Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Blind Baking

No, it's not baking with your eyes closed or wearing a blindfold!  Goodness, can you imagine what a mess you'd make!

What I'm talking about is rolling out a pie crust and pre-baking it in the oven.  Have you ever done that?  Only to find your pie crust has shrunk like a wool sweater washed in hot water then thrown in the dryer? Blind baking is typically done for cream, custard, pudding and some fresh fruit type pie fillings that do not have to be baked (most of the time).

The secret is, freezing the pie shell once you've rolled out your crust and nicely placed it in your pie dish, then crimped your edges.  I've listed the steps below, I hope you find them helpful!

  1. Dock the bottom of your pie shell with a fork, as you can see I dock the bottom quite a bit.
  2. Dock the sides around your pie shell.
  3. FREEZE your pie shell for 5 minutes!!!  
  4. Put a piece of parchment paper on the bottom and up the sides a little.
  5. Use a pie weight on the bottom. I use dry beans.
  6. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes depending on your oven
  7. Take the shell out of the oven and carefully remove the parchment paper with the beans, be careful, the beans will be hot.  Once cooled store them for later baking use.  I use mine over and over when baking pie shells.
  8. Place the pie shell back in the oven for another 7 - 10 minutes, keeping a watch on it.

I hope you enjoyed this helpful pie baking tip!

Have a wonderful week and thank you for following!  I truly appreciate your friendship!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Quiche ~ Basic & Delicious

This is the best quiche recipe I have ever made!  It was light, fluffy and melt in your mouth delicious.  I did make three changes, I substituted the bacon for leftover spiral Easter ham, I added parsley and I used 3/4 cup+ 1% milk and 3/4 cup+ of light cream (because I didn't have half-and-half).

I would make it again in a moment! I have bolded, italicized and made notes for critical steps in preparing the dough and cooking the quiche.

I apologize for the photo, I realized at the last moment that I should post this recipe, and it was the last piece, it was hot, and it was my breakfast!

Also, my friend Susan at From Beyond My Kitchen Window suggests freezing individual leftover slices for lunches!  Great idea!  I've got one in the freezer!


Classic Quiche
The recipe states that you can substitute various ingredients which I noted above.  The recipe very nicely tells you the quantity to use if you substitute vegetables for the bacon in the quiche filling, such as cooked small broccoli florets, sautéed sliced leeks or chopped cooked spinach. Use about 1 1/2 cups vegetables.

1 flaky pastry dough disk, at cool room temperature
8 bacon slices, chopped (I used leftover spiral Easter ham)
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère or Swiss cheese (I used Swiss)
4 eggs
1 3/4 cups half-and-half or milk (I used 3/4+ cup 1% milk & 3/4+ cup light cream)
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt

Partially bake the pastry shell (I used my homemade pastry)
Preheat an oven to 425°F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough disk into a 12-inch round. Fold the dough round in half and transfer to a 9-inch pie dish. Unfold the round and ease it into the dish, patting it firmly into the bottom and up the sides. Trim the edges to form a 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under itself and pinch to create a high edge on the rim of the dish. Using a fork, prick the bottom of the dough a few times (I also prick the dough along the sides too). Freeze for 5 minutes (this step is critical, it keeps the dough from shrinking and keeps your crimped border).

Bake the pastry shell until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.

Prepare the filling
In a saucepan over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Sprinkle half of the cheese evenly over the partially baked pastry shell. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. Whisk in the half-and-half, nutmeg and salt. Stir in the bacon and the remaining cheese. Pour the egg mixture into the pastry shell.

Bake the quiche
Bake until the filling is set and slightly puffed and the crust is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes (I had to add 10 minutes to this cooking time). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool briefly. Cut the quiche into wedges and serve warm. Makes one 9-inch quiche.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Baking, by Lou Seibert Pappas (Oxmoor House, 2006).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Chocolate Coconut Easter Pie

This recipe came out of my Martha Stewart Pies & Tarts Cookbook.  I've made some notes below before you begin.  Mostly because sometimes the recipes fall short of my expectations.

-I made one tweak, you really need six cups of coconut.  
-You will need to make a foil ring for the crust or use a pie crust ring.
- Use convection if you have it, and you will want the bottom lightly browned before you take the pie shell out of the oven.

For the crust
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
     6 cups of sweetened shredded coconut

For the filling
    1 cup heavy cream
    8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 61 percent cacao), finely chopped

1 Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a food processor, process butter and one-third of coconut until mixture forms a ball, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Sprinkle remaining two-thirds coconut over mixture and combine with your fingers.

2 Place a 9-inch pie plate on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Press coconut mixture into bottom and up sides of pan to form crust, leaving top edges loose and fluffy. Place a foil ring over edge to prevent burning. Bake until center begins to brown, 10 to 15 minutes; remove foil and bake until edges are browned, 4 to 5 minutes more. Transfer crust to a wire rack to cool completely.

3 Make the filling: Bring cream just to a boil in a small saucepan; pour over chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Let sit 10 minutes, then stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is combined. Pour into coconut crust. Refrigerate until filling is set, 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Makes one 9-inch pie.

Ya baby, it's that easy to make & it's gluten free!

Happy Easter!

P.S. I can't wait for school vacation at 3:35 p.m. today!  Eleven glorious days off to catch up on blogs!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Happy 10th Birthday Duke

Looks who is wrapped up in an afghan and who turned 10 on March 29th!  We find it hard to believe that this sweet, intelligent, cuddling little guy has been with us for a decade!  It seems like yesterday when I held him in the palm of my hand - he was so tiny!  Now, he's 20 pounds of joy and terror!

Watch out intruders!  Grrrrrrrrr!!!