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Sunday, May 30, 2010


So to finish off our month of pies, we're going to leave you with a savory dish inspired by the movie Ratatouille.  Ratatouille is a traditional provincial French dish made with eggplant, tomatoes, and squash. 

Usually served in a chunky stew form, we thought we'd try something different and bring it to you in a tart form that can be served as a side dish or the main course itself.

Ratatouille Tart with Black Pepper-Parmesan Crust

Black Pepper-Parmesan Crust

1 ¼ cups flour
¼ tsp salt
7 ½ tbsp chilled, unsalted butter (= 1 pat short of a full stick)
½ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
2-2 ½ tbsp ice water
2 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

Mix in the black pepper and then add in the water a bit at a time.  Mix with a fork until the dough just comes together. Form it into a ball, wrap with wax paper or Saran, and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Remove from fridge. Flatten out the ball a bit, add the parmesan and fold into the dough.

Once the cheese is thoroughly blended in, form dough back into a flattened circle and roll out. You want the crust to be larger than your tart pan. Gentle lay the crust over the tart pan and press in to fit to the sides.

Roll the pin over the top of the tart pan to cut off any extra crust.  You can use pie weights or dried beans to line the pan to keep the crust from bubbling while it bakes.

For our example, we are using an 8” tart pan, but you should be able to get a 9-10” tart out of the dough as well. With the extra dough, we have enough to make a “rustic” individual serving of the tart.

Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes until cooked through.

Note: during the "making of" process, we did not let the bottom cook through and it did not finish baking during the "baking off" process once it was all assembled, so it is key to peek through the beans (maybe do a smaller layer than we did here) or weights to make sure it's not still doughy when it comes out of the oven.

Ratatouille Filling

1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 small eggplant
1 Roma tomato (slightly less than totally ripe makes it easier to cut and hold the slice)
Olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes

Rinse off the vegetables and then cut each into 3/8” slices.

In a skillet with a tidge of olive oil, lightly sauté the zucchini and yellow squash slices.

Because they have a denser consistency than the tomato and eggplant, pre-cooking them will guarantee that they will be cooked through when you bake the tart.

Brush the bottom of the tart crust with olive oil and then layer the slices, alternating vegetables, around the edge.

Because we did ours in an 8” tart pan, to create the center circle, we cut the slices in halves and then filled up the center with dices of each. In a 9-10” pan you should be able to get a second full circle layer in with no problem.

Lightly brush the vegetables and crust with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

We used a basil flavored oil, but you can use whatever you’d like, flavored or regular.

Cover the tart with foil and pop into oven at 400°. Bake for 25 minutes with the foil, then remove it and bake an additional 5-10 minutes until crush is lightly browned. When the vegetables are soft, tart is done.

Tomato Reduction Sauce

While the tart is baking, puree a can of diced tomatoes in a blender or food processor.  Bring them to a boil in a small covered saucepan.  Lower to medium heat and continue cooking until reduced by half the original amount. The reduction intensifies the flavor of the tomatoes and then can be served on top of or on the side of the tart.

An 8" tart will serve 4-6 depending on your slices.  Serve with a nice red wine and a crisp salad on the side.  Bon appetit!

Coming up next month, to get you ready for the hot summer ahead, we'll be serving up cold soups, salads and pasta dishes, so stay tuned and stay cool.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Frozen Peanut Butter ... in a pie!

The sun has finally come out in NC after a good bit of rain. We decided to celebrate the sun (and the heat) with a frozen pie.

Please note, if you are allergic to peanuts, do not make this pie!! If you do not like chocolate, you may also want to skip this one. For everybody else, enjoy, and share! You may want a glass of milk ready to go, this is a pretty rich pie.

Frozen Deep Dish Black Bottomed Peanut Butter Pie

For Crust:

2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (you can use chocolate graham crackers, chocolate wafers, chocolate sandwich cookies, or if you’re us, chocolate Teddy Grahams)
1 Tbsp instant coffee (this is optional, if you don’t like the coffee flavor, leave it out)
1 stick of butter- melted

Combine ingredients until all cookie crumbs are moistened. Press into a deep dish pie pan, and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

Set aside to cool a bit.

For black bottom:

¼ cup whipping cream
½- ¾ cup chocolate chips (you can use milk, semi sweet, or dark chocolate for this depending on your taste)
1 Tbsp. peanut butter

Heat whipping cream until you see a little movement, you don’t want a boil, but you want it hot. Add in your chocolate and peanut butter. Start with ½ cup of chips, if the mixture is still liquidy, add more chips. You’re looking for something that will easily spread over the pie crust, without pooling.

Spread chocolate mixture over baked pie crust, set aside to cool even further. You probably will have some chocolate left over… don’t worry, we know you’ll find a use for it!

Peanut butter pie filling:

8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
1 ½ cups peanut butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. corn syrup
¼ + 1 Tbsp. whipping cream
¾-1 cup powdered sugar

In a large bowl, or stand mixer, mix cream cheese until ‘fluffy’. Add in peanut butter, vanilla and corn syrup, mix until combined.

Add in ½ of whipping cream and ½ cup powdered sugar, mix. Add in the rest of your cream and ¼ cup of powdered sugar, mix again. You should have a nice fluffy consistency. Take a taste, if you think it needs more sugar, add some. If your mixture seems really stiff, add more cream, if it’s too thin, add another Tbsp of peanut butter, or more sugar… this will help to thicken.

Pour mixture into prepared crust and throw in the freezer. It’ll be ready to eat in about an hour (more if you want it REALLY frozen).

We garnished ours with leftover chocolate sauce, and sugared peanuts!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Oh My, Chick' Pot Pie

No way we could feature a month of pies without including a pot pie recipe.  We went chicken, but as always, with a few minor adjustments you can do something different with it.  The only problem we ran into with this dish is that there's no way to stop at one piece once you start eating it, so if you're counting on leftovers be warned!

Chick Pot Pie

2 cups shredded pre-cooked chicken (2 chicken breasts)
1 cup diced carrots (2 medium carrots)
1 cup diced potato (1 medium round potato)
1 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp minced rosemary (dried or fresh)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 9" unbaked pie crusts

For the pre-cooked chicken, we used chicken that we'd baked the night before.  Wrap two chicken breasts in foil, add a dab of butter or a couple of spritzes of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, close of the foil to create a packet and bake at 450 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Let cool before shredding by hand.

Put the diced carrots, diced potatoes, and frozen peas in a pot filled with water.  Bring to a boil for 10-15 minutes, drain, rinse with hot water (to remove potato starch residue), and set aside.

In a deep saucepan, over medium heat, cook the onions in butter until soft.  Using a whisk, stir in the flour, rosemary, salt & pepper. 

Once well blended, slowly add in the chicken broth and milk, then simmer over medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes until mixture starts to thicken. 

Add in the boiled vegetables and shredded chicken, then pour into the bottom crust.  Lay the top crust on top and cut slits in the top.

We recommend placing the pie plate on a cooky sheet in case of innard overspill.

Bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until top is golden brown.  After removing from oven, let the pie sit for 10 minutes before serving.


For vegetarian -- substitute Morning Star Griller Crumblers and vegetarian vegetable broth.

For the meat lovers -- subtitute pre-cooked beef or lamb and use beef broth.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hand me that Pie!

It's strawberry season!!!  So you know we had to bring you a sweet treat and what better way to serve them than pastry-crusted.  Here's a quick and easy dessert to make for people on the go.

Strawberry Hand Pies

2 ½ cups fresh cut strawberries
1 tsp honey
2 pre-made pie crusts (or homemade crust)
sugar, for sprinkling
1 egg
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp butter or margarine

Pre-heat oven to 450°.

Rinse and drain strawberries, then cut into small-medium sized pieces. Mix with honey and let sit.

Lightly beat egg and mix with water.

Roll out pre-made crust and cut out a 6” circle. We used the lid of a butter tub to do this, but you can make a round pattern and just cut along the edge with a paring knife. Re-roll the extra dough crust to make another pie circle; should be able to get three from each crust.

If you are making the crust from scratch, roll the dough out to 1/8” thick before cutting.

Brush the egg mixture on each circle then make a tidy pile of strawberries on top; make sure to drain any extra liquid off the berries first. Drop a dab or two of butter on the strawberries and sprinkle some sugar on them.

Fold the dough over to form a half circle and press down the edge with a fork.

Melt half of the butter and brush on top of the pie. Sprinkle some sugar on top and bake for 13-15 minutes or until browned on top.

Remove from oven and let cool. Filling will be HOT so don’t just jam it into your mouth.

If you want, you can always make a simple glaze to drizzle over them before serving.

3 tbsp powder sugar
2 tsp milk or water

Combine powder sugar until it reaches a slightly thickened consistency. If too thin, add more powder sugar, if too thick at a tidge more liquid.

Either plain or glazed, they are strawberry goodness come to life. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Savory and Rustic

Sometimes, we like to be fancy here at TCC. The name of this pie makes people go ‘ooooh’ just when they hear it. They don’t have to know that it’s actually fairly simple! J We also decided to make it seem a little fancier, by creating individual rustic looking pies (again, SO easy!!)

Pie Crust- Use the basic pie crust that we taught you on the first day of pie month, BUT also add 4 oz. of herbed goat cheese when you are working in the butter (we found that working the butter in first to get almost to the corn meal state, and then adding the cheese made for a lovely crust… experiment and see what works best for you.)

Let the crust rest in the fridge while you are gathering other ingredients.

Ingredients (per individual pie):

3-4 stalks of asparagus- chopped into ½ inch pieces (remember don't use the very end of the stalk, it tends to be tough)
1-2 slices of Prosciutto
¼ cup caramelized onion slices (see notes for a great website to teach you how to caramelize your onions)
pie crust (each recipe of basic pie crust will yield 5-7 pies depending on how large you make them)
Salt and pepper to taste

preheat oven to 400.

Take a piece of pie crust dough just less than the size of your fist and roll it into a circle.

Lay the Proscuitto on top of the crust, then the asparagus, and top with the caramelized onions.

Fold the sides of the crust over until they just touch the sides of the filling (see picture).

Season to taste (you can even do this step at the end)

Bake for 15-20 minutes (until crust is golden brown).  Remove from oven and enjoy (no, really there's nothing else to it!!)


A great website for learning how to caramelize onions, find it here

After baking, take some crumbled goat cheese, and drizzle some olive oil over the pie (this step is completely unnecessary, but it makes it look kinda pretty!)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Taste of the Tropics

Key Lime and Ginger Pie

Sure we took a basic key lime pie recipe and twisted it around until it was something different… that’s what we do here at TCC.


You can start with a basic graham cracker crust like we posted earlier this month, or you can do a little twist, like below.

¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
½ cup toasted coconut crumbs (we toasted about 1 cup of coconut and put all but a handful in the food processor to create the crumbs)
2 Tbsp. sugar
5 Tbsp. melted butter

preheat oven to 350.

Mix dry ingredients, add in melted butter and combine until no more dry crumbs remain. Press mixture into a 9 inch pie pan (bottom and sides). Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Let cool (we normally let this cool while we preparing the rest of the pie)


4 large egg yolks
1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp. roughly chopped ginger root (steep this in ¼ cup of key lime juice, the longer it sits, the more ginger flavor is infused)
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. key lime juice (this is in addition to the other ¼ cup that the ginger is in)
¼ - ½ tsp powdered ginger (optional for more ginger flavor)
toasted coconut (optional for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 (or just keep it on if you already had it on for the crust).

Whisk together egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk.

Strain ginger out of key lime juice, pour strained juice along with additional ¼ and 2 Tbsp. key lime juice into the egg mixture (total, you will have ½ cup and 2 Tbsp. key lime juice… confused yet?) The mixture will thicken slightly as you stir in the juice. When it has thickened, add in your powdered ginger, and stir until it’s incorporated into the filling.

Pour filling into cooled pie crust, and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. The filling may be a little jiggly when you take it out of the oven, but will firm up as it cools. Chill for 8 hours.

To serve, sprinkle on some toasted coconut. If you’re feeling crazy, add in some whipped cream, and if you’re feeling extra feisty, throw on some candied ginger! Enjoy.


If you’re really opposed to the ginger and coconut in this pie, direct yourself to epicurious. This is the pie that inspired all of the craziness we’ve added!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Pie for Breakfast (or lunch ... or dinner ...)

So while we were brainstorming ideas for pie recipes, we decided that we wanted a pie that we could eat for breakfast without feeling too guilty (and that wasn't a quiche). Unfortunately, this recipe still makes us feel a little guilty, but at least it has a breakfast ring to it!

Hash brown Casserole Pie:

For biscuit crust:

2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
½ Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 stick of cold butter cut into ½ inch pieces
¾-1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375.

Stir all dry ingredients together. Cut in cold butter (see basic pie crust method for how to do this). Make a well in the center of the flour and butter mixture and add buttermilk (add the lower amount, you can always add more later). Using your hands, fold the dry ingredients into the buttermilk until a sticky dough forms, you may need to add more buttermilk.

Put dough onto a floured surface and fold it over on itself 4 or 5 times (this will create layers).

Press or roll the dough out until it is about 1 inch thick.

Put the dough round into a deep dish pie crust, pressing until the dough reaches the top edges of the pie pan.

Set off to the side.

Hash brown Casserole:

1 lb. frozen hash browns (or if you’re REALLY into it, make your own)- thawed
½ can of cream of mushroom soup (alternately, you can use any other cream of soup)
1 cup sour cream
¼-½ cup chopped onion (depending on how much you like onion)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (we actually used part cheddar and part smoked gouda)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

combine everything in a bowl (easy huh??)

To form pie:

Preheat oven to 375

Put as much of the casserole into the prepared biscuit crust, as will fit. You will most likely have leftovers, so butter up a baking dish and have a side of hash brown casserole.

Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes. If you haven’t gotten a nice brown top on your casserole, but you notice that your biscuit is getting brown, cover your crust and let the casserole continue to bake.

Remove from oven, let cool a bit and enjoy.  You can eat this warm, or even at room temperature.


You can add your own twist to the pie.  We added mushrooms to keep it vegetarian friendly, but you can add bacon or crumbled sausage if you want a little extra protein. 

You can also make herbed biscuits if you want something different!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

S'more Pie Please

So we're going to start you off this month with a TCC's version of a classic combo -- graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows.  We don't have a cut slice view yet because it just came out of the oven.

S'more Pie

1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
mini marshmallows
6 large marshmallows, cut in half (optional)
1 unbaked 9" pie shell

Melt butter with chocolate.

In a mixing bowl, combine chocolate and butter mixture with sugar, flour, salt, milk, eggs, and vanilla.

Beat with electric mixer for 5-6 minutes.

Pour filling into prepared pie shell.

Bake at 350° for 30-35.

Leaving the pie on the oven rack, put down a layer of mini marshmallows (as few or many as you'd like).  Place the large marshmallow halves in a ring around the edge.  If you don't want to though, you don't have to, we did this for aesthetic reasons.

Close the oven door again and continue to bake for 10-20 minutes until marshmallows are toasty and chocolate has set.

Let cool.

Once the pie is set and you're ready to serve, if the marshmallows are gooey, the easiest way to cut through them is with a hot knife.  Put the knife in hot water before cutting.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pie, Oh Pie!

So in this merry month of May, we're going to be focusing on pies, sweet pies, savory pies, fun pies.  Why?  Because gorgeous weekend weather is making an early morning trip to the Farmer's Market a key part to the weekend and there are so many fresh fruits and veggies out that we decided pies was the way to go.  Plus, we really like pie.

So to start you out, we're going to give you two basic pie crust recipes -- a flaky pie crust and a graham cracker crust.  Later in the month we'll also be doing a basic savory tart recipe, but for now, we'll get you rolling with these.  :)

Basic Pie Crust
makes a single crust for a 9” or 10” pie; can be easily doubled for a covered pie

6 tbsp cold water
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces

Combine cold water and salt, and set aside. Putting mix in the fridge is a good idea to make sure the water is as cold as possible.

Combine flour and butter in a bowl until the mixture looks like course cornmeal. If there are still some larger pieces of butter in the mix, as long as they aren’t bigger than the size of a pea, you’re okay. Whatever you do, DON'T over-mix it.

Here are three methods you can use to mix the flour and butter.  Pick whichever you're most comfortable with:

1. (trickiest) Use your hands. This can be difficult when you're first starting out because there’s a tendency to overwork the flour and butter which will make the crust tough. The trick here is to have cold hands, as cold as possible, to keep the butter from melting into the flour. To do that, you can run them under cold water or hold something chilled at intervals while you’re working the mix.

2. (less tricky) Use a pastry cutter (or alternatively, if you're coordinated enough, use two forks) to cut the butter into the flour. Make sure to stop before the pieces get too little..

3. (easierest) Use a food processor. Dump your flour and butter into the food processor and pulse in VERY quick bursts until your mixture resembles cornmeal.

When you’ve reached the right consistency, make a small well in the mixture and pour about 1/2 of your cold water into the well. With one hand (so that you don’t get dual doughy mitts) gently mix the water into the flour and butter, as soon as the water is incorporated STOP mixing (imagine us yelling at you... we don't want your tough crust).

If there is still flour that doesn't seem to be wet, add more water, do this until all of your flour has been moistened. You'll know that you're done when you can squish pieces of dough together and it stays. Don't over water! The dough may look dry, but it can be deceiving.

Gently roll dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and flatten into a 1/2 inch disk. Wrap completely and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Dough can be kept refrigerated for a couple of days before using.

When you're ready to use your dough, place on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle flour on top of dough and roll. Make sure that your crust isn't sticking to the surface (pick up the sides and sprinkle more flour if this happens).

Put rolled crust into a pie pan and bake according to the directions of whatever pie you're making!

Graham Cracker Crust
makes a single crust for an 8" or 9”

1 1/4 cup crushed graham crackers (7 full crackers)
2 tbsp sugar
5 1/2 tbsp melted butter

Crush graham crackers – we did it by putting the crackers in a large plastic zip lock and running them over with a rolling pin (crush crush crush).

this is what we mean by one full cracker

Melt butter. About 25 second in the microwave will do. If there are still some butter lumps, just keep stirring the butter after you take it out until they melt away.  You want it to be melted but not separated (should be a creamy yellow color).

Add sugar and melted butter to crumbs and mix well. Pour into a pie dish (9” works, but 8” would probably work better) and press to fill the pan.

Bake at 350° for 8 minutes. When it comes out of the oven, if it’s puffy, just take a spoon, and using the back of it, press the crust down until flat. Let cool and then proceed as planned with filling.


For the graham cracker crust you can use regular, honey, cinnamon or chocolate graham crackers.  Depends on what kind of filling you're filling with and what you think will work best.

Get ready for a month of tasty treats!  If you have any particular type of pie that you're really interesting in making, let us know and we'll see if we can't fit that in for you.