Tag Archives: pie crust

How to . . . Blind Bake a Piecrust

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“Blind Baking” is a term for baking a pie crust with no filling. This pre-baked crust is used for any pie that is not cooked in the oven with its filling: pies with cream or custard fillings, ice-cream pies, lemon meringue pie, strawberry pie.

When you bake a pie crust without a filling, it tends to have bubbles form in the bottom part of the crust, or the sides sink and fall into the center of the crust. To keep this from happening, you need to bake the crust in two steps: first with something weighing down the bottom of the crust, and then without the weights to finish cooking the crust. Here is a quick How To… on blind baking a perfect crust.

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Start with any crust recipe. Here is one that I like for an All Butter Pie Crust. Place in your pie plate and flute the edges. When you flute your edges, press down slightly on the indentations where the crust touches the top edge of the pan to keep it from sliding down the sides as it bakes.

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Place a square of foil in the bottom of your crust. I like to use non-stick foil (non-stick side touching the crust) to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the crust. Extend the foil slightly up the sides of the crust, but do not cover the fluting on the edges. Add about 1-2 cups of DRIED beans to your foil bowl. You can also buy pie weights (either loose or on a chain), but beans are a great cheap alternative.

Bake the weighted crust at 400°F for 10 minutes.

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Remove the beans and foil and prick the bottom of the crust with a fork.

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Place a pie crust shield on the edges of your crust to keep them from overcooking while you bake the crust again. You can buy a pie crust shield or make your own. Here is an easy HOW TO on making one that is just the right size for your pie plate: Make Your Own Pie Crust Shield.

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Bake empty crust for an additional 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Be sure to cool crust completely before filling.

Instructions:

How to Blind Bake a Piecrust

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  • Prepare pie crust and place in pie plate. Flute edges, if desired.
  • Line bottom of pie crust with foil (I like non-stick foil), extending foil slightly up the sides of the crust. Add 1-2 cups dried beans, or use pie weights.
  • Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes.
  • Remove beans or weights and foil. Prick bottom of crust with a fork. Place a pie crust shield over the edges of the crust and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Cool completely before filling.

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Chicken Pot Pie (Two Ways)

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No fancy recipes today: just some good old fashioned comfort food. And a great way to use leftover chicken (or turkey) and vegetables. This is a basic recipe for chicken pot pie with two different crusts: the traditional pie crust or refrigerator biscuits topped with thinly sliced onions.

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A pot pie is such a versatile meal because you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand. I almost always include some potatoes, carrots and onions, but the other green vegetables vary. Small amounts of leftover veges are perfect, but you can also use frozen vegetables. I do not thaw or cook frozen broccoli, beans or peas before adding them to the casserole dish. They will cook through while the whole thing is baking. Precooking will make them mushy. The potatoes, carrots and onions do need to be cooked first.

I almost never make this starting with raw chicken, but you certainly can. I prefer to wait until I have leftover chicken or turkey from a roast chicken (or Thanksgiving turkey) or extra shredded chicken from another meal: like these Enchiladas.

22211 061-1You can top your Pot Pie with a traditional Pie Crust (either homemade or refrigerated). I do not use a bottom crust, just a top one. Just be sure to place a sheet of foil or a baking sheet on the oven rack beneath the pot pie to catch any drips.

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If you are deciding what to put in your herb garden this spring (assuming the snow stops someday), I loved these two varieties of sage that I planted last year (a variegated silver and purple). Replacing the ground sage in the recipe with fresh chopped sage is really delicious. I  can’t wait until I can use my own fresh herbs again!

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For a twist on the traditional pot pie filling sauce, try adding 1/2 to 1 cup of prepared Pesto to your sauce. It makes a great change!
(Don’t use the sage and other herbs if you are using pesto)

My family really likes this biscuit topping on their pot pie. Starting with a can of refrigerator biscuits, divide biscuits in half cross-wise (into 2 thinner round biscuits). Flatten slightly with your hand. Press a slice of very thinly sliced raw onion into the top of each biscuit half.

22211 065-1 The filling needs to be cooked partially before putting the biscuits on top, or the underside of the biscuits will be doughy while the tops burn. But if you cook the filling until it just starts to bubble and then lay the onion-topped biscuits over the hot filling in the pan, everything will come out perfect! Most of our family loves the onions on top, but I do leave a couple of biscuits plain for those who object. Any extra biscuits that do not fit on top can be baked separately as directed on the package.

RECIPE:

Chicken Pot Pie

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1 single Pie Crust
—-(or 1 can refrigerator biscuits & thinly sliced onions**see note at bottom)
3-4 cups cooked, cubed chicken (or 3-4 raw chicken breasts)
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
1 large carrot, peeled & diced
½ zucchini, diced (optional)
1-2 cups frozen broccoli, green beans, and/or corn
½ cup frozen peas
¼ cup butter
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbs flour
2 cups chicken broth
¾ cup milk (or half milk, half cream)
½ tsp marjoram
½ tsp ground sage (or 1 Tbs chopped fresh sage)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F.

If you are starting with raw chicken, boil chicken until tender, remove from broth (do not drain broth) and chop. Place in 3 qt casserole dish. Cook potatoes and carrot in remaining chicken broth (or water if not starting with raw chicken) until potatoes are just tender; drain. Add potatoes and carrots to casserole dish with chicken and chopped zucchini. Add frozen beans, corn, broccoli and/or peas (do not thaw).

Melt butter in the same skillet. Sauté onion until soft. Stir in flour; cook 3-4 minutes until roux is light brown. Using a whisk, stir in marjoram, sage, salt and pepper. Stir in chicken broth and milk. Whisk until smooth.  Cook until thickened and bubbly.

Pour over chicken and vegetables in casserole dish. Arrange pie crust over dish, sealing to edge of casserole dish. Flute edges. Cut several slits in top of crust.

Place a cookie sheet or layer of aluminum foil on bottom rack to catch drips. Place pot pie on center rack. Bake at 425°F for about 30 minutes, until filling is bubbly.

FOR CHICKEN-PESTO POT PIE:

Add ½-1 cup prepared Pesto to sauce (eliminate marjoram and sage)

ALTERNATE TOPPING:

Instead of a pie crust, use refrigerator biscuits. Divide biscuits in half cross-wise (into 2 thinner round biscuits). Flatten slightly. Press a thin slice of raw onion into top of each biscuit half.

Cook filling, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes at 425°F, until hot and bubbly. Lay onion-topped biscuits over hot filling in pan. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and cook for 20 minutes, or until underside of biscuits are cooked through (they will still be soft and have a dumpling consistency on the bottom, but you don’t want raw dough). If top of biscuits brown too quickly, cover with foil.

If you have extra biscuits, bake separately as directed on package and serve with the pot pie.

 

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Create-Your-Own-Quiche

View Quiche

At our house, quiche is a year round food. In the winter, I pair it with soup for a hearty meal, and in the summer it stands more on its own, usually accompanied by a fresh, crisp salad.

As a family of seven, we are a two-quiche dinner family. Which works out well for everyone, because I will make one “good” quiche, chock full of vegetables, and another “plain” quiche, a standard Quiche Lorraine, with just bacon and cheese. So whichever kids don’t like my vegetables of choice that day are made happy with the plain, boring variety.

DSC05393-1 Quiche is a great way to use fresh, seasonal vegetables, especially prolific summer garden veges. It is also a good way to use small amounts of leftovers (both veges and meat like chicken or ham).

DSC05360-1 The following quiche recipe is completely adaptable to whatever meat and vegetable you have on hand. The only real recipe alteration you need to watch for is the amount of cream you use. For low-moisture add-ins (like bacon, sausage, chicken, onions,  asparagus, broccoli), 2 cups works well. For high-moisture items (ham that has not been sautéed, spinach, zucchini, tomatoes). reduce the amount of cream to 1 1/2 cups or your quiche will not set correctly.

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To keep the crust on my quiches (and pies!) from browning too quickly, I like to use pie crust shields over the edges. I have one commercial pie crust shield, but as I am always making two quiches at a time, for the second quiche, I make my own shield out of foil. I used to try using foil strips, but they always shifted when I tried to add additional strips, or move the pie in/out of the oven, causing me great frustration. So ….

How To . . . Make Your Own Pie Crust Shield Out of Foil

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Set your pie plate, right side up, on a square of foil that is 2-3” larger than your pie plate.

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Trace the bottom of your pie plate (the smaller side).

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Set pie plate aside and cut out the inner circle.

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You can trim the corners on the outside edge, but I usually just leave them. Fill your pie crust, then set foil ring over the edge of the pie. Gently fold down outer edges, being careful not to squish all of that edge-crimping you worked so hard on!

DSC05362-1 Bake pie, or quiche, with the pie shield on. Five minutes before the end of the cooking time, carefully remove shield. If the edges are not brown enough, leave shield off and bake until edges are golden brown. If the edges are browned, replace shield and continue cooking until quiche/pie is cooked through.

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RECIPE:

View Quiche2

Create-Your-Own-Quiche

Pastry crust for 9” pie plate
2 cups cream**
4 eggs
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Pinch of ground cayenne or Ancho chile pepper (optional)
1-2 cups chopped cooked meat (ham, bacon, chicken, sausage)
—–and/or vegetables (onions, green onions, peppers, spinach,
—–zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes, etc)
½ cup fresh grated Parmesan (plus optional 2-3 Tbs for garnish)
1-1 ½ cups additional shredded cheese (Swiss, cheddar, Gruyere,
—–pepper-jack, feta, cream cheese-cubed, etc)

**NOTE: Use less cream (about 1 ½ cups) if meat/vegetables are very moist

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Prepare pastry crust and place in 9” pie plate (deep dish, if possible).

In a medium bowl, mix cream, eggs, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper (if using).

Prepare meat and vegetable filling: chop and sauté meat and vegetables like onions, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms; lightly steam broccoli; green onions, asparagus, tomatoes and spinach can be used raw, but frozen spinach should be thawed and drained to remove as much liquid as possible. Cool cooked vegetables slightly.

Combine meat, vegetables, Parmesan and additional cheeses in a mixing bowl. Spread evenly in pie crust. Pour cream/egg mixture over filling. Use a spatula or fork to remove any large air pockets.

If desired, cover the crust of the quiche with a pie shield. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to set at room temperature 5-10 minutes before serving.

OPTIONAL: Sprinkle hot cooked quiche with 2-3 Tbs grated Parmesan as soon as it comes out of the oven.

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SPINACH QUICHE: I used about 1 cup cooked, crumbled bacon, 1 onion, sautéed, and 1 box of frozen spinach, drained and then squeezed to remove excess moisture. I used only 1 1/2 cups cream  and 1/2 cup each Swiss and sharp cheddar cheeses.

QUICHE LORRAINE: I used 1 ½ cups cooked, crumbled bacon and 1 onion, sautéed. I used 2 cups of cream and 1 ½ cups Swiss cheese.

PUMPKIN QUICHE: See recipe here

 

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