Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cherryberry Pie

Another week, another trip to City Market. Unfortunately, I have a cold, which makes wandering around the hot, crowded market somewhat less fun. Still, I got blackberries, yellow cherry tomatoes, a gorgeous banana pepper (for a dime!), broccoli, Bibb lettuce and eggs. The produce is cheap and good and it's from my very own county (mostly—there's some from neighboring counties, but that's almost as good), and I love watching the offerings change from week to week. This was the first week there haven't been any strawberries, and the summer squash is now ubiquitous. One of these weeks I'll have to pick some up and see if I still dislike it...

So since it was market day today, I had to use up the last of last week's market finds yesterday. That involved baking a pie with sour cherries, blackberries, and strawberries (yes, all in one pie). Considering how dubious I was of what I put in the oven, it came out fantastic. In a fit of laziness, I used pie crust out of a box. Betty Crocker, I have to say, just did not work for me. I followed the directions (put mix in bowl, add water, mix, roll out, put in pan) and everything went wrong. The crust stuck to my nonstick rolling pin as well as to my Reynolds Release nonstick tinfoil, and I've never seen anything stick to Release before. Transferring it to the pie pan didn't work out so well either. I decided to scrap my plans for making a top crust (no way was I doing that again) and make streusel topping instead. Again, I faithfully followed the streusel directions in How to Cook Everything, but I think I let my butter soften too much before starting, because it wasn't exactly crumbly. So I just pinched off blobs of topping and distributed them as evenly as I could over the top of the pie.

That's two potential disasters so far: crust and topping. Are you keeping track? The third is that I didn't have enough fruit. The recipe called for five cups. I had five, but that was before cleaning and pitting and all that. The fourth is that I had to cobble together recipes because, of course, no one writes a recipe for cherry-strawberry-blackberry pie. They all have different amounts of cornstarch and lemon juice and the streusel topping option involves a lower oven temperature and oh, I was sure the pie was going to be inedible, but actually, it was very good. Therefore, I give you:
Cherryberry Pie

about five cups altogether of sour cherries, strawberries and blackberries
3/4 c sugar
3 T cornstarch
1/4 tsp cinnamon (cassia is best)
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt

For the filling, mix all that stuff together and stick it in the fridge. Then set the oven to 375° and let it heat up while you make the streusel. (It goes without saying that you should have some sort of bottom crust. Given my Betty Crocker experience, I would say that the more kitchen-inclined among you should make your own, and everyone else should buy the ones that come frozen in disposable tins. There's at least one brand that's made with lard rather than vegetable shortening—Pillsbury, I think? I recommend that one.)

1/2 c (1 stick) butter, slightly but not overly softened
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c walnuts or pecans
1 T lemon juice
up to 1/2 c flour

Cream the butter and sugar together until well combined, then add the cinnamon, nuts and lemon juice and mix well. Add the flour a little at a time, mixing with a fork, until the mixture is crumbly. I think if it doesn't get crumbly with 1/2 c of flour in there, rather than adding more flour, you should probably just stick it in the fridge for a little while and then mix it up again.

Once you've achieved crumbliness, get the filling out of the fridge, put it in the pie shell, and top it with the streusel. Then stick it in the oven for 45 minutes. It's done when the crust and topping are lightly browned and the filling is bubbly. It might need a few more minutes.
So I'm still feeling kinda too sick to cook, but the next time I'm up to it, I'm going to try a stir-fry. I know stir-fries are supposed to be the easiest things in the world, and even people who don't cook make them, but for some reason, I never have. But I have chicken and a bell pepper and onions and the aforementioned broccoli to use up, and I'm trying to cultivate a greater appreciation for rice, and I have all kinds of fun Chinese sauce-making ingredients in my cupboard, and I finally have cornstarch with which to thicken my hypothetical Chinese sauce, so I really have no excuse. We shall see how it goes.

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