Sunday, March 25, 2012

History of Pie

 As far back as 1300 b.c. Egyptian bakers were making pie dough, but the Greeks were the first to use pie dough wrapped around meat. Romans made pie with oysters and the first pie recipe was a Roman goat cheese and honey combination. The Romans spread the concept of pies through Europe. However dessert pies didn't start until the 1500's and were filled with pears, quines, and apples. An English myth claims Queen Elizabeth made the first cherry pie. A Mayflower meat dish was called "pie at sea" and when the Pilgrims arrived they used berries, cranberries, eggs, dried fruit, and molasses. By the time of the Revolutionary war pie included butter, sugar, and spices,

Western pioneers used whatever was available like huckleberries and pecans. When Butch Cassidy was a kid he was arrested for stealing a pair of pants and a slice of pie. Prairie pies included rhubarb, mulberries, and peaches. In the south they were using sweet potatoes. By the turn of the century pie had become the symbol of American plenty. Pie has come to symbolize ingenuity, resilience, mothers love, and America.

A 1902 New York Times editorial read: "Pie is the American synonym of prosperity, and its varying contents [is] the  calendar of the changing seasons. Pie is the food of the heroic. No pie-eating people can ever be permanently vanquished. It is a significant historical fact that England's glory was greatest in the days when her gallant sons ate pie."

(From November 13, 2011 Parade Magazine.)

1884 - "You're always as polite as pie to them." Tom Sawyer says to Ben Rogers in Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

1943 - "Why do you take the trouble to bake my fav'rite pie?" Curly to Laurey in Oklahoma!

1972 - "So Bye Bye Miss American Pie" Don McLean

Pauline's Sweet Potato Pie (5 Stars)

Pauline's Sweet Potato Pie

I've worked with Pauline for several years now. She's from South Carolina so the recipe has to be authentic. At every work party her Sweet Potato Pie is always the first dessert to go. For some reason in my mind sweet potatoes are an orange color but actually sweet potatoes are yellow and yams are orange. The pie turned out very well with a golden brown crust. But next time I would cut back the sugar by 1/4 cup, it was plenty sweet.

Sweet Potato Pie
Grandma and a slice of pie

Crust: Single Buttermilk Crust

1-1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (about 2 large potatoes)
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 400 F, bake potatoes until tender, about 40 minutes. Remove skins and mash until smooth. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, sugar, milk, egg yolks, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Beat until smooth. In another bowl, whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into the potato mixture. Pour batter in pastry shell and bake at 400 F for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F and bake for 45 minutes or until set.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Scottish Apple Pie (4 Stars)

Scottish Apple Pie

I wanted to make a pie with a St. Patrick's Day theme but wasn't interested in just adding green food coloring. I remembered this recipe we found back in 2005 on the website. Although its not Irish the Murray's are from Scotland so I thought, close enough. Evelyn Herring posted this explanation: "My mother was raised in Scotland and learned to cook at a time when quality ingredients were hard to come by. She had to be imaginative, often substituting ingredients and improvising recipes." The ginger snaps add the spice and the orange marmalade and zest give it an interesting flavor.

Crust: 2 crust buttermilk

6 -7 large Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/3 cup marmalade
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon grated orange peel zest

Heavy whipping cream
Coarse sugar

Mix apples, sugar, cookie crumbs, marmalade, raisins, and orange peel in large bowl. Line large pie plate with bottom crust. Pour in filling and top with remaining crust. Brush on whipping cream, cut vents, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in preheated oven at 425 F for 15 minutes. Rotate pie 180 degrees, cover crust edge with foil, bake at 375 F for 40 minutes or until bubbling thickly.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pear Fig Pie (3 Stars)

Pear Fig Pie

We celebrated Karly's birthday yesterday but she declined to have a birthday pie and opted for cake instead. This recipe sounded like an interesting combination,we made a slight variation but I think it turned out well. Kerry had a laughing fit as she watched me juice the tiny tangerines on the orange juicer - it was funny and time consuming.

Embedded pecans

Crust: Double buttermilk crust

3 large pears
1 cup diced dried figs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh tangerine juice
1 teaspoon tangerine zest
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup pecans

Finished Pie
Combine one third of the peeled and sliced pears, figs, sugar, tangerine juice, tangerine zest in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer until the fruit has absorbed most of the liquid. Add remaining pears, honey, lemon juice, 1/2 cup pecans. Roll out bottom crust, line pie plate, add filling. Roll out top crust, sprinkle remaining pecans on crust, gently roll into crust, embedding them deeply. Cover pie with top crust. Brush with cream and sprinkle a little sugar. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 F, rotate pie 180 degrees, reduce heat to 375 and bake for another 35 - 40 minutes until filling is bubbling thickly.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

German Chocolate Pie (4 stars)

German Chocolate Pie

Spencer and Natalie announced their engagement on Friday!! We are very happy and decided to celebrate with a German Chocolate Pie which is one of Spencer's favorite flavors. This recipe makes 2 pies, that way we can take one pie to Spencer's family as a peace offering.

German Chocolate

Spencer, Natalie, engagement ring, and pie
Crust: Two buttermilk baked pie shells

Whipped Cream
4 cups milk, divided
2 cups half and half
2 Tablespoons butter
1-1/4 cups sugar, divided
3 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cornstarch
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping

Garnish: Whipped Cream

Mix 3 cups sugar, half-and-half, butter, and 3/4 cup sugar and stir. Cook in a double boiler until butter is melted.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Slowly add egg mixture to hot milk mixture, stirring constantly. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Mix 1 cup milk and cornstarch in a separate bowl and slowly add to hot mixture, string constantly. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until pudding is thick. Add vanilla, chocolate chips, coconut, pecans, and caramel topping. Stir until blended and chocolate chips are melted.