Tag Archives: tart

Flaky, Buttery Pie Crust … Sweet and Savoury Fillings

Because you can never have ENOUGH pie crust recipes, I gave this one a try … half unsalted butter and half lard. The blogger who posted the recipe, used shortening, which I didn’t have, as she claims that using the two different fats takes advantage of the best characteristics of each.

Sweet Pie … apple and quince filling

I haven’t bought quinces in years and at the exorbitant price of the imported ones ($2.49 each), I wasn’t about to make a whole pie out of them. But, I was able to combine one perfectly poached quince (green bumpy looking fruit on the right in the picture below) with three Braeburn apples (on sale at $1.15 a pound) to produce a tasty filling to test out my latest pie crust recipe.

The pie recipe I used was based on this one with some changes. I’ve included it below so it’s all in one place.

Apple-Quince Pie – makes 1 9-inch pie, serves 6 generously or 8 more moderately

pie pastry, enough for a top and bottom crust

Poached Quinces

1-2 lg quinces, peeled and diced *
1 cup water
3-4 tbsp honey
pinch of salt

Rest of Filling

3-4 lg apples, peeled and diced**
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

* 1 quince (~250 gm)
** 3 apples (~675 gm), Braeburns

Poaching the quince/s

Combine the water, sugar, salt and diced quince(s). Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the quinces are crisp-tender, 8-10 minutes. Remove the fruit to a large bowl and let cool. Continue cooking the liquid, uncovered, until it reduces to about 1/4 cup.

Preheat the oven to 500 deg F with a rimmed baking sheet on the lowest shelf level.

Making the filling

In a small bowl, combine the sugars, flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Add the chopped apples to the bowl with the cooled quince. Sprinkle the sugar/flour/spice mixture over the fruit and gently stir in the thickened quince liquid. Pour the filling into the pie bottom.

Add the top crust, seal and crimp the edges. Cut slashes in the crust.

Place the pie dish on the preheated baking sheet, turn the heat down to 425 deg F and bake for 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Reduce the heat to 375 deg F and continue cooking until the filling bubbles and the crust is golden brown, another 45-55 min.

Remove the pie pan to a cooling rack until it’s come to room temperature. Refrigerate for AT LEAST 2 hrs and preferably overnight before cutting into the pie.

Savoury Tart … spinach and paneer (cheese) tart

Because I’m a cheap frugal home cook, I rolled out the trimmings from the apple and quince pie to form a top crust for a spinach and paneer tart. For the base, I used a mini pie shell from the freezer. It was made with the leftover pastry from my PREVIOUS pie bake … a nectarine crumble.

I wasn’t sure how much filling I would need so I threw together something that came out pretty well.

Spinach and Paneer Tart – makes 1 mini pie, enough for 2 generous servings

pie pastry, enough for a bottom crust, divided in half

1/2 box (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (~64 gm)
140 gm paneer cheese, crumbled
2 large eggs
2 tbsp whipping cream, or regular milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg.

Preheat oven to 425 deg Fahrenheit. Adjust the shelf in the oven so it’s at the lowest position. Place a baking sheet in the oven so that it will preheat as well.

Roll out the dough for the base. Line a disposable aluminum mini pie tin leaving about 1/2 inch of excess pastry. Roll out the top so there’s about an inch of excess pastry.

Assemble the filling ingredients. Fill the base, add the top crust, folding over and crimping closed. Cut several slits for the steam to escape.

Place the tart on the baking sheet. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

REVIEW: I found that the pie crust recipe lived up to its name … it IS both flaky and buttery. It’s easy to make, tasty and will remain in my recipe collection. The fillings of both the sweet and savoury variations were delicious as well.

January Wrap Up

WARNING: Picture heavy post

The first month of the new year is almost gone and, while I ate well, I’ve had to be very frugal in my grocery shopping. Which meant foraging in my freezer for things I bought in more affluent days. Some of the meals were very simple while others were a bit more fussy.

Fried pork chop with leftover butternut squash

Ready-made frozen potato, cheddar and bacon filled pierogies sauteed in onions, topped with sour cream and served with Debrecener sausage

Buffalo Chicken wings – Two pounds of wings dressed with sauces/dips included in the box. Added bagged, frozen hashed brown potato patties and salad

 

Chicken Cutlet Caesar Salad – Leftover cutlet, home made croutons and shredded cheddar for extra texture and flavour

Lap Cheong (Chinese Sausage) Steamed Rice

One of my favourite dim sum dishes is sticky/glutinous rice lotus leaf wraps (lo mai gai). Along with chunks of steamed chicken, small chunks of Chinese sausage (lap cheong), Chinese mushroom and scallions are also found in the wrap. I remember pieces of hard boiled egg … but that seems to have disappeared. When I ran across a package of those tasty sausages, I picked it up with the vague idea of making something similar. Instead, I just added them to the top of a pot of rice before cooking it and let the fat melt and flavour the rice. Then I chopped up the sausages, and stirred them, along with green onion and soy sauce, into the rice. A spoonful of sambal oelek for spice and I had a fast and delicious rice bowl for lunch or supper.

Cheese “Boats” or Pies aka Fatayer Jebneh or Khachapuri

Some years ago I made fatayer, a Middle Eastern yeast based pastry which may be shaped in a variety of ways and filled with meat, spinach, mushroom or cheese. Left as flat rounds or mini ‘pizzas’ the dough may be topped with a za’atar paste (a spice mixture made up of thyme, sumac and toasted sesame seed) or a ground meat mixture. The meat ones are called ‘sfeeha’.

Cheese Pies (Fatayer Jebneh) – makes 20 6″ oval cheese pies

Use ~2 oz/56.7 gm per fatayer

To make the dough

3 cups flour, divided (2 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup)
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon baking powder (see note)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup yogurt
1 tbsp granular yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water

For the cheese filling

2 cups crumbled paneer, ricotta or feta cheese  (or some combination)
2 cups grated old cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced green onion (~2)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Proof the yeast by mixing it with the 2 tsp of sugar and warm water in a cup; the yeast should foam and bubble. If it doesn’t then it has gone bad and you need to replace it with new package.

In a bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups of the flour, salt and baking powder (if using) until combined.

Add the oil and then rub it into the flour mix with your fingertips.

Add the yogurt and the water/yeast mixture and knead the dough until it forms a smooth soft ball that doesn’t stick to your hands, using the reserved flour as needed. (TIP: lift the dough and slam it into the table 7-10 times during kneading. That will give your baked goods that fluffy interior.)

Oil a bowl with a little olive oil, place dough inside, cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place until it doubles in size.

Push down the dough and then cut into half. Roll each half into a sausage shape and cut into 10 even sized portions. Roll the 20 pieces of dough into balls and cover them with a clean towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each dough ball into an elongated oval shape 5-6″ long. Place 1 rounded tbsp of the cheese filling in the middle of the oval, leaving about 1/2″ around the margin.

Fold one edge of the dough over and press it with your finger tips to seal it. Fold over the opposite side and tuck the dough under the pastry boat. Repeat on the opposite side.

Once you’re done shaping the pastry gently press the top folds down to adhere the dough to the cheese. This helps to prevent the pastry boats from opening up when you bake them

Brush the pastries with milk, egg wash or olive oil to give them a beautiful golden color when they bake.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

Rest the pastries for 10-15 minutes after shaping before baking them.

Bake on the lower-middle rack for 15-20 min until the tops and bottoms are golden brown.

Note: If you are going to consume the fatayer soon after baking, keep the baking powder (increases the fluffiness of the dough and allows it to rise better in the oven). If you plan on storing them or eating them over a couple of days omit the baking powder because the fatayer remain softer and more chewy when they are cooled and stored without the baking powder. (Baking powder results in the baked goods hardening a little when they are cold)

 

Recently, I learned about a similar cheese topped pastry called khachapuri made in Georgia (the Caucasus mountains). I was intrigued by the shaping, so I used the same dough and a similar filling (ricotta, cheddar and feta cheese, green onion, salt and pepper)  I’d used to make the fatayer and played with the dough. They looked pretty good (and tasted delicious) but I need to work on my shaping as the boats opened up during baking. NOTE: The cheeses were all frozen and bagged 2-3 months ago so I wanted to use them up.

 

 

Dessert made with leftover pastry from the chicken pot pies

Butter tarts with raisins

Blind baked mini pie shell filled with orange curd and topped with sweetened whipped cream

 

Christmas Dinner: Prime Rib

Beef isn’t on the menu too often at my house. Not that I don’t love it, but chicken and pork are more affordable and usually on sale. However, I decided to splurge this year and make a British themed Christmas menu with the focus on a prime rib.

It was huge for a single person, almost 5 pounds, but the price was right (<$30), and I figured I’d get at least six meals out of it.

So, I bought what turned out to be a single bone roast and made the traditional sides – Yorkshire puddings/popovers with gravy from the juice, roast potatoes and carrots and mincemeat tarts and some bought marzipan topped fruit cake for ‘afters’.

I tried to restrain my picture taking cause I wanted to eat warm food for a change. I wasn’t totally successful but I TRIED.

Prime rib meal

Dessert plate

And then, because I always have to go that little bit further, I bought a wedge of Stilton cheese and did a poached pear (cranberry mead, honey, cloves, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick sugar syrup), Stilton and walnut plate.

Cheese and nut plate

Plating 2 … cause I couldn’t decide which one I liked better

Prime rib before and after roasting

  

Carved and leftovers for the freezer … some were more rare than others

  

Popovers

Prime rib and sides

Basic Pie Crust: Kentucky Derby Pie and Raisin Butter Tarts Revisited

I’ve baked butter tarts before but it’s been SO long that you may not remember these wonderful little Canadian treats. You can bake them plain or add raisins or nuts. You can even add chocolate chips to the filling. But they ALL start with a basic pie crust.

So that’s why today’s post is titled as it is.

A pie crust is the start of many great dishes, sweet OR savoury. And I’m not talking a fancy French ‘pate sucree’, like Martha Stewart whips up. I’m talking about a plain and simple, tender crust with REAL LARD!! Not butter. I used the recipe on the Tenderflake lard box, this time, but I added a teaspoon of baking powder to the basic recipe.

Why you may ask?

Cause that’s what Edna Staebler does. She’s the author of the cookbook, “Food That Really Schmecks”, among others, based on Mennonite cooking as it is practiced in the Waterloo, Ontario region. I own 4 of her cookbooks and thought that I should really start cooking out of my cookbooks more, rather than depending strictly on the internet for recipes.

Of course, I’ve said that I’d start doing that ages ago. Good intentions and all that.

The only drawback is that SOMETIMES, the cookbooks, leave out important information. Like how big you should cut out your pastry circles when making tarts and how many tarts the filling will FILL. 🙂

Tenderflake Pie Crust – makes enough pastry for  6 x 9 inch pie shell bottoms or 3 x 9 inch double crust pies

1 1 lb package of lard, roughly cut into 8-16 pieces
6 cups pastry flour or 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder (optional)
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
cold water as needed (~7/8 cup)

Stir the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Cut in the lard with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the shortening is in pea sized pieces. (They don’t all have to be the same size.)

In a measuring cup, combine the egg and vinegar. Add enough cold water to make one cup.

Stir the liquid into the flour mixture, adding just enough to make the dough cling together. Then gather the dough into a ball, and separate into 6 portions.

Wrap each portion in food wrap (Saran Wrap) snuggly and pat lightly into a disc.

Refrigerate for one hour or overnight. Before rolling the dough out, leave it at room temp for 15 mins.

Lightly flour surface and roll into circles, then pat the dough into pie pans, following pie recipes. Be careful not to stretch the dough.

Kentucky Derby Tarts

Inside the Derby tart

Kentucky Derby Pie or Tarts – makes enough filling for 1 x 9 inch pie or 18 large tarts, pie serves 6-8

1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust
1 cup white sugar (or half white and half brown or yellow)
1/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
3 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or sugar
2 tbsp Bourbon, dark rum or rye (I used 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp of my rye whiskey vanilla extract in place of the vanilla and Bourbon)
1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecan, coarsely chopped (I used walnuts cause that’s all I had)

Preheat the oven to 375 deg Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the beaten eggs, corn syrup, salt, vanilla and the liquor and whisk together so it’s well mixed.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips and the pecan pieces over the base of the unbaked pie crust.

Pour the filling carefully over the chocolate chips and nuts.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is set and the edges of the pastry is a golden brown. There will be almost no jiggle in the center of the pie.

Let cool to room temperature before serving.

A scoop of ice cream or a tbsp of sweetened whipped cream is a great addition to this already decadent dessert.

Tart Variation:

For making the tarts, you’ll need enough pastry to make TWO 9 inch pie shells.

Spray the inside of the muffin tins lightly with PAM or other cooking spray to help in removing the tarts from the tins.

Roll out the pastry 1/8 inch thick and cut 4 inch circles. Lay inside large muffin tins and gently press into shape.

Sprinkle ~1 tbsp each, chocolate chips and chopped nuts in bottom of every muffin tin.

Fill each muffin tin with ~2 tbsp of the pie filling and place in the preheated oven. IMMEDIATELY reduce the oven temperature to 350 deg F and bake for 20-25 minutes until the filling is set and the underside of the tarts have browned.

NOTE: Bake the tarts in the bottom third of the oven so that the bottom of the tarts will cook through and brown.

Let the tarts cool to room temperature in the muffin tins before running a butter knife around the edge of the tins and removing.

Raisin Butter Tarts – baked as a pie

I apologize for the sloppy cut picture above. I was also making 2 large pizzas and by the time I had kneaded the dough and done all the rolling etc for the tarts, I was too tired to do more than snap a quick shot.