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RECIPE EXCHANGE: PIE PERFECTION

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After spending the past week sifting, rolling, crimping and baking, this kitchen queen has been inducted into that crusty culinary sorority - Eta Pi.

Tough job description - testing pie recipes, (the ones you submitted for this month's Recipe Exchange); a gloriously difficult task.The pastry trip was flaky and fun, an experience that will forever weigh heavy . . .

By the way, it's no coincidence that pie rhymes with thigh.

Actually, eating pie every day for a week has hastened the holiday mood. Pie is an essential element in a celebration. Think about it, wouldn't Thanksgiving be a turkey without pumpkin pie? And Christmas' marvelous mincemeat is a must!

We're talking tradition. And pie-making is an art form in itself.

The variety of pie recipes sent from readers show the wide diversity of the beloved dessert.

Here are a few tried and true tips from "The Food Lover's Tiptionary" that will help you in future pastry pursuits:

- Before beginning to bake a pie, position the oven rack in the middle of the oven; preheat oven for 15 minutes.

- Always taste the fruit before making a fruit-pie filling. If the fruit isn't sweet enough, slice it very thinly so there'll be more surface to absorb the sugar.

- When a pie recipe calls for dotting the surface with butter, you'll get more even coverage by rubbing a cold stick of butter over the coarse side of a grater and sprinkling the grated butter over the top.

- To prevent a fruit pie's juices from spreading when you dish it up, fold 1 egg white, beaten until stiff with 2 tablespoons of the sugar in the recipe, into the filling before baking.

- When making any kind of custard pie (including pumpkin), stir the mixture only until it is well combined. Beating it until frothy will cause bubbles to form on the surface of the baked pie.

- Meringue won't "weep" if you blend a teaspoon of cornstarch with the sugar before beating it into the egg whites.

- A meringue pie topping won't crack if you cool it at room temperature (away from drafts) before refrigerating.

- Refrigerate leftover meringue pie by covering it with plastic wrap that has been rubbed or sprayed with vegetable oil so it won't stick to the surface.

Actually, the secret to pie perfection is simple: EXUDE CONFIDENCE!

Pastry is like the growling, menacing dog you see coming toward you; if you freak out, it'll bite you.

So get rolling! And begin to perfect your pie-baking skills.

And don't worry about how it looks! Instead of a perfectly fluted crust, do the Martha Stewart thing: After placing an oversized bottom crust in the pan, add the filling, then fold the crust up and over toward the center.

The pie looks homey and inviting; showing a simply scrumptious style.

Or cut out dough shapes and attach them to the top crust with egg yolk.

Personalize the pie with, say, your name; or a cut-out of the dog that didn't bite you.

Here are few more tips to help ease possible pie angst:

- Glass pie plates work the best.

- Prevent an unbaked pie shell from puffing up as it bakes by pricking the pastry thoroughly after it has been placed in the pie plate. This will allow steam to escape.

- Pies containing eggs should be refrigerated.

- Pie shells can be frozen unbaked or baked. Frozen unbaked shells will keep two months; baked shells keep four months. To thaw baked pie shells, unwrap and let stand at room temperature or heat in 350 degree oven about 6 minutes. Do not thaw unbaked shells; immediately bake after removing from freezer.

- Baked pies can be frozen. They are easiest to wrap if frozen, uncovered, then wrapped tightly or placed in freezer plastic bags after frozen. Bake pies before freezing to prevent soggy crusts or possible texture breakdown of raw fruit. Frozen baked pies will keep up to four months.

- To serve frozen two-crust pies, unwrap and thaw at room temperature 1 hour. Heat in 375 degree oven on lowest rack for 35 to 40 minutes until warm.

- For fruit pies, sprinkle bottom crust with a little sugar before filling. Helps crust hold and stops leaks.

And remember . . . CONFIDENCE!

*****

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

LEMON MOUSSE PIE

Submitted by Mimi Price,

Salt Lake City

Approximate cost: $6

Yield: 8 servings

Evaluation: After reading the ingredients, we knew this was a winner; eating the finished product pushed us over the edge! This is a rich, sweet/tart dessert that we'll add to our list of favorites.

1 baked pie crust

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

6-8 drops yellow food coloring

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

2 cups whipping cream, whipped

In small saucepan, combine gelatin, lemon juice and water. Let stand one minute. Stir over medium heat until dissolved. Stir in lemon peel and food coloring. In bowl, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Gradually add softened gelatin. Fold in whipped cream. Spoon into cooled, baked crust. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

- Each serving contains 320 calories, 21g fat, 29g carbs, 236mg sodium, 31mg cholesterol, 59% calories from fat.

MILLIE'S FAMOUS COCONUT CREAM PIE

Submitted by Millie Bangerter,

Bountiful

Approximate cost: $3.50

Yield: 6-8 servings per pie

Evaluation: This rich and creamy pie made from scratch (in other

words, without using a prepackaged pudding and pie mix) is well worth the careful cooking and stirring. For a more intense coconut flavor, you can add a teaspoon of coconut extract. However, we loved this pie as is!

4 tablespoons cornstarch

4 tablespoons white flour

2/3 cup granulated white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups milk

4 egg yolks, slightly beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 pint whipping cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup coconut

2 9-inch prepared pie shells

Mix together cornstarch, flour, sugar and salt; mix these dry ingredients with approximately 1 cup of milk; set aside. In a heavy pan, scald remaining milk. Add reserved mixture to pan of scalded milk and cook over medium heat until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add 4 slightly beaten egg yolks. Cook a minute or two longer. When slightly cool, add 2 teaspoons vanilla. Stir and cool thoroughly before placing in cooked pie shells.

Beat 1 pint whipping cream until stiff, but not dry. Gently fold in 1/2 cup powdered sugar (flavored with a few drops vanilla). Gently place cream on top of cooled pudding in the pie shells. Spread evenly; take the back of a spoon and make soft peaks. Sprinkle generously with coconut, about 1/2 cup for each pie. Refrigerate about 1 hour before serving. Makes 2 9-inch pies.

- Each serving contains 338 calories, 22g fat, 30g carbs, 241mg sodium, 97mg cholesterol, 59% calories from fat.

CHESS PIE

Submitted by Mary Washington,

Logan

Approximate cost: $4

Yield: 6-8 servings

Evaluation: Mary told us "this recipe is one that my family has made for at least 60 years." The odd name - `Chess Pie' refers to the two tones of crust and filling, looking somewhat like a chess board (takes some imagination!). This recipes is the basis for several pie variations (see note).

2 tablespoons flour

2/3 cup butter

2 cups sugar

1 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

4 eggs

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together the flour and sugar. Break the eggs into the mixture, add the milk, vanilla and nutmeg. Melt the butter and cool slightly; add butter last. Bake in a 325 degree F. oven in an uncooked pastry shell until the top is dark brown. It will look puffy but will fall as it cools.

- Each serving contains 360 calories, 16g fat, 53g carbs, 200mg sodium, 44mg cholesterol, 39% calories from fat.

- NOTE: Modify the recipe by replacing the milk with lemon juice to make Lemon Chess Pie. For Chocolate Chess Pie, add 2 squares baking chocolate to the butter. Add 1 cup of dates at the end to make a Thomas Jefferson Pie. Another alternative is to replace the milk with buttermilk for Buttermilk Chess Pie.

CRANBERRY APPLE PIE

Submitted by Susan Fullmer,

Mt. Pleasant

Approximate cost: $3

Yield: 8 servings

Evaluation: This is a double-crust treasure! We added a few more apple slices than the 3 cups the recipes calls for (hey, Martha Stewart made us do it!). Warm, topped with with vanilla ice cream, this pie is super!

3 cups diced or sliced peeled apples

1 cup slightly chopped fresh (or frozen) cranberries

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons Minute Tapioca

1/4 teaspoon salt

Recipe for 2 crust pie or 1 15-ounce package refrigerated pie crust

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Mix fruit with sugar, tapioca and salt in large bowl. Let stand 15 minutes. Line 9-inch pie plate with half of the crust. Fill with fruit mixture. Dot with margarine or butter. Cut remaining dough into 1/2-inch strips; weave in lattice design over top of fruit. Seal and flute edges. Bake 60 minutes at 400 degrees F. or until juice bubbles burst slowly. Cool.

- Each serving contains 189 calories, 2g fat, 47g carbs, 85mg sodium, 4mg cholesterol, 7% calories from fat.

OLD-FASHIONED PUMPKIN PIE

Submitted by Ellen Koucos,

Salt Lake City

Approximate cost: $3.75

Yield: 8 servings

Evaluation: During our pie testing, we found that this recipe makes enough filling for a large pie or deep-dish pie.

2 eggs, slightly beaten

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 16-ounce can pumpkin

3 tablespoons molasses

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk (undiluted)

1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

1 egg white, unbeaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Make filling: In a large bowl combine 2 eggs, sugar, spices, salt, pumpkin, molasses and evaporated milk. Stir with wooden spoon or whisk until mixture is smooth. Lightly brush pie shell with egg white. Fill with pumpkin mixture. Bake 55 to 60 minutes, or until tip of sharp knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack. Serve garnished with whipped cream. Serves 8.

- Each serving contains 244 calories, 17g fat, 39g carbs, 158mg sodium, 12mg cholesterol, 29% calories from fat.

FRENCH APPLE CREME PIE

Submitted by Diane Burton,

Farmington

Approximate cost: $3

Yield: 6-8 servings

Evaluation: Apple pie lovers, this is a fabulous variation of the old favorite. By decorating the top crust with a cookie cutter design, it takes on a festive flavor, too.

For filling:

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

5 cups Granny Smith apples

2 tablespoons butter

For creme sauce:

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 ounces cream cheese, cut into pieces

1/2 cup sour cream

Dough for a two crust pie.

Prepare crusts. Roll bottom half of dough and place in pie tin. Roll top half of dough and cut a two-inch opening in the center. You can use a favorite holiday cookie cutter to make this opening; set dough aside. Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon rind in a large bowl. Add apples and stir to coat. Turn into pie shell and dot with butter.

Top with pie crust that has two-inch opening in center. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees F; then 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees F. While pie is baking, cook the creme sauce by combining eggs, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick. Add cream cheese and sour cream. After the pie is baked, spoon sauce through opening on top crust. Chill before serving.

- Each serving contains 451 calories, 25g fat, 55g carbs, 359mg sodium, 26mg cholesterol, 48% calories from fat.