Last week, I hit the brakes on life and just gave myself permission to be a mom in the summer — I was a non- responder on email (sorry), no blogging (sorry, again) and instead played with the kids. I’m not sure if it was going through all the old photos at my parents’ house or packing up my girls’ for their first sleep away camp, but it hit me hard that they’re growing up fast.
It was wonderful to slow down, hang out and listen to their funny observations and giggles. Our week included a sleep over with friends followed by a blistering day at the beach (why, oh why, doesn’t organic sunblock seem to work?) and a trip to the blueberry farm with friends —thank you, Jen!
My oldest daughter insisted on making blueberry hand pies with our bounty. I think she knew it was the closest she’d get to having Pop Tarts in the house. Confession: I would eat the entire box in one sitting. Well, my girl knows a good thing, because they were absolutely delicious.
We served them up for dessert on the 4th. In a huge change of pace, our 4th of July dinner table topped out at six — just us and a couple of dear friends. Between our small town parade that morning, an afternoon of swimming and ping-pong and the clear sky surprise of being able to watch the fireworks from our backyard, it was the perfect culmination of my slow down week. Less is sometimes so much more.
So, grab some blueberries, grab some kids and head into the kitchen and make these summer beauties together. You won’t regret it and the pies are pretty awesome, too.
Blueberry Hand Pies
From Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers
Makes about nine pies
2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
Pinch of salt
Basic pie dough for a double-crust pie (see recipe below)
1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
In a saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the blueberries, the 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the berries begin to give off their juices. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until all of the berries have burst, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the blueberry mixture and cook until the juices come to a boil and thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup berries. Place the saucepan in a bowl of ice water and let the mixture cool, stirring frequently.
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Have ready a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Roll it out into a rectangle about 20 by 13 inches and 1/8 inch thick. Using a 4 1/4′ biscuit cutter stamp out 9 rounds. Place about 2 1/2 tablespoons of the blueberry filling on one half of a round, leaving a 1/2-inch border uncovered. Fold the dough over so the edges meet, then crimp them with a fork. Transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds and filling. Refrigerate the pies for 15 minutes.
Lightly brush the pies with the egg wash, cut an X in the top of each pie and sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tbs. sugar (if you have Turbinado sugar use that) the sugar makes it really beautiful and crunchy. Bake the pies until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let the pies cool on the pan on a wire rack, then serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 9 hand pies.
Pop Tart Upgrade: To make a simple glaze, sift 1 cup confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and whisk in 1–2 tablespoons of water until the mixture has the consistency of a thin icing. Brush the icing over the cooled pies, then let set for a few minutes before serving.
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3 tablespoons very cold water
To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together.
To make the dough in a stand mixer, fit the mixer with the flat beater, and stir together the flour, sugar and salt in the mixer bowl. Add the butter and toss with a fork to coat with the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with the butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix on low speed just until the dough pulls together.
Transfer the dough to a work surface, pat into a ball and flatten into a disk. (Although many dough recipes call for chilling the dough at this point, this dough should be rolled out immediately for the best results.) Lightly flour the work surface, then flatten the disk with 6 to 8 gentle taps of the rolling pin. Lift the dough and give it a quarter turn. Lightly dust the top of the dough or the rolling pin with flour as needed, then roll out into a round at least 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Makes enough dough for one 9-inch single-crust pie, one 10-inch galette or about 9 hand pies.