Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fresh Raspberry Pie

I've never been a huge fan of raspberries, but last summer, I was asked to taste-test some of the winning entries at our local 4-H Achievement Days. (Yeah, twist my arm.) My photographer/brother kept raving about this pie, which I was reluctant to try because it looked so ... raspberryish. But I finally relented.

And the pie was beyond good. Not only was it the best raspberry dessert I'd ever tasted, but it was easily one of the best fruit pies I've had, period. It doesn't try too hard -- it just enhances the pure, sweet-tart flavor of the raspberries.

I made the filling with my favorite shortbread pie crust, which, unfortunately, makes 3 crusts. But on the fortunate side, you can just put those in the freezer for next time.

Fresh Raspberry Pie
Makes 8 servings

Crust (makes 3 crusts)
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cups cold butter-flavored shortening
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 2 2/3 cups fresh raspberries, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • Whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, shortening, sugar, and salt. Mix with a pastry blender until crumbly. Add vinegar and egg and work into dough. Add ice water, a few tablespoons at a time. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Roll out about one-third of the dough and put in a 9-inch pie plate. Crimp edges and poke bottom with a fork several times. Line with parchment paper and add pie weights or dried beans. Bake 5 minutes.
  4. Remove parchment and pie weights (they’ll be hot); bake another 5 minutes.
  5. Mash 2/3 cup raspberries in a large microwavable bowl. Add 1 cup water and sugar. (Use something larger than a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup, unless you want raspberry syrup all over your microwave. I’m here to help.) Microwave 5 minutes.
  6. Mix cornstarch with 1 1/2 tablespoons water to form a slurry. Add to berry mixture and microwave another 2 minutes. Cool slightly.
  7. Fill pastry shell with the remaining raspberries. Pour berry mixture over fresh berries. Let pie set up in the refrigerator. Garnish with whipped cream.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Slow-cooked Turkey Breast with Gravy

When it comes to holiday cooking -- or entertaining in general -- I typically find the logistical side of things much more daunting than the actual cooking. Figuring out when to make everything so it's all done at the same time is challenging, but finding space to cook it all can be almost impossible.

This fall, I tested various cooking methods with turkeys in an attempt to get them out of the often. This slow cooker recipe ended up becoming such a favorite that the hubby requested it three times within the span of about six weeks. That's a lot of turkey.

The downsides to this recipe include the fact that this makes a turkey breast, not a whole turkey. And the skin doesn't crisp up, so you lose that wow factor (and the flavor of the toasty skin).

But this recipe is so easy, and the meat is so tender and delicious that I don't even miss the skin, which I shouldn't be eating, anyway. And the drippings make fabulous gravy, which I doctor up using my dad's tried-and-true cream of chicken soup method.

Slow-cooked Turkey Breast with Gravy
Makes 8-10 servings

  • 1 bone-in turkey breast (about 6-7 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 14.5-ounce can chicken broth
  • 2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can water
  • 4 heaping tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
    1. Put turkey in 6-quart slow cooker. Rub with butter. Combine the salt, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder and pepper; sprinkle over turkey. Pour broth over turkey. Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours, or until tender.
    2. Remove turkey from slow cooker. Cover with foil and set aside.
    3. Pour turkey drippings into a pan on the stove top; skim fat from drippings.
    4. Add cream of chicken soup and 1 can water and combine. Bring gravy to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium. Simmer about 10 minutes.
    5. Combine cornstarch and water. Return gravy to a boil and add cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. When gravy reduced desired thickness, reduce heat to low. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    6. Carve turkey and sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with gravy.