To paraphrase the words of Geoffrey Rush in Pirates of the Caribbean, what follows is not so much a set of recipes as some guidelines.
Though I am a devoted Cook’s Illustrated reader, with their obsession with testing and precision, I read the magazine as more of a study guide than a set of absolutes. (Don’t get me wrong–their methods are rock solid, especially for baked goods. Those peanut butter cookies–legendary.)
But I digress. Today we’re here to talk about that most useful instrument of concealment, the pie crust. The good people of CI have developed a supposedly fool-proof version that involves vodka, but I will confess to not trying it yet. Pie crust is one area where I do punt–trans fats and all, I buy them in the dairy section of the grocery store. Once you have them, you can transform so-so soup into pure pie-a-liciousness. Or you can save yourself even more trouble and make a rustic tart.
How to Make a Rustic Tart
Prep filling. Place in center of pie crust, which is on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Fold. Brush with egg wash (1 egg scrambled with a bit of water), bake at 415 for 35-40 minutes. Pat self on back.
Filling ideas: sauteed winter squash with thyme, shallots, spinach, and goat cheese; yellow squash or zucchini with goat cheese and diced roasted red pepper; spinach, garlic, feta, grating of nutmeg; slices of leftover baked or mashed potato with broccoli and cheddar; steamed sweet potato slices, bacon, and kale strips.
And for my friend, whom I shall call iCook, here is the how-to in picture form.
Bonus: How to Make Soup Pie
Start with a thick meat, vegetable (like winter squash or potato), or chicken soup or chili. It should be in a state of congealment when in the fridge. I’ve never attempted this with a cream based soup, like broccoli–if you try with something thin, you’ll probably want to thicken it in one of these ways:
- mashed potatoes (or the fake flakes in a pinch)
- mashed sweet potatoes or squash
- roux: equal parts butter and flour, cooked and well blended before soup is added
While you’re working out your filling’s consistency, place one pie crust into a pie pan, prick several times with a fork, and bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. (Check the package directions if you need more details.) Take the par-baked crust out, lower the oven temp to 400 degrees, and add the soup-turned-pie-filling, being careful not to overfill.
Top the pie with the second crust, crimp the sides, cut some slits, place on a baking sheet or pizza pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the insides are more firm than wiggly. Serve with a salad, fruit, or some crudite, and tell no one what you did with the soup from the day before.
Coming up next, Tool Talk. A few things every Practical Cook should consider owning.