Like most people, I've got my lazy spots, and squash is one of them. I love winter squash in just about every guise, but I just can't stand peeling it. With all the great kitchen gear I've got, I've never found a gizmo that makes removing the hard shell of a butternut squash easy - I think squash-peeling cooks should get hazardous-duty pay. You can be sure I was one of the first in line at the supermarket when peeled, ready-to-cook squash arrived.
My guess is that marketers expected us to carry the squash home, pop it into the microwave and serve it as a side dish. But it turns out to be perfect for this hearty double-crusted pie, in which the squash is tossed with pears and dried fruit, orange zest and juice, some nuts and a restrained amount of spice and allowed to hold on to its earthy, forthright flavor
Lynne's Thanksgiving Cooking Tips, http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/boilingwater/boiling_thankstips.shtml
Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough for a double crust (recipe follows)
1-1/4 pounds (about 2 cups) cubed (1-inch) peeled ready-to-cook butternut squash
2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup moist, plump dried fruit, such as cranberries, raisins (dark or golden) or finely diced apples or pears
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs
Sugar, for dusting
Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough
For a 9-Inch Double Crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2-1/2 sticks (10 ounces) very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
1/3 cup very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
About 1/2 cup ice water
For a 9-Inch Single Crust:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
2-1/2 tablespoons very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
About 1/4 cup ice water
1. To Make the Pie Crust: Working on a well-floured surface (or between wax paper or plastic wrap), roll out one piece of the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Fit the dough into a buttered 9-inch pie pan and trim the edges to about a 1-inch overhang. Roll the other piece of dough into a circle that's about 1/8 inch thick and about 11 inches in diameter, and slip it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Cover and refrigerate both until needed. (Wrapped well, the crusts can be refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)
2. Getting Ready to Bake: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
3. Cook the squash in a microwave oven for 6 minutes, or until almost cooked through. (Alternatively, you can steam the squash.) Pat the squash dry and toss it into a large bowl.
4. Add the remaining filling ingredients to the bowl and turn them gently with a large rubber spatula to blend. Let the filling sit for 5 minutes or so, just long enough to give the sugar time to melt, then gently mix again.
5. Remove the pie plate and top crust from the refrigerator and put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Spoon the filling into the bottom crust and level the top. Brush the rim of the bottom crust with a little water and center the rolled-out crust over the pie - if the top crust is too cold and not pliable, let it sit for a couple of minutes. Using your fingertips, press the top crust gently against the bottom. Either fold the overhang from the top crust under the bottom crust and crimp the crust attractively, or press the top crust against the bottom crust and trim the overhang from both crusts even with the rim of the pie plate. If you've pressed and trimmed the crust, use the tines of a fork to press the two crusts together.
6. Using a small sharp knife, cut 4 slits in the top crust, and cut a circle out of the center of the crust using the wide end of a pastry tip. (If you have time, refrigerate the pie for about 30 minutes. The pie can also be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; bake directly from the freezer, adding about 10 minutes to the baking time.)
7. Brush the top of the pie lightly with water and dust with a little sugar. Bake the pie for 55 to 60 minutes, or until it is deeply golden and the filling is bubbling up through the center hole. Check the pie at 40 minutes - if it is already pretty brown, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the pie to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.
Serving: This is a go-with-ice-cream pie. Try it with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.
Storing: This pie is really best served the day it is made. If you must keep it overnight, store it covered in the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature or warm it for a few minutes in a 350-degree-F oven before serving.
Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough
The name says it all. You can use this flaky, flavorful easy-to-roll dough for pies, galettes, turnovers or even tarts. If - heaven forbid - you could have only one dough for crust in your repertory, this would be the one to choose.
You'll need a large-capacity food processor to make a double crust. If your machine isn't large enough, make the dough in two batches.
1. Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don't overdo the mixing - what you're aiming for is to have some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 6 tablespoons of the water if making a double crust, 3 tablespoons if making a single crust - add a little water and pulse once, add some more water, pulse again and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the work bowl and onto a work surface.
2. If making a double crust, divide the dough in half. Gather each half into a ball, flatten each ball into a disk and wrap each half in plastic. Or shape the dough for a single crust into a disk and wrap it. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling. (If your ingredients were very cold and you worked quickly, though, you might be able to roll the dough immediately; the dough should be as cold as if it had just come out of the fridge.)
3. To Roll Out the Dough: Have a buttered 9-inch pie plate at hand. You can roll the dough out on a floured surface or between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap or in a rolling slipcover. (I usually roll this dough out on the floured counter.) If you're working on a counter, turn the dough over frequently and keep the counter floured. If you are rolling between paper, plastic or in a slipcover, make sure to turn the dough over often and to lift the paper, plastic or cover frequently so that it doesn't roll into the dough and form creases. If you've got time, slide the rolled-out dough into the fridge for about 20 minutes to rest and firm up.
4. For a Double-Crusted Pie: Fit one circle of dough into the pie plate, allowing the excess to hang over. Trim to a 1/8- to 1/4-inch overhang. Fill the pie and moisten the edges of the bottom crust with water. Center the second piece of dough over the filling and press it against the bottom crust. Using a pair of scissors, cut the top crust's overhang so that it extends about 1/4 inch over the bottom crust. Tuck the excess top crust under the bottom crust and flute or pinch the crust to make a decorative edge. Alternatively, you can seal the doubled-up crust by pressing it with the tines of a fork. Follow the pie recipe's instruction for baking.
5. For a Single Crust: Fit the dough into the pie plate and, using a pair of scissors, cut the excess dough to a 1/4- to 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the dough under itself, so that it hangs over the edge just a tad, and flute or pinch the crust to make a decorative edge. Alternatively, you can finish the crust by pressing it with the tines of a fork.
6. To Partially or Fully Bake a Single Crust: Refrigerate the crust while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil, fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust and fill with dried beans or rice or pie weights. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights and, if the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, return the pie plate to the oven and bake for about 8 minutes more, or until the crust is very lightly colored. To fully bake the crust, bake until golden brown, about another 10 minutes. Transfer the pie plate to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.
Storing: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked single crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan, and to bake it directly from the freezer - it has a fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.
Reprinted with permission from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). Copyright 2006 by Dorie Greenspan
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