Today is the last day in our Pie Making Boot Camp here at CHEFS Mix Blog. Hope you've enjoyed the week and are ready for the Mini Pie Revolution! Don't forget our giveaway: a 10-inch Nordic Ware Pie Pan With Lid! The winner will be chosen Monday, June 24, from all comments on our pie blogs through Sunday, June 23. When you comment, leave a way for us to reach you. Or, check back on Monday--when we start talking about another kind of pie: Pizza!
“When someone asks if you'd like cake or pie, why not say you want cake and pie?”
Lisa Loeb, American singer-songwriter and actress
Most of the time I’m in agreement with Loeb, but if I must choose, then pie will win every time.
Don’t get me wrong, I like cake—especially birthday cake and wedding cake—but cake doesn’t have, well, this may seem obvious, but it doesn’t have pie crust. And I do love pie crust, especially when it’s made right like my Grandma’s or my sister’s (which, hmm, is made from my Grandma’s recipe). (See tips for making a better pie crust later in this series.)
But, as much as it pains me to admit, there is a problem with pies. For my two-person home, where we think of dessert as a special treat rather than a proprietary right, an 8- or 9-inch pie usually results in 2-3 pieces being wasted simply because we won’t eat it fast enough before it turns soggy. Then there’s the whole “whose turn is it to choose the type of pie?” debate that has ended more than one marriage. (I swear I still don’t remember that I had three turns in a row. Honest.)
What to do?
When I discovered the Breville Personal Pie maker, not only did it solve my problems of extra pie and what kind of pie to make (I can make four kinds at once), but it also opened my mind (and my pie hole, as Paula Deen so elegantly suggests) to the idea of pies that aren’t dessert. Pies that are, in fact, a meal.
“I don't want to spend my life not having good food going into my pie hole.
That hole was made for pies.”
Paula Deen, American cook, cooking show host, restaurateur, and author
With the Breville, I can make fruit pies, savory quiche, meat, or vegetable pies—including a family favorite, Chicken Pot Pie. I just make the recipe as normal, but instead of filling a regular 10-inch pie shell, I fill four (actually more) mini pie crusts and off we go! We eat two for dinner and refrigerate (or freeze) the others for future meals.
Same thing with fruit pies. It's easiest to use canned fillings, but it's not required. I've found with any pie I want to make a mini-version of, I can prepare the filling as usual and then portion it by 1/3 cup amounts into the mini pie maker and it works fine. For some pies, say apple, I'll dice the fruit instead of slicing so that it fits in the mini pie better and cooks thoroughly, but for most the preparation is the same.
Breville makes the mini pie revolution simple. They provide everything you need, including recipes, to create special mini pies right out of the gate. Simply roll out your pie dough as usual (store bought or homemade, even puff pastry). The pastry cutter makes it easy to cut your dough to the right size for both the bottom and the top crusts. You just reverse the cutter for one or the other. And there's no need to crimp. The cooking plate molds have crimps so this step is done automatically as you cook a pie. For pies without top crusts, say a quiche, the bottom crust is all that's needed.
Your pies are ready--golden brown--in just 8-10 minutes. With the smooth nonstick surface on the cooking plates, pies release effortlessly, keeping pie and crust perfectly intact.
When you're done, clean up is easy also. Just use a clean, damp, soft cloth to wipe down the cooking plates. This is best done after they've cooled a bit, but while the plates are still warm. When not in use the personal pie maker closes and stores (horizontally or vertically) out of the way in under five inches of height space.
Some pie makers prefer their pies baked in glass pie plates. Fear not, there is now a way for you to make mini pies, too. And you don't have to give up your glass pans! The Libbey Glass Mini Pie Plate Set is just what you need. This set of 10 glass mini pie plates creates a beautiful presentation. They are nonporous and made of durable glass with a smooth easy-clean finish. Plus, they're oven-safe to 450 F and microwave- and dishwasher-safe as well.
Like the Breville Personal Pie Maker, these little jewels let you conveniently prepare food ahead of an event and store in the refrigerator. Plus, they're ideal for baking and serving individual quiche, frittata, or pot pie.
Here’s a recipe for pot pie that we like, but I'm sure your recipe can easily be "mini"-mized, too:
A delicious chicken, vegetable, and pastry composition.
Ingredients for Chicken Pot Pie
(For mini pies, you may want to cut chicken, carrots, and mushrooms into smaller pieces.)
1 small roasted chicken, skinned and boned, dice into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
3 medium carrots (about 1 cup) cut in 1-inch chunks
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1 cup frozen peas
3 large mushrooms, caps and stems, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cups reserved vegetable broth
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 to 2 Tablespoons dry sherry
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. ground sage
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Ingredients for Flaky Pie Pastry
3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
4 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup firm, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup chilled vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
7 to 8 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed
Cooking Instructions for Chicken Pot Pie
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in 2-quart All-Clad saucepan. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, the carrots, and onions. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Off the heat add the frozen peas and mushrooms. Cover and let stand for 1 minute. Place a colander over a large bowl. Drain vegetables in the colander shaking it briefly. Reserve liquid for sauce.
In a medium All-Clad saucepan melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk quickly to form a roux. Cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes or until the mixture turns a light gold color.
Add vegetable and chicken broths all at once, and whisk on medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil and is thickened. Add the sherry, thyme, sage, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Distribute the chicken and vegetables into a 10-inch Pie Plate. Pour sauce over mixture. It should come to 3/4 of the level of the filling. If you do not have enough sauce, add a bit more vegetable broth. Roll pastry into a 13-inch circle. Lay the dough loosely on the top of the pan. Trim edges, leaving 1-inch around. Turn edges under and press against side of the pie pan. Flute or crimp with a fork. Pierce the top 10-12 times with the tines of a fork. (If using for mini pies, prepare as above and then combine chicken, vegetables, and sauce. Distribute by 1/3 cup into each pie.)
Brush the top with ice water and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme. Bake in 400 degree F oven for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. (For mini pies, I omit the salt and thyme, but I don’t see why you couldn’t do it if you like. And, of course, the Breville Personal Pie Maker cooks the pies rather than your oven.)
Cooking Instructions for Flaky Pie Pastry
(For mini pies, I typically use a store-bought dough, but you could prepare this recipe and use the mini pie pastry cutters that come with the Breville to make the right sized crusts.)
Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Chill for 15 minutes. Process for 5 seconds to blend.
Add half of the butter and shortening. Pulse 4 to 5 times, then process for 4 to 5 seconds. Add the remaining butter and shortening and pulse again 4 to 5 times, then process for 4 to 5 seconds. The mixture should have the texture of coarse meal and still contain some larger pieces of fat.
Empty the mixture into a large bowl. Add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, drizzling it around the side of the bowl. Use a kitchen fork to push the mixture toward the center with each addition.
With floured hands, press the dough against the side of the bowl forming two balls. All of the crumbs should adhere to the balls and clean the bowl. If not, add some additional water, a few drops at a time. Flatten the balls into two, 4 to 5-inch disks.
Dust the disks with flour, then score with side of your hand. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill 1/2 hour or longer before using. Will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days. This recipe makes one double crust 10-inch pie.
This recipe serves 4-6.
Recipe from All-Clad.com, © 2007 by Carole Walter, CCP