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Peach hand pies

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August 21, 2013

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Adapted from "Handheld Pies" (Chronicle Books, $19.95) by Sarah Billingsley and Rachel Wharton. This free-form approach lets you choose shapes and sizes for the mini-pies; you may have filling or crust leftover.

Roll: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Take dough for 1 double-crust pie (homemade or packaged). Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one portion of the dough into a 12- to 14-inch square. Cut into 4- to 5-inch squares or circles. Gather up and reroll scraps only once or dough will become tough. Repeat with second portion of dough.

Fill: Combine 6 cups peaches (in 1/4-inch dice), 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a bowl; mix gently. Place about a tablespoon or so filling in center of each square or round. Fold dough over filling so edges meet. Moisten edges of dough. Press edges together to seal; or use tines of fork to crimp. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours) before baking.

Bake: Arrange pies on rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Brush lightly with 1 beaten egg; sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until crust is golden, 15-20 minutes. Carefully move pies to a baking rack; cool at least 15 minutes. Store cooled pies in an airtight container at room temperature up to two days.

Makes: About 24 four-inch pies

The beers

German pilsner: Crisp and dry with more bite than conventional American-style pilsners, German-style pilsners are ideal picnic beers for their clean, refreshing nature. But they also pair brilliantly with many foods, especially the light meatiness of baked herb chicken.

Two to try: Prima Pils from Victory Brewing, which may be the finest pilsner in American craft brewing, and the always dependable Trumer Pils.

Saison: Widely considered the ultimate beer style in food pairing for its unique ability to be complexly zesty without being flashy. Rather than simply refresh like a German pilsner, a saison will add another layer of flavor to your meal.

Two to try: Saison Dupont, a longtime genre classic that cuts masterfully through the creaminess of the peas-and-farro salad, and the lightly tart Sofie, from Goose Island, which refreshes and elevates any meal, but especially a warm-weather picnic.

Fruit lambic: And for dessert, the cherry notes of Lindemans Kriek beautifully mimic the dessert's sweet-tart dynamic while also cutting through and balancing the flaky, buttery crust.

Josh Noel, Tribune Newspapers