Monday, August 26, 2013

Holy Tomato Pie, Batman!

I know a lot of you out there have your own gardens, I see your pictures on Facebook!  Right about now you're probably staring at tomato plants heavy with fruit and feeling really proud and maybe just a touch nervous.  Just what are you going to do with ALL THOSE TOMATOES??  I'm a big fan of canning so I definitely recommend you put some of those garden-fresh beauties up for the winter months!  But for enjoying right now, you MUST make this Tomato, Cheddar and Bacon Pie from Southern Living Magazine.  I made this pie earlier in the summer (and am just now getting around to posting it, of course) and my friends and I were blown away by the cheesey, bacony, tomatoey goodness!

The bacon crust really makes this pie.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Bacon crust.  With sour cream.  Seriously.  And the addition of herbs, cheddar and Parmesan in the filling make this one a sure-fire hit!  Don't skip the step of salting and draining the tomatoes on paper towels, it will help keep your crust from getting soggy.  I made just a few slight modifications to the Southern Living recipe, only so that I could use ingredients I already had at home.  (The original recipe can be accessed through the link above.)  I think you could easily make your own variation by using different herbs and cheese - feta, gruyere or goat cheese would be lovely, and tarragon or oregano would do nicely for the herbs.  I used just red tomatoes, but if you have multiple colors and varieties, all the better!  Just don't skip the bacon crust please!!

The finished pie full of delicious tomatoes.  This would be perfect with a salad and glass of wine for a light dinner or lunch.

Tomato, Cheddar and Bacon Pie
Adapted from Southern Living Magazine
Makes one 9-inch pie

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup sour cream
8 cooked bacon slices, chopped

2 1/2 lbs. ripe, fresh tomatoes
2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 large egg, beaten
2 tsp. dried dill
2 Tb. chopped fresh basil (or substitute 1 Tb. dried basil)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 Tb. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 Tb. plain yellow cornmeal

For the crust, place flour in bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer; cut in cold butter with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles small peas. Chill 10 minutes.  Add bacon to the flour mixture; beat at low speed just until combined. Gradually add sour cream, 1/4 cup at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.  Spoon mixture onto a heavily floured surface; sprinkle lightly with flour, and knead 3 or 4 times, adding more flour as needed. Roll to a 13-inch round. Gently press the dough in a 9-inch fluted tart pan or pie pan and trim the edges.  Chill at least 30 minutes.

For the filling, slice the tomatoes 1/4-inch thick and spread out in a single layer onto paper towels. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and let drain for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  In a bowl combine the cheddar cheese, the next 9 ingredients and the remaining 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and stir well. Sprinkle the cornmeal onto the bottom of the pie crust and spread half of the cheese mixture on top.  Layer half of the tomatoes on top of the cheese in overlapping circles.  Spread the rest of the cheese over the top of this layer and then cover with the remaining tomatoes.  If desired, season the top of the pie with salt and freshly ground black pepper and a light sprinkling of the same herbs you used.

Bake the pie in the pre-heated oven about 40 to 45 minutes, shielding the edge of the crust with foil if needed to keep it from browning too much.  Let the pie rest at room temperature 1 to 2 hours before serving.  This pie is best served at room temperature, but still delicious when cold.

The bacon crust!  I actually had more dough then I needed, so I wrapped up the excess and put it in the freezer.  I have enough to make a mini pie, or to roll, cut and bake into delicious snacks!
The assembled pie ready for baking.  I sprinkled a little salt, pepper and basil over the top of mine.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Fiesta of Tamale Pie!

Tamale pie??  OK, bear with me.  I don't always want to make sweet pies and I got this clever new Chicago Metallic pie bowl pan and I wanted to do something different.  Trust me!  One of my part time jobs is as a chef instructor at Sur La Table in Denver and recently our store manager asked me if I'd make some pies in this new pan so that the store could serve samples.  Turns out I really took a liking to this little pan.  It makes four cute individual pies with a little bowl-shaped indentation baked right in, perfect for filling with a scoop of ice cream.  It even comes with a cutter to stamp out circles for the top and bottom of the pies.  While I was making apple pies for the stores, I got to thinking that it would be great to make savory pies as well.  Think chicken pot pies with gravy in the bowl, or a puff pastry crust filled with beef and gravy and a scoop of mashed potatoes in the bowl (double carbs, heaven!!), or . . . tamale pie with guacamole in the bowl!!

I sold tamales over the holidays and still have some fresh corn masa in the freezer, so naturally I used that for the pies.  If you aren't familiar with masa, it is basically fresh corn that has been soaked and treated with lime and ground into a moist dough.  I was lucky enough to get freshly ground masa on the cheap at a local tortilla factory, but it is also often stocked in large Hispanic markets, especially in December when tamales are traditionally made.  Fresh masa is superior for making homemade tamales and tortillas, you can't beat the wonderful corn flavor and aroma.  You could easily make this recipe using masa harina, which comes dry in a bag, and is more readily available.  You simply mix it with water until you get the right consistency.

I melted cheese on my finished pies and filled the bowls with fresh guacamole.  Add a little pico de gallo and sour cream to garnish and you are in for a delicious treat.  If you decide to pick up one of these pie bowl pans, do yourself and favor and buy two so it won't take so long to fill and bake several batches.  Look for these adorable little devils again on the blog, I have a lot of sweet and savory ideas to try out!

My new favorite kitchen toy!
Tamale Pies
Makes 10

Tamale Dough
2 1/2 pounds fresh corn masa (available at large Hispanic markets or directly from a tortilla factory)
1 tsp. salt
water, as needed

Place the fresh corn masa in the bowl of a stand mixer and add the salt.  Mix on low speed until well combined, about one to two minutes.  If the masa is dry and crumbly add a little water, about a teaspoon at a time, until the dough is firm and holds together.  It should feel a bit like Play-Doh - a solid mass, not too dry, and not sticky but leaves a light residue on your hands.

Divide the masa in half and roll it out between two sheets of plastic wrap to 1/4 inch thick.  The plastic wrap should peel off the dough easily.  Use the red circle template to cut out tops and bottoms in the masa and gently peel them off the plastic, set aside on a sheet tray lined with plastic.  Add the scraps to the second half of the masa and repeat the rolling and cutting process.  Re-roll the masa scraps as many times as you can to cut more tops and bottoms.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 Tb. chile powder
1 Tb. ground cumin
1 Tb. smoked paprika
1 small onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tb. tomato paste
1/2 cup water

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the ground beef and crumble with a spoon.   When cooked, drain off the excess fat and add the spices, onion and garlic and mix well.  Cook until the onion is starting to soften, about 5 minutes, and then stir in the tomato paste and water.  Put a lid on the skillet and reduce the heat to low.   Cook about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little more water if  the pan is getting too dry.  Spread out the filling on a sheet tray or large dish and let cool.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.  To assemble to tamale pies, melt 4 tablespoons of butter.  Brush the butter on one side of four of the cut out masa dough bottoms and fit them into the pan, buttered side down.  Be sure the press the dough firmly into place so there are no air bubbles.  Fill each pie with about 1/2 cup of the beef filling.  Take 4 cut out tops of the dough and press them onto each pie.  Press the edges together very well to make sure they are sealed.  Brush the tops with more melted butter.  Bake on a sheet tray in the pre-heated oven until the masa is firm and set, about 20 minutes.  Turn the pies onto a cooling rack.  Repeat the process of filling and baking the pies until the masa dough and beef is used.  Serve hot with cheese, salsa, guacamole and sour cream.

The proper consistency for the fresh masa.

Roll the dough out between plastic wrap and use the enclosed cutter to stamp out the tops and bottoms.
Fit the bottoms into the pan, buttered side down.
Fill with the seasoned ground beef.
Add the tops and press the edges together to make sure the pies are sealed.  Brush the top with butter.

The finished tamale pie, filled with with cheese and guacamole.  I squirted the sour cream out of a piping bag, I'm fancy like that.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How to Make Pie Better? Fry It!!

Fried pies.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Fried. Pies.  When you were a kid did you eat those Hostess Fried Pies with their naughty, crispy crust and thin coating of sugary icing?  My dad used to buy those for us as a treat once in a while and I loved them!  Especially the ones that were filled with CHOCOLATE PUDDING!!  What could possibly be better than fried dough filled with creamy goodness?

Homemade Fried Pies
I made baked Peach Hand Pies a while back and have always planned to make fried pies. Well I finally got around to it and I'm kicking myself that it took me this long!  I'm a die hard chocolate fan, but my other half is more of a vanilla gal so I made both types of filling.  These delicious devils are pretty rich so you don't need to make them very big.  I used a Wilton Mini Pie Press to make mine and even at only 4" x 2" I still haven't finished the other half of mine.  

I  knew I needed a sturdy crust for these in order to hold up to the frying without bursting or tearing.  So I used a modified version of the rich pie crust I used in the Italian Easter Pie.  This really is a great crust and using all shortening makes it easy to roll out even when it's very well chilled and the eggs add extra structure and moisture.  This especially comes in handy when re-rolling the dough scraps for another round of pies, more fat in the dough will help keep it from getting too tough.  Be sure your filling is very well chilled so that it doesn't leak out when frying the pies, especially the vanilla which is a bit softer than the chocolate anyway.

Go forth and fry pies, my friend.

Pudding Filled Fried Pies
Yield: Depends on the size of your pies, I made 12

3 1/2 cups flour
1 Tb. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup shortening, frozen and cut into small squares
3 eggs, beaten
2 Tb. ice cold vodka
2 - 4 Tb. ice cold water

In a food processor combine the flour, sugar and salt and pulse briefly to combine.  Scatter the frozen shortening over the flour and pulse briefly until the mixture looks like a crumbly meal.  Combine the eggs, vodka and water and pour through the feed tube while pulsing the processor.  Mix just until the dough starts to come together.  Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times, just to bring it all together.  Divide into two disks, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Chocolate Filling
Adapted from Rachel Ray's recipe
1 cup half-and-half
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tb. cornstarch
1 Tb. unsalted butter

In a small pot over medium heat, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and half-and-half and whisk well until the cornstarch is dissolved.  Heat the mixture until it boils, whisking constantly.  Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the chocolate and butter.  Let sit a few minutes to let the chocolate melt and then whisk very well.  Pour the filling into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to keep a skin from forming.  Chill completely, about 4 hours or overnight.  You will likely have more filling than you need for this recipe.

Vanilla Filling
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tb. cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
2 egg yolks, beaten
1  Tb. unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste)

In a small pot over medium heat, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt and half-and-half and whisk well until the cornstarch is dissolved.  Heat the mixture until it boils, whisking constantly.  Add about 1/2 a cup of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking constantly until combined.   Add this mixture back to the rest of the filling in the pot and put back on the heat.  Bring back to a boil, whisking constantly.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla.  Pour the filling into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to keep a skin from forming.  Chill completely, about 4 hours or overnight.  You will likely have more filling than you need for this recipe.

Icing Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
2 to 3 Tb. milk

Whisk the sugar and milk together until there are no lumps.  You may need to add a little more milk and/or sugar to get the right consistency.  It should be very thick, but still drip slowly from the whisk.  It needs to be thick enough so that it won't immediately run off the hot pies and coat the pie in a nice even layer.

Heat about 1 inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a heavy skillet or pot to 350 to 355 degrees.  The oil should be hot enough to brown the crust quickly so that the filling doesn't get too hot and explode, but not so hot that the crust browns on the outside before it is fully cooked.  Test the oil with a small scrap of rolled dough, you want it to brown on each side in about 1 to 2 minutes.

Working with one disc of dough at a time, roll it out to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut out your desired shapes (round for half-moon shaped pies, squares, rectangles, whatever you like) and place a small amount of filling in the center of the dough and do not spread it out.  The amount of filling will depend on the size of your pies.  For my 4" x 2" pies I used about 2 heaping tablespoons.  If you are making small 2-3 bite pies you may only need a teaspoon.  Don't overfill them, you don't want them to explode or leak in the hot oil.  That will ruin your day, trust me.  Place another piece of dough on top, or fold over the other side, and press together to seal.  Be sure to seal the dough very well, using a little water or beaten egg around the edges and crimp the dough together with the tines of a fork.  Re-roll your scraps once and cut and fill more pies.  

Fry the pies, a few at a time, in the hot oil, turning several times if needed to brown them evenly.  Drain the fried pies on paper towels, let them cool for about a minute and then brush the icing over one or both sides.  After a little more cooling the glaze will set and dry on the outside.  These pies are delicious warm or cold.  But be sure to keep them in the refrigerator, if they don't get eaten immediately!

Hostess has NOTHING on these fried pies!

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Return to Pie

Aw yeah, a new pie for the blog!!  I'm  feeling pretty proud of myself right now!  After such a LONG hiatus it feels good to be baking and writing again.

It was a dark and stormy day yesterday and I had no intention of leaving the house so I wanted to make a pie using stuff I already had.  Among those items was a container of strawberries that were pretty disappointing in flavor.  However, I also still had a frozen bag of road-side stand strawberries from my trip to California last year, which were nice and sweet.  But after suffering the natural effects of being frozen, I knew I'd have to use them in a cooked format so I thought a crumble pie would work nicely.  

I used to make a cream cheese crust for tarts back when I was a pastry chef and since I had a block in the fridge, I decided it was meant to be.  Cream cheese crust is rich and tender with a nice flavor and if you haven't tried making one before I insist that you do so with the quickness.  It is SO easy to throw together and the extra fat makes for a dough that is difficult to ruin and easy to work with.  My one regret with this recipe is that I didn't blind bake the crust first, as I mistakenly thought the long cooking time and my stand-by trick of cooking pies on a pre-heated sheet pan would be enough.  Alas, it was not and the bottom of the crust was a touch soggy.  So for the recipe below I include instructions on blind baking the crust, to ensure you don't the same problem.  

If you hadn't already noticed, I'm a big fan of crumble toppings on pies.  Using one on top of the strawberry filling makes this tart essentially a berry crisp baked inside a cream cheese crust.  And since when is that ever a bad thing?  It's not, in case you weren't sure.  Try it out, you'll see.

Strawberry Crumble Tart with Cream Cheese Crust

Makes one 9-inch deep dish tart

2 lbs. strawberries, rinsed, hulled and quartered (I used half fresh and half frozen)
2 to 3 Tb. cornstarch, depending on the juiciness of your berries and if any are frozen (I use Instant Clearjel  by King Arthur Flour for thickening my fruit pies)
Sugar, depending on the sweetness of your berries - I used 1/2 a cup
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out

Crumble Topping
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup rolled oats
6 Tb. butter, melted

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place a sheet tray on the rack in the bottom third of your oven and let it heat up along with the oven.

Roll out the dough and press into a 9-inch tart pan.  I used a ceramic deep-dish tart pan, commonly known as a quiche pan.  You could also use a removable bottom tart pan, but since they are about half as deep, you'll need at least a 10-inch pan. Line the crust with foil or a sheet of parchment and fill with dry beans or pie weights.  Be sure you have enough to cover the bottom of the dish evenly and to go all the way up the sides.  This is important so that your crust does not shrink.  Set the pan on the pre-heated pan in the oven and bake until set and firm, but not too brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Use the foil or parchment to lift out the beans and allow the crust to cool.

To make the crumble topping, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Stir in the melted flour and mix until the ingredients are moistened and crumbly.  Put in the refrigerator to cool while making the filling.

To make the filling, dissolve the cornstarch in a few tablespoons of water.  In a small pot over medium heat, add the rest of the filling ingredients and dissolved cornstarch.   Heat the filling, stirring frequently, just until the juices simmer and thicken.  Spread the filling into pre-baked crust and then cover with the crumble topping.  Bake in the 350 degree oven until the filling bubbles and top is golden brown, about 50 to 60 minutes.  The filling will firm up and slice cleaner when the pie is cool.  It is delicious when warm but your slices may be a little messy if you care about that sort of thing.  Serve with ice cream to take it over the top.

The filling ingredients.  I happened to have a vanilla bean, but you could substitute extract or my new favorite product,  vanilla bean paste.

The crust fitted into the pan.  At this point I should have filled with with beans for blind baking.

Spread the filling into the crust, which you blind baked.
Topped and ready for the oven.

You'll get a cleaner slice like this if you let the filling cool.  Not that I know because I dug into mine too soon.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Just Where The Hell Have You Been Young Lady?!

I know, I know, it's been a ridiculously long time.  No, longer than ridiculously long.  Whatever that is, it's been that long.  I've been here, I've even been baking and cooking.  I just haven't been blogging.  You know how it is when you ignore something (or someone) and you know you shouldn't be, but the more you ignore it the more you feel like you have to keep ignoring it because it just gets harder and harder to face it?  Well, that is me and the blog I guess.  And a ton of other things in life for like the past 10 to 20 years, for that matter.  But that is a whole different blog, I guess.

Let's see, when we last left off I was in the midst of a big transition in my life.  I was about to start a new job and feeling really positive about where I was going.  So that all got shot to hell.  The job, the transition, my planned re-invention, my positive outlook, my happiness and well-being, all of it blown to smithereens.  And so I once again made a big change in attempt to get back to the place where I wanted to be before.  I'm a very self-aware person.  One might say almost painfully self-aware.  I know what my demons are, I know why I do the shit that I do.  I endeavor to do better and be better but it is a slow process and I don't always move forward.  Sometimes I stand still for a long time and sometimes I take a step or two back.  But I'm not afraid to change.  If something in my life doesn't work I change it.  And then I'll change it again, and again, and again.  I still haven't found that balance I've been seeking, but I'll keep trying.  Lately I've realized that I keep changing situations and circumstances, but what really needs the most changing is me.  And that is the really, really hard part.  I'll keep trying.

So, what the hell does all this inner-reflection nonsense have to do with pie, you ask?  Nothing.  I was just rambling.  Anyway, I have been making pies in the last year, just not posting them.  So I've put some photos below to show you what I've been up to.  Not all of them have recipes yet, but I'll get there someday.  I'll keep trying.

I sold pies during Thanksgiving and Christmas to make a little extra cash. These two are sweet potato with Italian meringue, one my my most favorites. Get the recipe here.
Salted caramel apple, one of the most popular pies that I sold this holiday season. Get the recipe here and prepare for your friends to swoon.
This is a turtle pie.  Turtle as in caramel, pecans and chocolate.  Not the slow reptile with a shell. This was a special request pie I made for a good friend.  Her world was rocked.
This is a pavlova topped with fresh whipped cream, lemon curd and strawberries.  I made it when my dear friend Chef Mindy came to town for a visit.  Pavlova is probably in my top three favorite desserts.   It's kind of like a pie but instead of crust you make a delicious baked meringue that is all gooey and marshmallow-like on the inside.  Sweet, sweet heaven.
Chocolate peppermint mousse pie that I sold at Christmas. 
Bananas foster cream pies that I sold for Mardi Gras. Vanilla pastry cream, rum caramel, fresh bananas, oh my!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Semi what??

I have been ignoring my blog for a VERY long time.  Almost 3 months, to be exact.  You may be wondering what the hell happened to me.  Well, nothing tremendously earth shattering, just life, I guess.  It has been three months of work stress, job hunting, job landing (a GREAT new, BETTER job!!), visiting family, and sweating in the oppressive summer heat!!  To make a long story short, I'm re-inventing myself.  I have a new job that starts tomorrow, I adopted a wonderful, loving dog from my sister, and moving forward in my life I'm going to dedicate more time to my physical and  mental well-being.  Sounds easy enough, right?

So, back to the blog.  It has been way too long since I've posted.  We've had record-breaking heat in Denver so the last thing I've wanted to do is turn on the oven.  Instead I made a frozen pie!  A semifreddo pie, to be exact.  Semifreddo is a "half frozen" Italian mousse.  It is usually frozen in some kind of loaf pan or other shape and served in slices.  I used to love making semifreddo when I was a pastry chef and hadn't made it in years.  The possibilities are pretty endless with semifreddo, you can flavor the mousse however you like or fold in whatever kinds of ingredients that strike your fancy.  While I was visiting friends and family in California I picked up a flat of fresh strawberries.  As soon as I got home I froze some for later use (pie!) and made the rest into jam.  One batch of jam was a little thinner than the other, I think because I lost track while measuring the sugar and probably ended up with an extra cup.  Or two.  No matter, the jam is delicious and I thought it would be perfect for a summery semifreddo pie.  You'll be seeing more of my friend freddo over the summer, don't you worry.

If you have a potluck or BBQ to attend this summer, think about bringing this delicious, frozen pie that is easy to put together and won't heat up your house!

Strawberry Semifreddo Pie

1 9-inch graham cracker crust
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup strawberry jam
3 egg whites (reserve yolks for another use)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar

Using an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Add the strawberry jam and  whip again to evenly distribute the jam and break up the chunks.  Scrape this mixture into a clean bowl and set aside in the refrigerator.  Wash out the bowl and mixer.  Add the egg whites into the clean bowl along with the salt.  Whip on high speed until the mixture is thick and foamy.  With the mixer still running, add the sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time.  Whip until the whites are shiny and hold stiff peaks.  Fold the whites into the strawberry mixture, being careful not the over-mix and deflate the mousse.  Pile the mousse into the prepared crust and smooth the top.  Very gently press plastic wrap onto the surface of the pie and place in the freezer for at least 8 hours, or overnight.  To serve, garnish with softly whipped cream and fresh strawberries, if desired.

The whipped cream and strawberry jam mixture. 

Whipped egg whites hold a stiff peak.

Sweet, frozen deliciousness!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Italian Easter Pie

I've been feeling like I'm long past overdue for a meat pie.  Easter brings quiche to my mind, but I wanted to do something a little more exciting.  My mind wandered to the Pizza Rustica recipe from Giada De Laurentiis I had made many years ago.  This is a thick, two-crust pie filled with Italian meats and cheeses, also called Italian Easter Pie.  Her recipe includes a delicious, rich crust that I used in my Aussie meat pies.

I don't  know if Italians really eat this pie on Easter, but it is so delicious I'd recommend it any day of the week.  With the ricotta based filling studded with sausage and spinach tucked inside the flaky crust, this pie is a home run!  It goes perfectly with a salad for lunch or dinner, which is how we ate it at my house for 3 days!  It's a hearty pie and the filling possibilities are endless.  I would enjoy asparagus and artichokes in this pie, grilled vegetables, tiny meatballs, Italian cold cuts, grilled chicken...anything!

I made just a few modifications to the original recipe, including using half water and half vodka for a foolproof, tender crust.  A springform pan is necessary to accommodate the copious amounts of filling and allows for easy removal of the pie from the pan.  But I think a large, deep-dish pie pan could work as well.

Italian Easter Pie (Pizza Rustica)
Makes one 9-inch pie in a springform pan
Slightly modified version of a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup cold solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 large eggs, beaten to blend
2 Tb. ice cold vodka
2 Tb. ice water, more may be needed

Blend the flour, the butter, the shortening and salt in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Blend in the eggs, pulsing the machine to incorporate them. Add the vodka and pulse again a few times.  Add the water and process just until the dough starts to come together. Gather the dough into a ball. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, with 1 piece twice as large as the second piece. Flatten the dough pieces into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is firm enough to roll out, about 30 minutes.

8 ounce bulk Italian sausage
1 (10-ounce) package frozen cut-leaf spinach, thawed and drained
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
3 large eggs
2 tsp. garlic seasoning, I used Jane’s Crazy Mixed up Salt
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
a few dashes hot sauce
2 Tb. heavy cream

In a saute pan cook the sausage, breaking up into small crumbles.  Add the spinach and saute briefly to evaporate any excess moisture.  Set aside to cool slightly.  In a large bowl beat the eggs and seasonings.  Add the ricotta cheese and whisk well to combine.  Add the cheeses, sausage and spinach and stir well  to combine.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place a sheet pan on the lowest rack.  Roll the largest piece of dough out into a circle and press into a 9-inch springform pan that has been sprayed well with cooking spray.  Be sure to press firmly all around so the crust is flat against the pan and there are no air bubbles.  Pour the filling into the pie shell and smooth the top.  Roll out the smaller piece of dough and place over the top of the pie.  If your filling did not come up to the top of the pan, be sure to press the dough down on top of the filling, so there is not a big gap between the top crust and the filling. Press the edges together to seal well and flute the edges if desired.  Cut 3 vents on top and brush the crust with heavy cream.  Sprinkle the top with a little garlic seasoning if you like.  Bake until the crust is well browned and you can see the filling bubbling slightly out of the vents, about an hour to 1 1/2 hours.  Cool for 15 to 20 minutes and remove the sides of the pan.  Slice wedges and serve.  This is great, hot, warm, room temperature or cold.

The filled pie.

Crimped, brushed and ready for the oven.

Golden brown and delicious!

A beautiful slice of Easter pie.