations around the perimeter of the dough (this will help prevent cracking when you roll the dough out).

With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. (Work from the center outward, and use the parchment to rotate the dough.) Flour the rolling pin, parchment and dough as necessary to prevent sticking.

Loosen the dough from the parchment and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Fit the dough into the plate. (Avoid stretching.) Trim the dough to a 1-inch overhang and tuck it under itself to create a thick rim.

With the index finger of one hand, press the dough against the thumb and forefinger of the opposite hand; continue around the perimeter of the crust. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days before using.

If a recipe calls for parbaking or prebaking your crust, here is how to do so. To prebake the crust: Shape the chilled crust into a pie pan. Line the crust with a piece of foil, leaving an overhang all around. Fill with dried beans or pie weights and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the beans and foil. To parbake (or partially bake) the crust: Shape the chilled crust into a pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees until dry and set, 5 to 8 minutes more. Let crust cool completely before filling.

Makes 1 crust.

Source: Real Simple


Chicken Pot Shepherd's Pie

3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ½ cups milk

14 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 pounds chicken breast, cut into

1-inch pieces

10 ounces button mushrooms, quartered

½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped

½ cup flour

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

2 sheets puff pastry

1 egg, lightly beaten

In a 4-quart saucepan, cook potatoes in generously salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and pass in a potato ricer back into the pan. Add 1 cup milk, 6 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Keep warm.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in an 8-quart saucepan over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a bowl.

Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in saucepan over medium-high. Add mushrooms, onion and pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add flour and cook 2 minutes more. Add remaining 3 1⁄2 cups milk and cook, stirring, until thick, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in reserved chicken and its juices, along with the peas, and cook 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper and divide among 8 (8-ounce) ramekins or spread evenly into a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Top evenly with mashed potatoes and set aside.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Using a rolling pin, roll puff pastry until ⅛ inch thick. Using a 4-inch round cutter, cut out eight circles. (If baking in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, cut pastry into a 10- by 14-inch rectangle.) Using a pastry brush, brush the rim of each ramekin with egg wash and cover with a pastry circle and press lightly around the edges with a fork to adhere. (If using a baking dish, follow the same procedure.) Brush pastry with egg wash and place on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and filling is warmed through, about 35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6 to 8.

Source: Saveur

Pie primer: Tips for perfecting pie, plus terms and savory recipes 10/31/16 [Last modified: Monday, October 31, 2016 12:23pm]
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