Monday, August 29, 2011

Foolproof Blueberry Pie

I made the dough the day before and let it chill overnight.

Cooking half the berries

As I've mentioned here, Gabe loves blueberry pie.  Now that we live in Michigan, I didn't have the luxury of buying one from Sweet Lady Jane and had to actually try to make one.  Let me defend myself by saying I've tried making them in the past and the crust never seems to come out quite right.  This time I tried a new recipe that my dad told me about from America's Test Kitchen and it made all the difference.  This recipe uses vodka in the crust to add extra moisture, making the crust more workable without making it tough.  The alcohol vaporizes while cooking and the final crust turns out tender and flaky.  And it was just that.  The crust was perfect, easy to shape, and tasted amazing.  The filling was an ideal consistency, full of plump berries that didn't run all over the place when we cut into it.  All in all, I think the pie was a huge success, if I do say so myself.  I'll definitely continue using this crust recipe for all my future pies.

Best Blueberry Pie with Foolproof Pie Dough
Recipe by: America’s Test Kitchen
Crust Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices (I put the slices of butter and shortening in the freezer for about 30minutes before using)
1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces (I use butter flavor)
1/4 cup vodka, cold
1/4 cup cold water
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Blueberry Filling Ingredients:
6 cups fresh blueberries (about 30 ounces)*
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated on large holes of box grater
2 teaspoons grated zest and 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca, ground*
Pinch table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1. For The Pie Dough: Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into 2 even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

3. Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs plate in place; refrigerate while preparing filling until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

4. For The Filling: Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 400 degrees. Place 3 cups berries in medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Using potato masher, mash berries several times to release juices. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally, until about half of berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly.

5. Place grated apple in clean kitchen towel and wring dry. Transfer apple to large bowl. Add cooked berries, remaining 3 cups uncooked berries, lemon zest, juice, sugar, tapioca, and salt; toss to combine. Transfer mixture to dough-lined pie plate and scatter butter pieces over filling.

6. Roll out second disk of dough on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 11-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Using 1 1/4-inch round biscuit cutter, cut round from center of dough. Cut another 6 rounds from dough, 1 1/2 inches from edge of center hole and equally spaced around center hole. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll over pie, leaving at least 1/2-inch overhang on each side.

7. Using kitchen shears, trim bottom layer of overhanging dough, leaving 1/2-inch overhang. Fold dough under itself so that edge of fold is flush with outer rim of pie plate. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with tines of fork to seal. Brush top and edges of pie with egg mixture. If dough is very soft, chill in freezer for 10 minutes.

8. Place pie on heated baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

*This recipe was developed using fresh blueberries, but unthawed frozen blueberries (our favorite brands are Wyman’s and Cascadian Farm) will work as well. In step 4, cook half the frozen berries over medium-high heat, without mashing, until reduced to 1 1/4 cups, 12 to 15 minutes. Grind the tapioca to a powder in a spice grinder or mini food processor. If using pearl tapioca, reduce the amount to 5 teaspoons. Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor; do not substitute.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Happy Birthday to Gabe

Enjoying a mojito at the Beach House in Kauai
Gabe's fellowship graduation, following the 5,000th liver transplant at UCLA.
Celebrating our last night in L.A.
Today is Gabe's birthday!  We're planning on celebrating by going to dinner with friends tonight (fingers crossed Gabe doesn't get called into work).  Happy Birthday to the best husband I can imagine.  I'm so proud of you and all you've accomplished this year!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Penne Bolognese

I'm starting to feel settled here in Michigan and have been happily making myself at home in the kitchen.  After Gabe's first liver transplant as an attending (which went well), I decided to try making one of his favorite meals to celebrate, Penne Bolognese.  It was a first for me, so I was thankful it went well and Gabe and I both loved the results.  It was hearty, comforting, and so delicious.  I used this recipe, substituting the ground beef chuck for ground sirloin, which was a little leaner but still full of flavor.  If you love Bolognese, this is definitely a great recipe that doesn't require hours in the kitchen.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Baby Shower Brunch

As I mentioned here, you'll be seeing this dress a lot.

I'm still dreaming about this cake.  It was glorious.
It's a boy!

Before I left for Michigan, Jessica and Whitney threw me the most beautiful baby shower.  Every detail was thoughtfully arranged from the purple tulips (my favorite) and outdoor venue (Primitivo) to the delicious funfetti flavored cake from Susiecakes.  We had the best time catching up, chatting about baby gear, eating delicious food, and listening to the acoustic live music playing on the Primitivo patio.  The entire day was absolutely perfect and it was so much fun celebrating the upcoming addition to our family!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hawaii Recap

Gabe relaxing by the pool

Dinner at the Beach House

my virgin lava flow

You'll be seeing a lot of this dress, it's one of the only things that fits me right now.

my belly at 20 weeks

the view from our hotel room
We made it to Michigan and are working on getting organized and settled (pictures to come).  The last few months have been so crazy, I haven't had a chance (or the internet) to upload any of my pictures until now.  So as I upload my pictures, I'll try to catch everyone up on the move and everything else that's going on with us.  I decided to start with our trip to Kauai in July (our last two trips seen here and here).  We had so much to celebrate (Gabe graduating from fellowship and his new job, our 3 year wedding anniversary, and baby moon) and the trip couldn't have been better.  It was so relaxing, beautiful and exactly what we needed.  We came home feeling refreshed and ready for the big move.