Here we are in the thick of summer. It's about the time of year when I realize that shaving my legs every day is a must because you just can't slack in that department if you're planning to wear shorts often. Bikini waxing (ugh), that's also a thing. But there are also fun things to consider like biking everywhere in sandals, happy hour and summer patios, and no limits to the amount of ice cream that we will eat during the months of June, July, and August. It's summertime.
Currently, cherries are $5.99/lb, which is way better than $8.99/lb. At $8.99/lb, 2 pounds is close to twenty dollars, and I never buy them at that price, because I am always that person who is completely shocked when 20 dollars pops up onto the register screen (because the bag of cherries looked so small), and I always embarrassingly ask the cashier to take them off my bill. I've had this encounter one too many times, that I pretty much avoid them until they are a reasonable price (except for that 2 lb bag of sour cherries I just bought online for $15). Pretty soon cherries will be $3.99/lb, and by that time I will be so completely sick of them that it won't even be worth it. $3.99/lb also signifies the end of summer in my books, and for that reason alone, I will turn up my nose to those late summer cherries in disbelief that summer has to come to an end. Currently, at $5.99/lb, I am eating cherries everyday. I have recently learned about this new way to remove the pits with a paper clip (which is a novelty right now) so naturally I am de-pitting like it's my full time job. Give it a week, and I'll have a few things to say about cherry pits.
It's summer, so naturally, we all want to make berry and stone fruit pies, because we have been waiting all winter for this, am I right? My absolute favorite pie is sour cherry pie. No questions. (If you know where I can get my hands on some fresh sour cherries in Seattle, I would be so grateful.) Just got the inside scoop from a friend, and I will be taking home 2lbs of sour cherries this weekend! Is it weird to post another recipe for pie next week?
Back home, sour cherries were a big deal. I remember we were able to buy them all summer long. This week, I decided that I can't keep living my life without any cherry pie, so I decided to create a recipe using the big dark juicy sweet Bing cherries that we see here often. If you don't have access to Bing cherries, you can use any sweet cherry available. I wouldn't try substituting sour cherries though, as this recipe calls for little sugar due to the high sweetness in the Bing cherries. A sour cherry pie would need much more sugar.
So, let's talk about this new exciting way to de-pit cherries. First, you need a paper clip, which finding one is probably the hardest part of this whole operation. Pull open the paper clip so that both of the curved sides are on opposite ends. Insert the paper clip into the cherry, on the stem side. Twist it in a full circle and then pull out the pit. Game changer. The result is a perfectly pitted cherry, minimal cherry juice explosions, and if you can entice your friends over with the promise of pie, I am sure they will help you de-pit 6 pounds of cherries willingly.
Once said cherries are de-pitted by your wonderfully helpful friends, slice them in half. The Bing cherries are so large (much larger than your typical sour cherry), so halfing them results in the perfect cherry to bite ratio. Toss them in a bowl with sugar, salt, and lfcorn starch. I heated them on the stove slightly, just to start the starch gelatinization early, and to ensure a nice thick filling. The crust recipe is one that I make often. It is a simple recipe. Sometimes I use a food processor, sometimes a pastry blender. The key is too use very cold butter, frozen even, and to avoid handling the dough for long periods. You want to keep it very cold. I froze my butter (accidentally) for two days. I removed it from the fridge, tried to cut it into pieces for the dough and it started splintering apart. I though this might create some problems, but it turns out that 2-day frozen butter works pretty well at creating a rich buttery flaky crust. Once it came out of the oven, it tasted of a sweet medley of the most amazingly sweet cherries uncased in a buttery rich croissant-like crust. I was definitely having an on-day in the world of pie making. I wont tell you about my major pie-fail the week before.
Because I am such a lover of cherries, pie, and cherry pie, I am giving away a
$50 gift card to the Whole Foods Market
, where you can pick up the most deliciously fresh and juicy cherries to make a pie, or a crumble, or a clafoutis. Or you could roast them with peaches and top with goat cheese and pistachios and a drizzle of honey. I've been to Whole Foods a few times last week and the week before, just for the cherries. Ok, and also for the amazing salad bar and those hot fresh sandwiches. I could probably spend a few hours eating my way through that store.
CONTEST NOW CLOSED
To enter simply
leave a comment below sharing your favorite recipe to make with cherries,
along with your name. Contest closes July 7, 2014 at midnight PST. A winner will be chosen then.
SWEET CHERRY PIE
makes 1 - 9 " double crusted pie
notes: I used Bing cherries, but you could use any cherry with a high sugar content. Sour cherries will not work though, and they would require much more sugar.
2 1/2 cups (330 g) all purpose flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, frozen
1/4 - 1/2 cup ice water
2 lb sweet cherries, pitted and cut in half
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 egg, beaten
To make the crust:
Fill a small bowl with a handful of ice and a cup of cold water.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Remove the butter from the freezer and cut into small dime size pieces. Add the butter to the flour and cut in using a pastry blender, until the mixture is crumbly. Alternatively, you could pulse in a food processor.
Add 1/4 cup of the cold ice water to the flour mixture and combine with a spatula. Continue adding water, a tbsp at a time, until the dough starts to stick together. Dump the dough onto the counter, and shape into a ball, working quickly so that the butter does not melt with the warmth of your hands. Divide the dough into two pieces, shape them into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a couple of hours.
To make the filling:
While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling.
Wash, de-stem, and de-pit the cherries. My favorite method to de-pit cherries is using a paperclip. Follow this
for a youtube tutorial on how to de-pit cherries using a paperclip.
Cut the cherries in half, and place into a medium saucepan with the sugar, corn starch, lemon juice, and almond extract. On low heat, simmer for a few minutes until the juice starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and place into the fridge to cool.
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Remove one piece of dough from the fridge. Sprinkle some flour onto the counter. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a thin sheet. A little less than 1/4 inch thick. Apply flour as needed. Place the dough into the pie plate, press into the corners, and trim away any excess dough. Place into the freezer while you roll out the second sheet.
Roll out the second sheet in a similar fashion. Scoop the filling into the pie shell, and place the second sheet of dough on top. Trim away any excess dough, and pinch seems together. Shape the crust into any desired pattern, follow this
for 23 beautiful patterns. Brush the crust with the beaten egg, and top with coarse sugar (optional).
Place a piece of parchment paper underneath the pie pan, and bake for 45 - 50 min, until the crust is golden brown and filling bubbly. Remove from the oven and let cool. Can be stored in the fridge for a week. Room temperature for two days.