Blueberry in Lavender Frangipane

IMG_9329I’ve done blueberry with lavender before on this blog.  It’s become a favorite flavor combination of mine.  And I’ve done several frangipane tarts before as well.  But the bursts of blueberry suspended in sweet, slightly lavender-flavored frangipane in this pie are phenomenal.  Plus the almond-sugar crust kicked ass.

Refer to the frangipane recipe at this post to find the recipe– then add 1-2tsp ground lavender flowers.

For the crust, I wish I’d measured ingredients– it was roughly 1 tsp salt, 1/2 cup almond flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg yolk, 2 Tbsp butter, 2Tbsp olive oil, and 1/4 cup flour.  Kneaded together, and patted in to a pie crust– then prebaked at 350F for 20minutes, or until edges are golden brown.

Fill pre-baked crust with frangipane.

Push in ~1 cup of blueberries into the frangipane, then pour an additional 1 cup on top.

Bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, until frangipane is golden brown.

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Chipotle Blackberry Pie

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The porch half of my kitchen: note the blackberry pie on the table.

I’ve moved to Seattle.  That description is a bit terse- but despite some appearances, this is a blog about pie.  Well, mostly.

Within the first couple days I’d broken in the new apartment with a blackberry pie.  Blackberries are vicious snarly weeds here.  The plants grow around the neighborhood, looming over fences, climbing up trees, barring sidewalks, defying all attempts to cull them out– the native kudzu of the Northwest.   I love them.

Free, delicious, accessible pie filling??? What’s not to love.

This is not a post about the first blackberry pie– no.  This is a post about the most recent blackberry pie (yes, there have been a few).

Last week, I grabbed mango habanero sorbet with a visiting friend.  I’ve been a fan of spicy fruit combinations in the past.  I’ve even tried my hand at them in pies: after a great green chile/apple pie in San Francisco, I tried my hand at Thai chili/coconut/apple pie.  It didn’t live up to my dreams.

But this one– tart yet robustly sweet blackberry with a warming hint of smoky chipotle, and a touch of ginger– this one was a winner.

I don’t have pictures at the moment.  But I do have a recipe:

2 standard pie crusts.

~4 cups blackberries

1/4 cup sugar

3-4 Tbsp of minute tapioca or other thickening agent (starch)

1/3 of a chipotle pepper, ground/chopped finely

2tsp of finely chopped fresh ginger (can use dried)

1 pat of butter (chopped in pieces)

Prebake one crust in a pie tin for ~15min at 350F until starting to flake (need not be fully cooked).  Mix non-crust ingredients, and place them in this shell.  Cover with the second crust (a lattice-top works well).  Sprinkle top crust with a bit of sugar, and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.  You can optionally brush the top with egg white, or spray with oil to get a nice brown top, bettered by broiling for 1 minute at the end of bake time.

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30. Goat Cheese and Kale+ quiche

Happy new year!!! As is evident, I failed at my goal of posting a pie a week in 2012.  I’ll keep posting until I have a at least 52 pies, and possibly longer.  This year, I’m hoping to do more classics with subtle twists mixed in with experiments.

Before we head to magical marvelous pie land, I’d like to pause and brag about my new spice rack, gifted to me by my cousin, purchased from GneissSpice.  They are little hexagonal jars with magnets in the lid.  I recently filled them, and kept rearranging them into shapes on my fridge like a little kid.  So far I’m loving them.  They should be fairly easy to make too.  To be honest, I need a few more: I’ve gone a bit spice-happy at the local farmers market.  My eyes will soon turn a beautiful Fremen blue.

That there’s some Gneiss Spice. You can see the labels I added, and my current organizational system.

My fridge is now both a work of art AND a space saving device.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now… on to the food.

This quiche, like the previous one, is a “what do I have in my fridge” creation.  It has goat cheese, kale, onion, mushroom, and orange pepper.  I worked parmesan cheese into the crust while rolling it out, and then topped it with a drizzle of parmesan-thyme cream sauce.

FILLING INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 eggs
  • 3.5 oz chevre goat cheese
  • 3 Tbsp kefir/yogurt/sour cream
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Vegetables: 1/4 onion (diced), 3 medium mushrooms (sliced), 4 stalks of kale (torn to small pieces), 1/2 a pepper (chopped) [yes, I used different verbs just because I could.  Make them all into small pieces using whatever method you desire.  I desired to set a group of miniature knights upon them, but could not find one.]
  • Salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, nutmeg, cinnamon (to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

  • blend together 3.5oz chevre goat cheese and 3 Tbsp kefir cheese (sour cream or plain yogurt would also work)
  • mix in 1/4 cup flour
  • beat in 5 eggs consecutively
  • stir in choice of seasonings/spices: I used paprika, cayenne, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper
  • Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a pan over medium-high heat, and add in choice vegetables.  Cook them while stirring for 5 minutes.

 

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The pie dough was fairly standard, and indeed the same base that I used for the blood orange pie (spoilers!!).

Roll out pie dough: instead of using flour on the pin/surface, I used a 50-50 mixture of grated parmesan and flour.  Place in large pie pan, and sprinkle additional cheese on top.  Cover with parchment paper and pie weights (I use dry beans) to hold crust down. Prebake for ~15 minutes at 350F.

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I want to pause to appreciate this crust.  I rolled out the extras (in their parmesan-cheesy goodness) thinly and made some crackers.  You can see some of the fine flaky structure in those crackers:

Thin, flaky layers that melt in your mouth, leaving behind the taste  of butter and parmesan.

Thin, flaky layers that melt in your mouth, leaving behind the taste of butter and parmesan.

Pour into crust and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. IMG_9101

 

Until you achieve something firm, golden brown, and aromatic.  Top it with more cheese if you want (I waited to serve it before adding a drizzle of parmesan cheese sauce), and briefly put it back in the oven/broiler brown if you do.IMG_9114

Overflowing with vegetables: just the way I like it! This photo is pre-drizzle.

 

It was great, as all things with cheese and vegetables usually are.  The crust was quite delicate and cheesy, and I loved it.  Now I just have to remember to save enough of it for brunch tomorrow!!

 

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31. Caramel Cranberry Pecanipane tart

Nothing quite says the holiday season is here like spotting piles of bagged cranberries at your grocery.  I always buy a bag as soon as I can because I love cranberries and couldn’t be happier than when I sit in the cold to eat steaming cranberry sauce topped with some vanilla ice cream out of a wine goblet for dinner. What can I say– I love my tart fruits.

I’ve been tempted to make “pecanipane” (I have no idea what to actually call the equivalent of frangipane made with pecans instead of almonds) before.  But my stock of fruit was oddly low- I had apples… and that “first of the season” bag of cranberries in my freezer.  So I did some searches for pecan frangipane and lo and behold, I came across this: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/11/cranberry-pecan-frangipane-tart/

That looked decent– but she referenced an “Cranberry, Caramel, Almond tart” that sounded even better.  So I did my usual tactic: I read both recipes once, and took the gist of them combined into one tart.

Drawing a page from my `Samoa Cookie Pie’ recipe, I scrapped traditional pate brisee for my grandmother’s toffee bar dough.  It’s easy, tasty, holds up nicely, and doesn’t shrink.  You can find the recipe on that post.  Make sure you save the white of the egg, because it conveniently goes into the pecanipane.  It’s like these two were made for each other.

After making the dough, firmly press it into 2 pie pans.  It should easily fit both (you do not want it to be too thick.  Only one of these will be used for the pie– the other you can top with chocolate, nuts, or mayhap even use for that samoa pie.  Pre-bake these for ~10–15 minutes at 375F until lightly golden brown.

Pecanipane

  • 3/4 cups pecan meal
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 5 Tbsp butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 egg and 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Beat together the pecan, flour and sugar (in a stand mixer, blender, or other efficient mixing device).  Add the softened butter and beat until creamy.  Add in the egg, vanilla and salt and mix thoroughly.   Pour into one pie crust.

Pecanipane-filled pre-baked toffee crust.

Caramel

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup pecans (alternately, reserve these and put on top of the pecanipane directly before candying)
  • 1 hearty splash of cream (or in my case, eggnog)
  • 3Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2tsp vanilla

Making pecan-flavored caramel. Part 1: melt the sugar.

Heat sugar and salt (and pecans) over medium-high flame in a pan- swirling the pan regularly to more evenly heat.  Cook until sugar is browning and bubbly.  Add pecans if desired to get some of the pecan flavor in the caramel. Turn heat to low.

Part 2: salivate over the candied pecans. Set a few aside just to crunch on.

Add butter, cream, and vanilla. Stir together and remove from heat.

Place 1/3 cup cranberries and 1/4 cup (candied) pecans over the pecanipane.

Cranberry/nut laden top.

Here you can see that I dumped milk chocolate onto the remaining toffee bar immediately after removing it from the oven. I then stirred in some excess caramel and topped with chopped pecans. Easy, tasty, fast.

Dump (or, if you care for aesthetics, drizzle) the caramel over the top.

Unceremoniously topped with caramel. Who needs to stand on ceremony when there’s caramel involved???

Bake at 350F for about 30minutes.

Complete. Not the prettiest, but you can always hide that by sifting some powdered sugar over the top, and trimming the crust evenly after baking.  Or you can not really care.

Remove from oven, let cool.  Enjoy.

This is a winning flavor combination: I’d never really thought of caramel and cranberries together before: but now I might even consider making a batch of cranberry caramel with cranberries tossed in with the unheated sugar.  It’s a wonderful combination– and the pecanipane was expectedly delicious.  The candied pecans worried me for a bit, as I thought they might be too crunchy.  However, everything worked very well both texturally and taste-wise.  You can cut this tart and, since the crust is toffee bar, pick it up and eat it with your hands.  Or you could dress this up and make a very fancy, unique dessert out of it.  Either way, it’s delicious, it’s festive, and it’s gone.

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30. Gumbo Pot Pie

This. Is. Delicious.  I say it in the present tense because I’m so excited to tell you about this pie that I’m typing as I eat it.

Now, for those of you that can’t imagine gumbo without meat, just pause for a moment.  What makes gumbo so amazing? The roux.  The rich savory satisfaction.  The spices.  Some of those seasonings come from the meats… but it’s not hard to make up for them (add the sausage spices, and pour in extra grease if you really miss the full experience). Vegetarian gumbo can be amazing.

I followed an amalgamation of online recipes. This offers a good general description: http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Food/Stir-It-Up/2012/0221/Mardi-Gras-jambalaya-or-Cajun-gumbo

GUMBO:

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cups okra
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1.5 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 fake sausage
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 4Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • paprika
  • cayenne
  • black pepper
  • oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • thyme
  • 2.5 cups broth

Roughly chop vegetables.  Heat butter in a large pan (enough for all the gumbo).  Once hot, add in the flour, stirring well (and constantly) for about 10 minutes until a rich brown.

Mix in the onions and cook until softened.  Add in the other vegetables and some broth.

Continue to stir regularly.  Add in the diced tomatoes and seasonings to taste. Allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Note that the gumbo can of course be prepared ahead of time. I froze mine for about a week before using it.

CRUST:

This was a standard crust 3:2:1 crust with flour and butter (and a 1/2tsp of salt).  The exception was that I mixed in an egg before adding a splash of vinegar/water to reach the proper consistency.

Put gumbo in oven-safe dishes, and top with rough circles of crust, crimping, cutting vent holes, brushing with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkling with salt.  Bake in the oven at 350 for ~45 minutes until well browned.

Enjoy!!!

This was a phenomenal combination.  As a vegetarian, I don’t eat chicken pot pies– and honestly hadn’t even thought of making pot pies as an option for this blog.  Then, when the notion for a gumbo pot pie crossed my mind, I knew instantly I was on to something.  It was incredibly satisfying and robust.  I can’t wait to try other nonconventional pot pies– and to share them with you, of course.

Highly recommended.

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29. Goldrush apple pie

This post is not so much about the pie as it is about the pie foreplay: an entire weekend leading up to a delicious pie.

Amanda (my sister) and I went on a spree up into the mountains this weekend to check out the fall colors.  We stopped at an orchard where we were supposed to meet up with some friends for picking.  Unfortunately, we’d gotten stuck in traffic (it appeared that EVERYONE decided to go to the orchards this weekend), so we went picking on our own– but not before sampling all the wares.

At the apple tasting counter, I asked to sample the “best apple I’d probably never eaten”.  They handed me a slice of goldrush.  Instant love affair.  It isn’t currently in the U-Pick selection, so we went over to the pre-picked apples.  I stood in deliberation for a moment before grabbing the biggest bag they had.  Half a peck of delicious delicious apples.  It looks something like this:

A fair number of apples.

Then, because we didn’t have enough apples, we went out and picked some.

Amanda is proud of her apple.

The day was beautiful, the people were southern, and the guys were in cowboy hats.

And, because you can eat as many apples as you want while in the orchard, we ate our fill too:

Loaded up with too many apples, we headed over to our campsite.  Down a dirt road:

And into a campground we had entirely to ourselves:

The weekend was refreshing, the weather was gorgeous, the air was crisp, and the company was marvelous.  And the apples… they called out to be made into a pie.  So within an hour of arriving at home, a pie was out of the oven and cooling.

 

The pie was quite plain:

  • 3 Gold rush apples, peeled and chopped.
  • A pinch of salt
  • A teaspoon of tapioca starch
  • A teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Some nutmeg

Toss them together, put in pie shell, and top with a pat o’ butter.

Since I couldn’t decide whether to do a crumble top or a pie crust, I made the crust– but then topped heartily it with a mixture of butter, cinnamon sugar, and brown sugar.  I felt justified in the sugar since there was absolutely none in the pie itself.

Baked at 350F for 40min, until browned.  I topped it with the (caramelized/toasted) apple peels to make it look fancy.  But I was stupidly taking pictures in low light outside, where we were carving pumpkins– and the pictures didn’t really turn out.

The pie was definitely apple pie, and definitely delicious.

Three of us ate it in one night.  This was all that was left in the morning, and that soon disappeared.

The crispness of the apples didn’t fade upon cooking: they stayed quite crunchy so it felt almost like eating a fresh-apple pie.  Saucy apples have their place, and maybe a mixture would be nice too— but I really liked this contrast from the standard mushier apple.  And the flavor of these apples really speaks for itself.

The caramelized spiced sugar on top was also a great addition.

I had a delicious taste of fall this weekend, and I still have so many apples left… I’m sure I can find a use for them!

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28. Concord Grape

This pie was a long time coming. As I’ve mentioned before, my obsession with pie is prompted by the memories of making it (and eating it) with my Grandmother.  It’s an association I cherish and celebrate with every bite of pie.

There is no pie I associate with my grandmother more than this one.  We used to call it sweatin’ pie, because people would claim the strong flavor made their noses start to sweat.  It’s so very unique, and so very delicious.  I was skeptical the first time I ate this pie– but, like most people that have the fortune of eating a grape pie, I got over that skepticism with the first bite.

The labor that goes into this pie sounds more daunting than it actually is. The most difficult part is actually finding concord grapes.  I search for them every time I go to the store.  It’s a marvel of a pie, and worth every second.

Concord grape pie tastes kind of like concentrated concord grape juice… except fresh, warm, gooey, thick, and wrapped inside a wonderful flaky pastry crust with partially caramelized sugar on top.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5-2lbs concord grapes, washed
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 pie crusts
  • 3-4 Tbsp starch/minute tapioca

Take each grape and push the grape out of the skin into a saucepan.  Save the skins in a bowl.  This is time intensive, but they pop out of the substantial skins easily (just make a small incision with your fingernail and push the grape flesh out).

Heat the grape flesh for a few minutes over the stove until soft and mushable.  Put through a sieve, placing the pulp/juice with the skins and discarding the seeds.  Stir in the sugar and tapioca or starch.

Fill the pie crust, and cover with an additional one.

Sprinkle the top generously with sugar, and cut venting slits.

Bake at 350F for about 35 minutes, until the top crust is lightly browned.

 

 

 

Normally I’m all for eating pie immediately, but this one needs some setting time (after all, it is mostly juice).  Otherwise you will have crust and grape soup. This is not bad, but doesn’t slice as well.  I recommend eating this with vanilla ice cream.  It really benefits from the cream contrast.

I didn’t wait sufficiently long to dig in to the pie. But if you’ve ever had Concord grape pie, you’ll forgive me. The sacrifice of a beautiful picture was worth it.

 

Every bite is an explosion of flavor.  I love this pie.

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