Balsamic Cherry Pie with Whole-Wheat Black Pepper Crust

July 2014

“Don’t overwork it. Don’t overwork it. Don’t overwork it.”

This is what plays over and over in my brain, like some sort of Rain Man, while I rub flour and butter through my fingers, aiming for that sweet spot of “pea size” or “coarse meal.” Knowing there is a right answer to forming a pie crust sends similar shudders down my spine as math and science did in junior high. The perfectionist inside me wants to SPRINT to Language Arts class, where I could dance around themes and concepts and not worry about being right or… god forbid… wrong!

Fresh Cherries

Much like my math and science track record in junior high (nerds get A’s despite self-induced stressing), my pie past should encourage me. People eat my pies, and they even request future pies, but somehow that’s not enough to assuage my inner fears, for in that record, is one miserable failure. By “failure,” I mean one EPIC failure. Much like a lunchtime cramming study session, I had not prepared at all. I just read “butter and flour” and went to town pulverizing those ingredients together until a cookie-ish crust emerged from the oven. Was it a pie crust? Hell no. Was it delicious? Yes, it was still quite edible.

Cherry Carnage

Regardless, that failure plagues me, and in some twisted sense of logic, rather than just avoid pies, I set out to make overly ambitious pies…and in the case of the 4th of July, deep dish pies…meaning even more pie crust than necessary!

Black Pepper

Furthermore, rather than stick to custom/safe fillings, I tend to stray from tradition, which is why this particular recipe from Adventures in Cooking appealed to my overcompensating, perfectionist side. The addition of coarsely ground black pepper adds an element of surprise to bites of this crust. The unexpected contrast is abrupt, but the mouth continues to chew, the mind processes the flavor, and everything meshes with the slightly balsamic notes of the cherry filling.

Cooling Rack

Though I stressed, though I recited my “don’t overwork it” mantra repeatedly, the pie earned the good graces of my friends, and if the idea of pitting 3.5 lbs of cherries has you hesitating, at least take comfort that this pie lasts for a long while. It is, after all, a very deep dish pie!

Final Deep Dish Pie

Balsamic Cherry Pie with Whole-Wheat Black Pepper Crust
adapted from Adventures in Cooking

Filling Ingredients

3.5 lbs Cherries, pitted (1.75 quarts, pitted)
1 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
2 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons organic cornstarch
3 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter

Crust Ingredients

4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon organic, unsalted butter

2-3 Tablespoons water & 1-2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar, combined & chilled

Glaze

1 organic egg, whisked
1 Tablespoon water
turbinado sugar

For the Filling

Bring the ingredients to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium high heat, stirring every few minutes.

Lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, taking care not to crush the cherries while stirring. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the Crust

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Use your fingers to rub the butter and flour mixture together until the texture resembles coarse meal.

Begin adding the tablespoons of ice water & vinegar while stirring gently.

Separate the dough into two pieces, one that is 2/3 of the total dough and one that is 1/3 of the total dough. The larger portion will be the base, and the smaller portion will form the lattice top.

On a well floured surface, roll the larger portion of dough into a circular shape, about 1 cm thick. Carefully transfer the dough to a lightly greased and floured, 8-inch springform pan. Mold the dough into the sides of the pan, letting the extra crust hang off the edge. Trim excess crust.

Roll out the remaining crust. Cut it into 1-inch strips for the lattice pattern, but leave the lattice pieces on a large plate lined with parchment paper.

Place the plate and the crust shell, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk the egg and water in a small bowl until combined.

Remove the pie shell and lattice from the refrigerator.

Pour the filling into the pie shell and then arrange the lattice strips on top. Use your thumbs to press the edges of the crust and lattice strips together and cut off any excess crust. Brush the tops of the lattice strips with the egg mixture and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Set the egg mixture aside.

Place the pie on the second-lowest rack of the oven, and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, lightly brushing the surface with more egg at the 45 minute mark. If you notice the edges of the crust browning too quickly, cover them with tin foil.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 45-60 minutes before serving. Serve with a healthy scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on a sunny deck!

Single-Grain

Here’s to Pie Stresses & Successes!
-Quelcy

Instagram Lately: 2000 Ways to Keep Occupied

July 2014

On weekends when all activities hinge on cooperative skies, gray mist can be a monochromatic motivation sucker. I had to choose a coffee shop for a meeting and make evening plans, and every option felt utterly exhausted. Nothing in this city felt new, and spending money on the same old felt futile. Then mentally, my mother pointed her finger at me in that tisk, tisk, tisk way, “Oh you’re bored? Would you like to fold some laundry? I didn’t think so. What do you propose you do instead?”

Wine Cheese Friends

Not laaaaaaaundry! Noooooooo!

Time to be a little creative à la wine, cheese and game night with good friends. It was the perfect solution. After tipsy laughter and competition, I returned to seeing the city as a place of possibilities. Lots of new and exciting elements are popping up, and others have existed unbeknownst to me. I tried my very first Pizza Boat pie (there will be more!). I had my first brunch at a restaurant I like and learned the transformative power of using sushi style salmon in eggs benedict (I might not be able to go back to lox. I may be screwed). I watched my dog delight in fountain fun.

Thommy of Ikea

I snapped my 2000th Instagram photo, and if I step back enough, that 2000th photo was a reminder of how a camera, even a phone camera, can help the everyday to hold more possibilities, more documentable moments, more beauty.

In conclusion, gray days come and go, but life is about laundry or living, ie, “Quelcy, get over yourself and do something.”

What do your Instagrams reveal lately?

Single-Grain

Cheers,
Quelcy

P.S: You can follow my Instagram adventures here.

A Perfect Summer Burger

July 2014

If a foreigner were to lump me into the ultra white, New Balance sneaker class of tourist, I would be offended. If a foreigner were to fault me for putting Bush into office, again, I would take offense. If a foreigner were to assume I eat a lot of cheeseburgers, I might just have to shrug and embrace the truth in his or her assumption.

Julep and the Burger

Thus, when the 4th of July rolled around, and my dear friend with a hospitable deck suggested sushi, I humbly objected. Burgers; burgers are American. In the end, I do believe everyone thanked me for it (not to toot my own horn; just to encourage you should you be feeling bullied into sushi).

Mega Burger

What a perfect burger it was: grilled, grass-fed, organic, hand-formed patties, with cheddar, avocado, egg, greens and a toasted bun. Knowing this burger would be the star of the BBQ gathering, I prepared an equally impressive dessert. More on that to come!

Single-Grain

Patriotically yours,
Quelcy

#TBT: Even A Beginner Can Make A Scrumptious Cake

July 2014

Do you like cooking but hesitate to venture into baking? Does your sweet tooth beckon, but you ignore its pleas? Fret no more! Even a beginner can make scrumptious cakes. Allow the folks of Mixer-Maid to encourage you and take kitchen efforts to new heights.

IMG_0705_edit

#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.

Single-Grain

Happy Baking!
-Quelcy

A Wednesday Wander: A Cosmic Park in Jaipur, India

A Wander From Jaipur, India in December 2012

As a little girl, I did my fair share of cloud staring, but what really sparked my curiosity were spaces and design. I channeled most of my musings into drawings and living room theater productions. Whether it was the religious backdrop of my childhood or my natural inclinations, science was sort of lost on me. For that reason, I am in awe of the intense, sky-staring curiosity that manifests as a park of mammoth instruments… à la Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, India!

Astrology Park and Fort

Jantar (“instrument”) Mantar (“calculation” or “formula”) is an astronomical observation site. It constitutes the most significant and best preserved set of fixed monumental instruments built in India in the first half of the 18th century; some of them are the largest ever built in their categories. Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, the monumental masonry installations embody several architectural and instrumental innovations.

To this day, the observatory is used by astrologers, for instance to calculate the auspicious date for weddings. Students of astronomy and Vedic astrology (Jyotish) are required to take lessons at the observatory, and it can be said that the observatory is the single most representative work of Vedic thought that still survives, apart from the scriptures.

(Learn even more here)

Astrology Park_Observatory Deck

Rashivalaya Yantras (pictured above)
A group of twelve instruments, with a graduated quadrants on both the sides, used to find the direct determination of celestial latitude and longitude.

Astrology Park Jai Prakash Yantra

Jai Prakash Yantra (pictured above)
A map of the visible heavens is inscribed on the inner surface of the bowls, with additional scales (including the zodiacal divisions of the year) around the rim. A small ring is suspended from cross wires. Its shadow projects the position of the sun onto the inscribed celestial map.

Astrology Park Observatory

In the midst of meandering amongst all these scientific, cosmological structures, I found my way into an Aquarian corner. While we’re talking heavens and stars (and maybe love and life?), how about a little astrological musing for my fellow Aquarians?

Aquarius Quelcy

Your romantic side is flying high today, Aquarius! The opposite sex in general, and your own partner in particular, are going to seem especially attractive to you. You could also see in an entirely different light in someone you think of as a friend. An increasingly busy social life is in the air, so expect some invitations to parties or other social events.

Your work ethic is especially strong today so use it. You have the stamina to put your nose to the grindstone for many long hours. Work overtime if you can. The rewards will be plentiful and it will certainly earn big points with the people in charge.

Pretty good, right?

Single-Grain

Here’s to the Heavens!
Quelcy

A Wednesday Wander is a way to revisit journeys past and work my way through my many photos and journals that might otherwise collect proverbial dust. Thanks for wandering with me!

Picolé de Milho Verde (Icy Cold Corn Popsicles)

 July 2014

Knee-high by the 4th of July, as the corn growing saying goes, means I am seasonally jumping the gun with these icy cold, corn popsicles. However, once I saw this recipe, the notion of corn for dessert was too tempting to wait for late summer’s bounty. I took advantage of the grocery store’s first kernels, yielding a pop so sweet and creamy, I’m dreaming of the 2.0 version to come when husks and tassels fill the farmers markets.

Mold and Popsicle

I altered the recipe below ever so slightly from Food52. The author’s adaptation referenced a popular Brazilian dessert, but being of Nebraskan roots, I like to think of this refreshing treat as a way to use more of summer’s sweetness in a day. You do know you can take the girl out of Nebraska, but you can’t take the Cornhusker out of the girl, right?

Corn Popsicles

Picolé de Milho Verde (Corn Popsicle)
adapted from Food52
makes 8 popsicles

Ingredients

4 ears of organic and/or local corn
2 cups organic, full-fat coconut milk
4 Tablespoons organic agave syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice corn kernels off ears and put on baking sheet. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft and starting to brown. Remove from oven and cool.

Stir agave and vanilla extract into coconut milk and microwave for about 30 seconds, to dissolve the sugar.

Use a food processor or blender to combine corn, coconut milk, agave, vanilla and salt until as smooth as possible.

Pour liquid into pop molds.

Freeze overnight, and then enjoy the sweetcorn goodness!

Single-Grain

Go Huskers!
-Quelcy

Instagram Lately: We Humans Are A Funny Breed

July 2014

Overheard this past week:

“Excuse me, how do we get to the goats?”

“Quiche- it’s the only vegetable that begins with a Q.” [said in all seriousness]

“I’m leaving for my trip on the next Full Moon.”
“Oh? I’m leaving on the next New Moon.”

Pie and Greens

We humans are a funny breed, both for what we say and do. We bring goats to a field of invasive plants and pretend it’s an innovative idea. We shed tears over a ball kicked by the wrong feet. We torture our pups for the perfect picture of pie. We perch on ladders precariously while texting and tagging, and we merge meals into one beautiful excuse to take everything slowly on Sundays.

Gold Gold Props

…but these are the funny, quirky moments which keep me going, keep me snapping pics and keep me blissfully feeling creative and inspired, and keep me wishing Quiche were a vegetable.

What do your Instagrams reveal lately?

Single-Grain

Cheers,
Quelcy

P.S: You can follow my Instagram adventures here.