Once Memorial Day weekend arrives, we are well on our way to summer. Traditionally, it’s the weekend that kicks off the summer season while come September, Labor Day is the holiday that officially ends summer. There are so many things that we associate with summer from pretty cotton dresses and strappy sandals to leisurely days lounging around the swimming pool or afternoon picnics sprawled out on a blanket under a shady grove of trees.
Everyone has their own list of traditions that they look forward to enjoying during the long summer season. In my house, Memorial Day weekend is the official start of what we’ve come to term, “Dining Under the Stars,” although, most nights, we’ve already picked up our dishes and headed inside before the sky is dark enough to see stars. But, some nights we don’t; some nights, we stay up late into the wee hours of the morning, stargazing and chit-chatting, telling stories and enjoying a glass of wine while we finish off whatever leftover dessert still remains in the serving dish. These nights are among some of my favorite and no matter how old I get, they always make me feel young, as if I am a kid allowed to stay up well past my usual bedtime, to stay outdoors and to eat as much dessert as I like.
While summers in my town can be brutally hot, I still like to bake, especially pies which make good use of summer’s bounty of fresh fruits and berries. So, in the summer, I pare things down a bit; I buy pre-made pie dough and I use my toaster oven for baking the pie.
Today, I’m sharing my recipe for a cherry-blackberry pie that’s delicious hot from the oven with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. But, it’s even better when the last of it is eaten straight from the pie plate, well past midnight, while stargazing. So, whatever summer traditions you hold dear, why not add homemade pie and stargazing to your list?
4 cups, fresh tart or sweet cherries, pitted
4 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed and patted dry
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup instant tapioca pearls
1 tablespoon of corn starch
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 package pie dough (2 crusts)
1 tablespoon milk, or heavy cream
1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
1.Preheat the oven to 350º.
2.Mix together cherries, black berries, sugar, spices, salt, lemon zest and melted butter.
3. Add tapioca and cornstarch; let sit for 20 minutes. If the mixture is runny after 20 minutes, add another tablespoon or two of corn starch.
4. Unfold the pie crusts and place one into the bottom of a glass pie dish; gently push the dough into the pie plate, smoothing it to the contours of the pie dish.
5. Add the cherry-blackberry filling.
6. Cover the filling with the second pie crust; crimp the edges if the crust together.
7. Cut a few slits into the top of the pie (you can get creative, if you have the time, by using a small paring knife to cut out hearts or diamonds).
8. Brush the top of the pie with milk or cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
9. Bake until pie is golden brown and filling is bubbling through the slits.
*Make sure to place pie on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil so if any of the filling bubbles over it won’t make a mess in your oven.
*If the edges of the crust seem to be getting too brown and the center is still not golden, make a narrow band out of aluminum foil to just cover the outer edges of the pie.
Melanie Bryant is a writer obsessed with food. When sheâ€™s not writing about her latest culinary adventures, she spends her time working in the garden, collecting cookbooks, and hanging out at the local farmerâ€™s market. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans. "You Had Me at Butter" (www.buttermelup.blogspot.com) is her blog where she writes about all things food.