Monday, July 4, 2011

The 4th of July and Blueberry Pie!

Today my daughter Katie and her husband Bill are hosting a 4th of July get-together for their friends and a collection of grandparents (me being one!).  The weather is beautiful and it promises to be a terrific day for a party.  They are slow-roasting a pork shoulder on the grill, over indirect heat, to become pulled-pork sandwiches.  With that, she is serving coleslaw, salt potatoes, and other side dishes.  The star of the show, in my opinion, is the blueberry pie she baked last night.  It is beautiful!  She used America's Test Kitchen's recipe.  As Katie was assembling the ingredients, the aroma of blueberries and lemon zest smelled so fresh and delicious. 

The weekend leading up to the 4th was a lot of fun too.  Russ and I took a ride yesterday to Lake George, via Route 9N through Corinth and Lake Luzerne.  It is such a pleasant drive, especially realizing that the businesses on that route are enjoying the peak of their season, with hotels and restaurants busy all along the way.  There are a lot of great swimming spots heading north on 9N.  There's the town beach in Corinth along the river, Fourth Lake, Lake Luzerne, and more little lakes with names I can't remember.  I'll have to take the drive again soon.  The ride along 9-N is just so "Adirondack-y" and makes you feel as though you're driving through a giant outdoor vacation!  We ended up at the outlets near exit 20 of I-87 where we spent a little time and money, and headed home.  Then it was time for Henry and me to have a little one-on-one time.  We headed into Saratoga Springs for a ride on the carousel in Congress Park, and a walk around the park to see the ducks, followed by a visit to Ben and Jerry's.  We even stopped to see his Aunt Tricia at work.  He had such a good time, and I had fun just watching him enjoy it!

Henry on the carousel in Congress Park
Henry, Ben, and Jerry

Russ and I had dinner at The West Side Stadium and then went to a driving range in Milton to hit a bucket of golf balls.  I was so impressed with his ability to hit that ball and drive it 200+ yards, in the direction he actually intended!  At 6'4", he makes an impression as he takes perfect form hitting a golf ball.  His father was a golf pro and clearly, he's inherited the genes and talent.  Yet I, a foot shorter with a club too long for me (not that I'm making excuses), managed to repeatedly hit my ball 20 yards in no designated direction, sometimes bouncing the whole way.  There is definitely opportunity for improvement!  But we had fun, and it was a beautiful night, the sun setting in a pink-tinged sky. 

We came home and stopped in to Katie's kitchen to find THE blueberry pie just out of the oven, ready for today's celebration.  Though I was sorry to say good-bye to Russ this morning, I'm looking forward to a 4th of July with lots of sunshine, family, and fun.  I plan to appreciate every second before reality hits and I return to the daily grind tomorrow, though for a short week (woo hoo!).  Just can't get enough of days off, summer, or blueberry pie!

A snapshot of my 4th of July (click to enlarge!)

(America's Test Kitchen)

Foolproof Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water

Blueberry Filling
6 cups fresh blueberries
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated on large holes of box grater
2 teaspoons grated zest and 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons instant tapioca, ground
Pinch table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted better, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water

1. FOR THE PIE DOUGH: Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

3. Remove 1 disk of dough from the refrigerator and roll on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch think. Roll dough loosely and rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs plate in place; refrigerate while preparing filling until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

4. FOR THE FILLING: Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack and heat oven to 400 degrees. Place 3 cups berries in medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Using potato masher, mash berries several times to release juices. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally, until about half of berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly.

5. Place grated apple in clean kitchen towel and wring dry. Transfer apple to large bowl. Add cooked berries, remaining 3 cups uncooked berries, lemon zest, juice, sugar, tapioca, and salt; toss to combine. Transfer mixture to dough-lined pie plate and scatter butter pieces over filling.

6. Roll out second disk of dough on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 11-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Using 1 1/4 inch round biscuit cutter, cut round from center of dough. Cut around 6 rounds from dough, 1 1/2 inches from edge of center hole and equally spaced around center hole. Roll dough loosely around pin and unroll over pie, leaving at least 1/2 inch overhang on each side.

7. Using kitchen shears, trim bottom layer of overhanging dough, leaving 1/2-inch overhang. Fold dough under itself so that edge of fold is flush with outer rim of pie plate. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with times of fork to seal. Brush top and edges of pie with egg mixture. If dough is very soft, chill in freezer for 10 minutes.

8. Place pie on heated baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until juice bubbles and crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

Pie:  my photo of Katie's blueberry pie!

Recipe borrowed from:


  1. What a wonderful 4th of July! So glad you had such a wonderful weekend and time with family! the pie looks stunning and I can't wait to try it!

  2. Love this!