I don't talk a lot about my husband on this blog. In fact, I think of him as He Who Shall Not Be Named when I'm writing posts. He's a far more private person than I am. I've always been an open book, freely sharing my hopes, fears, triumphs (and the many moments I fall on my face) with friends. To me, this blog is just an extension of that. By HWSNBN is much more guarded than I am. Out of respect for that, I don't write about him except in passing. I think even he would be okay with me saying that today he's celebrating a birthday, because the snippet I'm about to reveal involves possibly his favourite thing in the entire world: blueberry pie.
My husband married me because of my blueberry pie. It's true.
When we were first dating, he mentioned that he loved blueberries.
HWSNBN: I love blueberries, especially in blueberry pie.
Me: Well then, I'll make you blueberry pie some day. I make really good pie.
HWSNBN: Every other woman I've ever dated has said she would make me blueberry pie. Not one of them has ever done it.
Me: Good thing I'm not every other woman you've ever dated then.
Time went by. Suddenly it was Christmas. We'd only been dating a couple of months. I surprised him with a home made, from scratch, delicious blueberry pie I'd made specifically for him. He was agog.
By Easter we were looking at engagement rings. Behold the power of a good flaky crust!
Today is his birthday. When I asked him a few weeks ago what he wanted as a birthday gift, he didn't hesitate: blueberry pie, please!
So here it is, the secret to my successful marriage:
I've seen a few versions of this basic pastry recipe over the years in various cookbooks. This one comes from a newspaper clipping my mom had tucked into our family cookbook when I was a kid. I'm typing this out from memory, so forgive me if I don't use the right culinary terminology!
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3-5 tbsp cold water
Mix flour & salt in a large bowl. Add vegetable oil and mix with flour and salt until the mixture looks like pea sized crumbs. Add cold water 1 tbsp at a time and mix until you get the consistency you want and the dough forms a ball. Roll out the pastry out to the desired size between two sheets of waxed paper. (Wipe the rolling out surface with a damp cloth before laying down the first sheet of waxed paper to prevent it from sliding around while rolling.)
For an unfilled crust, heat oven to 475F. Flute the edge, prick bottom and sides of the pastry thoroughly with a fork. Bake 8-10 minutes or until it reaches the desired golden light brown colour. Cool & fill.
For a filled crust, bake as directed in your pie recipe.
I like a good solid crust since I tend to overload my pies with filling, so for a single crust pie I make one recipe's worth, and for a lattice top or two crust pie I make the recipe twice. I change it up by varying the kind of oil I use. If I'm not being fancy I use canola oil, but I've also used peanut oil and macadamia nut oil with great results. (I've never tried olive oil, it just seems like it would be too heavy.) For other subtle differences in flavour, I'll throw in a tbsp or so of brown sugar to the dry ingredients for a sweet pie, and for a savoury pie I'll substitute smoked salt for the regular salt or throw in some dried herbs as well. It's a pretty fool-proof pastry recipe, so I take all kinds of liberties.
I tend to fly by the seat of my pants a bit on fruit filled pies. My vagueness irritates people who ask for the recipe, but I honestly don't have one. I tend to let the fruit tell me what it wants, if that's not too flaky. (Flaky! Ha! See what I did there?) So for the purposes of this post, I'll say:
Use enough blueberries
toss in a couple of handfuls of flour
add sugar to taste
add cinnamon if you like it
and about a tbsp of lemon juice
and mix together in a bowl.
I don't like super-sweet pies - I usually let the fruit flavour speak for itself as much as possible. Your mileage may vary.
Pour berry mixture into the pie crust.
Dot with small pieces of butter.
Cover with 2nd crust and pierce it, or make a lattice top.
Flute the edge, bake at 425F for 35-45 minutes.
Or until done.
That, to me, is the beauty of making real food. Based around a rock solid base recipe, you can try new things: experiment with ingredients, improve, and refine to fit your individual taste. It's a bit like haiku - rigid as to form, but endless variation in the subject matter or ingredients.
I don't have any pictures of the pie. My husband has to work late tonight, so the pie making will occur tomorrow. Since The Imp cannot resist helping me in the kitchen, I'm very much looking forward to showing him how to make his first blueberry pie! I'll try and update with photos tomorrow.
This post is part of Food Revolution Fridays at Scattered Mom. Head over there and check out what other people are doing with real food!