Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wedding Cake Project: Wild Blueberry Pie

I know what you're thinking. "Did I read that correctly? It says wedding cake and pie." Yes, you did read it right. In addition to the delicious Guinness Chocolate Cake, we will be serving wedding pie of the homemade variety. I'm not completely crazy. Wedding pie is a thing. And though my love of pie knows no bounds, I did not ask CCO on our first date if we could serve pie at our wedding like this guy. (Though it was one of the conditions I set on having the wedding at all)

CCO's family lives in Maine, so we figured wild blueberry pie was a nice way to celebrate his New England heritage. After a thorough search, I discovered you can buy frozen wild blueberries at Whole Foods. So I bought a bag, whipped out Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything and whipped up a pie.

Nicole, with disaster pie.

It looked good but it was something of a disaster. It tasted delicious, but it was more like soup than pie, with tons of blueberries swimming in juice left in the dish. Now I understand some people love their blueberry pie to be soupy. But when people are dressed in their Sunday best and I'm wearing white, I'm not sure soupy blueberries are the way to go.

The culprit, I discovered, was the cornstarch. If cooked for too long, cornstarch loses its thickening power. Couple that with the extreme juiciness of wild blueberries and you get soup. For round two, I settled on instant clearjel. Like cornstarch, clearjel is made from corn. But it's essentially a higher grade of cornstarch than what you buy at the grocery store and it thickens much better.

Since this is supposed to be a fancy-ish pie, I used Meyer lemon zest. I'm sure regular lemon zest would do just fine if that's what you have on hand.

P.S. Happy blogiversary! Thanks to all my loyal readers. We've come a long way since Raspberry White Chocolate Bars. What has been your favorite recipe of the last year?

Eat Rating: Awesome. Very blueberry with a hint of lemon.
Difficulty: Easy.

One batch of double pie crust (LN: I recommend this one via Smitten Kitchen. You could also try doubling this.)
1 15 oz. bag frozen wild blueberries (LN: You can sub 2 1/2 cups fresh)
Zest of one Meyer lemon
1/4 cup sugar + 1 tbsp for the top
3 tbsp ClearJel
1 egg

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Lay out one pie crust in the bottom of your pie dish.

In a small bowl, mix the 1/4 cup sugar with the zest of the Meyer lemon. In separate large bowl, mix the blueberries with the sugar and ClearJel. Let stand at least five minutes. (You can start work on your top crust while this is steeping.)

After five minutes, place the blueberries into the pie dish. Top with second crust, either in a lattice (as shown) or place over the top and cut vents.

Beat the egg in a small bowl and brush on top of the top crust (Note: If you're doing a lattice, brush with the egg BEFORE you place on top of the pie. It's much easier that way). Sprinkle the last 1 tbsp of sugar on top of the pie and place the whole pie dish on a cookie sheet.

Bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes. You want the top crust to be browned and the blueberry mixture to be bubbling. Remove from oven and cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, January 11, 2010

It's a Recession!: Cashew Butter

Ok, so cashew butter is probably not a household staple. But peanut butter is. And while I love the stuff -- grilled peanut butter shall always be Elvis and my favorite sandwich -- after awhile it gets old. So I decided to switch it up a little and try cashew butter. Cashew butter has a much more subtle taste than PB. It's more mellow and doesn't hit you over the head with its nuttiness. The recipe calls for unsalted cashews. They sell big bags at Trader Joes. But if you can't find unsalted, go ahead and get the salted kind and just rinse them off in a colander.

Adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini.

Eat Rating: Awesome.
Difficulty: Easy to Medium. Requires a food processor or blender

2 cups unsalted cashews
Salt, to taste

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the cashews in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake, stirring occassionally, for about 8-10 minutes or until the nuts become fragrant. You want them lightly roasted.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for five minutes. Place the nuts in the food processor and pulse to break up. You'll have, at first, a sort of course meal.

Keep pulsing, stopping ocassionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber scraper. The nuts will continue to break down and eventually begin to form a paste. Taste and add salt if desired.

The paste is somewhat thick and a little more crumbly than traditional peanut butter. Once it reaches desired consistency, place into a jar or plastic container and refrigerate. The butter will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.