Puff Pastry, Meat, and Lava

Unfortunately, we have reached the end. We all knew this was coming, the pie that is the month of January has run out of slices. It was a wonderful month full of wonderful pies that ended spectacularly with our banquet. For the banquet we had to make two pies one sweet, one savory,  and I decided to make a pie I had wanted to make during savory week, a beef short rib pot pie, and one inspired by a friend, chocolate lava mini pies.

I knew there would be challenges with these pies, but I figured it was the last week, so why not go out with a bang, either a blaze of glory or with the actual flames of a burnt pie. With the savory pie I was concerned about the fact that I would be doing actual cooking, as the filling had to be cooked before being put into the pie, and by the fact that I had somehow got it into my head that puff pastry would greatly improve the pie. With the sweet pie I was concerned with just how exactly it would work. I knew it would have a bottom shell and the lava-y cake part would fill it, but I wasn’t convinced I could actually make the lava happen. Nevertheless, I sallied onward as this was the last week for pie baking and was not a time to be meek.

The puff pastry was the first obstacle I set out to conquer using the recipe for puff pastry outlined in Susan Purdy’s As Easy As Pie. Reading the recipe itself was daunting as it was three pages long, with an additional three pages of introduction, because puff pastry is not something one just blindly walks into, puff pastry is serious. So serious, that to make it you need diagrams and internal notation systems. 


So complex!

But I did it so I guess I will outline the key steps. First, you must make a what is essentially a basic all-butter pastry, which you then wrap, like wrapping paper, around a slab of butter that had been mixed with a smidge of flour. Then, you roll it out into a rectangle that is precisely 6in x 15in x 1in, fold it in thirds like an envelope, orient it so the top is the unfolded side with the flap oriented to the right, and then you mark it with a finger print for every turn of the pastry you have done. You do this 6 times. Chilling for 25 minutes in between each step.

pastry wrapped butter present

pastry wrapped butter present

then you roll it out

then you roll it out

fold in thirds

fold in thirds

flip it

flip it

mark it with your finger

mark it with your finger

and then

and then

do it again

do it again

and again

and again

and again

and again

until you have six dots

until you have six dots

And there you have it, puff pastry. In four short hours!

So the puff pastry was done and the next obstacle was tackling the filling of the pie, I approached it very methodically, setting out all my ingredients cooking-show-style in bowls before I began.

So organized

So organized

in the end the recipe I had ended up being very easy to follow, the only challenge was again how long it took. I began prep at 9am started cooking at 10 am, but didn’t officially take things off the burner until 2:30pm!

the final product of 5.5 hours of cooking

the final product of 5.5 hours of cooking

Luckily, 3 hours of that time was just letting it sit in a pot doing its thing. So while that was happening I made the bottom shell for my chocolate lava mini pies (featured in the background of the above photo), and I mixed the filling. The shells for these pies were the first time I have to blind bake a pie crust, so that was a fun adventure.

So much tin foil!

So much tin foil!

The only regret I had was buttering the muffin cups. I was really concerned about it sticking, but since the pastry already had so much butter in it, I got little buttery pools in the bottom of my cups that I had to wipe up. Aside from that my first attempt at blind baking was okay.

Pretty okay

Pretty okay

I set about doing all of this the first day of cooking, and the next I did a test lava cake, along with the real batch, and assembled and baked my pot pie. The lava cake pies were the major concern as I knew I could make pie and I knew I could make cake, but could I make the lava flow. In the end it was a lot of guess work. I found a recipe for a chocolate lava pie, but this was a whole pie not mini ones so any questions about timing were up in the air. In the end I just had to do a lot of checking, like every 3 minutes, but…..



and so I made the rest!


Then came assembling the pot pie. Last minute I decided to add some Boursin cheese into the pie because I felt it was a little to wine-y tasting and I thought it would mellow that out some. I also decided to go with a lattice crust because I hadn’t done that yet, but because I was concerned about how the puff pastry would puff I made a wider lattice, a very wide lattice.

mmmmm cheese

mmmmm cheese

I'm not even sure we can call this a lattice

I’m not even sure we can call this a lattice

The finished pie!

The finished pie!

So that’s it! I made my pies. Unfortunately the time between the lava pies coming out of the oven and there being consumed was a tad longer than expected, so the lava didn’t happen, but all of them were eaten in the end, so apparently they were good. The pot pie was successful as well, as the cheese worked as planned.

I definitely learned a lot over these past few weeks. I can make pie crust and not just on kind. I can make it with cream cheese, canola oil, just butter, butter and shortening, and I can make puff pastry. I can make sweet pies, I can make savory pies, I can make the various things that go into these pies, I can say I have eaten 14 different pies in one sitting, I can boast about being the proud owner of my own Pyrex mixing bowls, I know more than the average person about the history of pie, I am now a fan of The Great British Bake Off. I can say I can make a pretty tasty pie, and I can say I learned a valuable skill.

Blueberry Lavender Pie & Salmon Pie

Alas, the last week of pie making has come and gone, and I am left with not a single crumb of my two final pies to spare –thankfully I have the two recipes, photos and the great memories from the culminating banquet.


For my sweet pie I made a blueberry lavender pie (recipe: http://beachtownbaking.com/blueberry-lavender-pie/). After pondering for a while about how to capture the lavender flavor in this pie, I decided on using dried lavender leaves mixed into the blueberry mixture. For additional flavor I added a bit of lemon juice and cinnamon to the otherwise very simple filling.


For the crust, I made a basic all-shortening pastry. However, although the pastry dough seemed fine when I put it in the fridge, when I tried to roll it out it was EXTREMELY DRY. I think I had to add at least one full cup of water in order to roll it out and create the top crust decoration.


Because of this I was afraid it would be tough and, frankly, inedible. However, the final product was flaky and delicious, which was a huge relief. The pie as a whole had amazing flavor, with the lavender adding a lovely floral undertone to the sweet, fresh blueberries. It was a hit with all my friends and I’m definitely going to make it again!



For my savory pie I chose to tackle a salmon pie. I was very apprehensive about making a fish pie, because the concept of an overly fishy flavor sounded repulsive.


But I found a recipe (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/salmon-pie-recipe.html) that seemed reasonable, and used a savory pastry dough recipe with butter, shortening, and egg.


I bought two 8oz salmon fillets and poached them before flaking them into a mashed potato, parsley, onion, and garlic mixture. After covering the filling with a full top crust, I baked it for about 40 minutes, and the result was a piping hot, delicious and hearty pie.


If I was to make this pie again I would definitely add more seasonings, because although the texture was pleasant it was lacking a bit of flavor.


The final banquet was, without a doubt, the most delectable experience I’ve ever had. The creativity, talent and enthusiasm of my fellow pie-makers blew me away, and I left even more inspired to push the boundaries of my baking abilities.


I can’t thank my professor, David, for this wonderful experience, and for teaching me the skills to live a Life of Pie for many years to come.

Blackberry Cheesecake & Spinach, Ham, Feta Quiche

Blackberry Cheesecake Pie



This is thanks to Hussain’s recipe.


2 – 2 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs

8-10 tablespoons unsalted butter (or however much until the crumbs stick together)


2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (I used fresh), thawed and drained if necessary

1 pound cream cheese, softened at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed


1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Blackberry glaze:

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 -2 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed

2 cups fresh or frozen, drained if necessary, blackberries (you could probably get away with 1 1/2 cup)


1. Crust


Bam. Pretty straightforward.

I made the crust slightly thicker than usual, about 1/4- 1/3 an inch.


2. Fill with blackberries!




3. Filling & Topping


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and salt until absolutely smooth. Beat in the eggs, egg yolk, and lemon juice. Pour the batter over the berries.

Bake the pie for 25 minutes. While the pie is baking, stir together the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla for the top layer.

Remove the pie from the oven. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Spoon the sour cream mixture over the top of the pie as evenly as possible and smooth gently with a rubber spatula. Return the pie to the oven for an additional 5 minutes.



Cool the pie at room temperature for about 30 minutes and refrigerate it until completely cold, at least 2 hours. Once cold, the pie should be loosely wrapped with plastic until it is served.


4. Glaze preparation

If possible, prepare the blackberry glaze about 1 hour before serving the pie. It is best at room temperature. If you must make it further ahead, refrigerate it.

In a small saucepan, stir together sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently stir in 1 cup of the berries. Place the pan over medium heat and bring the glaze to a simmer, stirring constantly, until it is thick. (This took about 20-25 minutes.) Remove it from the heat. (Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water if too thick.) Press the mixture through a sieve. Gently stir in the remaining 1 cup berries. (Optional – stir in this 1 cup earlier in the process to make glaze more even.)

Just before serving, top the pie with the blackberry glaze.

12607388_10208998233176351_247049857_n 12665785_10208998233016347_349882295_n


I had about 1 1/2 cups of blackberries left over, so I decorated the top with them.




Spinach, Ham, and Feta Quiche


6-8 cups of baby spinach

1/2 a large white onion, coarsely chopped, and lightly sautéed

1 pound of ham, coarsely chopped. This amount is flexible. I used a pre-cooked ham so it reduced the cooking time.

6 eggs

Coarsely ground black pepper & kosher salt to taste



Make the crust as you normally would – enough for 1 single crust (bottom)

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, ham, and sautéed onions. Beat the eggs, salt, and pepper, and pour in the mixture.


Pour the filling into the crust, and gently press down until tightly packed.


Feta cheese sprinkled on top


I improvised for this pie, and didn’t follow a real recipe, so there were some things that were experimental. For one, the filling wasn’t as firmly packed together as it should have been, and when the pie was cut, it tended to crumble.

Second, the feta cheese should have been sprinkled AFTER baking. I didn’t know this, but the feta became thoroughly burned black after 50-60 minutes of baking.

In the end there will only be pie

For the culmination of my pie, I decided to make three pies.

The first was a blueberry and cherry pie. This pie started out as a traditional cherry pie, however when I realized I didn’t have as many cherries as I thought, I decided to add blueberries. For the top crust, I decided to do a honeycomb pattern. It was fun to make. The pie came out well, and it tasted great. The filling was really good. It was a tad juicy and I really liked it. I would definitely make this again.


My second pie was a ham and brie quiche. It was called “I don’t want Earl’s Baby Pie’ in the movie Waitress. I loved making this pie. It was easy to assemble. Had a tad difficulty with getting it to stop jiggling in the oven, but it did stop and boy did it taste good. I would definitely make this again. I would maybe use chicken instead of the ham, and maybe mozzarella instead of the Parmesan.


My last pie was supposed to be a maple and sugar cream pie. I followed a recipe, however, as accidents came about, I had to deviate. I have decided to call this pie the Devil Pie. To make it, you burn the crust and the filling. Then you put this filling into another pre-baked crust. Then you bake it for twenty minutes. You let it rest for a day in the refrigerator. Once everything has cooled, you make a cinnamon sugar whipped cream with butterscotch and top the pie. In the end, the pie tasted great. I don’t know why, but I presume it is dark magic. Also, the people loved this pie. It got decimated. I was happy.


A Tart: Tasty, but not quite so Tantalizing

This week was all about decoration. I thought about pulling out my piping tips and doing some kind of meringue or whipped cream decoration, but ultimately I decided to go a more laid-back route.

Ultimately, this tart didn’t turn out quite as beautifully as I had hoped, but I was really pleased with the flavors.

I think a different treatment of the sweet potatoes and the red wine would have allowed me to impart the same flavors while having a better presentation.

All the same, a tasty pie is a tasty pie.

lop tart


½ cup walnuts

1 ½ cups flour

1 stick butter, softened

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper


1 medium red onion

8 oz Italian sausage

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp brown sugar


8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

12 oz tobasi (or other creamy, pungent cheese), at room temperature

1 egg

1 tsp black pepper


1 medium sweet potato

½ cup red wine

¼ tsp cinnamon

⅛ tsp ginger

⅛ tsp allspice

1 tbsp water

½ tbsp cornstarch


Preheat oven to 425°F. Toast your walnuts until they are quite fragrant – if anything, err on the side of burnt, rather than underdone. Combine all of the ingredients for your crust in a food processor and blitz until dough becomes smooth. Remove from machine and pack into a large tart pan, making sure to press into the sides as well. Bake at 425°F for 6 minutes. Crust will not be fully done, but rather lightly toasted. Decrease oven temperature to 350°F.

Put red wine, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice into a saucepan and allow to reduce by half. This will take time.

Slice a red onion in half and then into slices. Put into a frying pan with a couple pats of butter, and allow to cook down. In an additional pan, crumble your sausage, and cook until no longer raw. Once your onions are cooked down, add your brown sugar and allow to caramelize. Add in your cooked sausage and saute together for about a minute more.

Blitz your cream cheese, and tobasi in a food processor until creamy. Add your egg and black pepper and continue to mix until well combined. Use a spatula to avoid any clumps or unmixed material.

If your red wine has reduced, make a slurry with your cornstarch and water and add it to the reduction. Allow this to cook for another minute or two until thickened, but not gelatinous.

Peel and slice sweet potato into thin (about ¼ cm) half-moon pieces.

Take your pre-baked tart shell and layer in your onions and sausage. Pour on your cheese layer and spread smooth. Layer your sweet potatoes on top in a decorative fashion. Brush your red wine sauce on top of the sweet potatoes, covering, but not drenching them.

Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.

The Madness Chicken Pot Pie

I have perhaps never experimented more with food than I did with this week’s pie. I wanted to take the idea of a chicken pot pie to the next level.and I was instantly attracted to the idea of layers. Each layer would contain an ingredient that normally goes into a pot pie, cooked separately in a different manner and then layered together. I didn’t really use a recipe for the whole pie but took inspiration from different recipes to make each layer.
Following is a breakdown of how I cooked the main ingredient in each layer followed by how I assembled everything. From beginning to end, I felt like a mad scientist trying to concoct something insane and I think I succeeded in doing just that.


I used a basic flaky pastry with half butter and half shortening with a bit of dried thyme for added flavor.


Whole chicken, de-skinned it and cut it into pieces. Add the chicken to boiling water with sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary,  two carrots cut into big chunks, a medium onion halved, stalks of one head of celery, salt and black pepper. Boil for almost 45-60 minutes till chicken is tender. Drain chicken pieces and reserve stock and put it on heat again. Boil until stock reduces to less than half the original quantity.
Prepare other ingredients while the boiling happens. Once chicken is cooled, take out the chicken pieces, shred using fingers or a fork and discard the solid vegetable/herb pieces.

IMG_20160120_124116 IMG_20160120_135127


Sliced 1 cup of white mushrooms, washed and patted dried. Heat butter in a pan, add four cloves of garlic chopped and add the mushrooms after a few seconds. Saute until the mushrooms turn brown and most of the water evaporates. Add a cup of sherry, seasons and simmer until most of the sherry evaporates. Reserve.



Using a peeler, peel thin ribbons of around 8 carrots. Heat butter in a pan. Add carrot ribbons and on a medium low flame, saute and stir until the carrots starts turning golden brown. Turn off the heat and reserve. Be very careful as the ribbons may burn if left unattended (this happened to me and I had to do the carrots again).


Mashed Potatoes

Peel 4 red potatoes and cut in small cubes. Bring water to boil and boil the potatoes until a fork can easily break a cube of potato, around 20 minutes on a medium flame. Drain potatoes, add to a bowl and add a few tablespoons of whole milk and a few tablespoons of butter while mashing the potatoes with a fork. Avoid working the potatoes too much or else they will become gluey and elastic.


Celery and Peas

Saute a small onion chopped in some butter and add chopped celery stalks from one head once onions turn translucent. Saute for a few minutes. Season and add 1 cup frozen peas. Simmer until all the water evaporates and the peas are tender.


Beat 4 eggs together with some salt and two tablespoons of whole milk. In a medium sized saucepans, add a knob of butter and pour a bit of the egg mixture to make a round omelet. Flip occasionally until omelet is cooked. Repeat until you have four omelets.


Saute a medium chopped onion with some butter until onion changes color to brown. Add a few tablespoons of flour and mix with a wooden spoon for a minute or two to remove the rawness on a medium flame.. Add 3 tablespoons of heavy cream. Whisk and add a cup of hot stock and incorporate it in. Keep adding stock until the sauce attains a fairly thick consistency and retains it even after a few boils. Taste to check if any seasoning is needed in the gravy. However, it should be fairly well seasoned because of the stock.

Putting It Together

Roll out the pastry. Put in the pie platter and refrigerate for five minutes. Take it out and wash with egg white at the bottom to avoid sogginess. Following is the way I layered the pie but it can be in sequence:

Herbed Chicken – Omelette – Garlicky Mushrooms – Omelette – Caramelized Carrots – Omelette – 4 Cheese Mix + Peas & Celery – Omelette – Buttery Mashed Potatoes – Chicken

IMG_20160121_114532 IMG_20160121_114819 IMG_20160121_120041

Roll out more pastry for the top crust. Seal it on top of the pie and wash with egg yolk and milk mixture and bake at 400F until crust is golden brown. Meanwhile, cut out roses or chickens or other decorative shapes to be baked separately until pastry is golden brown and then put separately on top of the pie once the pie is cooked. I used toothpicks to secure put the roses on top (thanks to Neftaly for showing me how to make IMG_20160121_131008-01

Madness achieved. Serve with warm gravy on the side.

The Ultimate Fruit Basket

I knew right away that I wanted to go all-out for presentation week. My mind was overflowing with ideas (not many of them very feasible), but I chose to go with making the ultimate fruit basket. It took longer than I expected, but here’s a summary of what I did:

The Night Before

On Wednesday night, I decided to try to make pineapple-shaped pineapple hand pies and the basket. The filling was incredibly easy to make following this recipe. I rolled out the pastry, which I had made earlier that day, and cut out pineapple shapes. I sealed the hand pie together, decorated it, and put it in the oven. In the meantime, I tried to make the basket. I made pretzel dough, cut it into strips, and wove a basket on an upside-down metal mixing bowl.

The results? They weren’t so hot. I forgot to put butter on the mixing bowl and the baking sheet so both the hand pies and basket were stuck to their containers. Sigh.

The Day Of


I came to the kitchen very early to make the pretzel dough. I have tried various recipes, but so far the best one is the one I made up:

Pretzel Dough


2 cups of milk, 2 packets of active dry yeast, 7 tablespoons brown sugar, 4 tablespoons butter, 5 1/2 cups flour, 2 cups water, 1/2 cup baking soda


  1. Warm the milk in a microwave-safe container. Stir in the yeast. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  2. Melt butter in a microwave-safe container.
  3. Add milk, brown sugar, melted butter, and flour in a large bowl. Mix with your hands (sorry, it’s going to get messy).
  4. Once you get a firm ball, place the dough in a greased container and wrap with greased foil or plastic wrap. Let rise for an hour.
  5. Start making the pretzels!
  6. Bake until the top is golden brown (temperature doesn’t matter, but the baking time will change).

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 9.34.06 PM

While the pretzel dough was rising, I started making the filling for the hand pies. Instead of making different fruit fillings like I had originally planned to, I stuck with apples. I stole a couple from the dining hall and began chopping them up. I looked at multiple recipes for apple pie filling, but I chose to make my own. I didn’t measure anything exactly, but from what I can remember this is what I did:

Apple Pie Filling

  1. In a rather deep pan, melt a stick of butter (about 1/2 cup). Keep stove on.
  2. Add 1/3 cup of flour. The flour and butter will make a paste-like substance.
  3. Add 1 cup of white granulated sugar and 1 cup of brown sugar. Mix well.
  4. Add 4 teaspoons of cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of allspice,  2 teaspoons of nutmeg, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Mix well.
  5. Add 2 1/2 cups of water. Mix and bring mixture to a boil, constantly stirring.
  6. Once it has a thick/sticky consistency, add the apples. Mix well and bring to a boil again for about 1-2 minutes.
  7. It’s ready!

By the time I was finished with the filling, I started to weave the pretzel basket. This time, I buttered AND floured the mixing bowl. Once I finished weaving it, I put it in the oven. Since the mixing bowl was elevated, I was aware that it would take longer to bake. I wanted the basket to be soft, but a bit hard so that it would keep its shape. So I took the time to continue with the hand pies.

I rolled out the pastry. I had made different colors: yellow, orange, and red. Once they were rolled out, I cut out apple shapes, stuffed one half, brushed egg yolk and milk mixture on the edges, and sealed the hand pies. I brushed the egg yolk and milk mixture on the top as well. I made as many as I could and placed them in the oven.

As I had suspected, the basket took a while to bake. However, the butter and flour helped because it instantly came off of the mixing bowl! I had made the handle separately, so I simply used tooth picks to attach it to the basket. Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 9.54.56 PM

I am SO proud of how my fruit basket came out! The pretzel basket was delicious and the hand pies WERE SO ADDICTING. I took the leftover hand pies to my entry and they were devoured. Everything took chunks off of the basket, but eventually we decided to use the remaining basket as a bowl for an ice cream sundae!

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 5.37.25 PM


Pear Hand Pies

FullSizeRender (44)FullSizeRender (38) FullSizeRender (43)

FullSizeRender (37)I came into the week without a clue as to what I wanted to do. I played with apple roses, celtic knot lattices, and floral cutouts but in the end chose something entirely different: hand pies. I’ve never tried making hand pies before and I started with the idea of a classic apple hand pie with a cheddar cheese crust shaped to make different flowers. After hearing what everyone else was making for the week, I changed again and decided I would go the savory route.  With this in mind, I searched through dozens of recipes. After a while, I noticed a trend in my searches that included pears and cheese. Building off of that, I decided to be adventurous and gave up recipes all together.  This week, my pie was entirely my own, the first I can put my name to. I ended up with a pear, gruyere, and toasted almond hand pie. To add the decorative aspect, I poached the pears and stuffed the halves, wrapping them into pear shaped pies.


1 double crust pastry, 4 Bosc pears, block of gruyere, almonds (toasted and chopped), a few sprigs of rosemary, honey (I used solid honey butter)

FullSizeRender (39)

To make the pies, first make a double crust of your choosing (good for about 3.5 pears or 7 hand pies). I went with the vodka crust which gave me some anxiety as it seemed quite crumbly for a while but ended up delicious. Leave your crust in the fridge and poach the pears by heating a pot of water, adding about 1 cup of sugar and adding the whole peeled pears at a simmer for 15-20 minutes until the pears are softer but not mushy.  Remove and drain.  Halve and scoop out the center of the pears. Slice the cheese and chop the rosemary finely. Roll out the dough and use a pastry cutter to cut around the pear halves, leaving an edge to close the pies. Brush the edge with an egg white wash. Slice the pear in half again laterally, so there are two non-symmetrical pieces. Then lay the pastry down, spread a layer of honey, place the larger slice on the pastry, stuff the hole with toasted almond and chopped rosemary, then place a couple slices of gruyere on top. Place the second half of the pear over it to cap it off and cover the entire pear half in pastry, pinching the pastry pieces together to seal. Brush the pastry, shape hand pie into a pear, and cut slits down the long length.

FullSizeRender (40)FullSizeRender (41)FullSizeRender (42)

Lo How a Rose

In honor of this week’s decorative theme, I decided to tackle a baking feat I’ve been meaning to master for a while –apple roses. I’ve tried to make apple roses in the past without any success so I went into this week determined to master the perfect apple flower décor to top a maple custard tart with a walnut crust.


The recipe for the tart was quite simple. I learned how to use a food processor for the walnuts, and how to properly press the crust into the tart pan. The crust only needed about 15 minutes to bake, and it turned out perfectly browned all the way around which I was happy about.


The custard was also very straightforward. It just involved whisking and heating eggs, cream, maple syrup, and cornstarch into a pudding-like consistency. The recipe said to push the custard through a mesh sieve to reduce clumps, but that didn’t go very smoothly so I skipped that step. But there weren’t any clumps when I tasted it, so I think it was probably unnecessary.


After 45 minutes of practicing slicing apples incredibly thin I was ready to try my hand at the rose-decoration. The most difficult part was definitely getting thin enough slices, but I found using a peeler was very effective. I soaked the pieces in lemon juice to prevent browning and then warmed them up in the microwave for about ten seconds made them more pliable. I then rolled them and arranged them into the cooled maple custard.


After all the roses were arranged around the pie, I sprinkled the entire thing with cinnamon as a little added decoration and for a bit more flavor.


The final product was dainty, creamy, nutty, and quite lovely. Very happy with the end result, I will definitely make this pie again in the future!



Oh My, Apple Pie!

In the past three week no one had made an apple pie. I don’t know about you, but when I think of pie, apple is always  the one I think of first. Its the only pie dinning services makes with somewhat regularity. It is what various things are as “American as”. It is just plain yummy. So think week, when focusing on design I set about creating the perfect apple pie, the one that exists only in my mind, the one that haunts my dreams…

What does this pie look look? Well first of all it is large, it makes a statement walks into the room, just based on its size. Is it truly the epitome of American-ness if it is not large? I think not. This behemoth of an apple pie is glorious and golden, with a great soaring dome packed to the brim with apples. The apples themselves are tender, but still have a bit of a bite. They are cinnamony and sweet and tart all at the same time.

this week I used a combination of this recipe and this recipe and some good `ole gut instincts. It was the gut instincts that lead me to purchase the six pounds of apples for this pie. None of the recipes I found were willing to go this large, but I just felt it just had to be done. This week I also wanted to modify the cream cheese crust I used last week, this time using a slightly sweeter version that had half as much cream cheese.

To begin, I set out making the crust. Pretty straight forward. I think I’m getting pretty good at this part.


Then I set about peeling, coring, and cutting the six pounds of apples. That part was definitely the most difficult. So many apples. So many. By the end my hands were all pruney from all the apples wet with lemon juice. But I persevered. Mixing the filling was fine. Rolling out the dough was fine. Then the apples became an issue again as I realized I must get them all into this pie. Rather than just tossing them in, I decided it would probably look the best, and fit the most apples, if I carefully shingled them into the pie plate, and then used this seemingly magical trick with a bowl to get the rest of them in, in a perfect dome. The diagram I found to do this made it look super easy, but as I approached the flipping stage all the pinterest fails I had seen started coming to mind.



Base layer of apples

Base layer of apples

Bowl full of apples

Bowl full of apples



In the end it turned out okay. Not as pretty as the picture, but no apples were lost in the process.

Not the best, but not the worst.

Not the best, but not the worst.

The top crust went on nicely. I did some fancy crimping, inspired by one our our course pack readings, and cut a flower shaped vent in the top. I brushed the whole pie in egg wash and then went crazy with the cinnamon sugar and popped it in the oven.


ooooh fancy

ooooh fancy


The pie came out of the oven perfect! All golden and delicious. A perfectly inflated dome and it even looked like the apples did not shrink too much. Luckily I got some shots then, because by the next day the crust had unfortunately deflated, creating an interesting (read lumpy) topography on my pie.







Oh how how the mighty fall...

Oh how how the mighty fall…

Looks aside the pie tasted great! The best compliment I got was that my pie was the platonic ideal of an apple pie. The crust on this pie was my best one yet I think. The cinnamon sugar was a nice touch and I definitely want to play with another flavored crust in my final pies. I was worried about my apples being under-cooked  since there were so many, but they were fine. All in all a good go at the “perfect” apple pie, I think I totally would have had it if was eaten the day before, maybe with some ice cream, hot out of the oven. Yum.

Are You There, Pie? It’s Me, Hussain

I looked forward to this week mostly because of two main reasons. The first was Top Chef and the second was because earlier in the week I had come to accept the fact that my pies embodied chaos. So in a manner befitting both my need for unadulterated destruction and Padma’s fondness for deconstructed pie, I began my journey.
I pondered for a while about what kind of crust I should make. Fresh off the high of my translucent hot water crust, I decided it was time to return to the graham cracker crust. This time, however, I had to put my own spin on it. I crumbled up graham crackers, white chocolate chips and butterscotch. I melted some chocolate and folded it into the crust and there it was. It tasted great, and I will cherish its memory forever.
For the filling, I used a recipe that asked for condensed milk and in retrospect an awful lot of lime flavoring. The lime zest and juice combined gave the filling a real kick of citrus. Overall, the filling came out pretty well when combined with the flavor of some whipping cream and a little bit of ajave flavoring.
I decided to serve my pie in chocolate bowls. To make a chocolate bowl, I used balloons. I melted the chocolate, dipped the balloons in and let them dry. The one’s that air dried, came out pretty well. The same cannot be suggested for the one’s that were refrigerated closer to when they were dipped. This is one part of the process I would like to repeat.
Overall,  this week went great. I was really happy with what I made and how it tasted.It was pretty fun to deconstruct a pie, and serve it in a nontraditional sense that refuted having pastry on the outside. I was happy not to be asked to pack my knives and leave.

Late Again: Will I Ever Learn?

Once again, I am stunningly late with this blog post, but here it goes.

For last week’s assignment, we were to make savory pies. Now I absolutely love chicken pot pies, and I certainly considered making one, but I also wanted to really try something different than what I was used to. You know, take this class as a time to expand my palate as well as my cooking repertoire. So, the recipes that I found were for a pie called a Tourtiere du Shack and a Root Vegetable Tarte Tatin (recipes found at the links). Both looked incredible and exciting, so I decided to make both so that I didn’t have to choose between them.


The Tourtiere du Shack is a double crust pie that combines pulled pork and ground pork with mushrooms, onions, and garlic. The pulled pork is braised for a few hours until it can be easily pulled apart, while the ground pork is boiled in the juice from the pulled pork. For this pie, I decided to make an all butter pie crust that also made use of apple cider vinegar and an egg yolk. My overall impression of the pie was that it tasted good but seemed a little bland. If I was to make it again, I think that I would cook the ground pork separately before boiling it and include some more spices when cooking both types of pork.



The Root Vegetable Tarte Tatin is a single crust pie made up of sweet potatoes, potatoes, parsnips, and carrots. Before this, I had never had a parsnip, but I definitely enjoyed the flavor, which was reminiscent of that of a carrot. This pie was pretty simple to make. I just roasted the vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper and made a simple caramel of sugar, water, and white wine vinegar. The caramel went on the bottom of the pie pan along with thyme and rosemary, and the roasted vegetables went on top of them in a single layer. I ended up with a lot of extra roasted vegetables this week because I didn’t follow the recipe’s directions for their sizes very closely. This isn’t exactly a problem as the vegetables are delicious by themselves, but it’s something to be aware of. What I should have done next was to sprinkle the cheese over the top of the vegetables (I used queso fresco instead of goat cheese because I don’t really like goat cheese), but I forgot and just put the lard and butter pie crust on top instead. I fixed this shortly after I put it in the oven by lifting up the edges of the crust and stuffing some cheese around the edges of the pie, but it definitely would have been better had it been more evenly distributed. I really liked this pie and would definitely make it again without changing a thing (except for getting smaller vegetables).

Stay tuned for decorative pies coming soon this week!

Lobster Pot Pie: The Quest

My quest for the ideal Lobster Pot Pie began a couple years ago at a restaurant called the City Tavern in Philly. Little did I know that as I gorged myself on the best dish of my life, I would try to recreate it myself. Because I couldn’t find the recipe online and also couldn’t settle for a lesser pie, I ended up called the City Tavern and begging them for their recipe. Luckily, they disclosed it and my journey began. After a mildly traumatic Stop and Shop visit and 50 minute walk home with 10 grocery bags, I was finally prepared to start cooking. On Wednesday, I began by preparing (chopping, measuring, etc.) all my ingredients for the filling. Though I discovered I had bought garlic instead of scallions, David helped me correct my error by combining garlic and onion for the filling.

image (2)

Next, I went to the stovetop. I made the creme mixture without incident. However, the roux was another story. I didn’t know what a roux was supposed to look like (a liquid) and waited too long to begin adding flour to the buttery tomato paste. By the time I did add flour, much of the butter had evaporated, leaving insufficient liquid for the flour. As a result, when I whisked my roux into the creme, it never completely dissolved and remained in chunks.

image (3)image (5)

I put this combined mixture aside to simmer as I tackled cooking the seafood. I didn’t defrost the frozen lobster before putting it in the pan, however, which resulted in an excess of liquid.

image (6)

Because of this, I didn’t end up sautéing the seafood and had to drain liquid continuously from the pan. I put the seafood and sauce into separate containers in the fridge for the next day.

image (7)


On Thursday, I gave up my dream of making a puff pastry and, instead, made an all butter crust in a hurry and threw it in the fridge. Meanwhile, I also was reheating my ingredients. I ran into a problem with the seafood because I wanted it to be warm due to my short baking time but didn’t want it to overcook. I ended up cooking the sauce with some added water for a long time on low and only heated the seafood enough to make it lukewarm at the very end. I rolled out my dough and combined the seafood and sauce in the pie pan and put my top crust on. I put the pies in the oven to bake. I knew, since the filling was warm, that the only thing I need to worry about baking was the top crust! I ended up making enough for two pies instead of one so halve the recipe if you want one pie.

image (9)


Lobster Pie

From City Tavern: Recipes from the Birthplace of American Cuisine, ©2009 by Walter Staib

Hannah Glasse offers six recipes for lobster in The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, among

which is the recipe for lobster pie that inspired the recipe below. However, her example is the

exception rather than the rule, as lobster dishes are remarkably scarce in colonial cookbooks.

This is mainly because colonials had a low opinion of lobster and generally considered it so

undesirable that it was used as fertilizer and fish bait. When it was cooked and served, it was

given only to children, prisoners, and indentured servants. In fact, so many servants were sick of

eating lobster, they often specified in their contracts that they couldn’t be served lobster more

than three times per week.


Serves 6

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons chopped shallots

1 cup dry sherry

1 quart Lobster Stock (page 00)

1 quart heavy cream

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for serving

Pinch of fresh thyme

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

3 pounds lobster tail meat

18 jumbo shrimp (about 11/4 pounds), peeled and deveined

1 cup sliced button mushrooms

1/2 cup dry sherry

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 pounds Quick Puff Pastry (page 00) or purchased puff pastry

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water


Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and

sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the sherry and bring to a boil. Continue cooking

until the liquid is reduced by half, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the stock and bring back to a

boil. Stir in the cream and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to let simmer.

Heat 4 tablespoons of the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, add the tomato

paste, and slowly stir in the flour to form a smooth paste (or roux). Cook until the roux bubbles.

Remove from the heat and slowly whisk into the sherry-stock mixture. Return to medium heat

and cook until the sauce starts to thicken, about 2 minutes. Add the parsley, thyme, and cayenne

pepper, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add the lobster, shrimp,

and mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and the lobster and shrimp

are white. Add the sherry to deglaze the pan, loosening any browned bits on the bottom of the

pan with a wooden spoon. Divide the mixture among six 14- to 16-ounce au gratin or casserole

dishes. Divide the reserved sauce among the six dishes. (The sauce should cover the filling.)

On a lightly-floured surface, roll out the Quick Puff Pastry to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out 6

circles allowing 1-inch overhang and place on top of the au gratin dishes. Crimp the pastry to the

edge of the dishes, prick the dough with fork to allow steam to escape, and brush with the egg-

water wash.

Bake for 12 minutes, until the edges of the pastry are brown and the centers are golden brown.

Week Two: Calling All Cheese Lovers


FullSizeRender (35)Savory pies are entirely underrated. I’ve never baked a savory pie before so I was incredibly excited this week to explore a new side of what I’ve considered pie. Upon pouring through internet blogs and recipe books, I found I was consistently attracted to pies that centered around cheese. In the end I chose a pie and a galette for some variety. I’ve made fruit galette before, but the idea of a savory one was novel and exciting. The galette contained tri-color potato, caramelized onion, goat cheese, and fresh rosemary while the pie was a brie, apple, prosciutto sweet and savory mix.

FullSizeRender (29)FullSizeRender (30)FullSizeRender (33)

The galette was taken from a blog called Nothing From the House which was entirely dedicated to making pies. It was incredibly straightforward and simple to make. First I made the dough using the vodka trickFullSizeRender (34) where I substituted half of the water with vodka in order to make the pastry extra fluffy and light when the vodka evaporated. Then I cut the potatoes, caramelized the onions, and layered them on the rolled out dough adding dollops of cheese and pieces of rosemary on top. The only addition I made was that I used herbed goat cheese with thyme. I was pleasantly surprised by how colorful the miniature potatoes were and if I had made the galette again, I might have added a bit more potato. As it was, I found the galette to be delicious. The vodka trick made a noticeable improvement and although there was a large crust to filling ratio, the rosemary flavored the crust well. I liked this recipe because the pie felt light and airy with little filling which is not the case for many pies.

FullSizeRender (36)FullSizeRender (27)FullSizeRender (28)

The brie and apple pie was also taken from Nothing From the House which I found to be filled with incredibly innovative recipes. This pie was intriguing because I haven’t heard of many pies that combine the sweet and savory elements so completely.  First, I made a standard double crust then cooked the apples in cinnamon, sugar, and spices. The most strenuous portion of the entire pie process was peeling and coring the seven miniature granny smith apples that were used.  To put the pie together, I layered prosciutto on the bottom near the crust and poured the apple filling inside. Then on top, I spread slices of brie and covered the entire pie with a lattice. The overall effect was a sweet, smoky taste. It was certainly an incredibly different and exotic flavor set, and I felt pretty ambivalent about it. I loved the flavor complexity, but I was torn as to whether it was just a little too weird.

FullSizeRender (32)FullSizeRender (31)

<3 Steph

How to make a Mushroom-Ricotta Pie

  1. Spend several days promising yourself that you’re really going to look up some starter recipes for what you want to make. Alternate this by thinking “I know how to cook mushrooms, dammit.” Ultimately find one (http://www.completelydelicious.com/2013/01/wild-mushroom-pie-with-parmesan-crust.html) and mostly ignore it for the rest of the process.
  2. Take your grocery list, with your boyfriend in tow to the overpriced price chopper on the way to the airport. Try to convince yourself that just because you paid four dollars for an 8 oz bag of cranberries here last week doesn’t mean they’re set on price gouging you.
  3. Yell across the practically empty price chopper about the weight of mushrooms.
  4. Debate internally about the two dollar and fourty-nine cent container of fresh rosemary. Decide against it because rosemary is overpowering (you will later ignore this reminder).
  5. Argue about the benefits of part-skim versus all-fat ricotta with your boyfriend. Cave when he reminds you that the all-fat is “just going to taste better.”
  6. Start baking Wednesday afternoon in a kitchen full of people who are all planning much more elaborate dishes than you. Feel mildly inadequate, but remind yourself that you like mushrooms, and that’s all that matters (right?)
  7. Distract yourself with the rosemary that someone has left on the corner, and convince yourself it’s a worthwhile addition to your pie. Conveniently forget that rosemary is overpowering and it’s going to mess up your garlic and leave little bits of rosemary interspersed in the pie.
  8. Make your ricotta mixture. Eat your ricotta mixture.
  9. Cook your mushrooms, and proceed to cook out too much of your wine. Add more until it seems like it’s about the right consistency.
  10. Put together your pie, watching sadly as your lattice melts slowly into your still-steaming mushrooms. This is your fault and you knew it. It will taste fine. It will taste fine.
  11. Continue to pull out the visible stems of rosemary as you place your pie in the oven.
  12. Vow to omit the rosemary from the recipe.
  13. Remove your pie from the oven. Look at it with a mixture of sadness and fondness as you are reminded that it will not be available to you for another 22 hours. Remind yourself sadly that Mission dining hall will have to do for tonight.
  14. Make yourself sick on pie the next day.


2 ¼ cups flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

⅓ cup parmesan cheese

2 sticks butter

ice water


½ cup heavy cream

1 head garlic


½ Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 lbs mushrooms, mixed (crimini, portabella, shiitake)

5 oz pearl onions, ends trimmed and peeled

½ tsp. dried thyme

salt and pepper

1 cup red wine

2 Tbsp. flour


15 oz container of ricotta

1 egg

salt and pepper

½ tsp thyme

⅓ cup parmesan


  1 egg
In a small pan, insert heavy cream and a peeled head of garlic. Cover and simmer on low for around half an hour. After this time, strain and put any resulting liquid in with the mushrooms. Mush the garlic until it is a sort of paste and add to the ricotta.

Make your pie crust as normal, simply adding parmesan cheese to the flour mix. Shape into rounds (or rectangles) and place into the fridge, covered in clingwrap.

Clean and chop your mushrooms, varying your sizes. Place butter and oil into a large pan and allow butter to melt. Add your pearl mushrooms and saute until they are lightly colored. Add the prepared mushrooms along with ½ tsp dried thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Cook down until mushrooms are tender. Add in ⅔ cup red wine and continue to cook until almost all liquid is evaporated. Add in your flour, stirring to cover 20160113_133001all mushrooms. Remove pan from heat. Add in last ⅓ cup of red wine and set mushrooms aside.

Mix together the ricotta, thyme, salt and pepper to taste, and parmesan. Remember to add garlic.

Roll out your pie crust, and your top lattice strips. Fill the crust first with the ricotta layer and then with the cooked mushrooms. Top with lattice, and brush with egg wash.

Bake at 425°F for 20 minutes, and then cover edges with tinfoil or silicone protectors. Bake for another 45 minutes at 350°F or until golden brown on all sides.

Allow to cool slightly and eat (preferably) that day.20160113_144509