It’s Pie Heaven!

Pecan Pie

Would Thanksgiving be complete without the traditional pies–pumpkin, apple and, of course,   everyone’s favorite rich and flaky Southern confection, pecan pie?

Pie dough:

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

½ t salt

2 t sugar

6 T cold butter cut into 1T pieces

2 T Crisco

3 – 5 T ice water

Pace flour, salt and sugar in food processor bowl.  Pulse to mix.  Place butter and Crisco around bowl and pulse until mixture resembles coarse corn meal.  Sprinkle 3 T ice water around bowl.  Pulse briefly.  If mixture has not begun to come together add 1 more T ice water. Mix again until a ball starts to form.  Stop processor. Take out mixture and pat into a round disk on top of a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap around disk and refrigerate for at least ½ hour.

Roll out dough and fit into a 9-inch tart pan (with a removable bottom) or a pie tin.  If tart pan, make edges thick enough so they will not shrink or collapse when baked.  If pie tin, lap edge over ¾ inch, fold under and make a decorative edge.  Place tin in freezer while you make the filling.


2 ½ cups pecan halves

4 large eggs

½ C sugar

1 C dark corn syrup

½ C light corn syrup

1 t pure vanilla extract

whipped cream for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coarsely chop 1 ¼ cups pecans; set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine eggs and sugar.  Whisk to combine.  Add corn syrups and vanilla.  Whisk until well combined. Add chopped pecans, and stir.  Pour into tart shell.

Arrange remaining 1 ¼ cups pecan halves decoratively on top of tart and bake until crust is golden, filling is firm, and a cake tester inserted in center of tart comes out clean—about 50 minutes.  Cool completely before slicing.  Serve with whipped cream. (Photo by sweetpapika.)

Turkey and Pie, Food & Wine on Dating Symbol blog

Victor Basks in Pie Heaven

I don’t know about you, but my Mom never placed a pie on the window sill to cool. That probably wouldn’t have been a good thing to do in Brooklyn. However, she was – and is – an avid pie baker. And even if the intoxicating aromas of her pies didn’t waft through the neighborhood, they certainly did permeate the house, as well as our hearts, especially this time of year. They still do.

Stunning Pies, Food & Wine Section, Dating Symbol blog

Very little says “comfort food” the way a home-baked pie does. For me it evokes memories of holiday celebrations, special occasions or even cozy nights of copious cups of old fashioned, perked coffee and conversations around the kitchen table. And as the saying goes, “easy as pie” is fairly accurate. A pie, to some, feels somewhat intimidating to make. It’s not really. Like all good crafting, it takes some practice. Trial and error with the crust, mostly. But once you have a feel for it, you’ll be making all your favorites with almost no effort at all.

Peach pie a la mode, Food & Wine Section Dating Symbol blog

Favorites. Yes, everyone has their pie heaven. For me, it’s most assuredly the pumpkin pie. Something about the sugar and spice and everything custard and nice. I simply insist on this standard for Thanksgiving, at the very least. Whether it’s traditional or a spin off featuring praline pecans. Serve it to me solo, with a dollop of whipped heavy cream or a la mode. I’m always game for at least two slices.

Another one of my joys is the all American apple pie. I recounted a few blogs back my annual apple-picking trek to Upstate New York. Well, the majority of my harvest is always delivered to my Mom’s house. Then she works her magic, creating her famous pies, some two crusted, some topped with cinnamon laced crumbs. Everyone waits in mouthwatering anticipation for them, as they are gifted to family and friends with a loving note. And love is the operative word here, because when it comes to baking a pie, affection is always the key ingredient.

Blueberry Pie, Food & Wine Section Dating Symbol blog

So, are you a seasoned pie baking professional or a beginner? For the aficionados, please keep it up. You’re bringing such bliss and delight to all your guests – and even to the world – with your home- baked creations. There’s something so homestead about it all. And our society needs a little more of that spread around. To the pie baking rookie, I recommend starting with the basics. Apple, blueberry, pumpkin. Guess you can use a pre-made crust dough. They’re easy enough to find. But take it from me; they don’t taste the same as a kitchen original. And they usually use lard. Instead, get your hands on a good recipe (I recommend Phyllis Kirigan for guidance) and take a leap of faith. Whether you’re using shortening or butter, be sure that you keep things as cool as possible. Ice water for incorporating the crust is a must. And remember, a little moisture at a time. You can always add more water if a bit too crumbly and dry. Adding more flour to a sticky dough and then over kneading it can produce a tough crust. That doesn’t work for anybody.

OK, so get your pie recipe handy. And start to bake.

Pumpkin PIe, Food & WIne Section, Dating symbol blog


Photographer Bill Brady
Written by Victor Ribaudo
Recipe Provided by Phyllis Kirigin,
Food Stylist
Blog syndicated at http:/

Puerto Rican “Hot Pockets”–Empanadillas

Empanadillas with Guacamole

Empanadillas are the Puerto Rican version of empanadas, a stuffed pastry popular in Spain, Portugal, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Philippines.  They are made by folding a thin circular-shaped dough patty over filling creating the typical semicircular shape. Fillings might include beef, ham, chicken, fish, cheese or fruit.  They can be baked or fried.

The name empanada, comes from the Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. They are served as an appetizer/tapas, side dish or dessert.  In any form, they’re crisp and delicious.

(Liberally adapted from recipes by Carmen Aboy Valldejuli and Yasmin Hernandez)


Dough:  (Makes 12 empanadillas)

3 cups all purpose flour

½ t baking soda

½ t baking powder

1 t salt

¼ cup peanut or vegetable oil

1 cup warm water

½ t achiotina* (optional for color)


2 T olive oil

1 lb ground beef

½ medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

½ small jalapeno, minced

½ sweet pepper, diced

1/8 cup pimiento stuffed green olives, sliced

2 T sofrito**

1/8 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 T tomato paste

1 pkg. Goya Sazon with annatto

½ t salt

¼ t freshly ground black pepper

Cooking: 4 cups vegetable or peanut oil for deep frying

Procedure (for dough)

Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor with a metal blade. Pulse briefly.  Add vegetable oil and up to 1 cup water until the dough comes together. Remove dough and knead for 2-3 minutes. Let rest in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for 15 minutes.  Divide into 12 pieces and then roll into 4-inch round disks.

Filling: Brown ground beef in olive oil.  Drain off excess fat. Add remainder of ingredients and cook for10 minutes over medium heat stirring from time to time.  Let cool. Place 2 tablespoons of filling in each round of dough, fold over and crimp with the tines of a fork to seal tightly.

Deep frying:  Heat vegetable oil in a deep skillet to 350 degrees.  Deep fry a few at a time until golden brown.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on brown paper or paper towels.  Drain on both sides.  Be sure to bring temperature of oil back up to 350 degrees before adding another batch of empanadillas. Enjoy your special treat!

*achiotina is lard in which a few annatto seeds have been fried and then strained ou

**Basic Sofrito

1 t olive oil

1 garlic clove, chopped

¼ cup chopped tomato

¼ cup chopped onion

3-4 stem and leaves cilantro

1/8 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/8 cup chopped red bell pepper

Grind and pound ingredients in a pilon (mortar and pestle)

(Leftover sofrito can be stored in a glass jar in the refrigerator).

Photographer Bill Brady
Food Stylist Brian Preston Campbell

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