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by Sarah Steimer // photos by Caitlin Saniga

I made these after Caitlin, Bill and I went to the Evanston Farmer's Market during Caitlin's visit to Chicago. Caitlin mentioned wanting to make a pie, and I'd been eying this recipe from Bon Appetit. The juices get a little sloppy in the oven, but I sort of love that homemade look.

I made these after Caitlin, Bill and I went to the Evanston Farmer’s Market during Caitlin’s visit to Chicago. Caitlin mentioned wanting to make a pie, and I’d been eying this recipe from Bon Appetit. The juices get a little sloppy in the oven, but I sort of love that homemade look.


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by Caitlin Saniga

Eeeep! I’m so pumped to share with you guys that I’m guest blogging over at The Roanoke Times’ food blog Fridge Magnet while my co-worker Lindsey Nair is out of the office this week. Before she left, she arranged for several folks in the Roanoke community to write posts about their specialties, everything from home brewing to scrambled eggs. I’m keeping an eye on the blog, editing submissions and even planning to write a few posts myself. Today I published my first Fridge Magnet post, a recipe for a coconut-egg custard dessert called impossible pie. Go check it out!

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by Sarah Steimer

This was the first time I ever made a pecan pie, and I had planned to head over to Martha Stewart’s website for the recipe. After talking with my mom, she mentioned my Uncle Steve makes great pecan pie (even though I don’t think she’s ever tried it). I asked him for the recipe and here we have it: The great Stephen Jameson pecan pie. And now I can officially vouch for how good it is.

For the crust:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water

Combine the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a medium bowl, mixing until coarse crumbles appear.

Whisk together the vinegar, egg and cold water in a small bowl. Add the liquids to the dry mix and combine with your hands. Form into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

For the filling

  • 1 1/4 cup Grade A maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans (plus a few halves for garnish, optional)

Whisk all filling ingredients together in a medium bowl.

I plan to freeze this pie (just wrap tightly with plastic wrap and aluminium foil) and take it home for Thanksgiving.

Roll the pie crust dough into about an 11-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate, allowing about 1/2-inch or so to overhang the edges of the dish — the crust WILL shrink a bit. Poke a few holes in the bottom of the crust and bake for about five minutes at 375 degrees. Remove the crust from the oven and carefully arrange the edges in your preferred design. I took a cue from Caitlin and made an easy criss-cross pattern with the back of a knife.

Carefully add the filling so as not to overflow the crust. Return to the oven (still on 375 degrees). Let bake for about 1 hour, checking it about halfway through. If the crust is beginning to brown too quickly, cover it with aluminium foil or a crust shield (cheap and totally worth it). The pie is ready when the center is still slightly jiggly and has puffed up.

Allow the pie to cool completely before serving. The center will mostly level out once cooled.

Recipe adapted from my Uncle Steve.

*This month we’re featuring classic pies that would be a great dessert at any Thanksgiving table. For the full list of pies, click here.

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by Caitlin Saniga

Hahahaha. Live and learn. The centerpiece of this photo, the slice of pie, was supposed to look *AWESOME*. I mean, check out that adorable little cinnamon bun topper and those irresistibly cute marshmallows. Now go ahead and let your jaw drop and your eyes roll as you’re overwhelmed by that cream cheese mess on the plate. Alas, I thought the cream cheese drizzle would be more drizzly, so I blasted the slice with icing. Might I suggest doing more of a dollop instead of a drizzle? See the photo at the bottom for an idea.

For the crust:

  • pate brisee (recipe here)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the filling:

  • 2 cups peeled, 1/2-inch-thick chopped sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 stick melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup milk

For the cream cheese drizzle:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • mini marshmallows (I use the extra-tiny version.)

To make the crust:

To cut time, I suppose you could buy a premade pie crust. But what’s the fun in that? P.S. This is about how much cinnamon you want on your crust before you roll it into a log.

Prepare the pate brisee, mold into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1/2 hour. On a floured surface and with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 11-inch circle. Brush the melted butter onto the crust and sprinkle the cinnamon evenly over the crust. Starting at one end of the circle, roll the crust into a log. Slice 1.4-inch-thick rounds from the log and place them side to side in a 9-inch pie pan.

If you have leftover pinwheels, bake them on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Use as pie slice toppers.

Once you have covered the bottom and walls of the pie pan, use a flat-bottom glass dusted in flour to press the cinnamon pinwheels flat and into each other. Use your fingers to shape the pinwheels along the walls of the pan. Refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes.

To make the filling:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

I poured the filling straight into the unbaked crust, but if you want a crispier crust, I advise baking it about 8 on its own first.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes. Cook about 15 minutes, or until a the sweet potatoes can be mashed with the back of a spoon. Drain.

Add the potatoes, 1 cup of the sugar, the butter, eggs, vanilla, salt and spices to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for about 30 seconds or until no chunks of sweet potato remain.

This is what the baked crust looks like.

Add the milk and pulse for another 10 seconds. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the pie on a rack and cool to room temperature.

To make the cream cheese drizzle:

You be the judge: Drizzle or dollop the icing as you please.

Use a mixer to cream together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and salt. In a slow, steady stream add the milk and continue mixing until incorporated.

Drizzle/dollop the cream cheese icing over slices of pie. Add leftover baked cinnamon pinwheels and sprinkle marshmallows and cinnamon over top.

Makes about 8 servings.

Pie filling recipe adapted from: Paula Deen

Cream cheese drizzle recipe: Rachel Ray

*This month we’re featuring classic pies that would be a great dessert at any Thanksgiving table. For the full list of pies, click here.

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by Caitlin Saniga

Oops! Got a little excited digging into the pie and cracked the crust of my first slice at the base. Top each slice of cocoa pudding pie with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, a square of chocolate and maybe even a dusting of chocolate powder.

  • pate brisee (recipe here)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • sweetened whipped cream (recipe here)
  • chocolate squares for garnish

If you decide to embellish the edges of your pie crust, dig around in your cupboards and drawers to find some unconventional decorating tools. Here, I used a citrus zester with tiny circular holes in a repetitive pattern around the edge. You can also use the tongs of a fork, the spikes of a meat tenderizer, a mesh strainer or the decorative handle of any utensil.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

On a clean, flat surface, roll the pate brisee into an 11-inch circle. Gently lift and place the crust in a 9-inch pie pan. Softly press the crust into the pan, then quickly flip the pan upside down and rest on a flat surface. Using a sharp knife, cut around the pan to remove any extra crust. Flip over again, and use a fork to prick holes in the crust. Refrigerate the pan for 10 minutes (Cooling it will help prevent the crust from shrinking down into the pan when it’s baked.).

Remove the pan from the fridge and cover the crust with foil and place pie weights or dried beans on top to keep the foil in place. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, then remove it from the oven and take out the pie weights and the aluminum foil liner.

Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Return the pie to the oven to bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely before using.

Combine the cocoa, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually add the milk to the dry ingredients, stirring until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly , until mixture comes to a boil; boil for 1 minute.

Remove the pan from heat; stir in the butter and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the crust. Carefully press plastic wrap directly onto the pie filling. Refrigerate for 6 hours.

When serving, wipe the blade of your knife clean after each slice. Top each piece with whipped cream and a chocolate square. Refrigerate leftover pie.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe adapted from: Hershey’s

*This month we’re featuring classic pies that would be a great dessert at any Thanksgiving table. For the full list of pies, click here.

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by Sarah Steimer

The inspiration for this pie came from a dessert at Owen & Engine here in Chicago. On the restaurant’s menu right now is a blueberry pie with a cheddar crust, caramel popcorn cobbler and sweet corn ice cream.

For the crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Combine the flour, sugar and salt. In a food processor, combine the flour mixture with the butter and pulse until pea-sized pieces appear. Pulse in cheddar cheese. With the food processor running, add the water and mix just until the crust comes together.

Remove the dough from the machine and form into a block-like shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to two days.

Once the crust has chilled properly, cut it in half and roll out one half on a lightly floured surface, making it wide enough to overlap the lip of your pie dish by about 1 inch or so. Place the crust in the pie dish and refrigerate. Roll the second half out on a piece of parchment paper, again slightly larger than the dish itself. Refrigerate this half as well, allowing it to remain flat on the parchment paper in the fridge until firm, about 20 minutes.

For the filling

  • 8 cups (about 4 pints) blueberries, picked over
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 egg

Place the blueberries in a large bowl and crush about 1/2 cup’s worth with your hands. Add sugar, butter, cornstarch, flour and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Pour the berry mixture into the prepared pie dish once the crust has set. Allow the berries to mound slightly higher in the center of the dish.

Top the pie with the other half of the crust that has been rolled out, tucking the edges underneath and crimping if desired. Using a sharp knife, cut slits in the crust for steam to escape.

My mom told me my grandfather used to eat apple pie with a slice of cheese, and the idea never appealed to me until more recently. Apple pie and cheese is, however, much more common than blueberry with cheese, so I may use this crust recipe with an apple pie in the fall.

Whisk the egg with 1-2 teaspoons of water and brush the top of the pie crust with the egg mixture, making sure it does not pool. Refrigerate the pie for an additional 30 minutes.

Place the pie on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees in the lower third of the oven. After 20 minutes, once the crust has begun to golden, lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 40-50 minutes, or until the berry juices begin to bubble and thicken and the crust is golden brown. NOTE: Always check the edges of your crust. If they begin to brown quickly, cover the edges with aluminium foil.

If not eating the pie immediately, cover and refrigerate.

Makes one 9- or 10-inch pie.

Crust recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart

Pie recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart

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by Sarah Steimer

This pie turned out very well – but I’ll admit that it wasn’t without some angry struggling. I’ve made this pate brisee crust a million times but was having a lot of trouble keeping it together in my too-hot apartment. If you think you may have the same problem, maybe consider a store-bought crust.

  • pate brisee crust (recipe)
  • 2 cups rhubarb, sliced 1/2-inch thick on a diagonal
  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

For the crumble topping:

  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, corn starch and spices to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally and allow the mixture to cook down to a jelly-like consistency; about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

I took this to a Memorial Day party and it disappeared pretty quickly. That’s either a good review or a party full of extremely polite people.

Combine the crumble topping either in a food processor, pulsing a few times until coarse, or by mixing with your hands until coarse crumbs appear.

Place the crust in a pie dish and fill with the strawberry-rhubarb mixture. Trim the sides of the crust if necessary. Top with the crumble topping, being sure not to cover the sides of the crust so you can see it brown properly. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Recipe adapted from: Eats Well With Others

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by Sarah Steimer

Don't make this if you're very, very hungry - like we did. Not that it won't fill you up, it will. It just takes a little longer to prepare than you would expect and the fantastic smells will kill you.

  • 4 flour tortillas*
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 ounces beer (this is the average bottle size – choose a milder beer like an amber ale or lager)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers (or another vegetable of  your choice, or just more corn)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces shredded cheese – we went with Monterey Jack

    Neither corn nor peppers are in season where I live - BUT this was the perfect time to whip out the veggies I blanched and froze at the end of last summer!

Spray a springform pan with oil, or apply oil with a paper towel. Place one tortilla in the bottom of the pan, trimming the edges if necessary.

In a pan with oil, add the onions, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until onions have softened.

Add the beans and the beer, bringing the liquid to a rolling boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow the liquid to almost completely evaporate. The recipe said this should take 8-12 minutes but I think that was a complete lie. It felt more like 15-20 or so. But we were also wildly hungry so it may not have taken that long.

Add the peppers, corn and scallions until heated through. Remove from the heat.

Layer about 1/2 cup or so of the mixture onto the tortilla in the pan, followed by a handful of cheese and top with another tortilla. Repeat and finish with the last tortilla on top, sprinkling some extra cheese on this.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts and starts to brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.

Makes about four servings.

*I don’t have a springform pan and, instead, used an 8-inch cake round and smaller tortillas. Because the sides of my pan were not very high, we were only able to layer four tortillas and had about two cups of the black bean mixture left.

Recipe adapted from: Elly Says Opa!

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by Sarah Steimer

Bennison's is literally a 5 minute walk from where I work, so I had to learn to ignore the bakery smells at peak "I deserve something really great because I just finished work" moments. It's been tough, but most of the time my exhaustion somehow beat out my sweet tooth.

I visited: Bennison’s Bakery, an award-winning bakery that offers everything from doughnuts with a strip of bacon on top to painstakingly delicate petit fours and everything in between.

I really like the old-school appeal of the vertical sign and corner entrance. It looks so inviting in the evening all lit up when you see it from the train.

I tried: A miniature (maybe 5-6 inch?) chocolate cream pie edged in whipped topping and chocolate sprinkles. This size isn’t a regular menu item, but was made specially for Pi Day on March 14. The bakery normally carries this pie in its full-size form (my guess is about 9-inches).

Why it stood out: Well, because it was Pi Day and it seemed silly to go without. Bennison’s was one of a handful of bakeries throughout Chicago that offered special Pi Day deals, so I popped in on my way home. I’ve had Bennison’s cookies and a few doughnuts before, but this pie really stood out. They were also offering cherry, banana creme and a few other flavors for Pi Day, but I nabbed a fresh chocolate creme because I knew it was a flavor both Bill and I would enjoy. We loved it – it was rich without being overbearing. The crust was perfect and the chocolate creme itself was set somewhere between an expensive, decadent dessert and your mom’s chocolate pudding pie.

It cost: $3.14 – because it was Pi Day! (Plus tax.) But as I said before, this is not a size they normally carry.

Find out more: Bennison’s Bakery is located at 1000 Davis Street in Evanston, Ill. http://www.bennisonscakes.com/

*$6 Snacks is a recurring feature that reviews an area eatery’s snack — for $6 or less. Look at a map of the places we’ve tried.

Bennison's Bakery on Urbanspoon

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by Sarah Steimer

I definitely talked this pie up to my family, so let's all hope I don't ruin it for Thanksgiving. Trying to maintain the "best daughter" image I've created.

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree,* or canned
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 egg for glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • pate brisee pie dough (recipe here)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream (can use the rest of the carton for whipped topping – just add a little cinnamon!)

*For the pumpkin puree

Use a pie pumpkin – such as a sugar pumpkin or long pie pumpkin – that is about 1 1/2 pounds. Do not use just any pumpkin, as some are stringier than others.

Using a sharp knife, pierce the skin of the pumpkin, going all the way through. Place in a glass baking dish and fill with about 1 inch of water.

Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour, or until a butter knife can be easily inserted into the pumpkin.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Slice in half and remove the seeds. Scoop out the flesh and puree in a blender or food processor. Make sure there are no stringy bits and the puree is the same consistency throughout. Keep refrigerated.

Using my excess dough, I cut out leaf shapes with a cookie cutter. I brushed the leaves with the same egg wash used on the crust, sprinkled them with a little cinnamon and baked them on a cookie sheet for about 10 or so minutes.

For the pie

In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin puree and 3 eggs. Beat well. Add evaporated milk and combine.

Once your pate brisee has set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours (hope you followed directions), roll it out into a 12-inch circle or so. The crust should be about 1/8 of an inch thick. Place the crust in a 9-inch glass pie dish and cut off the excess edges, leaving about 1/2-inch overhang. Pinch edges to form a decorative edge, if you so please.

Beat the remaining egg together with the tablespoon of cream and brush the crust, being sure to get into all the nooks. Fill with the pie mixture.

Place the pie on a baking sheet in the oven (not sure why, but I was afraid to find out). Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes more. When I switched the heat, I took the pie out to let the oven lower its temperature and put foil over the crust edges – because you can never be too safe.

When the pie is done, the very center should still be a bit wiggly. Let cool on a wire rack for at least an hour.

Serve with whipped cream.

Recipe: Martha Stewart

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