Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Berry Cherry Rhubarb Pie - Or "Summer Ain't Over Yet!" Pie

It was starting to feel like summer was completely over. The weather had turned cool. The breeze had a subtle crispness. The days were noticeably getting shorter. The whole scene got me thinking about fall and, naturally, the foods and flavors that go along with this favorite season of mine. I got it in my head that I was going to make a pumpkin pie as a way to welcome autumn and reflect on what was a wonderful summer. And then, as quickly as the sensations of fall seemed to reveal themselves, all the indicators turned right back into summer mode. It got hot and still and felt every bit of mid-July.

Well, how could I enjoy and appreciate a piece of pumpkin pie with all this heat? Even smothered in Cool Whip? No, it was too soon. Summer, in fact, had not slipped through our midst. It was still hanging on and fighting for its life. So, while the pumpkin pie idea was going to have to wait a while, my hankering for pie could not. I decided to take a look in the freezer. I'm a believer in buying quantities of things when in season, and either eating them like crazy for weeks on end (like sweet corn) or canning/freezing them for sometime down the road when you can no longer get them fresh. I found remnants of frozen blueberries, cherries and rhubarb - not enough of any of them to make a full pie, so why not combine them?

One of the online communities that I belong to is Automatic Washer. This is a wonderful group of folks who are interested in and collect washing machines and other vintage appliances. While I don't collect washing machines, I do collect vintage stoves, refrigerators and small appliances. I have met so many great people on this site, and there is a good number of fine cooks and bakers who often exchange recipes and advice about preparing food. Just recently, there have been a couple of threads about making pie - in particular the challenges of making pie crust. I have to admit that making crust has been a long-time challenge for me, and for as many as I have made over the years, I still seem to encounter some issue every time. But, the important thing is that I learned to roll with it (no pun intended), and work with and/or around any problem so that my crusts come out flaky, tender and good tasting.

Pies make people happy. Whether you have a stock of spring and summer fruits to use, or you want to usher in autumn with apple or pumpkin pies, the small investment in pie making time pays big dividends!

Pie Crust
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup Crisco (best if cold - I keep mine in the fridge)
5-6 TBSP ice water

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Add Crisco and using a pastry blender cut-in shortening with flour mixture until it becomes the consistency of small peas. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time and incorporate using a fork. You want the dough to be damp enough that there are no longer any small particles in bowl. When you pick up dough and press large pieces together, it should hold together. Form dough into one large ball and divide it in two parts. I generally make one half a little larger than the other - and I use the larger piece to roll out my bottom crust. The smaller one is for the top crust. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and put in fridge for 30 minutes.

After the dough has chilled, use a well-floured board or pastry cloth and a floured rolling pin and begin to roll out bottom crust. You should try to roll it out about an inch larger than you need to cover the bottom of the pie pan. Transfer the bottom crust to the pie pan. I wrap the crust back around the rolling pin and then "unroll" it over the pie pan. Pour your pie filling over the bottom crust. Roll out the top crust and place over filling. Crimp and tuck bottom and top crusts together. Cut vents in top of pie for steam to escape and bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes (or until top is golden brown). Remove and let cool on rack for 3-4 hours.

Berry-Cherry-Rhubarb Filling
4 cups blueberries
2 cups cherries
1 1/2 cups rhubarb
2 cups sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 TBSP butter (cut into small pieces)

If using frozen fruit, thaw completely and drain off as much of the liquid as you can. In a large bowl combine fruit, sugar, flour and cinnamon. Gently stir together so as not to crush the fruit but to distribute the sugar/flour/cinnamon. Add filling to pie after the bottom crust is placed in pie dish and dot the top of the filling with pieces of butter. Put top crust over filling and continue as directed above.

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