Saturday gave us great weather for the 8th Annual Pie Contest at Downtown Hammond's popular Bizarre Bazaar.
If last weekend's competition was the "appetizer warm-up" for this month's cooking and baking contests in the Region, then tomorrow's event I've been asked to judge is definitely the "main course."
Prompt Ambulance Service, Elder Communities and a hosting group of other local businesses are sponsoring Lake County Taste of Care 2013.
I've been asked to judge local chefs competing in a culinary competition that will allow guests to also taste the wonderful results and also vote for a "People's Choice Award."
Best of all, this wonderful new charity event is a fundraiser for Honor Flight Chicago, that terrific organization dedicated to flying our World War II Veterans to Washington D.C. for a day of honors to visit the memorials that stand in their honor.
Tomorrow's event is from 5 to 7 p.m. at Avalon Manor, 3550 East Lincoln Hwy in Merrillville. Tickets are purchased at the door for just $10 and there's also a senior discount available.
Honor Flight Chicago is a 501c3 organization founded in 2008. Their goal is simple, to honor all WWII veterans with an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. for a day of remembrance and thanks from a grateful nation.
Go to honorflightchicago.org to learn more about this wonderful organization.
Anyone interested in making a donation for Thursday's event cause can contact Ron Donahue of Prompt Ambulance at RonDonahue@promptambulance.com.
As for the winning bakers of Saturday's pie event in Hammond, I'm featuring two of the winning recipes today and the other two award-winning pie recipes will be showcased next week.
The 2013 winners are sisters Evelyn and Vivian Koncalouic of Whiting with their Pillsbury's Candy Bar Pie with Crushed Pretzel Crust winning for the category of "Creative Use of Ingredients," while Connie Dedelow of Schererville won the category of "flakiest crust" using her mother's recipe for her famed homemade apple pie. Both of these recipes are published today and Connie's mom, Anne Karabatsos, age 88 of Highland, attended the contest to cheer on her daughter and their Greek and Serbian family heritages.
In contrast to these sweet treats, our other two winners this year were savory stand-outs, with Patty Grigatis of Lansing winning with her onion tart and sisters Julie and Jasmine Lopez taking home the overall grand price honors for their "In A Jiffy Chicken Pot Pie with Cornmeal Top Crust." These two recipes will be printed next week.
My thanks to the rest of the panel of judges, which included my Times columnist colleague Eloise Valadez, Chef Terry Zych of Ivy Tech and 2011 Purdue Calumet Pie Bake-Off Winner Rebecca Stankowski. We judged 13 pie entries before selecting our winners during the fun at Harrison Park on Hohman Avenue.
Once again, contest coordinators Karen M. Maravilla, Downtown Hammond Council president and Michelle Golden, president of The Golden Studio, did a fantastic job, with help from Mary McClelland of South Shore Arts.
Pillsbury's Candy Bar Pie with Crushed Pretzel Crust
2 cups finely crushed pretzel sticks
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 (12-ounce package) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
4 bars (2.07-ounce each) milk chocolate-covered peanut, caramel and nougat candy, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1/4 cup coarsely chopped lightly salted peanuts
DIRECTIONS: Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. In medium bowl, mix pretzels, brown sugar and butter; firmly press mixture on bottom, up side and onto rim of pie plate. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on cooling rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Add sour cream and peanut butter, beating on low speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended. Arrange 1 cup candy pieces in bottom of crust. Spoon cream cheese mixture over candy. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until set. Cool completely. Cover; refrigerate 2 hours. Microwave chocolate chips and whipping cream on High 30 seconds or until melted and smooth. Drizzle chocolate sauce over pie; sprinkle with peanuts and remaining candy pieces. Makes 12 servings.
Granny Anne Karabatsos' Pair of Apple Pies
(For 2 pies, to create both top and bottom crusts)
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cold water, plus two tablespoons
1 cup white granulated sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons flour
16 large tart baking apples
DIRECTIONS: To make crust, combine the 4 cups flour with salt, water and oil in a bowl and mix to combine. Shape into a ball and fill in refrigerator for 1 hour. Roll one-half of the pastry dough between two pieces of lightly floured wax paper to form bottom crust for a 10-inch circle to fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Set remaining dough aside to refrigerate until ready to use or follow same steps and form crusts for second pie. Create filling by mixing the sugar with flour, cinnamon and nutmeg together with a fork in a medium bowl, divide to use half of mixture for the creation of each of the two pies when assembling. Sprinkle a scattering of this mixture over the bottom crusts in pie pans. Peel apples and cut into small pieces, to generously fill up the pie shells, ending with sprinkling the remaining flour sugar and spice mixture over the apples. Dot with butter or margarine if desired. Once again using wax paper, roll out the remaining dough to make the top crusts to cover pies. Moisten edges of pie with water to seal, trimming and fluting outer crust. Cut slits in top crust for ventilation. Cover the edge of the pastry shells with foil to prevent over browning. Bake pies in hot oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 1 hour or until crust is golden brown. Makes 2 pies, each serving into 8 slices.