Category Archives: pies

combo pie

I recently visited a dear friend in Lexington, KY. During my stay, my friend insisted that we go to Ramsey’s, a local institution loved for its homey environment and famous for its pies. I got the combination pie, a brownie and peanut butter pie which is known to its fans as simply “the combo.” I have been thinking about that pie ever since I got back, and yesterday I really wanted to procrastinate was overwhelmed by the urge to recapture its fudgy, salty sweetness. And you know what? I did it.

The pastry was sweet and crumbly, the brownie was thick and fudgy, and the peanut butter filling was  just…perfect. And the best part was, it was actually really easy. It took more patience than anything else. Pie is my favorite food, but if you don’t love it the way I do, this pie could easily be reworked into brownie peanut butter bars.

combo pie:

pastry: (adapted from Simply French by Patricia Wells)

  • 4 tbs. softened butter
  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • dash of vanilla
  • 1 c. flour
  • pinch of salt

In an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until it resembles a thick frosting. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla until smooth, then add in the flour and a pinch of salt. If the dough seems too sticky, add up to two more tablespoons of flour, no more. Turn out the dough onto waxed paper, form it into a ball, and place another layer of waxed paper on top. Roll it out into a circle and place it on a cookie sheet. This technique makes this particular pastry dough a cinch to roll out and ensures you don’t get a floury mess all over your counter. Put it in the fridge for at least an hour, or in the freezer for 20 minutes if you’re in a rush. Once it’s chilled, place it in a tart pan and trim the edges.

cocoa brownie batter: (adapted from smittenkitchen)

  • 1-1/4 sticks butter
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. sweet cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. flour

While your pastry is in the fridge, preheat your oven to 350°. In a double boiler, melt together the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt, and then set it aside to cool slightly. You want to make sure it’s not so hot that it cooks your egg! Once it’s just warm, beat in the egg until very smooth. Stir in the flour until you can’t see it anymore, then beat the batter vigorously for about 40 seconds. Pour into the prepared tart pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until brownies are done but fudgy. Allow pie to cool, then cover it with foil and place it in the fridge for at least an hour. (Please don’t judge me for the cowboy hat in the background of this picture. I’m a college girl and it’s almost Halloween.)

peanut butter pie filling:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 c. peanut butter (I use the real stuff)
  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Beat everything together with an electric mixer on high until thoroughly blended and very smooth. Spread it out in the cooled brownie pie pan, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, until set.




Filed under desserts, pies, recipes, vegetarian

mushroom and fontiago quiche

Sometimes you just feel like a quiche. Especially when you’re spending your weekend cooped up in your apartment studying for midterms. I took a study break and two hours later, my apartment smells like heaven, if heaven were made of butter, shallots, and cheese, which I suspect it is.

When it comes to quiche, mushrooms are sadly neglected in favor of a traditional ham/bacon, onion, and cheese mixture (quiche Lorraine, anyone?). But dig this: mushrooms are a good source of fiber, selenium, and potassium, among other vitamins and minerals, and unlike many vegetables, they actually retain most of those nutrients when they’re cooked.

They’re perfect for redeeming a quiche from all of the butter, milk, and cheese that might send health freaks running for the hills make you feel a little guilty for indulging. In my opinion, quiche is one of those perfect foods that you can eat any time of day, breakfast, lunch, dinner, or (my favorite!) brunch.

A note on the crust: I’m not a big believer in premade pie crusts, but that’s only because I love making crusts! I grew up in a family in which a really lovely, flaky pie crust could magically win you compliments with very little effort, so I learned to pinch together a pie dough at a very young age. I’ve always found something very rewarding about it. If you don’t get the same nerdy satisfaction from making pie crust as I do, just use a premade one–there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it! For this particular crust, I adapted Julia Child’s pastry recipe, subbing in 3/4 c. whole wheat flour because I like to work it into my food whenever I can. It makes me forget that I’m eating a quarter of a stick of butter in one sitting. If you’re not a fan of whole wheat flour, just use 2-1/4 c. regular flour.

mushroom and fontiago quiche:

(Adapted from Bon Appétit, October 2009, p. 54)


  • 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 cup white flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1-1/2 sticks chilled butter, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 4 tbs. shortening, chilled
  • scant 1/2 c. ice water

Preheat oven to 450°. In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients thoroughly. Add the butter and shortening and pinch into the flour with your fingertips. Be careful not to let your palm touch the mixture because you don’t want it to melt your fats. When it vaguely resembles oatmeal, pour in the ice water all at once and blend the dough vigorously with one hand until it just comes together. (Be careful not to overblend it. The reason pastry dough is flaky and not doughy is because you don’t give the gluten in the flour a chance to become activated.) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface for the fraisage, a fancy term for the final blending of fat and flour. Push the dough away from you using your palm in short bursts. Roll it out with a rolling pin (or if you’re a college student, a wine bottle) and wrap it around your rolling pin to transfer it to a buttered pie dish. Tidy up the edges and blind-bake the crust for about 15 minutes. Remove and reduce the oven temperature to 325°.


  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 3 medium shallots, chopped
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 c. half and half
  • 2/3 c. whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 lb. Fontiago (or Fontina) cheese, coarsely grated

While your crust is blind-baking, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet. Add shallots (a wonderfood, it’s like garlic and onions had a baby) and sauté until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté for another 8 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove from heat and let cool while you whisk together the eggs, half and half, milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a bowl. Take 1/2 c. of the cheese and set aside. Stir the rest of the cheese and the mushroom mixture into the egg mixture. Pour the filling into the crust and sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 c. cheese. Bake quiche at 325° until barely puffed, golden brown, and just set in the center, about 45 minutes. Let cool for at least 30 minutes and serve.


I paired mine with a simple salad with vinaigrette for a light lunch. Best study break ever.


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Filed under eggs, main course, pies, recipes, vegetarian