Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I've been immersed in all things pie lately.

The third annual 'Pie Lover's Unite' event was this past Saturday- it was a success, the pies were beautiful and plentiful- and I keep coming across articles about pies in magazines and other blogs. Sheryl Julian, writing for boston.com, wrote a great introduction about crusts, and there are links abound. I decided to tackle the oil based crust first, since it's new to me and reported to be so deliciously, deceptively easy.

I'm directly quoting here:

The crust is as follows-

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Have on hand a deep 9-inch pie pan.

2. In a 1-cup measure, pour the oil just over the 1/2 cup line. Add the milk to make a good 3/4 cup of liquid.

3. In a mixing bowl, mix the flour and salt. Add the oil mixture (do not stir while pouring). When it is all added, use a rubber spatula to stir the oil in gently. The mixture looks very wet; it’s OK.

4. With a wet paper towel, wet the counter. Spread waxed paper on it. Add 2/3 of the dough. Set another piece of waxed paper on top.

5. Roll the dough into a round about 1/8-inch thick. Gently remove the top waxed paper, working from the edges to the center. Set the pie pan near you. In one steady motion, pick up the paper under the dough and quickly flip it over into the pie pan. Gently remove the remaining waxed paper sheet, working from the edges to the center.

The recipe for blueberry filling associated with this crust was good, and I made it as stated, but I think I'd play around with Alice Water's recipe a bit. She uses a little more sugar (1/4 cup), a dash of salt, lemon zest, and substitutes the flour with 4 T quick-cooking tapioca, pulverized in a mortar. I am encouraged by the tapioca because of it's slight sweetness, and despite the smaller quantity than flour, it would thicken it up just the same without the flour taste.

My pie looks very similar to the one in the link, which makes me wonder if either they were making it look really homey or there is little room for personal flourishes with this type of crust. I'll play around with it some more. The texture was nice and flaky, and (thanks to baking it with a collar around the edges for the first 25 minutes) it browned evenly on top and underneath.

Blueberry-Orange pancakes

It's blueberry season in Michigan. A friend is about to deliver 10#'s picked across the state in Holland, which has prompted a revival of memories relating to all things blueberry.

One of my favorite recipes is for blueberry-orange pancakes, which I used to make often many years ago in my little college apartment on Park St. I can't think about them without recalling Ella Fitzgerald, mornings fueled with NPR, Simon, and my cat, Bugonia.

The primary liquid is orange juice, which is enhanced by fresh zest, though I've found that store-bought orange juice works best (ie Tropicana) rather than freshly squeezed. Maybe it's just my palate, but I found the freshly squeezed juice to be a little too acidic. I also found it to be too difficult not to drink all of the freshly squeezed juice before using it in the batter.

Blueberry-orange pancakes

1 c flour
2T sugar
1 ¼ t baking powder
¼ t baking soda
¼ t salt
½ t orange zest
1 c orange juice
2 T milk
2 T oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c blueberries, fresh or frozen

-combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
-in another bowl, combine the orange zest, juice, milk, oil and egg.
-add the liquids into the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined.
-heat a skillet and add either a touch of butter or spray it with oil (no need to do either if it’s non-stick)
-spoon about ¼ cup of the batter onto the hot skillet, and sprinkle some blueberries on top.
-when the edges of the pancake seem dry and small bubbles have formed on the surface, filp it. It should be done when you see a slight bit of steam coming from the skillet.

Missing You-

Since I was recently stripped from the delicious dulce de leche in my fridge (I don't forgive easily), I've been forced to improvise. It was my pleasure to discover that I could achieve a similar affect (creamy, caramely goodness) by combining maple syrup and cream. It's not nearly as thick, and feels like cheating since so much work goes into dulce de leche, but on top of ranier cherries, plums and strawberries, it tastes divine.