Old-Fashioned Blueberry-Maple Pie Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

Don't the clouds look like cotton candy?

Don’t the clouds look like cotton candy?

A funny thing happened to me in March. I received an email from a local filmmaker, Josh Hummel, who stumbled across my blog and my recipe for blueberry pie from 2012  and wanted to meet to discuss a film he was planning on making that featured—ta da! A blueberry pie!

The film, titled “The Kitchen of Ambrosia,” is brilliant; six athletes come together with ingredients to make a pie that is then shared. A runner gathers the berries, a kayaker takes the berries into the lake to wash them, a hiker goes into the woods for the maple syrup, a cyclist goes to a farm to gather wheat berries and cream, a rock climber grinds the wheat into flour, and a mountain biker goes over bumps and hills to make the butter. I spent a few hours filming this over the past few weekends and had great fun. And as you can surmise, I was the cook so I had to make two delicious tasting—and more importantly good looking–pies!

The Eater of the House took this photo of everyone being filmed eating the pie!

The Eater of the House took this photo of everyone being filmed eating the pie!

My blueberry pie is normally made with sugar, but I wanted this to be authentic to the film, so I found this pie recipe published in Bon Appétit magazine that uses maple syrup. I had wanted to practice making a lattice crust this summer, but time escaped me, so I had to do it on the fly! And it was super easy! I used these instructions, and had my phone in front of me as I followed the instructions on crisscrossing the crust. Since I was making two pies in the morning of the film shoot, I made the crust ahead of time to save on time and popped it in the fridge. You can do this too, just make sure the crust is room temperature before you start to roll it out. And of course, you don’t have to do a lattice, a “regular” crust will taste just as good!

The pie filling was delicious; I was disappointed in my crust and that the filling bubbled over a little bit, but all the athletes declared it delicious! I haven’t seen the final movie but saw a sneak peek of the rough cut and I can’t wait to be able to share this little bit of Vermont with you in the near future!

bluepieOld-Fashioned Blueberry-Maple Pie
This recipe first appeared in the August 1999 issue of Bon Appétit magazine. Pie crust is from The Joy of Cooking.

Pie crust
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon or so of salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Ice water

Filling
4 cups fresh blueberries (about 23 ounces)
1 cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup unbleached all purposed flour
¼ cup quick-cooking tapioca
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For the crust: In a bowl, sift the flour and salt together. Add the butter, cut into chunks, and with a pastry blender or two forks, work the butter into the flour until it resembles cornmeal. One tablespoon at a time, add the ice water and mix until the crust melds together, and divide in half. On a floured surface, take your rolling pin, add a little bit of flour to the pin and the crust, and work it in a circle until it is about 9 inches for your pie pan. Carefully set it into a greased glass pie plate.

Combine blueberries, syrup, flour, tapioca, and juice in a bowl; toss to blend. Let stand for 15 minutes. Add the filling and repeat rolling out the crust for the top or cut for lattice. Bake pie until juice bubble thickly and crust is golden, about 1 hour. Cool pie on rack. Serve at room temperature.

MVK’s Like of the Week: Tonight’s Dinner

I read about food every single day. Whether it’s newspapers, magazines, websites, emails, cookbooks, I am always getting new ideas and inspirations. A few months back, I told you about the email the New York Time’s Food team sends several times a week. It’s great and I get lots of creative suggestions for meals that don’t take a lot of time or money to put on the table. I just loved this message last week from writer Sam Sifton. I’m going to look for some local tomatoes tonight!

fresh-tomato-exporterSummer cooking is different from the cooking we do other times of the year. Here are some beautiful tomatoes. With a drizzle of olive oil, a spray of salt and a garnish of capers, that’s dinner, and if someone happens to have a beautiful ball of fresh mozzarella to tear apart on top of it all, so much the better. Honey, could you grab me some basil? Dinner is served. (Try doing that in February.)

 

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Summer Celebrations

fireworksI always consider the 4th of July the middle of summer (although with the weather we’ve been having the past couple of months, I hope that isn’t the case this year!). It’s a perfect time to get outside, cook on the grill, and make fruit pies. A few of weeks ago, my 11-year-old nephew made a blueberry pie for Father’s Day and after having a slice (which was delicious), I said I needed the recipe. About 10 minutes later he returned with a copy, which came from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. This cookbook, with its red and white checked cover, is what I grew up learning how to cook from; it has excellent recipes that are easy to follow. When my nephew spent the weekend and I was in a mood to make a rhubarb pie, we went into the kitchen.

I honestly don’t know if rhubarb can be found in other parts of the country or the world. Is it, dear readers? I’d love to know! Here in Vermont, it is a springtime staple. I usually buy many stalks, chop, and then freeze it–sometimes for up to a year. I had some leftover rhubarb in the freezer, so I just took it out and defrosted it before making the pie.

This recipe is super simple, 4 cups of rhubarb, 1 cup sugar, ¼ cup flour. I had some fresh Vermont strawberries on the counter, so I added about a half-cup sliced. It wasn’t until after it was ready to go in the oven that I realized I normally add a bit of spice, some cinnamon and nutmeg, vanilla, or grated orange rind to the fruit mixture. But it didn’t matter, this was a perfect rhubarb pie; a little tart, a little sweet. You can use a pre-made crust, or make the one I always use from The Joy of Cooking: 1 ½ cups of flour, ½ teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 6 tablespoons of butter, and ice water (add by the tablespoon until the dough is ready to roll out). There are two times of the year I made pies, summer and Thanksgiving. Hands down, pie is my favorite dessert, there is just something special about a homemade pie.
rhubarb pie

I’m going to take next week off to get out of the kitchen, so here is a great selection of past MVK recipes that are perfect to make for your 4th of July celebration and beyond this summer!

Macaroni Salad

Potato Salad

Szechuan Cucumbers

Red White and Blue Salad

Gigi’s Chicken Salad

Black Bean Salad with Shrimp

Crumbly Peach Pie

Blueberry Pie

Homemade Blueberry Pie

“I listen to NPR every day and I can’t sleep at night because of the world I live in. But blueberry pie, that’s nothin’ but joy!”

A chef at the Culinary Institute of America, on a National Public Radio story discussing the fear of making a homemade blueberry pie.

Ever since I heard that story on the radio and I listened to local cookbook author Gesine Bullock-Prado discuss her latest book, Pie It Forward: Pies, Tarts, Tortes, Galettes, and Other Pastries Reinvented, I’ve had a hankering to make a pie. Hands down, my favorite dessert is homemade pie. Forget cake, ice cream, even chocolate, if I can have a piece of homemade pie, I am in heaven. I have favorites throughout the year that correspond with the seasons, fall and winter is pecan and apple, and this time of year I love my grandmother’s peach pie (recipe can be found here). But this summer, with the appearance of the first crop of local blueberries, I had blueberry pie on my mind.

Berries don’t last very long in my house at all, so I had to be quick about grabbing the pints I bought at the farmer’s market. And leave it to me to choose the hottest day of the year to decide to turn on the oven! With sweat on my brow, the butter for the crust melting on the counter (sticking it in the freezer for five to ten minutes is just enough time to harden it up again!), and the prospect of yet another late dinner, I still entered the kitchen to start baking.

Pie making really is quite easy, the berries go into a big bowl and are  gently stirred with the sugar and cornstarch. I always get a little nervous when making pie crust, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be a pro. And remembering Gesine talk about making pastry (she makes it sound so simple!) relaxed me a bit.

This recipe is a combination of two different recipes; the crust is from The Joy of Cooking, the filling is from The Essential New York Times Cookbook. Since my berries were extra sweet, I cut the original ¾ cup of sugar to ½. But in hindsight, I might rethink that next time. Perhaps it was the lemon juice, but I found the pie to be a bit more tart than I normally like. So you can gauge how much sugar to use, perhaps something in between.

By the time we ate dinner it was 9:30(!), a hot dessert was the last thing we wanted, so it was pie for breakfast the next morning. And in the vein of “pieing it forward,” I carefully sliced it and shared pieces with friends. Because, really, who can resist homemade pie?

Next week, I’m thinking it might be cherry. Or peach. Or maybe red raspberry. . . .

Homemade Blueberry Pie

Filling

  • 5+ cups fresh blueberries
  • ½-¾ cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • About 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • A dash of salt

Crust

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon or so of salt
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Ice water

For the crust: In a bowl, sift the flour and salt together. Add the butter, cut into chunks, and with a pastry blender or two forks, work the butter into the flour until it resembles cornmeal. One tablespoon at a time, add the ice water and mix until the crust melds together, and divide in half. On a floured surface, take your rolling pin, add a little bit of flour to the pin and the crust, and work it in a circle until it is about 9 inches for your pie pan. Carefully set it into a greased glass pie plate. Add the filling and repeat rolling out the crust for the top. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, and reduce the heat to 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until the crust is brown.