Miniature Apple Pies with Thyme

Miniature Apple Pies

Ahhh, Autumn is fast arriving here in Barcelona, and for me it is one of the most special times of year.  As the days get shorter and the heat of Summer fades away, my mind wanders to longer, warmer food.  There certainly is nothing better than the smells of apples and spices emanating from your kitchen.

I have never been a big apple lover, but for some reason, apples that are baked are truly scrumptious.  A flaky crust, moist and tender, filled to the brim with those soft and delicious apples.  Served warm with some vanilla ice cream, it’s a decadent treat that will please everyone!!

For my last dinner party, I made these miniature versions.  I don’t have a beautiful pie tin, so I opted for giving everyone a mini pie.  It’s a perfect little serving.  And so easy to bake, it bakes in a cupcake tin, and they pop right out when you’re done!

Miniature Apple PiesI had lots of fun creating different tops, so feel free to let your imagination run wild.  I created a lattice top, and then I have the lovely Williams Sonoma Leaf cut outs, which I used on another, and lastly, I used a large frosting tip to create small holes.

Miniature Apple Pies

 

So have fun with them, no matter how you decided to decorate the tops, they are guaranteed to be delicious!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 12

For the Short Crust Pastry:

250g All purpose Flour

150g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes

1 tsp salt

1 egg

1 tbsp milk

In a large bowl, measure out your flour.  Add the butter and crumble with the tips of your fingers, until your flour looks like wet sand, and all the butter has been incorporated.   Add the egg, salt and milk, with your hands, mix and knead until a firm dough forms.  Roll into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, flatten into a disc and refrigerate for at least one hour.

For the filling:

5 mixed apples, such as Golden Delicious or Gala, cut into 1 inch cubes

125g butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp salt

Black pepper to taste

1 sprig of Thyme, leaves detached

3 tbsp water

1 egg, beaten

In a large pot, add all your ingredients except for the egg, and cook, about 20 minutes, until the apples are tender and the filling has thickened.  Let cool.

To assemble the pies:

Pre-heat oven to 190C.  Cut the dough in half, on a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough until 1/4 inch thick.  If the dough gets too sticky, then just refrigerate it for another 15 minutes until it is easy to work with again.

Break out your cupcake tin, and get a biscuit cutter or glass that is slightly bigger than the circumference of the circles on your tin.  Cut out the base of the pastry and place in the cupcake tins.  Then grab a bowl or something similar (look at the picture above) that is slightly larger than what you used to cut the base, and cut out the tops.  Now, decided what shapes you want to cut out, holes, lattice, etc.

Add the filling to the base, and brush the rims with a bit of the beaten egg, and then add the top of the crust and press to seal tightly.  Brush the tops of the pies with the egg wash, and add a little sugar to the tops if you want.

Bake in the oven in the middle rack for about 30-35 minutes. Remove from the tin and let cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm with some vanilla ice cream.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

 

Free form Cheese, Bacon and Onion Pie

Ingredients for Cheese, Bacon and Onion Pie

Ahhhh, the pie.  That magical, wonderful, filled with goodness food.  So humble, yet so incredibly fabulous.   I love pies.  I don’t make them that often, but I had to start after perusing a book that belongs to my friends Laura and Jim.

They have this amazing book which I stole borrowed, aptly and simply called “Pie” by Angela Boggiano.  They brought it back from the UK, and it is a veritable smorgasbord of pies!  I swear to you, every time I look through it, I start salivating like Pavlov’s Dog.  I honestly want to make EVERY SINGLE RECIPE.

I decided to tackle this one first, well, because one, it’s fairly easy and I am quite busy what with back to school and the such.  And also, who the heck doesn’t like cheese, onion and BACON??????  Just thinking about the combination makes me hungry.  Then finding out that it also has potato?  Oh….*swoon*.

Cheese, Onion and Bacon Pie

You can whip this up in no time if you’re having guests for dinner, because it calls for store-bought puff pastry.  And, if you’re guests or you are vegetarian, omit the bacon, and it’s still going to be UH-MA-ZING.

Cheese, Onion and Bacon PieServe it with a nice lemony salad, and you have a decadent and delicious meal.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

“Pie” by Angela Boggiano

Serves 4 (but I think it serves more, unless you’re REALLY hungry.

500g ready-made puff pastry

Beaten egg, to glaze

2 medium floury potatoes

1 tbsp vegetable oil

4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, cut into 2 cm strips

2 large onions, thinly sliced

200g mature Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

3 tbsp double or heavy cream

Ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 C.  Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  Drain and when cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes into thin slices.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes until beginning to color.  Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened but not colored.  Set aside to cool.

Divide the pastry into two portions.  Roll out one half to form a 25cm square, (or in my case, leave it round).  Lay the pastry on a lightly greased baking tray and brush the edges lightly with beaten egg.   Spread the sliced potatoes over the pastry leaving a 2.5cm border,

Potatoes over pastrythen top with the bacon, onions, and black pepper.

Sprinkle with the grated cheese.  Drizzle over the cream.

 

Roll out the second piece of pastry to form a 28cm square (or leave it round, but with a larger circumference than the bottom piece…sorry I didn’t measure mine out!)  Place over the filling and press the edges together to join.  Trim away excess and cut a cross in the middle of the pie.  Brush lightly with beaten egg and bake in the top of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180 C and cook for another 25-30 minutes, or until golden and risen.

Serve cut into wedges.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Brit Week: Chicken, Mushroom and Tarragon Pie

As a child, I remember leafing through my mother’s cook books, and there was always a recipe for a chicken pot pie.  It looked so good, warm and luscious.  But, as I said before, my family was a lot of things, but not British or American.  So, never in my life did I have a Chicken Pie until I made one myself.  The first few tries were laughable.  I was just out of my teens, was living on my own and attempting to cook.  Let’s just say the results were less than stellar.  And that is putting it lightly.  But, I never give up when I fail at something, so I tried and tried again and EUREKA!  By George, I got it!

A few weeks ago I was at a friends house, she was born here in Barcelona, but her family is from Argentina.  Her husband, however, was born in Yorkshire from American parents.  They had just come back from a trip to the UK, and they brought back this amazing book, I don’t remember what the name was, but it was all about pie’s.  Savoury pies, sweet pies, hand pies…..oh sweet Jesus!  I think I actually drooled on the book. ( I hope they didn’t notice.)  It got my wheels a working to make more pies at home.

I love tarragon, but it is sparsely used in recipes here, although it is always in the supermarket?  Huh.  So, for Brit Week I knew I was going to make a pie.  I originally thought cheese and onion, but since I did the Sunday roast with chicken, I had quite a bit left over.  And as I mentioned before, British cuisine really knows how to make do with all your left overs.

I made this pie yesterday.  And no, I did not make the puff pastry.  I usually do, but it is such a long and hard process, that honestly, it defeats the purpose of this easy, delicious and hearty meal.  I mean…..ok, you’re using up your chicken to make a great meal for your family, but you’re going to spend three hours making the dough?  No way.  Just get store-bought.  No one will know the difference, and unless you have made puff pastry a few times, it will more than likely not turn out.  It is one of the more difficult doughs to make.  If you want to make your own crust, be my guest.  But I was too tired.  And I had a glass of wine instead while it was baking.

Today my friend Julie from Liverpool came over, and she gave me the seal of approval.  We had crustless pie with the rest of the bubble and squeak.  And we had seconds.  It was that good.  I wish I had more.  But hey, next week I can make another pie!!!!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 6

55 g butter

1 onion, sliced

300 g mushrooms, quartered

salt and pepper to taste

2 garlic cloves, chopped

40 g plain flour

150 ml white wine

300 ml chicken stock

Left over chicken from 4 breasts

150 ml heavy cream

Freshly grated nutmeg

250 g puff pastry, store-bought

1 egg beaten

2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped  plus more for crust

In a sauté pan, melt your butter.  Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and raise the heat to high, add the salt and cook until nicely browned, about another 5 minutes.  If you feel that the veggies are too dry, add some oil or more butter.  Add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes.

Now add your flour and lower the heat to low.  Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes.  Add the wine and stock, and raise the heat and bring to a boil.  When thickened, add your chicken, cream, tarragon and nutmeg.  Take off heat.

Pre-heat your oven according to package directions, but should generally be around 200-220 C.  Unroll the puff pastry, and press some of your reserved tarragon leaves into it.  Place the chicken mixture into a baking dish, and roll out the puff pastry, pressing into the edges to seal.  Cut off the excess, and if you’re feeling up to it, use the extra pieces to decorate the top a bit.  Baste it with the beaten egg.

Bake in your oven for about 15 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown, and it’s bubbling and you can’t take it anymore cause you’re going to stuff your face into it.  Sorry.  That’s what happens to me sometimes.  Food makes me crrrrrrazy.

Let it cool a bit before serving.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Summer Cherry Tart

It’s cherry season!! Cherries. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?  Ok, ok…..I won’t.  But boy are they amazing.  Little tiny morsels bursting with sweet, tart juice.  I could eat them all day.  But strangely enough, I hardly ever cook with them.  Well, not strangely enough, they don’t last enough in my fridge to make it into any dessert.  I eat them like popcorn.  They’re addictive, and healthy.

But, I wanted to make a sort of pie with them, no, a more fancy version.  A tart.  Oui oui, I wanted to go all fancy on them, give them the sophistication they deserve.  Hence I came up with this, it’s not a clafouti, and it isn’t a pie….it’s a tart with a baked custard.  But the custard isn’t overpowering so that it won’t let the full flavors of the cherries shine through.  I wanted them to be the starring role, not the side-show.  I love this dessert because it isn’t overly sweet.  And the crust has just the right amount of saltiness, and it melts and crumbles in your mouth.

It’s great for tea time, (if you still do that) or for a light dessert.  You can add a little crème anglaise, or some vanilla ice cream, but I love it just the way it is.  (Cue Billy Joel).

I have to say, the crust is the most confounding thing.  In french it’s a Sable, which basically means it’s a b*tch to work with.  It’s kind of like a short crust, so when you’re rolling it, you have to be extremely patient and careful…..cause this sucker is like a petulant child, tearing and breaking at a whim.  But the final result is well worth it.  Just make sure to keep your work surface dusted with plenty of flour, your hands and rolling-pin too.   And the amount of liquid, it’s better to add a small amount first, then continue adding tsp by tsp…because if you add too much, then you’ve reached a point of no return with this dough.

Ok, so if that last paragraph didn’t scare you and you still want to give this a whirl, here’s what you’re going to need”

Short crust dough (recipe follows)

1 egg

40 g flour

40 g butter, melted and cooled

1 tbsp Kirsch (or cherry liqueur)

30 g sugar

75 ml of cold milk

1 Vanilla pod, cut lengthwise

450 g pitted cherries

Powdered sugar for dusting

In a medium bowl, crack your egg and add your flour, mix but not too much.  Add the melted butter and Kirsch, then add your sugar and milk.  Scrape the vanilla seeds into your mixture.

Roll out your dough into a 1/4 of an inch disk, and make sure it is an inch larger than the tart pan you’re going to use.  Put it in the fridge and let cool for about 20 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg celsius, and with a fork poke the bottom of your dough, cover with parchment, fill with pie weights or beans, and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove your weights, and bake another 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and raise the temperature to 200 celsius.  Arrange the cherries on the crust, and cover with your milk mixture.  Bake for about 25-35 minutes, the top should be a golden brown and when you insert a knife it should come out clean.  Place over a rack to cool, then remove the sides of the tart pan and let it cool to room temperature.

Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Short crust dough recipe:

250 g flour

150 g butter, chilled and cut into squares

1 tsp salt

1 egg

1 tbsp cold milk (more if needed, but tsp by tsp)

In a large bowl place the flour, salt and butter.  With a pastry cutter, or your fingers crumble until you get a wet sand texture. Add the egg and milk and form dough into a tight ball.  If it is too crumbly, add a little more milk.

Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla