Wednesday, August 13, 2008

39. Apricot Raspberry Pie (p. 763)

On Saturday, we had dinner with our good friends Tricia and Kenny, and their adorable, thirteen-month-old son, Jack. We ate at Amrhein' s, an upscale neighborhood joint in South Boston where they serve comfort food on crack. My wife had a an outrageous chicken pot pie and a rich clam chowder garnished with a clam fritter. I had macaroni and cheese with ... wait for it ... lobster! The food was excellent, and it almost made up for the huge piece of broken glass at the bottom of Tricia's beer glass (Eeek!). After dinner, we went back to Tricia and Kenny's place to enjoy pie and good conversation on their deck.

I wanted to make this recipe while apricots and raspberries were still in season. I went to my local mega-mart to pick up the fruit I needed for the pie, but much to my dismay, they didn't have a single apricot. Not even one. But, you'll never guess what they did have ... the sour cherries I was looking for last week for my cherry pie. How's that for timing? But now that I know how hard they are to come by, I decided to buy all that they had, three pints. Here, I have to make a little aside about my glorious cherries.

I took the cherries home, washed them, pitted them, and froze them. So, I was going to tell you how much I love my cherry pitter. This seriously is the best kitchen invention ever. I've never used a kitchen gadget that was so perfectly suited to its task. There are lots of kitchen tools that don't work that great, or that do something that you just don't need a separate tool to do. But pitting an cherry or olive without one of these babies would be an impossibly frustrating job. Even if you only pit cherries once in your life, it's well worth it to have a pitter. As I worked my way through my three pints of cherries, I developed a nice rhythm, and it was a pretty pleasant and zen-like chore. In the end, I had over nine cups of frozen sour cherries packed away full of promise and possibility.

OK, back to the pie. I went to another grocery store in search of apricots, and ... success! Eight juicy apricots wrapped in that uniquely velvety skin. The filling for this pie is made up of apricot wedges, raspberries, sugar, cornstarch and just a bit of salt.

I put it into a pie plate with a rolled-out round of The Book's Basic Pastry Dough. This is the second time I've made pastry dough in just as many weeks, and you know what they say about practice making perfect. Well, I wouldn't say that it was perfect, but it was better, and easier to make and roll. I topped the pie with an egg wash and a generous sprinkling of sugar and popped it in the oven. Even though the oven temperature gets turned down after the first few minutes, the edges of the crust were still browning too fast. To keep them from burning, I pulled out my trusty pie shields. These little wonders have been knocking around in our kitchen junk drawer for a few years. I'm not even sure where they came from, and I only just recently learned what they were for.

As you can see from the photo at the beginning of this post, the finished pie wasn't going to win any beauty contests. The filling oozed out onto the top crust, and I was a couple of minutes late in putting the pie shields on, so the crust was a little dark around the edges. But what it lacked in good looks, the pie made up in taste. The crust was flaky and delicious. The sprinkling of sugar gave the crust a nice sweetness and just a little bit of crispiness. The flavor of the filling was an intense combination of sweet and tart, and it had a beautiful magenta color. It reminded me of the strawberry rhubarb pie that my grandmother made when I was a kid with rhubarb from her garden. This was an excellent and unusual celebration of some of summer's best fruits. A real treat.

Date Cooked: August 10, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: A-

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