The Story of Pie



It’s autumn.  Get your pie-making recipes out and start rolling.

From sweet to savory, big to small, pies have a place at almost any meal.

Learn about the history of pies as well as some great recipes from several Door County chefs, me included!   The fall Edible Door magazine has all the recipes with some great photos by photographer Justin Anderson.

Make your pie a star

In conjunction with my Edible Door pie story, the magazine is running a contest.  Submit your favorite pie (sweet or savory) along with a brief story about the pie.  Send it to by October 20.   The winning pie and story will be featured in the Winter Edible Door magazine.   Plus you will receive a Chef Terri Milligan apron and gift certificate from Sweetie Pies in Fish Creek.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Hand Pies

Here’s a new favorite pie of mine – individual savory pies made with roasted butternut squash and goat cheese.   The recipe was featured in my Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story about fall food bucket like.   Check out the whole story on line.

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Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese and Sage Hand Pies
Decorate these individual savory pies with fresh sage leaves.  Use your favorite pie dough or the recipe below.
Makes 8 5-inch hand pies


Pastry crust
2 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons flour – divided

½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter cut into ½-inch pieces
5 to 6 tablespoons cold water


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
2/3 cup white onion, 1/4-inch dice
3 cups peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
4-ounces goat cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves plus additional whole leaves for garnish
1 egg
2 tablespoons half and half or heavy cream


Prepare the pastry by placing 2 ¼ cups flour and ½ teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.   Pulse to combine.    With the machine running, slowly add the cold butter cubes through the feed tube.  With machine running, add 5 tablespoons cold water.   If the dough is too dry, add the additional tablespoon of water.   Remove dough and form into a flat disk.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

While pastry is chilling, prepare the filling.   Place the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat.   When melted, add the garlic clove and onion.    Cook for two minutes, stirring often.   Add the butternut squash.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover sauté pan and cook until squash is fork tender but not overcooked – about 15 minutes.    Add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, brown sugar, salt and white pepper.    Let mixture cool for 10 minutes then place in a food processor and pulse until smooth.   Place in a bowl and set aside.

Combine the goat cheese and the chopped fresh sage.    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 cookie sheet pans with parchment paper.

Use the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour to dust a work area.    Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut in half.    Roll out the first half to a ¼-inch thickness.  Cut out 8 five-inch rounds.    Place four rounds on each of the prepared cookie sheets.   Divide the butternut squash mixture among the 8 rounds, placing it in the middle of each.   Divide the goat cheese mixture among the rounds, placing on top of the squash.

Combine the egg with the half and half or cream.   Use a pastry brush to put a ¼-inch rim of egg wash around each pastry round.   Roll out the remaining piece of pastry and cut into 8 five-inch rounds.   Gather scrapes as needed to roll and cut out a total of 8.

Place a round on top of each squash-filled round.   Press the rounds together.   Crimp the edges.   Cut three small slits on top of each pie using a paring knife.  Brush tops and crimped edges with the egg wash.   Decorate with whole sage leaves.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.




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Duck Breast with Pomegranate Cherry Red Wine Sauce


Duck Breast with Pomegranate Cherry Wine Reduction

1 cup cherry juce

3 tablespoon Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup vegetable oil
A grind of black pepper

 6 boneless duck breast halves, skin-on

Enough olive oil to just coat a sauté pan

Combine all of the marinade ingredients.

Trim the excess fat from the duck breasts.   Using a sharp knife, made a cut through the skin only in a diamond fashion.  Do not cut through the meat.  Marinate the ducks for 2 to 8 hours.  When ready to cook, remove from marinade and blot with a paper towel.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Heat enough oil to just coat the bottom of a sauté pan.    When oil begins to just smoke, add the duck breast and sear them until the skin is brown.    Turn the breast over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.    Remove the breast from the pan.   You may keep them warm in a 180 degree oven for about 20 minutes until ready to serve.

Pomegranate Cherry Sauce

3/4 cup red wine (Cabernet or Zinfandel)
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses*
1 cup chicken or duck stock
2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup pitted fresh sour cherries, patted dry.
1 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water, if needed 

Combine the wine, pomegranate molasses, brown sugar or honey, stock and garlic.   Simmer until reduced by half.

Add the lemon or orange zest, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.   The sauce should be slightly thick.   Add the cherries.   If sauce needs a little more thickening, add a little of the cornstarch/water mixture until sauce into a simmering sauce until it becomes the right consistency .

 *  Pomegranate molasses is available in most speciality food stores.

To serve

Slice the duck on a diagonal and fan out on plate.   Place the sauce decoratively on the duck breast and around the plate.

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Pinot Noir Cherry Soup


Chilled Pinot Noir and Door County Cherry Soup

Serves approximately 8 to 10
Door County cherries are sour cherries so sweetening is required for this soup.  If fresh cherries are not available, substitute frozen cherries.  Be careful when purchasing frozen cherries.  Some are frozen with sugar already in them.   These presweetened cherries are fine to use in this recipe, but make sure to adjust the additional sugar.

This soup can be used as a first course or as a dessert.   As a dessert, top with a scoop of lemon sorbet or vanilla ice cream.

2 ½ pounds of fresh Door County cherries, pitted
or frozen thawed cherries if fresh are not available
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar (or additional to taste)
apple to cherry juice to just cover the cherries – approximately 2 ½ cups
2 cups Pinot Noir red wine
1 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly ground if possible)
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder or cornstarch dissolved in 1/3 cup water

 Place the pitted cherries and sugar in a stock pot.  Add enough juice to just cover the cherries.  Stir to combine.

 Add the wine.    Bring soup to a simmer.   Simmer for approximately 30 minutes.  Taste soup.  If not sweet enough, add additional sugar.

 Remove soup from the heat.  Using either an immersion blender or a food processor, puree the soup.   The soup will not be completely pureed.  There will be some bits of cherries in the finished soup.

 Place the soup back on the stove on medium heat.   Slowly add the dissolved arrowroot or cornstarch, a little at a time, until the soup slightly thickens.    Add the ground cloves and nutmeg.

Cool soup to room temperature then place in the refrigerator to chill.  Soup should chill overnight if possible.  Serve soup in a soup bowl or oversized martini glass with a scoop of the lemon mint infused sorbet.

  •  I favor using arrowroot powder over cornstarch when thickening a cold fruit soup.  Arrowroot creates a soup which is clearer.   Cornstarch tends to create a finished soup which is a bit more cloudy. 


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