Rainier Cherry Hand Pies

Ranier Cherry Handpies1

It’s July, guys.

Which means that 2014 is halfway over already. How the heck did that even happen?

I swear it was just yesterday that it was February and I was complaining to you all about the ever-falling snow. Now it’s July and it’s…not snowing here in Michigan. Actually, the weather’s kinda hot. As we’re coming upon the Fouth of July (American Independence Day, for my international readers) I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes pop up around the blogs I follow on WordPress and Pinterest that are centered around some kind of grilling or cookout food. Y’know, lots of red, white and blue stuff.

Of course I think of more than just colors when I think of the Fourth of July. For instance….

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I remember all those ‘patriotic’ American anthems that we learned in elementary school and had to sing in choir recitals : The Star Spangled Banner, This Land is Your Land, O Beautiful For Spacious Skies, 50 Nifty United States (yes, I still remember the lyrics to them all.)

It’s been over 10 years since I last watched it, but July 4th always makes me think of the movie/musical “1776” starring William Daniels (or most people know him, Mr. Feeny from the show Boy Meets World).

You guys ever heard of Christmas in July? I Googled it, and apparently, ir comes from the fact that for countries in the southern hemisphere, winter falls in July. Therefore, in some of these places they’ll actually have Christmas-themed celebrations so that it feels more authentic. I can understand that logic, as I would hate to have to live in a place where it was 90 + degrees in the month of December. After December 25th, I want the cold snow to go away, but before that day comes, I need to at least ‘feel’ like it’s winter time . I think that they may be onto something with this whole Christmas in July thing too because for some reason whenever July comes around, I get my annual “Christmas Itch”, where I start to wish it was Christmas (or at least Thanksgiving) instead of the dead of summer.

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Anyway, back to the food. A little while ago I was contacted by a representative from the website Raise.com. It’s a forum where people are able to purchase giftcards at a discounted price, then sell them back for cash. They’re doing a recipe round up of blogs featuring recipes centered around the Fourth of July/American food, and when I was asked to participate, I agreed.

I decided on doing a dessert for my contribution to the round up, and when I went to the produce section of my grocery store, I saw that there was a sale on cherries. They had the regular red Bing variety, as well as Rainier cherries. I love cherries of all kinds, but Rainiers are my favorite because of the slightly sweeter flavor that they have- plus they’re just gorgeous to look at. When it comes to cherries, you don’t get much more American than cherry pie, right? Well I decided to take that American classic and give it my own twist with these Rainier Cherry hand pies. Hand pies make it easier to share at a barbecue or cookout, and they’re just cute and pretty. I also wanted to throw in another flavor profile, so I added a 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom to the filling to cut the sweetness a tad bit. I was very satisfied with how they turned out, and I’m proud to bring them to this week’s Fiesta Friday #23, (hosted by Margy @La Petite Casserole and Sylvia @Superfoodista) as well as share them with the folks at Raise.com for their July 4th Recipe Round-up (thanks again, Jessica :-))

Have a great holiday weekend, guys!

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Rainier Cherry Hand Pies

Recipe Adapted from Seriouseats.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups, stemmed and pitted Rainier cherries, roughly chopped (approximately 1 pound of cherries)
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons zest and 3 tablespoons juice from about 2 lemons
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • One half recipe of your favorite butter pie crust

 Directions

1. In a medium sauce pan combine cherries, 1/4 cup sugar, and lemon zest. In a small bowl whisk together lemon juice, corn starch, and vanilla. Pour mixture over cherries and stir to incorporate.

2. Heat cherries over medium high heat, stirring frequently until juices come together to form thick sauce. Remove from heat, cover and refrigerate until cool, at least 1 hour.

3. Meanwhile, cut out eight 6-inch squares of parchment paper. Divide pie dough into eight equal balls. On a well floured surface, roll out the dough balls into 5-inch rounds. Place each round on a piece of parchment paper, stacking them together so they don’t stick. Refrigerate pie rounds for 30 minutes to 1 hour to allow them to firm up.

4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Place 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons cooled cherry filling in the center of each round, then fold in half to enclose and crimp the edges to seal. Brush the outside of the pies with egg and sprinkle with remaining 3 tablespoons sugar. Make 3 small cuts on the top of the pies to vent. Refrigerate prepared pies for 30 minutes

5. Set rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Bake pies until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Triple Berry Slab Pie

Berry Slab Pie1

When was the last time that you did something that made you really, really, REALLY proud of yourself?

I remember the first time I tied my own shoes when I was a little girl; for a six year old, it was literally one of those moments when it seems like the clouds part and a ray of sunshine shines just on you. I was walking on air from that for days.

I played the lead in an 8th grade musical (“Once on This Island”, in case there are any theater nerds out there like me) and when the sound system suddenly and unexpectedly cut out, I sang my solo song completely accappella. And I nailed it. Got an ovation and everything. That made me feel pretty good.

I made Dean’s List for nearly every semester of my undergrad college years…all while holding down 2-3 jobs (I have no idea how I did this now that it’s over, by the way).

My mom has a specific, rare smile that when she gives me, makes me feel like I can do absolutely anything in the world.

There’s nothing wrong with having those moments of pride; most people spend too much time obsessed with the things that they haven’t done, or are doing wrong. I think we should think more about the things that we’re actually doing right. So why don’t we try to think of the last moment of extreme pride or satisfaction that we had because of something we did. Think of it, then give yourself a pat on the back. Do your own little personal victory dance. Go ahead- you deserve it.

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These days, most of my moments of pride or self-congratulations come from me doing something new and intimidating in the kitchen, so this exercise is pretty easy for me to do. I was proud the first time I cooked something that came out of a box. I was proud when I first made a yeast bread. I was proud when I first made my grandma’s caramel cake (just WAIT until I share that one with you all, you will die, go to Heaven, then come back to life just to eat it again. No, I’m serious.). Doing new things in the kitchen is such an easy stroke to my ego- there’s no shame in my game about that, either. It’s most likely the reason that I try to do it often.

This is one of those things that I’ve done that just made me feel friggin fantastic about myself, to the point where I felt like I had to share it with you. I’m still giving myself victory dances, high fives, pats on the back and major props for pulling this recipe off, guys. Not just because of how it tastes (which is enough on its own, believe me), it’s also because this is the very first time that I made my own from scratch pie-crust. A very big pie crust at that. As in a 15 x 10 inch double layer pie crust.

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Pie crust may seem like it’s not that big of a deal to pull off from scratch, but anyone who’s made one before will tell you that it’s actually more complicated than it sounds. Like biscuits, pie dough has to be handled with finesse and care, or there’s a huge potential to ruin it. Which is probably why I’ve avoided it so stubbornly for such a long time. Then I saw this article on Buzzfeed featuring something called ‘slab pie’ that basically changed everything for me.

I had never heard of baking a pie into a sheet pan before, but it seemed (and looked) like a fantastic idea. I mean, just say it out loud will you: Slaaaaaab… Piiiiiie. Doesn’t the sound of it just make you want a huge, thick slab of it all to yourself (pun intended)?

I certainly felt that way. Slab Pie was calling my name. I had to answer. The problem was, I would need a whole LOT of pie crust to pull it off- and I didn’t really feel like buying a whole bunch of store-bought pre-made pie crusts, then trying to roll them all together to make two 15 x 10 inch layers for both top and bottom of the pie. Not when I knew it would be cheaper and more efficient to just try to make them on my own.

I know that by now, you probably want some of this pie. You’re probably thinking about how much of the ingredients you already have at home. If you’ve never made pie crust before, you’re probably wondering if it’s really that difficult to pull off, or that easy to mess up. It’s okay guys. I’ve been in your shoes before. Let me walk you through this.

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If there’s anything I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that the single most important thing you can do in making  pie crust from scratch is this: freeze your butter.

Let me repeat: freeze… your…butter. Throw it in the freezer overnight. Leave it there until the very moment you’re ready to handle it. Don’t take it out an hour before you want to make the crust to ‘thaw’ or soften. It’s not necessary. All you’ll need to do with it, is use a box grater, then run the ice cold sticks of butter over the large grating grill so that it comes out the other side in solid, curly strands. These strands are going to become your best friends. Why? Because they’re what’s going to keep your pie crust nice and flakey to the point where it will melt in your mouth after it’s done baking, that’s why.. After the butter is grated, the pie crust is pretty simple to put together. If you’re not using a food processor, I would also recommend using a rubber spatula to work the dough together, as hands conduct unnecessary heat into the dough.

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Guys, this pie came out so good. Really, it did. The making of the pie crust was a little extra labor, but me and my entire family all agree: it was well worth the result. And even though the recipe yields a lot, I still wouldn’t be surprised if you still ran out of it. This is one of those foods that you don’t want to share. You just want to hog it all to yourself to make sure you get as much as possible. Could be why I’ve already made this twice: a triple berry version, as well as an all raspberry version. Both were delicious. Both are all long gone. Guess it’s gonna be time for me to make another one pretty soon, huh? I’m thinking caramel apple. Or maybe strawberry rhubarb. Or how about sour cherry?

I think my favorite part of slab pie is that the recipe makes so much- it’s perfect for a large crows for a barbecue, dinner party, or gathering. So, I’ve decided to bring this over to Fiesta Friday- hope you guys enjoy it. (I told you last week you’d need yoga pants, didn’t I? ;-))

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Triple Berry Slab Pie

Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups ice water

For the Filling

  • 6 cups of fresh or frozen berries (I used 2 cups each of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

1. Make crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and sugar until combined. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

2. With machine running, add 1 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Do not overmix. Divide dough into 2 disks; wrap each tightly in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to overnight) .

3. Preheat oven to 400°. Make filling: In a large bowl, toss together blueberries, cornstarch, sugar, and lemon zest and juice.

4. On a floured work surface, roll out 1 disk to a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Place in a 10-by-14-by-1-inch rimmed jelly-roll pan. Pour in berry filling, then lightly brush edges of crust with water.

5. On floured surface, roll out second disk to an 11-by-15-inch rectangle and lay over berry filling; press along moistened edges to seal. Fold overhang under, tucking it into pan, and crimp edges. With a paring knife, cut slits on top to vent

6. Place pie in oven, then reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling, 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature

 

 

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