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Not-So-Humble Pies: An iconic dessert, all dressed up Hardcover – June 18, 2012
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"Sweet, savory, fancy or rustic, the word evokes warmth, and love, with pillows of whipped cream or nuggets of savory jewels that melt into a buttery crust. For many of us, it has always been (and will always be) PIE. Which is why, if you know someone like me, you might grab this book and stuff it in their stocking OR face. Trust me, either would suffice. This book is serious. Go grab two. One for you and one for me." --Nicki Woo blog
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Thus far, I have made the cantaloupe pie because i had a cantaloupe that needed to be used asap. I felt the recipe was well written (easy to follow) but the timing was off a bit for cooking down the filling mixture. Also this pie did not set how I wanted it to. It was runny, but by time we got through half the pie, we had taken the extra liquid with our slices so the rest of the pie was great. Ultimately, this was probably my error for not cooking the filling quite thick enough. The graham cracker crust recipe for this pie was simple, but quite perfect. I felt the stabilized whipped cream topping was ok, but nothing great. As for taste, the first slice was very sweet in my opinion, but when i had a second slice the next day it didn't seem so sweet to me. I would make this recipe again, but I would maybe cut down on the sugar a bit.
Ultimately, I would like to make a few more recipes to see if my rating stands, but overall I feel this book adds something different to my cook book collection. If you are unsure, maybe see if you can locate the book in a local library to check it out before making the purchase.
as good basics. You could make your whole meal from start to finish. I liked
it so well, that I got a copy to send to my niece.The recipes are very easy
Unfortunately, Not-So-Humble Pies is definitely not appropriate for the novice baker- my attempts were frustrating to say the least. It's also not appropriate for those who like detailed instructions- my mother quit in disgust after the fourth instance of poor explanation in one recipe. For example, some fruit measurements are frustratingly vague; the ginger pear tart required 4 bose pears, but doesn't specify a weight.
It is however, a perfect fit for experienced bakers who are looking for interesting recipes that they adjust as they wish- it kept my father happy for hours. If that doesn't describe you, I'd highly recommend buying it for the baker in your life, then sitting back and enjoying the results- thanks Dad, the Peach Sourcream was excellent!
First, what I like. The small hardback book has a quality feel and would make an attractive presentation as a gift (for an experienced baker.) Hardbacks generally stay open to whatever page they are turned to better than paperback books (unless spiral bound.)
The paper quality is good and spills wiped-up well when done promptly. This is money well spent and alone will extend the life of the volume. The book is attractively designed and organized. I didn't mind the crust recipes being located at the front of the book because, particularly with pies, there is no need to waste space reprinting the same group of crusts again and again in each pie recipe. There is an extensive index included at the back of the book, grouped by name and main ingredient which enables the user to locate a particular recipe or make a selection based on specific food items on hand.
The recipes are imaginative and the ones I prepared worked well and were delicious. And, there are many others that I definitely intend to try. It is important to note that this is not a basic pie book, it is a specialty book designed to expand on the standard group of this type of pastry. That may have caused the creators to assume that the reader already possesses baking basics. And, although I found some general information provided regarding shaping the crusts into discs, chilling it, etc. so one isn't left without any instruction, but, it is more an intermediate book than a beginner volume.
A fresh pineapple was included in my latest co-op produce basket so I used it to prepare the Caramel Pineapple Tart. I normally don't use pineapple in baking so I wasn't sure whether I'd like the result, but the tart was delicious. With the short crust (thick and sturdy texture similar to a shortbread cookie) and the caramel sauce it was amazing. Note that the ingredient list called for a large pineapple. What that means is unclear. The medium one I used seemed to provide a sufficient quantity of filling.
As soon as I saw the Roasted Hatch Chilies, Apple and Ricotta Hand Pies recipe I knew I had to prepare it next. Something I grew up with in the southwest part of the country was buying roasted chilies every Fall and freezing them for use during the year. So, I usually have them on hand, but if this isn't a tradition of yours, I've seen frozen bags of these diced chilies with different levels of heat in both major grocery store chains and a big box store that starts with a W.
If fresh aren't available it is worth using frozen as the canned ones have almost no flavor left after processing. I used medium/hot chilies rather than the mild ones called for, extra sharp cheddar cheese and low fat ricotta. The hand pies were a big hit and I will definitely make them again. Note the ingredient list stated the chilies should be sliced into thin strips but the recipe said the chilies were diced.
Finally, I made the Apple, Brie, and Bacon Tart, not to be confused with the also included recipe a few pages away for Apple and Brie Tart with Bacon Crumble. The main ingredients of the two pastries are the same so this really seemed more of a variation than a separate pie, but they do use different crusts. And, one uses apple butter, one uses honey and brown sugar. One uses a parmesan crust, while one includes parmesan in the filling. Main difference seems to be that one uses whole grain mustard in the filling - a powerful taste. I made the one without the mustard. I substituted turkey bacon and admit I used store bought puff pastry dough, but otherwise followed the recipe and the result was delicious.
So, my complaints are primarily the sloppiness in the recipes. Fruit quantities are often presented in a vague way, when there is absolutely no reason. Either weight or by measure would alleviate the guesswork. Three small, medium or large peaches is inherently unclear. Three cups of peeled, pitted and sliced 1/4 inch thick peaches is clear. When I made the Pineapple Caramel Tart I had no idea what a large pineapple meant to the author. Similarly whether the chilies should be sliced or diced isn't the end of the world, but why present any confusion? This is unnecessary sloppiness and basic editing should have fixed these problems.
Lack of photographs of the finished recipes in cookbooks is something I find troublesome. The full-page photographs that were included could have easily been divided into quarters with each section picturing a different pastry. This step alone would have increased costs very minimally and given the user a photograph of almost every pie in the book. Cooking is visual and I like to see what the end result should look like not just as a roadmap but so I can decide if the dish looks fancy enough for entertaining.
Another complaint is regarding the small font size, which I estimate at nine points. My eyes are still pretty good but I have trouble reading a book laying open on the countertop - looking down at it while standing in the kitchen cooking. It is annoying to bend down to read - a larger font would eliminate that problem. Mercifully most of the ingredients and directions are printed in black ink which makes it easier to read, but the hints/author's notes are printed in a lovely pastel blue color that is headache provoking when trying to read from any distance. Sadly, these are not unusual problems, but ones I find with frequency because cookbooks are often designed like coffee table books instead of tools for use in the kitchen.
Overall I applaud the creativity of the recipes but have problems with, probably most significantly, the poor editing. Too many careless errors which may not trip up an experienced baker may cause problems for a novice.