Monday, September 19, 2011

In Season Dessert: Blackberry Pie

There is a trail not far from where we live, that is just teeming with wild blackberry brambles. Plenty of good fruity blackberries, ripe for the picking. (Have I mentioned lately how much I love living in the state of Washington?)  I'm fairly certain we will be heading back to that trail to do a little more picking before they all disappear for the next nine months with the looming onset of "rainy season".

So, finding ourselves with a free morning last weekend, the husband and I set out with tupperware containers and braved the thorny bushes to pick a whole bunch of these beautiful ripe wild blackberries. And then I thoroughly washed and cleaned the berries in order to spend the afternoon experimenting with blackberry pie recipes. This particular recipe is as simple as it gets, with not much more than fresh fruit, sugar, and a hint of lemon. Not too sweet, just sweet enough.  And so easy, you need to try it.

Blackberry Pie

Makes 8 servings.

For the filling you will need: 
5-6 cups blackberries, washed clean, and patted dry
3/4 cup white sugar (or 1/2 cup, varies with how sweet the berries are. For store bought berries 1/2 cup should do it)
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Pie crust - you can follow my standard sweet pie crust recipe that I have been using for years or use store bought)

For the pie crust you will need:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or more ice water
Optional - eggwash (1 egg+1 tablespoon water)

Pie crust:
Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Then cut the butter in and combine until the mixture is grainy and resembles coarse sand. Then, add ice water one tablespoon at a time and mix well until dough is firm and there is no dry flour remaining. Separate dough into two halves. Flatten each half down into 3-4" discs, cover each with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (8 hours or overnight is okay too).

Combine sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour, and sprinkle this over the blackberries. Stir well so the berries are slightly crushed and well coated with the sugary mixture. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F. 

Roll out pie dough on a lightly floured surface and line the bottom of your pie pan with the dough. Roll out the second ball of pie dough for the top crust. Spoon the berry mixture into the dough-lined pie dish. Place the second rolled-out pie dough crust on top of the pie. Trim off the edges of the pie crust to fit the pie pan. Score an "X" in the top with a sharp knife to create air vents for the steam to escape. Place the pie on the middle rack of the oven. Put a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any juices that might bubble out of the pie while it's cooking - and this WILL happen, trust me!  Bake the pie at 375 F for 40 minutes or until  crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbly.  If necessary, protect the pie with aluminum foil if it looks like the edges and tops of crust are getting burnt. (Optional - just before putting the pie in the oven, you can brush the top crust with eggwash. The eggwash will give the pie that golden "pie glow". Note that this step is completely unnecessary and will not affect the flavor of the pie, the eggwash just makes the crust look pretty.)
When done baking, remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Cool completely before serving. Enjoy!

Note:  the recipe I have written above is for a regular crust, but I love the look of the lattice crust. If you've never tried a lattice crust, I would encourage you to try it. It is much easier than it looks, and so pretty! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Samosas are probably the most delicious Indian snack, ever. At least, according to a lot of people I know. And samosas are the most requested Indian dish in my circle of friends. Seriously, even people who don't like Indian food will eat these delicious little deep fried savory treats.

There are literally hundreds of different ways to make the samosa filling, depending on where you grew up or who you ask, but here's a simple recipe that I have been making for years and has become very popular with friends. This filling is an all veggie option, and is really tasty with just the right amount of spice and tangyness. The pastry is just about perfect too. (If you don't want to go to the trouble of making the pastry at home, a couple of shortcuts are wonton skins or frozen puff pastry. Both are easy substitutes and cut your prep/cooking time significantly.) Whether you choose the shortcut methods or the original, prep is still labor intensive so make sure you have plenty of time before getting started. Hope you enjoy this recipe!


For the samosa filling, you will need:

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tablespoon dried mango powder, or 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
5 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2" pieces and boiled for 15 minutes
1/4 cup peas (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium heat. When oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add onion, and cilantro. Sauté until the onion becomes translucent, about 3-4 minutes, then add dried mango powder or lemon juice, cumin and coriander powder, salt, and red chilli powder. Sauté a few minutes just until the spices have cooked a bit, then add the cooked and drained potatoes, and the optional peas. Mix well and sauté just until heated through, them remove from heat and set aside.

To make the samosa pastry, you will need:

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 1/2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the flour, oil and salt in a mixing bowl, then add water gradually (about 1/4 cup at a time) until the dough holds together, and knead well. Roll into a ball and cover with a damp paper towel. Let this dough rest for about 20 minutes. Then, break off walnut sized balls of the dough, and roll out into 5-6" circles. Cut each circle in half. Fold each half-circle to form a cone. Fill the cone with about a spoonful of the potato mixture. Press the samosa between your palms to remove air pockets. Moisten the edges with some water, and seal.

Deep fry the samosas in a lot of oil (at least 2" deep) until golden brown, turning twice; drain. Serve hot plain or with your choice of chutney (sour chutneys are best), or preferred dipping sauce. Enjoy!