Lemon Chess Pie

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Years ago (to many to admit) I met an old Polish woman who was a boyfriends grandmother.  She told me about her grandmother who was from England and would make a pie called “Chess Pie”.  She told me it was named chess pie because it was a pie that was kept in a pie chest in a kitchen which was a cool dark area used to store food before refrigerators.  They looked something like this:

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Not only did they store pies but breads, meats and other food items. I do not know if the history she gave me is correct as I’ve been told over the years this is a Southern pie.  I can tell you for certain….this is a fabulous pie!!

It was in Sonia’s little kitchen the first time I had a Lemon Chess Pie.  Lemon Chess pie is a very sweet pie.  The lemon filling is so full of flavor and almost a light pudding consistency.  This quickly became one of my favorite pies.  I, like Sonia, loved lemon meringue pie without the meringue.  I do not like meringue at all on anything.  The lemon chess pie was a great alternative to scraping the meringue off.

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The ingredients are very simple as shown below. You can even use a store bought frozen pie crust as I did as I used all my homemade crusts from the freezer and didn’t have time to make one and freeze it.

(BAKING TIP:  ALWAYS CRACK YOUR EGGS INTO A BOWL BEFORE ADDING THEM TO YOUR BATTER IN CASE ANY SHELLS SLIP IN)

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The longest process of making this pie is grating the 2 Tablespoons of lemon zest you use.  You will use the juice of 2 large lemons which give you enough zest also.

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The batter is running and very pretty in color

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This makes one 9 inch deep dish pie.  You need to cover the crust as you cook this for 45 minutes so the cornmeal rises to the top and browns along the edges giving this a rich flavor.  If you do not have one of these crust covers you are MISSING OUT!!  This is one handy gadget for baking pies!!

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The pie will be very dark and seem a little runny in the center when you pull it out but it sets as it cools. You can see by the color the crust looks very well done but because it was covered it has a great flavor.

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This is a family favorite at our house.  Super easy to make and impressive in taste.  Give this a try at your next dinner party and see how quickly it becomes a favorite in your family!!

Lemon Chess Pie

2 cups sugar

1 Tablespoon Flour

1 Tablespoon fine yellow cornmeal

4 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup unsalted butter melted

2 Tablespoons grated lemon rind

1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice with any pulp that gets squeezed in

1 unbaked pie shell (9 inch deep dish works best)

Heavy cream optional for whipped cream on top

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

In a large bowl mix the sugar, flour, and cornmeal thoroughly

Add the eggs and mix

Add the milk and mix again

Stir in the melted butter, lemon rind and lemon juice mixing well

Pour the filling into the pie crust and cover the edge of the crust carefully so as not to touch the filling

Bake for 45 minutes removing the crust cover to brown edges after 35 minutes

Cool and serve or refrigerate.  If refrigerating, let sit for a bit to room temperature before serving.  Optional to top with a dollop of whipped cream

Freezing Pies

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When fruits are in season, it’s always good to make a few pies to freeze.  They make great gifts for housewarming, babies, get well, Holidays and just as a treat in the cold winter months.

Tonight we processed the last of our apples from our trees and made a few more apple pies to freeze.   I always pick up a few packs of the tin pie dishes.  You can get 8.5, 9, or 10 inch and if lucky I can sometimes find a deep dish tin.  These are the best to use for freezing your pies so you don’t have to use your glass dishes.  Before freezing I like to wrap them tightly in cling wrap.  I will then freeze them individually.   Once frozen, I place them on top of each other in a large freezer bag.

Our freezer is now stocked with 6 apple, 6 cherry, and 4 blueberry pies.  You can pick up cute pie boxes at your local craft store and decorate with ribbon for a nice gift.  Sometimes I will bake the pie before I give them away and other times I leave it frozen with directions how to bake on the inside of the box.  You bake them exactly as you would a store bought pie (30-35 minutes at 375 covering the crust after 15 minutes).

Here’s the last pie pictures we made for the season.  This one will be for 4th of July 2015.  The tween decorated it with our last name initial.

You can find my apple pie recipe here:  Apple Pie

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It’s all about the tools

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When you are baking or cooking, having the right tools makes all the difference in the world.  This little “crust cover” is a GODSEND!!!!  No more messing around with tinfoil so the edge of my crusts don’t burn.  I just lay this baby on after the pie edge has browned and cook the pie the rest of the way without worrying about burnt crust.

It’s pie season with all these fresh fruits coming into season.  I have made cherry pies (recipe here) and blueberry pies (blueberry recipe here) to freeze and last night the man of the house asked the big question, “Can you please cook one of these to eat” when I was putting the pies into the freezer.  How could I say no!!  So we set off today to pick a few more cherries to replace the ones the kids have eaten and the pie we cooked.

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July 4th Celebrations

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It’s as American as Apple Pie!!!  Today is a day of relaxation and celebration for our country.  I always make sure to save one of our frozen homemade Apple Pies to have with our cookout.  It’s our tradition!!  Here are some more pictures of our town parade and the last of our canned peaches and pickles from last year to be enjoyed!!  Have a great day!!

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Cherry Pitter (BEST EVER) & Pie recipe

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It is Cherry season!!!  This little tool that I found on youtube is the ABSOLUTE best Cherry pitter.  Here is the video on how to make your own HOMEMADE CHERRY PITTER.  If you are a cherry person like I am and make pies, can and freeze cherries, you will thank me for sharing this little tip with you!!  This is easy, practical and leaves the cherry intact only removing the pitt.  YOU’RE WELCOME!!

I don’t like to have long posts so will cover our family cherry pie recipe here and will post another on how to can them for toppings (think ice cream, plain yogurt, greek yogurt, smoothies or just out of the jar for a snack!!)  Now on to what I do with cherries:

PIE…the cherries we pick are usually dark bing cherries.  They are perfectly sweet and work great in pies (you do not need sour cherries for pies!!)

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My two always ask to bring friends when we go picking.  My friend also came along with her older daughter.  We picked 44 lbs of cherries and split them!!  It was about $60 in cherries but figure the savings in just pies alone as one frozen cherry pie is about $8.00 so $64 if you were to buy them. And we will get 8 pies, canned cherries, and frozen cherries for the whole year for less!!

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making filling for pies (with pitter this took about 2 minutes!!)

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1-1/2 lb.  Bing cherries, pitted (4-1/2 cups)
1 cup  sugar (I have cut mine to 3/4 cup if the cherries are super sweet)
1/4 cup  MINUTE Tapioca
1 Tbsp.  lemon juice
Combine all and let sit for 15 minutes
CRUST:    (you do NOT have to make a crust- you can easily use a store bought one but make sure it has 2 crusts in the package)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
4 – 6 tablespoons cold water

Make crust:

In medium bowl, mix 2 cups flour and the salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).
Gather pastry into a ball. Divide in half; shape into 2 flattened rounds on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.
With floured rolling pin, roll one round into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.
Place pie dish on a foil lined baking sheet for easy cleanup!!
Fill with cherry mix from above.  Dot with butter around the top of the pie
Roll out second half of crust and using a knife slice it into strips for a lattice crust or lay it on top and cut slits to vent while cooking.  Seal edges
**For lattice crust follow this video.  
If baking, bake for 20 minutes and then cover edges of crust with tinfoil or crust edge cover.  Bake another 25 minutes or until crust is browned and filling is bubbling. 
Let set for at least 3-4 hours before slicing.  Overnight is best.
YOU CAN FREEZE THE WHOLE PIE WHEN IT IS ASSEMBLED UNBAKED.  Be sure to double bag it in freezer bags.  I make 8 pies, cook one and freeze the other 7 for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, July 4th and Valentines Day and 2 for gifts for friends.  Just remove from freezer and bake same as above making sure to cover edge of crust after 20 minutes so it does not burn.

Blueberry Pie

During season for fruits we make most of our pies and freeze them.  My daughter made this blueberry pie which we will be having for dessert tomorrow.  This was her first lattice crust she made completely on her own and she is proud to show it off at our little cookout tomorrow along with the Apple Pie we will have on Sunday celebrating Memorial Day.  We make crusts ahead of time and keep it in the freezer for when we need them.  If I do not have one, I have found the store bought crusts are just fine.

Making your own pie filling is so easy and so much tastier than canned!!  You also control what is in it so no preservatives. You can freeze your pies when assembled as we do and then pull it out and bake the same way you would for fresh listed below.  Make sure to assemble the pie and double bag it in very tightly sealed freezer bags.  It’s as good as the day you made it when you bake it.

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I guess when you turn 12 you have to make faces in every picture. We make crust and keep it in the freezer for when we need to whip up a pie

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lay first 5 strips then fold 2 back and add cross strip folding 2 strips over the top

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next cross fold the 3 strips you did not the first time and lay strip across bringing the 3 back over it

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Trim the edges and then seal by pinching them together

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all done and the house smell great. Can’t wait until tomorrow!!

Filling:
3/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons butter (to dab on before cooking)
 Mix all the above (except for butter) in a bowl
Crust  (you do NOT have to make a crust you can easily use a store bought one but make sure it has 2 crusts in the package)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
4 – 6 tablespoons cold water
Make crust:

In medium bowl, mix 2 cups flour and the salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).
Gather pastry into a ball. Divide in half; shape into 2 flattened rounds on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.
With floured rolling pin, roll one round into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.
Place pie dish on a foil lined baking sheet for easy cleanup!!
Fill with blueberry mix from above.  Dot with butter around the top of the pie
Roll out second half of crust and using a knife slice it into strips for a lattice crust or lay it on top and cut slits to vent while cooking.  Seal edges
**For lattice crust you put one strips on one way.  Starting at the top fold back 2 strips and lay a strip across the remaining ones.  Put the 2 strips back down and fold the 3 strips back that you did not the first time and lay another strip across.  Repeat procedure.  (if you do not understand, google lattice crust and watch the youtube videos.  They explain it well and you can see them doing it).
Bake for 20 minutes and then cover edges of crust with tinfoil or crust edge cover.  Bake another 25 minutes or until crust is browned and filling is bubbling. 
Let set for at least 3-4 hours before slicing.  Overnight is best  (that is why I cooked our pie tonight for tomorrow).