Side Dish: Book tackles pies for every occasion

Betty Crocker The Big Book of Pies & Tarts
Betty Crocker The Big Book of Pies & Tarts

The long Labor Day weekend has always seemed to me to be the real start of back-to-school activities — think tailgating and fund-raiser cookie or jambalaya sales — plus the kickoff of the fall holiday party scene.
All of those activities have home cooks whipping up yummy treats to share with family and friends. They might get inspiration from a new Betty Crocker cookbook that offers more than 200 recipes for pies of all kinds. Some will work for breakfast, others for dinner or a special occasion.
“Betty Crocker’s The Big Book of Pies & Tarts” shares recipes and tips for making your own pie crust, but most of its recipes start with the convenient refrigerated pie crust. It includes tips for choosing pie plates — it recommends heat-resistant glass or dull aluminum — and how to freeze pie pastry or filled pies. It also gives decorative crust ideas, discusses baking methods for pies and tarts, and explains how to cool, cut and store your creations.
Full-color photographs illustrate many of the book’s recipes for fruit pies, creamy and chilled pies, tarts and minipies, holiday pies and savory pies. Among the recipes are Apple-Blackberry Pie, Piña Colada Tart, Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie, Jeweled Cranberry-Apricot Tart, Impossibly Easy Mini Thai Chicken Pies and Cheesy Bacon-Tomato Pie. This book provides a good collection for finding the perfect — and easy to make — pie.

Cheramie Sonnier can be reached at
Pear Tartlets
Serves 4. Recipe is from “Betty Crocker’s The Big Book of Pies and Tarts” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013).
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from 17.3-oz. pkg.), thawed
1 ripe pear, quartered
1/4 cup peach preserves

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Unfold pastry sheet on work surface; cut into 4 squares. Place pastry squares on ungreased cookie sheet.
2. Slice each pear quarter into very thin slices. Arrange slices on pastry squares, leaving 1/2-inch border.
3. Bake about 20 minutes or until pastry is puffed and browned. Spread 1 tablespoon preserves over top of each warm tartlet to cover pears. Cool on cookie sheet 10 minutes before serving.
Tip: Thaw the frozen puff pastry on the counter for about 15 minutes. The pastry should be chilled but still pliable when you’re ready to work with it. If the pastry gets too warm, the butter layers will flatten and the pastry won’t puff as high when it bakes.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 430 calories, 24 grams total fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 21/2 grams trans fat, 75 milligrams cholesterol, 160 milligrams sodium, 49 grams total carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 5 grams protein. Exchanges: 11/2 starch, 11/2 other carbohydrate, 41/2 fat. Carbohydrate choices: 3.