The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

January 25, 2012

Great Pies

For The Daily Southerner
Karen Freeman

TARBORO — Most everyone loves a good pie. But, everyone also has their own favorite. I love easy pies, both sweet and savory. What is your favorite pie?

Our first recipe is an old family favorite. My aunt Daisy used to make the best sliced sweet potato pie. Our family really looked forward to her pies at family events and Thanksgiving.

The second recipe is my dad’s all-time favorite. I personally don’t care for egg custard, but Daddy loves them.  For egg custard, you have to cook the custard before you assemble and bake the pie. It isn’t hard; it just takes a little longer that way.

The third recipe is my favorite savory pie. I have a thing for chicken pot pie. I even sometimes stoop to buying the frozen ones in the grocery store. However, it is truly easy to make a chicken pot pie. You have two options; you can make the pie like a casserole with the crust only on top or use a pie shell and make it a true pie. Either way, you will enjoy the results.

The last recipe is one that you will want to keep forever.  So, cut it out and put it away. This will be your go-to recipe when you need a dessert and don’t have a lot of time. It’s a peanut butter pie. The first time I ever had it, Debra Guthrie made it for us at the hospital one night. I thought I had died and gone to dessert heaven! I could have eaten the whole thing by myself. I still feel that way. Best of all, you don’t cook anything!



Sliced Sweet Potato Pie



1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes (about 4 medium)

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup heavy cream





Boil sweet potatoes until half cooked, 15-20 minutes. Peel and slice sweet potatoes thinly.

Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt. Place a layer of sweet potatoes in pastry-lined 9-inch pie pan. Sprinkle with some of the spice mixture; dot with a little bit of butter.

Continue with layers until all ingredients are used, dotting top with butter. Add cream.

Top with top crust, fluting edges and cutting vents.

Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 for 40 minutes.

If potatoes are still not tender, reduce temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue baking until they are done.



Egg Custard Pie

       

4 eggs

1/2 cup white sugar

1 pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract    

2 cups whole milk

3 tablespoons butter

1 (9 inch) refrigerated pie crust



Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla. Mix just enough to incorporate all the ingredients. Set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine milk and butter. Use a wire whisk and stir constantly until the milk begins to rise in the saucepan at a rapid boil - 5 to 8 minutes. Never stop stirring, or the milk will burn. Pour the hot mixture into the egg mixture, stirring as you pour.

Line a 9 inch pan with dough. Pour custard mixture into crust. Protect the edges of crust with a ring of aluminum foil.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 8-10 minutes. Filling will appear slightly jiggly. Allow to cool.



Chicken Pot Pie



1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken

breast halves - cubed

1 cup sliced carrots

1 cup frozen green peas

1/2 cup sliced celery

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup all-purpose flour    

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

1 3/4 cups chicken broth

2/3 cup milk

 

2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts





Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

    In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.

    In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.

    Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

    Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.





Peanut Butter Pie



2 – 3 Oz. Packages of Cream Cheese, softened

1 Cup Peanut Butter

   (crunchy or smooth, but use a good brand)

1 Cup Powdered Sugar

1 – 12 Oz. Container of Cool Whip

3 Tbsp Milk

1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust

       

Mix all ingredients together with a mixer until fluffy. Pour into a graham cracker pie crust and chill overnight.



Did you Know?



Pies and Tarts

Using The Right Pie Pan: For optimum baking results, use a glass or dull-metal pie pan. Avoid shiny metal or disposable aluminum pans, which reflect heat and prevent crusts from browning. Dark pans may cause crusts to brown too much.

To Prevent Over-Browning Of Pie Crust: To keep baked edges from getting too brown, cover the edges with foil after the first 15 minutes of baking.

Use a 12-inch square piece of foil. Cut out a 7-inch circle from the center, and gently fold the foil "ring" around the crust's edge. Be careful, the pie will be hot!

Tenderizing for Pastry and Pie Doughs: Add one teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice as part of your liquid for each cup of flour in pastry and pie dough recipes. This won't affect the flavor but will result in more tender baked products.

Rolling Out Pie Dough: Flour work surface very lightly. Excess flour will toughen pastry dough. Add additional flour sparingly, as needed. Roll out dough from the center to avoid overworking. A straight rolling pin is preferable for beginners. Dough can be easily moved on a rolling pin to flour the work surface or to fit dough into a pie plate. To size the dough, place a pie plate upside down on the rolled-out dough and measure an additional 1 inch around the perimeter of the plate.

"Baking Blind": BAKING TART SHELL OR PIE CRUST "BLIND"

This is the method of pre-baking your pie or tart crust before adding the filling. Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C.

Roll out the pastry and line the tart or pie pan carefully, making sure there are no holes. If there are, patch them with some of the leftover pastry dough. Line the pastry with parchment or waxed paper and fill with baking beans or pie weights, if you have them. If not, you can use any dried beans or rice. Bake the pastry "Blind" (without filling) at 350 degreesF/180 degreesC for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust is a light golden brown. Remove the paper and beans, and allow crust to cool. After crust has cooled completely, pour your filling into pre-baked tart shell, and bake as your recipe instructs.

Fruit Pie Filling Tips: Great Thickener for Fruit Pies. For a wonderful way to thicken fruit pie juices without cloudiness or taste, use potato starch in the recipe instead of cornstarch or arrowroot.