A vote for extending National Pie Day through 2014

Cooking with Cathie

editorial@sierrastarFebruary 4, 2014 

January 23 was National Pie Day.  I vote for extending the celebration throughout the entire year. Pies of all kinds are very popular, whether they be sweet or savory, such as a shepherd pie or a chicken, beef or turkey pot pie. Much of the work of pie making has been taken care of for those who do not have the time or inclination to make pastry crust from scratch. Now, you can go out and buy a pie, and that's fine. But if you prefer to make your own, let's go into the kitchen and create a delicious home baked pie. Or maybe two!


Impossible French apple pie

I've had this recipe for many years. It was always a huge hit at potlucks and comes to us courtesy of Betty Crocker's Bisquick. It's great if you don't feel like making a traditional crust.

  • 6 cups pared, sliced tart apples
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Bisquick baking mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened

Streusel

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 10-inch pie plate. Mix apples and spices; turn into plate.
  2. Beat remaining ingredients except streusel until smooth, 15 seconds in blender on high or 1 minute with hand beater. Pour into plate and sprinkle with streusel.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until knife inserted in center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. (High altitude directions: Preheat oven to 350. Use 5 cups thinly sliced apples. Bake 60 to 65 minutes.

Streusel: Mix 1 cup Bisquick mix, 1/2 cup chopped nuts, 1/3 cup packed brown sugar and 3 tablespoons firm butter until crumbly.


Beef pot pie

You could sear the meat before cubing it, put it in a pressure cooker until tender, then cut it up, to save time. You can also use the liquid as broth for the recipe.

  • 1 pound sirloin steak, cubed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 can (14-oz.) beef broth
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 3 potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 9-inch refrigerated pie crusts

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, brown the pieces of meat on all sides. Pour in some water to almost cover. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer until meat is tender and falls apart easily; about 2 to 3 hours. Transfer meat to a large mixing bowl. Shred the meat slightly and add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. In another saucepan (about 2-quart size) over medium heat, pour in beef broth; add carrots and potatoes. Cook until almost tender; about 15 to 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. When the carrots and potatoes are done, transfer to the large mixing bowl with the beef; leaving the liquid in the pan. Combine the peas with the carrots, potatoes and beef.
  4. Dissolve the cornstarch with the 1/3 cup of water. Pour into the saucepan of beef broth, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat; cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Line a 9-inch pie plate with one of the pie crusts following the package directions. Place the beef mixture into the pie crust. Pour the gravy over the top of the mixture, then cover with the other pie crust. Bake in a preheated oven until the crust is golden brown; about 25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.


Lemon meringue pie

I found this recipe and tried it because it came with promises that it was guaranteed to come out "just right." Well, it did for me, the one time I tried it, but being that it is a lemon meringue pie recipe, I can't be so bold as to offer any guarantees! Ever since I can remember, one time a lemon meringue pie would turn out looking beautiful and the next time not so great (but always delicious).

Pastry:

  • 1 1/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut in thin slices
  • 1/4 cup lard or solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

Filling and meringue:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature, plus 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in 5 equal pieces

  1. For the pastry: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the butter, lard (or shortening) and lemon zest until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle ice water over mixture and toss with a fork to blend. Gather dough into a ball. If excess flour remains, add a few drops more ice water. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic; chill 1 hour.
  2. To assemble crust, preheat oven to 425. Roll out pastry into a 12-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch pie pan and fold edge under. Line the pastry shell with a sheet of foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Set pie pan on baking sheet and bake 10 minutes or until edge is set. Remove weights and foil and bake another 5 minutes or until the bottom is firm and a light golden color. Cool on a rack.
  3. For the filling: In a heavy saucepan combine 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 4 egg yolks and lemon juice. Add 2 cups cold water and whisk until blended. Cook over moderate heat, whisking until it comes to a boil. Boil, stirring, 1 minute then remove from heat and stir in lemon zest and butter. Stir until the butter is completely melted. Pour into pie shell, cover with a round of wax paper pressed directly on the surface and cool.
  4. For the meringue: Set oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine 5 egg whites and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Beat until soft peaks form then gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar (you can increase this to 3/4 cup if you wish) and beat until stiff peaks form.
  5. Remove wax paper from surface of filling and pile on the meringue. Spread to slightly overlap and seal the fluted edges of the crust. This seal is important to prevent the meringue from shrinking and exposing the filling.
  6. Bake in center of preheated oven until top is pale golden, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a rack then refrigerate until just chilled and set, about 2 hours. When ready to serve, slice with a sharp knife dipped in hot water.


Shepherds pie

For filling:

  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas

For mashed potatoes:

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup milk or cream
  • 3/4 cup grated sharp white Cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Add the butter and olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Saute the onions, carrots, celery and garlic until just tender, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Once the veggies have browned just a bit, stir in the tomato paste and mix thoroughly. Add the ground meat and cook until meat is no longer pink, 7 to 10 minutes. Spoon off as much grease from the meat mixture as you can (unless you are using very lean meat). Add the Worcestershire sauce and beef broth. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Mix in the peas. Transfer mixture to an 8-by-8-inch baking dish.
  2. Meanwhile, place potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and a tablespoon of salt (Cat's note: I don't find that much to be necessary). Bring the pot of potatoes to a boil and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes well and place them back into the pan. Mash the potatoes with the milk/cream and butter. Stir in the grated cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread mashed potatoes over the top of the beef mixture, spreading out evenly and from edge to edge. Rake through the potatoes with a fork to create peaks. Place the dish into the preheated oven and bake until browned, about 20 minutes. Spoon out the pie and serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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