They called out for chocolate pie or yet another strawberry pie but I chose the cherries. I may be getting a bit ahead of myself as the cherries were a bit firm and not quite up to their usual sweetness but I couldn’t resist their nearly black exterior and the sign that praised their local roots. Also, I happen to agree with Nigel Slater who says, “A bag of cherries is a bag of happiness.”
Then for some reason the little tomatoes with tight skin and a red reminiscent of a fire engine called to me as well and I thought, “what’s better than a fresh home baked pie? TWO fresh, home baked pies.”
I told the kids there would be a pie picnic and I quickly set to work.
There is something strange and wonderful that happens when I make pie. It’s as if I’ve pressed the mute button to life as I begin to slice through cold butter. The kids play around me but I don’t really hear them. The house remains a mess but I’m focused on the pie and carefully mixing the ingredients to form a dough that is both tender and flaky. One that would make my grandma and my mother proud. Both ladies who have made and continue to make some of the best pie around.
I tackled the pile of cherries only briefly quibbling with myself as to why I didn’t just get strawberries – a pit-less fruit. But the spatters of blood-red juice that paints my kitchen were soon forgiven with one bite of their sweet and spiced juice baked in a buttery shell.
We made a meal of pie and I felt no guilt. There was sun, green grass and birds singing a melody hoping to woo us to give them a bite (they gave up the wooing and stole a piece when we weren’t looking). We were left with enough leftovers to ensure us of a promise of pie for breakfast – my favorite way to eat it.
Roasted Tomatoes in a Sharp Cheddar Crust
Sharp Cheddar Crust
4 ounces melted butter
1 cup flour
1 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar (I used a microplane)
½ teaspoon salt
Add melted butter and flour in a bowl, stir in cheese and salt. Make sure everything is combined well and there are no clumps of cheddar.
Press the dough thinly and evenly in a 9” tart pan.
1 small shallot thinly sliced
10 ounces (roughly 2 cups) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 tsp fresh thyme
salt and pepper
Toss these ingredients together in a bowl then pile on top of the tart pan.
Bake in a 350*F oven for 1 hour or until the edge of the crust is deep golden.
Let cool for at least 20 minutes on a wire rack before removing tart rim. Serve room temperature with greens.
The tart is beautifully tender so take care when removing from the pan.
2 ⅓ cup (10 oz) all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 sticks (8 oz) cold butter, cut in ½” cubes
2 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons cold water
In the bowl of a stand mixer add dry ingredients. Mix on low to combine. Add butter using to hands to evenly distribute. While mixing on low slowly add the oil, cream and cold water. When crumbly and dough holds together when squeezed it’s ready. I like to finish off the mixing by hand to insure that the butter is evenly mixed and some remains in rough pea-size crumbles.
Divide in two discs and wrap well.
Chill for one hour.
2 pounds cherries (I used Bing cherries. If you are lucky enough to have sour cherries you can use those and simply omit the lemon juice)
3/4 cup brown sugar
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ t black pepper
¼ t salt
3 Tablespoon cornstarch
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons sugar
Mix everything in a large bowl then set aside while rolling the crust.
Roll out one of the discs of dough and place in a pie pan (I prefer glass pie pans as you can see the color of the bottom crust while baking and it seems to bake more evenly).
Use flour if the dough is sticking at all. Roll to about ⅛” inch thick. Place the pan with the bottom crust in the freezer while rolling out the second disc.
Roll out the other disc to ⅛” inch thickness. If you are doing a lattice top cut the dough in ½” strips.
Remove the pan from the freezer and fill with the cherries. Top the pie with the top crust, alternating the ½” strips.
Brush the top with a lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Dot the pie with a few little bits of butter before putting in a 370*F oven for at least one hour or until the crust is deep golden and the juices are bubbling thickly.
*Today the internet is having a bit of a pie party. Check out all these beautiful pies.