Pie Day 3: Fish Pie – Success!!!

So this week was savory pie week. And aallll week I searched for savory pie recipes that look delicious. And aaalll week I thought, “Nothing good today, but surely I’ll find a delicious savory pie recipe tomorrow.” As the days wore on my worry level increased.

Apparently there just aren’t that many savory pies.

Or at least not many savory pie recipes.

But one I kept coming across was “fish pie” which didn’t sound great to me but is apparently very common comfort food in Brittan. And it has mashed potatoes on the top… yum! So.. Fish Pie!

I couldn’t find one recipe that I thought looked just right so I kind of mixed and matched and came up with something I found to be absolutely amazing. I don’t know what fish pie is supposed to taste like, but I loved mine, so I’m calling it a Success 🙂

First of all I have to apologize. I forgot to take very many pictures of the process. Plus it was really dark outside while I was cooking and the yellow lights in my house were not very flattering to the fishy insides of this pie, so even the ones I did take are kind of gross looking. So… I’m not going to post those pictures. I’ll just post this one I took this morning because I feel it accurately reflects the deliciousness of this pie.

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Guess what? This pie was super easy to make! So Even without pictures you can totally do it. And if you have any questions feel free to ask and I’ll make answer edits.

“Crust” 

Make Mashed Potatoes, heavy on the butter. I used three average sized potatoes, peeled, 6 tablespoons of butter, and a few splashes of milk until they were the consistency I like. This will go on top.

Filling

1 pound white fish (I used Cod)

1/2 pound smoked salmon

1 C milk

1 C fish broth (I used Veggie because that’s what I had on hand) 

1 Leek 

1 medium carrot 

2-3 T butter 

1/4 c flour

1 bay leaf

1 T fresh Parsley 

1-2 handfuls shredded sharp cheddar 

Cut fish into large chunks (some say bite sized, I did that but kind of wished they were bigger because they fall apart in the pie, particularly the smoked salmon)

Bring 1 cup milk and 1 cup fish broth to a simmer and add fish chunks and bay leaf – let simmer 5-10 minutes until fish is just cooked through then remove fish and set aside. Save milk/broth in pan

Chop leek and carrot into small pieces (1/2 inch or so)

In a separate large sauce pan melt butter over medium heat. Add leek and carrot and cook until soft (5-10 minutes)

Add flour to veggies and stir for 1-2 minutes

Add milk/broth to the veggie mix and stir for about 5 minutes, letting it thicken.

Remove from heat and mix in fish chunks and chopped fresh parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 F

Pour filling into a deep pie pan. Smooth mashed potatoes over the filling, sprinkle libraly with cheese.

Put in the oven for 25-35 minutes

Serve hot, Eat, and Enjoy!

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Pie Day 2: Lemon Meringue Pie – Success!!!

Hello there beautiful 🙂

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That’s right, my pie set and we ate it and it was AMAZING.

Well, it wasn’t my absolute dream lemon meringue pie but it was yummy. And it wasn’t a runny mess under that beautiful browned top so I’m calling this a Success!! It could have been a little more tart or… something, I’m not sure. Maybe it needed more salt or butter. (Edit: just ate some for breakfast and it tasted way better this morning. It was still just a little warm when we ate it last night and that messed up the flavor. Still, it could have been more tart.)

So here was my process. I was super worried about this pie because of my last failure which had basically ripped my heart out because it had looked so beautiful and perfect and I was so proud and then I cut into it and my beautiful meringue was floating on lemon soup.

So this time I did my research. Apparently there are a few things that can make this happen:

1. A bad lemon juice to cornstarch ratio. Too much acid can deactivate the cornstarch’s holding powers. (be careful when using a “this many lemons” recepie rather than a “1/2 c etc.” recipe. If you have too much lemon juice and not enough cornstarch it won’t set.)

2. Too much heat. When it says “boil for 1 minute” it means “1 minute” letting it go for longer “to give it some extra thickening powers” I guess isn’t the way physics works for cornstarch and lemon juice. Extra heat also kills the cornstarch.

3. Incorrect cooling. I’m not 100% sure on this one, I read a bunch of different cooling/storing methods: one thing was clear – it needs room to breath or moisture will condense on it. So give it room to breath and then let it cool at… This is where it got confusing. Some people said room temperature only, some 1 hr room temp. + a couple hours in the fridge. I don’t know, but somehow if you do it wrong it can make a puddle under the meringue. I did it all room temp (3 hours) and there was little to no puddle. Slight meringue slipage (even though I totally covered the lemon to the edges) but still, it wasn’t bad. So that is what I suggest – all room temperature for cooling. Except wait 4 hours. Mine was still a little warm and warm lemon isn’t as good as cold lemon.

CRUST

This time I made a… I want to say “lard” crust, but that sounds gross. I’m going to go look at the book… Shortening! It was a shortening crust. (Nothing against Lard crusts though, I think I’ll make a lard crust on an upcoming savory pie)

I chose a shortening crust because they are lighter and a little bit less intensely flavored than butter crusts and for a light pie, like a lemon meringue or a light fruit pie, they are recommended.

I wasn’t sure how to cut the shortening into little hard pieces so I just clumped it into the flower with a knife and then made little pieces with my fingers during the incorporation phase. image

After mixing it all together with my fingers I poured in the water half at a time. It needed way less water than the butter crust. I maybe even put too much water in this time thinking it would need a similar amount as the butter crust. But it ended up being ok, a little sticky to roll out, but the finished product was flakey and good.

After a few hours cooling time in the fridge I rolled it out, put it in the pan and put it in the freezer for 15 minutes (I was supposed to do 20 but I was in a hurry) freezing it first helps the edges not shrink down during baking.

Then I lined the crust with tinfoil and filled it with dry beans so it would hold its shape. I then baked the crust for 50 minutes at 350.

I did this wrong. It was supposed to be 20 minutes at 425 then 20 minutes at 350 but I read it wrong and by the time I figured it out it was too late, so I had to leave it in for an extra 10 minutes at the end without the foil/beans to get the bottom cooked. It was still fine though, so yey!

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You have to do this early enough that you can give it time to cool before you pour in the filling, so keep that in mind.

FILLING

I found a great recipe by someone who had worked very hard to solve the “weeping” problem. You can find it here: No Weep Lemon Meringue Pie It even has a video! I used almost the exact recipe. I made a couple changes. I’ll be posting the recipe exactly as I made it below.

First: Put the dry ingredients into your cold sauce pan.

1 3/4 c sugar

6 T cornstarch

1/4 t salt (the recipe I linked to says 1/8 but I did 1/4)

stir together.

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Still in a Cold Saucepan

Add 1/2 c lemon juice

1 T lemon zest

1/2 c cold milk (the recipe I linked to uses water, but I read in a few places that all water can make a very jelly like pie so I changed this 1/2 liquid to milk)

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Stir together

Separate your egg yolks from your egg whites, saving both parts.

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Add your 4 egg yolks to your mixture

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Mix these in and add 1 T butter (I eyeballed this measurement and erred on the side of extra butter, after all, some recipes I found called for 4 T!)

Then whisk in 1 1/2 C boiling water. This is the first heat that your ingredients will get, and because you are pouring the hot slowly into the cold it reduces the potential for scrambled egg.

Put mixture over medium-high heat and stir with a flexible spatula (so that you can scrape the bottom and sides – I found that it thickened most quickly next to the pan and if I wasn’t constantly scraping it would have likely burned or something bad)

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Mix about 7 minutes until it boils. Once it starts boiling Turn Off The Heat  and keep stirring (pan still on the burner with the heat off) for 1 minute. The recipe I linked to said stir with the heat on for this one minute but other weep-free pie forums that I read said to turn the heat off to ensure you don’t over heat the cornstarch. So that’s what I did and it worked perfectly. The filling was very thick.

Pour it into the cold pie crust.

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Now you make the meringue. You want to put the meringue onto the filling while it’s still hot so that the meringue will “cook” a little bit from the hot filling and stick to it.

Mix a little bowl of 1/2 c sugar and 2t corn starch.

Pour your 4 egg whites and 1/4 t cream of tartar into a mixer. Use a whisk attachment and whisk at high speed. Once it has started to firm pour the sugar mixture in slowly – about 1 T at a time.

Your meringue is done when it holds peaks and is super glossy looking – like a pearl.

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Spoon your meringue onto your pie and spread with a spatula making sure the meringue touches the crust on all sides forming a seal (so that moisture can’t get in between to form the dreaded puddle)

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Bake in preheated oven at 350 until top is brown – this was 15 minutes for me. (The recipe I linked to says 25 minutes, they said that the meringue would be more stable if you cook it longer at this low heat, I found my meringue was very stable with just 15 minutes. I took it out early because I didn’t want ALL the egg white to turn brown on top, I like the white/brown contrast, but that’s just me.)

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And now you wait for it to cool! (all the way! I did room temp cool, this takes a long time… 4 hours or so)

And then eat!

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This pie was wonderful and worth the hassle 🙂 Next time I will add more butter and less sugar and I think it will be just what I always dreamed of.

Enjoy!

 

The Perfect Pie Plan – Something To Fall Back On

Portland’s Best Pies

See that link above? The one that says, “Portland’s Best Pies”? That is the key to The Perfect Pie Plan! Any time I fail at creating a delicious pie I will go out and try a pie from one of the many amazing pie places here in Portland! That way I know that after all my hard work, one way or another, I will end up eating delicious pie 🙂 The fear of looking forwad to pie all week only to end up with some kind of goopy mess is too strong, I need some reasurance that there will be pie, and it will be wonderful. 

Then I’ll spend the rest of the week figuring out where I went wrong and how to solve the problem. Once the problem has been solved, I will give you an update so that you won’t be left with a frustrated that-pie-was-a-disaster feeling – and neither will I.

This Friday’s Pie Day: Lemon Meringue!

My last Lemon Meringue Pie (my only Lemon Meringue Pie) was attempted almost 4 years ago and was a runny mess. Fingers crossed things will work out this time.

I’m already getting my research on and I think I know what I did wrong: too much lemon! If I know me (and I think I do) then I probably wanted it to be extra tart and added extra lemon juice. Apparently this throws off the careful chemical balance necessary for the lemon part of the pie to set. If you (like me) want a more tart pie the advice I have read says to simply add less sugar, so simple! I’ll let you know how it goes!

Friday Pie Day 1: Chicken Pot Pie – Success!

Happy Dance!!  Friday Pie Day number 1 was officially a success!  I’m just going to start right away with this picture:

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Look at that crust!!!  If my only success was creating this amazing crust I would have been happy. Actually, that’s a lie. The filling for this pie took me about 6 hours, if the filling had been bad, I would have cried. But the crust would have been almost enough, that’s how good it was.

I decided to go with a savory pie because all the pies I have failed on previously have been sweet pies. Plus, pie for dinner is awesome.

First of all, let me say this:

To anyone who decides to make this pie: If you want to eat this pie around six or seven then start this pie at 9 in the morning. Better yet, start it the day before. There were so many steps in the making of this pie that even though I started at 2:30 it wasn’t ready to eat until 8:30, and even then I put the filling in warm when the recipe said it should be chilled (causing a mini but manageable panic attack: What If This Ruins The Whole Pie!!! But it didn’t, it was fine.) Or, just don’t make your own stock, that will cut your time down about 2 hours and the pie will only a tiny bit less awesome.

*Edit* One of my readers (sister) said that even with the two hours cut off 4 hours was still a daunting amount of time for a pie. I agree. And in fact I think that now that I have made it once, if I were to make it again and use a pre-made stock it would take closer to 1.5-2 hours, and that includes the 45 minute bake time. I took an extra long time the first time because I was trying to get it perfect and there were lots of things involved that I had never done before. Either way, if it had been bad, I would have cried *End Edit*

This time around I made the pie exactly as the recipe instructed (besides that “cool the filling” part, but let’s just pretend that it didn’t need to be that cold. I did let it sit in the fridge for 6 minutes while the oven heated up after all.)

So here we go. I don’t think I’m allowed to just write out the exact recipe I used from How to Build A Better Pie by Millicent Souris, (and it was super confusing the way she wrote it anyway, so I wouldn’t even want to) but many of the steps were pretty much classic things you can find simply by googling – For example googling “how to make chicken stock” gives This Recipe as a top result, which is very similar to the one I used. I’m sure any tried and true stock recipe would work.

The first thing I did was make the crust, because it needed to chill anyway – the colder the better. I did an all butter crust and it was delicious. It was a basic 2 crust recipe but it had 3 teaspoons kosher salt! I’ve never seen a recipe with that much salt. It was delicious and perfect for this savory pie, but next time I might only use 2.

But the real difference between this amazing crust and my usual crappy crusts (I think) came from how she explained to mix the ingredients. Well, Mix is probably the wrong word, more like “push” and “smash”.

CRUST

Mix the dry ingredients together with your hands.

Cut the COLD butter into 1/4 inch cubes.

Put the cubes in the dry ingredients and toss together gently with your fingers. 

Once they are coated in dry ingredients use your fingers to go around and smash the little cubes. Don’t totally demolish them, just smash them. And try to keep them cool, so don’t hold them for too long or handle them too much.

This is what my dough looked like before I added the water, see all the little butter balls still in there?

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Once you’ve smashed all the butter balls pour half the water (1/4 c) around the edge of the bowl and then use a fork to PUSH ingredients into the middle from the outsides. Just keep pushing, not mixing, not stirring, pushing. Add the rest of the water (1/4 c) and push the together again.

With crusts the less you touch and work the dough the flakier and better the crust will be in the end – touch it just enough to get the ingredients to stick together – no more than that!

Then add water by the teaspoon until it holds together and is not sticky but is not too dry. (haha, so simple right?) Sometimes this might just mean having wet fingers when you form your crust balls, that could be all the extra water it needs.

There should be big chunks of butter in your crust dough. Check mine out:

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All balled up and ready to go in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Next I made a chicken stock from an almost 5 pound chicken and all the usual chicken stock veggies: carrot, celery, onion.

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At this point I had taken the chicken out, pulled off the meat, and put the carcass back in. After I strained this, it was a delicious stock.

I then got to work on the gravy (a “dirty blond” rue of 6 T butter and 6 T flour, heavy cream, white wine, and stock)

Gave the rough chop veggies their initial stove top cook (onions first, then add the carrots, celery, potato, and peas until soft/warm)

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When the gravy was nice and thick I add all the veggies, chicken, and gravy together. -Tada! the insides are done!

Roll out the dough (roll 1, turn the dough 1/4 circle, roll 1, turn 1/4 until flat – hardly even push down, just roll over the top – remember, the less it is touched and pushed around the better) Then lay it in the pan. Place pie bird (This is the first time I’ve used one. I guess it helps release the steam, I think it’s supposed to make the bottom crust crisp. My bottom crust was perfect so I guess it worked! Also, pie birds are totally adorable)

imageCheck out those butter blobs! That sure made one delicious, flakey crust!

Add filling, put on top crust, image

Pinch the crusts together, cut slits in the top crust, and put in the oven for 45 minutes. Put some tin foil under, mine dripped and smoked.

Then take out the amazing pie full of delicousness and love and eat it! Yuuuum!

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It was perfect. I will definitely make this pie again although next time I will use a pre-made stock which will make it way more manageable time wise.

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Sorry I didn’t get a great picture of it cut open, we were so hungry and ready to start eating!

Over all I could not be more happy with the way this pie turned out. So much so that I’m already anxious for next Friday to get here! More Pie! More Pie!

I Love Friday Pie Day!!  You should do it too and tell us your pie making stories.

Next week will be a sweet pie! See you then.

PieDay #1 – Remain Calm (Chicken Pot Pie)

Today is my very first Friday Pie Day. Probably. I might have made a pie on a Friday before, and that’s really all this is: I’m going to make pies on Friday. Then I’m going to take pictures and blog about it.

Why?

Because Friday Pie day. It totally rhymes.

And I needed an excuse to make pie because my loving husband bought me a book called “How to Build a Better Pie” after I swore off pie making over Thanksgiving.

About 80% of the pies I’ve ever made have failed: the lemon doesn’t set in the lemon meringue pie, the egg scrabbles in the pecan pie, the apples are leather in the apple pie, the peaches are liquid in the peach pie, and the crust is mushy in the middle of the pumpkin pie.

I’m not even going to talk about crusts right now. I’m just not ready.

I have developed a full blown case of pie-anxiety. I start stressing out about them a week before I even start thinking about making them just because I know I’m going to have to start thinking about it soon and when I do I’ll have a nervous break down.

Here is a picture of the pecan pie that sent me over the edge:

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That was our Thanksgiving Pie folks. For the record, my husband ate every bite and claimed to “love it”.

He’s a good man.

And he loves pie.

So I’m at it again but this time it won’t be for stressful this-is-the-one-time-I-make-pie-all-year-it-better-be-perfect situations. It will just be Friday.

And today is the first one.  I’ll let you know how it goes.