Meatless Monday - PIES!

With Thanksgiving this Thursday, I figured it's time to let you try your hand at pies. I originally posted this on Friday, November 13 post on my vegetarian blog, Vegetarian Delights. Enjoy!

Photo: On left, two Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pies; Upper right, Apple Pie; Lower right: Cranberry Pie



GREAT-GRANDMA'S PIE CRUST

This is my great-grandma's pie crust recipe. When Mom was in college, some group had a baking contest and Mom won with a pie baked in this crust. Years later, Mom called me several times for the recipe (she'd begun to use store-bought crusts), as well as the recipes for my grandmother's (her mom's) oatmeal cookie and peanut butter cookie recipes, thus letting me know that I was/am the unofficial family-recipe-keeper.

2 cups flour (do NOT use self-rising flour; you can use almost any other kind of flour, although I use unbleached flour for this)

2/3 cup shortening (I use Crisco)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 – 4 tablespoons cold milk

Grease one or two 9-inch pie pans.

Put flour in large bowl and add shortening. Cut shortening into flour. Note: Cutting shortening is basically cutting it (yup, makes sense, right?) with two knives so that the shortening is incorporated into the flour. Take the knives, one in each hand, with the sharp part of the blades facing each other. Work them together as if you were cutting a piece of food – large veggies, etc – so that the shortening is cut up. You're finished when the shortening and flour look crumbly (for lack of a better explanation) and the shortening is fairly mixed into the flour.

Add salt to mixture and stir once or twice.

Add milk, stirring into the flour-shortening mixture. For into a ball, then cut in half. You now have enough crust for two single-crust pies or one double-crusted pie.

Take a dish towel and cover it with flour. Place half of the crust-ball onto the floured towel. Roll crust out into a circular shape. (Note: Rub flour over the work-surface of the rolling pin to make this job a lot easier.)

When you're ready to place the crust into the pie pan, place the rolling pin near the edge of the crust. Using the edge of the towel, wrap part of the crust around the rolling pin, then drop the towel. Use this method (pin-crust-towel) to move the crust to the pan.

Do the same to the second half of the crust-ball. If making two single-crust pies, put the second crust into the second pan. If it's a double-crust pie, fill the pie crust in the pan, then top with the second crust.

Bake the pie according to the pie's instructions. However, if the pie is one that doesn't need baking, bake the crust alone for 10 – 15 minutes at 325 decrees or until lightly brown.

Note: Many fruit pies call for a top crust. This can be accomplished either by putting a solid crust on top, to which a few vent holes are added, or by making a lattice pie crust. With the solid crust, the vent holes are added so that any steam from inside the pie can be released (yes, this does happen). The holes don't have to be big; in fact, I usually take a sharp knife and simply poke a few vents in several spots across the top crust.

A quick tutorial for making a lattice pie crust can be found from Carroll Pellegrinelli's blog. Carroll is About.com Desserts and Baking expert. To find her tutorial, click here.

CRANBERRY PIE

This recipe can be found in my e-cookbook Off the Wall Cooking, which is for sale on Amazon.com. (To buy a copy of it for your Kindle or tablet, click here.) My dad sent this recipe in a letter dated “18 No 79”. He wrote, “Here is a recipe for a pie. 1st the way it was in the paper and the way I made it.”

2 T cornstarch

1 C sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/4 C hot water

1 C raisins

1 T butter

2 C cranberries

Pie crust

Blend 1st four ingredients & cook in double boiler until thick. Add next 3 ingredients & cook 10 minutes. Put in pie shell & bake at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes, covering pie with foil for the first 10-15 minutes. (Crust can be any kind you want, whether double crust or simply a bottom crust.)

VARIATION

2 Tbls cornstarch

3/4 C honey + 1/4 C molasses

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/4 C hot water

1 C raisins

1 T margarine

1 1/2 C cranberries + 1 C canned cranberries (kind with berries in sauce)

Pie crust

Make as above.

LIBBY'S FAMOUS PUMPKIN PIE

I got this from the Libby's brand canned pumpkin label.

3/4 C sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

2 large eggs

1 can (15 oz) Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin

1 can (12 oz) Carnation Evaporated Milk

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

Beat eggs in large bowl. Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, & cloves in small bowl. Stir sugar-spice mixture & pumpkin into eggs. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

Pour into pie shell.

Bake in preheated 425-degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees; bake 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Note: Do not freeze, as this will cause crust to separate from filling.

1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice may be substituted for the cinnamon, ginger & cloves; however, the taste will be slightly different.

APPLE PIE

I got the original recipe for this from an old Betty Crocker Cookbook, years ago. I've tweaked the recipe a bit; the original called for butter, which mine doesn't, while I add apple cider or apple juice, which isn't in the original. Here's the semi-tweaked, originally Betty Crocker apple pie.

Crust for a 9-inch two-crust pie

3/4 + 1 tablespoon cup sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour (do not use self-rising flour, but if you must use it, omit salt)

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

dash salt

6 to 7 cups apples (6 to 8 apples), peeled and thinly sliced

1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare crust and line pie pan with bottom crust.

Placed cut up apples in large bowl. Add sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and (lastly) apple cider or juice. Mix apples and additions with hands, then pour apples and additions into crust-lined pie pan.

Cover with top crust, cut slits into top crust, then seal edges of crusts. (Note: You can replace top crust with a lattice crust.) Cover top of pie with aluminum foil to prevent excess browning; remove foil last 15 minutes of baking.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust.

PEANUT BUTTER PIE

There’s also a story that goes along with the Peanut Butter Pie. I’d driven cab for several years. One Friday afternoon, I got a call to pick up a single dad from the store. When I dropped him off, his son and daughter came out of the trailer to help bring in the groceries.

“Did you remember to get the stuff for the peanut butter pie?” his daughter asked. They were taking it to an early Thanksgiving gathering that weekend.

“Sure did,” he answered.

“Peanut butter pie?” I asked, as we finished unloading the groceries. “How do you make that?

“With peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar, and a few other things,” came the answer.

The following week, I managed to pick the dad up again. This time, I managed to get the ingredients: pie crust, peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar, cream cheese and Cool Whip. It wasn’t until the third (and final) time I picked him up in as many weeks that I got the exact amounts. He used 1/3 cup each of peanut butter and sugar, both of which I upped to 1/2 cup each.



8-ounce tub of Cool Whip (see note)

8-ounce block of cream cheese (see note)

1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth is preferable)

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Pie crust (see note)

Put Cool Whip, cream cheese, peanut butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. With beaters, beat on high. Pour into pie crust, smooth out, and freeze for 1 hour.

Note: Cool whip (or store equivalent) can be fat-free. Cream cheese can be regular cream cheese or the 1/3 less fat kind, but do not use fat free, as the pie won't set up right. I usually use a store-bought graham cracker crust for the pie, which is what the man used to make this. However, you can also use an Oreo cookie crust.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY PIE - Vegan tofu cherry "cream" pie recipe

Jolinda Hackett, About.com's Vegetarian blog guide, writes, "Chocolate cherry pie - Vegan tofu cherry "cream" pie recipe - delicious! I'd love to try this same method with strawberries or perhaps even Elvis-style, with bananas."

Ingredients:

1 (12 oz.) box firm silken tofu

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 prepared vegan graham cracker pie crust

1 (12 oz.) package frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed and drained

1 cup non-dairy whipped topping

Preparation:

First, prepare the cherries. Slice them in half and remove the pics, if needed. Set a handful of cherries aside to use as a garnish on top of the pie.

Next, prepare the chocolate "cream" filling. Process the tofu in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Add the cocoa powder, sugar, melted chocolate chips, and almond extract. Process again until mixture is smooth.

To prepare the pie, place about 1/3 of the chocolate tofu mix in a single layer in the prepared pie crust. Next, place the cherries in a single layer on top of the chocolate tofu mixture and spread the remaining chocolate tofu on top.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Garnish each slice with whipped topping and reserved cherries.

This recipe makes one pie of 8 servings.

Nutritional information, per serving: Calories: 270, Total Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 100mg, Carbohydrates: 36g, Dietary Fiber: 2g. Sugar: 24g, Protein: 6g