February 27, 2017
Pie! Everyone loves it, but many of us are intimidated by the thought of making one from scratch. Since March 14 - 3.14 - is traditionally referred to as pie day, we may as well get in on the pastry-making action.
Pastry isn’t as finicky as it’s often believed to be - it’s just a matter of cutting cold butter, lard or shortening (or a combination of the above) into flour, adding water and stirring it into a dough. The best way to learn is by doing it - trying with a fork or your fingers, a box grater and food processor if you have one, and figuring out which works best. I recently discovered Calgary Co-op carries their own line of bakers’ butter, which at 83% butterfat is slightly higher in fat than standard butters (which are 80%), and makes sublime pastry. When I get into the pastry-making groove I tend to make a bunch and freeze it in disks, for quick pies later on.
It’s almost maple season, and since there’s little in the way of fresh local produce at this time of year, it’s a good time to make a maple pie. We can still get BC apples, so apple pie should not be relegated to fall - and if the thought of making a full-on double crust apple pie is intimidating, it’s easy to make a slab pie out of frozen puff pastry dough. You only need a couple apples, so it can be a quick dessert, between the quick puff pastry and slicing a couple apples, and it bakes for about 20 minutes. It makes a perfect dessert (with ice cream!) but is just as suitable for breakfast, like a high-fruit danish or breakfast pastry.
I’m also using up frozen fruit in my deep freeze, combining stone fruits with fresh berries in the produce section, conjuring up a taste of summer as we get closer to spring. Sliced frozen peaches make a perfect pie - and I like combining the best qualities of pie and fruit crisp by rubbing together a crumble topping to sprinkle overtop instead of a lid.
Of course pie works for dinner, too - remember when quiche was a common lunch or dinner? It’s a great way to use up greens, leftover veggies and scraps of meat that don’t amount to much of a meal. Ordering quiche at bakeries and restaurants around town reminds me I should make it at home more - and if you don’t want to have pastry for dinner (or brunch), there’s the option of making a quick crust out of coarsely grated potatoes. Really! It’s super easy, there’s no pressure to achieve perfect pastry, and you get an extra dose of veggies. Potatoes, eggs and grated cheese make a tasty trio. I also love a good pot pie, with roasted chicken, braised beef or sausage - again, you can cheat with puff pastry, and only use it as a lid!
Have a great week, and happy pie day!
Co-op Gold shredded cheese
frozen puff pastry
Co-op Gold chicken broth
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I’m a fan of the roast chicken. Not only is it simple, versatile and delicious, it makes the best leftovers.