Razzleberry Slab Pie

Kaki!  This spring, I made my first ever pie.  It was wonderful!

I mean, my very first pie with from-scratch dough and everything.  I’ve made no-bake/cream pies with store-bought crusts aplenty.  But pie dough?  I have always had some pie dough fear.  Pie dough is the stuff of legends.  Legendary wins with secret family recipes.  Legendary fails resulting in wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Plus I like pie, but, you know, I’d take brownies or cake instead any day.

But this pie was requested.  This pie was for Cooper’s daughter’s First Birthday Party.  And Matt loves him some pie.  (They even had it at their wedding reception.  Yup, that strong of a love for pie.)  So I set out to conquer my pie dough fear.

At some point I’ll do a post on how I research and develop recipes, but suffice it to say I did a lot of web searching, then a spreadsheet was involved, and then I ended up going with my gut and using America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe verbatim. They weren’t kidding, it was a great pie crust.  Filling was great, too.  Then warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream?  Excellent birthday pie accomplished.

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Razzleberry Slab Pie
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, Smitten Kitchen, and Martha
Serves 18

Ingredients

  • 5 cups (25 ounces) all-purpose flour, divided in half
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided in half
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided in half
  • 24 tablespoons (3 sticks) chilled butter, cut into slices, divided in half
  • 1 cup chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 8 pieces, divided in half
  • 1/2 cup chilled vodka (or triple sec, tequila, light rum… any colorless alcohol, up to 80 proof), divided in half
  • 1/2 cup chilled water, divided in half
  • 8 cups fruit (I used half fresh blackberries and half frozen (thawed and drained over a strainer overnight) raspberries)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Sanding sugar, optional

(You may want to view the America’s Test Kitchen video on processing this dough in the food processor, and on rolling out the dough if, like me, you’re new to this pie crust business.  Watching them really upped my confidence that this was going to be manageable!)

This recipe is double the recipe for a double-crust.  So, technically this could make four pie crusts, but… we’re just going to make two, really big ones.  BUT!!  It’s way easier to make this half at a time, so that your standard-size food processor can really do its thing.

Place 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons sugar in the processing bowl of your food processor.  Pulse twice quickly to combine.  Add half of the butter and shortening pieces to the food processor and process until dough starts to collect in lumps with no dry flour left at the bottom of the bowl, about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl with spatula and squash dough evenly around processor blade. Add 1 cup flour and pulse until flour is evenly distributed into dough, 4 to 6 pulses. Pour mixture into a medium mixing bowl.

Pour 1/4 cup vodka and 1/4 cup water over the dough in the mixing bowl, and use the spatula to fold liquid into the dough until homogenously sticky.  Scrape dough out onto large piece of cling-wrap, form into a disc shape, wrap up, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.  Repeat process with second half of ingredients for the crust.

To make filling:  In a very large mixing bowl, combine fruit, sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Pre-heat the oven to 375*F.  Line a sheet-pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Remove one of the dough discs from the refrigerator.  On a lightly floured counter, roll the dough out into a rectangle approximated the size of your sheet-pan.  Transfer gently to the sheet-pan, spreading it out as best you can; patch any tears by simply pressing the dough together with your fingers.

Pour the filling out onto the rolled out dough, being careful to avoid the edges.  Place the bottom crust and filling into the refrigerator.

Remove the final disc of dough from the refrigerator, and again roll out on a lightly floured counter to approximately the size of your sheet-pan.  Remove the bottom crust and filling from the refrigerator, and gently transfer the top crust to lay over the rest of the pie.  Gently fold the edge of the bottom crust over the edge of the top crust, pressing to seal.

Using a sharp knife, make even slash marks across the top crust to allow steam to vent during baking.  Using a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg over the pie.  Sprinkle vast amounts of sanding sugar over the top of the pie to aid in its sparkly deliciousness.

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Bake the slab pie in the pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes (maybe up to 55 if your oven is pathetic at holding the proper temperature, as mine is).  Remove from the oven and let cool for about another 45 minutes.  Cut into about 18 pieces, and serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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I’m so glad to have finally overcome my pie fear, Kaki!  I actually swapped the sugar in this dough for wheat germ and made a take on my spinach pie recipe just a week later.  Honestly, it turned out a bit dense that way, but it was still an interesting experiment!  Here’s to pie in all its wonderful incarnations!

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Hope you are well, my dear!

–Caitlin

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Lentil and Hatch Chili Pepper Taco Filling

Dear Caitlin,

Admittedly, lentils are not the stuff fancy food blogs are made of.  They aren’t pretty.  Ungarnished, they’re pretty bland.  They’re cheap.  In short, they lack sex appeal.

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But real talk.  We eat a lot of lentils.  So, blog world, step back, because I am bringing you a lentil recipe.  And I didn’t even used red lentils (rentils, if you will).  No, I used the really ugly brown ones.  We’re all going to take a deep breath and be ok with it, though, because this recipe is so-worth-it.

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This recipe is sort of a summer-meets-fall kind of deal.  We’re still enjoying hatch chili peppers, but we’ve acknowledged that, notwithstanding current temperatures, fall is en route and it’s time to eat some squash.*

(*But it’s not, and I emphasize that it never will be, time to get a pumpkin spice manicure.)

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This squash gets roasted into all kinds of delicious.

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This is a very pretty recipe….

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… until you add the lentils.

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I thought for some reason that adding salsa would make it prettier.  I’ll have another think next time.

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All insults aside, I’ve made this four times so far this season.  It’s crazy good, crazy healthy, and crazy inexpensive.*  Dinner winner.

(*You’ll notice that when I meant it pejoratively, I said “cheap,” but when I meant it positively, I said “inexpensive.”  These are the persuasive writing skills I learned during seven years of very expensive higher education.)

Recipe
Ingredients
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 White Onion, Diced
1 Serrano Pepper, Seeded and Diced
2 Hatch Chili Peppers, Seeded and Diced
1 Red Pepper, Seeded and Diced
1 Cup Shredded Carrots
2 Medium Acorn Squash, Diced (About 6-8 Cups Squash)
1 Cup Dried Lentils
2-3 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning (Great Taco Seasoning recipes here and here.)
Cilantro, to Garnish (optional)

(1)  Dice, seed, and shred all vegetables.

(2)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

(3) Place acorn squash on roasting pan and cook for approximately 30 minutes, until squash is easily pierced with a fork and begins to develop deep brown edges.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Once it is cool to touch, peel the squash flesh from the skin and set flesh aside.

(4)  Bring approximately 3 cups of water to a boil.  Add dried lentils and reduce to simmer.  Cook for about twenty minutes, or until lentils are soft.  Set aside.

(5)  Cook onion and olive oil on pan over medium heat for approximately 3-4 minutes.

(6)  Add serrano pepper and hatch chili peppers to onion.  Cook another 5 minutes, and then add red bell pepper and carrots.  Cook approximately five minutes more.

(7)While the peppers, onion, and carrot are cooking, take about half of the lentils and pulverize in a food processor.

(8)  Add whole lentils, mashed lentils, and squash to onion-pepper-carrot mixture.  Cook another 5 to 10 minutes, thoroughly combining all ingredients.

(9) Add taco seasoning and salt to taste.

(10) Serve over salad, in tacos, and definitely with cilantro.

Shark Cake

Dear Caitlin,

Sometimes when I get home at the end of the day, I’ve had enough of words.  While I think that I have the greatest job that anyone could ever have, sometimes after a solid ten hours of writing, it’s tough to come home and explain how to make a shark cake.

So, today, here are the words:

– Two layers of cake, one whole and one quartered

– Frosting:  Blue, Gray, White, Red, Black

– Yogurt Raisins

– Inspired by Chirky

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Done.

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