The Pies Have It!

crustBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz -

As we embark on the holiday season, I’ve been thinking about all the good food to come.  So this week, I thought I would share a few of my all-time favorite pie and pie pastry recipes with you!  Enjoy!

Some have dubbed this recipe the No Fail Pie Crust, but the original recipe came from a Wesson Oil cookbook circa 1940 (?).  This crust is #1 on my list and my go-to pastry for both sweet and savory (omit the sugar) dishes.  And what’s not to like about a low-saturated fat crust that is easy to make – I mean, ridiculously easy! – and turns out tender and flaky every time? Although I have used many versions of this crust, I like this one best and it goes great with homemade pumpkin pie!  My nieces call it, Aunt Jill’s Pie Crust!  (Aren’t they sweet?!)

Vegetable Oil Pastry Crust
2 -1/2 cup all purpose or light wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl.  In a smaller  bowl, measure out oil and milk, but do not stir.  Pour all at once into flour.  Using a fork, GENTLY turn flour into oil/milk mixture until large clumps form.  (If the mix still contains loose, dry flour, sprinkle 1 tsp. of water over the top and gently toss until dough clumps.)  Gently press the clumps together and pat dough into a ball.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 20 minutes to overnight.  Dough freezes very well.

Divide dough in half and roll out between two sheets of waxed paper.  Remove the top sheet of paper and use the bottom sheet to lift and flip dough into baking dish.   Bake according to your filling recipe.  Yield:  Two generous 9” pie pastries.

Notes:  Use any kind of vegetable oil that you desire.  Add up to one extra teaspoon of oil and milk if using whole wheat flour.  This dough can sometimes be a little sticky at first.  Simply press dough into bowl, cover with plastic and chill for one to several hours to firm up.

This is a classic “pumpkin” pie made with your favorite homegrown winter squash!  My Mom used to make these pies when we were kids.  She always called it “pumpkin pie” and that’s what we kids thought it was!  It wasn’t until I was a teenager that my Mom clued me into the fact that all those “pumpkin” pies we loved so much were really made of squash!  Eww, squash?!   Indeed!   And she was right, y’all.  There is nothing that beats squash for pumpkin pie – not even pumpkins!  This is a take on my Mom’s old recipe.  Thanks, Mom! xoxo

Fresh Winter Squash Pie
Vegetable Oil Pastry Crusts (one recipe makes two shells)
4 cups fresh winter squash or pumpkin
4 farm fresh eggs
1 cup brown sugar
4 cups fresh winter squash or pumpkin, cooked, drained and pureed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 can evaporated milk

pumpkin pieHalve squash and clean out seed cavity.  Bake cut side down in large baking pan at 350° F. 1 for one hour or until fork-tender.   Cool and scrape meat out of shell and place in a large bowl.  Using a hand mixer, beat until smooth.

Prepare pie shells.  Preheat oven to 425° F.

Mix pie ingredients in the order given, blending until smooth.  Place prepared pans on middle rack of oven and carefully divide the batter between them.  Bake at 425° F. for 15 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350° F. and bake an additional 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely before serving.  Store in the refrigerator.  Serve cold with real whipped cream or warm with vanilla ice cream!          Yield:  Two 9” pies.

I love this easy and delicious dessert crust.  I don’t remember where I found this one but, boy, am I glad I did!  Excellent with any type of pan bars, fruit pies or even cheesecake!  But my favorite way to use this crust is with a most-excellent rendition of the classic Custard Pie!

Easy Dessert Crust
1 -1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons milk

Blend dry ingredients in a small bowl.  In a small saucepan, heat fats until butter just melts and remove from heat.  Add the dry mix to the fat in the pan and stir until crumbly.  Sprinkle milk over the mix well.  Press into the bottom and sides of your baking dish.  Either, bake at 350° F. for 20 –25 minutes, or chill for 30 minutes before adding filling.  Yield: One 9” dessert crust.

Notes:  This pie crust is fast and super easy to make.  When baked, it has a texture (and I think, flavor) similar to graham cracker crust.  Double the recipe for a fantastic dessert bar crust.

What more can I say about this simple and elegant dessert but, Wow!  Some egg custard recipes call for a bit of flour to the egg mix, but I prefer the texture and flavor of the creamy filling I achieve without it.  And with a little twist, this simple pie can become a Coconut Cream Pie in seconds.  No matter how you roll, you will definitely want to use rich milk and the extra egg yolk!

Classic Egg Custard Pie
1 Easy Dessert Crust
white of 1 egg, whisked
3 farm fresh eggs + the extra yolk from the egg white wash
2 -1/2 cups whole milk (the richer the milk, the better!)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash of freshly ground nutmeg

Egg Custard PiePrepare crust and brush with egg white.  In a large bowl, beat eggs until smooth.  Add all other ingredients –except nutmeg – in the order given.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into pie shell.  Sprinkle the nutmeg over the top and bake at 400°F. for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  The filling should rise uniformly but the center of the pie may still be a little jiggly in the middle when completely done.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.  Filling will collapse a little as it cools.  Cool completely and chill for several hours before serving.

Notes:  All or some of the whole milk can be replaced with evaporated milk, half and half, or cream.  The richer the milk, the richer the pie.  You may also scald the milk, if desired.  If you want to blow their socks off, serve this with a fresh fruit compote, like blackberries… Oh, my!

To convert this recipe into Coconut Custard Cream Pie, simply replace some of the milk with coconut cream (coconut milk is too watery) and add 1 cup of shredded coconut to the mixture before baking.  Instead of nutmeg, top pie with toasted coconut.  Whew!  When do we eat?

Happy Holidays and Many Blessings!
Jill

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6 responses to “The Pies Have It!

  1. Will this recipe work for squirrel pot pie?

      • My wife is an excellent cook and can do pie crust in her sleep. During the Ozark Empire Fair here in Springfield this year a local TV station did a segment on one of our senior ladies cooking a squirrel pie. I felt it was more making fun of than anything else, which I didn’t care for. Anyway, we have the little grays running all over our place and I’ve threatened many times to wage war on them. I cannot get my wife to agree to do the squirrel pot pie thing though.

      • I’ve never had squirrel pie, either, Gary! But for folks who like to hunt squirrel, I would imagine this would make a good supper. Not much opportunity here as our cats keep them far from the house these days!

  2. just now catching up on your posts! They were pretty darn good “pumpkin” pies, weren’t they?
    xoxoxo
    g.ruth

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