Cherry Hand Pies

Cherry Hand Pies

Smoke from wildfires up north caused a gray haze to sink over the fields and pastures of my grandparents' farm. Dark blue rain clouds slowly gathered on the edge of the horizon during the afternoon of tractor repairs and garden surveying. When the wind grew stale and the air pressure dropped, we brushed the dust off the bottoms of our jeans and headed indoors. 

We gathered around the dining room table as we always do; it's the heart of the home. My grandfather opened the windows to let in the rapidly cooling air, turning on a fan to circulate the air through the old farmhouse. My grandmother settled over the stove, frying up sausages for an early dinner. My father opened the newspaper, the room filling with the periodic sound of his page turning. I shuffled through a deck of cards, laying out a new game of solitaire.

We lived in this comfortable silence, taking in the earthly scent of the downpour and the browning of the meat in alternating breaths. This moment embodied the slow living of country life; no television or radio in the background, no electronics to take us away from the reality of moment. Instead, we listened to the music of 4:30 pmthe sound of a lid arranged on a pot, of rain hitting the windowpane, of the eight of clubs placed on the nine of hearts.

I wish I could put this song on repeat.

Cherry Hand Pies

Cherry Hand Pies

Cherry Hand Pies

In the heat of the summer, it would be a shame to ignore the abundance of fresh, in season fruit. I have embraced the fruit perhaps too much; my kitchen is currently stocked with a mixture of honeydew, watermelon, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, dark cherries, and plums. In attempts to use up the fruit before it expires, I have baked them into cakes and crumbles (and eaten it straight with a fork).

My favorite iteration so far are these dark cherry hand pies. While full-sized pies are both stunning and delicious, this season calls for more convenient fare. Hand pies require no knives, forks, or messy plates. making them ideal to serve at parties, picnics, and afternoon snacks. Dark cherries are so sweet and ripe this time of year: I recommend buying a pound to eat and a pound to bake.

 

Cherry Hand Pies

Cherry Hand Pies

Cherry Hand Pies are a sweet, well portioned dessert to bring to events to share. The dark cherries are complemented by a touch of cinnamon and a spoonful of lemon juice, which bring a strong, balanced flavor to the bite-sized pastries. As a note, if you choose to use sour cherries in this recipe, you will need to add more sugar. Taste the filling as you go for best results. 

One Year Ago: Plum Almond Galette
Two Years Ago: Nutella Espresso Rolls and Brownie Cookies
Three Years Ago: Mango Coconut Popsicles, French Silk Pie, and Blackberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Four Years Ago: Plum Clafouti
Five Years Ago: Grilled Peaches

Cherry Hand Pies

Yields 1 dozen

1 recipe double crust pie dough
1 pound (16 ounces or 450 grams) fresh dark sweet cherries, pitted and quartered
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (40 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Milk, for brushing
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a large mixing bowl, gently stir together the pitted and quartered cherries, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and cinnamon until the cherries are evenly coated. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the dough into an 11 by 16-inch rectangle between 1/4 and 1/8-inch thick. Using a pizza cutter (and a ruler to guide) cut out 5-inch squares. You should get six squares. Use leftover dough to fill in areas where the dough tears or more dough is needed near an edge.

Place a spoonful of cherry filling in the center of each square. Avoid overfilling the squares or they will not seal properly. Using a finger, brush water around the dough square to help seal in the fruit. Fold over the dough to form a triangle (keep the nicest edge on the top of the fold for best appearance) and use a fork to press down the edges. Brush each square with milk and sprinkle on granulated sugar for additional sweetness. Use a knife to cut several steam holes in the top of each pie. Repeat process for second half of the pie dough.

Bake the hand pies for 35-40 minutes, or until fruit is steaming and pastry is browned. If the crust browns too quickly, cover the edges of each pie (or the entire pan) with aluminum foil to prevent further browning. This will likely only occur with all-shortening pie dough. 

Banana Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

Banana Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

Travel allows for a glimpse into another lifea different pace, a divergent culture, an opportunity to live as someone else, if only for a short time. These differences may be large and bold, shouting out from every brick and every stone, or they may be quiet and subtle, a difference in the smell of the breeze, but the variations are there, waiting to be detected.

Last week, I was in Vermont on a "bake-cation," a term coined by my fellow classmate, where I happily spent my entire holiday in the kitchen, taking baking classes to learn the science of pastry. There was no sightseeing or a rushed to-do list; it was just butter, sugar, and me. After a long day on my feet, my evenings were spent sitting in a rocker on an old-fashioned porch, a glass of wine in one hand and a homemade pastry in the other, listening to a birdsong I did not recognize. It was a dream.

I'll give you details about the classes soon. Stay tuned.

Banana Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

Banana Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

When traveling in New York City last June, I started the first morning with a green banana smoothie from a small shop down the street from the hotel. Even though I had a list of coffee and bagel shops to visit, the drink was so refreshing that I tossed the list to the wayside and got myself the same exact smoothie every morning hence. The drink I am sharing with you today is inspired by that smoothie, featuring bananas, peanut butter, avocado, and spinach. Though the smoothie may appear green, the flavor of the banana and peanut butter mask the others, making it more pleasant for adults (and kids) alike.

After a week of consuming more than my fair share of butter, sugar, and cream, I could use a few more of these smoothies to get back on track.

Banana Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

Banana Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

Banana Peanut Butter Green Smoothie acts as a great start to the day, especially during the warm summer months. The smoothie's primary flavors are of banana and peanut butter, which cover up those of the green additions. Honey is added for sweetness, and milk is used to blend. I preferred almond milk in this recipe, but soy milk or regular cow's milk will do just as well.

One Year Ago: Lavender Vanilla Bean Cake
Two Years Ago: Coconut Sorbet and Cherry Almond Crumble
Three Years Ago: Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream, Mocha Almond Cupcakes, and Summer Berry Pavlova
Four Years Ago: Cauldron Cakes, Butterbeer, Butterbeer Cupcakes, and Cherry Almond Muffins
Five Years Ago: Mocha Frappuccino and Blueberry Lime Panna Cotta

Banana Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

Yields 1 large or 2 small servings

2 small (or 1 1/2 large) ripe bananas, frozen
1/2 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 small handful spinach leaves
1-2 teaspoons honey, to taste
1 cup (225 grams) milk 
1 teaspoon chia seeds, optional
Ice, optional

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and serve immediately.

Raspberry Rhubarb Sorbet

Raspberry Rhubarb Sorbet

In the heat of the summer afternoon, I can be spotted sitting in a deck chair in the sun, my nose buried in the pages of a good book. For someone who is eternally chilled, the oppressive heat is dreamy; I wish I could bottle up the feeling for another season. By far, this form of relaxation is my favorite summer activity, and I look forward to it greatly each year. This is my spa day, my indulgence, my unique form of pampering.

If only these days could last forever.

Raspberry Rhubarb Sorbet

Raspberry Rhubarb Sorbet

When the heat grows suffocating, I reluctantly head back indoors to cool off. Since it is one of the rare times the air conditioner feels welcoming against my skin, it would be a sin to turn on the oven to bake. Ultimately, this reasoning is how this sorbet came about. While rhubarb seems to be a fleeting spring trend in the food world, the Upper Midwest enjoys this vegetable all summer long. As a wonderful contrast against the sweetness of summer fruit, the tart rhubarb complements summer fruits and berries well. 

In this sorbet, rhubarb is paired with raspberry to produce a very brightly colored, flavorful dessert. Feel free to use fresh or frozen fruitI have done so with both and it has turned out equally well.

Raspberry Rhubarb Sorbet

The sorbet stays soft due to the use of honey as a sweetener. Honey does not contain enough water to freeze (it is a supersaturated sugar solution) and so it prevents the sorbet from freezing hard like other chilled desserts. While this sorbet is not ideal for ice cream cones, one of the benefits of the soft freeze is that the sorbet becomes an excellent base for cocktails. Simply add a scoop or two of sorbet, a shot of vodka, and top it off with a fizzy soda (such as lemon-lime or gingerale) for a sweet summer drink. 

Raspberry Rhubarb Sorbet

Raspberry Rhubarb Sorbet is ideal for celebrating the summer months because it requires so few ingredients. Raspberries and rhubarb are boiled down into a sweet sauce and frozen into a soft sorbet. Honey is used as a natural sweetener, and it complements the fruit flavors well. While I suggest a full cup of honey, you can use less if you prefer a more tart sorbet. Simply taste as you go, and you will find your ideal sweetness.

One Year Ago: Cookies & Cream Ice Cream
Two Years Ago: Mint Sugar and Frozen Strawberry Bars
Three Years Ago: Peach & Blackberry Galette, Chocolate Cherry Cake, and Coconut Scones
Four Years Ago: Quinoa Pudding, Blueberry Hand Pies, Black Bean Salsa, and Harry Potter Treats
Five Years Ago: Margaritas and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Raspberry Rhubarb Sorbet

Yields about 1 quart

12 ounces (340 grams) rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch sections
6 ounces (170 grams) raspberries
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1 cup (340 grams) honey 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, combine rhubarb, raspberries, water, and honey and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft and translucent. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. 

Allow mixture to cool for 10-15 minutes before transferring to a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Run mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds and fibers. Discard solids. Chill for 3-4 hours, or until cold.

Freeze mixture in ice cream maker, following the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer sorbet to an airtight container and freeze for 4-6 hours before serving. The sorbet will keep well for 2 weeks in the freezer.