New Recipe: Sonoma County experts share their advice on making stress-free pies for Pi Day

To assemble: On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a circle at least 11 inches in diameter. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan, preferably glass. Turn edges under to make a thick rim; flute rim by pinching into a zigzag pattern. Refrigerate until ready to bake, at least an hour.

Make the filling: In a large bowl, toss apples, green chiles and lemon juice together. In another bowl, mix dry ingredients and add to apples and chiles, tossing until thoroughly coated.

Make the topping: In a small bowl, mix flour, walnuts and brown sugar. Add melted butter and toss together until crumbly.

Bake the pie: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Using a slotted spoon, scoop filling into chilled crust, then drizzle with 2 tablespoons of juice from bottom of bowl. Sprinkle topping evenly over filling. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until filling bubbles at edge and crust is brown. Serve warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Note: Roasted green Hatch chiles from New Mexico can be ordered from newmexicanconnection.com and are sometimes found frozen in grocery stores. Or you can use drained canned green chiles.

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The following recipe is from Angelo Sacerdote and Lina Hoshino of Petaluma Pie Company in Petaluma. You’ll need to use your own favorite pie crust recipe to make this pie.

“Most lemon meringue recipes I have read call for a meringue made of sugar and egg whites and maybe some cream of tartar to be whipped up and put on top of the pie, then baked in the oven,” Sacerdote said. “It is hard to get a stable meringue this way, so we use an Italian meringue, which is essentially cooked as you whip it. Then you can toast it with a torch when you are done.

“You will need an instant-read thermometer, a mixer with a whisk attachment and a small torch. If you don’t have a torch, you can toast it in the oven or skip toasting altogether.”

Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

For the lemon curd:

4 ounces butter

¾ cup sugar

Zest of 2 lemons

¾ cup of lemon juice

Pinch of salt

3 egg yolks

3 eggs

Italian meringue (see recipe below)

For the curd: Zest and juice the lemons. Carefully separate the yolks from the whites of three eggs. (If you break a yolk, you won’t be able to use that white for the meringue because the fat can prevent the whites from whipping properly.)

Put the butter, sugar, zest, juice and salt into a double boiler over medium heat until the butter melts.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the egg yolks.

While the butter mixture is still warm and liquid, slowly add it to the eggs, whisking constantly.

Using a rubber spatula, return the mixture to the double boiler. Continue cooking and stirring until it thickens.

For assembly: Roll your favorite pie crust recipe out in a tin. Using a fork, poke a lot of holes in the bottom and bake for 5 minutes at 325 degrees or until the crust just starts to puff up but is not yet brown.

Scrape the lemon curd out of the pot and into the crust. Continue baking for about 10 more minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow to cool while you make your meringue.

Italian Meringue

Makes one 9-inch pie

1 cup sugar

⅓ cup water

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon agave syrup (corn syrup also works)

½ cup of egg whites

Put the egg whites in a mixer and whip on high. In a small pot, combine the sugar, water and agave syrup and place on the stove on medium-high heat right after you start the mixer.

You don’t need to stir after initially combining the ingredients. Keep an eye on both the mixer and the stove. In the mixer you want soft peaks to form. If the sugar solution is not ready, you can slow down the speed. Check the temperature of the sugar solution. When it reaches 242 degrees, remove from heat, set mixer to medium-high and pour the hot liquid into the meringue between the whisk attachment and the side of the bowl in a steady stream. Try to avoid hitting the whisk so you don’t splatter the sugar solution.

Continue mixing until glossy and firm. If you have a pastry bag with a decorative tip, you can put in the meringue and pipe it onto the top of the pie; otherwise, use a rubber spatula to transfer the meringue to the pie. You can shape the meringue with the spatula or a knife or spoon. It you like, torch it. It will smell like you’re toasting marshmallows.

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This easy recipe for a favorite pie in North Carolina is distinguished by its saltine cracker crust. It was adapted by Jenny Malicki from cookbook author Katie Workman, who based the recipe on the Atlantic Beach Pie made by Chef Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Malicki adapted it by using local lemons and adding a pinch of salt to the filling to make it less sweet.

“I’ve made it with different types of citrus, but I always use some Eureka lemon juice in there because I think the acidity helps it set up,” she said. “You could use a combination of Meyer lemons and Eureka lemons right now.”

Atlantic Beach Pie

Makes one 8-inch pie

For the crust:

1½ sleeves of saltine crackers

⅓ to ½ cup softened unsalted butter

3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

4 egg yolks

½ cup lemon juice, preferably a combination of Eureka and Meyer lemons

Pinch salt (¼ teaspoon)

Fresh whipped cream and coarse sea salt, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust: Crush the crackers finely but not to dust. Use a food processor or your hands. Add the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8-inch pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust colors a little.

For the filling: While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the lemon juice and salt. It’s important to completely combine these ingredients. Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes, until the filling has set. Cool in the fridge (the pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced).

Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or diane.peterson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @dianepete56

Sonoma Magazine contributor Karen Kizer contributed to this report.



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