Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blueberries and Cream Pie

When I first saw this pie I thought... "Oh merciful heavens, now I will eat even more pie!" I had never had any cream pie with the exception of chocolate cream pie but that is a different animal all together! Many versions of this recipe exist on the web, each a little different. This version of Blueberries and Cream Pie come from a cute blog called Gingerbread Bagels. This pie serves 8.

Those of you who followed my previous blog or who know me IRL (in real life) know that I avoid processed foods and that I think partially hydrogenated oils are akin to the devil. Be prepared... I recommend these products for this recipe! The owner of Gingerbread Bagels makes her own crust. I have not mastered this skill, I buy the rolled crust in the box. It may be considered a "pie sin" but I can't help myself! Allow the rolled crust to warm slightly in the plastic but outside the box. Unroll the crust and place into a pie plate. I use a glazed ceramic one. Once the crust is centered, roll down the sides until they are slightly above the rim. Then you can use the pinch/poke method to make PERFECT pie crust decor! Place 2 knuckles on the outside rim of the pie dish as shown in the image. Take the first finger of your other hand and gently poke the crust in between the 2 knuckles. Move the first knuckle into the slight dent made by the second knuckle and repeat the whole process around the pie. Somehow it always comes out almost perfectly even! (If you don't care what the crust looks like... skip this pinch poke part!) Place the pie crust into the fridge or even the freezer while you make the filling. This step will keep the crust from shrinking or flopping while baking.

The recipe calls for 3 cups of blueberries. This winds up being almost a full quart. Congrats to the recipe writer! This is the first berry pie recipe I have ever used that actually calls for enough berries! I always have to add more or have a wimpy pie!If you don't have fresh picked or "on sale" berries, DO NOT buy the fancy expensive blueberries in the grocery section... feel free to use frozen instead. If using frozen berries, place the frozen berries in a colander and add a tablespoon of flour, shake to coat berries, and extra flour falls through colander. This serves 2 purposes! One... the flour soaks up some of the extra liquid given off by frozen berries. Two, the flour keeps the berries from bursting and turning the entire pie purple. (This flour trick works for other, pies, cakes, and muffins too!)

Mix together 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 eggs, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. I chose to use a bowl and whisk instead the the stand mixer and paddle attachment that the recipe called for. Then pour this mixture over the blueberries inside the pie crust. I also gave the pie plate a little jiggle so the custard mix would settle in the bottom, have fewer air bubbles, and to allow the blueberries to settle more evenly.

My gram taught me to make crumble topping with cold butter. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't so for years I have shied away from crumb topping. NOT ANYMORE!!!!! This recipe's method produces the best crumb topping I have ever tasted! First mix 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg. (If you don't have nutmeg, just leave it out!) Second stir in 1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) melted butter. Finally add 1/2 cup plus 2 table spoons of flour. The crumb topping takes on the magic consistency of Oreo filling. It will stick together and crumble!

I tried a few methods to crumble the topping, all worked equally well! I grabbed a handful and pinched off bits to drop on, I took a small handful and rubbed my hands together and let pieces fall. I took spoonful amounts and rubbed the dough between my thumb and fingers letting the pieces fall. Any method works! 

The recipe called for it to bake for 50-55 minutes at 350 degrees. There were no directions about how to test for doneness so I investigated similar recipes. The test for doneness is a slightly puffed center that does not jiggle. I found that my pie needed 65 minutes in order for the very middle of the center to actually "puff". The above picture shows, from a sideways view, what puffed looks like. The pie will settle as is cools and the puffed look goes away. The picture below shows the cut pie. We ate it warm, at room, temperature, and cold. I liked warm or room temp best. My husband liked cold best. Be sure to store this pie in the fridge when cool as it is a custard pie!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Apple Sandwiches

This great lunch or snack idea is popular at this time due to back to school thoughts! The recipe originates from Whole Foods Market in 2009. I discovered a few tips and tricks while making this for our track meet picnic today! I use Pink Lady (Cripps Pink) apples. They have a sweet tart flavor, are very crisp, and are very resistant to browning!

                                                                                Use an apple corer to remove the core and make the kid friendly finger hole! You may need to use the corer again to remove small parts of the core that get left behind. 

Cut a thin slice off the top and bottom of the apple. 
Cut the apple in half to create 2 thick rings. 
Cut each one of those rings in half again .

                                                                                  Fill a bowl with cold water. Add a splash of lemon juice. The water should be a little cloudy and smell lightly like ... hmm imagine... lemons! Toss your apple slices into the water. You can let them soak while you do other things or take them right back out. Pat them dry with paper towels. The lemon water bath will make the apples resist for almost 24 hours!
Match up the apple slices. This serves 2 purposes. One... unless you have chef quality knife skills, the pieces will be uneven or a bit jagged which will make an ugly sandwich. Two... if the halves don't match, your filling will seep over the edges. I use the color markings on the apple to match the slices up.

Ready for the trickiest part of this operation??? The apple "juice" that leaks from the cut slices makes it nearly impossible to spread your peanut/almond/sun-nut butter. I suggest using your knife to get about a third of the amount you think you will need. Place it on the apple slice, move the knife away sideways in effectively dragging rather than spreading, then tilt the knife 90 degrees and scrape the peanut butter off the knife using the edge of the apple skin. Repeat 2 more times which will cover the apple slice. Your peanut butter will not be evenly spread. The peanut butter near the core hole will be much thicker than near the skin... never fear it will fix itself when you place the top slice on in a few steps!

Sprinkle mini chocolate chips and granola on top of the peanut butter. 
The original photo shows regular chips but they make the sandwich too fat to bite into. 

Top with the other apple slice. These traveled very well in a plastic container, I am not so sure I would pack these in a plastic bag as hands that reached in to get the sandwich would get very sticky! Our fingers needed a little lick but not a full washing!