Making pies easier than you may think

They will give you a real sense of achievement, author says.

The book: “Pie”; 192 pages, $24.99, by Angela Boggiano. Published by Mitchell Beazley, Octopus Publishing Group, 2013.

In her own words: “Making a spectacular pie will give you a real sense of achievement … pie making is not something to be scared of, and I hope that’s what you’ll find with this collection of recipes.”

What you get: More than 100 recipes of savory and sweet pies. There’s an invaluable intro on pastry making, with instructions for making shortcrust, cheese, potato, hot-water, wheat-free, food processor and other types of pastries. The photographs are beautiful, and we want to try “Vegetable and Rice Picnic Pie” (Page 61); “Cornmeal Crust Chili Pie” (P. 71); Chocolate-filled Pear Puddings” (P. 135); and “Whiskey-laced Mince Pies” (P. 170).

What we made:

ASPARAGUS TURNOVERS (P. 94)

Makes 6 turnovers

For the pastry:

1 pound ready-made puff pastry

For the filling:

½ cup cream cheese

Grated zest and juice of ½ lemon

½ ounce fresh chives, chopped

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

6 thin slices cooked smoked ham

1¼ pound asparagus spears, trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to form a sheet 1/8 inch thick. Now cut it into 6 even-sized squares.

Place the cream cheese, lemon zest and juice, chives, and most of the Parmesan in a bowl and mix together well. Season with a little salt and ground black pepper. Divide the mixture between the 6 pastry squares, spreading it out a little, then lay a slice of cooked ham on the cheese. Place a few asparagus spears diagonally on top of the ham. Now fold the bottom corner of each pastry square over the base of the spears, leaving the tips exposed. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little water. Fold over each side of the pastry to form a pouch, pressing down gently to seal.

Brush the top of the pastry and asparagus tips with the oil and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and puffed and the asparagus spears are tender. Serve immediately.

Our assessment: Wow! These turnovers look beautiful and taste gourmet. You’ll want to serve them right out of the oven to enjoy the meltiness of the cream cheese. From start to table, this recipe took us about 40 minutes to prepare and bake, and is easy enough for inexperienced cooks. Definitely put this recipe in the impress-your-guests file.

Tip: Be sure to flour the surface well when rolling out the dough and trim off the rough edges of the rolled-out dough before you cut it into even-size squares.

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