Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Summer Berry Spectacular (and a Pie Party)
I am wrapping up a four day weekend in the summer sunshine. Four days of relaxed schedules, friendly cookouts, garden tending and patio parties. It's every bit of bliss inferred. On top of that, I baked every day. Saturday, Sunday, Monday all had a different ode to summer fruit in its finest forms (including juice-running-down-face-au-natural).
Today, though, we're talking about my favorite of the oven-plied loves...pie. When I heard Shauna speak at IACP in Austin a few weeks ago, the thing she said that resonated most was this:I bring pie just about everywhere. There are some photos below of what happens when we need to mix things up a bit but my first love is whatever is in season wrapped in a golden swath of crisp layers I made with my own hands. Thanks to Kate McDermott, I don't even use a food processor anymore. It's just not necessary and a pie crust is certainly not a thing to be fretted over. Hence the necessity of the Pie Party. As though a better occasion ever existed.
When Shauna announced her plan for a #PieParty, most of us didn't even have to consider an occasion. More of an "if you bake it, they will come" sort of thing. My friend Suzanne has recently taken homemade ice cream up as her personal passion so her place seemed to be the one most in need of a pie partner. Blueberry Pie it is. I had blueberries on my mind anyway.
This will be my second year "leasing" a blueberry bush from Joe's Blues in Bangor, Michigan. Last year's adventure is documented with great affection below. I'm told by those who would know that July 21st will mark the beginning of picking season this year. That's in two weekends for the planners out there.
I recommend the Corrado's operation highly if 20lbs of fresh, sustainably grown blueberries sounds good to you for $35. Seriously, clear some space in your freezer. Mananya is in on a bush this year as well. I don't think I've ever leant my face or massive orange sunhat to a more worthy summer cause though this was a hilarious surprise to find in our mailbox:Bring along picking companions who are by nature efficient beings and happy to be just the littlest bit filthy. If one of them happens to have a 4WD vehicle to make the post-pick venture to the "swimming hole" afterward, all the better, but it is not for the faint of heart.
This is an easy day trip from Chicago and close to a number of fine little beach towns if you're inclined to rinse off in Lake Michigan afterward. Hats are encouraged. Frank let Molly and Patty borrow two of his tango hats and they looked so cute we just about took them with us.
Thankfully we thought better of it and took our blueberries for a beer and a BLT instead. Incidentally no one raised an eyebrow when we walked into the tavern with pounds and pounds of blueberries. Goodnight I love Michigan. And blueberries. And the pies that are made in their honor.
Blueberry July Pie
1 package of Kerrygold (I typically do half butter, half lard but sacre bleu I was out of the pig's portion)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup-3/4 cup ice cold water
Make sure that butter is really cold and cut it into rough 1/2 inch chunks. Drop in the flour that's been dropped into a cold bowl with the salt and cinnamon and start working your (cold) hands to pinch the butter into the flour mixture until you get it mixed into not quite uniform pea and almond size pieces. Add your water (remove any ice) and mix with a fork till you get a slightly sticky ball. Split in two, wrap each half in plastic and chill for 2 hours.
Roll out and lay the bottom layer carefully into your pie dish.
6 cups of fresh blueberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup amaretto
scant 1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 TB tapioca
Add it all together and fill your bottom pie crust. Add the other crust on top, fold the edges under and pinch at even 1/2 inch intervals so the pie is sealed. Cut vents to your liking in the top and bake atop a foil lined baking sheet for 45 minutes-ish at 350.
Other Baked Berry Goodness for which ice cream is nonnegotiable:
Now pie is not the only way to show love and friendship. It's a good one but there are clearly lots of others, particularly this time of year. The summer berry crisp above is a story for a different day made for Jim and Michelle's housewarming cookout. It is easy and delicious and was based on Sandy's Summer Berry Crisp with amaretto used in lieu of cointreau, strawberries for blueberries and almonds subbed for walnuts. Negligible changes based on my personal pantry- the recipe is a good one!
The recipe that actually made it to the Fourth of July was a request from Gina, our hostess for an especially patriotic Monday dinner. Our almost-new-mom-friend-in-Sweden had shared some perfectly craveable Peach Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream Frosting and they were every bit as good as advertised. Laura, I don't think we can ship one to Scandinavia before it melts/the baby arrives but you should feel good that another lovely pregnant blondie benefited from your find.
All in all just a really lovely weekend. I almost said "with a few of my berry best friends" but then I remembered I am a pie person and not a shortcake. Pies don't suffer that level of foolishness. I think they revoke your lard license.