hello, gorgeous! – part 2

I could probably write two or three more columns about garden veggies but the cool weather will be moving in soon. Here are the recipes from my latest column in the Aroostook Republican and the Star-Herald. Then I’ve posted a few bonus recipes here: stuffed eggplant, grilled green tomatoes, and a variation on ratatouille (with bacon!). Click to follow me so you never miss a new post, and get a printable version of all my recipes.

horseradish cream & bacon-topped brussels sprouts
These tangy horseradish-cream-topped brussels sprouts are just the thing to serve with corned beef and potatoes, or alongside a baked ham or turkey. Look for sprouts with tight, firm, small deep-green heads; if they’re still on the stalk, so much the better. To prepare, peel off outer leaves and trim the stems.

ingredients

  • 1 1/2  pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 4 strips crisp-cooked bacon, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

directions

  1. Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, add 1 inch of water, and bring to a boil. Put brussels sprouts in the basket and steam until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Mix bacon, sour cream, horseradish, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add brussels sprouts and toss to coat.

cabbage & cheddar pie
This unusual combination is delicious and can be made ahead of time, refrigerated, then baked when needed.

ingredients

  • Your own basic pie pastry or 1 pkg. prepared, rolled pastry
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 7 to 8 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about ¾ of one head)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs

directions

  1. Warm oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and cook, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add cabbage, reduce heat to medium-low, cook cabbage, partially covered and stirring often, 15 to 25 minutes, or until very soft. Add the sugar and more salt and pepper to taste. (If mixture seems too dry, add water as needed by teaspoonfuls.) Remove from heat; mix in sour cream and mustard.
  3. Place pastry in the bottom of a deep dish pie pan and crimp edge. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°.
  4. Add cheese to filling, and stir gently. Spoon filling into pie shell, smoothing top. Sprinkle with crumbs. Bake 40 minutes, or until golden brown. (If top starts to over-brown, cover with sheet of foil.) Garnish with fresh thyme or mint from the garden. Let cool 5 minutes.

green tomato chutney
A great way to use up your green tomatoes, this can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for many months. This makes about 2 cups of a wonderfully fragrant and delicious relish to serve with meats and egg dishes or even in a grilled cheese sandwich. I love it dabbed on top of cheddar cheese spread and crackers. Fabulous!

ingredients

  • 1 herb sachet (1 bay leaf, 1 thyme sprig, 3 cardamom pods, and 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds tied together in a square of cheesecloth)
  • 1 cup champagne (or white) vinegar
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño pepper (seeds optional)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 cups green (unripe) tomatoes–peeled, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • Salt to taste

directions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine herb sachet with vinegar, white wine, water and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until syrupy and reduced by two-thirds, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add shallot, ginger, jalapeño and garlic and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and syrup with the sachet. Cover saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in mustard powder and cayenne. Cover saucepan and continue cooking over medium-low heat until tomatoes are tender, about 10 minutes longer. Remove saucepan from heat. Discard the sachet.
  5. In a medium skillet, heat remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Cook bell peppers, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Fold into the chutney. Season with salt, transfer to a lidded container, and let cool to room temperature before using.

TIP – You can make larger batches and put up in jars for gifts, but eliminate the oil and cook red bell peppers in the pot with the tomatoes.

veggie stuffed eggplant
This is an easy to prepare dish that sticks to your ribs !

ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
  • 3/4 cup seeded chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ (or you can use bread crumbs or tempeh)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Dash crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

directions

  1. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise; carefully remove pulp, keeping a 1/4-in.-thick shell in tact. Cube pulp; set shells and pulp aside.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, saute onion and garlic until onion is tender. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, red pepper and eggplant pulp; saute for 4-6 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, wheat germ, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper and pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute.
  4. Divide mixture evenly between the eggplant shells; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until shells are tender. Yields 2 servings.

grilled green tomatoes
These are a fine accompaniment to steak or chicken, and fabulous alongside scrambled eggs.

ingredients

  • 4 large green tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

directions

  1. De-stem and slice tomatoes in lengthwise slabs about ½-inch thick. Marinate 1 hour at room temperature.
  2. Heat grill or broiler on high. Cook tomatoes 5 minutes on first side; flip and cook on other side 4-5 minutes.
  3. Serve hot. Yummy!

baked bacon ratatouille
I love ratatouille; I love eating it; I love making it as it is so colorful, so easy and makes you look like you’ve been cooking all day. This involves slightly browning and softening vegetables in bacon fat before baking so a bit of caramelization occurs and deepens the flavor. This version is even easier than the pot-watching kind I’ve always made and it involves bacon! How can it get more delicious?

ingredients

  • 4 slices thick bacon chopped into ½-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small eggplant, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 pepper (red, green, or yellow), chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 or 4 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • Splash red wine or balsamic vinegar

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a large oven-proof pan or dutch oven*, cook bacon till crisp; remove and set aside draining on a napkin or paper towel.
  2. Cook the vegetables in the bacon fat one at a time over medium high heat, separately, for 5 to 7 minutes, adding a little more oil as needed and seasoning with salt, in the following order: eggplant, zucchini, pepper, onion, and tomatoes (remember the order by using the acronym EZPOT, a credo of many famous chefs). As each vegetable is slightly browned and softened, remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add tomatoes last and scrape up all the brown bits in the pan. When tomatoes are done, add garlic and cook, stirring till fragrant. Add the thyme and basil, and season with salt and pepper. Place all of the other cooked vegetables back in the pan in reverse EZPOT order (onions, peppers, zukes, and eggplant on top).
  4. Place in oven and cook for 55 minutes till bubbling. Remove from oven, stir gently to mix, add vinegar splash, and top with bacon. Serve grated mozzarella on the side. Serve with crusty Italian bread or French baguettes. Can be eaten hot, warm, or cold.

*TIP: Never use a pot or lid with a plastic handle or a Teflon pan made for stovetop cooking in your oven. Cast iron or enamel pans work best going from stovetop to oven seamlessly.

PRINT THIS POST! CJ-HELLO GORGEOUS part 2

“them that works hard eats hearty!” (part 2)

The Pennsylvania Dutch are known for their hard-working lifestyle where almost everything is done by hand. Imagine doing the family laundry in a tub? And can you appreciate the work that goes into plowing fields while walking behind a team of horses?

The bright side is that once you’ve expended all that energy, you can eat pretty much anything you want! This is one of the reasons the Amish and Mennonites are famous for their amazing desserts and breads. Here are a few of my favorites.

shoo-fly pie
While working at a commercial blood bank in West Philadelphia, I would go on a weekly “blood delivery run” to a Pottstown hospital that sat right on the edge of Amish country. Roadside stands were a welcome site, and I always stopped to buy a shoo-fly pie. If you like molasses, you’ll love this, but I warn you, it is an unconventional way to make a pie!

Ingredients
9-inch unbaked pie shell (easy crust recipe follows)
½ tsp baking soda
¾ cup boiling water
¾ cup molasses
½ cup brown sugar
1½ cups flour
¼ cup butter, margarine, or lard, softened

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a medium bowl, dissolve soda in boiling water, then stir in molasses.
2. In another bowl, combine sugar, flour and butter, and use your fingers to rub together to make crumbs.
3. Place a third of the crumbs into the pie shell and gently ladle all the molasses mixture over it.
4. Place remaining crumbs on top to cover evenly. Do not stir. Bake 35 minutes or until nicely browned.

pat-a-pan pie crust
This amazing crust needs NO mixing bowls and rolling pins! You mix and pat it in your pie pan. So easy and so Amish! If dough is too “short” and crumbly, add more milk a teaspoon or two at a time till dough holds together well.

Ingredients
1½ cups of flour
1½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ cup vegetable oil
3 Tbs cold milk

Directions
1. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the pie pan and mix with fingertips until evenly blended.
2. In a measuring cup combine the oil and milk and beat until creamy.
3. Pour all at once over the flour mixture. Mix with a fork until the flour mixture is completely moistened.
4. Pat the dough with your fingers, first at the sides of the plate and then across the bottom.
5. Flute the edges. Shell is now ready to be filled.
6. If you are preparing a shell to fill later or your recipe requires a prebaked crust, preheat oven to 425°.
7. Prick the surface of the pastry with a fork and bake 15 minutes. Use pie weights or check often and prick more if needed.

amish coffee cake
This is quick, delicious, and needs no eggs!

Ingredients
1¼ cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour milk, buttermilk, or sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
For the Topping: ½ cup brown sugar mixed with 1 Tbs cinnamon

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Mix the sugar, oil, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Then add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
2. Pour into a greased 13×9 inch pan. Sprinkle topping on top of batter.
3. Bake 45-55 minutes till edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

amish half-a-pound cake
This starts out in a cold oven—no preheating needed—and so nice for warm weather baking. You just need to remember to set the eggs and milk out on the counter for a couple of hours to warm them up a tad.

Ingredients
2 cups flour
1½ cups sugar
4 eggs (room temperature)
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
½ cup milk (room temperature)
½ tsp mace or nutmeg

Directions
1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 20 minutes.
2. Pour into a greased tube pan and place in a cold oven. Turn oven to 350° and bake for 1 hour till golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
3. Cool 20 minutes before removing from pan.
4. Run a knife around the perimeter and tube sides to loosen, then invert on a plate.
5. Dust top with powdered sugar.

jan hagels
These cookies are delicious as a treat year round. They are so easy to make and the almond flavor is wonderful.

Ingredients
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup blanched sliced almonds
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add egg yolk and almond extract. Stir in flour.
  3. Turn dough on to an ungreased 15 x 10 x 1 jelly roll pan or a similar size cookie sheet with raised sides. Spread evenly to edges.
  4. Beat egg white till foamy with very soft peaks. Spread over dough, sprinkle nuts over entire top. Combine 1 Tbs sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle over top.
  5. Bake 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Cut into diamond shapes. Finish cooling in pan before removing to a plate to serve. Yummy! 

potluck supper apple cake
Most Amish farms include an apple orchard or at least a few trees, since apples are a staple in their diet. This makes a large size dessert and is great if you need to use up some fresh apples, and even if you don’t. Everyone will love it. Serves 15-18.

Ingredients
4 cups diced apples
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Prepare a 9 x 13 pan with grease and flour.
  2. Do not use an electric mixer. In a mixing bowl, combine apples cinnamon, and sugar thoroughly. 
  3. Add eggs, oil, vanilla, soda, and salt. Stir gently.
  4. Add flour then nuts. Turn into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  5. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

PRINT THIS POST Amish pt 2 blog

ground meats

I was away the beginning of July and realized today that I had forgotten to post the blog for this column, which appeared in the Aroostook Republican on July 2nd. Sorry about that.

Hamburger, ground chicken, turkey, and pork add variety and convenience to your meals. They can be frozen and available at any time and are a tasty background for herbs, spices, and vegetables, rounding out any family meal.

sweet-and-sour turkey meatballs
Whenever my daughter, Bennet, visits, she asks for this dish, and I enthusiastically comply since I love it, too. You can double the recipe for a crowd. And it is easy to make ahead and heat just before serving. Bring to room temperature first.

For the meatballs:

  • ¾ lb ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 10 crushed saltines
  • ½ cup canned milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • ½ tsp dried savory or rosemary
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cookie sheet with foil coated with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, soften cracker crumbs in milk. Beat in egg. Add remaining items, mixing well. Use a cookie scoop or form balls by hand, about the size of a walnut. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or till nicely browned.

While meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce:

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp lite olive oil
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbs white vinegar
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place cooked meatballs in a casserole. Mix all sauce ingredients and pour over. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour till bubbly. This can also be heated in a crockpot. Check your unit’s directions for temps and times. Serve over noodles with some buttered corn or green vegetable and crusty bread.

hamburger upside-down casserole
This is my mother’s recipe—simple yet delicious. The kids will gobble this right up.

Boil 1½ cups elbow macaroni or small shells according to box directions to make about 3 cups. Drain and set aside. Spray a 9 x 13” baking pan or large casserole dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350°.

In a skillet over medium heat, brown:

  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 lb lean hamburger
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp dried (or rubbed) sage
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Add two 8-oz cans plain tomato sauce to meat mixture and bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Place in the prepared pan or dish. In a large bowl, mix 8 oz of shredded sharp cheddar with the macaroni. Place on top of meat mixture.

Beat 3 eggs with ¾ cups milk and pour over entire mix. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Cover and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake 15 minutes more till brown and bubbly.

TIP: If you’re as busy as I am, you forget to defrost things for supper like ground meat or stews and end up with a solid block of ice staring at you at 5 p.m.! Solution? Invest in some good quality zip-seal bags and pack your ground meat flat to fill the entire bag and seal well. A half-inch thick quart-size bag of ground meat will defrost in an hour, or much less if you set it under that faucet and run cold water over it for a while. Same with stew or soup. Fill a large bag about ¾-full. Seal carefully, pressing out the air, then lay it flat in the freezer. No microwave defrosting disasters. So easy to make a last minute meal decision!

white bean and chicken slow-cooker chili
This hearty dish is so easy to prepare and if made ahead, gets better when refrigerated overnight. Go ahead and freeze the leftovers.

Brown 1 large chopped onion in 2 Tbs light olive oil over medium-high heat. When onion is translucent, add 2 chopped garlic cloves, 2 lbs ground chicken, and 1 tsp salt. Cook about ten minutes, stirring often.

Now add:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbs chili powder

Stir constantly until spices are very fragrant, being careful not to burn. Deglaze pan with ¼ cup of lime juice, scraping off brown bits from the bottom of the pan, then add 32 oz chicken broth. Mix well and place in a 3½-quart slow-cooker. Next, add 30 oz of white beans (cannelini), drained and rinsed, and mix well. Cook on low setting for at least four hours. Pass the shredded Monterey Jack, sour cream, and pickled jalapenos. Serve with warm flour tortillas.

marsha’s hamburger pie
When I lived in Silver Spring, Maryland, Marsha and her family lived in the apartment below us. She was a true Southern Belle and the cousin of actress Stella Stevens. Marsha made this for me once when I was down with a bad cold. Believe me, the flavors came through as this is very tasty. You do have to make your own pie crust for this one, but it is totally worth it. You can find Cousin Ralph’s Magical Piecrust recipe at the end of the Memorial Day post in this blog.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cousin Ralph’s top and bottom piecrust, prepared (see directions)
  • ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 or 3 dashes cayenne pepper
  • 1½ lbs ground chuck
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 can beef bouillon (1¼ cups)
  • 1½ cups dry unseasoned bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp each salt and black pepper
  • ¼ tsp each dried thyme and marjoram
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°. Prepare pie crust adding cheese, paprika, and cayenne to the flour before stirring into shortening mixture. Divide crust in two, roll out and place in a pie pan. Cook onion and beef in a skillet till browned. Mix bread crumbs and bouillon and let sit a few minutes. Add beef mixture and remaining ingredients. Mix well, and pour into pie shell. Roll remaining crust and put over top. Pinch to seal edges. Cut vents.

Bake on the lowest shelf of your oven to set bottom crust. Bake 45 minutes or more till golden brown. Brushing the top crust with whole beaten egg imparts of wonderful sheen and makes your dish look like it was prepared by the finest chef!

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memorial day ideas

Remembering loved ones, and especially those who have died for us, deserves a special meal and appreciation of family, friends, and country. Memorial Day weekend here is the time for raking the yard, getting the garden in, spreading the last of the snow around to melt, and unofficially welcoming in the summer season. With hopes the black flies haven’t started biting yet, we head outdoors to enjoy the warm air and share a meal or two.

I hope these dishes will bring a smile to your face as they are unconventional but delicious, and can become a tradition you can repeat year after year.

homemade onion dip
Once you’ve made your own, you’ll never go back to the old onion-soup-mix glop again! This one’s much less salty and tastes a lot better, too! All it asks of you is a bit of your time—and it’s totally worth it. Make this a day or two ahead for convenience. It tastes much better if the flavors have time to marry.

  • 2 large Spanish or Vidalia onions (2 cups diced)
  • 2 Tbs light olive oil
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1 16-oz. container sour cream, brought to room temperature
  • 1 8-oz. block cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tbs Gravy Master
  • ½ tsp garlic powder or use fresh 2 garlic cloves, finely minced (even better)
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • Dash or three of your favorite hot sauce (optional)

Remove cream cheese and sour cream from the ‘fridge at least two hours before starting. Brown onions in oil over medium-high heat, taking care not to burn, till brown and well done. Set aside to cool.

Place all other ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Add cooled onions. Refrigerate, covered, overnight, or at least 4-6 hours. Serve at room temperature with chips, crackers, or pita bread wedges, then watch it disappear!

chinese chicken salad
I got this recipe from my friend, Dawn King and tweaked it a bit. It is so delicious your kids will gobble it up while getting some veggies in the process! You’ll need a tight-fitting plastic container—low, flat, and rectangular in shape—that’ll hold about 6-8 cups. You’ll need to get a small bottle of toasted sesame oil in the ethnic section of the supermarket, but it is totally worth it. It imparts a most memorable flavor.

For the salad, prepare the following:

  • 2 large or 3 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, gently poached, cooled, and diced
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup slivered almonds sautéed in oil till golden brown and cooled
  • 1 sweet onion (Vidalia, if available, is best)
  • ½ head of medium size cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 packages of Ramen noodles (discard seasoning pack)

For the dressing, mix together in a shaker:

  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup light olive or peanut oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 Tbs toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce

Directions:
In a plastic container, break up squares of ramen noodles into 4-6 pieces. Pour mixed dressing over noodles, then add tossed remaining ingredients over. Cover and shake vigorously. Flip over and refrigerate at least overnight. If you are worried the lid will leak, be sure to enclose in a large plastic bag. Check in the morning to test that noodles are soft. Remove from refrigerator two hours before serving. Can be served in lettuce cups. Crunchy good!

mamie’s blubarb pie
A divine concoction of blueberries and rhubarb makes this pie a true celebration. Serve with a scoop of lemon sherbet!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
  • 3 cups diced rhubarb
  • 3 cups blueberries
  • Pastry dough, for double-crust 9-inch pie*

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°. Combine sugars, salt and tapioca in a large bowl and mix well. Add fruit and toss until well coated.

Place fruit mixture in 9-inch pie pan lined with pastry dough. Top with second crust, and trim so the top crust hangs 1/2 inch beyond rim, then tuck edge of top crust under bottom crust and crimp or pinch to finish.

Bake 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° and bake an additional 25-30 minutes, until pie is golden and the juices are bubbling. Let cool 2 hours and then serve.

*See my magical pie crust recipe below, OR use prepared rolled pie dough.

tip: crumb topping can replace top crust
My mother didn’t much like using a top crust on a pie. She loved to make a crumb topping—sweet, rich, and crunchy. I’ve kind of gone over to her side. This recipe can be mixed up quickly and doubled or tripled, always ready in your ‘fridge or freezer in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Keeps for a month or more. PLUS it’s delicious.

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ stick soft butter (do NOT use margarine)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats (optional)

Mix with fingers till crumbly.

cousin ralph’s magical pie crust
This recipe first appeared on cans of Spry—a solid shortening—back in the 1960s. My wonderfully creative cousin ripped the label off his Spry can and gave it to me when I raved about the crust on the pie he’d served me in 1963. I can’t understand why this method never caught on with the pastry crowd or with anyone, for that matter. When I tell you this is the easiest crust you’ll ever make, I mean it. You’ve probably never made crust like this, and the process flies in the face of all those pastry experts and seasoned bakers out there who’ve always preached that pie crust must be prepared cold—very cold—and that is a real pain to do correctly. This crust uses hot liquids, but it works and is a snap to prepare. It is easily doubled, tripled, or quadrupled and freezes well, so you can make it two months ahead and pull it out to prepare a delicious homemade pie any time! Great for chicken or beef pot pies, too. You’ll never go back to that pastry blender!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup solid shortening (plain, NOT butter-flavored)
  • 6 Tbs water
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:
Measure out flour and salt; mix and set aside. Place shortening in a medium bowl and spread it evenly over the bottom. In a small saucepan, bring water and milk to a boil, and pour over shortening. Beat with a fork till smooth and thick. Add flour and salt. Stir gently with the fork, then mix with fingers gently so as not to toughen till well blended.

Form two equal balls of dough, which will be soft and warm. I like to roll it out between two sheets of wax paper to a thickness of about ¼-inch. It’s easy to peel off the top paper, pick the whole mess up and flip it on to the pie pan. Carefully peel the other paper off,. If you tear the crust, it is easily patched. Position, trim and pinch taking care to eliminate any air bubbles. (I prick them with a fork then pat it to close the holes.)

Makes 2 crusts

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I’d love to hear from you if you try this or any other recipes on A Cook’s Journal. Just scroll down to the end of this post to comment. Happy cooking!