Monday, August 15, 2011

Hunter Gatherer Roots (i.e. KDP is really obsessed with blue berries)

Every August one can find me out picking blueberries.
I'm obsessed.
No matter where I go, I carry a vessel to collect them. Movie theatre, bars, it doesn't matter because there is always a chance there might be some decent berries.
Global market crisis? Who cares, because the best berries can be found _____.
I have spent an entire day driving around Juneau surveying the best spots, determining how much more time they need, how the shaded vs. sun-ed berries compare, how picked over they've been etc...

The funny thing is that I don't actually like blue berries, but there is something very satisfying about using ones own collected/grown food in the kitchen. I would garden, if my black thumb didn't kill all plants that I look at.

The Best Blueberry Pie Ever (from America's Test Kitchen)

Note- this is going to be very specific. Pie making is a science.

Vodka Double Crust Pie Dough- for a 9in crust.
Note- why the vodka? I've made a lot of pie crusts in my day and vodka makes it flaky and improves the texture, but leaves no flavor. It'll be easier to work with, but it makes the dough wetter than the standard, so use more flour when you roll it out. Plus, you're cooking with vodka. Win win.

2 1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 in pieces and chilled
1/2 c vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces and chilled
1/4 c cold Vodka
1/4 c cold water

- Pulse 1 1/2 c of the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined, 2 pulses.
- Add the butter and shortening and process until a dough just starts to form, about 15 seconds. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula and redistribute the dough around the blade. Add the remaining 1 cup of flour and pulse until the mixture is even and looks broken up, like corn meal, between 4-6 pulses. Empty the mix into a medium bowl.
- Sprinkle the water and vodka over the mixture, use a fork to toss it together, just until the dough sticks together and is tacky. Break into 2 even balls and flatten each into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

1 recipe of vodka double pie crust
6 c fresh blueberries, de-wormed.
1 granny smith apple, peeled and grated (apples have a lot of natural pectin, to help set the filling without using too much tapioca).
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 c sugar
2 Tbsp instant tapioca- ground into a fine powder
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp butter, cut into 1/4 in pieces
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp water
Sprinkle of sugar

- Remove one of the crust disc's from the fridge and let stand at room temp for 15 minutes. Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a 12 in circle. Move the dough to the 9 in pie plate, ease it into the plate and leave any overhang. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is firm, about 30 mins.
- Remove the 2nd disc and let stand at room temp for 15 mins. Roll it out on a floured surface to an 11 in circle. Transfer the dough to a parchment paper lined baking sheet, using a small biscuit cutter (or anything small and circular), cut 6 rounds from the dough, in a circle with 1 in the center. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 30 mins.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and place in oven, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Put 3 cups of berries in a saucepan and mash over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently until half the berries have broken down and the mixture has thickened, about 8 mins. Let cool.
- Wring/dry out the grated apple and place in a large bowl. Add in the cooked berries, 3 cups of uncooked berries, lemon zest and juice, sugar, tapioca and salt. Mix. Pour into the pie pan and scatter the top of the filling with the butter.
- Cover the filling with the other dough sheet, pinch the edges together. Trim the layer of overhanging dough, leaving 1/2 in. Fold the dough under itself and flute the edges to seal.
- Brush the top and edges of the dough with the egg mix and sprinkle with sugar. If the dough is very soft, throw it in the oven for 10 mins.
- Place the pie on the heated baking sheet and bake for 30 mins. Reduce oven temp to 350 and bake for another 30-40 mins, until the juices bubble and the crust is golden brown. Let cool.
- Wear your purple dyed mouth with pride.

Now you could do a lattice top with this crust, but I'm lazy and I failed 7th grade home ec because I couldn't decorate a cake (I also broke the egg baby and made lovely shorts for twins conjoined at the knees). I'm more into what goes in the food then how it looks, sue me.

I'm in berry overload. I also made these:

Sorry, you won't see the recipe for these muffins here.
They are the best damn blue berry muffins ever and I've made the executive decision to keep the recipe secret. My own mother doesn't know it.
If you're really jones-ing for one, check out Mag's post from a little earlier. They're not as good, but you'll survive.

The gatherer-hunter lifestyle is best when accompanied by the swelling horns of Beirut's new album, available on NPR First Listen for a little while longer. It's really good when you're playing the "this is the soundtrack to the movie about my life" game.