• Tommy Centola

Pies great option for outdoor dining

Now that the weather has made cooking out part of people’s entertainment options, I thought I would look at desserts that are perfect for outdoor dining. Pies are a great option. They can be made in advance and they travel well. So, I dug into my collection of recipes and here’s what I found.

I am starting the recipes with a basic pie crust. Then, I thought I would share a traditional type pie, Blackberry-Pecan Pie, and a non-bake pie, Strawberry-Mascarpone Pie. Both are very flavor-able and not your every day pie. Let’s go to the kitchen.

Basic Pie Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed

1 large egg

2 tablespoons cold water

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar and salt. In the work bowl of a food processor, add flour mixture and butter; process until flour resembles coarse crumbs, about 45 seconds. Add egg and 2 tablespoons water; process until dough forms a ball. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 minutes or up to overnight. Remove from refrigerator 15 minutes before rolling.

This pies a combination of a Southern classic (pecans) with a childhood memory. My grandmother has a blackberry bush in her yard. We would be asked over to help pick them. I hope you enjoy this combination.

Blackberry-Pecan Pie

Basic Pie Crust

1 large egg

1 teaspoon water

1 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 cups fresh blackberries

2 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350℉.

On a lightly floured surface, roll Basic Pie Crust to 1/8 inch thickness. Transfer to a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate, and gently press into the bottom and up the sides. Trim or crimp edges as desired. Refrigerate 20 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 1 teaspoon water. With a pastry brush, brush edges with egg wash.

In a medium bowl, whisk together corn syrup, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla. Gently whisk in eggs until just combined. Fold in blackberries and pecans; pour into prepared crust. Bake 40 minutes. Tent crust with foil, and bake until firm in center, about 20 minutes more. Let cool 1 hour. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream., if desired.

Here is a twist on a strawberry cream pie. Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese. It has more milk fat, which makes it richer and creamier than regular cream cheese. Just be careful, they are not interchangeable in recipes.

Strawberry-Mascarpone Pie

1 (11 ounce) box vanilla wafers

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled

1/2 lemon, juiced

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

4 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup créme fraîche

1/2 cup mascarpone

3 large eggs whites, chilled

Spray a 10-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In the work bowl of a food processor, add vanilla wafers and melted butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Firmly press into the bottom and slightly up the sides of prepared pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

In the container of a blender, add strawberries, lemon juice, and granulated sugar. Process until smooth, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine cream, 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, and vanilla. Beat at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

In a separate medium bowl, beat créme fraîche and mascarpone at high speed until combined. Add to whipped cream ,mixture, and beat at medium speed until combined.

In a separate medium bowl, with clean beaters, add egg whites, and beat at high speed until soft peaks form. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of confectioners' sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into whipped cream mixture. Fold in half the strawberry purée; spread over crust. Spoon remaining strawberry purée over the top and swirl, using a wooden pick. Cover with aluminum foil, and freeze at least 2 hours or up to 5 days. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving.

A meal without dessert, to me, is incomplete. Either of these pies are a perfect ending to a great meal. Whether it’s a traditional crust or not, everyone will be asking for seconds.

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