Sunday, July 6, 2008

Long weekend

We enjoyed a lovely long weekend here in Chicago. What a treat!

Most of our friends were at weddings, cabins in Michigan or Indiana or places further afield, but we enjoyed being in Chicago this weekend. First, we were able to accomplish much on the home maintenance front (we weeded, we mowed, we watered, we pruned and we scrubbed the deck). Second, since everyone was out of town, the farmers' markets were particularly unscathed when we made our way to them. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the weather was ideal for outdoor dining. And that is how we rewarded ourselves for our hard work:

We pulled out all the stops for our barbecue chicken feast. We enjoyed fresh shelling peas from the farmers market that were incomparably sweet and nothing like the peas I used to refuse to eat as a child. And to top off the feast, we had Dorie Greenspan's flavor-filled, sweet and delightful corny corn muffins (the corniest, I hear). While we have her terrific book, entitled Baking, and while that is where I got the recipe, Deb at Smitten Kitchen has already posted the recipe, so I refer you to her. (I agree with her suggestion of using 4 tablespoons of sugar instead of 6, but I make up for it by sprinkling a little sugar on the top of each muffin before baking.)

For dessert, we tried Cook's Illustrated's latest contribution to blueberry pie making.

While I've read a lot of warnings about their new pie crust recipe (with vodka! which keeps the dough moist, but evaporates out during the cooking process so the crust isn't soggy), I found it really easy to work with and very tasty. The pie was good, but not my favorite. Alex, however, really enjoyed it. It holds its shape and is much less sloppy than normal blueberry pie, but I found it a little gelatinous for my liking.

For those of you that like firm pie fillings or are seeking an excellent pie crust instructions, I post the recipe.

From the July and August 2008 issue of COOK'S ILLUSTRATED


2.5 c unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 tsp table salt
2 tbsp sugar
12 tbsp cold unsalted butter
0.5 c cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
0.25 c cold vodka
0.25 c cold water


1. Process 1.5 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into 2 even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Use how you want, but if you're making the blueberry pie...

3. Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured work surface to 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs plate in place; refrigerate while preparing filling until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.


6 c fresh blueberries
1 granny smith apple
2 tsp grated zest and 2 tsp juice from 1 lemon
0.75 c sugar
2 tbsp instant tapioca, ground (in a spice grinder or mini food processor, if using pearl tapioca, reduce to 5 tsp)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 0.25 inch pieces

1. Adjust oven rach to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 400 degrees. Place 3 cups berries in medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Using potato masher (Kathleen note: I used a glass), mash berries several times to release juices. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally, until about half of berries have been broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1.5 cups, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly.
2. Place grated apple in clean kitchen towel and wring dry. Transfer apple to large bowl. Add cooked berries, remaining 3 cups uncooked berries, lemon zest, juice, sugar, tapioca, and salt; toss to combine. Transfer mixture to dough-lined pie plate and scatter butter pieces over filling.
3. Roll out second disk of dough on generously floured work surface to 11-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Using 1.25 inch round biscuit cutter, cut round from center of dough. Cut another 6 round from dough, 1.5 inches from edge of center hole. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll over pie, leaving at least 1/2 inch overhang on each side.
4. Using kitchen shears, trim bottom layer of overhanging dough, leaving 1/2 inch overhang. Fold dough under itself so that edge of fold is flush with outer rim of pie plate. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with tines of fork to seal. Brush top and edges of pie with egg mixture. If dough is very soft, chill in freezer for 10 minutes.
5. Place pie on heated baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Kathleen: years ago I learned a great trick at a cooking class with Jim Dodge( actually I was his sou chef so got in the class for free)- it' s where I learned his very time consuming way of making pie crust- much like a puff pastry, anyway he uses tapioca flour instead of tapioca- much less gooey & gelatinous and you can get it- where else- at King Arthur!
    by the way check out his dessert recipes on
    He had a great episode on the series Julia Child Cooks with Master chefs!