Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Pie Crust – Ready Made

posted in Pantry, Sweets by Kathy Maister

For some people, making your own pie crust is almost as scary as speaking in front of a large crowd! Fortunately there is a way around this. You can make both sweet and savory pies by buying a ready made pie crust at the grocery store. Here are a few basics that will help when using pre-made store-bought pie crusts.

You can buy a pie crust all ready to use in the frozen food section of the grocery store.

These come in a disposable tin pie dish. You definitely need to set this type of crust on a baking sheet with sides when you put it in the oven.

Pillsbury makes a great pie crust. You can buy this one in the dairy section of the grocery store.

The box contains two rolls of pasty, in case you want to make a “two-crust” pie like an apple pie. One roll would be for the bottom and the other would be for the top.

A one-crust pie, like for a quiche , pumpkin pie (shown below) or a pecan pie, has only a bottom crust.

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Freeze the leftover roll. Be sure to use it within about 2 months: after that, it really starts to dry out in the freezer.

When working with this pastry, the trick is to make sure it is almost at room temperature when you unroll it.

If it is too cold, you might tear it. If it is too warm you may stretch it. Unroll it right over your pie dish.

Gently press it into the shape of the pie dish.

If the dough is hanging over the side of the dish, turn the edges under.

You could then press the edges down with the tines of a fork all the way around the edge of the dish.

Or you could crimp the edges with your forefinger of one hand pushed between the forefinger and thumb of your other hand.

You many actually find it easier to use your knuckle instead of your forefinger.

You end up with a lovely decorative edge all the way around the pie.

If your recipe calls for a pre-baked “shell”, this is when you would prick the sides and bottom of the dough with a fork and put it in the oven and bake it according to the directions on the package. Ice cream pies and pudding pies (like chocolate cream pie) usually need a pre-baked crust.

Recipes will often say to put tin foil around the edges of your pie so that the crust does not burn. You could just tear off some strips of tin foil but making them stay in place is often a bit tricky.

Rose Levy Beranbaum, who wrote the The Pie and Pastry Bible, suggests making a foil ring. (By the way this is probably one of the best and most comprehensive books on making pies. There are very few photos and the book is as big as a door stop, but it is excellent!)

Making a foil ring:

Tear off a piece of heavy-duty foil a few inches larger then the diameter to the pie. Cut a circle bigger than your pie dish. (As a guide, use a really large pot lid or a pizza pan). To mark a cutout in the center, use a bowl or a smaller pot lid.

Leave at least a 3-inch border. The hole in the center of the circle will expose the pie’s surface but not the edge of the pie. Use a pair of scissors, to cut out the circle. Shape it so that it will curve over the rim of the pie crust. (Don’t press it down on the pie crust. I should just be sitting on to of the crust.

Cover the edges of the crust after the first 15 minutes of baking. They will continue to brown, though more slowly beneath the foil.

There are some bakers that put the foil on the pie before sticking it in the oven. There are advantages to doing it this way in that you are not trying to fit this tinfoil ring on a very hot pie. Your best bet is to fit the ring on the pie before you put the pie in the oven.

After 15 minutes you can then just slip the tinfoil in place and you should end up with a perfect pie!

You can also buy pre-made cracker crusts…

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…or make your own Graham Cracker Pie Crust!

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Chocolate Fudge Pie with Graham Cracker Crust

Cheers!

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White Chocolate and Frozen Berries

print recipe card posted in Sweets by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

This is my absolute favorite dessert of any I have ever eaten in my whole life!

I first tasted this at the Ivy restaurant in London. They call it Scandinavian Berries; I call it a plate-licking conversation stopper! To make this dessert you will need:

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) of heavy cream
  • 10 ounces of white chocolate
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla

As well as a half-pint each of 3 small berries like

  • blueberries
  • red raspberries and
  • blackberries

Over in England, there are all sorts of teeny-tiny berries available at the grocery store. However, here in Boston, blueberries are pretty much the smallest berry you can buy.

To make this dessert we need to:

  1. Freeze the berries
  2. Melt the heavy cream, chocolate and vanilla extract together
  3. Pour the hot melted chocolate mixture over the frozen berries.

The blackberries will probably be bigger than the other berries, so start by cutting the blackberries in half, making all the pieces of the berries approximately the same size. Then lay a piece of wax paper or parchment paper on a baking sheet with sides. Spread ALL the berries out in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Lay the baking sheet in the freezer. Once the berries are frozen, remove them from the tray and store them in a baggie in the freezer.

Use the absolute best white chocolate that you can afford. (Try to avoid using “white chocolate chips” as they are not really chocolate.) The block of white chocolate that I bought needs to get chopped up into tiny pieces. It will melt much faster when it’s chopped up.

Put the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl that fits on top of a pan that has an inch or two of water on the bottom. (This is the “double-boiler” system.)

We melted dark chocolate in the fudge recipe this way.

You have to make sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. The whole point of a *double boiler* is to melt/cook things very gently by having the steam from the water (not the water itself) heat the upper bowl!

Add the heavy cream and the vanilla to the bowl of chocolate.

Give it an occasional stir until everything is warm, melted, and all blended together.

About 5 minutes before serving, put the berries in a single layer in a flat bowl.

Pour the hot chocolate mixture into a heat-proof jug. At the table, in front of your guests, pour the hot chocolate mixture over the frozen berries.

The chocolate warms up the berries and the berries cool down the chocolate. One bite and you will be hooked on this utterly fantastic dessert!

Enjoy!

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The Easiest Way to Make Pie

posted in Sweets by Kathy Maister

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No-Bake Chocolate Cheese Cake Pie

All beginner cooks are terrified of making a pie. If you have zero experience at pie making, a frozen or “no-bake” pie recipe (using a pre-made crust) is a good place to start. (The ten no-bake pies listed below are all perfect recipes for a beginner cook!)

Buying or Making The Crust

Many ice cream pies or no-bake pies call for a graham cracker crust. You can buy a graham cracker pie shell in the baking section of the grocery store or try making a graham cracker crust yourself. (These cracker crusts can also be made with many other sweet cracker/cookies like oreo cookies, ginger snaps, vanilla wafers, etc.)

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Or you can buy a ready-made pie shell, usually found in the freezer section of the grocery store.

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When making an un-cooked pie (like an ice cream pie), these pie shells will have to get baked and cooled before filling them.

For those of you ready to tackle the pie dough making challenge, our friend Heidi at the Ward Street Bistro has a wonderful pie crust recipe that does not require “rolling out” the dough.

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This “Press in the Pan” pie dough recipe looks great for anyone intimated by a rolling pin!

Easy Pie Recipes:

Ice Cream Pie
You can concoct a very simple pie without a recipe. Buy a ready-made pie crust (or make a graham cracker one) and a tub of ice cream or frozen yogurt. Set the ice cream out to soften. Once you can scoop it easily, fill the pie crust, smooth the top and add any toppings you want (nuts, whipped cream, chocolate sauce). Then put it back into the freezer until serving time.

Pudding Pies
Similarly, you can make a custom pie with pudding and fruit. Just buy a box of pudding mix – chocolate, vanilla, or another flavor – follow the directions, and pour it into a ready-made pie crust. Top it with sliced bananas, strawberries, or whatever you like. Refrigerate the pie until you are ready to serve it.

Frozen Lemonade Pie
The folks over at Baked Perfection tried this recipe (from the Food Network show Down Home With the Neely’s) for a Fourth of July party and fell in love with it. Set in a graham cracker crust, its sweet, lemony filling calls for frozen lemonade concentrate, whipped cream and sweetened condensed milk. An easy alternative to a baked lemon meringue pie!

Nutter Butter Frozen Pie
Hello, peanut butter fans? It’s your dream pie calling. This one has a crust made of crushed Nutter Butter cookies (but feel free to substitute a pre-made one) and a frosty peanut butter and cream cheese filling.

Frozen Oreo Pie
The name says it all!

Frozen Blueberry Pie
This pie is not frozen in the sense that it sits in the freezer; it’s a baked blueberry pie that calls for frozen blueberries and a frozen pie crust. I’m including it because summer is the time for blueberries (even frozen) and this is a very easy version of your typical fruit pie that calls for crust made from scratch.

Chocolate Fudge Pie
One bite of this decadent pie and you’ll never look at silken tofu the same way again. It’s one of the keys to this pie’s creamy fudginess.

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No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Banana Tofu Pie
Here’s another recipe that involves tofu. This pie uses either a homemade or store-bought graham cracker crust to hold an intense filling. It takes about 15 minutes to make, then goes in the fridge or freezer for a couple of hours.

No-Bake Mango Pie
Anything mango is great in the summer. This one contains mango puree which you can buy in a can or make your own.

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How to Peel a Mango

No-Bake Key Lime Pie
A can of frozen limeade concentrate is what gives this simple pie its lime flavor.

Easy Coconut Banana Cream Pie takes just 20 minutes to make! This pie will need 4 hours in the refrigerator to set. It’s worth the wait!

My No-Bake Chocolate Cheese Cake Pie (shown above) is a rich chocolaty cheese cake pie that will quickly become a family favorite. It does involves whipping your own heavy cream. (For a quick review on whipping cream, check out my post on How to Make Whipped Cream)

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