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The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 4: Pies and

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The High Plains Sifter

Part 4: Pies and Tarts

Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude

by Chris Reynolds

Photography by Chris Reynolds

Copyright 2015 by the author of this book Chris Reynolds. The book author retains sole copyright to his contributions to this book.

Recipe Developer: Chris Reynolds

Writer: Chris Reynolds

Graphic Design: Chris Reynolds

Food Stylist: Chris Reynolds

Photographer: Chris Reynolds

Chris Reynolds is a graduate of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, Ireland and owner of Waiting For Gateau, a full-service culinary studio, specializing in high-altitude recipe development and testing; food styling and food photography.

1000 3rd Ave

Longmont, CO 80501

[email protected]

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,

“said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully, “It’s the same thing,” he said.

- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

Contents:

Introduction

Tart It Up!:

High-Altitude Baking Notes for Pies and Tarts

Classic Apple Pie

Classic Blueberry Pie

Mock Marionberry Pie

Classic Cherry Pie

Classic Peach Pie

French Apple Pie

Caramel Apple Pie

Maple Apple Pie

Streusel-Topped Peach Pie

Streusel-Topped Cherry Pie

Streusel-Topped Apple Pie

Streusel-Topped Blueberry Pie

Streusel-Topped Mock Marionberry Pie

Streusel-Topped Caramel Pear Pie

Fresh Fruit Crostata

Apple Marzipan Crostata

Apple Walnut Crostata

Raspberry Pecan Crostata

Cherry Almond Crostata

Almond Cream Cheese Peach Crostata

Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

Apple Cranberry Crisp

Old-Fashioned Pear Crisp

Old-Fashioned Peach Crisp

Old-Fashioned Nectarine Crisp

Old-Fashioned Plum Crisp

Plum Coconut Crisp

Old-Fashioned Blueberry Crisp

Old-Fashioned Cherry Crisp

Festive Holiday Crisp

Summer Fruit Tart

Peaches and Cream In Phyllo Baskets

Golden Delicious Neufchatel Tart

Toffee Apple Neufchatel Tart

Normandy Pear Tart

Chocolate Raspberry Mascarpone Tart

Chocolate Raspberry Lavender Tart

Chocolate Chip Pie

Pecan Pie

Walnut Pie

Salted Walnut Pie

Red Chili Walnut Pie

Kentucky Derby Pie

Maritime Maple Pie

Pecan Praline Tart

Coffee Molasses Shoofly Pie

Banbury Tart

Macadamia Nut Tart

Honey Pine Nut Tart

Coffee Hazelnut Tart

Chocolate Truffle Tart

Mascarpone Espresso Truffle Tart

Chocolate Truffle Caramel Tart

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle Tart

Mexican Chocolate Truffle Tart

Chocolate Hazelnut Cherry Tart

Raspberry Truffle Tart

Rocky Road Tart

Chocolate Granola Tart

Chocolate Walnut Tart

Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate Banana Pie

French Silk Tart

French Silk Peanut Butter Tart

Chocolate-Crunch Peanut Butter Pie

Key Lime Pie

Lemon Cream Pie

Blueberry Lime Tart

Mincemeat Tarts with Whipped Crème Fraiche

Meringue Shells with Cream and Fresh Berries

Raspberry Napoleons

Salmon Tarts with Watercress Cream

Gouda-Walnut Tarts

Ravioli Tarts

Pear-Brie Tarts

Asparagus-Boursin Cheese Tart

Ham and Asparagus Boursin Tart

Wild Mushroom-Gruyere Tart

Spinach-Feta Pie

Garden Vegetable Ricotta Tart

Zucchini Ricotta Tart

Wild Mushroom Ricotta Tart

Johnson’s Farm BLT Pie

Simple Quiche

Crab Quiche

Crab, Corn and Chive Quiche

Leek, Asparagus, and Corn Quiche

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

Mushroom, Leek and Goat Cheese Quiche

Leek-Camembert Quiche

Onion and Olive Tapanade Quiche

Scallop Quiche

Mushroom, Bacon and Gruyere Quiche

Spinach, Basil and Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche

Blue Cheese, Mushroom and Herb Quiche

Chaco Canyon Tart

Empanadas…

Empanada Dough

Picadillo Filling

Chorizo-Potato Filling

Sweet and Sour Beef Filling

Cheeseburger Filling

Spicy Orange Chicken Filling

Chicken-Artichoke Filling

Shrimp “Eggroll” Filling

Chicken Mafe Filling

Gruyere-Chicken Filling

Crab-Asiago Filling

Silky Mac and Cheese Filling

Four Cheese Macaroni

Spicy Tomato Mac and Cheese

Lobster/Shrimp/Crab Mac and Cheese

Cajun Mac and Cheese

Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese

Sweet Pea-Bacon Mac and Cheese

Pimento Mac and Cheese

Ham-Broccoli Mac and Cheese

Chipotle-Bacon Mac and Cheese

Mushroom-Farro Pie

Free-Form Chicken Pie

Free-Form Country Captain Chicken Pie

Free-Form Cassoulet Pie

Free-Form Fisherman’s Pie

Classic Pie Dough

Cornmeal Crust Pie Dough

Cream Cheese Pie Dough

“Half-Baked” Pie Shell

“Fully-Baked” Pie Shell

Classic Tart Dough

Sweet Walnut / Pecan Tart Dough

Chocolate Tart Dough

Espresso Tart Dough

Cream Cheese Tart Dough

Savory Tart Dough

Cheesy Savory Tart Dough

Cheesy Savory Cornmeal and Herb Tart Dough

“Half-Baked” Tart Shell

“Fully-Baked” Tart Shell

Chocolate Cookie Crust

Graham Cracker Crust

Breakfast Cereal Crust

Introduction (For the entire series)

From The Slopes To The Shore…

Are you tired? Are you tired of fancy (or not so fancy) baking books by fancy chefs with even fancier recipes that just don’t measure up to all that hype? Are you tired of recipe failures while on a ski holiday or just because you live above 3000 feet? Are you tired of passion fruit foams and green tea cookies when all you want is a chocolate chip cookie recipe that will work every single time? Do you need a pie for the long summer weekend; or a quick, yummy after school treat; or a simple cake with effortless style to make your neighbors jealous; or a truffle that will awaken the mad passionate desires of your lover and make them beg for more? Psssst, do you want a chocolate chip cookie now? No, I mean a really good chocolate chip cookie? Well, let’s make that chocolate chip cookie together. It’s easy and I can show you how.

Family Recipes From My Home To Yours…

Come with me on a family journey through baking where the luck of the Irish gives way to solid science and produces a collection of family baking favorites that your family will cherish for years to come. This debut collection from Irish-trained chef, Chris Reynolds, celebrates the landscape of his family’s baking tradition and contains 323 “master” recipes and 582 recipe variations. This cookbook is a wide-ranging, comprehensive collection chock-full of beloved classics like chewy gingerbread cookies, triple-chocolate brownies, jalapeno cheddar corn bread, shoofly pie, sour cream coffeecake, fresh peach ice cream, crunchy granola, and the best pizza crust ever. This is an inspired collection of classics and contemporary twists where we tease traditional flavours and let you know you’ve just had something special. Classics with attitude and altitude.

High-Altitude Baking that Really Works…

You’ll learn that it’s possible to serve a from-scratch comfort food classic like buttermilk biscuits on a weeknight when time is tight or a high-altitude cake on your skiing holiday that won’t fall flat. In addition to foolproof recipes, all the recipes were tested at high-altitude by the author, himself. Each high-altitude adjustment is precise to give success at 5200ft (Denver, Colorado). In addition, each chapter introduction gives insights into high-altitude baking and tips on adjusting your own recipes.

Retro-Modern???

Chris Reynolds is a professional baker trained at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland by the famed cooking teachers Darina and Rachel Allen. While he embraces an artisan philosophy, emphasizing the freshest organic ingredients, sound techniques, and from-scratch baking; he’s also well aware that stirring a caramel on the stove for 90 minutes is a drag. “I wanted recipes that people would embrace, enjoy and actually make. No one, not even me, is going make a cookie that requires me to stand at the stove for 90 minutes. That’s just not practical in our modern world.” This book embraces a “retro-modern” approach. Old-fashioned recipes are updated for modern life. That could mean streamlining the steps, using modern flavour combinations, using different techniques to give fool-proof results, or even scaling a recipe to feed a family of four.

A Photo of Every Recipe…

If the easy, care-free recipes don’t grab you, then the stunning full-colour photos of every recipe surely will. This book is a delight for the eyes as well as the palate. This is homey, doable baking at its best – a lively, in-depth portrait of a family who loves to bake. Pass me another truffle!

High-Altitude Baking Notes for Pies and Tarts:

When people move from sea level to high altitude, there are two responses when confronted with baking. One is acceptance and empowerment knowing that with a little knowledge and practice, you will be able to find a solution. The second response is avoidance. Just find recipes that don’t need adjusting. It’s a valid solution that I have been guilty of in the past. I have a friend who once said “I never have trouble baking at high altitude because I only bake pies.” Touché!

Because water boils at a lower temperature, I use cornstarch to thicken my fruit pies since it begins to thicken at a lower temperature. Your fruit pies may need more baking time to thicken properly. Watch your fruit pies for signs that the filling is bubbling to be sure they will thicken. Look for bubbling juices in the center of the pie through the vent holes or streusel topping.

Since, baking pie fillings all the way through can take longer than it would at sea level, cover pies loosely with foil during part of the baking time to prevent the top crust from burning before the fruit beneath is completely cooked.

I have read reports that some custard pies take longer to bake at altitude. I haven’t found that to be the case at my home at 5200ft. However, as a general rule, I only use the baking times in any book as a loose guide and always judge doneness by appearance and insert a knife near the center of the pie to make sure it comes out clean.

Possible adjustments:

When trying a new recipe written for sea-level, I always follow the directions as written and then evaluate the results. As you gain confidence and experience, you will be able to detect the “trouble spots” in each recipe and make some basic changes ahead of time.

Different types of baked goods need different adjustments and each recipe is unique. Sometimes, a recipe might only need one of these adjustments, sometimes, they will need them all. Always keep high-altitude notes in the margin of each recipe and you will begin to see patterns and tendencies.

All of the photographs in the book were baked and photographed at my home in Longmont, Colorado. If the recipes work in my high-altitude home, they should work in yours too.

Baking Powder / Baking Soda (for when your recipe ‘falls’ in the oven):

Decrease each teaspoon by: 0 to 1/8 teaspoon (3,000ft); 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon (5,000ft); 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (7,000ft); 1/2 to 2/3 teaspoon (10,000ft).

Flour (for when your recipe ‘falls’ in the oven):

Increase each cup by: 0 to 1 tablespoon (3,000ft); 1 to 2 tablespoons (5,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (7,000ft); 2 to 4 tablespoons (10,000ft). (I find this to be a rare adjustment in cookies unless they are very cakey, such as whoopee pies.)

Eggs (for when your recipe ‘falls’ in the oven or seems dry):

I’ve found that adding one extra egg to many recipes is a great help. The egg helps the batter to set by adding protein and they add a little more moisture. (This is a rare adjustment in cookies, brownies, or pies, but it is a great help in cakes and quick breads.)

Sugar (for when your recipe seems too sweet or forms a sugary crust):

Decrease each cup by: 0 to 1 tablespoon (3,000ft); 1 to 2 tablespoons (5,000ft); 2 to 4 tablespoons (7,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (10,000ft).

Liquid (for when your recipe seems unusually dry):

Increase each cup by: 0 to 2 tablespoons (3,000ft); 2 to 4 tablespoons (5,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (7,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (10,000ft).

Fats (for when your recipe seems unusually greasy):

Decrease each cup by: 0 tablespoon (3,000ft); 1 tablespoon (5,000ft); 1 1/2 tablespoons (7,000ft); 2 tablespoons (10,000ft).

Classic Apple Pie

Macerating the fruit ahead of time will get rid of the excess water that can lead to a soupy filling. You can skip this step when making blueberry pie. If you don’t have a pie pan, you always use a 9×13-inch baking pan and roll the dough out into a rectangle to fit.

1 recipe Classic Pie Dough

3 pounds Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples (about 7 cups)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 cup smooth apple sauce

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

2 tablespoons cream for brushing

2 tablespoons granulated sugar for dusting

Peel, core and slice the apples into 1/4-inch thick slices or 1/2-inch dice. Toss the apples with the granulated sugar and salt. Place the apples in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes. Remove the fruit from the microwave and transfer them to a colander. Let the fruit sit and drain for 2 hours. You should see that about 3/4-1 cup of liquid has drained away. Discard the drained juice since it will be rather salty.

Toss the drained fruit with the lemon juice, cornstarch, brown sugar, apple sauce, cinnamon, and all spice and set it aside while you prepare the crust.

Preheat oven to 425°F with the oven rack on the lowest position. Place a sheet pan on the oven rack for at least 20 minutes.

Remove dough from refrigerator. If it is firm and very cold, let stand until dough is cool but malleable. Roll one dough disk on a lightly floured surface into a 13-inch circle. Gently drape the dough over a rolling pin and transfer it to the center of 9-inch regular or deep-dish metal pie pan. (A glass or ceramic pie pan may cause your crust to “slump.”)

Gently press dough into sides of pan leaving portion that overhangs lip of pie plate in place. Dump the fruit mixture, including juices, into the pie shell and mound slightly in center. Roll out the other dough round and place over the filling.

Trim the top and bottom edges to 1/2 inch beyond pan lip with a pair of scissors. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that the folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute the edging by pressing the dough edge between your right index finger and your left thumb and index finger or press with the back of a fork to seal.

Cut five slits on top of the pie radiating out from about 2 inches from the center. Brush the top crust with the cream and sprinkle with the sugar.

Place the pie on the preheated sheet pan or pizza stone and bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees; continue baking until the juices bubble and the crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes longer. (If the top crust seems to brown too much, drape a sheet of aluminum foil on the top.)

Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to almost room temperature, at least 4 hours.

Makes 1 9-inch pie (serves 6-8)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Classic Blueberry Pie: Substitute 7 cups fresh blueberries for the apples. Omit the first 1/2 cup sugar and the apple sauce. Leave the berries whole and skip the first step where you toss the fruit with sugar and salt and let drain. When you’re ready to fill the crust, just toss the berries with the remaining ingredients. Proceed as directed.

Mock Marrionberry Pie: Substitute 2 cups fresh blueberries, 2 cups fresh raspberries, and 2 cups fresh blackberries for the apples. Omit the first 1/2 cup sugar and the apple sauce. Leave the berries whole and skip the first step where you toss the fruit with sugar and salt and let drain. When you’re ready to fill the crust, just toss the berries with the remaining ingredients. Proceed as directed.

Classic Cherry Pie: Substitute 7 cups fresh cherries for the apples. Pit then if they are fresh, thoroughly drain if they are jarred or frozen. Proceed as directed.

Classic Peach Pie: Substitute 7 cups fresh peaches, peeled, and sliced, for the apples. Proceed as directed.

French Apple Pie: Add 3/4 cup raisins and 1/4 cup brandy to the final apple mixture. Proceed as directed with the apple pie. When the pie is cooled, make a glaze with 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons brandy and drizzle this over the top crust. Proceed as directed.

Caramel Apple Pie: Place 30 soft vanilla caramels and 1/4 cup heavy cream in a heavy sauce pan. Cook the caramels over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until they are melted and smooth. After you place the apples in the bottom crust, drizzle the caramel over the apples. Proceed as directed.

Maple Apple Pie: Substitute maple sugar for the granulated and brown sugars in the recipe. (Maple sugar can be found at some supermarkets, specialty stores, or the internet.)

Streusel-Topped Peach Pie

This is my favorite kind of pie since I love the crisp nuggets on the top. This is a great pie for beginners since you don’t have to worry about making the top crust look pretty.

1/2 recipe Classic Pie Dough

Streusel Topping:

3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

In a large bowl, combine all streusel topping ingredients and mix with an electric mixer on low speed until crumbly. Set aside.

Fruit Filling:

6 cups fresh peaches peeled, pitted, and sliced

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine the fresh fruit, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl and stir to combine. Microwave the fruit mixture on HIGH for 3 minutes. Remove the fruits from the microwave and transfer them to a colander. Let the fruit sit and drain for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, roll out the pie dough as directed in the classic pie dough recipe, fit it into a metal pie pan, trim and crimp the edges and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375° F. and adjust your oven rack to the lowest position. Place a sheet pan on the oven rack for at least 20 minutes.

In a bowl, combine the strained fruit, lemon juice, brown sugar, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator and pour the fruit mixture into it and gently press the fruit down with the back of a spoon.

Place the pie pan on the preheated sheet pan and bake (with no topping) for 45 minutes.

Remove the pie from the oven for a moment and place the streusel topping on the fruit using your fingertips to press the streusel into marble-size chunks.

Return the pie to the oven and continue to bake for 30 minutes until the topping is golden browned. Allow to cool before serving so that the filling can set.

Makes one 9-inch pie (serves 6-8)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Streusel-Topped Cherry Pie: Substitute 6 cups fresh pitted and halved cherries for the peaches. Proceed as directed.

Streusel-Topped Apple Pie: Substitute 6 cups fresh peeled, cored and diced apples for the peaches. Proceed as directed.

Streusel-Topped Blueberry Pie: Substitute 6 cups fresh blueberries for the peaches. Do not microwave them or macerate them in the sugar – once they are mixed with the sugar, spices and cornstarch, they are ready to bake. Proceed as directed.

Streusel-Topped Mock Marionberry Pie: Substitute 2 cups fresh blueberries, 2 cups fresh raspberries, and 2 cups fresh blackberries for the peaches. Do not microwave them or macerate them in the sugar – once they are mixed with the sugar, spices and cornstarch, they are ready to bake. Proceed as directed.

Streusel-Topped Caramel-Pear Pie: Substitute 8 pears, peeled and chopped for the peaches. Do not microwave them or macerate them in the sugar – once they are mixed with the sugar, spices and cornstarch, they are ready to bake. Toss the pears mixture with 3/4 cup caramel ice cream topping and pour it in the crust. Proceed as directed.

Fresh Fruit Crostata

This free-form tart is perfect for new cooks or if you don’t have a pie pan since you bake it on a sheet pan. I use a 12-inch cardboard cake round to trace when I’m cutting the rolled-out crust. This way, I don’t have to guess about the size and the edge is always pretty.

1/2 recipe Cornmeal Crust Pie Dough

3 cups fresh fruit (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, apples, peaches, nectarines or plums)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons granulated sugar for sprinkling on the crust

Preheat the oven to 400° F and place the oven rack to the middle position.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle. Rotate the dough and flour the counter as needed to keep the dough from sticking. If you feel that the dough is getting too warm while you are rolling it, just put it back in the refrigerator. Trim the edges of the dough with a small knife or pizza cutter to form a circle. Place the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill it for 20 minutes.

Rinse the berries and drain them so that some water is still clinging to the surface. (If you’re using apples or stone fruits, peel and coarsely chop them.) Combine the fruit, sugar, cornstarch, allspice, salt and lemon juice in a large bowl. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and pile the fruit in the center of the dough leaving a 2-3 inch border.

Fold the edges of the crust up and over the fruit; covering the fruit about 2-3 inches from the edge. Pleat the dough so that it fits snugly around the fruit. Brush the top of the crust with the water and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.

Bake the tart until the crust is golden brown and crisp and the fruit is bubbling, about 40-45 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm or cooled with whipped cream or ice cream.

Makes one tart and serves 6-8

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Apple-Marzipan Crostata: On a lightly floured surface, roll 1/2 cup of softened marzipan into a 9-inch circle. Place the marzipan disk in the center of the crust and then top it with the apples. Proceed as directed.

Apple-Walnut Crostata: Pulse 1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 large egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a food processor to make a creamy paste. Spread the nut paste in the center of the crust and then top it with the apples. Proceed as directed.

Raspberry-Pecan Crostata: Pulse 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 large egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a food processor to make a creamy paste. Spread the nut paste in the center of the crust and then top it with the raspberries. Proceed as directed.

Cherry-Almond Crostata: Pulse 1 1/2 cups toasted almonds, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 large egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a food processor to make a creamy paste. Spread the nut paste in the center of the crust and then top it with the cherries. Proceed as directed.

Almond-Cream Cheese-Peach Crostata: Pulse 1/4 cup almond paste, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 large egg yolk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup cream cheese in a food processor to make a creamy paste. Spread the paste in the center of the crust and then top it with the prepared peaches. Proceed as directed.

Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

I like to bake this in two stages to give the fruit a chance to cook without burning the streusel topping. This ensures that the sauce will boil enough to thicken. If you prefer a thinner sauce, just reduce the cornstarch to 2 tablespoons.

Streusel Topping:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

3/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray; set aside.

In large bowl, combine all crust ingredients. With an electric mixer, mix on low speed until crumbly and the mixture holds together when pressed between your fingers. Using your fingers, press the topping into marble-size crumbles, refrigerate until needed.

Fruit Filling:

6 cups peeled, cored, diced (1/2”) pie apples, such as Granny Smiths (about 6-8 apples)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Toss the fruit with the lemon juice, brown sugar, cornstarch, spices and vanilla in a large bowl. Place the fruit mixture in the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with the streusel topping – pressing the mixture together in your fist to make large ‘crumbles’. Bake an additional 40 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Cover the top with a piece of foil if the streusel is browning too much.

Let it cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Apple-Cranberry-Pecan Crisp: Add 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 3/4 cup toasted, chopped pecans to the apple filling. Proceed as directed.

Old-Fashioned Pear Crisp: Substitute pears for the apples. Proceed as directed.

Old-Fashioned Peach Crisp: Substitute peaches for the apples. Proceed as directed.

Old-Fashioned Nectarine Crisp: Substitute nectarines for the apples. Proceed as directed.

Old-Fashioned Plum Crisp: Substitute plums for the apples. Proceed as directed.

Plum-Coconut Crisp: Add 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut to the streusel topping. Proceed as directed. (Keep an eye on this as it bakes since the coconut can burn quite easily. If it gets too dark, just drape a piece of foil on the top and continue baking.)

Old-Fashioned Blueberry Crisp: Substitute blueberries for the apples. Proceed as directed.

Old-Fashioned Cherry Crisp: Substitute cherries for the apples. Proceed as directed.

Festive Holiday Crisp: Increase the ground ginger in the streusel topping to 1 teaspoon and add 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves to the streusel topping. Proceed as directed.

(Old-Fashioned Cherry Crisp)

Summer Fruit Tart

Take advantage of fresh local summer fruit at the farmer’s market and make this tart. It’s fresh, sweet, tart, and creamy dreamy. Hey! That was my nickname in high school. If you have a favorite pastry cream recipe, by all means use it. For me, the summer is all about easy entertaining. Believe me, this is EASY.

1 recipe “Fully-Baked” Sweet Tart Shell; cooled

1 5.1 oz package of vanilla instant pudding and pie filling

2 1/4 cups half-and-half

4 cups fresh fruit of your choice (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, kiwi, etc.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the vanilla pudding and the half-and-half.

Immediately, pour the pudding into the prepared tart shell and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. (If your tart pan is shallow, you may not need all of the custard – just put the extra in a mug for snacking.)

Carefully, arrange the fresh fruit over the surface of the pastry cream in any pattern that you wish and serve.

Makes 1 9-inch tart (serves 6-8)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Peaches and Cream in Phyllo Baskets

These are very impressive to serve at a summer barbeque. Once you have all the parts prepared ahead of time, the go together in a flash. Serve these immediately or the baskets will get soggy. Or, better yet, let your guests make their own. If you want to be decadent, a little whipped cream would be nice.

3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed

1 1/2 tablespoon melted butter

vegetable oil spray

3 cups chopped, peeled ripe peaches

1/3 cup apple jelly, melted and cooled slightly

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.

Stack 2 phyllo sheets on a large cutting board (cover the remaining sheets to prevent drying). Brush the top sheet with half the melted butter and sprinkle with half the cinnamon-sugar. Repeat with 2 more sheets of phyllo, the remaining butter and the remaining cinnamon-sugar. Top with the remaining phyllo sheets. Gently press the phyllo sheets together.

Lightly spray the top layer with the vegetable oil spray. Cut the stack into 6 5-inch diameter circles. Gently press each circle stack into a standard muffin pan to form the “baskets”.

Bake the phyllo baskets for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown and crisp. Cool them in a wire rack before carefully removing them from the pan.

To serve: Combine the peaches and melted jelly in a bowl and toss them to coat. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture into the bottom of each phyllo basket and fill the rest of the basket with peaches. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 tarts

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Wonton Shells: If you can’t find frozen phyllo dough, or are nervous about using it, try this. Cut 5-inch diameter circles out of eggroll wrappers. Brush them with melted butter and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar. Fit them into the greases muffin pan to form the “cups” and bake them at 350°F. for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. This is a good kid-friendly alternative since the “cups” are sturdier.

Golden Delicious Neufchatel Tart

This would be the perfect dessert to have after an autumn day of apple picking. Yes, people still leave their cell phones at home and go apple picking. This is the perfect combination of fruit and cream. You won’t need the ice cream on top but I recommend it anyway.

1 recipe Classic “Half-Baked” Tart Shell; cooled

4 medium golden delicious apples (about 3 cups); peeled and diced

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

8 ounces neufchatel cheese, softened

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds*

powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

In a medium bowl, combine the apples, sugar, flour, lemon juice, allspice, cinnamon, and salt and stir together until well mixed; set a side. In a separate bowl, beat the neufchatel cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, salt, and egg together with a whisk until smooth and creamy.

Using an off-set spatula, spread the cheese mixture evenly over the bottom of the tart shell. Sprinkle the diced apples evenly over the top of the cheese. Some of the apples will sink, that’s okay. Top the apples with the slivered almonds.

Place the tart pan on a sheet pan and bake 35-40 minutes until the filling is set and the apples are tender. Cool the tart on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate the tart at least 2-3 hours. Dust the tart with powdered sugar before serving.

*To toast the nuts, place them on a sheet pan and bake at 325° F for 12-15 minutes until fragrant and light golden brown.

Makes one 9-inch tart (8-10 servings)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Toffee Apple Neufchatel Tart: Sprinkle the apples with 1/2 cup crushed toffee pieces (not the kind with chocolate) along with the almonds.

Normandy Pear Tart

Europeans seem to bake with more pears than we do here in America. Well, thank God they do. This is a wonderful, subtly sweet, sophisticated tart that is so easy to put together.

1 recipe Classic “Half-Baked” Tart Shell; cooled

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup ground almonds

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons almond extract

2 tablespoons whiskey or brandy

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 ripe Bartlett pears; peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1/2 cup slivered almonds

Preheat the oven to 350°F. and place a foil-lined sheet pan in the oven to heat up.

With an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and ground almonds together until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract, whiskey, and salt and mix until thoroughly combined.

Place the diced pears in an even layer in the bottom of the tart shell. Carefully spread the almond mixture over the pears in an even layer with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the top with slivered almonds.

Place the tart pan on the preheated sheet pan and bake the tart for 30-40 minutes. or until the filling is light golden browned on top.

Cool the tart in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes before serving. It may be served warm or room temperature with glossy chocolate sauce or a light glaze of 1/2 cup powdered sugar whisked with 2 tablespoons whiskey or brandy.

Makes one 9-inch tart (serves 8-12)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Chocolate-Raspberry Mascarpone Tart

Chocolate and raspberries is a magical combination. The thyme add some floral, lemony notes to the cream. The lavender variation is wonderful.

1 recipe “Fully-Baked” Chocolate Tart Shell; cooled

2 cups mascarpone cheese or Neufchatel cheese

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (optional)

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 cups fresh raspberries

Beat the cheese, honey, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, sugar, and thyme with an electric mixer on medium speed until thoroughly mixed and light and fluffy.

Whip the cream in a chilled bowl until it holds a medium peak when the whisk is turned upright. Fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture.

Spread the filling in the cooled tart shell with a small off-set spatula into an even layer. Cover the filling with the fresh raspberries.

Cover the tart loosely with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours before serving.

Makes one 9-inch tart (8-10 servings)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Chocolate-Raspberry Lavender Tart: Substitute 2 teaspoons dried lavender for the thyme. (I found dried lavender flowers in the bulk spice section of my grocery store.)

Chocolate Chip Pie

After college, I was obsessed with this pie. I think I made it once a week for several months in a row. Oh, what a happy obsession!

1 recipe “Half-Baked” Classic Pie Crust; cooled

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts

sweetened whipped cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 325° F. and place a sheet pan on the lowest oven rack to heat up.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and the sugars. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Add the flour, salt, chocolate chips, and nuts and stir together until the flour is incorporated.

Spoon the filling into the pie shell, place it on the preheated sheet pan and bake for 45-55 minutes until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted halfway between the edge and the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and serve warm with whipped cream.

Makes one 9-inch pie (serves 8-10)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Pecan Pie: Omit the chocolate chips and walnuts. Reduce the flour to 1/3 cup and stir in 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans. Proceed as directed.

Walnut Pie: Omit the chocolate chips. Reduce the flour to 1/3 cup and increase the walnuts to 2 cups. Proceed as directed.

Salted Walnut Pie: Omit the chocolate chips. Reduce the flour to 1/3 cup and increase the walnuts to 2 cups. Sprinkle the top of the pie with 3/4 teaspoon flakey sea salt, such as Maldon before baking. Proceed as directed.

Red Chili Walnut Pie: Prepare the “walnut pie” as directed. Add 2 teaspoons ancho chilie powder along with the flour. Proceed as directed.

Kentucky Derby Pie: Add 1/4 cup bourbon to the filling. Proceed as directed.

Maritime Maple Pie: Omit the chocolate chips. Substitute pure maple syrup for the granulated sugar. Proceed as directed.

Pecan Praline Tart

The easiest way to unmold a tart from a pan with a removable bottom is to place a sturdy bowl or mug on the counter and carefully place the tart on top. The tart will be suspended on the bowl and the metal ring of the pan will slide off to the counter. The transfer the tart to your serving platter or cake plate. Southern pralines have a slightly sugary, grainy texture so don’t expect this to be completely smooth and creamy.

1 recipe “Fully-Baked” Tart Shell; cooled

2 cups dark brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 cups toasted, chopped pecans

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat the sugar, cream, butter and corn syrup in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook without stirring until the mixture turns a deep golden color; about 8 minutes.

Turn off the heat and immediately fold in the pecans, vanilla, and salt.

Pour the filling evenly into the prepared tart shell. (Try not to spread it too much or it might break the crust.)

Let the tart sit at room temperature for 2 hours until cooled and firm. Unmold the tart and serve.

The tart can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Makes one 9-inch tart (serves 8-12)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Coffee-Molasses Shoofly Pie

Once again, another very old-fashioned recipe that people need to rediscover. This recipe reminds me of the “pudding cake” recipes from the 1950’s where a soft cake forms over a saucy pudding as it bakes. Of course, I had to add coffee ‘cause I just can’t leave things alone.

1 recipe “Half-Baked” Classic Pie Shell; cooled

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

3/4 cup hot water

2 teaspoons instant coffee

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 325°F after the “half-baked” crust has finished cooking. Adjust your oven rack to the lower half of the oven. Place a sheet pan on the oven rack to heat up.

Combine the flour and dark brown sugar in a medium bowl. Add the butter and rub the mixture between your fingers (Or you can use a pastry cutter or the back of a fork) until even-sized crumbs form; set aside.

Combine the hot water and instant coffee in a medium bowl. Whisk in the baking soda, corn syrup, molasses, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon.

Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the bottom of the pie shell and pour the molasses mixture over the crumbs (it will look terrible, but that’s okay.)

Place the pie on the preheated sheet pan and bake for 45 minutes until the filling is set in the center. Cool completely on a wire rack. Dust liberally with powdered sugar and serve.

Makes one 9-inch pie (serves 8-10)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Banbury Tart

This is a British classic that I’ve updated for my American taste. I replaced the cake crumb topping with a hearty oatmeal streusel topping and I added golden raisins and cranberries. Dried cherries or blueberries would be amazing in this tart. This is, basically, and easy mincemeat pie.

1 recipe “Half-Baked” Classic Tart Shell; cooled

Streusel Topping:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

In a medium bowl, combine all the streusel topping ingredients and mix with a mixer on low speed until it forms large crumbles; set aside.

Fruit Filling:

1 1/2 cup raisins

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup water

grated zest of one lemon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons brandy (optional)

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350°F after the “half-baked” tart shell has finished cooking. Adjust your oven rack to the center of the oven. Place a sheet pan on the oven rack to heat up.

In a heavy saucepan, combine the raisins, sugar, cracker crumbs, water, lemon zest, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg and bring to a boil over medium-high heat – stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until it’s thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 15 minutes.

Stir in the vanilla, eggs, brandy, golden raisins, and cranberries.

Pour the mixture into the tart shell and sprinkle the streusel topping all over the top using your fingers to press the topping into large crumbles.

Place the tart pan on the heated sheet pan and bake for 35-45 minutes until the top is golden browned. Let the tart cool on a wire rack. the tart may be served warm or cold.

Makes one 9-inch tart (serves 8)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Macadamia Nut Tart

A tart pan with a removable bottom is part of a well-equipped kitchen. They are cheap and you will find yourself using it all the time. If you can find one with slightly taller sides (more than 1 inch), that would be cool. I find those to be a little more practical. After all, who wants a skinny quiche?

1 recipe “Fully-Baked” Classic Tart Shell; cooled

1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/3 cup unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup ground almonds

2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk

1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the tart shell and pan on a foil-lined sheet pan

Heat the sugar, maple syrup, butter and salt in a small sauce pan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla, ground almonds and the eggs. Stir in the macadamia nuts.

Pour the nut mixture into the tart shell. (If your tart pan is shallow, you may not need all of the mixture.)

Bake the tart for 25-30 minutes. or until the filling forms a crust and is light golden browned on top. Keep an eye on the tart after 20 minutes – if it starts to “puff up”, remove it from the oven.

Cool the tart in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving. It may be served warm or room-temperature.

Makes one 9-inch tart (serves 8-12)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Honey-Pine Nut Tart: Substitute honey for the maple syrup. Substitute pine nuts for the macadamia nuts and increase them to 2 cups. Add the grated zest of one lemon along with the vanilla. Proceed as directed.

Coffee-Hazelnut Tart: Add 1 tablespoon instant coffee to the sugar-butter mixture and substitute hazelnuts for the macadamia nuts. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate Truffle Tart

Chinese five-spice powder and chocolate is a match made in heaven! Trust me, after you try it, you will be sneaking it into all your chocolate desserts. I do.

1 recipe “Fully-Baked” Chocolate Tart Shell; cooled

4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 cups heavy cream

2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room-temperature and cut into 8 pieces

2 tablespoons brandy

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl and set aside.

Bring the cream, Chinese five-spice powder, and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Gently whisk the chocolate and cream until it’s smooth. Slowly stir in the butter, brandy and vanilla until combined.

Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Refrigerate at least 3 hours until the filling is firm.

Makes one 9-inch tart (serves 10-12)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Mascarpone Espresso Truffle Tart: Spread an 8-ounce container of mascarpone cheese over the bottom of the cooled tart shell before you pour in the chocolate filling. Add 2 teaspoons instant coffee to the hot cream and chocolate.

Chocolate Truffle-Caramel Tart:

Caramel Layer:

25 pieces traditional chewy vanilla caramels, unwrapped

1/4 cup heavy cream

In a 3-quart heavy sauce pan, combine unwrapped caramels and the water. Cook over low heat until the caramels are melted and smooth, stirring constantly. Pour this mixture into the bottom of the cooled tart shell and spread it into an even layer. Allow the caramel to set before pouring in the chocolate filling. Sprinkle the top the chocolate truffle layer with 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, if desired.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Truffle Tart: Spread 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter over the bottom of the cooled tart crust before you pour in the chocolate filling.

Mexican Chocolate Truffle Tart: Add 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder to the cream before bringing it to a simmer. Let the cream infuse for 2 minutes before adding it to the chocolate.

Chocolate-Hazelnut-Cherry Tart: Sprinkle 1/2 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts and 1/2 cup pitted and halved cherries over the bottom of the cooled tart crust before you pour in the chocolate filling. Garnish the top of the tart with 2 tablespoons chopped toasted hazelnuts before the filling sets.

Raspberry Truffle Tart: Place 1 cup of red raspberries in the bottom of the prepared crust before pouring in the truffle filling.

Rocky Road Tart: Place 1 cup of mini marshmallows and 1 cup toasted, chopped almonds in the bottom of the prepared crust before pouring in the truffle filling. Garnish the top of the tart with 1/4 cup chopped almonds and 1/4 cup mini marshmallows before the filling sets. Lightly press them in with the back of a spatula.

Chocolate Granola Tart

Granola can be a secret weapon hidden in your pantry. When I have a recipe that uses nuts and I don’t have any (a rare occurrence, but it happens), I’ll replace them with granola. If your granola is homemade and is nut-free, it’s a great option for someone with nut allergies. Try it in your next batch of chocolate chip cookies…or this tart.

1 recipe “Half-Baked” Classic Tart Shell; cooled

1/2 cup whole milk

3/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon instant coffee powder

1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder

2 large eggs

1 cup granola cereal without dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 325°F and place a sheet pan on the bottom most oven rack to heat up.

Place the milk and cream in a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat until just scalding.

Place the chocolate chips, vanilla, salt, instant coffee, Chinese five spice powder in a large heatproof bowl.

Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes then slowly whisk the melted chocolate and cream together until smooth. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool slightly for 10 minutes.

Whisk the eggs into the chocolate mixture. Place the tart pan on a sheet pan and sprinkle the granola over the bottom of the tart shell. Slowly, pour the chocolate mixture over the granola.

Place the tart pan on the heated sheet pan and bake the tart for 20-25 minutes until just softly set. (The tart will set more as it cools.)

Place the tart pan on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the tart at least 2 hours before serving. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Makes one 9-inch tart (serves 10-12)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Chocolate-Walnut Tart: Substitute 1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts for the granola cereal. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate Cream Pie

Is there anything better than eating pie at a diner at 3 in the morning? Few things come close. If you’re just in the mood for something creamy and chocolaty, the filling makes amazing pudding.

1 recipe Cookie Crust (Chocolate); cooled

2 1/2 cups half-and-half

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided

2 tablespoons cornstarch

6 large egg yolks; room temperature

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bring the half-and-half, salt, and 3 tablespoons sugar to simmer in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon to dissolve sugar.

Stir together remaining sugar and cornstarch in small bowl. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the yolks and whisk until the mixture is glossy and slightly thickened; about 2 minutes.

When the half-and-half reaches a full simmer, drizzle1/2 cup of the hot half-and-half over the yolks, whisking constantly so they don’t scramble; then whisk egg yolk mixture back into simmering half-and-half. The mixture should thicken in about 30 seconds. Return to simmer, whisking constantly, until 3 or 4 bubbles burst on the surface and mixture is thickened and glossy, about 15 seconds longer.

Off the heat, whisk in the butter. Add the chocolates and whisk until melted, scraping pan bottom with rubber spatula to fully incorporate. Stir in the vanilla, and immediately pour filling into the baked and cooled chocolate cookie crust.

Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of filling and refrigerate the pie until filling is cold and firm, about 3-4 hours.

Whipped Cream Topping:

1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Just before serving, whip the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in bowl of standing mixer on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave a trail, about 30 seconds more. Increase speed to high; continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume and forms soft peaks, about 20 seconds.

Spread or pipe the whipped cream over the chilled pie filling (or just place a large dollop on each slice). Cut pie into wedges and serve.

Makes one 9-inch pie (serves 8 to 10)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Chocolate Banana Pie: Spread 1/2 of the chocolate custard into the prepared crust. Slice 2 ripe bananas into ‘coins’. Arrange the banana slices on top of the custard. Carefully spread the remaining custard over the bananas. Proceed as directed.

French Silk Tart

This recipe is a perfect example of how a little salt and a little coffee can make a good recipe great. It’s amazing to me how many published dessert recipes don’t have any salt. It really makes a difference.

1 recipe “Fully-Baked” Walnut Tart Shell; cooled

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

4 large eggs (pasteurized, if you can find them)

Place the chocolate chips in a medium, heat-proof bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water. Stir the chocolate gently until it’s completely melted. Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Beat in the cooled chocolate, vanilla, salt, and instant coffee. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on high 2 minutes after each addition until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.

Pour the mixture into the cooled tart shell. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Makes one 9-inch tart (serves 10-12)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

French Silk-Peanut Butter Tart: Warm 1/2 cup cream peanut butter in the microwave until melted. Add 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and stir to combine. Spread the peanut butter over the bottom of the prepared and cooled tart shell. Allow it to set for 10 minutes before topping it with the chocolate mixture.

Chocolate-Crunch Peanut Butter Pie

If you love chocolate and peanut butter, you will love this pie. The beautiful thing about “refrigerator” pies is that you can make them in any pan you want. Make mini tarts in muffin tins or use a tart pan or springform pan if that’s all you have on hand. I’ve even made individual servings in coffee mugs – everyone loved the idea and it was fun watching grown-ups act like kids.

1 recipe Graham Cracker Crust; cooled

Crunch Layer:

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

1 cup chopped honey-roasted peanuts

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Mix the sugar, cinnamon, and espresso powder together in a small bow; set aside.

Place the peanuts in a large bowl. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high power for 1 minute, stirring every 15 seconds, or until melted and smooth.

Pour the melted chocolate over the peanuts and stir to coat. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the nuts and stir to coat.

Spread the nuts out onto some waxed paper or parchment paper and refrigerate until firm and set. Once set, break apart the clusters and sprinkle them in the bottom of the prepared crust.

Chocolate Layer:

1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine the chocolate chips, cream, corn syrup. vanilla, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium power until the chocolate melt, about 3 minutes. Whisk the mixture until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Pour the chocolate over the “crunch layer” and smooth it out with a spatula. Refrigerate for 1 hour until the chocolate is set.

Peanut Butter Layer:

1 cup peanut butter chips

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (not all-natural)

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Combine the peanut butter chips, cream, vanilla, and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium power at 15-second intervals until the mixture is warm and the chips are soft. Whisk the mixture until smooth. Allow it to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, whip the remaining cream and powdered sugar until it’s very thick and holds a soft peak.

Fold the cream into the peanut butter mixture in 3 additions. Spoon the mixture over the chocolate layer. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Garnish:

chocolate syrup

1/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts

Drizzle the set pie with chocolate syrup and sprinkle with peanuts.

Makes one 9-inch pie (serves 8-10)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Key Lime Pie

Key limes are impossible to find in my town. So, I just use Persian limes and the recipe is still beautiful. Sweet, tart, and creamy.

1 recipe Graham Cracker Crust; cooled

1/4 cup (2 ounces) cream cheese, softened

grated zest of 2 medium limes

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

2 large eggs plus 2 yolks

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 8 limes)

sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Place all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Pour the filling evenly over the crust and bake for 18-22 minutes until the filling is just set.

Cool the pan on a wire rack for 2 hours. Cover the pan with foil and chill in the refrigerator for an additional 2 hours.

Serve with whipped cream and enjoy.

Makes one 9-inch pie (serves 8-10)

High Altitude (5200 ft): No change.

Variation:

Lemon Cream Pie: Substitute lemon zest and lemon juice for the lime in the filling.

Blueberry Lime Tart

This is a wonderfully easy tart to make in the summer. You can prepare all the parts ahead of time and assemble them when it’s time to serve.

1 recipe Graham Cracker Crust; prepared with gingersnap cookies

1 recipe Lime Curd (see the cake chapter)

2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

grated zest of 1 lime

Prepare the gingersnap cookie crust as directed but bake it in a 9-inch tart pan or several miniature tart pans. Cool the crust completely.

Spread the lime curd in the bottom of the crust. Top the curd with the blueberries and sprinkle the top with the grated lime zest.

Makes one 9-inch tart or 6-8 mini tarts

High Altitude (5200 ft): No change.

Mincemeat Tarts with Whipped Crème Fraiche

This mincemeat recipe evolved from one I learned in Ireland. I Americanized it with dried cranberries, cherries, or blueberries and lots of warm winter spices. Candied orange peel can be difficult to find outside of the winter holidays. It is available on the internet but I always buy a couple extra containers when I see it in the market since it lasts a long time. This is a wonderful Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert but the mincemeat is also wonderful warmed and spooned over ice cream.

1 cup natural apple sauce

grated zest of 2 lemons

1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)

2 cups unsalted butter, chilled and grated

3/4 cup candied orange peel

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

3/4 cup dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries, or diced apricots (optional)

1 cup currants

2 cups raisins

1 cup golden raisins

4 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 cup whiskey

In the biggest bowl you’ve got, mix everything together until thoroughly combined. Put the mixture into sterile jars and screw on the lid. Let the mincemeat mature for at least two weeks before using. Turn the jars upside-down once a week.

Makes about 5 pints

For The Tarts:

8 frozen puff pastry dessert shells

8 ounces crème fraiche

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bake the puff pastry shells according to the package directions and remove the lids (save them) and any uncooked dough from the inside of the shell.

Reduce the oven to 350° F.

Fill each pastry shell with mincemeat and replace the pastry lids. Bake for 20 minutes until the mincemeat is warmed through.

Meanwhile, whip the crème fraiche, sugar, and vanilla with a mixer until it is light and fluffy like whipped cream. Serve each tart with a dollop of the crème fraiche.

Makes 8 tarts

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Meringue Shells with Cream and Fresh Berries

These are like miniature, individual pavlovas. These are a perfect summer dessert when the fruit from the farmer’s market is beautiful and at its peak. Just when your guests are expecting strawberry shortcake, make this instead. You’ll be a star.

4 large egg whites

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups fresh berries

Preheat the oven to 200° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt in a very clean, dry mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar until a glossy, stiff marshmallowy mixture forms. Stir in the vanilla.

Spoon out 8 blobs of the meringue on the sheet pan. Use the back of a spoon to form each blob into a circle and form a depression in the center.

Bake the shells for 2 hours until crisp and dry. Place the pan on a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.

Place the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a large chilled bowl and whisk until the cream is very thick and soft peaks form.

When you’re ready to serve, fill the depression in the center of each shell with fresh berries and top with whipped cream.

Makes 8 tarts

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Raspberry Napoleons

If you’re tired of the same old strawberry shortcake, this recipe is for you.

1/2 recipe Easy Puff Pastry or 1 sheets store-bought puff pastry; thawed

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 cups fresh raspberries (or any fruit you like)

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to about 1/8-inch thick and 9-inches wide by 7 1/2-inches wide. Trim the pastry with a sharp knife or pizza cutter to make a neat rectangle with these dimensions.

Sprinkle the pastry with 2 tablespoons sugar and smooth the sugar out to an even layer with your hands.

Cut the pastry in half from top to bottom and in thirds from side-to-side so that you have 6 rectangles measuring 4 1/2-inches wide and 2 1/2-inches high.

Place the pastry on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Place a second sheet pan directly on top of the first so that the pastry is “sandwiched” in between. Bake for 15-17 minutes until they are crisp and golden. Remove the top sheet pan and cool them on a wire rack.

Combine the cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar in a bowl. With a whisk or electric mixer, beat the cream to soft peaks.

To assemble: Cut each puff pastry “wafer” in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Place one wafer on a plate and top with whipped cream and berries. Repeat with a second layer and top with a “wafer”. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Makes 6 servings

High Altitude (5200 ft): No change.

Salmon Tarts with Watercress Cream

These are wonderful appetizers for a party. To make a meal of them, just cut the salmon into your desired serving size and cut the pie dough large enough to fold over it like a turnover. If you can’t find watercress in the market, just substitute arugula (rocket).

1/2 cup packed watercress

1 8-ounce container of garlic and herb cream cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 pound salmon fillet

one recipe Classic Pie Dough

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Place the watercress, cream cheese, olive oil, mustard, cheese, pepper, and salt in the bowl of food processor. Pulse the mixture several times until it’s smooth; set aside. (Alternatively, you can finely chop the watercress and stir everything together in a bowl.)

Remove the skin from the salmon, pat it dry, and cut it into 1-inch cubes; set aside.

On a lightly-floured counter, roll out the pie dough to 1/8-inch thick and a rough square. Use a pastry cutter to cut 3 1/2-inch squares from the dough. Gather the scraps and reroll them until the dough is used up.

Spoon a teaspoon of the watercress cream in the center of each square of dough. Place a square of salmon on the watercress so that the “corners” of the salmon are pointing toward the flat side of the dough.

Bring the four corners of the dough over the salmon and pinch them together at the top. Leave the seams at the side open to vent steam. Place the tarts on an ungreased sheet pan about 1 inch apart.

Bake the tarts 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Serve warm or at room-temperature.

Makes about 24 appetizers

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Puff It Up: Substitute puff pastry for the pie dough.

Gouda Walnut Tarts

These cute party appetizers use pie dough to form an easy crust for any mini tart. Remember those mini quiches from the 1980’s? The three recipes here have very different flavour profiles to show how versatile this simple technique can be.

one recipe Classic Pie Dough

1 large egg

1/3 cup half-and-half

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup grated gouda cheese

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons finely chopped red pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Lightly spray 24 mini muffin cups with vegetable oil spray.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie dough to 1/8-inch thick and a rough rectangle shape. Cut the dough into 24 2 1/2-inch squares. Place 1 dough square in the bottom and up the side of each muffin cup, letting the points of the dough extend over the edge of the cup.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, half-and-half, flour, and salt; set aside.

In another bowl mix together the cheese, walnuts, red peppers, and chives.

Place a tablespoon of the filling in each each muffin cup and pour the egg mixture over the filling.

Bake 18-22 minutes or until the filling is set and the crust is golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan.

Makes about 24 appetizers

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Ravioli Tarts: Omit the filling. Stir together 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese, 2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1 large egg, 1/4 cup finely chopped pepperoni, and 2 tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried tomato. Place 1 tablespoon of the filling in each cup. Proceed as directed.

Pear-Brie Tarts: Omit the filling. Place a 1/2-inch square of Brie cheese into each pastry cup. Stir together 1 bosc pear (peeled and finely diced), 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in each cup over the brie. Proceed as directed but only bake them for 15-20 minutes.

Puff It Up: Substitute puff pastry for the pie dough.

Asparagus-Boursin Cheese Tart

If you can’t find boursin cheese at your local market, you can substitute garlic and herb goat cheese or cream cheese.

1/2 recipe Easy Puff Pastry (or 1 sheet frozen puff pastry)

5 ounces Boursin garlic and herb cheese

grated zest of 1/2 medium lemon

1 tablespoon finely sliced chives

1 large egg

1 pound medium or thin asparagus

1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese

olive oil, for brushing

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to a 13×10-inch rectangle. Trim any uneven edges with a sharp knife of a pastry cutter.

Place the pastry on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Use a very sharp paring knife or pizza cutter to trim a 1/2-inch strip from each side of the pastry. Brush the edge of the remaining pastry with a little water and place the cut strips around the pastry sheet to form a raised border. (You will have to trim the pastry strips to make them fit.) Prick the center portion of the dough about every 1/2 inch with a fork.

Note: If you are uneasy about cutting the dough, you can always brush the edge of the pastry with a little water and just fold in 1/2 inch of the pastry along the entire edge to create a border.

Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Meanwhile, whisk together the cheese, lemon zest, chives and egg until smooth; set aside.

Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and bake the puff pastry for 15 minutes until golden.

Meanwhile, trim the bottoms of the asparagus to fit crosswise inside the tart shell. Peel the stalks of the asparagus with a vegetable peeler to take off the fibrous outer skin.

Remove the pastry from the oven and spread the cheese mixture over the middle of the pastry (inside the border) and sprinkle with the Swiss cheese. Arrange the asparagus over the cheese, alternating tips and ends. Brush the asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown, the cheese is slightly puffed and the asparagus is tender. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Makes 6-8 servings

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Ham and Asparagus Boursin Tart: Sprinkle 1/3 cup finely diced ham over the tart before baking. Proceed as directed.

Wild Mushroom-Gruyere Tart: Substitute 1 pound sliced, cooked wild mushrooms (chanterelle, oyster, etc) for the asparagus.

Spinach Feta Pie

I dated someone from Greece once and he said this recipe was even better than his “Ya-ya’s”. Greek grandmas all over the world better watch out. You have competition!

1 recipe Classic Pie Dough

3 10-ounce packages frozen spinach, thawed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, minced

5 green onions, minced

1/2 cup minced parsley

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3 large eggs

1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 375°F with the oven rack on the lowest position and place a baking sheet on the rack.

Squeeze the thawed spinach with your hands to remove as much water as possible, set aside.

In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion, green onion, parsley, and dill. Cook the mixture for 5-10 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the spinach, feta cheese, cottage cheese, bread crumbs, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and mix thoroughly. Taste the mixture for seasoning and adjust it, if necessary before you stir in the 3 eggs.

Remove pie dough from refrigerator. If it is firm and very cold, let stand until dough is cool but malleable. Roll one dough disk on a lightly floured surface into a 13-inch circle. Gently drape the dough over a rolling pin and transfer it to the center of 9-inch regular or deep-dish metal pie pan. Gently press the dough into sides of pan leaving portion that overhangs lip of pie plate in place.

Spoon the spinach mixture into the pie shell and mound it slightly in center.

Roll out the other dough round and place over the filling. Trim the top and bottom edges to 1/2 inch beyond pan lip with a pair of scissors. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that the folded edge is flush with pan lip.

Flute the edging by pressing the dough edge between your right index finger and your left thumb and index finger or press with the tines of a fork to seal. Cut five slits on top of the pie radiating out from about 2 inches from the center.

Whisk the egg and water and brush it all over the crust.

Place the pie on the heated sheet pan and bake for 50-60 minutes until the top is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Can be served warm or cold.

Makes 1 9-inch pie (8-10 servings)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Garden Vegetable Ricotta Tart

This is the perfect recipe to have on hand when you find beautiful fresh produce at the farmer’s market. Salting the vegetables removes excess water and concentrates their flavour.

1 recipe “Fully-Baked” Savory Tart Shell; cooled

5 plum or small tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup shredded provolone cheese

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 large egg

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 425° F.

Slice the tomatoes 1/4-inch thick and spread the slices on three layers of paper towels to absorb moisture. Sprinkle them with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and let them drain for 30 minutes. Lay another layer of paper towels on top and gently blot the tops to remove the water that has wept out.

In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, provolone cheese, Italian seasoning, cream, egg, pepper, and salt. Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the bottom of the cooled tart shell.

Arrange the tomato slices decoratively on top of the cheese in concentric circles. Sprinkle the top with the minced garlic and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake the tart on a sheet pan for 20-25 minutes. Cool the tart on a rack for 15 minutes, top with basil and serve. This is great served warm, room temperature, or chilled.

Makes one 9-inch tart (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Zucchini Ricotta Tart: Substitute three small (or one large) zucchini or summer squash, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds for the tomatoes. Proceed as directed.

Wild Mushroom Ricotta Tart: Substitute 1 pound of mixed fresh mushrooms for the tomatoes; cooked in 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt for 10-15 minutes until they are nicely browned. Omit the Italian seasoning and basil. Add 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme. Proceed as directed.

Mixed-Up Vegetable Tart: Feel free to use any fresh vegetables you have on hand…tomatoes, summer squash, eggplant, mushrooms, corn, red peppers, etc. Proceed as directed.

Johnson’s Farm BLT Pie

My mother was the baker at a roadside farm stand in southern New Jersey. This was a summer staple when tomatoes were overly abundant. It was always a hit.

1 recipe “Fully-Baked” Classic Pie Shell, cooled

2 beefsteak tomatoes (or 6 plum tomatoes)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/3 cup crushed saltine crackers

2 cups shredded provolone cheese, divided

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Slice the tomatoes 1/8-inch thick and place them on three layers of paper towels on a wire rack. Sprinkle the kosher salt evenly over the tomatoes. Allow them to sit for 30 minutes.

Combine the flour and cracker crumbs and spread them evenly over the bottom of the tart shell. Add a layer of 1 cup shredded provolone; a layer of the salted tomatoes; a sprinkling of sugar, garlic powder, and oregano. Sprinkle with the bacon and remaining 1 cup provolone.

Place the tart on a sheet pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool for 15-20 minutes, top with the shredded lettuce and serve.

Makes one 9-inch tart (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

A Simple Quiche

When I was younger I made a quiche. I was very proud of myself until I saw that it was a soupy mess. The recipe I had said nothing about cooking the vegetables ahead of time. Lesson learned. There are some mistakes in life you only make once.

1 recipe “Fully-Baked” Savory Tart Shell

6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups half-and-half

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup shredded gruyere cheese

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Adjust the oven rack to center position.

Fry the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate. Add the onions to the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes until soft and translucent.

Meanwhile, whisk all remaining ingredients except the cheese in medium bowl.

Spread cheese, bacon, and onions evenly over the bottom of the tart shell, place the tart pan on a sheet pan and set it on oven rack. Pour in the custard mixture to just below the crust rim.

Bake until lightly golden brown and a knife blade inserted about one inch from the edge comes out clean and center feels set but soft like gelatin, 30 to 35 minutes.

Transfer the quiche to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes one 9-inch tart (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Crab Quiche: Add 1 teaspoon dried tarragon, 1 tablespoon chopped chives and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the custard. Replace the bacon with 1 cup cooked lump crabmeat (avoid ‘claw’ meat). Cook the onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Proceed as directed.

Crab, Corn and Chive Quiche: Add 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives to the custard. Replace the bacon with 1 cup cooked lump crabmeat (avoid ‘claw’ meat). Cook the onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until soft, about 8 minutes. Add 1 cup fresh corn kernels into the crust along with the crab meat. Proceed as directed.

Leek and Asparagus Quiche: Add 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives to the custard. Omit the bacon and onion. Cut 10 stalks of thin asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until just tender, 2-3 minutes. Drain and cool them under cold running water; set aside. Trim the ends off 3 medium leeks so that only the white part remains. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and slice into1/4-inch rounds. Place the leeks in a colander and clean them under cold running water to remove any sand. Saute the leeks in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Proceed as directed.

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche: Substitute one 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, and 1 cup cooked, sliced mushrooms for the bacon. Proceed as directed.

Mushroom, Leek and Goat Cheese Quiche: Substitute 1 cup cooked sliced mushrooms and 1 small leek (washed thoroughly and cut into 1/2-inch dice) for the onion and bacon. Sauté the white part of the leek in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter over medium heat until soft, about 7-10 minutes. Substitute 8 ounces mild goat cheese, broken into 1/2-inch pieces for the Swiss cheese. Proceed as directed.

Leek-Camembert Quiche: Substitute 2 small leeks for the bacon and onions. Wash the leek thoroughly and cut the white park into 1/2-inch dice; sauté in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter over medium heat until soft, about 7-10 minutes. Substitute 8 ounces camembert cheese, broken into 1/2-inch pieces for the Swiss cheese. Proceed as directed.

Onion and Olive Tapenade Quiche: Omit the bacon. Increase the onions to 3 medium onions, thinly sliced. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 30 minutes until very soft. Add 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the onions to cool completely. (You can even do this the day before.) To assemble, spread a thin layer of olive tapenade (green or black) over the bottom of the prepared tart shell. Top with the onions. Slowly pour in the custard mixture and sprinkle with the cheese. Proceed as directed.

Scallop Quiche: Add 1 teaspoon dried tarragon and 1 tablespoon chopped chives to the custard. Omit the onion. Toss 1/2 pound quartered sea scallops with 2 teaspoons cornstarch and add it to the prepared tart shell along with the bacon. Proceed as directed.

Mushroom, Bacon and Gruyere Quiche: Cook 2 cups of sliced brown or cremini mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Cook them until they are soft and their liquid has evaporated – about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the custard along with the bacon and cheese. Proceed as directed.

Spinach, Basil and Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche: Add one 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, 1/4 cup chopped basil and 1/4 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil) to the custard mixture. Proceed as directed.

Blue Cheese, Mushroom and Herb Quiche: Cook 2 cups of sliced brown or cremini mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Cook them until they are soft and their liquid has evaporated – about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon, and 1 teaspoon fresh thyme to the custard mixture. Reduce the gruyere cheese to 1/2 cup and add 1/2 cup crumbled Danish blue cheese. Proceed as directed.

Chaco Canyon Tart

This is a colourful fiesta…perfect warm or cold. Ancho chili powder is wonderfully earthy and has a hint of sweetness – like raisins. It’s beautiful in chocolate cake too. Just sayin’.

1 recipe “Half-Baked” Cheesy Savory Cornmeal And Herb Tart Shell; cooled

12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) cream cheese; softened

1 finely chopped garlic clove

3 large eggs

2 finely sliced green onions

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder (or regular chili powder)

1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn

1/2 cup canned black beans; rinsed and drained

1 recipe Corn and Avocado Relish (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Adjust the oven rack to center position.

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, green onions, cumin, salt, cayenne pepper, chili powder and mix until blended.

Sprinkle the corn and black beans over the cooked tart crust. Pour the cheese mixture over the corn and beans and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the filling looks set and a knife inserted in the middle of the tart comes out clean. Transfer the tart to rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Before serving, top the tart with a layer of Corn and Avocado Relish or serve the relish on the side.

Corn and Avocado Relish

3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed or one ear cooked fresh corn

1 avocado, pitted and chopped medium

1/2 small red onion, minced

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine

1 small tomato, seeded and chopped

1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped fine

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 garlic glove, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Combine all the relish ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the relish to sit for 10-15 minutes to let the flavours blend.

Makes one 9-inch tart (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Empanadas…

I tried several traditional empanada dough recipes to find the one that works best. In the end, “American” pie dough had the best flavour and flaky texture that so many people enjoy.

For a fun twist, any of these fillings can be turned into eggrolls. (It’s just another kind of pie, right?) There are many on-line resources to show you how to roll them. I pan fry them in shallow oil and just turn them often. It’s much less messy than deep frying.

Empanada Dough

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening; cut into 1/4-inch cubes

7-8 tablespoons cold water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds until combined.

Add the butter and shortening and pulse 10 times until it resembles coarse meal and no large clumps of butter remain. (Alternatively, you can rub in the butter and shortening with your fingers or cut them in with a pastry cutter.)

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer. Add 7 tablespoons of the water and vinegar and mix until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out on a well-floured surface and press it together to form a ball.

Divide the dough in half and press each piece into a flat disc. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400°F.

Remove one piece of dough from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly-floured surface with a lightly-floured rolling pin. I find that a long off-set spatula is helpful. If the dough starts to stick, run the spatula under the dough, lift the dough slightly and toss a little more flour under it. Roll the dough to 1/8-inch thick.

Use a round biscuit cutter or cut around a small plate to make your circles of dough. I make 4-inch rounds for appetizers and 6-inch rounds for a main course.

Spoon 2 tablespoons (for 4-inch empanadas) or 1/4 cup (for 6-inch empanadas) of the cold filling onto the center of each dough circle. Brush the edge of the dough halfway around with water and fold the dough into a half-circle. Press the edges to seal them good. Crimp the edge with a fork or fold the edge of the dough back onto itself and press firmly with your finger (see the photo).

Don’t try to over-stuff the empanadas. If your filling oozes out, then you have too much. Less is more. We don’t want any exploding empanadas, do we?

Place the empanadas on a lightly greased sheet pan. Whisk the egg yolk and water in a small bowl and brush the empanadas all over. Make a small slit in the top of the dough with a knife. Refrigerate 30 minutes before baking.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

Makes enough dough for 6 6-inch or 12 4-inch empanadas

High Altitude (5200ft): No change, although you may need to add the full amount of water for your dough to come together.

Picadillo Filling

This is also the perfect Super Bowl party dip. The corn chips won’t know what hit ‘em. I would double the recipe for a party dip.

1 pound ground beef

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup water

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup chopped pimento-stuffed olives

1 tablespoon capers, drained

1 teaspoon sugar

1 16-ounce can diced tomato, undrained

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, brown the ground beef. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, and water. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Drain the beef and return it to the pan.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes or until thickened. Refrigerate the mixture until cold. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Proceed as directed for the empanadas.

Makes 6 large or 12 small empanadas

Chorizo-Potato Filling

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 russet potatoes, cut in 1/4-inch dice

1 pound Mexican chorizo sausage, casing removed

1 pound ground beef

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional)

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, cover the pan and cook, stirring often, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the chorizo, ground beef, oregano, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes until the sausage and beef are cooked through.

Refrigerate the mixture until cold. Stir in the cheese, taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Proceed as directed for the empanadas.

Makes 6 large or 12 small empanadas

Sweet and Sour Beef Filling

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup dry red wine

1/4 cup chili sauce

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, brown the ground beef. Drain away any fat in the pan.

Add the salt, pepper, onion, red wine, chili sauce, brown sugar. cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and chili powder. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until thickened.

Refrigerate the mixture until cold. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Proceed as directed for the empanadas.

Makes 6 large or 12 small empanadas

Cheeseburger Filling

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

2 tablespoons chopped pickle

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef until thoroughly cooked, drain. Add the salt, pepper, and onion and cooked 8-10 minutes, until the onion is tender.

Off the heat, stir in the ketchup, mustard, and pickle.

Refrigerate the mixture until cold. Stir in the cheese, taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Proceed as directed for the empanadas.

Makes 6 large or 12 small empanadas

Spicy Orange Chicken Filling

2 cups finely chopped rotisserie chicken

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

2 green onions, finely chopped

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/3 cup orange marmalade

Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate the mixture until cold. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Proceed as directed for the empanadas.

Makes 6 large or 12 small empanadas

Chicken-Artichoke Filling

2 cups finely chopped rotisserie chicken

1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry

1 13-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese

Finely chop the spinach and artichoke hearts. Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate the mixture until cold. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Proceed as directed for the empanadas.

Makes 6 large or 12 small empanadas

Shrimp “Eggroll” Filling

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium carrot, grated

6 cups shredded cabbage (or one bag coleslaw mix)

1 stalk celery, grated

2 green onions, finely chopped

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 pound cooked shrimp, roughly chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the carrot, cabbage, celery, and green onions and cook for 2-3 minutes just until the cabbage is wilted.

Stir together the soy sauce, sesame oil, water, cornstarch, garlic powder, and ginger. Add the sauce to the vegetables and stir until the sauce thickens.

Remove the vegetables from the heat and stir in the shrimp.

Refrigerate the mixture until cold. Stir in the salt just before filling the dough. Proceed as directed for the empanadas.

Makes 6 large or 12 small empanadas

Chicken Mafe Filling

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup finely diced onion

1/2 cup finely diced carrot

1/4 cup finely diced celery

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter

1/4 cup frozen peas

2 cups finely chopped rotisserie chicken

In a small bowl, stir together the butter and flour to form a smooth paste; set aside.

Heat the oil In a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes until the carrots are crisp-tender.

Add the thyme, curry powder, and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the stock, cream, and peanut butter. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil whisking often.

Whisk in the butter-flour paste and cook for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is thick and smooth.

Stir together 1/2 cup of the sauce, the peas, and the chicken. (Save the remaining sauce for dipping the empanadas.) Refrigerate the mixture until cold. Proceed as directed for the empanadas. Serve with the remaining sauce.

Makes 6 large or 12 small empanadas

Gruyere-Chicken Filling

2 cups finely chopped rotisserie chicken

1/2 cup chopped cooked broccoli

1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground paprika

Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate the mixture until cold. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Proceed as directed for the empanadas.

Makes 6 large or 12 small empanadas

Crab-Asiago Filling

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup lump crab meat

1 cup finely chopped, cooked shrimp

1/4 cup chopped pimentos

1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped tarragon

1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

1/4 cup mayonnaise

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate the mixture until cold. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Proceed as directed for the empanadas.

Makes 6 large or 12 small empanadas

Silky Mac and Cheese Filling

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

2 12-ounce cans evaporated milk (2% is fine)

2 cups (8 ounces) grated American cheese (from the deli)

1/2 cup cream cheese

3 cups (12 ounces) elbow macaroni

In a large sauce pan, whisk together the cornstarch, salt, and spices. Slowly whisk in the evaporated milk.

Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring often, until it’s hot and begins to boil. Whisk constantly and cook for 1 more minute until it’s the thickness of heavy cream. (It will not get super thick like gravy.)

Meanwhile, place a large pot of salted water on the stove over high heat for the pasta.

Off the heat, stir in the cheeses and let it sit for 3-5 minutes to melt. Whisk the sauce until the cheese is melted and smooth. Set aside.

Cook the macaroni until very al dente (about 6-7 minutes), drain it and add it to the cheese sauce. Cover the pot and let it sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to thicken. Let the filling cool to room temperature before making the empanadas.

Eat half for dinner and use the leftovers for pies, if desired. If you are using cold mac and cheese for pies, loosen the mixture with a tiny bit of milk to make it creamy again.

Makes 6 dinner servings or 6 large or 12 small empanadas

Variations:

Four Cheese Mac and Cheese: Substitute 1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese, 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and 1/2 cup grated fontina cheese for the American Cheese. Proceed as directed.

Spicy Tomato Mac and Cheese: Cook 1 diced medium onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for 6-8 minutes until tender. Fold in the onion, 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (drained), and 2 4-ounce cans chopped green chilies (drained) into the pasta just before baking. Proceed as directed.

Lobster/Shrimp/Crab Mac and Cheese: Fold 2 cups cooked, chopped lobster/shrimp/crab meat into the pasta just before baking. Proceed as directed.

Cajun Mac and Cheese: Substitute 2 teaspoon Cajun Spice Blend for the spices in the cheese sauce. Cook 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped red pepper, and 1/2 cup chopped celery in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for 8-10 minutes until tender. Fold the vegetables and 1 cup cooked, chopped Andouille sausage into the pasta just before baking. Proceed as directed.

Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese: Substitute 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper-jack cheese for the American cheese. Stir in 1 4-ounce can chopped green chilies into the pasta just before baking. Proceed as directed.

Sweet Pea-Bacon Mac and Cheese: Stir in 1 cup frozen peas, and 1/2 cup cooked, chopped bacon into the pasta before baking. Proceed as directed.

Pimento Mac and Cheese: Stir in 2 4-ounce jars of diced pimento (drained) into the pasta before baking. Proceed as directed.

Ham-Broccoli Mac and Cheese: Stir in 1 1/2 cups frozen broccoli florets (thawed), and 1 cup diced, cooked ham into the pasta before baking. Proceed as directed.

Chipotle-Bacon Mac and Cheese: Add 1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper to the cheese sauce and stir in 1 cup chopped, cooked bacon (about 6 slices) into the pasta before baking. Proceed as directed.

Mushroom-Farro Pie

If you can’t find faro at the market, just substitute an equal amount of pearl barley or brown rice. The cooking times for these two grains are very different so follow your package directions. If you’d prefer, this can also be made as a double-crust pie in a regular pie tin – just reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.

1/2 cup faro (or pearl barley), cooked as directed, drained

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons milk or cream

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the garlic, mushrooms, thyme, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the mushroom for 8-10 minutes until they have released their water and it has evaporated.

Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl, stir in the farro and cool completely.

Stir together the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, and cream until smooth. Add the cheese to the mushroom mixture and mix thoroughly.

On a lightly-floured surface, unfold the puff pastry and roll it out to 10-inch square. Place the pastry square on the prepared sheet pan.

Spread the cooled mushroom mixture evenly over the pastry leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Brush the exposed border with the egg wash.

On a lightly-floured surface, unfold the second puff pastry sheet and roll it out to 11-inch square. Place the pastry square on top of the filling, trying to line it up with the bottom crust. Crimp the edges of the crust with the tines of a fork to seal.

Refrigerate the “pie” for 30 minutes to let the pastry firm up.

Brush the surface of the pie with the remaining egg wash and cut a few steam vents in the top crust with a sharp knife.

Bake for 35-45 minutes until the crust is a deep golden brown.

Makes 6-8 servings

High Altitude (5200ft): The faro and pearl barley will take longer to cook than indicated on the package. Just taste it every couple minutes when you reach the indicated cooking time on the package. The grains should be swollen and tender but with a bit of “chew” to them – like brown rice. Here at 5200ft, my faro took an extra 3-4 minutes.

Free-Form Chicken Pie

I used two different types of pastry for this pie to give it a variety of textures. If you want to keep things simple, feel free to make the bottom and top crust the same. For a super-quick weeknight meal, you can always serve the stew over some toasted crusty bread.

The beauty of this recipe is that it comes together very quickly and there is no soggy crust. Place any leftover crust pieces in a zip-top bag and they will be find for leftovers the next day.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 recipe Classic Pie Dough

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 diced onion

1 diced carrot

1 diced celery stalk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (one 3-lb chicken)

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

On a lightly-floured surface, unfold the puff pastry and roll it out to 8-by-12 inches. With a sharp knife or a pastry cutter, cut 6 4-inch squares. Place the pastry squares on the sheet pan and bake for 10-14 minutes until they are puffed and golden brown. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, reduce the oven to 375°F.

On a lightly-floured surface, roll the pie dough out to 8-by-12 inches. With a sharp knife or a pastry cutter, cut 6 4-inch squares. Place the pastry squares on the sheet pan and bake for 15-20 minutes until they are fully baked and golden brown. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

While the pie crust is baking, you can prepare the stew.

In a small bowl, stir together the butter and flour to form a smooth paste; set aside.

Heat the oil In a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until the carrots are tender.

Add the thyme and poultry seasoning and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the stock, wine, and cream. Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a simmer whisking often.

Whisk in half of the butter-flour paste and cook for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is thick and smooth. Here is where you can adjust the sauce to your liking. If you want the sauce to be a little thicker, just whisk in more of the butter-flour paste.

Stir in the peas, corn, chicken, and parsley and cook over low heat for 5-6 minutes until the chicken is hot.

To serve, place a pie crust square in the bottom of each plate, ladle the chicken stew over the top and top it with a puff pastry square.

Makes 6-8 servings

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Free-Form Country Captain Chicken Pie: Omit the poultry seasoning, peas, and corn. Add 1/2 cup chopped red peppers along with the onions. Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste and 1 tablespoon curry powder along with the thyme. Stir in 1/4 cup raisins and 1/4 cup slivered almonds along with the chicken. Proceed as directed.

Free-Form Cassoulet Pie: Omit the thyme, poultry seasoning and celery. Reduce the chicken to 2 cups. Add 1 diced tomato and 1 diced Yukon Gold potato along with the onions. Add 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and 2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence, and 1 tablespoon tomato paste just before you add the stock, etc. After you add the stock, simmer the mixture long enough to cook the potatoes. Stir in 1 cup diced fully-cooked sausages and 1 15-ounce can of great northern beans (drained) along with the chicken. Proceed as directed.

Free-Form Fisherman’s Pie: Add 1 diced tomato along with the onions. Substitute 2 teaspoons dried tarragon and 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning for the poultry seasoning. Substitute shrimp stock for the chicken stock (optional). Substitute 1 cup diced raw shrimp, 2 cups raw halibut chunks for the chicken. Simmer the stew for 5-7 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Fold in 1 cup lump crab meat at the end. Proceed as directed

Classic Pie Dough

Toss out everything your granny told you about pie dough. You should not see “pea-sized” lumps of butter in your dough. They will make it difficult to roll out and will produce a nasty looking crust when you’re finished. This dough is smooth and a dream to roll out yet still bakes up flakey.

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening; cut into 1/4-inch cubes

7-8 tablespoons cold water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds until combined.

Add the butter and shortening and pulse 10 times until it resembles coarse meal and no large clumps of butter remain. (Alternatively, you can rub in the butter and shortening with your fingers or cut them in with a pastry cutter.)

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer. Add 7 tablespoons of the water and vinegar and mix until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out on a well-floured surface and press it together to form a ball.

Divide the dough in half and press each piece into a flat disc. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out.

Makes enough dough for a double-crust deep-dish pie.

High Altitude (5200ft): No change, although you may need to add the full amount of water for your dough to come together.

Variations:

Cornmeal Crust Pie Dough: Reduce the flour to 3 cups; add 1/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal. Proceed as directed.

Cream Cheese Pie Dough: Reduce the butter to 3/4 cup; omit the shortening. Add 1/2 cup (4 ounces) cold, diced cream cheese along with the butter. Increase the sugar to 1/4 cup. Proceed as directed.

“Half-Baked” Classic Pie Shell: Remove one piece of dough from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly-floured surface with a lightly-floured rolling pin. Roll the dough from the center outwards and turn the dough 1/8th of a turn each time to get a round-ish shape. I find that a long off-set spatula is helpful. If the dough starts to stick, run the spatula under the dough, lift the dough slightly and toss a little more flour under it. Roll the dough into a 13-inch circle.

Transfer the dough to a metal pie pan (do not use a glass pan) by draping the dough over the rolling pin. Gently ease the dough into the pan by gently lifting the edges while gently pressing the dough into the bottom of the pan with the other hand.

Trim the dough to 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pan. Fold the overhanging dough under itself and flute the edge or press with the tines of a fork. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes and then freeze for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375° F.

Remove the crust from the freezer and press a piece of heavy-duty foil inside the pie shell and over the edges. Fill the shell with dried beans.

Place the shell on a sheet pan on the bottom-most oven rack and bake for 25 minutes (the thinner the dough, the faster it will cook). Carefully remove the foil and beans by lifting up the corners of the foil. Return the crust to the oven and bake an addition 2 minutes until the bottom and set and dry. To ensure a crisp crust, brush the hot dough with a beaten egg white and bake 1 more minute.

“Fully-Baked” Classic Pie Shell: Proceed as directed above except bake the shell for 6-8 minutes (the thinner the dough, the faster it will cook) after removing the foil and beans until the crust is set, dry and golden brown.

Classic Tart Dough

If you can make a cookie, you can make tart dough. The nice thing is that if you get a tear in your dough, you can just patch it together with a dab of water and a little press. Here’s a top-secret baker’s trick. I keep my dried beans in an “oven baking bag” (like the kind used for roasts). When I need to blind bake a tart shell, I skip the foil and parchment paper and just fit the oven bag of beans into the crust and bake as directed. It makes it so much easier to remove the beans. No more beans on the kitchen floor. Once the bag cools, I just store it in the pantry for the next time.

2 large egg yolks

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Whisk together the yolks, cream and vanilla in a small bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the powdered sugar and butter on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg mixture and mix until fully incorporated. (Scrape the bowl if you’re using a stand mixer.) Add the flour and salt and mix until a sticky dough forms. (It will look and feel like sugar cookie dough.)

Place an 18-inch piece of plastic wrap on the counter and scrape all the dough onto the plastic in one large blob. Using the plastic wrap, flatten the dough into a 6-8-inch disc. Wrap completely in the plastic and chill for, at least, 30 minutes before rolling it out.

Makes enough dough for a 9-inch tart shell

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Walnut / Pecan Tart Dough: Reduce the flour to 1 1/4 cups; add 1/2 cup very finely chopped nuts with the flour. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate Tart Dough: Reduce the flour to 1 1/2 cups; add 1/4 cup cocoa powder with the flour. Proceed as directed.

Espresso Tart Dough: Add 2 teaspoons instant coffee to the egg mixture and mix to dissolve. Proceed as directed.

Cream Cheese Tart Dough: Substitute 1/2 cup cream cheese for the butter. Proceed as directed.

Savory Tart Dough: Omit the vanilla and sugar; increase the salt to 3/4 teaspoon. Proceed as directed.

Cheesy Savory Tart Dough: Omit the vanilla and sugar; increase the salt to 3/4 teaspoon; add 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese. Proceed as directed.

Cheesy Savory Cornmeal and Herb Tart Dough: Omit the vanilla and sugar; increase the salt to 3/4 teaspoon; add 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal and 2 tablespoons finely chopped herbs (chives, thyme, cilantro, rosemary) with the flour; add 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese; increase the cream to 1/3 cup. Proceed as directed.

“Half-Baked” Classic Tart Shell: Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly-floured surface with a lightly-floured rolling pin. Roll the dough from the center outwards and turn the dough 1/8th of a turn each time to get a round-ish shape. I find that a long off-set spatula is helpful – if the dough starts to stick, run the spatula under the dough – lift the dough slightly and toss a little more flour under it. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle.

Transfer the dough to a metal tart pan with a removable bottom by draping the dough over the rolling pin. Gently ease the dough into the pan by lifting the edges while gently pressing the dough into the bottom of the pan with the other hand. If the dough cracks, just patch it with a small piece of dough brushed with a bit of water. Trim the dough to the edge of the pan by pressing the dough with your thumb along the edge of the metal. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork, about 10-12 times. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes and then freeze for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375° F. (Set your oven to 350° F. if you have a dark-colored nonstick pan.)

Remove the crust from the freezer and press a piece of heavy-duty foil inside the tart shell and over the edges. Fill the shell with dried beans.

Place the shell on a sheet pan on the bottom-most oven rack and bake for 25 minutes (the thinner the dough, the faster it will cook). Carefully remove the foil and beans by lifting up the corners of the foil. Return the crust to the oven and bake an addition 2-3 minutes until the bottom and set, dry and very lightly browned. To ensure a crisp crust, brush the hot crust with a beaten egg white and bake 1 more minute.

“Fully-Baked” Classic Tart Shell: Proceed as directed above except bake the shell for 6-8 minutes (the thinner the dough, the faster it will cook) after removing the foil and beans until the crust is set, dry, and golden brown. To ensure a crisp crust, brush the hot dough with a beaten egg white.

Chocolate Cookie Crust

20 chocolate cream sandwich cookies

1/4 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

2 tablespoons water

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350° F.

Process the cookies in a food processor (or crush with a rolling pin) until they are fine crumbs. You should have 1 3/4 cups of crumbs. (Note: if you’re using this for a cheesecake in a 9-inch springform pan, you will only need 1 cup of crumbs, 4 tablespoons butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar to cover the bottom.)

Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and add the sugar, melted butter and water. Mix them together until the butter is evenly incorporated.

Sprinkle 1/2 the mixture into the pie pan or springform pan. Using a small, quart-size resealable bag as a “glove,” press the crumbs into an even layer on the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs on the bottom of the pie pan and press them into an even layer with your hands of the flat bottom of a glass.

Bake the crust for 10-15 minutes until it looks set. Cool completely.

Makes enough for one 9-inch pie or one cheesecake crust.

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Graham Cracker Crust (Pictured): Use 10-12 whole graham crackers (1 3/4 cups of crumbs). Proceed as directed.

Mix It Up: Any crispy cookie will work well in this recipe. So, choose your favorite. I love Pepperidge Farms Milanos, Brussels and vanilla wafers.

Breakfast Cereal Crust: Try using any crispy breakfast cereal – cocoa krispies, apple cinnamon cherrios, captain crunch, fruit loops, kix, frosted flakes – the possibilities are endless. If you’re using a sugary cereal, omit the sugar in the recipe.

The End

 


The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 4: Pies and

Introduction (For the entire series) From The Slopes To The Shore… Are you tired? Are you tired of fancy (or not so fancy) baking books by fancy chefs with even fancier recipes that just don't measure up to all that hype? Are you tired of recipe failures while on a ski holiday or just because you live above 3000 feet? Are you tired of passion fruit foams and green tea cookies when all you want is a chocolate chip cookie recipe that will work every single time? Do you need a pie for the long summer weekend; or a quick, yummy after school treat; or a simple cake with effortless style to make your neighbors jealous; or a truffle that will awaken the mad passionate desires of your lover and make them beg for more? Psssst, do you want a chocolate chip cookie now? No, I mean a really good chocolate chip cookie? Well, let's make that chocolate chip cookie together. It's easy and I can show you how. Family Recipes From My Home To Yours… Come with me on a family journey through baking where the luck of the Irish gives way to solid science and produces a collection of family baking favorites that your family will cherish for years to come. This debut collection from Irish-trained chef, Chris Reynolds, celebrates the landscape of his family's baking tradition and contains 323 "master" recipes and 582 recipe variations. This cookbook is a wide-ranging, comprehensive collection chock-full of beloved classics like chewy gingerbread cookies, triple-chocolate brownies, jalapeno cheddar corn bread, shoofly pie, sour cream coffeecake, fresh peach ice cream, crunchy granola, and the best pizza crust ever. This is an inspired collection of classics and contemporary twists where we tease traditional flavours and let you know you've just had something special. Classics with attitude and altitude. High-Altitude Baking that Really Works… You'll learn that it's possible to serve a from-scratch comfort food classic like buttermilk biscuits on a weeknight when time is tight or a high-altitude cake on your skiing holiday that won't fall flat. In addition to foolproof recipes, all the recipes were tested at high-altitude by the author, himself. Each high-altitude adjustment is precise to give success at 5200ft (Denver, Colorado). In addition, each chapter introduction gives insights into high-altitude baking and tips on adjusting your own recipes. Retro-Modern??? Chris Reynolds is a professional baker trained at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland by the famed cooking teachers Darina and Rachel Allen. While he embraces an artisan philosophy, emphasizing the freshest organic ingredients, sound techniques, and from-scratch baking; he's also well aware that stirring a caramel on the stove for 90 minutes is a drag. "I wanted recipes that people would embrace, enjoy and actually make. No one, not even me, is going make a cookie that requires me to stand at the stove for 90 minutes. That's just not practical in our modern world." This book embraces a "retro-modern" approach. Old-fashioned recipes are updated for modern life. That could mean streamlining the steps, using modern flavour combinations, using different techniques to give fool-proof results, or even scaling a recipe to feed a family of four. A Photo of Every Recipe… If the easy, care-free recipes don't grab you, then the stunning full-colour photos of every recipe surely will. This book is a delight for the eyes as well as the palate. This is homey, doable baking at its best - a lively, in-depth portrait of a family who loves to bake. Pass me another truffle!

  • Author: Chris Reynolds
  • Published: 2017-03-25 17:51:14
  • Words: 19035
The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 4: Pies and The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 4: Pies and