Posts Tagged With: pie

Plum Tart with Greek Yogurt

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Fall is in full swing and in this swanky apartment we’re eating…PLUMS !

I know, I know…plums ?  Aren’t you supposed to be making pumpkin-themed everything ?

Yes yes, plums !  Pumpkin is so passé* – everyone is devouring pumpkin goods.  Time to give those plums a little lovin’ !  Perhaps this post of positively pleasant “P” sounds presents a perfect place for plum pizzazz !

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In any case, it is true that plum season extends into early fall – October – and I am, for the first time, taking advantage of this fact.  I used to dislike plums.  Well, perhaps dislike isn’t the proper term.  Ignore may be a better one.  Plums were, in a word, strange. Why ?  Because they morph into prunes, that’s why.  I couldn’t bring myself to eat either fruit.  It was strange, therefore, when I walked into Trader Joe’s, saw a “basket” of plums looking for a home, felt spontaneous and snatched them up and POW a memory popped in my head:  for my birthday, while in France forever ago, my host dad, Pierre, made me a birthday dessert. Considering my host family and I were not particularly chummy, I was very touched by the gesture.  A beautiful, rustic plum tart sat in front of me, paired with a book about Dijon.  I can’t believe I’d buried that memory so deep, and it took a basket of unassuming plums to trigger it.

So then I had it.  The IDEA.  I would make a plum tart for my birthday…hence, here is my birthday “cake” thrown together with little time to spare before a 20s’-themed bash !  As you can tell, from the top picture, it was devoured in record time.  It’s a quick fix (if you buy your crust, and I did…I know, tsk tsk) that is pleasantly tart and lightly spiced.  This recipe uses a Greek yogurt “custard” topping, but I think, were I to remake it (and there are still a few dusty plums kicking around my cuisine…) I would skip the cream and make the tarte tout simplement avec des prunes.

I used the recipe from Mary Anna Esposita, the woman who taught me more about tomatoes via her great cooking show “Ciao Italia” than I think I needed to know as an 8 year-old.

Here’s the original recipe; the one noted below is with my adjustments.
Ingredients :
7 plums, cut into slices
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Sprinkle ginger
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup greek yogurt (plain)
3 tbsp additional sugar
Preheat the oven to 400F.  If you are making your own crust – you are fabulous and better than me this go around.  Prepare the crust and place it in a greased tart pan (or pie dish, or quiche pan – whatever you have will probably do).  I’d give the crust a little toast before placing the plums, but it is not required and the tart will not combust or fail to cook in time if you don’t.
Slice the plums into fairly thin sections – I made mine into little segments (like a fan, kind of) in order to make the tart look nice.  You are welcome to cut the plums in a less careful manner and throw them in the pan.  Taste will not be affected.  You can’t judge a book by its cover.  Right ?  Right.
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Arrange the plums in concentric circles (if desired) in the bottom of the pie pan.  I started in the “middle” and worked my way out.
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In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar and the spices, stirring well to combine.
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Dust the plums with the sugar mixture – don’t be afraid to really bury them !  As the plums cook and release water, it will mix with the sugar combination to make this wonderful caramel-like substance at the bottom of the tart.  It’s delicious with ice cream.  Yummmmmm.  Top with the juice of the lemon – I just gave that citrus fruit a good squeeze directly overtop the plum and sugar combination.
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Place this in the oven until the plums are soft – about 10 minutes – then remove from the oven.  You are WELCOME to just eat this as your tart and not continue.  It looks so good, I have half a mind to try it like this with my remaining plums….
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In another bowl, whisk together the 3 tbsp of sugar, egg yolks, and yogurt.  Pour this mixture over the tart, being sure to work from the inside out and try to evenly distribute the custard.  Place the tart back into the oven and cook for about 10 more minutes or until the custard has set- you should be able to touch the top and pull a little of the custard out on your finger.  It’s sort of in a semi-solid state.
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Let the tart cool a little before serving to your hungry party guests !
Bon appétit ! 🙂
*I hold nothing against pumpkin goods…in fact, I’ve been cooking them a lot.  I just wanted to be DIFFERENT.
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Categories: English | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Grandy’s Vidalia Onion Pie

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Recipe cards are funny little things.  Passed on from generation to generation, it’s always surprising to me just how sturdy these pieces of paper can be.  My grandmother houses a multitude of these recipes, jotted down in different handwritings, that catalogue dishes spanning decades…some delicious, and others a little strange.  This one, however, falls into the delicious category.  Rather like a quiche, this “onion pie” is a quick and easy fix, can stand in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and is delicious cold.

Golden delicious !

I made a few changes from the recipe on the card:  I added paprika and cayenne (a few shakes) instead of tabasco sauce, as I didn’t have any (my college kitchen is limited).  I also used course grain Dijon mustard instead of dried mustard (again, because I didn’t have any…it’s not an ingredient I use often…) and the taste was fantastic.  The little mustard seeds give bursts of flavor to the filling, so I actually wouldn’t make it any other way.

Directions :

Though the instructions are noted on the card, I didn’t follow them exactly (sorry Grandy !) because microwaving onions sounded…strange.  I might explode them.  My microwave is also not particularly clean, so I decided to just make the entire apartment weep and chop up 5 medium onions.

Yes.

That’s right.

All five onions, one small apartment = a very weepy lady.  When people came in to visit, I had to explain why it seemed like I had tragedy on my mind.

Chop chop chop.

In any case, I chopped the onions and placed them in a pan with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  I cooked them until translucent – about 10 minutes given the size of my pan.

Tears of joy, I swear !

While those were sautéing, I mixed together the eggs, sour cream, and spices in a large mixing bowl.

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Once the onions were nicely clear (and  no longer making me sob), I poured them into the mix and stirred again.  Once everything was nicely incorporated, I dumped the contents of the bowl into the prepared pie crust.  You can feel free to make your own crust, but I cheated this time and used Trader Joe’s pie crust (which you press into a pan and score before adding your fillings).

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Smother the top of the pie with cheese – believe me, it’s worth it – and place in the oven.  Cook until the top is a nice golden brown or until the egg has set – it shouldn’t be too wobbly upon removal from the oven.

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I brought this to a meeting and it was promptly devoured…so don’t leave this “hot commodity” around or it might not be there when you return !  Trust your grandmother to have recipes that no one can refuse.

Bon appétit ! 🙂

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Categories: English | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nora’s Ephron Peach Pie

I know, it’s a funny title – but that is how Mrs. William H. Hammond baptized her pie dish in the 1984 edition of “Needle the Cook,” a recipe book released by the New Canaan Sewing Group.  I’m not entirely sure how we came to possess this (well-worn and homemade) booklet of local recipes…but that’s part of the charm.  Probably typed-up on a typewriter, the book features two colors – blue and white – as well as the recurring image of a bee sewing…it’s a bit bizarre but has some gems that the dames of New Canaan wanted to pass on to their progeny.  It has, evidently, worked.  🙂

This peach pie has been a family favorite for years.  Normally, my mother makes it and I eat it.  Ah, the life…

However, it seems like I’ve “come of age” and it is my turn to prepare the pie.  Rather than being filled to the brim with fruit and covered with a sheet of dough, this pie features a custard filling and an open top.  Lots of peaches are (of course) welcome, but too many will change the nature of the custard and the filling.

The crust is rich, the custard is creamy, and the peaches HAVE TO BE FRESH.  In my town, they are rolling in much earlier than normal – which just means more peach pies for me.  🙂

For the crust : 

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp sour cream

Preheat oven to 425F.  Put all the ingredients in a Cuisinart and mix until a ball forms.

If you don’t have this fancy machine, use your fingers  OR a fork and mix until the dough is uniform and easily malleable – rather like sugar cookie dough.

Grease the pie pan.  Press this into the BUTTERED pie pan until you have an even layer all the way around.

Place in oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until just starting to brown.  Remove and let cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350F.

 

For the filling :

3 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup sour cream

Beat all ingredients together until frothy and yellow and smooth.  I put my mixture back in the Cuisinart, but this can easily be done with a whisk.  Peel and slice five small peaches (three large ones) and place them in the pie dish.

This is an opportunity to be artistic…and normally, I am…but when you have an aunt hovering in and out of the kitchen, a mom checking on certain elements of the pie, an uncle and a father attempting to grill (but not cooking the chicken enough) and an adorable little grandmother who is repeatedly asking you what day it is…you just want to finish the pie and get out of the kitchen, seeking refuge in the piano room…or is that just me ?

Anyway, place the peaches in the pie pan, arranged as you see fit.  Pour the egg mixture (eg the custard) on top of the peaches.  I didn’t have any with me…but I think that sprinkling a little nutmeg overtop of the pie would be super delicious.  Maybe a little cinnamon, too.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the custard is set.  You’ll know when the custard is cooked when you can touch it with your finger and a small amount will come off OR when you shake the pie and the center will jiggle rather like pudding but not actually pour/spill.

If your pie crust starts to burn (depending on the strength of your oven), cover the pie with tinfoil.

I would serve this pie warm rather than cold.  This way, the custard is so much more creamy and comforting.  It’s a great summer dish best enjoyed outside on a picnic table (or in front of the Olympics…) It’s also fantastic the next day….I just ate the leftovers.  Miam miam !

Bon appétit !

Categories: English | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Key Lime Meringue Pie

(Yes yes, I know.  It’s traditionally “Lemon Meringue Pie,” there is no need to correct me.  Today, we embark on a little experimental journey : mixing lemon meringue and key lime pies TOGETHER to make an even more tart and delicious treat.)

A little backstory before diving into the challenge :  my mom always makes key lime pie in the summer…and ever since the beginning, I’ve disliked it.  (That’s right –  thumbs down).  In my household, key lime pie is made with a graham cracker crust, a tart but creamy filling, and a thick (EPAIS) layer of whipped cream on top.  This is a combination that my dad, sister, and mother adore, as I have often watched them devour with gusto this dessert.  In an effort not to sound TOO whiny (or picky), I would take a piece and simply scoop the whipped cream off, leaving it in a large, fluffy pile on the side of my plate.

As a result, when my mom announced this morning that we were having key lime pie for dessert…I was not thrilled. So we struck up a compromise that my dad (!) seemed keen on : NO WHIPPED CREAM.  Turns out I wasn’t the only one disappointed by the excessive chantilly…and so began the fusion process.

The good news :  IT WORKED AND WAS FANTASTIC.

The bad news :  There is no bad news, aside from the fact that those who were hoping for whipped cream are, in fact, going to be let down by this post.  My apologies in advance.

I took a traditional Key lime pie recipe and added more lime juice, more graham cracker, and topped it with the same  meringue cloud as goes on a lemon meringue pie – it’s quite simple to make and renders this treat healthier (less fat !) and lighter on the stomach.  The egg white cuts the tartness of the curd without overpowering (and muting…) your tastebuds with cream.  Simple, quick, fresh, and pretty, this dessert is excellent update on a typical treat.

For the crust :

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbles
5 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a spoon (or a folk).

The graham cracker crumbles should absorb the butter and together make a combination that is crumbly but malleable.

Pour this mixture into a buttered pie pan and, using the spoon, press firmly until evenly coated.

Place this in the oven for about 10 minutes – you’ll just start to smell the crust before it’s ready to be removed.  Let cool.

For the pie :

3/4 cups key lime juice
3 egg yolks
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (NOT EVAPORATED.  DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR LABELS, FOLKS)

This is probably the easiest recipe ever.  Put all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together until smooth.

It will look rather like pudding or custard.

Pour the “batter” into the prepared pie pan and swirl with a spoon to evenly distribute.  The filling will not rise (no leavening agent !) so fear not if you are close to overflowing.  We had the opposite problem…as you can see.

Cook for about 20 minutes or until set.  Many key lime pies don’t need to be cooked and are instead “refrigerator pies” but as we added egg yolks, the extra heat will allow those proteins to reform in a more solid position, making the pie more like a flan than a custard.  Trust me, it’s a good choice.  You should be able to touch the surface of the pie and have a little of the filling stick to your finger – nice and thick, but not totally solid.

Let cool slightly before covering again…with meringue.

For the meringue :

3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Little note : when at school, I don’t have an electric mixer, so I am quite used to whipping by hand.  Ergo, I whipped this meringue into a frenzy with my brute (ahem lacking) strength.  For those who don’t want to exercise while cooking, use not a whisk but a mix master (Kitchenaid or the like).  However, please know that it is entirely possible to do pretty much anything by hand.

Put the salt in a large mixing bowl, followed by the egg whites.  You may also add cream of tartar (this stabilizes the egg white foam and helps you whip without fear of failure) but it is not necessary.  Whip until soft peaks foam – just beyond the foamy stage, this moment is where you can lift the whisk out of the bowl and it will just keep a shape.

Add the sugar and whip without mercy.  The mixture will change drastically, thickening and turning glossy.  When your meringue looks like marshmallow fluff or Cool Whip, you are all set.

Plop the meringue on top of the pie and smooth with a spatula (or a spoon, for that matter), swirling towards the center.  To make the little poofs (for lack of a better word…), press the meringue gently with the back of a spoon and then lift up quickly.  Repeat until desired topography is achieved.

Put the pie BACK in the oven and cook until the meringue is nicely browned – like a toasted marshmallow.  It doesn’t take long, so don’t leave the kitchen and watch Dr. Who because if you do so, the meringue will be in an unfortunate position…charred, I’d say.

In any case, we ate about 2/3 of the pie in one sitting…and there are only four of us…so it was quite fantastic (as I sit here devouring the final piece avec une vue de la mer et un sourire digne d’une personne fière de son travail…) 🙂

In any case, bon appétit !

Categories: English | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

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