This buttermilk chess pie is declared “the easiest pie to prepare in this chapter” in the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. And it truly is simple. It’s also quite delicious, creamy, smooth, rich and downright heavenly.
After making this strawberry rhubarb pie and finishing off the last of it recently I was seriously craving more pie. I’ve typically reserved pie for the holiday baking season, making cobblers more often in the summer. But that’s just silly. Pie can easily be a year round food and should be embraced as much now, when the weather is warm, as when it’s chilly out. While some pies are better for cool weather and some for warmer days, this one can be enjoyed any time of year. Pairing it with some fresh seasonal berries during the coming months will make it a great summer dessert.
You can serve this custard pie warm, room temperature, or chilled. The flavors shine through best when it’s warm or room temp, though.
The crust in this pie, as with most if not all pie, is important and can really make the dessert special. If you use a store bought crust the dessert will be fine, but if you have the time to make your own it will be extra delicious. I’ve used this all butter pie crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen the last couple of times I’ve made pie and I really like it. The recipe makes enough for 2 crusts, so just stash one away for another time.
The ingredient list is simple and straightforward, you probably have everything in your kitchen right this very moment. Once you make the crust all you have to do is whisk everything else together, pour it into the pie crust and bake. So, what are you waiting for?!
Buttermilk Chess Pie
From America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
1 pie crust, fit into a pie plate, chilled and unbaked
3/4 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon fine-ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Berries for garnish
Whipped cream for garnish
Prepare pie crust by fitting it into a pie plate and placing the plate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Place a rimmed baking sheet into the oven and preheat to 375°F.
Whisk all of the ingredients together and pour into pie shell.
Place onto heated cookie sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes. Top of the pie should be golden brown and center should be just set.
Let cool on a wire rack until just warm or all the way to room temp.
This past weekend was spectacular. The weather has been so nice and I am embracing spring in Texas and trying hard not to think too much about what summer will bring. We spent this weekend at my husband’s family lake house on Lake LBJ, northwest of Austin. While we were there we took a little trip to Sweet Berry Farms. It’s in Marble Falls, a quick drive from the lake. It’s a quaint and fun place to visit for berry picking in the spring and summer. It’s also where Ben and I got engaged 9 years ago. Yes, NINE. So visiting this past weekend was sweet and nostalgic for me.
We picked strawberries and had a lovely time (except for my son who kind of lost it due to lack of good sleep and just being 3 1/2.) If you are ever in the area, please make the time to visit, especially during blackberry season. Blackberry cobbler is what summer is all about! And other things too, I guess. But mainly cobbler.
My mother-in-law and I split the berries and my brain was working on all kinds of ways to use them. I don’t subscribe to Food Network Magazine, but picked up a copy last week to have some mindless reading material for the lake. When I saw the recipe in the magazine for strawberry rhubarb pie right after we’d been berry picking I knew it was a sign. Plus I’d never made or even eaten a strawberry rhubarb pie before. I had to give it a try.
I had a few hiccups with this pie. First the crust. It says to chill it for 30 minutes. I chilled it for an hour. I rolled it out between parchment but when I went to transfer it to the pie plate I lost half of it, all stuck to the parchment in a seriously gooey mess. So I tossed it and decided to try a different crust recipe. I went with this one from Smitten Kitchen.
Unfortunately I’d already made the filling, anticipating that the first crust was going to work out. Silly me! Fruit releases juice when it sits with sugar and lemon juice, and strawberries and rhubarb release a LOT of juice. I stuck it in the fridge while I waited for my new crusts to chill for 2 hours. I think 2 hours is the minimum time for pie crust, you just can’t rush that step. Unless you roll out the dough between parchment first and then chill it in the freezer…wish I’d thought of that…
After rolling out the new crust I went to fill it. I used a slotted spoon and left all of the liquid in the bowl. I had a tough time doing it since I knew that stuff had to be good. But I am so glad I resisted the urge to add a little to the pie. As the pie baked it released even more juice and even managed to escape the pie plate and get all over the bottom of my oven and fill the kitchen with smoke. Fun times. I can’t imagine the mess if I’d added more liquid. NOTE: This is why you put foil under fruit pies when you bake them.
A lattice top adds something so special to pie. It takes a little extra time than just a top crust, but is well worth the effort. A little cream and turbinado sugar on top creates a terrifically crunchy and beautiful topping. Don’t skip this step.
After cooling the pie I cut a slice and knew that we were in for a mess. Maybe the filling could use more flour for thickener? Or maybe this is just the way it is with this type of pie. But there was lots of juicy goodness going on that creates a delicious, but not incredibly aesthetically pleasing piece of pie. The bottom crust was pretty soggy, but the top crust was so crunchy that I didn’t care a bit. We enjoyed this a la mode, but fresh whipped cream or simply plain would be great. The filling is tart and sweet but not cloying. The rhubarb cooks down so nicely and gives a texture to the filling that strawberries alone could not achieve. And again, that top crust. Amazing.
So if you find yourself with some strawberries and/or rhubarb this summer, give this a try. Or these, or this. Or THIS! Tis the season! Why has it taken me this long to try rhubarb? The checker at the grocery store didn’t even know what it was. Oh, and if you have access to free or cheap rhubarb, be ever so thankful. I had no idea it was so expensive, almost $8/pound at our HEB. Someone tell me, where can I get it for less?
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Filling adapted ever so slightly from Food Network Magazine
Crust from Smitten Kitchen
2 sticks of cold butter, cut into cubes
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2-3/4 cup ice cold water
heavy cream, half and half or milk
coarse or turbinado sugar
1 pound rhubarb, end trimmed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
juice of 1/2 a lemon
In a large bowl whisk flour, sugar and salt together.
Add in the cold butter cubes and using either your hands or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is relatively evenly incorporated with just a few larger pieces.
Pour in 1/2 cup of the cold water and use either a spatula or your hands to bring the dough together. Add a little more water, a tablespoon at a time, if the dough seems dry.
Turn out onto a clean work surface and work into a nice ball of dough.
Cut in half, take each piece and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours.
Combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract and lemon juice in a large bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 425°F and place a piece of foil or a foil lined cookies sheet on the lower rack.
Roll one dough ball out (between parchment if you like that method) on the counter into an 11-12 inch circle. Transfer to a 9 inch pie plate, press into the plate and leave the overhang.
Fill with the strawberry filling.
Roll the other dough ball out into an 10-11 inch circle.
Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to slice the dough into long strips, between 1/2 and 1 inch wide.
Lay out half of the strips on to the pie, evenly spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Use strips that are longer in the middle and shorter on the edges.
Trim off any excess from the lattice work, then fold the overhang from the bottom crust over the edges and crimp everything together.
Brush the crust with cream, then sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven to 375F and bake for another 40-50 minutes, until filling is bubbling and crust is nicely browned. Don’t forget to put foil or a foil lined cookie sheet on the rack under the pie!
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before slicing and serving. Serve with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.
Of course the first thing that comes to mind for me when I have ham around, after ham sandwiches of course, is quiche. I’ve made ham & cheese quiche before, and you’ve likely seen this combination many times. But this one is extra decadent and amazing thanks to some super yummy cheese that I had on hand. I LOVE when a meal comes together without having to try too hard and when you just so happen to have ingredients that end up being delicious together.
I had a little block of gruyere and some wine soaked goat cheese left from the Easter cheese tray. Any cheese would do, but these seemed to take this quiche to a new level of wonderfulness. Trader Joe’s has a goat cheese gouda that I think would be awesome, similar in flavor and texture to the goat cheese I used. It’s not your typical soft and creamy goat cheese, this one is soft but still grate-able.
The crust and the base for this came from this America’s Test Kitchen cookbook. Have you bought yourself a copy yet? What’s stopping you? I had to do some things differently with the crust because I started dinner at 5 and it needed to be on the table at 7. I didn’t have the time to chill the dough for an hour, roll it and chill for 30 minutes, par-bake for 30 and then bake the custard for another 45 minutes. So I improvised. The recipe below shows what I did, but if you have the time, chill the dough before rolling and par-bake for a full 30 minutes. It will yield a crispier crust.
The quiche base is not for the faint of heart. It’s heavy on the eggs, cream and whole milk. Add in the ham and cheese and you’ve got yourself a quiche that is hearty enough for the manliest of men. Add in a little crumbled bacon and they won’t have a hard time scarfing down a few pieces. But it’s not so heavy that you can’t serve it at a ladies lunch. It’s just too delicious for any sane person to say “no” to.
You can take this quiche base and add in whatever you want to. Make it vegetarian with mushrooms, spinach, peppers, asparagus, etc. Use bacon instead of ham, or cooked chicken or other meat. Play with the herbs as well. Endless options. Enjoy!
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into chunks and chilled
4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks and chilled
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, roughly chopped
1 cup of cooked chopped ham
4 ounces of shredded cheese, 2 ounces of gruyere and 2 ounces of firm goat cheese such as goat gouda
In a food processor combine flour, sugar and salt, and pulse a few times to combine.
Add in the chunks of shortening and butter and pulse a few times until the fat is in coarse pieces.
Add the ice water into the machine, start with 3 tablespoons, pulse a few times, then add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing once or twice in between additions, until dough looks like it is just holding together, but not until it is smooth.
Pour the dough out onto a large piece of parchment and pat it together into a disk.
Place another piece of parchment on top and roll the dough out, as quickly as possible into a 12-inch circle. Peel off the top piece of parchment, then place the pie plate on top of the dough circle. Turn it all over together and carefully press the dough into the pie plate and peel off the parchment. Make sure the dough is pressed into the pan evenly, crimp the edges and transfer to the freezer for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Line the crust with foil and fill with pie weights, beans or rice.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, prepare the custard mixture while it cooks.
Remove the foil and weights, then immediately fill with the custard.
Whisk the eggs, milk and cream well in a bowl.
Whisk in the salt, mustard and thyme.
When the crust comes out of the oven scatter the ham on the bottom of the crust then scatter the cheese on top.
Move the pie plate to the oven then pour the egg mixture slowly into the pan until it is almost full. You may have egg mixture left over if you have a shallow pie pan.
Close the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes. Remove from the oven when quiche is just about set.
A bottle of canola oil fell out of the pantry. The plastic cap busted, and oil spilled all over the floor. I found another container for what was left in the bottle, but there was still some that wouldn’t quite fit. What to do? I wasn’t going to throw it out. I needed to find something to make using about a cup of oil.
The ingredient search on allrecipes.com is nice when you’re trying to find something to make when you’re limited in your resources, or just want to use something specific. One of the problems I’ve encountered is that when I type in what I want to use I find a recipe that requires something I don’t have. That wasn’t the case this time! I found this pie crust recipe using that feature and figured I’d give it a try.
I’ve always made pie crusts using cold fats like butter or shortening, which are cut into the flour, adding cold water to bind the dough, and then refrigerating the dough before rolling it out, always being careful not to over mix so that a tender flaky crust is achieved. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a recipe like this one for pie crust. There’s no careful mixing, no chilling time, and canola oil is used instead of butter. You even mix it all up in the pie plate, so only one dish gets dirty! I had to give it a try.
This does not yield a traditional flaky crust. It’s more like a cross between a sugar cookie and a graham cracker crust in texture. The flavor is similar to a plain pie crust, a tad salty, which went well with the sweet and tart lemon filling. This lemon meringue recipe (also from allrecipes.com) was pretty good. My mom has a lemon meringue pie recipe that is more delicious, and a little easier. I need to get that recipe from her. This one is quite good though. I should know, since Ben doesn’t like lemon meringue, I had to eat the entire thing myself…over the course of a week.
If I find myself pressed for time, I would use this crust again. If I find myself pressed for time and happen to have a Pillsbury refrigerated crust…I would use that instead.
Here are the links to the recipes. I made no changes.
You may not have a great reaction to this combination; tomato and pie. Ben didn’t either when I told him what we were having for dinner. When all was said and done though, he had three helpings last night and we finished off the rest of this today for lunch.
This recipe is from Simply Recipes. Here is the link. Her picture is so much prettier than what came out of my oven, but it still tasted great. I will admit to being a little impatient when it comes to eating these days, so maybe if I had let it cool a bit longer I would have had better luck in removing whole pieces instead of chunks of pie.
I get really hungry and excited about eating, and I just cannot wait to eat sometimes! I’m pregnant, so I’m using that as my excuse. Only 6 more weeks to use that one.
While Ben was slightly disappointed that there was no meat in our meal, he put on a happy face and eat it anyway. If you wanted to add meat, I think some crumbled cooked bacon on top of the sautéed onions would be nice.
I will make this simple meal again and I would definitely think about serving it at a ladies lunch or brunch as a whole pie or in little tart shells.
The fresh basil with the tomatoes is a lovely match as always. I used 2 cups of chopped red tomatoes and 1 cup of chopped yellow tomatoes from the rest of my tomato plant’s crop. I used a combination of mozzarella and swiss cheese with good results, but some nice sharp cheddar in there would also be tasty. The Tabasco gives a nice spicy punch, but you could leave it out if you are not a fan of that kick. Enjoy!
Courtesy of Simply Recipes
1 9-inch pie shell
1 yellow onion, chopped and sautéed in olive oil or butter
3-4 tomatoes, cut in half horizontally, squeezed to remove excess juice, roughly chopped, to yield approximately 3 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced basil
2 cups grated cheese (any combination you choose)
3/4 cup mayonnaise (light or regular)
1 teaspoon (or more to taste) of Frank’s Hot Sauce (or Tabasco)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place pie shell in oven and cook for 8-10 minutes or longer until lightly golden. If you are starting with a frozen crust, you’ll need to cook it a little longer. If you are using a homemade crust, freeze the crust first, then line the crust with aluminum foil and pre-bake it for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the chopped tomatoes, using either paper towels, a clean dish towel, or a potato ricer.
Sprinkle the bottom of the pre-cooked pie shell with onion. Spread the chopped tomatoes over the onions. Sprinkle the sliced basil over the tomatoes.
In a medium bowl, mix together the grated cheese, mayonnaise, Tabasco, a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper. The mixture should be the consistency of a gooey snow ball. Spread the cheese mixture over the tomatoes.
Place in oven and bake until browned and bubbly, anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes.