Hand pies are variable, portable and adorable


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Posted Online: Nov. 07, 2012, 12:00 pm
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By Noelle Carter
Take everything you love about pie — that rich, flaky crust cradling your favorite filling — and downsize it into a compact package. Behold the little wonder that is the hand pie. Convenient, simple and, dare I say it — terribly cute — it's pie's answer to the cupcake, without the fussy decorations.

Best of all? Just like a cupcake, you don't have to share.

I've been baking a lot of the little guys of late, and I'm totally smitten. Simple to make, there's not much to a hand pie: Sandwich your filling of choice between a couple of layers of dough and bake until golden brown. Voila.

I love how versatile it is. Sweet or savory, the hand pie is an easy choice, whether you're planning snacks, a main dish or dessert. Enjoy a batch at home or pack them to go — no plates or forks required. Short of a sandwich, can a meal get any more portable when you're on the run?

Simple as it may be, there are ways to make a good hand pie great.

First, consider the crust. The ratio of crust to filling is greater with a hand pie than with a normal slice of pie, and it will be noticed from the first to last bite. You want your crust to make a good impression, with good flavor and texture.

I've seen hand pies with short crusts and crunchy crusts; some are even baked with a puff pastry crust, like turnovers. Personally, I prefer a flaky pie crust, rich and buttery yet delicate, practically shattering with every bite.

As for the filling, get creative. Use seasonal fruit as an inspiration for a sweet pie, or riff on a hearty dish — Irish stew, perhaps, or curried lamb — when you're craving something savory. Keep in mind that, because the pies are small, any ingredients that go into the filling should be finely diced so they don't burst through the dough. Large apple wedges or carrot slices won't work. Finally, if you cook the filling separately, be sure it has been chilled completely before filling the pies so it doesn't warm the dough.

Form the pies however you'd like. You can roll out the dough into a large sheet and cut out squares or other creative shapes, re-rolling the scraps to form additional pies. I prefer to portion the dough beforehand, carefully rolling each into a circle to form simple half-moon pies; this eliminates scraps, which need to be re-rolled and tend to be tough and not as attractive.

Once they're ready to go, the little pies bake in maybe half the time it would take to bake a standard pie — a whole sheet of them puffed, golden brown and temptingly fragrant. And just like cupcakes, each little pie is a convenient, compact individual serving.

Perfect for portion control. That is, if you can eat just one.

Apple Hand Pies
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes, plus chilling time for the filling and pies
Servings: 12
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup rum, brandy or water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
4 large tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted pecan pieces
Prepared pie dough for 2 single crust (9- to 10-inch) pies, 36 to 40 ounces
1 beaten egg

Coarse or decorating sugar for garnishing the pies
Directions:
Rehydrate the raisins: In a small saucepan, combine the raisins with the rum, brandy or water, and heat over medium heat until the raisins are softened and plump. Drain the raisins before adding to the apples.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the apple slices, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt, and cook, stirring frequently, just until the apple starts to soften, 3 to 4 minutes (the slices should still be crisp). Remove from heat and stir in the raisins and toasted pecans. Spread the apple mixture onto a baking sheet to stop the cooking process and allow the apples to cool quickly, then cover and refrigerate until needed. This makes about 4 cups filling, slightly more than is needed for 12 pies; the extra filling can be eaten right away or used later to flavor pancakes or muffins or as a topping for ice cream. The filling will keep for up to 4 days, covered and refrigerated.
Divide the prepared pie dough into 12 even pieces, about 3 ounces each, and shape each into a small disk. On a lightly floured board, carefully roll each piece into a circle about 6 inches in diameter and about one-eighth -inch thick. The dough will be flaky and will probably crack on the edges; without working the dough too much, gently mold the dough with your hands as it's rolled to form as perfect a circle as possible. Carefully set the circle aside and continue rolling until all of the circles are formed.
Brush the inside of each circle with a very light coating of beaten egg, going all the way to the edge of the circle. Place roughly one-fourth cup of the apple filling in the center of each circle, slightly off to one side (to make it easier to fold over the dough to form the hand pie), but leaving a 1-inch border around the edge on one side. Carefully — this can be tricky — fold over half of the dough, lining the edges up to form a half-circle; you may need to support the dough as it's folded over to keep it from cracking. Gently press the edges down to seal the pie. Trim the edges to clean them up, or gently brush the top of the edge of each pie, then fold the edge in for a cleaner-looking edge. Continue until all 12 pies are formed.
Place the prepared pies on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate them, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the chilled pies and brush them with the egg wash. Use a small knife to slash 2 to 3 small steam vents in the top of each pie. Dust each pie with a sprinkling of coarse sugar.
Bake the pies, 1 sheet at a time (refrigerate the other sheet until ready to bake), on the center rack until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the pies halfway through baking for even coloring. Cool on a rack. The pies can be served warm or at room temperature.
Each hand pie: 515 calories; 6 grams protein; 49 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 33 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 64 mg cholesterol; 12 grams sugar; 435 mg sodium.

Flaky Pie Dough
Total time: 20 minutes, plus chilling time
Servings: Enough dough for 6 hand pies or 1 (9- to 10-inch) single-crust pie
Note: The recipe can easily be doubled to make 12 hand pies. If using a food processor, process one batch at a time, as most processors are not big enough to handle a double batch at once. The dough, with sugar, can be used for sweet or savory pies, as the sugar is not enough to noticeably sweeten the crust; however, it can be omitted if desired. The cider vinegar is used to help "shorten" the crust, improving the flaky texture. Though you might smell the vinegar as you roll the crust, you should not be able to taste or smell it in the finished pies.
2 1/4 cups (9.6 ounces) flour
Generous 1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup cold shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 1/4 teaspoons cider vinegar
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water, more if needed

Directions:
To make the dough using a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the shortening and pulse until incorporated (the dough will look like moist sand). Add the butter and pulse just until the butter is reduced to pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the vinegar and 4 tablespoons water over the mixture, and pulse a few times to form the dough, then a few more times just until the dough begins to clump together to form a cohesive dough. If the dough is too crumbly and dry, pulse in additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough and mold it into a disk roughly 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Cover the disk tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Alternatively, to make the dough by hand, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the shortening and incorporate using a pastry cutter or fork (the dough will look like moist sand). Cut in the butter just until it is reduced to pea-size pieces. Sprinkle the vinegar and 4 tablespoons water over the mixture, and stir together until the ingredients are combined to form a dough. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until it comes together in a single mass. If the dough is too crumbly and dry, gently work in additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Mold the dough into a disk roughly 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Cover the disk tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Each of 6 servings: 385 calories; 5 grams protein; 37 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 24 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 41 mg cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 390 mg sodium.

Curried Lamb Hand Pies
Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes, plus chilling time for the filling and pies
Servings: 12
Note: The lamb can be replaced with lean ground beef if preferred.
4 tablespoons oil, divided
1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 teaspoons curry powder, or to taste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 pound ground lamb
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 large boiling potato, cut into 1/4-inch dice (peeled or unpeeled)
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup beef or vegetable broth
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Prepared pie dough for 2 single crust (9- to 10-inch) pies, 36 to 40 ounces
2 beaten eggs

Directions:
In a large saute pan heated over medium-high heat until hot, add 2 tablespoons oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften. Stir in the curry powder, cumin and coriander and cook until the spices are aromatic and begin to toast, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, stirring to combine.
Stir in the ground lamb, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the lamb is lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Taste the lamb and adjust the seasoning if desired. Add the wine and cook, scraping any flavorings from the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and spoon the meat into a bowl.
In the same pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the potato and cook, stirring frequently, until it just begins to brown. Stir in the carrot and broth. Cover the pan and steam the potatoes and carrots just until they are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Check while stirring to make sure the potato does not stick to the bottom of the pan.) Uncover the pan and add the peas, then the meat mixture, stirring to combine. Stir in the cilantro. Taste again and adjust the seasoning and spices if desired.
Remove from heat and spread the filling onto a sheet pan, then refrigerate it until the filling is chilled. This makes about 5 cups filling, more than is needed for 12 pies; the filling can be warmed and eaten, added to a soup, stew or other dishes as desired. The filling will keep for up to 4 days; covered and refrigerated.
Divide the prepared pie dough into 12 even pieces, about 3 ounces each, and shape each into a small disk. On a lightly floured board, carefully roll each piece into a circle about 6 inches in diameter and about one-eighth-inch thick. The dough will be flaky and will probably crack on the edges; without working the dough too much, gently mold the dough with your hands as it's rolled to form as perfect a circle as possible. Carefully set the circle aside and continue rolling until all of the circles are formed.
Assemble the hand pies: Brush the inside of each circle with a very light coating of beaten egg, brushing all the way to the edge of the circle. Place roughly one-fourth cup of the lamb filling in the center of each circle, slightly off to one side (to make it easier to fold over the dough to form the hand pie), but leaving a 1-inch border around the edge on one side. Carefully — this can be tricky — fold over half of the dough, lining the edges up to form a half-circle; you may need to support the dough as it's folded over to keep it from cracking. Gently press the edges down to seal the pie. Trim the edges to clean them up, or gently brush the top of the edge of each pie, then fold the edge in again for a cleaner-looking side. Continue until all 12 pies are formed.
Place the prepared pies on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate them, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the chilled pies and brush them with the egg wash. Use a small knife to slash 2 to 3 small steam vents in the top of each pie.
Bake the pies, 1 sheet at a time (refrigerate the other sheet until ready to bake), on the center rack until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the pies halfway through baking for even coloring. Cool on a rack. The pies can be served warm or at room temperature.
Each hand pie: 496 calories; 11 grams protein; 42 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 31 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 87 mg cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 760 mg sodium.















 



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  Today is Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: A corps of surgeons now occupies the new hospital quarters at the Garrison Hospital on the Rock Island Arsenal. A fence has been installed to enclose the prison hospital.
1889 -- 125 years ago: B. Winter has let a contract to Christ Schreiner for a two story brick building with a double store front on the south side of 3rd Avenue just west of 17th Street. The estimated cost was $4,500.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Germany sent simultaneous ultimatums to Russia and France, demanding that Russia suspend mobilization within 12 hours and demanding that France inform Germany within 18 hours. In the case of war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Civil service offices at the post office and the Rock Island Arsenal were swamped as more than 700 youths sought 15 machinist apprenticeships at the Arsenal.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Last night, American Legion Post 246 in Moline figuratively handed over the trousers to a female ex-Marine and petticoat rule began. Olga Swanson, of Moline, was installed as the first woman commander of the post .
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Quad City Civic Center captured the excitement and interest of a convention of auditorium managers this weekend in Reno, Nev. Bill Adams, civic center authority chairman, said the 10,000-seat arena planned for downtown Moline has caught the eye of construction firms, suppliers, management teams and concession groups.








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