Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Triumphant Week

Dear Boo,

Before we head into this holiday weekend, I wanted to tell you about two important things that happened this past week. One, our favorite chef, good friend and fellow food blogger, Chef Josh, is the latest in the line of esteemed Chopped Champions! Last Tuesday the Food Network aired his episode of the chefly cooking competition in which, unsurprisingly, Mr. Grill A Chef himself grilled those other contenders into charred, smoking submission. If you missed it, you can watch it when it re-airs on July 16th at 8pm on the Food Network.

And secondly, just as excitingly, though surprisingly, not aired on national television: I made this pie. It was delicious.
If you're a food blog reader, or a NY Times dining section reader or a Bon Appetit subscriber (RIP Gourmet), you may have noticed that everyone and their mother is having a conniption over sour cherries and their magical ability to transform into delectable preserves and pies. From the rooftops you can hear the cries of "they have such a short season!" and "get to your farmer's market NOW before you miss them!" Usually I am entirely deterred by this alarmist mentality (as are you). It's just too precious for me, and reminds me of car commercials which every SINGLE time claim that NOW is the best time to buy. Oh really? Better than last month when you said that same thing? Crap--someone get me to my local Hyundai dealer STAT!

But this time, I fell for it. I was shopping for a dinner with our cousins and I spied a crate of these tiny little garnet gems at the greenmarket and before I knew it I was spending way too much on a bag-full. I drew the line at buying what our cousins call a "unitasker", a cherry pitter, which would have sped things up considerably but then sat in the drawer for the rest of the year, laughing at me and crying "Didn't you HEAR they have a short season?"

The apartment was hot as hell. The pie dough stuck to the roller, got goopy with perspiration, refused to cooperate. The cherry pitting took forever and gave me a shoulder cramp. But the pie. Oh, the pie.

Let's just say that when served a slice a day later, post-refrigeration, the actual MOTHER of the CHOPPED CHAMPION declared it the best cherry pie she'd ever had. Period. BOOYAH.


The Mouse
Classic Sour Cherry Pie (adapted from Bon Appetit)

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons (or more) ice water

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups whole pitted sour cherries (about 2 pounds whole unpitted cherries)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (if using sour cherries)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon (about) milk
Vanilla ice cream

For crust:
Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl to blend. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until small pea-size clumps form. Add 5 tablespoons ice water; mix lightly with fork until dough holds together when small pieces are pressed between fingertips, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough together; divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into ball, then flatten into disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Do ahead Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly before rolling out.

For filling:
Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Stir in cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla; set aside.
Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch. Roll out second dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. (At this point, Bon Appetit will have you make strips to create a lattice top, but f-that. You just hand-pitted 2 lbs of cherries. A standard crust will look just fine, thank you.) Transfer filling to dough-lined dish, mounding slightly in center. Dot with butter. Lay top crust over filling; trim dough strip overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold bottom crust up over ends of strips and crimp edges to seal. Brush crust (not edges) with milk. Sprinkle crust with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
Place pie on rimmed baking sheet (I highlight this because it's so crucial to you not wanting to die when you discover your oven floor coated in molten syrup) and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, covering edges with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 1 hour longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream.


Aaron Landsman said...

you have made my appearance at tomorrow's pie social a guaranteed coup de pie. thank you.

The Mouse said...

A pie social?! Do tell. And let us know how it goes!

Aaron Landsman said...

Okay - so, I have to tell you that the pie was a hit of this pie social.

A pie social: everyone has to make a pie (savory or sweet) and then everyone eats what everyone brought. It's bacchanalian. Wondrous.

On July 4, my friend Jen Bervin (co-author of the Bubby's Pie cookbook), held one and I made the sour cherry pie, but added fresh ginger juice. THIS WAS AMAZING. A) it was my first ever successful crust, and B) the ginger, plus the sour, plus the vanilla ice cream had fellow pie socialists swooning. My better half made a veggie pie with some kinda cheese that Wallace and Gromit eat on their tv show.

Other highlights included a "chili chilly pie" which was frozen custard with chilis in it. Another was squash blossom pesto pie.

So - maybe you guys need to have one of these.

Thanks for posting the recipe - it did me proud.

The Mouse said...

Fantastic! what a happy ending. I will definitely have to try the ginger juice. mmm. and the squash blossom pesto pie sounds like something I need to try. Perhaps you'll be seeing a pie social post in the near future. naturally, you'll be invited!

Anonymous said...

I want this pie...and cannot wait to make it. xoxoArn.

Anonymous said...

do you remember cherry pies from Mcdonalds? they were rectangular and came in little cardboard boxes? I used to love those pies. Why? Why did I like them? Do they still make them? Maybe I should try one again, just to make sure I still don't like them.

I'm sorry I'm getting off track here. I think you should make a pie once a week for the rest of the summer. Nothing says summer in the city, like hot fruit pies (or meat pies. I don't discriminate.)