A day of pie! Chicken Pot Pie and Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb PieThere is a rhubarb plant at the Chapman house, so I decided to make a classic strawberry rhubarb pie.  So, I went out to pick some ruby red fresh rhubarb.  The recipe I used was from Smitten Kitchen (one of my favourite blogs).  The pie turned out extremely well (super tasty) – but a little watery in the centre.  I am still working on perfecting the perfect strawberry rhubarb pie. My Mom who has been making pies forever would not have made a mistake like this, but like she always says, “practice makes perfect.” As I was preparing the pie filling I saw some blueberries in the freezer, so I added half a cup to add extra colour.  So, it wasn’t entirely ‘strawberry rhubarb.’  When I make this pie again, I will add only 1/2 cup of sugar or 2/3 cup – the berries had tremendous natural sweetness and it would have been nice to allow the slightly tart rhubarb flavour to shine.Strawberry Rhubarb PieLattice Pie Crust Top

The recipe for the crust however, was a success, it was flakey, buttery and crisp.  I even decided to get fancy and do a lattice top pattern.  I brushed the top with an egg wash and sprinkled it lightly with sugar.  It came out of the oven looking beautiful.  I enjoy the challenge that pie baking presents, getting the filling and crust perfect, as well as decorating, so the perfect pie challenge continues.

Chicken Pot PieThe next pie I made was a savoury dinner pie and is a classic!  The recipe is from the Canadian living website and it is one of my favourites.  The filling with fresh thyme and white wine is truly divine!  Fresh carrots, baby red skin potatoes, celery and peas come together to create a classic dinner.  Not to mention puff pastry (yum)!  When I make this for Jonathan it usually makes two pot pies – one of which can be frozen.  Served with a fresh salad it is a perfect dinner or lunch.  I read somewhere that chicken pot pie is a great dinner for entertaining because:  it looks like you have slaved away all day making it, divides up easily, usually good for picky eaters and by the time your guests arrive all the work is done. The pot pie comes out looking like a piece of perfection with flaky buttery crust – and you get to eat gourmet chicken pot pie with your friends and catch up.Chicken Pot Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Filling

3 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 1/2-inch thick slices
3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) strawberries, hulled and sliced if big, halved if tiny

½ cup blueberries

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for brushing on the top)

Mix together sliced strawberries, sliced rhubarb, blueberries, white sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, salt and flour.  Set aside.

All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough (From Smitten Kitchen)

Makes enough dough for one double-, or two single-crust pies.

2  ½ cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

½ cup cold cold water, use ice cubes if necessary

1.  Pulse together dry ingredients in food processor or use hand dough cutter.

2.  Add butter and pulse again.

3.  Slowly add cold water, pulse until it comes together in a nice dough.

4.  Divide the dough in two and refrigerate for 1 hour

Putting the Pie together:

1.  Roll our first dough for the bottom crust.  Lightly poke the dough at the bottom with a fork.

2.  Crimp the sides of the piecrust.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes or place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

3.  Pre – bake the crust at 400 for 10 minutes with aluminum foil and baking weights.

4.  Let crust cool then add fruit mixture.

5.  Roll out second pie dough.  Slice with pizza cutter into 1 inch to 1 ½ inch strips.

6.  Alternate length and width wise the lattice strips.

7.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with sugar.

8.  Reduce oven temperature down to 350 degrees and bake for 40 minutes.

Chicken Pot Pie (from Canadian Living)

Ingredients

3 cups (500 mL) chicken stock

1 cup (250 mL) drywhite wine

2 cups (500 mL) chopped carrots

2 stalks  celery, chopped

2 cups (500 mL) cubed peeled potatoes

bay leaf

1 Pinch each salt and 1 tsp pepper, 1-3 tablespoon rosemary

1 lb (454 g) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1/3 cup (75 mL) butter

1/3 cup (75 mL) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (75 mL milk

1 cup (250 mL) frozen peas

1/2 pkg (397 g) frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preparation

In large saucepan, bring chicken stock, wine, carrots, celery, potato, bay leaf, rosemary, salt and pepper to boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add chicken; simmer, uncovered, until no longer pink inside, 10 minutes. Skim off any foam. Strain; set aside chicken stock. Set aside chicken mixture; discard bay leaf.

In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Whisk in reserved stock until smooth. Bring to boil; cook, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in milk; cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken and vegetable mixture into your dish, add peas, add extra rosemary and pepper to taste; stir to coat.) Use large casserole dish or smaller ones if you are making two.

On floured surface, roll out pastry to fit top of dish plus 1-inch (2.5 cm) extra all around; trim edges. Brush edge of dish with water. Centre pastry over filling; gently press overhang to adhere to dish. Brush with egg; slash 4 steam vents. Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven until golden, puffed and filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Bumbleberry Pie – Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day was yesterday and to celebrate my family invited over my Grandma and Auntie Andrea.  For dinner my Dad barbequed turkey and beef burgers.  The dessert I made is a family favourite – bumbleberry pie.  All of the ingredients for the pie happened to be in my Mom’s pantry.  The berries I used were half fresh and half frozen.  Once strawberry season comes I plan to make Jonathan help me go strawberry picking.  Making a pie for the blog had been on my baking to-do list for a while, so I was delighted to make this scrumptious pie.

The recipe I used was from my Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts cookbook that Jonathan gave me for my birthday.  At the back of the cookbook was a recipe for a butter and cream cheese pie crust.  Within the pages of this wonderful cookbook I found a picture of a pie that inspired me to use heart shapes as the top pie crust.  My Mom has always made wonderful bumbleberry pies, so I thought I would give her a break from the kitchen on Mother’s Day.  The recipe I used based on the blueberry pie recipe from Martha’s Pies and Tarts Cookbook.  (My Mom has the Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts Cookbook as well, and her version has been well used over the years.)  The pie turned out perfectly golden and delicious. 

One of the debates we had when talking about pie filling with my Grandma, Aunt and Mom at dinner, was about cornstarch versus flour as a thickener.  I used cornstarch in this pie recipe, but the consensus was that flour is better for thickening pie filling.  So, I will try that next time.  My sister Laura also helped with this Mother’s Day pie.  She helped with cutting the hearts and arranging them on top.  In the second picture below you will see a round piece of metal, it is one of my Mom’s many kitchen gadgets.  What it does is prevents the outside crust from burning to a crisp.  It comes with a round base piece that catches any pie filling that might drip over the edge.  The baking gadget does wonders, as the pie crust was perfectly cooked.

Last night at dinner my Mom told a story about when she and my Dad were first married and they had a brand new chest freezer.  As fresh fruit came into season that summer, the chest freezer was quickly filled, almost entirely with pies.  So, there is a genetic urge in my family to bake pies and sweet desserts.  Jonathan, you better watch me carefully in your kitchen, I might just fill up your freezer with pie!

Cream Cheese Pie Crust Recipe (Make sure you double the recipe below if you are making a pie with a bottom crust and a top crust. )

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon cold cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces

Directions

  1. Combine water and vinegar in a small bowl. Combine flour and salt in another bowl. Cut butter and cream cheese into cubes and then place with flour and salt mixture in food processor and pulse until crumbly.
  2. Add water mixture to dough in a slow, steady stream, stirring, until mixture just begins to hold together.  Pulse in food processor to combine.
  3. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and wrap. Press dough into a disk using your hands or a rolling pin. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw before using.)
  4. Roll dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Trim edge, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Turn overhang under so that edge is flush with rim. Flute edge. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Bumbleberry Pie Filling

  • 7 cups of fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries (if you are using frozen, let the berries thaw in the refrigerator and drain excess liquid from the bottom.
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch or flour
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Directions

  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough to a 12-inch round. With a dry pastry brush, sweep off excess flour; fit dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate, pressing it into edges. Trim dough to a 1/2-inch overhang all around. Fold edge of dough over or under, and crimp as desired.  Place back in the refrigerator to keep cool while you are making the pie filling.
  2. For the hearts roll out remaining dough in the same manner; and then use a cookie cutter to create two sizes of heart shaped crust.
  3. Place berries in a large bowl; with your hands, crush about 1/2 cup of berries, letting them fall into the bowl as you work. Add sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice; stir to combine. Spoon mixture into pie plate with crust and mound berries slightly in the center.
  4. Arrange larger sized hearts around the edge of the pie plate on the berries, then add smaller hearts when you get closer to the middle.  Make sure to leave a few spaces between the hearts to allow steam to escape from the pie.
  5. Brush surface with egg wash, being careful not to let it pool. Freeze or refrigerate pie until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lower third.
  6. Place pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 50 minutes and until crust begins to turn golden.
  7. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely. The pie is best eaten the day it is baked, but it can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.