My “Peachy” Neighbor Just Brought Me Pears! Let’s Make Pie

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I was so touched when I answered the door last Monday and one of my neighbors, w2015-10-25 10.47.13-2ho I have never even met, brought me a huge bag of pears.  He said they were from the tree in his back yard and he had so many.

I haven’t cooked much with pears, but I like them.  I am a prolific pie maker and although I never have had a pear pie, I thought it would be interesting to try.

My friend Debbie had just given me some apples from her yard on Monday, hmmm, pears and apples that would be good.  Hey, I got a bag of cranberries in the fridge that would brighten up the pie both visually and taste.So it began . . . and the Apple, Pear, Cranberry Crunch Pie was born.  Where does the crunch pie come in?  I’ll get to that.

Apple, Pear, Cranberry Crunch Pie

Pie crust for a single pie

3 pears

3 apples

1 1/4 cups of roughly chopped cranberries

zest of 1 orange

2/3 cup white or brown sugar (firmly packed)

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

2 T flour

1 T corn starch

Crunchy Crumb Topping

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts (this is where the crunchy comes in)

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

4 T. soft butter (preferably unsalted)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees/

Prepare a single crust.  Whatever recipe I use, I always add a Tablespoon or more of powdered buttermilk.  It is such a great tangy addition, especially in any pie with apple in it.  Put the pie2015-10-24 17.13.40 crust shell into the freezer for about 15 minutes.

2015-10-24 17.13.06Peel, core and slice pears and apples.  Cut into slices (I liked 1/4″).  Roughly chop the cranberries.  Combine pears, apples, cranberries and orange zest in a bowl.

Mix together in another bowl, flour, corn starch sugar(s) and nutmeg.  Use a whisk to ensure the spices and starches are well combined.  Sprinkle over fruit and toss and turn with your hands until it is well coated.2015-10-24 17.22.21In the same bowl you mixed the flours, etc., combine rest of the ingredients for the topping.  Using your hands (I’m an earthy cook) blend all the ingredients together until the butter is evenly distributed.

Remove pie crust from freezer and pour the fruit evenly into the pie shell.  Top with the crumb topping and bake for 60 – 65 minutes on a oven rack placed in the bottom third of the oven.  The fruit pie will be bubbly and beautifully browned when done.2015-10-24 17.22.27

Cool pie for at least 30 minutes – preferably longer.  Enjoy with a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

I knew it was good when the first two people tasted it and the first words out of their mouths were “OMG!” 2015-10-25 11.52.01

Hey, wouldn’t a handful of currants be good in this too?

Spring Has Sprung and Rhubarb is Here!

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One of my favorite memories as a child was my Aunt Lois Lovas’s custard rhubarb pie.  She was a home economics teacher in Mayville, North Dakota.  My dad and I both loved rhubarb and when my mom, Ruth Bennett, made her custard rhubarb pie there were lots of smiles in the kitchen.  This recipe was in a cookbook of recipes from home economic teachers all over the country and I still have it.

One of my student’s asked me if I liked rhubarb and all those great memories resurfaced.  She brought in a huge bag for me and Cheyenne, let me tell you, I have already used it up.  I made two of Aunt Lois’s pies and rhubarb simple syrup for a lovely cocktail!

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Here’s the recipe:

Aunt Lois’s Custard Rhubarb Pie

4 1/2 c. 1/2″ rhubarb
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 large eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for serving

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Shape your pie dough into a 9-inch pie plate, fluting the edges, and chill until set, about 15 minutes. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork, and then line the crust with aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans and bake until the edges of the crust are just golden, 15 minutes. Remove the foil with the pie weights and continue to bake until the bottom of the crust is dry and lightly browned, another 15 minutes. I know this seems like a lot of work and who precooks a crust for a baked pie?  Trust me, it keep the bottom of the pie from getting all soggy.  Yuck.  Cool completely.

Toss the rhubarb with 1/4 cup granulated sugar and the orange zest and juice until well combined. Transfer to the coled crust and spread to form an even layer. Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Whisk the eggs with the cream, flour and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar until smooth, and then pour over the rhubarb. Bake until the pie is lightly browned, puffed and no longer wet in the center, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Before serving, lightly dust with confectioners’ sugar.
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This is so good it doesn’t even need ice cream  Guaranteed.  Thank you Aunt Lois, who is in heaven drinking thick Norwegian coffee with my mother, Ruth Bennett, Aunt Florence, Aunt Clarice and Aunt Emma.