Nothing’s more American than apple pie, but don’t let that beloved mainstay be your only dessert option on July 4th. Variety and diversity are also American values, and the backyard dessert table should reflect that. Some of our favorite desserts in Amarillo have come from the capable hands of Karolina Exposito, of Rooster’s Restaurant and Catering and the new SilverFork Café & Bakery. We asked her to share with us a few easy pie recipes – emphasis on easy – for a summer picnic or cookout. Exposito describes her beloved Strawberry Cream Pie as “the first pie I ever made.” She was less familiar with the refreshing Key Lime Pie, and experimented with half a dozen online recipes before deciding “I didn’t like any one of them,” she says. Instead, she gave up the search and developed her own Key Lime Pie recipe. As for the Peanut Butter Pie, Exposito says it’s rich, delicious, and an ideal choice for pleasing kids.
Key Lime Pie Crust: 2 cups graham cracker crumbs ¼ cup brown sugar ½ cup butter, melted Filling: 1 cup heavy cream ½ cup sugar 1 can sweetened condensed milk ¾ cup key lime juice 1 tablespoon key lime zest 1 pint half and half Fresh lime slices, for garnish
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all crust ingredients; press mixture into bottom and up sides of 10-inch spring form pan. Bake for 8 minutes; cool completely. Beat cream with mixer until slightly thickened; gradually add sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Add condensed milk and beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in lime juice, lime zest and half and half. Spread filling over cooled crust. Cover and freeze for 4 to 6 hours. Serve cold with lime slices on top.
Makes 8 servings
Strawberry Cream Pie Crust: 2 cups flour 2/3 cup butter 5 tablespoons ice-cold water Filling: 2 cups milk ½ cup sugar 3 tablespoons cornstarch 3 tablespoons flour 1 egg ½ cup heavy cream 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Strawberries for garnish
Heat oven to 400 degrees. In food processor mix flour and butter, then add ice-cold water and pulse together until a ball forms. Put in refrigerator for about 20 minutes, then roll and place into 10-inch pie pan. Bake for about 20 minutes; cool completely. In medium-size saucepan, heat milk, sugar, cornstarch and flour over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it just starts to form bubbles around edge. Remove about ¼ cup of mixture and add into egg. Beat mixture with whisk until smooth. Add back to cooking milk, and whisk together until pudding starts to thicken. Cool in refrigerator or freezer for about 30 minutes. Beat together heavy cream with vanilla, and fold into cold pudding. Spread filling over cooled crust and top with sliced fresh strawberries. Refrigerate until serving.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. In food processor, mix flour and butter, then add ice-cold water and pulse together until a ball forms. Place in refrigerator for about 20 minutes, then roll and place into 10-inch pie pan. Bake for about 20 minutes; cool completely. Cream together sugar and cream cheese with mixer; add peanut butter, melted butter, and vanilla. Mix only until completely incorporated. Fold whipped topping into peanut butter mixture by hand. Spread filling over cooled crust and chill in refrigerator about 15 minutes. Heat glaze ingredients in double boiler over simmering water until just melted; don’t get mixture hot. Stir glaze until smooth; pour over chilled filling, covering entire pie. Return to refrigerator until chocolate has set. Use hot knife to cut pie and serve immediately.
Makes 8 servings
Meet the Cook: Karolina Exposito of SilverFork Café & Bakery
Karolina Exposito was 20 years old when she first came to the U.S. on a J-1 student visa from her native Poland. Though she was studying economics back home, her plan was to gain experience working in a U.S. restaurant over the summer. Owning a restaurant wasn’t anywhere close to her plans – nor was spending extensive time in the U.S. – but she met someone at work. His name was Tanner Exposito, and he wanted to be a chef. “On my first day, he told me he wanted to open a restaurant someday.”
Tanner and Karolina kept in touch after she returned to Poland, eventually began dating, and finally married in 2010. “I came home from that summer and told my mom two things,” she says with a laugh. “That I would never ever move to the United States, and that I would never marry an American guy. Never say ‘never,’ I guess.”
In 2011, the newlyweds fulfilled Tanner’s dream when they bought Rooster’s Espresso Café near 34th and Bell from its original owners. They transformed the coffee shop into Rooster’s Restaurant and Catering, and Karolina has found herself relying on the baking skills she learned from her grandmother and mother in Poland. “I’ve been baking since I was little,” she says. “I told my husband, ‘If you’re going to be doing the cooking, I guess I’ll be doing the rest.’”
A couple years ago, the Expositos expanded the Rooster’s menu to include more sandwiches, quiche, salads and desserts. Then, in late 2015, they expanded their family, as Karolina gave birth to their second child. When she appeared in the February issue of this magazine, she spoke about how she had eased up on her baking duties in order to focus on taking care of her family. Barely two months later, she and Tanner were opening a brand-new restaurant: SilverFork Café & Bakery, located at 3208 SW Sixth Ave. in the old location of Real Food Café.
She laughs about that transition. “I was crazy happy being a mom, but I missed our customers,” she says. During those months, Karolina and Tanner had been asked by three different people to expand Rooster’s into a second location in other areas of southwest Amarillo. The couple kept saying no. “We would have been competing with ourselves,” she says. But in a Sixth Street location they saw something new – and an opportunity to provide an alternative to the cheeseburgers and beer that were readily available in that historic district.
Just weeks after hearing the space was available, Karolina opened SilverFork on May 4. The lunch menu offers similar fresh sandwiches and soups available at Rooster’s, only in a much different atmosphere. “It is still all fresh food. You won’t be seeing cheeseburgers or hot dogs – or fine dining.” Customers will see more pies and other desserts at SilverFork, for one good reason. At Rooster’s, “we did not have a pie case,” Karolina says. “But now, at SilverFork, we do. I’m spending a lot more time on the baking there.”
by Jason Boyett
Jason is a journalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, and the author of more than a dozen books. His most recent is “12 World Religions: The Beliefs, Rituals, and Traditions of Humanity's Most Influential Faiths”, published by Zephyros Press. Learn more at jasonboyett.com.