Eggnog Pie Crust

There’s eggnog everything, right? Kinda like pumpkin spice? I don’t know. I’m not as cued into Starbuck’s influence on the tastebuds of the world as I used to be.
But of one thing I am certain: Eggnog is yummy. And the more ways I can incorporate it into my holiday eating experience, the better.
It was from this belief that eggnog pie crust was born.
Is there any better accompaniment to a pumpkin pie? Any better duet than with a caramel apple pie? Chocolate silk pairing?
Thanksgiving is upon us and Christmas right on its heels. Baking will be required! Pies! Let this be your go-to crust recipe.
Enjoy

EGGNOG PIE CRUST

1/2 cup butter, chilled and sliced
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp Eggnog, chilled

In a food processor, pulse the flour, the cold butter (sliced), and the salt until crumbly. With the preprocessor whirling, slowly pour in the eggnog until a crumbly dough forms. Empty the crumbles into a clean mixing bowl, and using your hands, meld together until a smooth ball forms. Press into a circle and roll between waxed paper.
Each batch makes one crust. Double the recipe if you have a food processor large enough to handle the job!

Nectarine Galette

Late summer. August. The season of purple cone flower and golden yarrow, cicada song, heat, and stone fruit. Peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots . . . the apples and pears are close behind, but for now it’s all about achingly sweet fruit that melts into pastry dough and oozes out of pie crust. Welcome to my favorite part of summer. This quote from Natalie Babbitt sums it up perfectly for me (though sadly, we are already past the first week in August).

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.” 
(from Tuck Everlasting)

I found  a crate of nectarines at the grocery this week. They were so ripe I could smell them almost as soon as I walked into the store. I prefer nectarines to peaches because I’m not overly fond of fuzzy peach skin. They are not quite as sweet as peaches, but nearly. And they meet this galette, saturated in brown sugar and cinnamon, the way the first week in August meets September. —A final sweet hurrah of summer.

NECTARINE AND BROWN SUGAR GALETTE

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BUTTERMILK PIE CRUST
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup chilled buttermilk

In a food processor, whirl the butter, flour, and salt until crumbly. Then, one teaspoon at a time, add the buttermilk until a dough forms. The trick here is not to overwork the dough or let it get warm. You don’t want the butter melting into the dough, but rather staying rather crumbled within it—those butter bits are what will make the dough flaky when it bakes.

FILLING
3 very ripe nectarines, sliced and pitted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup flour

In a bowl, gently combine the sliced fruit with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour. The flour will help thicken the juices and sugar as they galette bakes, but there will be extra juice in the bowl. You can leave this and discard it when you scoop the fruit onto the pastry.

Roll the pastry out between two pieces of parchment paper until you have a 1/4 inch thick circle about 12 inches in diameter. Remove the top sheet of paper and scoop the nectarines into the center of the rolled dough, leaving 2 1/2 inches around the outside edge free of fruit. Taking an edge of the dough, bring it up onto the fruit and press it gently. Bring the next edge, beside the one you just creased, up beside it and onto the fruit, gently pressing it onto itself. Go around the circle, pulling the dough up onto itself, one bit at a time until the whole thing is self contained in a sort of pastry-pocket. The beauty of a galette, is that you do not need a pie pan!

Slip the bottom layer of paper with the galette on top, onto a flat baking sheet and bake on 350-degree preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until golden brown across the top.
Allow to cool before serving.

rustic pastry with preserves

This recipe totally cheats.
Just felt like I should start with that so you’re prepared when you see pancake mix on the list of necessary ingredients.
Like I said. Cheating.
If it bugs you, you can totally mix up your own dry pancake mix from scratch. In fact, I have a great recipe right here. Just leave out the wet ingredients!

There. That’s done.
Moving on.

I love this recipe for its simplicity. And yet the end result is gorgeous in a rustic, french-breakfast kind of way. I imagine myself enjoying a slice while on a balcony in Paris, early morning sunlight filtering through white curtains as I lounge about in a silk robe.

Clearly this is my imagination at work, because reality looks more like a mad rush of chaos between changing diapers and serving slices of this pastry up on paper plates, to small humans who are clearly dying of starvation (as evidenced by their whining for food before the sun rises).
A far cry from balconies and silk robes, but it’s nice to know we can whip up beautiful food that meets us where we’re at. So here. Here’s to pretty food that tastes good, nourishes, and meets us where we’re at. Cheers, and enjoy!

RUSTIC PASTRY

3 cups of pancake mix
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2-3/4 cup fruit preserves of your choice

In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine butter, egg, and yogurt. Gradually stir in pancake mix until a thick dough forms. Use your hands or a dough hook to finish combining the dry ingredients with the butter mixture.

On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll dough out in a large rectangle, approximately 1/4 inch thick. With a spoon, spread fruit preserves down the middle of the dough and then cut notches along either side of the preserves, folding each strip up on top of the preserves as you go. A kind of braid will form with each new strip you layer. Lightly sprinkle the finished braid with cinnamon and sugar. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown across the top.
Allow to cool slightly and set before serving.

Ps. This would be super good with Nutella filling in place of the preserves. Just saying.

Cinnamon Rolls

Weekend food is not typically my favorite. Often I feel as though I get stuck in the kitchen while my tribe goes off galavanting.
HOWEVER. Sunday morning food traditions are an exception.

When I was a child, my Mom used to make a large pan of cinnamon roll on Saturday night. They would rise, gaining girth and height until she would pop them into the oven Sunday at dawn. The whole house would smell of baking cinnamon rolls and I swear to you, my spiritual life is wafted-over with the smell of baking cinnamon and brown sugar. It’s a beautiful thing. My mom is particularly good at recognizing both the physical and spiritual needs of her people. Food when we’re hungry, naps when we’re weary, prayers over all. It’s a motto she lives by, though I’m not sure she’s ever stated those words exactly. I’ve inherited some of that from her.
And also cinnamon rolls on Sunday morning.

These are so easy to whip up, I rarely make them Saturday night. Sunday morning before my tribe starts rolling out of bed is enough time. Thirty minutes or so and these guys are in the oven. Also, they rise as they bake, so no need to wait overnight.
Enjoy!


CINNAMON ROLLS

DOUGH:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon quick-rising yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup very warm water
3 cups flour

FILLING:
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon (or more) cinnamon

In a stand mixer or large bowl, combine warm water, melted butter, sugar, salt, and yeast. Whip vigorously until yeast mixture is foamy. Add in flour, one cup at a time, stirring until you can no longer work with a spoon or spatula. If you’re using a stand mixer, attach the kneading hook and finish the last cup of flour with that. If you’re using elbow grease, dump soft dough onto the counter top and work the last cup in by hand. Allow to rest for ten minutes.

Work dough on a floured surface into a large, long rectangle. Dough should be no more than 1/2 an inch thick. If the dough continues to shrink dramatically every time you stretch it out, allow it to rest a couple more minutes. Feel free to use a rolling pin if you like.

Spread the surface liberally with butter, then sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up, working the long side of the rectangle closest to you toward the opposite side, smoothing and stretching as you go. When you reach the opposite side, pinch the open side onto the roll, sealing it up. Turn the roll seam-side down, and using a sharp knife, trim off the ends. Cut the roll in eighteen to twenty slices, about 2 inches long each.

Place rolls in a well-buttered pan (you should have enough small blunt-ended rolls for two round pans) and allow to rest for ten minutes or so. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown across the top. Serve warm.

carmelized sweet-potato and apple pie with sharp cheddar cheese in a rosemary-buttermilk crust

I’ve been making pie for three days straight trying to get this recipe right, you guys.

First there was the crust. Measurements were off, I overworked the dough and it went flat, too salty, etc . . .

Then once I got the crust right, the filling was wrong. I tried grading the sweet potatoes with the chopped apples but the texture was way off. Plus sweet potatoes are more dense than apples so they cook unevenly. Nasty.

But today, TODAY I GOT IT RIGHT.

 I am so excited about this pie.
It’s just a pie, I know, but in my dream world, when I open a pie shop and farmer’s market, this pie will be on the short and selective menu. That’s how good it is.

Close your eyes for a minute and I’ll take you there. . .

The glass door swings wide and a small brass bell jingles over your head as you cross the threshold. Someone across the room greets you with a smile—a wave maybe—and you instantly feel at home. Your people come here.

The floors are rough planks, comfortable and unpretentious, but the handful of tables are flung with white table cloths. Fresh. Like white linen on laundry day. Rustic chandeliers hang from the pressed-tin ceiling and the generous front windows spill sunshine across the spacious room.

But the smell of the place is what sticks with you. Baked goods. Like Grandma’s kitchen—or maybe your aunt’s. Fresh berry and fruit pies wait under the long glass counter and a chalkboard menu against one of the raw-brick walls assures you the variety isn’t lacking. Three stand out: Rhubarb and current pie with cardamon. Custard pear and raspberry. Caramelized Sweet-Potato Apple with Sharp Cheddar in a Rosemary-Buttermilk crust. You’ll have to think on it. Decisions are hard . . .

Every pie here is made from scratch, the crust mixed up with butter and buttermilk from local dairy farmer’s bounty. The fruit, herbs, and produce that fill the crusts are local and seasonal, and you wonder for a moment if maybe you can just live here. Eat pie forever. The oversized leather chairs in the corner windows would be fine. Add a book, a cup of coffee, and you’ll be just fine, thank you very much . . .
You decide on the Caramelized Sweet-Potato Apple with Sharp Cheddar in a Rosemary-Buttermilk crust. Almost like lunch, right? Pie for lunch. Totally legit. 

Okay. Open your eyes.
I promise to serve your pie warm when you arrive. 🙂 In the mean time, here’s the recipe so you can make your own.

Enjoy!

CARMELIZED SWEET-POTATO AND APPLE PIE WITH SHARP CHEDDAR CHEESE IN A ROSEMARY-BUTTERMILK CRUST

Let’s start with the crust. I used the Buttermilk Pie Crust recipe from my last post with the addition of:
1 teaspoon dried and crushed rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon savory herb blend (basil/oregano/onion/thyme)

Mix up two crusts and refrigerate while you work on the filling.

FILLING:
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
6 pie apples (Grannysmith work great!) peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons flour
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Over medium-high heat, melt butter in a flat-bottom pan and brown sweet potatoes until they begin to soften. Add apples and cook, covered, for a couple minutes. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, and salt to the pan and mix until the spices and sugar are well incorporated. Remove pan from heat and transfer the filling to a large mixing bowl. Add flour and mix well until juices thicken. Set aside and allow to cool a bit.

Roll out the bottom crust and press it into your pie plate.
Add cheese to the slightly-cooled fruit, spice, and apple mixture and stir until ingredients are well-mixed. Fill the prepared bottom crust with the fruit and potatoes, roll out the top crust and fit it to the top of your pie. Press the top and bottom edges together and then crimp. Poke a hole in the top crust to vent, and sprinkle with paprika.
Bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned over the top.
Allow to cool a bit before cutting—this will help the juices re-incorporate into the filling.

orange crescent rolls

  Food anchors memory. Ever noticed that? I have so many amazing food memories associated with family, friends, childhood, and holidays.
Pecan pie on Father’s Day (because that’s his favorite).
Clam chowder on Christmas Eve.
I remember one summer when my mom made like twenty-five chocolate cheesecake tortes to sell at a bake sale, only they didn’t all sell so we had chocolate cheesecake torte for weeks.
My Dad made a lobster-shaped birthday cake for my mom one year because lobster was her favorite food, but money was too tight for the real thing.
I had breakfast with my grandpa at the lake growing up—eggs over-easy on toast.
My grandma would make fried bread dough with sugar dusted over top when we came for lunch.
And my great-grandmother was the QUEEN of Sunday dinner.
I have a heritage of being loved and nourished through food. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This recipe is an Easter tradition—one that goes back as far as I can remember.
We would go to bed Saturday night anticipating the rejoicing that would greet us Sunday morning, and all the wonderful shouts of “He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!” ringing throughout the house. This was followed by Easter basket hunting, getting ready for church, and these beautiful, light-as-air, orange crescent rolls for breakfast.

So from my family to yours, Happy Easter!

PS. I’m giving this recipe to you a day early so these rolls can rise in the refrigerator overnight and bake first thing Sunday morning!

ORANGE CRESCENT ROLLS
ROLLS
3 cups flour
1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

GLAZE
1 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
Enough orange juice to make desired consistency

Advance Prep:
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 3/4 cups iof flour ad the year. In a saucepan, heat together milk, water, sugar, butter, and salt until just warm. Stir occasionally until butter is melted and then add this to the dry mixture. Add the egg and orange peel. Beat on low with an electric mixer or a stand mixer for a couple minutes and then scrape the side of the bowl continually. Beat for three minutes on high. Then, by hand or with a dough hook, add in the remaining flour and mix well. Place dough in a greased bowl and turn to grease all sides. Over with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2-24 hours.

Before serving:
About two hours before serving, remove dough from fridge and divide in half. roll each ball into a 9-inch circle and with a pizza cutter, cut into 12 wedges. Starting at the wide end, roll up each wedge. Let rise in a warm oven until doubled. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. While still warm, spread with glaze.

To make glaze, combine sugar, peel and juice in a small mixing bowl and whisk with a fork.

Serve warm

Makes 24 rolls

Originally adapted from CRISCO PRESENTS FAVORITE FAMILY FOODS, copy write 1973, Proctor and Gamble Company.

perfect pie crust

HAPPY PI DAY!

EatWriteRepeat

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I always dreamed of entering a pie in the county fair and winning blue.
Silly, but it seems like one of those homemaker kinds of things my grandmother would have done and, no lie, I dream of being like her. She was an amazing woman. But her pies, though most likely blue-ribbon, were difficult. My grandma was a cold-lard-cut-into-her-flour pastry kind of woman, and I’m sorry, but I don’t have time for that. Also, gross. Tiny bit.
I do things a little differently, but cross my heart, this pastry recipe is FAIL PROOF. Even for the most reticent of pie-crust makers. Trust me on this, okay? It’s simple. No lard or ‘cutting in” involved. And I think, despite my divergence from tradition, grandma would approve.

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The apple filling recipe is pretty basic: 5-6 apples, peeled, sliced and chopped into bite size pieces. Mix them in a bowl with 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4…

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