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Sweet And Salty Pies

For some people, there is nothing better on a cold day than a warm slice of pie. Tamasin Day-Lewis has written a cookbook devoted entirely to the humble dish called "Tarts With Tops On Or How to Make the Perfect Pie."

Having written, "The Art of the Tart," she tells The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen she thought she would never would like to see pastry again and yet she jokingly says she wrote it out of "complete madness."

In all seriousness, she writes in her latest book, "Pies are the business. You can dress them up or dress them down. Make them classic or modern, savory or sweet, shroud them in a butter-crisp crust, or top them with creamy potato. No food comforts and nurtures like a proper homemade pie."

In "Tarts with Tops On," Day-Lewis includes much more recipes than the traditional apple pie, she incorporates some traditional European pies: Galician Pork and Sausage and the Welsh Chicken and Leek Pie are just two examples.

On The Early Show she demonstrated how to make Cheddar Cheese and Onion Pie and Pecan Pie. The following are her recipes:

Cheddar Cheese And Onion Pie
A sweet and simple veggie pie; the kind to keep warm in tin foil in a knapsack or just to be eaten cold in the hand as a change from common or garden cheese sandwiches. Just make sure you use a really mature Cheddar cheese with character, vibrancy, and depth of flavor -a hunk of Vermont or New York State, say. This pie is infinitely more delicious than its ingredients would suggest.

Serves 6

Ingredients
Shortcrust pastry dough made with 3 cups all-purpose flour and ¾ cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion, peeled and chopped finely
2 1/2 cups good, strong Cheddar, coarsely grated
1/4 lb. Potatoes, peeled, steamed and diced
2 large eggs
4 tbsp heavy cream
A sprig of thyme or a bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt and black pepper
Beaten egg for glaze

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide the dough into two balls, keeping one a little larger than the other. Melt the butter in a pan and gently fry the onion until softened and translucent, then let cool. Throw the onions into a bowl with the grated cheese, potato, eggs, cream, thyme or parsley, and the seasoning, and mix everything together with your fingers.
  2. Roll out the larger ball of pastry and line a shallow greased 9-inch tart pan. Tip the cheese and onion mixture into the piecrust. Moisten the edges of the crust and cover with the rolled-out top piece, crimping the edges together carefully. Brush beaten egg over the top and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until crisp and golden brown. You can use leeks instead of onions, or add buttered apple slices instead of the potato.

Pecan Pie
With its butterscotch middle, soft nuttiness, and crisp crust, this is the perfect pie for a good Sunday lunch or a special occasion. You can gild the lily and add a cloudy oval of marshmallow meringue to each portion, or you can leave well alone, save for the cold stream of light cream that matches ivory with fudgy, caramel brown.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients
Shortcrust pastry dough made with 1 cup flour and 1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup light cream
2 heaping tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1 cup pecan nuts

Meringue top (optional):
3 eggs whites
1/4 cup superfine granulated sugar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a greased 9-in tart pan with the rolled-out dough, then bake blind for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. Remove the wax paper and beans and return the pastry to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
  2. Pour the sugar, butter, and cream into the top of a double broiler, sift in the cornstarch, and beat over a gentle heat until the mixture thickens and is wondrously free of lumps. Off the heat, add the vanilla extract and beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. Then stir in the pecan nuts and scrape the mixture into the pie shell.
  3. If you're adding meringue, beat the egg whites until stiff, add a third of the sugar, and beat again. Fold in the next third of sugar, pile the meringue onto the pecan filling, and sprinkle over the remaining sugar. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until the meringue has bronzed and crisped to a crackling top. Remove from the oven and leave for a few minutes before serving.

Shortcrust Pastry Dough

Method

  1. Use approximately twice the weight of all-purpose flour (preferably organic) to unsalted butter. Some recipes call for half butter, half lard.
  2. Sift the flour and a pinch of sea salt into a food processor. Then cut the cold butter into small pieces on top of it. I process it for 20-30 seconds; then add ice-cold water through the top, a tablespoon at a time - 2 - 2 1/2 should be enough for about 10 ounce of dough - with the machine running. If the paste is still in crumbly little bits after a minute or two, add a tablespoon more water, but remember, the more water you use, the more the crust will shrink if you bake it blind. One solution is to use a bit of cream or egg yolk instead of water. The moment the dough has cohered into a single ball, stop, remove it, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  3. If you're making pastry dough by hand, sift the flour into a large bowl with the salt, add the chopped butter, and work as briskly as you can to rub the fat into the flour. Use the tips of your fingers only, rather like running grains of hot sand through your fingers. Add the water bit by bit as above; wrap and chill the dough.
  4. If you're making a double-crust pie, divide the dough into roughly two-thirds and one-third. Then scatter a bit of flour on your work surface, roll your rolling pin in it, dust the palms of your hands, and start rolling. Always roll away from yourself, turning the dough as you go, and keep the rolling pin and work surface floured to prevent sticking.

Tamasin Day-Lewis is a frequent contributor to Vogue, Vanity Fair, and the Daily Telegraph.

In Britain she is also known as a television star and food journalist. She recently launched her first food show in Britain, "Tamasin's Weekends."

Her first book, "The Art of the Tart," was released in 2001. Her latest book features seven chapters that reflect the wide variety of pies. Chapters include: "Savory Pies," "Other People's Pies," "Sweet Pies," and "Apple Pies."