Archive for the ‘fruit’ Category

Last summer, a friend asked for my recipe for blueberry pie. Technically, it’s my mother’s recipe. Here’s how I make it:


2 1/2 cups of flour
1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons)
4 oz of neufchâtel/cream cheese
1/4 cup cold water

1 quart of wild blueberries (or more, depending on pie dish depth)
4 tablespoons of Minute tapioca
1 1/4 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 ounces of milk


Combine berries with 1 cup of sugar and tapioca in a bowl at least half an hour before baking, preferably 2 hours or so. Set aside.

Preheat over to 425 degree F.

Sift flour into large mixing bowl. Cut butter and neufchâtel into flour in small pieces. Pinch pieces of shortening between fingers until no globs remain. Add cold water, mix until dough comes together but no longer. Split into 2 balls, chill in fridge for 4 hours. (Possible to use immediately if needed but try to plan ahead!)

Dust counter top or big cutting board and a rolling pin with flour. (If you have access to a ceramic rolling pin, chill it prior to baking.) Roll out first ball of dough until it’s 1 inch wider than pie plate diameter on all sides. Fold into half and then once again to transfer into plate, then unfold after moving it over. Press closed any cracks.

Add filling. Roll out the other ball of dough, this time making an oval (for lattice) or circle for closed pie. Slice into 1/2″ strips. Weave into lattice over the pie filling. (If pie top is one piece, make sure to cut 8 1″ slit into it to allow steam to escape.) Press the top and bottom crust together with two fingers to form a wave.

Brush the top of the piece with milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Put pie into over in the middle rack, preferably with a cookie sheet below it to catch any overflow. (If you have a crust protector, put it over the edges.)

Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F. Bake for 45 minutes. Check to see if blueberries are bubbling. If not, check back periodically every 10 minutes. If crust is browning too fast, reduce heat further to 325.

Let cool for at least a few minutes — filling will be boiling hot and will gel as it cools.

Goes exceptionally well with cold milk, tea or a la mode.

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A blurry iPhone photo doesn’t do this dinner justice. Not even close. That’s the only regret I take from this meal.  I was in upstate New York with my parents for a few short days last April. When Dad asked me to cook the chicken breasts he’d purchased earlier in the week, I immediately wanted to make something that would be a departure from the norm, both for their palates and mine.

That creative impulse is what led to the ridiculously long title of the post. Grilled chicken with fruit chutney, glazed carrots and brussel sprouts provides the base of the meal. It’s one that I find intensely satisfying, even without the “X” factors of grapefruit or cranberries. That said, I’m glad I experimented with the ingredients available in the kitchen and local Wegmans.


Grilled chicken with pear-plum-grapefruit chutney, cranberry-honey-balsamic carrots and roasted brussel sprouts


Dad asked if I would like to cook tonight. I did the ingredients he’d selected some justice, improvising a chutney to dress up the chicken breasts he’d purchased. I minced a small yellow onion and sauteed it until translucent in 1/2 tbsp of butter in a medium-sized saucepan.

I chopped and added a ripe Bosc pear, a black plum and the flesh of half a pink grapefruit, slicing out each segment. After adding a tablespoon of brown sugar, some salt and a dash of balsamic vinegar, I left the mixture to bubble gently on the back burner.

In the meantime, I cut the stems from the brussel sprouts and took off the outer leaves. I sliced each in half and put them sliced face down on a non-stick baking pan I’d sprayed with canola oil. I put them in a preheated over at 350, along with three bell peppers. After twenty minutes, I turned them over and brushed the faces with a maple-balsamic-soy mixture (equal parts of each). The folds of the brussel sprouts held the liquid quite well, given this arrangement. I turned the oven off twenty minutes later, leaving them inside to stay warm.

Dad was kind enough to peel and slice the carrots into 1/4″ thick rounds. I sauteed them in a large saucepan with a pat of butter (a common theme, I’m afraid, but it tastes so good….). After they had softened up (about 10 minutes on low-medium heat), I added 3 oz of equal parts honey, unsweetened cranberry juice and balsamic vinegar and let it reduce. The resulting side dish had a pleasant, tangy flavor profile I hadn’t encountered before; I’ll be trying that again.

I used a tip I’d picked up from Gimpadelic last year, dousing the boneless, skinless breasts with olive oil, dry herbs, sea salt and ground pepper. In the absence of skin, the oil keeps the chicken moist (and delicious) on the grill.

Start to finish, this took less than an hour and dressed up chicken, carrots and brussel sprouts rather well. Given that Dad isn’t into spicy foods, I didn’t add any chilis or a habanero pepper to the chutney. Either are ingredients I’d certainly add in the future. Robin also suggested blanching the brussel sprouts for two minutes before roasting, to soften up the remainder of the stalk. Even so, an excellent do. When I roast brussel sprouts again, I’ll definitely employ this method.

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I wrote this post last December, in the weeks following Thanksgiving when I was still craving more pumpkin pie. My greyhound subsequently ate the filling from one of them, when I unwisely left him alone with it for more than thirty seconds. Happily there was no dire outcome, at least on his end.  Lost pie or no, I had enough leftover dough to make a tart.


Earlier in the week, I made two pumpkin pies from scratch. I was proud of the outcome — lightly spiced, creamy dessert with flaky, tasty crust, balanced perfectly with some whipped cream — but I was left with a orange-sized ball of pie dough. I put it into the fridge, planning to use it later.

Last night, I found the perfect excuse.

Raspberry Nutella pie with tangerine zest

Raspberry Nutella pie with tangerine zest

A dear friend was enduring side affects from a flu shot that distinctly resembled actual flu: nausea, fatigue, aches, headache, loss of appetite.

I brought along my dough, some Nutella and a package of raspberries, hoping to make a treat that would appeal to that lagging appetite. The picture above bears proof to the success of the enterprise. I rolled my dough to about 1 mm thick, stretching it to fit the pie pan. I spread the Nutella around, rolled the crust inwards, dotted the creamy brown expanse with raspberries and sprinkled tangerine zest over the top.

Baking the pie at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes, followed by 10 at 350, turned the crust into a flaky delight and the raspberries nearly into jam-like consistency.

The audience (of one) declared the result to be a ‘mouthgasm,’ a compliment I deeply appreciate.

I’ve never had a Nutella pie until yesterday. I wasn’t sure if how well this would work.

As it turned out, I shouldn’t have worried. The addition of berries for sweetness and the counterpoint of tangy citrus balanced the chocolate hazelnut wonderfully. The filling is so dead simple I won’t bother to share proportions. If you have pre-made dough, this is about as fast a baked dessert as I know how to prepare.

Making crust is straightforward. The following will work for any fruit pie. This following is a tried-and-true classic, direct from family. Enjoy it.

Chop up a stick of butter into small pieces. Do the same with an equal amount of neufchatel.  Pinch the butter and cream cheese into 2 sifted cups of flour until each piece of shortening is a flake. Don’t overmix. Add just enough cold water to bind into dough. Separate into two balls, cover and set aside for a few hours before baking if possible, though you can use the dough immediately if necessary.

Happy pie making!

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