Habeas Brulee http://habeasbrulee.com Sun, 17 Mar 2013 03:04:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.21 Rutabaga, Celery, Dill, & Smoked Chicken Soup http://habeasbrulee.com/2013/03/16/rutabaga-celery-dill-smoked-chicken-soup/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2013/03/16/rutabaga-celery-dill-smoked-chicken-soup/#comments Sun, 17 Mar 2013 03:04:28 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=817

Spring may be on its way, but it’s not here yet. It was snowing in Brooklyn today! Plenty of time left to hunker down with winter vegetable based soups while shivering our way through March.

(I’m on this big kick now where I make a pot of soup every weekend to eat for breakfast for the next week, because I don’t like oatmeal and bourbon and cornflakes (à la Humphrey Slocum) is not an always food.)

Also, rutabagas are delicious. Did you know that? They are rich and buttery and sweet and amazing. And beautiful here with crunchy salty smoky things mixed in.

Rutabaga, Celery, Dill, & Smoked Chicken Soup
(fairly dramatically adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen)
1 3/4 lbs rutabagas (1 truly enormous one, or 2 merely large ones)
2-3 tbsp duck fat or lard or butter (I used half duck fat, half butter)
1 big pinch dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 medium leeks (sliced, white and pale green parts only)
4-6 C chicken stock
1 smoked chicken breast (honestly, a plain one is probably fine) (shredded)
1-2 big handfuls finely chopped fresh dill
1 bunch celery (the more leaves, the better)
1 child-sized handful salted capers (rinsed and coarsely chopped)
ground green peppercorns to taste (honestly, black pepper is probably fine) (lots!)
salt to taste

1. Peel the rutabagas (removing a thick peel, until you hit the nicely golden actual innards) and chop into 1/2″ cubes.

2. Slice the celery ribs into slices about 1/8″ thick and set aside. Chop up the celery leaves and set aside separately.

3. Melt the butter/lard/duck fat/whatevs in a large soup pot with the thyme and bay leaf, stir in the leeks, and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes.

4. Stir in the chopped rutabaga and 1 tsp salt and cook partially covered for about 5 minutes.

5. Add the stock and bring to a boil. (How much stock? Well, do you prefer your soups to lean towards thick and chunky or towards brothy? You can always stir in more stock later, so I tend to err on the low side to start.)

6. Reduce to a simmer, add the dill, and cook until the rutagas are approaching tender but not quite there yet (about 15 minutes).

7. Partially puree the soup (I like to use my immersion blender).

8. Stir in the sliced celery ribs, shredded chicken, and capers. Continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

9. Stir in the chopped celery leaves and season with salt and ground pepper (I use green, but black is surely fine) to taste. Lots of pepper! And really do taste it as you season it – remember that even though you rinsed them, the capers did add some salt already.

10. Eat for breakfast every morning for the next week, happily. A bit of paprika sizzled on top might be nice, but I never got around to trying because I was plenty happy as is.

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Matcha Whoopie Pies with Sakura Buttercream Filling http://habeasbrulee.com/2013/03/09/matcha-whoopie-pies-with-sakura-buttercream-filling/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2013/03/09/matcha-whoopie-pies-with-sakura-buttercream-filling/#comments Sun, 10 Mar 2013 02:31:11 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=797

We went to Fletcher’s Brooklyn BBQ for my mother’s birthday last month, where the owner helped us celebrate by plying us with meat, whoopie pies, and shots of some sort of moonshine that made my mother scrunch her eyes shut after every sip.

“Whoopie!” we declared in lieu of the usual cheers. Happy birthday, Mom! Whoopie!

Today, my friend Nicole came over to visit with a treat – sakura extract and powdered salty sakura (cherry) leaf. Why not make whoopie pies together, we figured? The best and most interesting whoopie pies ever, for the record. I love the moments where you notice salty bursts of flavor from tiny clumps of sakura powder in some bites.


Matcha Whoopie Pies with Sakura Buttercream Filling
for the cakes (recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour)
1 C granulated sugar
1/2 C butter or Earth Balance
2 large eggs
1/2 C buttermilk (or 1 tsp vinegar plus enough milk to reach 1/2 C liquid total)
1/2 C water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp matcha (green tea powder)
for the buttercream filling (recipe adapted from Magnolia Bakery)
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 1/2 C confectioners’ sugar
1/4 C whole milk
1 tsp sakura extract (I have no idea where to buy this without a friend traveling to Japan, sadly)
0.2 oz sakura cherry leaf powder
Maldon salt (or any sea salt with nice big crystals)

First, make the cakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Beach sugar and butter/shortening together thoroughly.

3. Mix in the buttermilk and water, then the eggs and vanilla. It’ll look lumpy and curdled; don’t panic.

4. Mix in the dry ingredients and beat only until they come together, taking care not to overmix.

5. Place 1 tbsp scoops of batter about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.

6. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cakes are springy to the touch, rotating the baking sheets from back to front and top to bottom once halfway through.

While waiting for the cakes to cool, make the frosting:

1. Beat the butter and 2 C confectioners’ sugar together.

2. Add the milk and sakura powder and extract.

3. Gradually add the remaining sugar 1/2 C at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

When the cakes are cool, fill the whoopie pies, adding a sprinkle of Maldon salt on top of the frosting before covering each with its top cookie. Whoopie!

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Chicken with Oyster Mushrooms, Portobellos, & Napa Cabbage http://habeasbrulee.com/2013/02/06/chicken-with-oyster-mushrooms-portobellos-napa-cabbage/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2013/02/06/chicken-with-oyster-mushrooms-portobellos-napa-cabbage/#comments Thu, 07 Feb 2013 03:45:40 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=771

I got the new Fuchsia Dunlop cookbook! Oh, come on, you know you’re jealous. It’s as delightful as the last few, but with more non-spicy recipes and simple home cooking. My celebrity crush on her remains undiminished.

As usual, even when testing a recipe from a new cookbook I couldn’t leave well enough alone. We made a larger batch, added the cabbage to increase the veg:meat ratio and the Sichuan peppercorn for a bit of tingle, increased the relative quantity of ginger, and made a few other tweaks here and there.

It feels a bit strange to stir-fry without any soy sauce at all, but I think that’s what allows all the flavors to come through so clearly and intensely, and the dish as a whole is wonderfully delicious.

Chicken with Oyster Mushrooms, Portobellos, & Napa Cabbage
(adapted from Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop)
3 skinless chicken breasts (~1.5 lbs without the bone), thinly sliced
~1 lb mushrooms (we used 2 big portobellos and 3 big oyster mushrooms), thinly sliced
1 small head garlic (about 6 large cloves), thinly sliced
about the same quantity ginger, thinly sliced
1 napa cabbage (a bit on the small side), cored, quartered, and sliced into ~1/4″ thick pieces
safflower oil (or any other neutral oil with a high smoke point)
2 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
more salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
for the marinade
1 tsp salt
4 tsp Shaoxing rice wine (plus more for deglazing the wok, later on)
4 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground Sichuan peppercorn

1. Prep all ingredients as described above.

2. Stir the chicken in with the marinade ingredients and set aside.

3. Heat your wok, then swirl in some oil. Stir-fry the sliced mushrooms – forget everything you know about stir-frying in small batches and crowd the pan, letting the mushrooms wilt down as their moisture boils away until all their water is gone and they saute in the oil that remains. Remove the mushrooms from the wok and set aside.

4. Let the wok heat up again, and swirl in some more oil. Stir-fry the shredded cabbage (again, just let it fill the wok -you’re more wilting than frying it, and that’s okay) until slightly softened and reduced to about half its previous volume. Remove the cabbage from the wok and set aside.

5. Spread chicken out in wok, ideally in a single layer. Leave it alone until it’s nicely browned on the bottom. Patience, darlings, patience.

6. Once the chicken is seared on the bottom, stir in the sliced garlic and ginger, then stir-fry until the chicken is fully cooked.

7. Deglaze with a good splash of Shaoxing rice wine and scrape up all that tasty stuff from the bottom of the wok.

8. Stir the mushrooms and cabbage back in, along with the sliced scallion greens and the additional 1 tsp salt.

9. Season to taste. (I definitely like to add more black pepper at this point, at least.)

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Mushroom Chicken Pie http://habeasbrulee.com/2013/01/09/mushroom-chicken-pie/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2013/01/09/mushroom-chicken-pie/#comments Thu, 10 Jan 2013 04:02:10 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=744

I hate mushrooms. The flavor is fine, but the texture grosses me out.

Wait, no, I only like expensive mushrooms. They have a different and much nicer texture. Morels, chanterelles, yum!

Wait, no, I also like mushrooms that have been finely chopped and sautéed with onions and/or shallots. That fixes up the texture, too.

Point being, this is my new perfect breakfast food. It’s ostensibly a pie, but it’s more like huge mound of meat-enhanced duxelles surrounded by a very thin layer of phyllo.

(My food blogging resolution this year is to be even more open to using terrible Hipstamatic photos rather than deny you tasty recipes when I lack the time to set up a nice photo shoot.)

Mushroom Chicken Pie
~2.5 lbs chicken thighs (or any poultry thighs, really)
~3lbs mixed mushrooms (we generally use chanterelles, portobellos, and shiitakes)
4-5 onions (same amount as the mushrooms, by volume)
phyllo dough
butter or oil
bread crumbs (optional – we generally don’t bother)
some truffle spread or olive tapenade (nice with, but still tasty without)
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (nice with, but still tasty without)

1. Preheat your oven to 400 F.

2. Heat a pan with a bit of oil in it, and sear the thighs. They don’t have to be cooked through, just nicely browned on both sides. When you remove the thighs, be sure to keep enough fat in the pan to brown the onions.

3. Pull the meat off the bones and set aside in a large bowl.

4. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and set aside.

5. Coarsely chop the onions.

6. Saute the onions in the remaining chicken fat in that pan you used earlier, until golden, adding butter or oil if necessary (it probably won’t be).

7. Stir in the mushrooms and saute (in multiple batches if necessary, but you DO want to crowd the pan). Again, add butter or oil if necessary. When the mushrooms stop releasing liquid, they are done.

8. In a food processor, finely chop (but do not puree) the mushrooms and onions (and truffle/olive stuff if you have any).

9. Stir the mushroom/onion mix (and thyme leaves if you have any) in with the chicken.

10. Spread 4 layers phyllo into a pie pan, brushing butter (or oil) on and (optional) sprinkling bread crumbs between each layer.

11. Pour the mushroom mixture into the pie pan over the phyllo, and cover with another 4 layers of phyllo, similarly layered with butter. Cut off any phyllo that hangs over the edge of the pie pan.

12. Stab a bunch of holes in the top crust.

13. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden.

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Pistachio Wasabi Beets http://habeasbrulee.com/2013/01/07/pistachio-wasabi-beets/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2013/01/07/pistachio-wasabi-beets/#comments Mon, 07 Jan 2013 05:29:33 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=725

This is another Dave invention, but of course. It’s sweet and spicy and we’ve made it a bunch of times over the past year, so it’s way past time for me to share it with you!

The spicy awesomeness of these beets comes from wasabi oil, which you can find locally if you live in a city with a large in Chinatown. If not, your alternatives are to order wasabi oil in Amazon (not the brand I have, but it’s probably about the same), or just use horseradish instead.

Pistachio Wasabi Beets
5 beets
1/2 C pistachios
3 tbsp sour cherry vinegar (red wine vinegar works fine, honestly)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp wasabi oil (or less if you’re not so into the spicy)
flaky sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 375 F.

2. Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil. Wrap each beet individually in tinfoil (put it in the middle, then scrunch the edges together at the top) and place on the baking sheet. No oil needed – they’ll roast fine on their own.

3. Roast the beets in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until tender when you poke a fork in.

4. Peel the beets, then cut into 1/2″ cubes.

5. Crush the pistachios, either by chopping coarsely or using a mortar and pestle.

5. Mix everything together and season to taste.

6. Sprinkle extra pistachios on top right before serving if you care about things looking pretty.

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Sichuan Chili Oil, and variety of cold-chicken-based lunches http://habeasbrulee.com/2012/12/12/a-variety-of-cold-chicken-based-summer-lunches/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2012/12/12/a-variety-of-cold-chicken-based-summer-lunches/#comments Wed, 12 Dec 2012 15:30:36 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=680

I was a major chicken salad kick this past summer, sort of. I mean, I hate mayonnaise, so my definition of chicken salad is more ‘shredded cold chicken with a bunch of really flavorful stuff mixed in’. But that works great for me!

Basically, I cook some chicken breasts on the bone, let them cool, then shred the meat. Stir in some set of add-ins, separate into pint containers for lunches for the rest of the week. I’m a protein junky, so this is basically exactly what I need when I find myself crashing in the middle of the day. Sure, technically there’s a microwave at the office, but it’s summer! I can’t possibly deal with that during the hot months.

Here are the best of the non-mayo chicken salad variations I made and ate over the summer:

- almond butter, fresh turmeric, lime juice, scallions, celery, toasted cashews

- Sichuan chili oil (recipe below), mint, fried shallots, toasted cashews, and fresh cucumber in a side tupper

- Sichuan chili oil (recipe below), kohlrabi, parsley, fried young garlic, toasted sliced almonds

- red onion, parsley, toasted walnuts, Spanish paprika, scallions, roasted red bell peppers, walnut oil, sherry vinegar

- fried summer squash (zucchini and pattypan) in lots of olive oil, fried young garlic, toasted partially smashed up hazelnuts, lots of black pepper

(Photo credit to my Mom, who recently got back from a vacation where she saw a lot of chickens running around on the beach.)

Sichuan Chili Oil
(from Fuschia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty)

1/2 C chile flakes (I generally use a combination of coarse Korean chili flakes and crushed facing heaven chiles, but you can use any kind you like, at whatever heat level you like)
2 C neutral oil (I use safflower oil, usually)


1. Put the chile flakes into a glass jar.

2. Heat the oil on the stove until it hits 225-250 F. (If you go over, just let it cool down to that range, no big deal.)

3. Pour it over the chile flakes and stir once or twice.

That’s it. It keeps basically forever, and tastes amazing on everything.

I store mine in the fridge, because I worry whenever vegetable matter is introduced into an anaerobic environment.

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Lemony Pea and Radish Salad with Mint http://habeasbrulee.com/2012/12/09/lemony-pea-and-radish-salad-with-mint/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2012/12/09/lemony-pea-and-radish-salad-with-mint/#comments Mon, 10 Dec 2012 02:46:10 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=693

Hi again! Sorry I’ve been missing for so long. I’ve had an extraordinary year, and mostly I just haven’t had a great setup for taking photos of all the wonderful food I’ve been cooking.

A friend scolded me and then mailed me a light box, with the condition that I use it to start posting my recipes here again for her to make. Um. Sorry, and thank you! It arrived two days ago, so please consider this my first grateful payment!

I am obsessed with this salad. It’s a pretty drastic adaptation from a recipe in one of the Ottolenghi cookbooks, which I’ve been obsessed with ever since I had the pleasure of eating at one of their locations when visiting London a few years ago. It’s vivid and intense and refreshing all at the same time.

In adapting it from the original, I removed green beans and baby chard (insufficiently crisp!), and added radishes (more crisp!) and lemon juice (more vivid!), and used mint (more refreshing!) instead of tarragon (insufficiently refreshing!).

Simple to make, and it simply wakes me up and makes me happy. Enjoy!

Lemony Pea and Radish Salad with Mint
(loosely adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi)

~12 thinly sliced radishes (the pink-skinned, round-ish ones) (1 bunch, hereabouts)
1 1/2 C snow peas, trimmed (snap off and discard the hard ends)
1 lb fresh or frozen green peas (honestly, I use one bag of the frozen ones)
2 tsp coriander seeds, roughly crushed
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp nigella seeds
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
zest from 1 lemon
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves (not quite finely, but not quite coarsely either)
coarse sea salt to taste
lemon juice to taste


1. Fill a medium-large pot with water and bring to a boil. Salt it as if you were making pasta.

2. Set up a large bowl with ice-cold water.

2. Once the water comes to a boil, blanch the snow peas for 1 minute, then remove and shock in the cold water to stop the cooking.

3. Refresh the cold water and water for the pot to return to a boil.

4. Blanch the peas for 20 seconds then again remove and shock in the cold water to stop the cooking.

5. Combine the peas and snow peas in a large bowl.

6. Sizzle the mustard and coriander seeds in the olive oil in a pan just until the seeds start to pop, then pour the oil and seeds over the beans. Stir.

7. Stir in all other ingredients EXCEPT the salt and lemon juice.

8. Season with salt and lemon juice to taste when serving. If you want to save the leftovers, do not season them – only season each serving as you eat it.

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The Fort Greene http://habeasbrulee.com/2012/04/12/the-fort-greene/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2012/04/12/the-fort-greene/#comments Fri, 13 Apr 2012 02:29:33 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=641

Dave invented a cocktail. I remain not much of a drinker, but I like green drinks, so he concocted this one for me. Hooray! It tastes like being alive, and like chill breezes on perfect warm days, and like the first day of spring when it’s warm enough to spread your toes in the grass.

(Scotty: “What is it?”
Data: “It is… green, sir.”)

Actually, what it is is delicious!

The Fort Greene
4 gin (Dave happened to use Tanqueray, but you surely know gins better than I do)
4 grapefruit juice
4 cucumber juice
2 simple syrup
1 lemon juice

This recipe is written in proportions, not quantities.

To make cucumber juice you just blend some cucumbers, strain through a fine strainer, then [optionally] strain through coffee filters. Squeeze your citrus fruits to get at their juices, as one does. Simple syrup is equal parts water and sugar, boiled until the sugar is fully dissolved, then allowed to cool. That’s about all there is to it, really. Mix, serve over ice, enjoy, think happy springtime thoughts my way!

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East African Sweet Pea Soup http://habeasbrulee.com/2011/12/26/east-african-sweet-pea-soup/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2011/12/26/east-african-sweet-pea-soup/#comments Tue, 27 Dec 2011 04:00:14 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=616
East African Sweet Pea Soup
(adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic and Regional Recipes from the Cooks at the Legendary Restaurant by the Moosewood Collective)

Hurry, hurry, you have to make this soup! I took a Hipstamatic photo just so I could post it for you all the sooner!

I adapted this from one of the fantastic Moosewood cookbooks, with just a few adjustments. I like to have extra meatiness and protein in my soups, so I use pork stock instead of water. Less liquid, too – I like my soups thick and hearty, not too watery – more like stews than soups, perhaps. I’m also opposed to puree soups, so I did a minimal immersion blender partial puree of this one before adding the peas, to retain some texture.

It’s absolutely delicious, and I think I’m about to go back for a third bowl…

2 C coarsely chopped onion (about 3 medium onions)
safflower or other neutral oil for frying
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp grated fresh peeled ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
3/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground clove
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 tomatoes, diced into 1/2″ cubes
1 sweet potato (approximately 2 C diced), diced into 1/2″ cubes
2 C pork stock
1/2 C water
1 lb frozen green peas

1. Saute the onions in a splash of oil over medium heat in a medium pot, until they just turn translucent.

2. Stir in the spices, salt, ginger, and garlic and saute for another minute or two, until very fragrant.

3. Stir in the diced tomatoes and sweet potato until coated with spices, then immediately stir in the pork stock and water to dissolve the spices and deglaze the pot.

4. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the sweet potato chunks are tender (about 20 minutes).

5. Partially puree. I like lots of chunks, so I just use an immersion blender to puree just enough to thicken the soup some.

6. Stir in the frozen peas and simmer just until everything is nice and hot again.

7. Adjust seasonings to taste, and serve.

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Lazy, Rustic, Haphazard, and Amazing Sour Cherry Pies http://habeasbrulee.com/2011/06/24/lazy-rustic-haphazard-and-amazing-sour-cherry-pies/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2011/06/24/lazy-rustic-haphazard-and-amazing-sour-cherry-pies/#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2011 14:22:18 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=567

I’ve gotten seriously lazy with my sour cherry pies.

I make at least half a dozen every year, or my father sulks. It’s just one of those things. The tree is ready in mid-June, so everyone gathers together to pick, pit, barbecue, and eat. I’ve learned to make the crust dough in advance at home and just bring it over and stick it into Dad’s freezer before we attack the tree. These things get easier over time.

But since the tree keeps growing and I make more and more pies each year, I’ve had to learn a few shortcuts along the way. A few improvements. How do you make so many pies without anyone getting bored, without driving yourself nuts with irritation, while maintaining high quality and tastiness? Well, I think I’ve finally figured it out. This is how.

Forget pie tins. Forget measurements and mixing up the filling carefully. Forget lattices or double crusts. Forget everything you’ve ever learned about how to make a beautiful pie. No one cares if these are beautiful. If they’re delicious, dayenu, it’s more than enough for us. Don’t lead us through the desert. Just make us a few more pies!

Lazy. Haphazard. I make an almond-meal based tart dough, roll out chunks of it, and just splat them onto foil-covered baking sheets. I squeeze much of the juice out of cherries, handfuls at a time, and spread them across the middle of the sheet of dough. Sprinkle on some sort of starch to absorb the liquid, brown sugar, flavorful booze, a bit of cinnamon, some vanilla and almond extracts.

Want variety? Sure, make a few wishniak pies, a few with whisky, some with amaretto. Whatever makes you happy. Just splash it right on top. Then cover all your sins with crumblies, and stick it in the oven. One or two pies per baking sheet. My oven fits four baking sheets. We get the job done. Someone else runs out for ice cream in the end.

Sour Cherry Archives
2008: Sour Cherry Coffee Cake
2007: Almond Buttermilk Biscuits with Sour Cherry Compote, Butterscotch, and Candied Pickled Ginger
2007: Sour Cherry Braised Lamb Shanks
2006: Dave’s Sour Cherry Barbecue Sauce and Baby Back Ribs
2006: Sour Cherry Almond Milk Sorbet
2006: Sour Cherry Sage Flower Jam
2006: Sour Cherry Pie (Old Version)

Lazy, Rustic, Haphazard, and Amazing Sour Cherry Pies
For the crust:
2 C flour
1/2 C almond meal
1/2 C sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 C butter (slightly softened, but still cold)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
For the filling (and no, this section doesn’t have precise measurements):
Sour cherries, rinsed and pitted
Flour or corn starch
Dark brown sugar
Almond extract
Vanilla extract
Booze (I prefer wishniak (a sort of cherry liquor), but kirsch or amaretto or whiskey or rum or whatever you like will work just fine)
For the crumblies:
1/2 C flour
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 C butter

Mix together the dry ingredients for the crust. Add the butter and mix or squish together by hand until the dough reaches a texture like bread crumbs. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until the dough just starts to come together. Slam it against a hard surface to remove the air bubbles, as you would if working with clay. Form it into a squat, chubby cylinder, and cut the cylinder in half so that you have two disks. (Or into smaller chunks, if you prefer smaller pies.) Wrap each disk separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate them for at least half an hour, and up to twenty-four hours. Alternatively, you can stick them in the freezer and they’ll keep for a few months. This makes enough dough for two reasonably large tarts (or more smaller ones).

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Prepare an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. (Or several!)

Take one chunk of dough out of the fridge at a time. I like to roll out my dough between floured layers of waxed paper, to keep my rolling pin clean and make it easier to flip it as I go. Every few moments, just gently remove the wax paper and sprinkle on a bit more dough to keep it from sticking. When it’s about 1/8″ thick, flip it out onto a prepared baking sheet.

You’re going to build a really haphazard filling right on top of the dough, keeping about 1.5″-2″ clear around the edge.

First, the sour cherries. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the cherries before piling them on top of the dough – no matter how much liquid you remove, you’ll still end up with too much remaining. I promise. (Save the liquid you squeeze out – you can use it to make syrup for soda!)

Next, sprinkle on some flour or corn starch to help absorb the liquid. A nice dusting over all the cherries should do just fine. You really can’t go wrong here. Then sprinkle on a light dusting of cinnamon as well.

Drizzle a few little dashes of vanilla and almond extracts over the cherries.

Heavily sprinkle brown sugar over the cherries next. My brown sugar tends to solidify, so more often than not I use a knife to just slice the brown sugar over the cherries. I use rather a lot, but it’s just a matter of taste. Sour cherries are more flavorful than sweet ones, and you add a lot of sweetness with ice cream at the end anyway.

Last, splash some booze over the whole mess. Rather a lot more than you did with the extracts. Definitely more of a splash than a drizzle, this time. Don’t panic. The alcohol will cook off, and it’ll be lovely.

To finish things up, make the crumbles by mixing together the non-butter crumbly ingredients and then cutting in the butter until the texture is, well, crumbly. Sprinkle over the cherries.

At this point, if you’re making pies in bulk for a parent who sulks if he doesn’t get enough pie each summer, you can just freeze your pie in his freezer and instruct him on how to bake it himself whenever he wants. That’s a bit silly, though. He always bakes and eats them all within the first week anyway.

Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 375° F and bake for another 30 minutes, or until it looks done.

Serve with vanilla ice cream for best effect.

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