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Ginger & Pear Pie

There is something about the combination of pear, ginger, and vanilla that makes me wild.  It’s sweet but also has this wonderful edge.  I love pears, and pear pie is probably my favorite fruit pie these days, which is why I chose this pie as the first of February’s sweet pies.  Not to mention that the shape of the pear is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful in nature.  Soft, gentle, gorgeous.  Can you tell the pie is already getting to my head?

I’ve also decided to take this month-of-pies challenge as a way to work on my photographic creativity.  I went back through my archives recently and made a list of all the posts that I’d like to rephotograph (there were 23, now there are 20!), and it got me thinking about the overall photography of the site.  It’s easy to get into a rut, to take the same photographs over and over again so I want to try and push myself.  Incorporate new angles, new design elements, etc.  Do you have any photographic tricks that you rely on?  Any advice?

Libby over at Edible CVille is joining me and making one pie a week! Are you partaking in the National Pie Month Challenge? Let me know, I’ll be listing the pie bloggers at the end of each post.  See more b&s pie recipes here.

Ginger & Pear Pie

Dough:

Basic pie dough recipe (found here)

1 tbsp ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

Filling:

6 bartlett pears

1 tbsp ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup sugar

3 tbsp flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp vanilla extract

For glaze:

One egg

Start with your pie dough.  Sift dry ingredients.  Using your hands, work in shortening.  Cube butter and work it in.  Continue to blend until the consistency is that of course cornmeal.  Stir in the water, a little at a time until your dough forms a ball.  Divide in half.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Peel and thinly slice your pears.  In a large skillet melt butter.  Add in pears and cook over medium heat.  Mix in spices, sugar, and extract.  Cook 7-10 minutes, or until the pears have softened slightly.  Remove from heat and stir in flour.

Remove half of the dough from the fridge.  Roll it out on a floured, non-stick surface (like a sil-pat).  Roll it out so it is 1 foot x 1 foot wide and 1/4″ thick.  Drape the crust over the rolling pin and transfer it to the pie dish.  Press into the pie dish.  Scoop filling into the pie dish.  Roll out top, repeating the steps, and lay it over the pie.  Press the edges together and remove any excess dough.

Whisk egg and brush over the top of the pie.  Cut slits in the top and bake for 45 minutes at 375.

To serve, whip cream, sugar, ginger, and extract together until stiff.

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Smokey Chicken Pie

If you follow me on twitter you’ll know that I’ve been in kind of a slump lately.  Part of it is that I’ve been sick a lot lately, it’s that time of year where I have cold upon cold upon flu upon cold.  Then there’s the weather.  It’s been dreary, I don’t want to do much of anything.  Fighting this slump has been hard, no amount of exercise or positive thinking seems to make me want to do anything but mope around.  I’ve been looking for something, anything to help snap me out of it.  So when I learned that February is National Pie Month it hit me- this is the perfect opportunity to give myself a task, a mission!

For the month of February, in honor of this sacred month o’ pie, I will be posting two pie recipes a week.  One savory, one sweet.  Plus a romantical bonus pie on Valentine’s Day.  I’ve gotten a lot of requests so far but if there’s a pie in particular that you’d like to see, I’d love to hear it!  I think this is going to be a fun journey, friends!  Exactly what we need to kick the midwinter blues.  Furthermore, if you’d like to join me in celebrating National Pie Month, let me know and I’ll add links to each post.  And you can follow all the fun on twitter under #natlpiemonth!

This week’s savory pie is a smokey chicken pie.  A close cousin of a chicken pot pie but without the pot (and the gravy) it is, as my friend Nick described it, “the best parts of thanksgiving between two crusts.  It’s hearty but not too heavy, with a lot of flavor and a ton of fresh vegetables packed in there.  The perfect kick off to the month o’ pie!

Smokey Chicken Pie

Crust:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 stick butter

1/2 cup ice cold water

Filling:

2 chicken breasts

2 cups peas (frozen)

2 garlic cloves

3 tbsp butter

4-6 medium sized carrots

10-12 cremini mushrooms

3 red potatoes

1 red onion

1 cup green onions, chopped

4 tbsp chicken stock

3 tbsp plain yogurt

2 tsps liquid smoke

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp chipotle powder

1 egg for glazing

Start with your pie dough.  Sift dry ingredients.  Using your hands, work in shortening.  Cube butter and work it in.  Continue to blend until the consistency is that of course cornmeal.  Stir in the water, a little at a time until your dough forms a ball.  Divide in half.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Cook your chicken breast.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, melt butter.  Dice garlic and add to the pan.  Peel and chop carrots, add to the pan.  Dice potatoes, mushrooms, and onion.  Add to the mix.  Cook over medium heat until the carrots and potatoes have softened slightly.  Add vegetable stock, 1/2 of the liquid smoke, and spices.  Stir in green onions.  Cook for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from heat.

While the vegetables are cooking, chop your chicken.  Return to pan and saute in remaining liquid smoke and a dash of salt.  Add into the mix.  Stir in yogurt.

Remove half of the dough from the fridge.  Roll it out on a floured, non-stick surface (like a sil-pat).  Roll it out so it is 1 foot x 1 foot wide and 1/4″ thick.  Drape the crust over the rolling pin and transfer it to the pie dish.  Press into the pie dish.  Scoop filling into the pie dish.  Roll out top, repeating the steps, and lay it over the pie.  Press the edges together and remove any excess dough.

Whisk egg and brush over the top of the pie.  Cut slits in the top and bake for 45 minutes at 375.

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Carrot Cake with Goat’s Milk Caramel

It would seem that, somehow, I have become known as someone who hates cake.  And I would like to set the record straight.  I don’t hate cake.  I merely prefer pie.  And there is one time of year when I always make cake- Dan’s birthday.  Because somehow I ended up married to someone who prefers cake.  Weirdsies.

This year his request was carrot cake. I hate to admit (knowing full well that I will never hear the end of it) that I am especially not a fan of carrot cake.  Or anything with a cream cheese frosting.  I’m sorry.  I had to get that off my chest.  But because I could never deny this face anything, my favorite cake lover got just what he asked for.  Seven days after his birthday, because I’m nothing if not a procrastinator.

I must say, for cake, this was good.  And for a cake with cream cheese frosting, in my opinion, it was really good.  Even my brother-in-law, who is a devoted fan of carrot cake, gave it a nod.  It was incredibly moist and was made significantly more delicious by the goat’s milk caramel I spread between the two layers.  I’m a sucker for anything with goat’s milk and this caramel had just the right balance of flavor and smooth creamy texture.  Most importantly, though, the birthday boy was happy.

Carrot Cake with Goat’s Milk Caramel

Cake:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup pastry flour

6-8 medium carrots, peeled

2 tsps baking soda

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Pinch of salt

4 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Goat’s Milk Caramel:

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup goat’s milk

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup corn syrup

5 tbsp salted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream cheese frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

6 tbsp butter, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp vanilla extract

Toasted pecans for topping

A few hours before you make your cake, start with your caramel.  In a heavy pan combine sugar, syrup, and water.  In another pan scald cream, milk, and butter.  Allow sugar mixture to continue to cook over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until golden brown.  Remove from heat and add milk mixture slowly.  It will bubble up but remain calm and keep stirring!  Stir in vanilla.  Pour into a dish lined with wax paper and allow to cool.

Butter two 9″ cake pans.

Shred your carrots.  Sift dry ingredients.  Add in eggs, oil, and vanilla, mixing thoroughly.  Stir in carrots.  Pour batter into cake pans and bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until cooked through.  Turn onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

While your cake is cooling, prepare your icing.  Cream cheese and butter.  Add sugar slowly.  Stir in lemon juice and vanilla extract.

To assemble your cake place down your first layer, top down.  Top with a generous helping of caramel.  Place the next layer on top, top side up.  Spread frosting equally over the top and sides.  Finish with toasted pecans.  Enjoy!

Dan & my cousin Taylor on his 26th birthday!

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