Pies have delighted eaters for centuries. Historians believe we have the Greeks to thank for the pastry shell, but it was the Romans who first filled the dough with sweet and savory ingredients. Here we share two of our favorite party pleasers, perfect for fall gatherings.
Spinach and Swiss Quiche
Whip up a quick quiche and, more than likely, your friends and family – yes, men (that is, real men) included – will brave the chilly evening for a slice. Maybe they’ll even bring some wine.
- 3 to 4 cups of fresh spinach (approx. 1 bag)
- 3 eggs (or substitute with 3 egg whites + 1 whole egg)
- 1 pie crust (homemade or store-bought)
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- Garlic powder, chili powder, and cayenne to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and lay the pie crust into your pie dish (I use a store-bought crust, but if you’d prefer to make your own, you do your thing). When the oven is pre-heated, pre-bake the crust for approx. 10 minutes.
Chop off any large stems and steam the spinach. (In lieu of a double boiler, I do this by suspending a colander in a pot of a small amount of boiling water. This process takes between 5-10 minutes.)
Meanwhile, put the shredded cheese in a medium-sized bowl and coat with the flour.
Crack the eggs into small bowl and beat with a fork. Add the milk and spices. Mix.
Once the spinach has steamed, remove it from the steamer and allow it to cool.
Pour the egg mixture over cheese and add the cooled spinach. Stir the mixture until the ingredients are combined.
Once the crust has pre-baked, pull it from the oven and pour the spinach, egg, and cheese mixture into the shell. Use a fork or spoon to level out the mixture in the crust.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick, inserted into the center of the quiche, pulls out clean. Check in on your quiche a few times during the baking process to be sure your crust isn’t burning. An oven-safe crust cover or tin foil wrapped around the edge of the quiche should help prevent that.
Allow quiche to cool for 10 minutes.
Serve and impress.
Cupcake Pies … or Pie Cupcakes
Normally I wouldn’t even attempt this project; I blame my unsteady hands for a lack of piping skills. However, even a bad frosting job couldn’t ruin these cupcakes’ adorableness. They’re little pie-posers that will totally please.
- 24 cupcake liners
- 32 oz. buttercream frosting (recipe below, doubled) or 2 cans (16 oz. each) of vanilla frosting
- Yellow food coloring
- 1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup each of colored candies (I used purple, red, and gold M&M’s)
- 1 box of your favorite cupcake mix and any ingredients for which it may call
On the Fly Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (no raw eggs)
- 16 oz. sifted powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup or 1 whole stick of softened butter
- 3 tbsp. milk (The thicker the milk the better the consistency. You can substitute heavy cream or whipping cream)
- 2 tsp. vanilla
Soften the butter slowly and when it’s soft but still holds its shape, beat it until creamy with an electric mixer set at a low speed. Slowly add in the powdered sugar. Next add the milk tablespoon by tablespoon. Blend until smooth. If the frosting is too thick, try adding 1/2 tbsp. of milk. If you choose, stir in coloring once blended.
Preparation for cupcakes:
In cupcake liners, prepare cupcakes according to the box or your own way. Allow them to cool.
Scoop out the frosting into a medium-sized bowl. Tint by mixing drops of yellow food coloring (3-4 at a time) and the cocoa powder to make a light brown color akin to a pie crust. Spread frosting onto cakes, leaving a 1/4 inch of cupcake edge exposed. This frosting will be the glue for the candies, which you arrange (as many as you can) close together on top of the cupcake.
For those of you who have a handy piping bag, fill it with the remaining frosting. For those without, don’t despair. Simply fill a sealable sandwich bag, press out the excess air and seal it. Cut off a tiny corner (1/8 inch is recommended) and pipe through that.
Start with the latticework and pipe lines across the top of the cupcake over the candies in one direction, then pipe a few more lines across on the diagonal. Here you can imagine other pie top designs. To create the crust, pipe beads of frosting along the edge.
Serve and delight.
Adapted from recipe appearing on oprah.com
– Biz Farrell, freelance food writer and humble gourmand.