Brown Butter & Vanilla Pear Pie with a Leaf Cut-Out Crust

With Thanksgiving next week you may be on the lookout for a new or different pie to make. Today I am bringing you a Brown Butter & Vanilla Pear Pie that I saw in a recent issue of Real Simple magazine that would be a wonderful addition to your dessert table.

I began by browning the butter. To do so, I simply melted a stick of butter in a saucepan stirring it until it was golden and nutty smelling – trust me, it will get a nutty scent. Don’t leave it on the stove too long or your brown butter will turn to burnt butter.

I poured the butter in to a large bowl and added in 5 peeled and chopped Bartlett pears, 2 peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples, flour, vanilla extract, salt and sugar. After giving this a few good stirs to mix it all together I transferred the mixture to a prepared pie dish – I had placed an unbaked piecrust in the dish.

Now it was time to work on the top crust. I’ve been wanting to try a different type of decorative pie crust… A leaf cut-out pie crust. I have made cut-outs before for a pie crust, but, they have been just accent pieces. I had never completely covered the pie with cutouts. What’s nice about this… its fool-proof and looks a lot more difficult than what it is. One thing you do need though is patience! Using leaf design pie crust cutters I cut out a bunch of leaves – I had around 60.

I then arranged them on the top of my pie. I brushed the pie with a beaten egg and sprinkled sugar on it and placed it in the freezer for 15 minutes.

A side note, as I have mentioned before I normally use store bought pie crust – always the Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust. So, for this pie I needed 3 pie crusts; 1 for the bottom and I needed two in order to cut out enough leaves to cover my pie. I decided that next time I make a pie with cut-outs for the crust I am going to cut them out the day before and refrigerate them to save time the day of.

I was concerned that the leaf design wouldn’t hold-up during baking – that it would possibly burn or some of the leave would crack. Thankfully baking the pie on the lowest rack of the oven and at a lower temperature (350 F) prevented that from happening.

This pie is delicious… Not overly sweet and the combination of pears and apples is just perfect!

Brown Butter & Vanilla Pear Pie

Ingredients:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

2 1/2 lbs. (5) pears, peeled, cored and chopped

1 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling

Preferred pie crust

1 large egg, lightly beaten

 

Directions:

Lower a rack in the oven to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl / skillet, melt the butter over medium heat stirring until golden and nutty smelling. Pour into a large bowl and let cool for a few minutes.

Add the apples, pears, flour, vanilla, salt 1/4 cup sugar to the brown butter and toss.

Roll out your pie crust to 14 inches and line a 9-inch pie plate with it and trim the dough to a 1-inch overhang. Fill the pie crust with the pear apple filling and top the pie with your decided pie crust design. If you plan on just covering the pie with no design, roll the dough out to 12 inches and lay over the filling. Fold the top edge over and tuck under bottom edge; crimp edge as desired. Cut a few vents. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar and freeze for 15 minutes

Bake on the bottom rack until the juices start bubbling, about 60 to 75 minutes. If you notice that the edges of the pie are browning too quickly cover them with aluminum foil for the remaining baking time.

Let the pie cool for at least 4 hours before slicing.

Recipe from Real Simple Magazine

 

Cherry Pie

Happy First Day of Summer! You may recall back in March I posted a Blueberry Pie in honor of Pi Day and that it was the first time I ever had Blueberry Pie, well, another confession. I’ve never had Cherry Pie. So, what better way to celebrate the start of the summer and cherry season than with a Cherry Pie!

First things first… Since I was using fresh cherries I had to pit them. I don’t own a cherry pitter so I pitted the cherries by using a reusable plastic straw. I literally just pushed the straw through the cherry to remove the pit. Check out this link for a few more ideas on how to pit cherries without a cherry pitter.

You may recall I’m not a fan of making pie crust from scratch – one of these days I will attempt to make it again – so I used my usual Pillsbury Pie crust. I rolled out one of the crusts an extra inch or two and then placed it in the bottom of my pie dish.

To prep the filling, I mixed flour, sugar and cinnamon in a Ziploc bag and then added in the cherries and tossed them around in the mixture to make sure they were completely covered.

I then poured the mixture, along with the excess flour mixture, into the pie plate.

Next, I used the second pie crust to top the pie and brushed it with milk and sprinkled sugar on it.

I then baked it in a 425 F preheated oven for 25 minutes and then lowered the oven temperature to 350 F and baked it for an additional 30 minutes. Until the filling was bubbling.

While my crust did come out a little wonky looking, it didn’t take away from how delicious the pie was. There’s something to be said about using fresh fruit… YUM!

 

Cherry Pie

Ingredients:

4 cups sweet cherries, pitted

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

pastry for double-crust 9-inch pie

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 F

Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie dish with one of the pie crusts

In a Ziploc bag combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add the cherries and toss to coat. Add to the pie crust lined-dish

Place the second crust on top and trim the ends. Cut vent slits in the middle of the pie and crimp the edges.

Bake for 25 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 350 F and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes. If the edges of the pie begin to brown too quickly, tent the pie.

Recipe from Food.com

Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie

It’s Pi day! And no, I didn’t spell that wrong. Today is 3/14, the first 3 numbers for Pi. The Greek letter that is a symbol in mathematics to represent a constant – the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It’s an irrational and transcendental number, i.e. it will go on infinitely without repetition or a pattern. Have I bored you yet? Sorry… On to the Pie. In honor of Pi Day, I decided to bake a pie I had never had before, a blueberry pie. A Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie to be exact. Yes, I never had Blueberry Pie until I made this one. I must say, I am not a big pie eater, especially fruit pie. I always feel like they are going to be super sweet. What made this pie a hit amongst those who tried it was the fact that it wasn’t super sweet. Something I was quite happy about as well.

I’m not a fan of making pie crust from scratch so I buy Pillsbury refrigerated crust. I find it works just as well as homemade crust – I am sure there are plenty of you shaking your heads at that comment right now – and its super easy to use to make a decorative crust. And another plus, clean-up is a cinch! So after letting my two crusts (one for the top and one for the bottom) come to room temperature I rolled out what would be the bottom into a 13 inch round; the crust was already a 9-inch round so I had no problem rolling it out the extra few inches. I then fitted it into my 9-inch pie plate.

Next, I made the filling. I combined 7 cups of fresh blueberries with sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch & lemon juice.

I then poured the mixture into the pie plate.

To make the lattice top, I started by rolling out the other half of the pie crust into another 13-inch round.  Then using a fluted pastry wheel I cut the dough into ten 1-inch strips. Thankfully my work mat has 1-inch grid lines on it so cutting out the strips was a breeze. I just had to be sure to cut in a straight steady line.

I placed five of the strips vertically on the pie, evenly spaced.

And then proceeded to fold and unfold the strips to create a lattice pattern.

I then trimmed and tucked in the edges of the crust and crimped it with a fork.

Next, I brushed the pie with an egg yolk-heavy cream egg wash and sprinkled sanding sugar on top.

And after refrigerating the pie for about a half hour in the fridge I placed it on a parchment lined baking sheet and baked it in a 400 F preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the crust began to brown, and then lowered the oven to 350 F and continued baking the pie for about another hour, until the crust was a deep golden brown and the juices began to bubble. I kept the pie tented with aluminum foil for most of the baking time, removing it for the last 30 minutes of baking so the crust wouldn’t brown too quickly.

Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie

Ingredients:

Pie Crust – Bake your own or store bought

2 pounds (about 7 cups) fresh blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 large egg yolk, for egg wash

1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash

Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

On a lightly floured surface roll out half of your pie crust into a 13-inch round about 1/8-inch thick. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate.

In a large bowl combine the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice. Pour the mixture into the pie plate, piling in the center.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the other half of your pie crust. Once again into a 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. To make the lattice, cut the dough into 10 1-inch strips using a fluted pastry wheel or a pizza cutter. Carefully place the strips on the pie weaving into a lattice pattern. Trim the dough to a 1-inch overhang and fold the edges under, then crimp with a fork.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream for the egg wash. Brush on top of the dough strips and then sprinkle with the sanding sugar.

Refrigerate or freeze the pie until firm, about 30 minutes.

Place the pie on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until the pie begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 F and continue baking until the crust is a deep golden brown and the juices begin to bubble, about an hour. If the crust begins to brown too quickly tent the pie with aluminum foil.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing in.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Pies and Tarts Book

 

 

 

Apple-Blackberry Galette

About a month ago I went apple picking and while I had plans to bake a variety of things with said apples they were just too good that I ended up eating most of them. (I should be keeping the doctor away for quite some time.) But, after picking up a pint of blackberries recently I remembered a recipe I had for an Apple-Blackberry Galette that I decided to try out before eating up the last of my apples. In case you are wondering, I’ve been able to keep the apples fresh by placing them in the drawer at the bottom of my refrigerator.

While my puff pastry thawed I prepped my filling. I began by melting butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and adding the apples (which I peeled, cored and sliced about a 1/4-inch thick), sugar and ginger. Once the apples began to soften I removed them from the heat and let them cool.

img_0099

While the apples cooled I prepped the rest of the filling. I tossed blackberries with sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract and lemon zest in a large bowl. Once the apples were cool I added them to the blackberries and gently tossed them to combine.

img_0103

Once the puff pastry was thawed I rolled it out on a floured surface and then transferred it to piece of parchment paper that I placed on a cookie sheet. I refrigerated it for about 15 minutes…

img_0104

Then removed it from the refrigerator and spooned the filling in the center of the puff pastry and folded and pleated the dough around the filling. I brushed the dough with an egg wash, sprinkled sugar on it and then returned it to the refrigerator for about 25 minutes.

img_0105

And finally I baked the galette in a 400 F oven for about a half hour… Until the filling was bubbling and the crust was golden brown. I let it settle for a few minutes before slicing it. The juices of the fruit were a bit runny, so, I think next time I will use flour to bind the fruit together as opposed to the cornstarch. Overall though it was delicious!

img_0109

 

Apple-Blackberry Galette

Ingredients:

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 Golden Delicious apples (about 1 1/2 pounds) peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

2 cup blackberries (about 10 ounces)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

1 large egg

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

While the puff pastry is thawing prep the filling. In a large skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples, 2 tablespoons sugar and ginger. Cook, stirring often, until softened. Let cool.  Toss the blackberries with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, the cornstarch, vanilla extract and lemon zest in a large bowl. Once the apples have cooled gently toss them into the mixture.

Once the puff pastry has thawed roll it out on a floured surface into a 12-inch square. Transfer to a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Place the filling in a small mound in the center of the puff pastry and fold and pleat the pastry dough over the fruit. Brush it with an egg wash – beat the egg with a teaspoon of water – and sprinkle with sugar. Return to the refrigerator for about 25-30 minutes and then bake in the preheated oven. Let cool before slicing in.

Recipe from Food Network

Quick & Easy Apple Tarts

Do you sometimes want an apple pie, but, you don’t really want to go through all the trouble to make one? Even if you are using a store-bought crust – I have no qualms in saying that’s usually my go-to way of “making” pie crust – it can still be a bit time and labor consuming. So, if you are ever feeling like that or you are feeling like that right now I have the remedy for you. A pair of Apple Tarts that take just about an hour to make – that includes prep and bake time – and only requires six ingredients!

To begin thaw out a puff pastry sheet for about 20-30 minutes. You don’t want it to become warm and mushy, but, you also don’t want it to be partially frozen. Once you are able to unfold it, it’s ready to be used. Slice it in half – a pizza cutter works best – and place both pieces on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

IMG_9390

While the puff pastry is defrosting make your apple filling. Core three apples…

IMG_9386

Then thinly slice them. It’s important to slice the apples as thin as possible this way they will cook (i.e. soften) during the short baking time.

IMG_9388

Next add in lemon juice, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Let the apples sit until the puff pastry is ready to be filled.

IMG_9389

Once the puff pastry is ready and you have sliced it in half arrange the apples in a single line.

IMG_9392 IMG_9391

Bake in a 415 F preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until the pastry has puffed and is lightly golden.

IMG_9393

Remove the tarts from the pan and transfer them to a cutting board to cool.

IMG_9401

Or, immediately cut off a piece and enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. There’s nothing like a warm apple treat with a scoop of ice cream on top of it.

IMG_9454

Overall these were incredibly easy to make and wonderfully delicious, but, there’s one thing I think I would change when I make these again… I’ll peel the apples this way it’ll be easier to take a bit out of them. The peel holds you back a little from taking clean bites… At least it does for me.

Baked Apple Tarts

Ingredients:

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed and cut in half

3 apples, cored and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons of lemon juice (approximately juice from half a lemon)

1 cup light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 415 F.

While the puff pastry is thawing prepare the apple filling by coring and slicing the apples then tossing them with the lemon juice, sugar, salt and cinnamon.

Once the puff pastry has thawed slice it half and place it on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

Arrange the apples on the puff pastry in a thin overlapping line.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until the pastry is lightly golden and puffed. Transfer the tarts to a cutting board or serving platter immediately.

Recipe slightly modified from The Pioneer Woman

Mixed Berry Galette

The unofficial end of summer is upon us… Labor Day. While the day temps feel like summer the drop in the evening temps definitely signal the arrival of Fall is imminent, kids are heading back to school and everywhere you look there is something flavored pumpkin. I am not complaining though… Fall is by far my favorite of the four seasons. I love the crispness in the air, apple picking, the leaves changing colors and the return of scarf season. If you didn’t know, I love scarves!!! But before all that fun begins I have one last summer themed dessert… A Mixed Berry Galette. While you can get berries – blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc. – anytime of the year, summer is when they are at their peak.

Just look at how vibrant and delicious these berries look…

IMG_9105

While you could make your dough from scratch, I opted to go the easier and quicker route by using a puff pastry sheet. After thawing the sheet out I rolled it on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch square. I then transferred it to a parchment lined cookie sheet and placed it the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

IMG_9107

Following that I put my berries – which I tossed with corn starch, sugar and salt – in a small mound in the center of the sheet and folded the edges around it. I brushed the edges with an egg wash – an egg beaten with a teaspoon of water – and sprinkled granulated sugar on it.

IMG_9110

After refrigerating it for 15 minutes I the baked it in a 400 F preheated oven for 30 minutes – until the puff pastry was golden brown and the berries were bubbling. Unfortunately my galette opened up a bit while baking.

IMG_9115

That didn’t affect the taste though; once it cooled I cut myself a piece and was quite pleased with how something so quick and simple could turn into something so delicious!

Mixed Berry Galette

Ingredients:

1 frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed

All-purpose flour, for dusting

1 large egg, for brushing the pastry

3 cups mixed berries – strawberries, blueberries, blackberries

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup granulated sugar*, plus more for sprinkling the puff pastry

1/4 teaspoon salt

*If you would like your galette on the sweeter side add a tablespoon or two more sugar.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the puff pastry into a 12-inch square on a lightly floured surface. Transfer the sheet to the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Make the filling by tossing the berries with the cornstarch, sugar and salt.

Place the fruit in the center of the puff pastry in a small mound and fold the edges of the sheet over the fruit, overlapping the sheet as you fold.

Brush the pastry with an egg wash – the egg lightly beaten with a teaspoon of water – and then sprinkle with granulated sugar. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes, until firm.

Bake until the edges are golden brown and the fruit is bubbling, about 30 – 35 minutes.

Mushroom & Sausage Quiche

Usually I add ground sausage to my Thanksgiving stuffing, this year though I was on the fence as to whether or not to add it in. As you can guess from this post I opted not to add it, but then the question was what to do with it. I could have frozen it and used it another time but then I remembered a recipe I had for a quiche that called for sausage and mushrooms, another ingredient for the quiche that I had left over from said stuffing. The recipe – Mushroom & Sausage Quiche – is one I came across in a cookbook I picked up years ago and ended up not using. While it was filled with many recipes most of them weren’t appealing to me except this one – which I ended up photocopying and then donating the book.

IMG_6080

I began by cooking the ground sausage.

IMG_6051

While the ground sausage was cooking I chopped up half a Vidalia onion and sliced half-a-pound of white mushrooms.

IMG_6053

After the sausage was cooked I transferred it to a bowl and wiped the skillet down and cooked the chopped onions and sliced mushrooms in a tablespoon of melted butter.

IMG_6055

Meanwhile in the bowl of my food processor I combined eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese (those of you not fond of cottage cheese don’t worry once the quiche is done you won’t even remember it’s there), flour and parmesan cheese and blended them until the mixture was smooth.

IMG_6056

I then stirred together the sausage, sautéed onions and mushrooms, the egg mixture and shredded sharp Cheddar cheese in a large bowl.

IMG_6057

And then spooned it into my pie dish which I fitted with a refrigerated piecrust.

IMG_6060

Following that I baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about 50 minutes.

IMG_6079

After letting it cool for about 10 minutes I sliced into it and enjoyed the every bite of it!

IMG_6083

Mushroom and Sausage Quiche 

Ingredients:

One 9-inch refrigerated piecrust, fitted into a 9-inch glass plate

One 1-pound package ground sausage

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/2 large Vidalia onion, chopped

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 cup cottage cheese, 2% or 4% milk fat

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon hot sauce*

One 8-ounce package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

*I omitted this from my version

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Crimp the edges of the crust.

2. In a large skillet, cook and drain the sausage, and set aside. Wipe out the pan, and in the same pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and onion, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until tender.

3. Place the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, flour, Parmesan cheese, and hot sauce in a food processor and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. Stir together the crumbled sausage, mushroom mixture, egg mixture, and Cheddar cheese, and spoon into the piecrust. Cover the edges of the piecrust with aluminum foil to prevent the crust from burning.

5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden brown and the center is set. Cool for 10 minutes and cut into 8 wedges.