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Blueberry Blackberry Crumb Pie

30 Aug

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There is no good way to ease into this, so I am just going to say it– WestCoastKef has left us the City of Angels. And when somebody who has been THERE for your husband the way WCK has, you throw a party and bake the man a damn pie.

Intel from his Beloved led me down the berry pie path, and Smitten Kitchen brought me to this mixed berry crumb pie. They are better at life than I could ever hope to be, and so I will reproduce the original recipe verbatim below.

But, first, some photos.

Immediately upon arrival, WestCoastKef had my living room looking like a photo shoot for his debut album, Bojanglin’ Back Home, which drops late 2017. COP THAT.

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What’s the number one sign your people are really ready to celebrate your ass? Double fisting bottles.

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… which escalated quickly. One bottle down approximately 1 hour into party.

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There are many hilarious interceding #turntup photos and videos, but we are grown ups with bills to pay and the internet is a scary place so instead… a jump to the group shot at the end:

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WestCoastKef– we will miss you mightily. And while I will pretty much never forgive you for bringing Settlers of Catan into my husband’s life, you can bet we will still be on the first spring break flight out to LA.

And now, the pie:

Smitten Kitchen’s Blueberry Blackberry Crumb Pie

For the crust

  • 1.25 c all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea or table salt
  • 1/2 c cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 c very cold water

Forthe filling

  • 4 c blueberries
  • 2 c blackberries
  • 3/4 c sugar (for a moderately, but not very, sweet pie)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 7 TBS tapioca flour/starch or 5 1/2 TBS  cornstarch (I used cornstarch)
  • Pinch of salt

For the crumb topping

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 TBS sugar
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.3 c all-purpose flour
  • Two pinches of salt

Assembly

Make pie dough:
– By hand : In the bottom of a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Work the butter into the flour with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. (Some people like to do this by freezing the stick of butter and coarsely grating it into the flour, but I haven’t found the results as flaky.) Add 1/4 cup cold water and stir with a spoon or flexible silicone spatula until large clumps form. Use your hands to knead the dough together, right in the bottom of the bowl. If necessary to bring the dough together, you can add another tablespoon of water.
– With a food processor: In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and pulse machine until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. Turn mixture out into mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup cold water and stir with a spoon or flexible silicone spatula until large clumps form. Use your hands to knead the dough together, right in the bottom of the bowl. If necessary to bring the dough together, you can add the last tablespoon of water.
– Both methods: Wrap dough in a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours, or you can quick-firm this in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. Longer than 2 days, it’s best to freeze it until needed.

Heat oven: To 400°F (205°C).

Roll out crust: On a floured counter, roll the dough out into a 12 to 13-inch circle-ish shape. Fold dough gently in quarters without creasing and transfer to a 9 1/2-inch standard (not deep-dish) pie plate. Unfold dough and trim overhang to about 1/2-inch. Fold overhang under edge of pie crust and crimp decoratively. Save scraps in fridge, just in case.

Par-bake crust: Freeze for 15 minutes, until solid. Dock all over with a fork. Coat a piece of foil with butter or nonstick spray and press tightly against frozen pie shell, covering the dough and rim and molding it to fit the shape of the edges. Bake for 20 minutes, then carefully, gently remove foil. (Set the foil, still molded, aside. It will come in handy later.) If any parts have puffed, just press them gently back into place. Patch any tears or cracks with reserved dough scraps. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and leave oven on.

Meanwhile, make filling: Mix all filling ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

To make crumb topping, stir sugar, zest, baking powder, flour and salt into melted butter in a large bowl with a fork until crumbs form.

Assemble and bake: Pour filling into crust and scatter crumbs over the top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes with these two important things in mind:

1. This crumb browns much more quickly than the pie is done. Grab that piece of foil you set aside from the parbaking phase and upend it over the top of the pie to protect it against further browning once it reaches the color you want. This might only take 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Fruit pies are done when you can see bubbles forming at the edges, with some creeping through and over some crumbs. If it takes longer, that’s better than an underbaked pie.

To serve: Try to let the pie cool until close to room temperature before serving. This gives the pie thickener a chance to help the pie set. The pie will be even better set after a night in the fridge. Bring it back to room temperature before serving.

 

Savory Baklava (or, how to turn vegetables into dessert)

17 Jan

JetSet and KimmieKef recommended the sort-of-new cookbook Smashing Plates. I got it last week, and pretty much every page is already dog-eared for future cooking. I hope you’re all looking forward to some new Greek Easter dishes this year… or at least being conscripted into taste-testing the recipes I try.

Our recipe for today actually comes from the author’s web site, which is equally replete with new takes on traditional Greek fare. It also answers the question JetSet has been wondering for the last 7 years or so: how can we make vegetables dessert? The answer, it turns out, is to combine caramelized onions cooked down with cinnamon, tomatoes, feta, almonds, dill, and dates, and then to layer them with phyllo and butter.

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Yeah, she went a little crazy with the filter– sue me. At least I’m trying.

It’s important you know that this pie is neither sweet nor savory–it’s the best of both. MrKef  and some non-Greek, normal eaters gave the swavory thing big thumbs up, and I would definitely recommend this pie for a brunch–because who the hell knows which meal or flavor we’re supposed to be eating at 11:30am with a bottomless carafe of mimosa, anyway?

Tomato, feta, almond and date baklava

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium white onions, finely sliced or minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of granulated sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1 bunch dill, finely chopped (or 3 teaspoons dried)
  • 10 vine plum tomatoes, skinned, seeded and roughly chopped (keep half of the juice)
  • 3 TBS tomato purée
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 packet phyllo pastry (9 sheets)
  • about 1/2 stick butter, melted (sub olive oil- this is just for spreading on the phyllo)
  • 3/4 c sliveredalmonds, ground down to a crumble (either by food processor or just by banging them)
  • 7-8 large Medjool dates, pitted and finely sliced
  • 2 c feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons clear honey (optional)

Assembly

  1. Lightly butter or oil the bottom and sides of your longest pyrex pan or rectangular aluminium baking dish (I used a 13×9 pyrex). Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large-bottomed pan. Gently fry the onions over a low heat, add the garlic, cinnamon and sugar, then increase the heat. Fry for about 12 minutes, until caramelized. Add the dill, tomatoes and half of their juices and the tomato puree and cook for another 10 minutes, until reduced. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove outer bag from phyllo, and gently roll out the dough. If you are new at phyllo, lightly dampen a paper towel and cover the dough with it, as it dries out if you are moving slowly. Place one sheet of phyllo in the greased baking dish, then gently brush it with melted butter or olive oil, being very generous. Be sure to get all the corners and ends. Repeat 3 more times, for a total of 4 layers. Don’t worry too much if these layers rip, as they will be covered by deliciousness in a minute anyway.
  4. Spread half the onion mixture over the pastry, top with half the almonds, the dates and half the feta. Repeat butter/phyllo layers for another 4 layers, and top with the remaining onions, almonds and feta. Do another 4-5 layers of phyllo/butter, making sure that the last one is as pretty and untorn as possible.
  5. Lightly score the top, cutting diamonds or squares, brush with butter and splash with a little water. Place on a baking tray and cook for 30–35 minutes until golden.To get maximum flakiness, turn up the heat to 400F for the last 5 minutes of baking, keeping a close eye to avoid burning.

A Chocolate Cream Pie to Welcome 2017

3 Jan

Another year has come and gone. I don’t have a lot of deep reflections on 2016, but I do have this delicious pie to share today. And that’s got to count for something, right?

fullsizerender-6Like every year, 2016 brought some great times and some not-so-great times. I worried lot, ate a lot, studied a lot, and missed my grandmother a lot… but I also laughed a lot, learned a lot, and ran  a lot, so it’s all probably a net gain once the counting’s done. Bring it on, 2017.

Back to the pie. My dear friend FlailKef turned 31 on 31 December, which means it was a GOLDEN birthday. She loves the chocolate cream pie from Waffle House, so I doctored up my own little version of the classic diner pie because she is wonderful and a GOLDEN birthday deserves a special treat. In what will probably be my only culinary achievement in this life, my pie was gone before the one from the inimitable MOM’S was–which I will take to mean this is an out-of-the-park homerun of a recipe.

fullsizerender-7I made very minimal changes to this pie recipe and followed Martha’s vanilla bean whipped cream recipe to a “T”. Complete recipes with my small tweaks reposted below because I hate having to have two different windows open for one recipe–but, as always, you just do whatever your little heart and personal code of internet-recipe ethics would lead you to.

FlailKef is clearly winning at life– she got golden goblets for her birthday AND has friends like these:

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Chocolate Cream Pie

Ingredients

For the crust

For the filling

  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 1/4 c cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 c whole milk
  • 5 oz dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 oz milk chocolate, melted
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter, softened
  • 1.25 tsp vanilla extract

For the whipped cream

  • 2 c heavy cream, cold
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 c sugar

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. If you are making and serving this pie on the same day, see step 6 and be sure to chill the cream about an hour before you want to make it.
  2. Crush cookies into a fine crumb using a food processor (or, throw ’em in a ziploc bag and pound ’em with a wine bottle). Add sugar, and pulse to combine cookie crumbs and sugar. Transfer to a bowl, and mix in butter until mixture is moist and sticky, but not wet. Press into the bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then add milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 1 minute (filling will thicken).
  4. Strain filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl (I used my mesh colander), then whisk in chocolates, butter, and vanilla. Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely (on the counter, not in the fridge), about 2 hours.
  5. Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.
  6. Pour heavy cream into metal bowl of stand mixer. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape seeds into cream and whisk to combine. Throw the bean pod in the cream, cover bowl, and chill cream in fridge for about an hour.
  7. Once cream and bowl are thoroughly chilled, remove bean pod and discard. Using the whisk attachment, beat at medium speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, sprinkle in sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Chill for 1-2 hours, then spread over top of pie and serve.

Chocolate Fig Ricotta Pie

28 Sep

It will be FIG season for exactly 2 more minutes– hurry up and make this super-easy pie that got good reviews from many normal eaters. Alternatively, try this Raspberry FIG Challahcrowd-pleasing FIG appetizerFIG tartFIG scones, or FIG jam. I love ’em all.

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Chocolate Fig Ricotta Pie

Ingredients

  • pie crust of your choice (I used GF)
  • 2 c Ricotta cheese
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (or substitute 2 tsp vanilla extract… but bean is really best here).
  • 2 TBS sugar (I used coconut sugar) + more for sprinkling on top
  • 4-8 TBS grated dark chocolate (this is somewhere between a 1/2- 3/4 bar)- I used this sugar free kind and no one could tell the difference
  • 15 dried figs, sliced in half lengthwise.
  • 2/3 c liqueur of your choice (I used Godiva chocolate)
  • about 9 fresh, ripe figs, sliced

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. If using premade pie crust, use a fork to poke holes throughout the bottom of crust. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until just golden brown. When done, set aside.
  2. Throw the dried figs in a small pot and cover with liqueur. If they aren’t almost all the way covered, add water until they are. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 10 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. Do not burn! Once soft, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Combine the ricotta, vanilla, and sugar until just combined. Do not go nuts mixing this.
  4. Sprinkle about half the grated chocolate throughout the cooled crust. Spoon half of the ricotta mixture over the chocolate and spread evenly. Push the dried figs into the ricotta layer, cut side up, distributing them evenly. Cover the figs with second half of the ricotta and spread evenly. Arrange the fresh figs as you’d like, sprinkle with sugar.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until crust is golden, figs are a bit caramelized, and center is set. Take out of oven, sprinkle with remaining grated chocolate, and place back in over for 2-3 more minutes, until chocolate is a little melted.
  6. Allow to cool, then serve.

Chocolate Ricotta Pie

19 Nov

photo(2) I’m testing out recipes for Thanksgiving (which is next week, btw–how did that happen?!) and came across this ricotta pie recipe on Tastespotting. Ricotta + chocolate + lemon was a new flavor palate to me, so this guy skyrocketed to the list of recipes I’m considering for this year’s Thanksgiving dessert. It’s an easy filling that I layered into that cornmeal-sourdough crust from the easy-peasey galette. General consensus was that this is a very yummy pie perfect for a group–but I don’t think it’s going to be my Thanksgiving showstopper this year. I would like to make this again in two-bite tart form (in a chocolate crust!), and I’m also VERY interested in using the filling as custard between cake layers. So this may not be the last you see of this unique little guy. I’d love to know what you think if you make it!

Chocolate Ricotta Pie

Ingredients

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 c milk
  • 3 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 1/4 c cherry brandy
  • 8 oz ricotta
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • zest of 1 lemon

Assembly 1. Preheat oven to 350F. Beat egg yolks and sugar together until light and a bit fluffy. Melt the chocolate and brandy together (I microwaved it for 35 seconds or so) and, mix it into the egg mixture, and set aside to cool. 2. Over a double broiler, mix together the flour and milk. Whisk over medium-high heat until mixture thickens. Set aside to cool. 3. If you’re working with real live fresh ricotta, let it drain through a sieve to cut off excess water. If, like me, you bought the Safeway brand, you can skip this step. 4. Mix the chocolate-egg mixture with the ricotta and stir well. Slowly add in the milk-flour custard. Add in cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Let sit for ten minutes. Pour into crust and smooth with a spatula if needed. 5. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, or until center is set. Cool completely and, if possible, serve the next day–flavors are much better that way! 3.

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