what is summer without a cherry pie?

When I started this blog, I didn’t think I would be sharing so much of my home cooking.  But when I am pleased with recipes, I love to share, so here we go again.  (If this keeps up, I might have to self-publish a small cookbook!)

Anyway, I purchased a big container of cherries from Frecon Farms this past Thursday at The East Goshen Farmers Market .  They were more tart than sweet, so today I thought “pie”.  Pie is an all-American part of summer, isn’t it?

I also had some leftover fresh cranberries in the freezer, so a combo pie idea was born. I also have other summer cherry memories….

The summer between 9th and 10th grade my friend Lizzy and I went to Alsace (Strasbourg) courtesy of a trip sponsored by the Valley Forge Historical Society.  I stayed with a family who owned a large working farm on the edge of a village called Stutzheim.  One of the days I was there, I went with my host family’s daughter Marie-Claude to either a friend or relative’s home.  We picked cherries right out of the trees, and they were so sweet.  That was also where I saw pear trees with bottles in the trees and the pears growing inside the bottles for Poire William, an eau de vie distilled from pears.  I also remember Marie Claude’s mother making these incredible tarts.

O.k., now that I am back from my trip down memory lane, back to the pie of it all.  It ended up being a Cran-Cherry Pie with a Lattice-Crumble Topping.  Would you like the recipe?  It is out of my head today, so I had better write it down so I can do it again!

I also made the crust, and I made a sweet crust.  In between I made a dry rub for the big thick steak for grilling this evening.  I will serve that with the leftover pasta from last evening , and another salad.  (And we decided no more pre-marinated Smithfield pork products as they are waaaaaaayyyyyy toooo ungodly salty.)  But I will get to the dry rub later – and that is never an exact science, depends what herbs and spices leap off the spice rack at me.  And a tip as we begin– do not wear a light-colored T-shirt when pitting cherries!

First the filling:

2 cups of white sugar

grated fresh ginger to taste

2 TB Calvados

2 TB Orange Juice

4 tablespoons corn starch

2 cups pitted fresh cherries

1 1/2 – 2 cups fresh cranberries (I thawed them, they were frozen)

 Toss the fruit into a mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the sugar and cornstarch.  Grate some fresh ginger into it.  Fold together.  Add the Orange Juice and Calvados and set aside.

Second the crust:

1 1/2 cups maybe a bit more of flour

6 Tablespoons cold butter (unsalted)

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 -4 tablespoons ice water (you might use more as today I think I actually used 5 to get the dough to the consistency I wanted)

3 Tablespoons of sugar (white)

Dash of cinnamon, some more grated fresh ginger (I love fresh ginger, so I will and do incorporate it where I can.)

Take a big mixing bowl.  Toss in the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and ginger.  Mix together with a fork until blended.

Cut the butter into little pieces and toss in to flour mixture.  Use 2 forks or a pastry cutter to incorporate the butter into the flour until it is all crumbly small together.

Add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time.  The dough should come together nicely and then form a ball, put it in a small bag, tie off the bag so the dough doesn’t dry out and then put the dough in the fridge for at LEAST one hour.  Today my dough hung out and chilled for two hours as I had other things to do like make beds, etc.

Third the crumble topping

1/3 cup brown sugar

4 Tablespoons butter

1/2 cup quick cooking but not instant oatmeal (plain, not flavored)

1/4 cup flour

cinnamon and ginger to taste

Dead simple – cut the butter up into tiny pieces and toss with other ingredients into a bowl and get out your trusty pastry cutter (they call it a “pastry blender” too) and mix it all together until you have nice, uniform crumbs.

When your dough is chilled, pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. [YOU WILL TURN THE OVEN DOWN TO 375 DEGREES WHEN YOU BAKE]

Take your dough, flatten it somewhat into a flat, round disk in your hands and put between two pieces of saran wrap you have lightly floured.  This makes rolling out the dough a snap.

When your dough is thin enough, lay in pie plate – today mine was a nine or ten inch one.  I prefer the vintage glass pie plates that are over safe.  This is one I picked up at a church sale a few years ago, and I guess I should measure it, but I haven’t.

Trim the crust – it doesn’t have to hang over that much.  Set scraps aside, do not throw away. Crimp or flute or whatever your pie crust edge.  Take a tiny smidge of soft butter and coat the bottom of the crust – I saw it on a show with Chef Robert Irvine when he was making over a restaurant.  Some people also paint egg white on the bottom of the crust.  It is an anti-soggy thing.

Toss in your cran-cherry filling.

Cover the filling neatly with the crumble topping.

Now….the anal Martha Stewart in me surfaces….take your pie crust scraps  I told you to set aside and make a new pastry ball and toss them back between two lightly floured pieces of saran wrap.  Roll it out as thin and all that good stuff as you can get it.  Take a small kitchen knife and cut 8 uniform “ribbons”.  Weave the “ribbons” four on a side OVER the crumble topping and gently attach to pie crust edge. I even had a little extra left over after that and cut out some free form leaves and fashioned a little flower.  I did not egg wash the top today, but you can.  I cover the edge of my pie crust lightly with a tin foil ring so the edges do not singe.

After you make sure you have turned down your pre-heated oven to 375 degrees, place your pie on a baking sheet lined with a piece of that half parchment half foil paper, foil side up.  Bake 45 to 50 minutes. 

Trust me, this pie makes your whole kitchen smell awesome!

A tip is buy the Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Pan Lining Paper NOT Martha Stewart’s version called Martha Wrap.  Martha’s cost more and isn’t as good.

So, I told you we were grilling and I did a dry rub this morning, right?  Today’s rub was salt, sugar, chipolte chili powder, sweet paprika, roast paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, rosemary, basil, oregano, cumin, a dash of Roopak’s Rajma Masala.

Bon apetit all!

sunday morning is for baking

Well, even out here where there is plenty of green and trees between houses, the misplaced sound of a buzz saw way before 8 a.m. will jar you awake.  Such was the case with me, so I decided to get some baking out-of-the-way for later.

It’s Lemon Pound Cake day.  I found this recipe in Real Simple that I tweak:

Serves 12   Glazed Lemon Pound Cake



  1. Heat oven to 325° F. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and  baking powder.                             
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.   Beat in 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice, then the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.                             
  3. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add half the flour mixture, then the yogurt, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix just until  combined (do not overmix).                             
  4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 65 to 75 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.                             
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 1 of the remaining tablespoons of lemon juice until smooth, adding  the remaining lemon juice as necessary to create a thick, but pourable glaze.  

Ok so above is the recipe straight.  I fiddle with everything, and what I do here is I add the zest of TWO lemons to the batter, I add grated fresh ginger, and I do a lemon soak before the glaze;

My lemon soak is juice of 2 lemons, grated zest, 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar and a couple of tablespoons of a liqueur called Framboise (right now I have an US Framboise out of Bonny Doon Vineyards.)

What I do is I line my pan (or pans as the case may be) with parchment baking paper after I do the grease and flour, so I can hike the cake or cakes out the pan or pans.

Anyway, I cool the cake or cakes post baking for 10 minutes, maybe a few longer.  Then I pull them out of the pan gently, peel down the parchment paper and allow to cool for 30 minutes all in all on a baking rack on clean parchment paper.

I then poke little fork holes up and down the cake (no need to make hamburger out of the top, so be neat!) and gently pour the lemon soak goodness over the top of the cake.  You will see today where I have propped up the new clean parchment paper with a single toothpick on each end of my cakes so the lemony-sugary goodness doesn’t run all over.

After that has all soaked in and everything is set I will either make a glaze or light lemony flavored royal icing and drizzle it over the top, or I also sometimes just dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving and adorn my platter with fresh mint sprigs and nasturtium blossoms. Today I soaked, I adorned with lemon royal icing, dotted with Nasturtium blossoms and mint sprigs.

In other fun of the day, my arugula is growing unmolested, apparently the blasted squirrels only liked the lettuce.

Remember you can still nominate this blog for a Country Living Magazine Blue Ribbon Blogger Award until July 29th, 2012.  I hope you can do that for me, and you can also read about the contest more HERE.

And in the nesting of it all, thanks to Food Network I have discovered The Pioneer Woman.  I am still not sure if her rancher hubby likes the cameras all over, but she has some terrific recipes. She has a website called (of course) The Pioneer Woman.  I am also digging Trisha’s Southern Kitchen with Trisha Yearwood.  Her website is here.  I also love Barefoot Contessa, but she has been all re-runs lately.  I used to watch Nigella Lawson a lot, but I got tired of the odd Euro pop music in the background and the fact they seemed to have an obsession with seeing her on camera raiding her fridge late at night.  But she has some great recipes.

I love to cook, and do collect old cook books.  And the bibles Mastering The Art of French Cooking are worth it to have in your collection.  Julia Child taught me to do roast chicken and many other basics.  There are also books by a woman named Kitty Maynard – American Country Inn and Bed & Breakfast Cookbooks that never disappoint (mine are so tattered, I really should replace them.)

Cooking is also somewhat instinctual.  Almost everyone in my family cooks.  My late father was a fabulous cook.  I had one grandmother who was Italian and one who was Pennsylvania German.  I also learned a lot from an Italian Great Aunt, Millie, whom I still miss to this day.  Millie was a trip and if she was worried about her figure, she used to cut out the coca cola that she used to have in the afternoon for a while.  And my maternal grandmother? No one, not any diner on earth could make meringues on pies go as high or be as perfect as my mumma’s were.

As a kid, I soaked this all up.  I did not realize at the time I was soaking it all up, but I did.  My cooking style blends my heritage of Italian, Irish, and Pennsylvania German.  I can go haute or keep it simple.  I actually have a handful of  recipes uniquely my own  on Scribd, including my epicurious.com award winning Sunday Pasta Sauce – yes I actually won a contest on this!

I should probably  write down more of my recipes, like my chocolate chip cookies or various incarnations of gnocchi, traditional bolognese, sweet potato soup, crab mac and cheese, cranberry sauces and chutneys, apple and fruit butters, and pies, salads, and such, but most of my cooking is out of my head – a little this, a little that, judging flavors and textures.  And when I use recipes, I am bad, I will often have several recipes open and cook from multiple recipes at one time for one meal.  I am also the cookie fiend at Christmas, so I am happy to adopt any old cookie tins as I find them, especially vintage ones.  (Speaking of which, I need to start hunting for those tines soon – I gave too many away last year during cookie craze!)

Enjoy your day people. I am going outside.