Summer-fall hand pies: Mozzarella & tomato jam, Pear & smoky caramel

Mozzarella-tomato jam hand pies

Pie is problematic.

For one thing, it can be so many different things. It can be sweet, of course. But it can be savory, too.

If it’s sweet, is it filled with berries, apples, pears, plums, or rhubarb? Or maybe chocolate custard? Or peanut butter cream? Pecan, pumpkin? Ice cream?!

Pear-caramel hand pies

And on the savory side, we have everything from spinach pies to turkey pot pies to Scottish beef pies to fish pies to bean pies to shepherd pies to you-name-it pies. Where does it end?

Construction-wise, the options are daunting, too: top crust only, bottom crust only, both top and bottom? Flat top, lattice top, tiled top? Pie dough, cookie crumb, mashed potato, noodle? Round pie, square pie, rectangular pie, hand pie?

Hand pies - Cheese

I get a bit overwhelmed with options. I don’t thrive in a world of too many choices.

But here’s where pie is a comfort: it doesn’t matter what choice you make.

It doesn’t matter because pie is good no matter what.

Hand pies - Pears

Pie will be there for you. Pie will be made of whatever you have on hand, whatever you just picked at the farm stand, whatever’s left over in the refrigerator after a long week. If it’s a sweltering, muggy day and you want to cool off, pie can be cool with fresh fruit and mint and an ice cream sidecar. If it’s a cold and rainy and dismal day (as today happens to be), pie can be warm, steaming, and comforting.

This week has been a bit crazy. I really didn’t have time to think about pie. I looked around the kitchen and thought: what can be pie? The ball of fresh mozzarella volunteered first, followed by the jar of tomato jam.

Mozzarella-tomato jam hand pies

The pears hanging out in the apple bowl wanted to play, too. As did the smokey caramel sauce that’s been in the fridge for a few months.

Pear-caramel hand pies

Okay. Let’s make pie! Two types. Two shapes. One summery and savory, a play on caprese salad; the other sweet and smokey like an autumn evening in front of a bonfire.

Problem solved.

Now, look around your kitchen, your pantry, your fridge? What wants to be pie?

This month’s Let’s Lunch theme is (you guessed it) PIE! Take a look at the wonderful variety of pies the rest of the group has made.

Annabelle‘s Chocolate Pie at Glass of Fancy
Anne Marie‘s Apple Pie Sandwiches at Sandwich Surprise
Betty Ann‘s Calamansi Pie at Asian In America
Cheryl’s Mexican Cottage Pie at Tiger in a Kitchen
Grace‘s Easy Apple Pie with Lard Crust at HapaMama
Jill‘s Guava and Cream Cheese Empanadas at Eating My Words
Lisa‘s Sweet Ricotta Noodle Pie at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Linda‘s Biscoff Banana & Pear Galette at Spicebox Travels
Lucy‘s Sweet Potato Custard Pie at A Cook and Her Books 
Margaret‘s Cushaw (Squash) Pie at Tea and Scones, Too
Nancie‘s Edna Lewis’s Tyler Pie at Nancie McDermott
Naomi‘s Huckleberry Pie Ice-Cream at The Gastro Gnome
Rebecca‘s Summer-Fall Hand Pies at GrongarBlog
Sara‘s Herb Pie from Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s “Jerusalem” at Three Clever Sisters

Mozzarella-tomato jam hand pies

Yield: four to eight hand pies (depending on the size you choose to make)

  • 1/2 batch of pie dough (or 1/2 package of pre-made pie dough). For these pies, I used the “Flaky Butter Crust” recipe in one of my favorite baking books: Handheld Pies. (Note: Some people are afraid of making pie dough. If this is you, don’t worry. You can do this. Or, if you just don’t want to, feel free to use a pre-made dough from the grocery store. There are a lot of good ones out there. There’s no shame in using one. Most especially, because you will have pie and all sins are forgiven when you offer pie. It’s a scientific fact.)
  • 6 ounces (170 g) mozzarella cheese
  • 8-12 teaspoons of tomato jam (depending on how much you want to use) (Note: If you don’t have tomato jam, use whatever you like: hot sauce? pesto? sliced cherry tomatoes? You choose!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375º F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
  3. Slice and then chop the mozzarella into 1/4-inch cubes.
  4. Roll the dough to about 1/8-inch thick.
  5. Use a knife or pizza wheel to cut squares. (I cut 6-inch squares. Cut the size you like.) Then cut each square in half diagonally to form two triangles.
  6. On each triangle, spread one teaspoon of tomato jam on one half of the triangle. Try to keep a clean border around the edge so that you can seal the pie.
  7. Add .5 ounces (15 g) of cheese to the jammy half.
  8. Fold the triangle in half, then seal and crimp the crust. Poke or slash the top crust to let steam escape.
  9. Put the pie on the prepared cookie sheet.
  10. Repeat for the remaining triangles.
  11. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.
  12. Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly golden. Expect some cheese to leak out, unless you’re a master crimper (I’m not).
  13. Remove the pies from the sheet and let cool on a cooling rack, but only for as long as you like. It’s okay to eat these as hot as you can stand.

Pear-caramel hand pies

Yield: four to eight hand pies (depending on the size you choose to make)

  • 1/2 batch of pie dough (or 1/2 package of pre-made pie dough; see the note for tomato pies, above).
  • 2 large, firm pears, peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces.
  • 1/4 cup sugar or honey (adjust amount to your taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon (or any other pie spices you like: allspice, ginger, clove, etc.)
  • 4-8 teaspoons caramel sauce (use whatever caramel sauce you like, or, hey, how about chocolate sauce?)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons turbinado or other coarse sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 375º F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
  3. Combine the chopped pears, sugar (or honey), vanilla, salt, and spices in a bowl and let sit until the pears are juicy, about 15 minutes.
  4. Roll the dough to about 1/8-inch thick.
  5. Use a cookie cutter, bowl, or drinking glass to cut circles. (I cut 4.5-inch circles. Cut the size you like.) Each pie requires two circles, so make sure to cut an even number of circles.
  6. Put one teaspoon of caramel sauce in the center of a circle.
  7. Add about 2 tablespoons of the pear mixture (adjust as needed, depending on the size of your circle and your preference).
  8. Top the pie with another circle, then seal and crimp the crust. Poke or slash the top crust to let steam escape.
  9. Put the pie on the prepared cookie sheet.
  10. Repeat for the remaining circles.
  11. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.
  12. Brush each pie with milk, then sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  13. Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly golden.
  14. Remove the pies from the sheet and let cool on a cooling rack.

Mini Meringue Buttons


This may be my most hurried Let’s Lunch post ever, because today is crazy and I’m trying to do a zillion things at once, which may explain why this post, which was due for lunch today, is only just showing up now, an hour before dinner, and which may explain why I’m typing nearly as quickly as I’m thinking, but these little treats are best for dessert anyway, so after you’ve enjoyed your eggy lunches, you can settle into a handful of these, right?


So please excuse typos and run-on sentences.

My original plan was to make giant meringues. The kind they sell in the bakery nearest my house. Big, puffy, cloud-like confections that H and I can’t resist. Meringues seemed like the perfect solution to this month’s Let’s Lunch theme of eggs because, well, I don’t like eggs. There. I said it.

To be clear, I love eggs as objects. They are perfect and beautiful and magical. They are elegant creations of nature. And I love what eggs do in a cake or even in fried rice. But eggs on their own, scrambled, fried, or poached are not for me (“And I am not for them,” Beatrice would say). If I can taste the egg, I don’t want it.

I know this probably makes me nearly inhuman. So be it. Eggs and I have not been on speaking terms since I was a kid, forced to finish my plate of the scrambled variety, and I don’t imagine that will change at this point.

Anyway, back to the meringues. Not only do they fit the theme, but they’re perfectly kosher for Passover, which starts this evening. Deal sealed.

The plan was for giants, and then H expressed an interest in colored ones, and then I thought about flavoring them (rose water, or earl grey, or..). In the end, lack of time and uncooperative egg whites that never wanted to reach the stiff peak stage helped guide me to this creation: mini meringue buttons.


I dosed the meringue heavily with brilliant food coloring to get the tones I wanted. I didn’t get around to flavoring them, but next time I’ll try that.


H says they remind her of those little candy drops affixed to paper strips. She’s right. I like those.


So, here, for your enjoyment, are mini meringue buttons. Color them to suit the occasion. We’ve colored ours SPRING!



Take a look at what the rest of the Let’s Lunch crew came up with this month! And if you want to join in the fun for the May challenge (“a dish that bridges two cuisines”), just follow the #letslunch tag in Twitter. We’d love to have lunch with you!

Scrambled Eggs and Tomatoes ~ from Grace at HapaMama
Fried Eggs and Omelets, Wok-style ~ from Eleanor at WokStar
Egg and Onions ~ from Lisa at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Biscuit Crust Breakfast Pizza ~ from In foodie fashion
Leek, ham, and percorino souffles ~ from Charissa at Zest Bakery
Homemade Cadbury Eggs ~ from Linda at Free Range Cookies
Beet dye and pink deviled eggs ~ from Denise at Chez Us
Eggs in a hole ~ From Emma at Dreaming of pots and pans
The Perfect Sandwich ~ from Felicia at burnt-out baker
Kimchi deviled eggs ~ from Joe at Joe Yonan
Molecular gastronomy “eggs”
~ from Karen at GeoFooding
Singapore-style Chai Poh scramble ~ from Cheryl at A Tiger in the Kitchen
Taiwanese tomato eggs ~ from Linda at spicebox travels
Old-fashioned boiled dressing & chicken salad ~ from Lucy at A Cook and Her Books
Bombay (spicy French) toasts ~ from Rashda at Hot Curries & Cold Beer
Son-in-law eggs ~ from Nancy at Nancie McDermott
Egg chaud froid ~ from Vivian at Vivan Pei

Mini Meringue Buttons

Yield: About a 100 buttons (give or take)


  • 4 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter (this is optional; I don’t usually make meringues with this, but I tried it this time; maybe that was my problem?)
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (some people prefer to use a mixture of granulated and powdered sugar; follow your preference)
  • Food coloring (this is the kind I use)


  1. Position three oven racks so they are evenly spaced, then preheat the oven to 225ºF.
  2. Line three half sheet pans with parchment paper (some people use foil lightly sprayed with oil).
  3. Beat the egg whites in a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer (use the whisk attachment for either type of mixer) on low until the eggs are frothy.
  4. Add the cream of tarter (if using).
  5. With the mixer at medium-high speed, beat the egg whites until they reach the soft peak stage.
  6. While beating, very gradually add the sugar so that it blends in and dissolves completely.
  7. Beat until the stiff peak stage and the meringue is shiny.
  8. Divide the meringue into separate bowls, one for each color you plan to make.
  9. Add several drops of food coloring to each bowl, and mix well, either with a hand whisk or the hand mixer.
  10. Scrape the contents of one bowl into a small ziplock bag, seal the bag, then snip the corner off, and pipe small dots onto a prepared pan.
  11. Repeat with the other colors, using a fresh bag for each color to keep the colors separate.
  12. Bake the meringues for 45 minutes.
  13. After 45 minutes, turn the oven off and allow the meringues to finish in the oven for another hour.
  14. Remove from the oven to cool on the parchment paper.
  15. When the meringues are cool, slide a thin metal spatula under each to remove them from the parchment.
  16. You can store meringues for a couple of days in a cool, dark place (they hate humidity). A tightly sealed container in the refrigerator works well.