Pie conquers the summertime blues

If they don’t drown first, peach farmers should be rolling out some freestone peaches in the next few weeks and everyone will be back in pie and cobbler heaven.  And blueberry crops should keep the frenzy going.

Of course, we really should just eat the stuff as is – biting into a juicy peach or throwing a handful of berries on cereal or yogurt. But, adding sugar and stewing them in a crust is so much more fun.

We recently participated in an at-home pie contest where eight intrepid bakers put their reputation on the line for each other and 12 non-bakers to judge. Held on a sweltering Sunday afternoon, the contest proved that pie makes people happy.

They plodded in, some looking borderline grim, some just tired, some just dreading Monday. But as soon as the first pie spilled its bounty of blueberries when cut, the mood changed. There was cooing, I swear. The crowd, with bright eyes, waited patiently for the judges, who were served first. Then plates were extended and someone sang that last line from the theme song of  The Jeffersons, “We finally got a piece of the pie-aye-aye-aye.”

Things went uphill from there, with lively discussions of the best local fruit stands, using vodka to make pie crusts, and memorable holiday pies.

On a sugar high, everyone left with smiles, and leftovers.  Another sultry Sunday afternoon conquered, thanks to pie.

Peach Cream Pie

This is my mother’s recipe. It is easy to make, but takes time to chill between steps and after assembly.

1 shortbread pie shell

1 egg, separated

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup hot water

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup low-fat cream cheese, softened

1/2 tsp. almond extract

4-5 fresh peaches

1 3/4 cup packaged peach pie glaze

nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat egg white until frothy. Brush pie shell with egg white and bake for 5 minutes. Cool completely.

In a small bowl, add gelatin to hot water and stir until dissolved, set aside.

Put sweetened condensed milk and egg yolk in bowl of an electric mixer and beat for one minute. Add lemon juice and beat for three minutes.

Thoroughly mix in cream cheese and almond extract.

Fold in gelatin and pour into pie shell. Chill 30 minues, or until set.

Peel and slice peaches. Mix peaches with glaze and spread over pie. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Company Blueberry Pie

2 pie crusts, if making your own, add 1/2  tsp. cinnamon to mix

2 pints fresh blueberries

1 cup cassis (black currant liqueur)

zest of one lemon

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 Tbps. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Combine blueberries, cassis and lemon zest. Let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain the liquid into a saucepan and add the sugar, water, lemon juice and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and glossy. Remove from heat, stir in blueberries and pour into prepared crust. Top with second crust and bake for 45 minutes.

 

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