Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pies for Obscene Qunatities of Cash

Yes, indeed, the community will lay down the cash for an entertaining auctioneer, a hammy chatter, a couple of excited cowboy callers and a good cause: FFA (Future Farmers of America to you city folks out there). Attendees voted on the best pie at the auction.

The winner was a six cupcake collection in a muffin tin. These were placed in a cake box with the lid propped open. The three cupcakes in the rear were dolled up to look like drumsticks complete with realistic legs. The three cupcakes in the front were dressed as 1) mashed potatoes with gravy, 2) green peas and 3) apple crisp. Very realistic.

The most extravagant for the money was the apple pie in a basket with a coffee grinder, coffee to grind, mugs, napkins, towels and many other goodies, probably a $300 dollar value that sold for a couple thousand.

I made my chocolate cheesecake with sour cream and raspberry topping with white chocolate grated over the top. I made a chocolate crust from crushed Oreo cookies and butter and baked in the oven for a bit to harden it. Then, when I went to take the crust out of the oven, I whacked the edge of the cheesecake pan on the oven and dumped the crust all over the place. Since I was out of cookies (my 13 year-old ate half of them) this entailed a trip to town to get cookies. Unless the local store, about 3 miles away has it, a trip to town means a 30 mile drive. Not really that far for rural folks, but not something a person wants to do every day just to go shopping--and not something a person wants to do just for one bag of Oreo cookies.

Several hours later...on the baked and cooled cheesecake I spread sour cream, then ringed it with fresh raspberries and dolloped in the center some fresh raspberry sauce I made while I waited for the cake to bake in my new Oreo crust. And, lastly, I grated white chocolate over the top.

Below is the easy-way-out version of the chocolate cheesecake I made for the pie auction. You can use melted raspberry jam for the topping and avoid all that extra cooking.

Chocolate Cheesecake

2 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
2 eggs
4 squares semisweet baking chocolate (or 4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips), melted
1 or 2 prepared Oreo pie crusts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Mix cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla at medium speed. Add eggs, mix well until blended. Stir in melted chocolate.

Pour into crust(s). Bake 40 minutes or until center is set.

If you have baked the pie(s) 40 minutes and the center is no where near set, turn the oven down to 300 and check back in ten minutes or less.

Allow to cool and add toppings as desired. I usually top with sour cream, raspberry sauce and white chocolate shavings--very yummy!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Beyond pies we have cakes.
My brothers have birthdays in February and December. They are usually on diets in December and January so I wait until mid-February to ah... honor them. This was not entirely my doing. I had suggested Brother's Three which is a story series I came up with to entertain Little Fella. (He liked knowing that other boys got in trouble too.) So brother's three morphed into Three Billy Goats compliments of our splendidly witty Linda and well you can see what happened then. So... All that's left is one of the stories, where to begin?

What are you reading these days?

I’ve been reading pie recipes, Cordelia’s Honor by Lois McMasters Bujold, Reading the Bible with the Dead by John L. Thompson and listening to The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan.

So the recipes first, I think.
I like to make pies and our local FFA has a pie auction every year to raise money. In fact they are auctioning pies for unreasonable sums at the very moment, at least I hope they are unreasonable sums. I like the idea of black and blue pies made with black and blue berries. They taste all right, but I mostly just like the idea of a bruised pie. In our rough and tumble kitchen there’s a certain honesty to food being black and blue.
Anyway here’s my final product after reading many recipes:
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup oil
1/3 cup cold milk

Mix first three ingredients, cut in oil, add milk. Roll out ½ of the dough between sheets of wax paper and press into nine inch pie pan. Form fluted crust if desired. Set aside remaining dough for topping the pie. Sprinkle the crust in the pie pan with two teaspoons flour mixed with ½ teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for thirty minutes or until golden. If necessary ring the pie shell with aluminum foil or flute protector to keep from burning the edge of the crust.

Roll out the remaining crust and make six wedges and some leaves or flowers or use old cookie cutters to make clever designs for each slice. This is a good crust and folks will want a bit on top as well as under the pie.

5 cups fruit (black berries and blue berries)
Juice from one lemon
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 generous Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon flour
2-3 Tablespoons Rye flour

Wash and drain the fruit. Take 2 ½ cups of fruit and place in a sauce pan over medium heat stir in the sugar, spices, butter and regular flour. Cook on medium low heat until mixture begins to thicken, roughly 30 minutes.
Arrange the remaining fruit in cooled baked shell. Top this with cooked fruit and the cut-outs from the remaining pie crust dough. Ring the rim of the pie with aluminum foil or flute protector and bake at 375 for an additional thirty minutes or until the crust is golden.
Enjoy with ice cream or powdered sugar icing. (Sorry I didn’t think to take photos.)