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Nancy’s Healthy Pie Pastry

In Pastry (for Sweet & Savory Pies) On August 12, 2012 0 Comments

The light, flaky texture of this pie crust/tart recipe is due to a high quality oil that I use. Omitting the heavy butter and/or hydrogenated fats, I make my pastry with sunflower or safflower oil. Use this healthy pastry for sweet pies and fruit tarts, or savory quiches and vegetable tarts.

Prep time: 30 to 45 minutes
Makes: Pastry for One 2-Crusted Pie or Tart

2-2/3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sunflower or safflower oil
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
Three 2-inch wide aluminum foil strips (to place over pastry edges during baking)

1. In a 4-quart mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the oil and, with a pastry cutter, mix until flour and oil combine to form pea-sized clusters. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time; mix until dough amalgamates and sides of bowl are clean. If needed, add 1 more tablespoon water.

2. Gather dough with hands; separate into two equal balls. Cover each dough ball in plastic wrap and place in freezer for 10 to 12 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, prepare a fruit filling of your choice and set aside.

4. Transfer one dough ball from the freezer to the refrigerator. Unwrap the second dough ball and, on a flat, floured surface, flatten it to a 5-inch circle.

5. Place the pastry dough circle in between two lightly-floured, 15-inch long waxed paper sheets.

6. Using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry from the center and outwards. After two to three rolling motions, peel off the top waxed paper sheet and lightly flour the pastry dough. Replace the waxed paper sheet over the pastry dough.

7. With one hand over the top sheet and the other underneath the bottom sheet, quickly flip the dough over. Remove the second waxed paper sheet and lightly flour the pastry dough. Cover it with the waxed paper sheet again.

8. Continue rolling and flouring the pastry dough until it is 3 inches larger than the diameter of the pie plate edges. To measure this, lightly hold the pie plate upside down over the rolled-out pastry.

9. Remove the top waxed paper sheet from the rolled-out pastry pastry dough. With one hand underneath the bottom waxed paper sheet and the
other hand over the pastry surface, make a quick flip onto the pie plate.

10. Gently and slowly peel off the remaining waxed paper sheet from the pastry dough. Carefully fit the pastry dough into pie plate edges. Using a fork, poke random holes in the pastry dough; set aside.

11. Repeat above rolling instructions with the second pastry dough. After rolling it out, keep the pastry dough inside paper sheets and set aside.

12. In the meantime, gently transfer the fruit filling onto the rolled-out pastry dough set in pie plate. Carefully flip second pastry dough over filling; peel off the waxed paper sheet.

13. Trim the pastry to a one-inch overhang. Turn and tuck the pastry edges underneath. With fingers, crimp or pinch the edges, creating fluted shapes. Cover fluted pastry edges with aluminum foil strips.

14. Follow baking instructions for the pie recipe you are making.

*Note: To make a one-crust pie, make a half-recipe by using “half” the ingredients.

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

Pate Brisee

In Pastry (for Sweet & Savory Pies) On May 13, 2010 0 Comments

This is a basic Pate Brisee recipe that I created for savory pies, tarts and quiches. It will make top and bottom pastries for a double-crusted pie. Alternatively, you can make a half recipe for a single-crusted quiche or tart. I especially use Pate Brisee for my favorite savory pie, the Emilian Spinach Pie (Erbazzone), posted on this blog on May 12, 2010. Whenever I serve my guests one of these tarts they always compliment the delicate and tasty crust surrounding the filling.

Active prep time: 40 minutes
Inactive prep time: 10 minutes (for chilling)
Makes: Pastry for One 2-crusted Savory Pie or Tart

2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
Dash ground black pepper
7 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch squares
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
6 to 8 tablespoons cold water
One 9-inch pie plate

1. Combine dry ingredients in a 12-cup mixing bowl.

2. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, blend in the butter until mixture is uniform and resembles small peas.

3. Mix in the eggs. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing gently after each addition. As soon as mixture amalgamates and dough is formed, divide it in half, shaping each piece into a ball.

4. Wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap and freeze 10 minutes. Transfer one dough ball to refrigerator and roll out the other.

To roll out pastry dough:

1. With lightly floured hands, flatten dough to a 6-inch circle.

2. Place dough between two floured 16-inch long waxed paper sheets.

3. Gently roll out dough to a 14 or 15-inch circle. To prevent sticking, peel off the waxed paper sheets and dust each side of the pastry sheet with flour two or three times while working.

4. Peel off the top waxed paper sheet. With one hand underneath bottom sheet and the other on top of exposed pastry, quickly flip pastry over and into a 9-inch buttered pie plate.

5. Peel off the second sheet. Gently fit the pastry into pan sides and, using a fork, randomly make holes in the pastry. Trim edges to a one-inch overhang and set aside.

6. Repeat rolling instructions with other dough ball; set aside. For filling, follow instructions of pie, tart or quiche that you are making.

7. Peel off the top waxed paper sheet from rolled out pastry.

8. Quickly flip pastry over filling and peel off second waxed paper sheet.

9. Trim pastry edges to a one-inch overhang; pinch and seal edges.

10. Make random holes over top of sealed pie.

11. At this point, follow remaining baking instructions for pie, tart or quiche that you are making.

Text ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

Chocolate Pastry Cream with Berries

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces On May 6, 2010 0 Comments

Catherine de’ Medici, an Italian noblewoman, introduced pastry cream or “crema pasticciera” to the French court in the sixteenth century. In turn, the French called it “creme patissiere”. While traditional pastry cream is made with eggs, sugar, flour and milk, contemporary versions of this recipe have added flavorings.

As a chocoholic, I created this pastry cream to satisfy my palate. I use this rich chocolate cream as a filling for cakes or simply served with berries. Rest assured that this is a definite crowd pleaser.

Active prep time: 3 hours (chill time)
Inactive prep time: 3 hours (chill time)
Serves: 4

4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups milk (2% is best – not too heavy and not too light)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh strawberries, stems removed and cut into fourths lengthwise
1 cup fresh blueberries
Powdered sugar and cocoa, for dusting
1. In a 3-quart sauce pot, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until well-blended.

2. Gradually and vigorously whisk in the flour, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, making sure that each addition is completely absorbed.

3. In a slow and steady stream, pour in the milk while whisking continuously until all the milk is absorbed.

4. Transfer the sauce pot containing the milk mixture to a stove burner set on medium-low heat.

5. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.

6. Cook and stir the cream for 1 to 2 minutes or until it has thickened.

7. Remove the saucepot from heat and stir the melted chocolate chips and the vanilla into the cream. Mix until the mixture is uniform.

8.Divide the chocolate pastry cream evenly among four 4-ounce ramekins. Immediately cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

9. At serving time, top the chocolate pastry cream with berries and powdered sugar.

10. Set each ramekin on a flat dessert plate. Dust each plate with powdered cocoa and garnish with a strawberry and some blueberries.

Note: For more servings, just double or triple the recipe. Pour the cooked pastry cream into a porcelain or glass serving bowl, cool and refrigerate. At serving time, spoon the cream into individual bowls; dust with powdered sugar and cocoa. Garnish with fresh berries and mint leaves.

Variation: The milk can be substituted with soy milk, but the flavor will be different.

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real