My legs are scratched and I have poison ivy on one wrist, but that’s a price I willingly pay for black raspberry pie. This is the summer of the wild berry. The black raspberries are running rampant here in Ohio, and I have no doubt blackberries will be next.
The overgrown patch of wild black raspberries between my greenhouse and shed is out of control, sending rogue canes over, around and into the greenhouse. In years past I have collected handfuls of berries to eat with my morning yogurt. This year I have harvested quarts of berries and haven’t even hacked my way beyond the perimeter of the thicket. I urge you to go to the woods, find a clearing and start picking.
For the first time I have enough berries for a pie. Initially I made a galette, a simple tart of a pastry round covered with about two cups of berries and the edges folded over to form about a 2-inch rim. The next day I picked a quart and reached for a 9-inch pie pan. I used refrigerator pie crust for the bottom crust (my shoulder injury is worse, not better) and devised a spur-of-the-moment crumb mixture for the topping.
I didn’t use a recipe for the pie and you needn’t, either, for the fruit you pick or buy this summer. Just remember that a galette bakes in about 30 minutes and a pie in 60 minutes at 400 degrees.
Because fruits vary in juiciness, you may have to look up how much thickener to stir into the filling. Four cups of black raspberries (the amount needed for a pie) require 3 tablespoons flour. I didn’t use sugar in the filling because the berries were sweet enough. Use your judgement, but in any case go easy on the sugar to allow the fruit flavor to shine.
The formula for a crumb topping is 1/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup flour, 5 tablespoons butter and about a half cup sugar. I substituted three tablespoons Splenda for the sugar. You might want to add a few shakes of salt, too. The butter is cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until the bits are the size of peas. To this basic topping recipe you can add cinnamon, nutmeg or other spices. You may season the filling, too, if desired. Sometimes I add a few drops of almond extract to peach pie filling, for example.
Save this column and stash a box of pie pastry in your fridge. Then whenever you come across a trove of fruit this summer, you’ll be just minutes away from slipping a pie into the oven. What’s that old saying? And some days there’s pie.
BLACK RASPBERRY CRUMB PIE
- 1 pastry disk for a 9-inch pie
- 1/3 cup oats
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar (or 3 tbsp. Splenda granular)
- Several dashes of salt
- 5 tbsp. cold butter, in small pieces
- 4 cups black (or red) raspberries
- 3 tbsp. flour
Leave pastry at room temperature for about 15 minutes, until pliable. Ease into a 9-inch pie pan. Fold under the edges and crimp. Place in refrigerator.
In a bowl, combine oats, the 1/3 cup flour, sugar and salt. Stir together. Cut butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until it’s the size of peas. Refrigerate.
Gently wash berries by floating in cold water or by very gently running water over them in a strainer. Spread on paper towels to dry. Place in a bowl and toss with the 3 tablespoons flour.
Remove pie crust and topping from refrigerator. Pour berries onto the pie crust. Top evenly with the crumbs. Bake at 400 degrees (375 if using a glass pan) on the middle oven rack for about 60 minutes, until crust is dark brown and fruit is tender. Makes 1 pie.
What I cooked last week:
Black raspberry galette; black raspberry crumb pie; sweet soy-glazed pork chops with a platter of oven-roasted red bell peppers, Anaheim peppers and new potatoes with olive oil, coarse sea salt and chopped fresh basil over arugula; and thick pan-grilled hamburgers on ciabatta buns with roasted red peppers, onions and mustard.
What I ate last week in/from restaurants:
Ribeye and gorgonzola sandwich and a few thin fries at Johnny’s Downtown in Cleveland; chicken and vegetable rotini from Earth Fare; peanuts and a hot dog with mustard at Progressive Field in Cleveland; a California roll, tuna and crab poke salad, and coconut-curry noodles with jumbo shrimp at Basil Asian Bistro in Canton; a thin veggie pizza from Earth Fare; and a fruit cup, toast and a two-egg omelet with feta cheese, onion, mushrooms and tomato at the Eye Opener in Akron.
I finally tasted soy milk last week — specifically, cashew soy milk, which my doctor recommended. Until now I have resisted the soy-milk fad, stubbornly clinging to my beloved skim milk, which I use in puddings, protein shakes, for baking and cooking, and occasionally straight up.
The verdict: Cashew soy milk is no competition for the real thing. It tasted like a No. 2 pencil. I’m serious. Sink your teeth into a yellow pencil and inhale. Then take a sip of cashew soy milk. Am I right? Besides, It is grayish-tan, a hell of a color for something you’re supposed to consume.
I am mystified why so many non-vegetarian, non-lactose intolerant people have switched to soy milk. Please enlighten me.
P.S.: And don’t tell me it’s because milk is inflammatory. Dairy products do not cause inflammation, according to the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic, both of which cite a review of 52 clinical studies that disprove that widely disseminated falsehood. In fact, dairy products may alleviate inflammation.
About where you can buy some good lamb: One, Canal Fulton Provision — they sell to restaurants as well as the public; and two, Near East Market, 3464 Hudson Drive in Cuyahoga Falls — I believe you wrote about them in a newsletter from a galaxy a long, long time ago.
Dear George: I remember that galaxy, where we were all much younger. I haven’t had much luck with Near East Market the last few visits. The lamb in the freezer was scant and the owners didn’t want to talk about it. Canal Fulton Provision sounds like a hot lead, though. Thanks.
For lamb — and nearly every other edible critter that can be portioned, wrapped and frozen — try Duma Meats on 857 Randolph Rd. in Mogadore. A second site in Hartville Marketplace is expansive, too, with fresh meat. But for the full ark, the Duma home place has it and is worth the drive.
Also, I have a new food find for you. Hidden in the new center at the NEO College of Medicine, Chef Xavier holds court in fine, fine form. I have only had lunches, as food service stops about 2 p.m. But it’s always a treat — unique dressings on unique and fresh made-to-order salads. Everything from PBJ to black bean hummus on naan bread. He also hosts special cooking events as part of the Wellness Center programs on improved health through healthy eating. Although it is a small cafeteria-style station for getting folks in and out quickly, the vibe is good as is every dish I have eaten there. Check it out at the Rootstown exit of I-77. The med school is easy to find and parking is easy as well.
Dear Maryann: If Tony and I are ever near the med school around lunch time (it happens), we will stop. And thanks for the lamb tip. The lamb at Duma is reasonable, too. I called and was told leg of lamb is $6.95 a pound bone-in and $7.95 a pound boneless.
Jane, there is an Indian grocery store in Cuyahoga Falls, across from Acme on Front Street/Bailey Road next to Jubilee Donuts, a few doors down from Strickland’s ice cream and Ninnies Hot Dogs and the River Grille, around the corner from the Silver Swan Tavern and Totally Cooked. You might find naan there or just a good meal in the neighborhood. If you need to take Tony you can drop him off at Hudson Drive Hardware — a real old-fashioned hardware store.
Dear Bill: Well, now I can’t wait to walk that neighborhood. Maybe I’ll just move in. Thanks, Bill, for all the ideas.
From Linda Bower:
I really like your “what I ate” and “what I cooked” parts of your column. I like to see what restaurants you go to. It gives me ideas for places that I want to check out for myself. As far as “what I cooked,” sometimes I want to know the details or the recipe of something you cooked. For example, last week you said you cooked strip steaks with wine sauce. How did you make your wine sauce?
Dear Linda: I am always glad to share details. The wine sauce was simple. After cooking and removing the meat from the skillet, I added about three-fourths cup of leftover red wine I had on hand. I think it was a pinot noir. I added a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and brought it to a boil, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. I let it boil for a minute or two until reduced by a third to a half, then whisked in a few bits of cold butter. Very basic.
From Marcia, New Franklin:
Oh my, grilled double-cream gouda and roasted pineapple on toasted sourdough? Sounds wonderful! What’s your take on how the Blue Door fixes it?
Dear Marcia: The Blue Door’s $11 grilled cheese sandwich is worth every cent. The cheese layer is not thick and gooey. In fact, it melts almost completely into the bread. But imagine the best thick-cut sourdough toast you’ve had, with just the right tang countered by the richness of that wisp of cheese…. and I haven’t even gotten to the pineapple yet. The sandwich is the opposite of a Melt grilled cheese in conception. It is elegantly understated, letting a few outstanding ingredients speak for themselves.
To subscribe to this newsletter, please click here.
Please note: If your email address changes, you must re-subscribe to my newsletter in order to continue receiving it. We are unable to change the address for you in our email list. The procedure is easy. Just click on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of a newsletter. Then click here to sign up under your new address. Thank you.