Posts Tagged ‘pie’

Sour Cherries and the Trouble with Pies

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

What is it about baking a pie that strikes fear into the heart of even accomplished home cooks and, ahem, food bloggers alike? A flaky pie crust is a lovely showcase for summer’s ripest berries and fruit, but it’s that pesky crust that seems to spoil the best pie-making intentions. I’m guilty myself of scrapping plans for a pie to make a cobbler or crisp instead. Even if you have a trusty crust recipe on hand, a pie must be planned for — with the requirement to chill the dough before rolling it out, it simply cannot be left to the last minute. (And then you’re supposed to let it cool before serving — rather than immediately spooning it out and scooping a spoonful of vanilla ice cream on top.)

sampling sour cherries

I dragged lured the whole family out to the Bloomingdale Farmers Market on Sunday to secure the elusive sour cherries* for pie baking. (Reid’s Orchard at the market is one of my favorite sources of summer berries and fruits.) Seriously, the mad rush for sour cherries at the more trafficked DC markets is even to put anyone off baking. Not so at Bloomingdale, where the boy observed the modest line at the berry stand and said, “Let’s come back to this one,” before continuing down to pick an array of summer squashes from Garner’s. We selected hot dogs from Truck Patch for grilling, pastries from Panorama Bakery to consume right there (with iced coffee drinks from Big Bear Cafe next door), and some cheese from Keswick Creamery (and chocolate pudding … for the husband). After cooling down on Big Bear’s patio — where the boy joined several other children in planting himself under the mister — we picked up a pint of Dolcezza gelato to go as well.

foodietots cherry pie

But back to the pie… Pie crust is nothing complicated — butter (or lard), salt, sugar, flour, water. Use cold butter and work quickly, and chill the dough thoroughly before rolling it out. Rolling a pie crust is an essential skill  for any child to learn, so sprinkle a generous amount of flour onto your clean counter or cutting board and put them to work — and then, should it turn out less photogenic than you’d hoped, you can just inform your guests that your little one made the crust. 😉

Now the good thing about pie is that once you conquer your fears of crust-making, the filling is endlessly adaptable. A couple (~4) cups of berries or fruit, 2 tablespoons corn starch, 1/2-cup or so of sugar, squeeze of lemon juice and pinch of fresh herbs or spices. (I like nutmeg with cherries, a tiny bit of rosemary or thyme with peaches, and of course, cinnamon with apples.) Toss them together and pour into the prepared shell, dot the top with butter and arrange your top crust — or strips, latticed if you want to get fancy — over. Crimp the edges (again, no need to get fancy — a quick pinch will do), cut a few slices for venting, and bake. (400 degrees for about an hour, covering edges with a strip of foil to prevent over-browning.) Voila! Now just try to resist slicing into it until it’s cooled.

It’s #PieParty today, a virtual pie bake-fest created by GlutenFree Girl, and more than a thousand bloggers are conquering crust-phobia to share their pie creations.

When pie baking plans go awry (read: kids or life in general get in the way of baking time), here’s a fall-back strategy: pit the cherries (or otherwise wash/prep the fruit you have on hand), toss them with the cornstarch/sugar/spices, and pour into a gallon-sized freezer bag. Stick it in the freezer until another day… and enjoy almost-instant pie.

pickled cherries

* Wondering what else to do with sour cherries? Try homemade bourbon cherries (for the grown ups, of course), or pickle them for a wonderful accompaniment to cheese. If time is less of an issue for you, here’s a recipe to put up sour cherry pie filling for winter, via the domestic guru Mrs. Wheelbarrow.

Kids Cook Book Soup: Apples!

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

I hope you haven’t had your fill of apple recipes just yet, because we have several more to share for the very first round-up of Kids Cook Book Soup. Thanks to all for sharing your apple inspiration, and please read to the end for the November theme announcement! With no further ado…

From Jen at The Gould House, “Eldress Bertha’s Applesauce”


Jen and her 2-year-old daughter, Ella, used apples from their farmers market to make this applesauce. Jen writes, “Ella enjoyed counting the apples, catching the apple peels as they fell into the bowl, and mashing the apples after they were done simmering on the stove.  She also ate her first whole apple while I was doing the chopping.  The applesauce was delicious and it made the house smell so “autumny”—definitely a keeper!”

From Melissa at Little Locavores, Sausage-Stuffed Acorn Squash — with Apples


Melissa created this fall recipe with the thought of appealing to those who don’t like squash unless it’s doused in sugar. I don’t know if it won her farmer’s sons over, but this flavorful dish has extra kid-appeal when served in an acorn squash bowl. (Melissa and her son recently went apple-picking at Seedling Orchards in South Haven, Michigan.)

From Kelsey at The Naptime Chef, Spiced Apple Cookies


Kelsey and her toddler daughter made these scrumptious cookies, with New York McIntosh apples, to occupy a rainy afternoon — just one of many recipes in her “Apple Mania” arsenal.

And here at FoodieTots, Spiced Apple Hand Pies


We picked apples at Virginia’s Crooked Run Orchard, reviewed How to Make An Apple Pie and See the World, and baked kid-sized apple hand pies. Yum!


And if these aren’t enough ideas to use up the apples in your crisper, here are a few more kid-friendly apple recipes:

At the Fairfax County Farmers Markets: Ready-to-Eat

Friday, August 14th, 2009

So, I don’t know if you’ve heard me mention it, but last week was National Farmers Market Week. Unfortunately I didn’t top last year’s personal record of five markets during the week; in fact, I only made it to four as our weekend plans were curtailed by a sick child. But, I did take advantage of the chance to revisit the McLean Farmers Market for the first time this season, and to finally check out one of the markets managed by Smart Markets, Inc.

One of the things I love about farmers markets is that it feels so European to pop by a market and pick up something fresh for dinner that night. Unfortunately, the after work/school rush to get something to eat on the table doesn’t exactly evoke the leisurely French lifestyle I have in mind most nights. So when we can visit a market and get something already cooked, or that we can eat right on the spot, that’s a winning formula in my opinion. Here are a couple prepared food options that we came across on our market crawl.

mt olympus peppers vaMcLean Farmers Market: This market is held on Friday mornings, so if you time your visit near the end you can pick up lunch in the form of Emine’s savory baklava, some fresh peaches from Reid’s Orchard, and dessert of Middleburg Creamery ice cream or a whoopie pie (pumpkin or chocolate) from Valentine’s Country Bakery & Meat. Be sure to take home a Shoo-Fly Pie from Valentine’s for later. If there were an award for most colorful market stand, I’m pretty sure Mt. Olympus Farm would win hands down with their amazing rainbow array of sweet and hot peppers. (McLean Farmers Market, Fridays, 8:30am-12:30pm; Valentine’s can also be found at the Fairfax County Oakton, Annandale, Mount Vernon and Reston markets, not to be confused with the Reston Smart Market, below.)

Reston Smart Market: This market was lighter on produce and heavier on the condiments and baked goods, including two pastry shops and Anne’s lemonade and bread stand. There’s also a winery table, for your after-work happy hour sipping, and a children’s story-time area in the center. There was a kids’ cooking lesson taking place as well, though I have to confess that my son turned up his nose when asked if he wanted to help make a salad and made a beeline to the man offering free cake samples instead. We met two young men from New York who are learning the farming ropes in preparation for starting their own organic farm in the future; in the meantime, check out their Grinning Greens line of vinaigrettes and marinades.

reston smart market va

After a quick round of samplings we made our way to the gleaming silver food cart of Local Sixfortyseven. You may have read about this recent addition to the burgeoning local food cart scene; the husband-and-wife team of Derek and Amanda Luhowiak are taking farm-to-table on the road to area markets and cooking up juicy fresh burgers from Fauquier County’s Angelic Beef, Polyface hot dogs and soups and salads featuring ingredients from the markets or their own garden — on eco-friendly compostable dishes, no less. (Though I didn’t notice a composting bin at the market?) I’ve always lamented burger joints that don’t serve milkshakes, but after sampling Sixfortysix’s blackberry ginger thyme pie I’m fairly confident in declaring that burgers and pie may just be the new happy meal.

local sixfortyseven pie

(Reston Smart Market, Reston Town Center, Thursdays, 3:30-6:30pm; but Jane Black notes that Local Sixfortyseven is not guaranteed to be at Reston every week. Find them on Facebook to stay up-to-date.)

Don’t Forget! Submit a photo of your tot(s) at the market to the Foodie Tots <3 Farmers Markets Flickr pool by August 31 and you’ll have a chance to win a kid-sized reusable market tote filled with foodie goodies. For an extra entry into the drawing, blog about your local farmers market with a link back to this post &/or retweet a link to the “Foodie Tots <3 Farmers Markets” contest. More bonus points for sharing why you love your farmers market.

One Local Dog and Slaw

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

one local summer 2009Maybe it’s a subconscious recognition that it’s baseball season, or just appreciation for something that requires no preparation before tossing on the grill, but we’ve had hot dogs and cole slaw not once but twice this past week. The first was MeatCrafter’s Capital Half Smokes, from the Crystal Farms market, and a plain green slaw from a baby cabbage in our CSA bag. Then, I decided on all-American buffalo dogs for an anti-Bastille Day themed gathering at our house on Sunday. I always feel bad going a weekend without visiting one of the markets in our neighborhood, but when I have my mind set on something specific — buffalo and sour cherries, in this instance — I head straight to Dupont Circle’s FreshFarm Market. I actually could have obtained both at the Wednesday Upper King Street Market, but that would have required planning further in advance.

one local summer

I made a discovery with the first batch of slaw that a creamy dressing is possible without the use of mayonnaise (which I hate). After tossing the cabbage with cider vinegar, I added a splash of buttermilk, a little salt and pepper, and voila! Creamy yet tangy and without the dreaded mayo-droop. Sunday I repeated the formula using a beautiful blue-purple cabbage and green peppers the boy selected at the market, served along side our Cibola Farms buffalo dogs and with a fresh cherry pie for dessert. I also pickled some of the cherries, using a French recipe from Chez Loulou, to accompany our cheeses. The cheese course was not exactly local, but we did enjoy a Virginia sparkling wine that could rival many of the true champagnes, from Thibaut-Janisson. Vive Virginia!

One Local Summer is an annual challenge in which people around the world join together for 13 weeks of seasonal eating, supporting local farmers and exploring their local foodsheds. Visit FarmtoPhilly on Tuesdays for the weekly round-up; here’s what my neighbors in the Southern region cooked up this week.

Rustic Pumpkin Pie

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Somehow I missed reading about the pie challenge at The Kitchn until about 9pm tonight. I’d been planning to roast my beautiful Cushaw pumpkin tonight, so why not throw together a pie? After a mad rush to roast, bake and blog by the stroke of midnight, I completed my entry form at 11:59pm on the dot … only to have my internet connection drop and return a few minutes later to the “error: the entry form is now closed” message. Nooo! Oh well, now that I have this pretty blog post prepared, hopefully you all will enjoy it even if it’s not a prize winner.

To complement my pumpkin, from our Potomac Vegetable Farms CSA in Virginia, I decided to keep it simple and use a few other quality, local ingredients, namely my South Mountain Creamery butter and Hilldale Farms organic eggs.

This summer I tried the Cooks Illustrated vodka pie crust, to rave reviews. It was perfectly light and flaky. This time, I made it with all (local, natural) butter since I generally prefer not to use shortening, and found the resulting dough a little less moist and easier to work with. It still requires chilling, though, before rolling it out, and I rolled it out between two pieces of plastic wrap to facilitate getting it off my cutting board and into the pie plate in one piece.

For the pumpkin puree, I split my pumpkin in half and roasted it cut sides down on parchment paper at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. This pumpkin is more yellow than your traditional pumpkin, but the cooked flesh was so luscious and creamy it barely needed blending. I used a hand blender just to smooth it out. I like my pumpkin pie custardy with a little creaminess, but instead of using condensed milk I used a little local yogurt instead.

Recipe: Rustic Pumpkin Pie


  • 1 9-inch pie crust (Cooks Illustrated, half the recipe)
  • 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla
  • 3/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup plain, unsweetened whole milk yogurt

Instructions: Prepare pie crust and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, stir together pumpkin puree and sugar until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine. Stir in seasonings, then yogurt. Blend completely, then pour into prepared pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook until set, about 35-40 minutes more. Makes 8 servings.

Pour yourself a glass of fresh milk (ours was delivered this morning!), and enjoy the perfect midnight snack! Or, you know, save it for a holiday like a normal person. Either way, enjoy!

This is the first in a four-part series of FoodieTots Thanksgiving favorites – starting with dessert first, of course! Stay tuned for a few other turkey day recipes.