In the past, whenever we've made a pie here, we've taken the easy way out and used a frozen crust. This drives the purists up the wall. Apparently, I couldn't have committed a greater faux pas if I had doused the main course with catsup.
Numerous correspondents have assured me that anyone can make a pie crust. Some have sent in their own recipes, recipes usually bearing such names as "never-fail pie crust." Well, I have tried these offerings, and I am frankly wondering whether making a proper pie crust is a sex-linke trait, one of those things that women just naturally do better than men.
So this time out, no guarantees. This pie-recipe, the best one I know, might be called "Mike's Sometimes-Fail Pie Crust." We'll be using it for a quiche, and if I were you, I'd have some of those frozen crusts stashed in the freezer. Just in case.
The Staples: Make sure these are all on hand: salt, pepper, sugar, pastry flour, cider vinegar, peanut oil, olive oil, mustard, garlic salt, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, cinnamon.
The Shopping List: Bacon (1/2 pound); eggs; cheese (Swiss or Gruyere, 1/2 pound); butter; light cream (2 cups); carrots (2 pounds); onions; green peppers; small can tomato soup; tomatoes (5 or 6); baking apples (5 or 6).
Prepare the Day Before; Amy's famouse carrot salad. One way you can tell a dish is a real show-stopper: The cook has gotten so tired of writing out the recipe that it has been mimeographed. My friend Amy hands this one out on printed cards.
Peel the 2 pounds of carrots and slice them into discs. Cook in boiling water until just tender. (Caution! Do not overcook.) Put the carrots in a bowl. Slice 2 medium-sized onions into thin rings and add them to the bowl. Cut 1 green pepper into strips and add that. And the can of tomato soup, undiluted. Then 3/4 of a cup of cider vinegar and 1/2 cup of peanut oil. A teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon of mustard, a half-teaspoon of salt. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup of sugar, but I think that can be cut back. Mix well and refrigerate.
Prepare Anytime: Cut the cores from 6 baking apples. Cut the apples into chunks and put them in a covered saucepan with a cup of water. Simmer over low heat until cooked through. Run through the blender and add sugar to taste. Just before serving, add a dash of cinnamon.
3 P.M.: One of the problems with making your own pie crust: It should be made in advance, then put back in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Put 2 cups of pastry flour in a bowl and mix in 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix together 1/3 cup of butter and 1/3 cup of lard. Keep some ice water off to the side.
Good cooks tell me the secret of making a perfect pie crust is to work rapidly in mixing together the flour and shortening. The recommended tools: one knife in each hand. Cut the shortening into the flour and keep doing this until it is all mixed together and has the appearance of rough corn-meal.
Sprinkle 6 tablespoon of the ice water over the mixture and mix that in quickly, using a fork. When it all hangs together, forming a large ball, you've done enough. Wrap it in metal foil and keep it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
At this point, you may want to sneak a couple of frozen pie shells from the freezer to thaw. Just in case.
5:30 P.M.: Have 2 nine-inch pie pans ready. Remove dough from the refrigerator and cut it into two equal balls. using a rolling pin (Danger! Dust both the rolling pin and the table with flour), roll out the balls of dough. Work from the center out, attempting to create a flat circle about 2 inches wider than the pan. Put these in the pans and cut away the extra dough from the rim of the pan. Put the dough back in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the quiche.
Fry the bacon in a large pan over medium heat. The bacon should be cooked through but not crisp. Break it into small pieces and set to one side.
Beat 3 eggs lightly and mix in 2 cups of light cream. Also a teaspoon of salt. And a half-pound of cheese that is either grated or cut into small cubes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
6 P.M.: Remove the pie crusts from the refrigerator. (Caution! It's not too late to switch over to the frozen crusts - but in a minute it will be.
Add the bacon bits to the crust. Then pour in the egg and cheese mixture. Pop it into the 450-degree oven for 10 minutes. Then lower temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for an additional 20 minutes or until top is brown.To test for doneness, insert a knife blade. It should come out clean, or fairly clean.
6:20 P.M.: Cut the tomatoes in half and put the halves on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with oregano, garlic salt and a few drops of olive oil. Put the tomatoes under the broiler for just a few minutes and serve piping hot.