Mexican Chicken Pie
My friend Roberto Santibañez, chef owner of Fonda restaurants in New York City, suggested this combination when I asked him about a chicken pie with Mexican flair. Chicken and vegetables are cooked in a tomato and chile salsa from the Yucatan called chiltomate, then topped with a cornmeal and cheese dough before baking. Though the habanero is a classic for this, serrano or jalapeño could be substituted. Sour cream harmonizes well served alongside.
Cranberry Pecan Pie
Warning: this pie has a tart and tangy filling that might not be sweet enough for some people. That said, I love the tangy quality of this filling and wouldn’t want it to be any other way. By the way, since the filling is cooked before the pie is baked, you can taste it and add a little more sugar if you want. My late friend Joseph Viggiani shared this recipe years ago; I have no idea where he might have found it.
Breton Apple Pie
A gateau Breton is a wonderful French cake, very much like a very dense pound cake, and is a specialty of Brittany. This non-traditional version of it adds a layer of a cooked apple filling between layers of the dough. The crust is easy to prepare—you just press it into the pan. For the top crust you’ll need a couple of cake cardboards or tart pan bottoms the same diameter as the pan. My dear friend Stephanie Weaver gave me this recipe close to 30 years ago and I have made it countless times, always to rave reviews. Because the baked dough has a cake-like rather than a crisp texture, it freezes beautifully—I keep a couple in the freezer around the holidays.
Blueberry and Apple Pie
Tart apples marry well with sweet, spicy blueberries, even though their seasons are fairly opposite. In early summer when blueberries come into season there are always imported apples available, and when apples come into season it’s okay to use frozen blueberries. I find that dicing the apples quite small makes them cook through easily, and their tartness gives a better boost to the blueberry flavor than adding lemon juice or zest.
Lattice-Topped Apple Tart
This is so much more practical to prepare and serve than a standard apple pie baked in a sloping sided pie pan. It’s free-standing on a platter for serving and only needs to be cut into wedges, with none of the sometimes destructive digging underneath the bottom crust to extract wedges from the other type of pan. It’s also much more elegant looking than a plain apple pie.
Deep-dish Blueberry Pie with Cream Biscuit Crust
There isn’t much difference between this pie and what we normally call a cobbler, except that this has much more fruit in relation to the crust. The blueberries have no thickeners added to mar their natural flavor and juiciness, so the filling is quite soupy.