August 10, 2011

Home Slice

Union Square Cafe's Blueberry Pie
Most of the time I prefer cooking to baking. I enjoy the freedom of not really being all that accurate or precise (mostly becuase neither of these words could describe me, ever). Spoon-pouring and leveling, exact measurements and to-the-second baking times... sometimes that is just no fun. 

This pie, adapted from Emily Isaac of the Union Square Cafe in New York City, is actually one of the few desserts I enjoy following each and every step to make. From the way the berries begin to glisten like gemstones as they are heated through and their juices begin to flow, to slicing into the deep beautiful blue stained crust from the berries having bubbled up and over, this is a treat worthy of the little accuracy and steps involved. The consistency and texture of the filling is very smooth due to the heating through of the berries in the beginning, and the taste is delicate and not overly sweet. Its a comforting, homey treat, even if you never did get this at home.

A few notes:

I usually save the juice drained from the berries after cooling in a colander over a bowl. Reduced down, or not even, the excess juice makes a fantastic blueberry syrup for pancakes, to drizzle on breads or cakes, or even in yogurt or over ice cream. I was in Alaska a few years ago and my friend's father served me the most tender steak (reindeer, I think?) with a blueberry sauce, at their family-owned restaurant. The combination of tender meat and juicy, sweet sauce seemed to be made for one another... so perhaps this sauce could accompany your next meaty dinner. Please let me know what you come up with!

Also, sometimes I clean up after several steps, or sometimes I use every dish I own and create quite a hurricane in my small kitchen. This dish may require a few bowls (depending on how far ahead you read or plan). At first glance, or pour, of the simmered berries, it looks like they will somehow stain everything they touch. They stain nothing. I know this firsthand after unsuccessfully using the blueberry juice to dye my Easter eggs last year. The color was the exact opposite of appetizing and came off on my hands. Definitly a no-go for my attempt at local, organic (and somewhat recycled?) easter egg dye.

Union Square Cafe's Blueberry Pie

*2 quarts blueberries
*2 c. sugar + 1 Tbsp. (I use a vanilla sugar I make and always have on hand)
*zest and juice of one large lemon
*5 oz. cornstarch
*pinch salt
*1 whole egg, beaten + 1 Tbsp. water
*1 12 inch pie crust (see recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Rinse the berries and place in a medium pot with one cup of the sugar. Cook over medium heat for five minutes, stirring, until juices begin to flow. Remove from heat.

Strain berries in a colander set over a bowl and let cool. Transfer berries to a pie dish or shallow bowl and toss in one cup sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch and salt. Allow the berries to macerate for ten minutes.

Roll out dough to a 12 inch circle and place on top of berries. Trim the edges and crimp with your fingers or a fork. Brush the top with egg and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Let cool.

Pie Crust

*2/3 c. flor
*pinch salt
*1 Tbsp. sugar
*6 Tbsp. chilled butter (or 4 Tbsp butter + 2 Tbsp lard or crisco for an extra crispy crust)
*1 1/2 Tbsp ice cold water

Pulse flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Drop in 1/2 inch pieces of butter until entire mixture is of pea-size consistency. Add water in droplets while running and run until the dough is pulled together and a ball is formed in the food processor. No kneading is necessary. Wrap the ball of dough in Saran wrap and chill for half an hour before rolling out for use. Great to make ahead and freeze.


Sara said...

This is making my mouth water! Sounds so yummy...unfortunatley i can't eat this...Celiac Disease does not allow me to enjoy the "traditional" treats that contain the evil wheat flour. I have made a pumpkin pie using an almond crust. I also use rice flour in many recipes as well. I look forward to you experimenting with new ways to make old favorites :)

Eftychia said...

What a delicious pie! Thanks for sharing!

Audra said...

Sara, I have experimented with various flours during "pizza night". I will continue to include rice flour or other alternatives to see what I can come up with. I will post as soon as I come up with a tasty, chewy, pizza-worthy crust!