I had to take some appetizers to a party so decided to make mini seafood potpies. I love potpies but we usually make them with chicken. I thought seafood would make a nice change. You could do this with shrimp only or crab only. Or you can add lobster or scallops for more varied seafood. Just make sure your combination of seafood totals half a pound. If you like, you can double the filling recipe to make one deep dish potpie.
In the movie “City of Angels,” when Seth (Nicholas Cage) asks Maggie (Meg Ryan) to describe to him what a pear tastes like, she says, “Sweet, juicy, soft on your tongue, grainy like sugary sand that dissolves in your mouth.” It’s the perfect description for this unpretentious little fruit.
We don’t have pears in the Philippines so I’d never tasted them before coming to America. My mother-in-law (who was Dutch) loved them, though, so I always made sure to buy some whenever she came to visit. I learned to love them because of her. This recipe is actually one of the very first pies I learned to make when I arrived in the United States as a teenager. It’s an easy recipe and has long been one of our family’s treasured favorites.
1 unbaked, 9-inch, deep dish pie crust (store-bought frozen, or make your own)
2 pears (Anjou, Bartlett, or Bosc pears are good for baking)
1 cup white sugar
⅓ cup flour
¼ cup melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Line pie crust with parchment paper or foil and fill bottom with pie weights or dried beans.
Bake pie crust for 8 minutes, then remove parchment paper and pie weights, and continue to bake another 3-5 minutes until light brown.
Remove crust from oven and set aside.
Lower oven temperature to 350ºF.
Peel, core, and slice each pear into 8 wedges for a total of 16 wedges.
Arrange pear slices in pie crust like spokes of a wheel with narrow ends toward center and overlapping. You can slice portions of the narrow ends off to make them thinner and easier to overlap and fit in the crust. I usually take one of the pear slices, cut the thicker end off and lay it over the center to cover the overlapping ends. Also, you may not need all the pear slices depending on how big your pears are.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs and sugar together.
Add flour, melted butter, and vanilla and beat until well combined.
Pour custard over pear slices.
Bake for 50-60 minutes or until custard jiggles slightly in the center when shaken.
I throw a Mother’s Day Tea Party every year. It started out as just a little tea party for my Mom and my sisters, but since then it has evolved to include other relatives, friends, neighbors, their husbands and children. It’s a lot of work, but is also a lot of fun and has quickly become a family tradition.
This year, Mother’s Day is on Sunday, May 12, so I decided to make some Mini Chess Pies to serve as part of my menu. They’re always a hit when I make them. Even better, they’re super easy to prepare and they’re delicious. In fact, the hardest part about these pies is stopping yourself from eating the whole bunch once you pull them out of the oven!
MINI CHESS PIES
2 boxes refrigerated rolled pie crust
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly grease the cups of two 24-cup miniature muffin pans. If using non-stick pans, no need to grease.
Unroll refrigerated pie dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut out 48 circles with a biscuit cutter in size needed to cover bottom and sides of each muffin cup. You will have some left-over pie dough which you can press into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for future use.
Place 1 dough circle into each cup of muffin pans and press into bottom and sides using fingers or a tart tamper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla.
Pour into pie crusts in muffin pans.
Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until filling is set.
Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then transfer each mini pie to wire rack and allow to cool completely before serving.
NOTE: If you would prefer to make your own pie crust from scratch instead of using ready-made refrigerated pie dough, here is a good recipe.
PIE CRUST FOR MINI CHESS PIES
1 pkg. (8-oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. You could also do this in a food processor.
Gradually add flour to butter mixture, beating at low speed until well combined.
Divide mixture into 48 balls and place one ball into each cup of muffin pans.
Press each ball into bottom and up sides of muffin cup using fingers or a tart tamper.
Cover and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes before using.
Someone at work gave me a bag full of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes from her garden. They were ripe, firm, and delicious. Is it any wonder that the French have referred to tomatoes as “pommes d’amour“ or love apples?
Actually, up until about the end of the 18th century, people believed tomatoes were poisonous. It wasn’t until 1808 that a Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson of Salem, New Jersey proved everyone wrong. The story goes that he stood on the steps of the Salem courthouse and ate a whole basket of tomatoes in front of a crowd of people who were convinced he was trying to commit suicide in public. When he didn’t die or even get sick, people changed their minds about the lowly tomato. So let’s hear it for Colonel Johnson! Without him, we may never have had delicious dishes like this Tomato Pie.
This dish is a yummy, Southern favorite. If you want, you could cut down the fat by using reduced-fat mayonnaise and reduced-fat cheese, or you could try lessening the topping to 1/2 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese. It’s less rich, but still delicious. Ask my daughter, Yissi. She loves Tomato Pie!
A lot of people are afraid to make pie crust from scratch for various reasons. Over-mix it and your crust could turn out greasy and tough. But with a little bit of practice, making a great pie dough is easy to master. Just remember, the less you handle the dough, the more tender the crust.
FOR SINGLE CRUST
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1-1/4 sticks very cold (frozen is okay) butter, cut into pieces
2-1/2 tbsp. very cold (frozen is better) shortening, cut into 2 pieces
about 1/4 cup ice water
Put flour, sugar and salt in food processor fitted with metal blade.
Pulse just to combine.
Drop in butter and shortening and pulse until just cut into flour. Don’t overmix! You want some pea-sized and some barley-sized pieces.
Add 3 tbsp. of water, one tablespoon at a time and pulsing once after each addition. Then use a few long pulses to blend water and flour well. If dough is still dry after a dozen or so pulses, add as much water as necessary to get dough to stick together when pinched.
Scrape dough out onto work surface.
Gather into a ball, flatten to a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap.
Chill dough for an hour before rolling out.
FOR DOUBLE CRUST
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
2-1/2 sticks very cold (frozen is okay) butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup very cold (frozen is better) shortening, cut into 4 pieces
about 1/2 cup ice water
Follow directions above up to Step 5.
Gather dough into a ball and cut in half.
Flatten each half into 2 disks and wrap each in plastic wrap.
Chill for an hour before rolling out.
NOTE: Dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.