Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pie Crust

Yet another recipe I got from over at Recipe Shoebox. That's probably my first go-to blog when I'm looking for a recipe. If she doesn't have something I'm looking for, then I'll search elsewhere.

Anyway, there was a pie I wanted to try to bake and the recipe called for a pre-baked pie shell. Since my sister is usually the pie baker, I didn't have a good pie crust recipe. I meant to pick-up one of those pre-made ones at Target, but ended up leaving the register before remembering that item.

This recipe seemed as good as any, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

It turned out pretty good; I even got some compliments on it.

Yields 2 to 3 9" pie crusts

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg + cold water to make ½ cup liquid

1. Cut the flour, salt, and shortening together until it is mostly the size of peas. Don't overwork the dough! It shouldn't start sticking together.

2. Make a slight well in the flour mixture. Add the egg mixture. Stir with a fork until just barely clinging together. Knead for 15-20 seconds, incorporating some of the loose crumbs. Again, don't overwork the dough! Knead until the dough is just holding together.

At this point, you could cover the dough and use it later, but it's best used right away.

3. Divide the dough onto a well floured pie mat or piece of wax paper. I used wax paper.  Using your hands, pat down the dough until relatively flat. You'll want to flip it over a few times during this process of flattening, reflouring the surface slightly each time.

4. Make sure that both sides of the dough and the wax paper are well floured. Using a rolling pin, roll the crust into a somewhat circular shape. Rotate the whole mat/wax paper a few times while rolling out the dough to help get a uniform thickness.

5. After rolling out to the desired thickness, brush off any excess flour. Gently pick up the entire mat/wax paper, flip it over and center it over your pie plate. Gently release the crust onto the plate and peel off the wax paper.

If making a single crust pie...

6. Trim edge of crust, so it slightly hangs over the edge of pie plate. Roll the dough up over the rim of the plate edge and flute the pie crust. I do this by gently pressing the forefinger of my left hand on one side of the crust between the forefinger and thumb of my other hand on the other side of the crust. Repeating until I've gone around the entire pie. Prick the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork.

7. Bake at 400°F for 8-10 minutes, or until the fluted edge is a very light golden brown.

NOTE: If the crust will be filled with a cream filling that will not be baked further, instead of pricking the crust with a fork prior to baking, place a sheet of wax paper over the crust and cover the bottom with pie weights or beans to help it hold its shape. Also bake it slightly longer - until the edges are a deeper golden brown.

If making a double crust pie...

6. Place pie filling into the pie crust.

7. Roll out top crust in the same manner as the bottom crust. Gently place top crust over the top of the filled pie. Trim excess dough. Pinch the top and bottom crust edges together. Roll the pinched dough up over the rim of the plate edges and flute the pie crust. I do this by gently pressing the forefinger of my left hand on one side of the crust between the forefinger and thumb of my other hand on the other side of the crust. Repeating until I've gone around the entire pie.

8. OPTIONAL. Cut out seasonal shapes with cookie cutters from the leftover dough. Place artistically on the pie. Brush lightly with milk. Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top.

9. Poke a few holes in the top crust to allow venting for the steam to escape. Bake according to the directions for the pie filling. Watch carefully and place foil over the edges or top, if it looks like it is browning too quickly.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tip: Cooking Spagetti Squash

I wasn't sure how to cook my spaghetti squash, but I found this great resource. It lists advantages and disadvantages to cutting the squash before cooking as well as simple instructions for how to cook it either cut or whole.

Like all winter squashes, spaghetti squash has a very hard shell and is difficult to cut.

I read somewhere that it is immensely easier, if you just pop the squash in the microwave for 45-60 seconds. This softens it up just a bit to make cutting it a bit easier.

With my abundance of squash this fall, I have used this trick up many times and have found it to be very helpful.

Back to the spaghetti squash...

I washed it.
Zapped it in the microwave.
Cut it in half length-wise.
Scraped out the seeds and pulp.
Put it in a microwave-safe baking dish; covered it with plastic wrap.
Microwaved it for 6-9 minutes.
Removing the strands from
a cooked spaghetti squash

Photo © Charles Islander

Let it sit a few minutes after cooking. This allows it to both finish cooking and cool slightly to make it a bit easier on your fingers.

After the squash is fork-tender, use a fork to scrape the squash out of its shell.

It should separate nicely into strands resembling spaghetti.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Halloween Cheesecakes

I know that Halloween was nearly a week ago, but, for the past few years, my parents have hosted a Halloween party the Sunday after the holiday. I was asked to make a dessert this year. I wanted to find something I could make that would use some of the squash in my fridge, so when I found this recipe over on Recipe Shoebox, I knew it would be perfect! I can't get over how great these turned out.

Halloween Cheesecakes
Flying Witch

Yields 2+ cheesecakes

  • 2 ready made graham cracker crust
  • 4 8 oz packages of cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ c granulated sugar
  • ¼ c packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 small golden nugget squash
  • eggs
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or ¼ tsp cinnamon, ⅛ tsp nutmeg, ½ of ⅛ tsp each of allspice and cardamom)
  • 1/2 c semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • Pictures of a flying witch or a howling wolf or whatever you'd like on the cheesecake

1. Pierce squash a few times with a fork. Soften in microwave for 45-60 secs. Cut in half; remove seeds. Place in a microwaveable dish; cover with plastic wrap. Cook for 9 minutes or until fork tender. Scoop squash into a food processor and blend until smooth. This should give you about 1 cup of purée.

2. While squash is cooking, cream the cream cheese and sugars together in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla and eggs . Mix until well blended. Reserve 1 cup of batter. Pour remaining evenly between two graham cracker crusts.

3. Add squash purée and pumpkin pie spice to the reserved batter. Mix well. Drop by spoonfuls onto the white batter. Gently swirl with a knife. I swirled in one direction to give the impression of a windy, stormy, scary, Halloween night. I had a LOT of leftover squash batter, so I put it in a small dish to bake a 3rd, smaller, no-crust cheesecake.

4. Bake at 350°F for 40-45 min or until the center is still barely jiggly or right before cracks start to appear. Remove and let cool on cooling rack.

5. While cheesecakes are baking, place pictures under wax paper. Put melted chocolate into a plastic baggie and snip off the corner. Pipe the chocolate over the pictures. I had some extra chocolate, so I hand drew a full moon, a spider web, a spider, and some bats/birds/whatever. Place on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer to harden.

6. Once cheesecakes have cooled, cut the wax paper around the chocolate pictures and place pictures on the cheesecake, wax paper side up. Leave waxed paper on and chill cakes in the fridge for 8+ hours or overnight. Gently pull off waxed paper.

Halloween Cheesecakes
Wolf Howling at Full Moon
Halloween Cheesecakes
Spider and Web


Related Posts with Thumbnails