Book Club: Green Kitchen Travels // Ricotta and Polenta Almond Cake

Green Kitchen Travels

The Book: Like many, I’m a long time fan of Green Kitchen Stories, the wonderfully vibrant blog written by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl. David and Luise are masters of inspired, healthy cooking, making fruits and vegetables shine in new ways with every post. I loved their first book, Vegetarian Everyday, which was released in the states last year (you can see my full write up here), and it quickly became a go-to book for me when I needed something fast and healthy, as evidenced by this baked pistachio falafel, these savory corn muffins and this baked blackberry oatmeal. When they announced that they were writing a second book, this one based on their travels around the world, I immediately knew I had to have a copy. And Green Kitchen Travels, now safely nestled into my cookbook shelf, does not disappoint.

Ricotta and Polenta Almond Cake {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

This is one well-traveled family: together with their four year old daughter, Elsa, they have been everywhere from Spain to Mexico to Morocco to Thailand, picking up new flavors and inspiration in every corner of the globe. The recipes they’ve included to mark their travels are not meant to be recreations of authentic local dishes, but instead are healthy recipes in the unique GKS style influenced by the flavors, ingredients, and techniques they’ve found around the world. It’s fusion at its finest – adopting whatever works from each cuisine and blending it with an existing style to create something balanced and new. I was particularly taken by the chapter dedicated to soups: Vietnamese pho and Indian dal and Italian ribollita all in the same few pages! Of course, the pictures are stunning, as anyone who reads their blog already knows. The travel theme just gives the couple the green light to add to their colorful collection of food pictures with jawdropping landscapes from around the world, market scenes dripping with color and life, and of course, their adorable daughter in exotic locales worldwide. I do love the feeling that in a way, this book is a love letter to Elsa, as you see and hear her influence on their journeys and cooking style throughout the pages – this book is very much a family affair.

Ricotta and Polenta Almond Cake {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Ricotta and Polenta Almond Cake {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

The Food: The day I left for my recent trip to Malaysia, I felt like cooking just because. Knowing that I wouldn’t be around to eat whatever I made, I flipped through the pages of Green Kitchen Travels looking for something that I could leave behind for Trevor. I quickly settled on this light Italian cake, which felt like the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon espresso on a warm fall day. The cake is gluten-free, made from a combination of polenta and almond flour, and uses only honey as a sweetener, so you can cut yourself a big slice without too much guilt. I’ve had hit or miss results with “healthy” cakes, and in particular cakes made with ricotta, but this one was very good. It was moist and not overly crumbly, with a delicate flavor of lemons, almonds, and honey. It’s not very sweet, so while I’m not sure I’d serve it for dessert, it’s the perfect thing for an afternoon break or an indulgent breakfast.

Recipe Shortlist: Mexican Breakfast Salad; Rye and Chocolate Croissants; Halloumi Veggie Burgers; Sweet Vietnamese Cucumber Salad; Harira Soup (Tomatoes, Chickpeas, and Dates); Baked Eggplant Rolls; Berber Tagine; Sweet Potato and Eggplant Moussaka; Turmeric Lassi

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Disclaimer: I received a review copy of Green Kitchen Travels from Hardie Grant, but I was not otherwise compensated and all thought and opinions are my own.

Ricotta and Polenta Almond Cake {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Ricotta and Polenta Almond Cake (Torta di Ricotta e Polenta)

Recipe from Green Kitchen Travels. Serves 8.

  • 1/2 c.(100g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. clear honey
  • finely grated zest of three small lemons
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 c. (5 oz) almond flour, or whole almonds, ground into flour in food processor
  • 1 c. (4 1/2 oz) fine ground polenta
  • 1 c. (9 oz) ricotta, preferably creamy
  • 1/2 c. flaked almonds
  • powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the base of an 8 inch springform tin with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Place the butter, half of the honey, the lemon zest, and the vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat until creamy, using an electric mixer if you have one. Add the egg yolks and continue to beat until fully incorporated and creamy. Add the almond flour, polenta, and ricotta and fold everything together using a spatula.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Still beating, drizzle in the remaining honey and continue to beat the egg whites until medium peaks hold and the honey is fully blended in. Gently fold the egg whites into the rest of the batter.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and sprinkle the flaked almonds evenly over the top. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before removing from the tin. Dust with powdered sugar before serving if desired.

Pumpkin Butter and Cream Cheese Danishes

Pumpkin Butter and Cream Cheese Danishes {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

It’s your favorite guest poster! Trevor is here with his latest creation, pumpkin butter and cream cheese danishes, made from our very own home-grown pumpkins. These danishes are incredibly delicious, and I think they’re multiplying while I’m at work, as we seem to have an infinite supply that gets replenished every time I think I’ve polished off the last one. Raise your hand if you want one! Just kidding, I’m keeping these (and their baker!) all to myself. But you can definitely have the recipe.

Last summer, my greatest garden wish was to have a super wild, super productive squash patch in our garden. This year, we got exactly that, and we learned there is a lot of value in order. We spent a solid chunk of the summer in our new patch tracing out vines from the winter squash and melons as they wound around and underneath our mounds of summer squash and zucchini plants. Half the trick was trying to find all the zucchini before they became giant inedible monsters. We definitely owe Katie’s dad for sacrificing his wildflower field, which will hopefully regrow in it’s new location, and for tilling the whole 30’ x 50’ patch for us and our pumpkin dreams.

Pumpkin Butter and Cream Cheese Danishes {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Despite the disorder, we ended up with a ton more squash than we’ve had in past years, and a huge jumble of vines of questionable origin. Somehow our New England Sugar Pie pumpkins managed to grow vines about 20 feet long extending in every direction, and setting fruit in literally every corner of the patch. After two big, promising, just-turning-orange pumpkins were completely demolished by our friendly neighborhood deer, we put up a hasty fence and secured a harvest of about 8 nice-sized pumpkins, with more still ripening on the vines. Now the only challenge that remains is figuring out what to do with it all.

So far, I’ve made some apple-wood smoked pumpkin that we used in a risotto, Katie’s done that beautiful vegetable curry, and I made some pumpkin butter to go in these danishes. I’m a huge fan of raspberry cream cheese danishes, so that’s the route I chose to go with for the pumpkin ones. I make the pumpkin butter a little lemony to get some tartness to go with the cream cheese, and I think they came out really well. The dough recipe I used makes about twice as much dough as I needed for the first batch, so more pastries are definitely in order.

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Pumpkin Butter and Cream Cheese Danishes {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Pumpkin Butter and Cream Cheese Danishes

Pastry dough recipe adapted from Food.com. Makes 16 danishes.

For the pumpkin butter filling:

  • 4 c. pumpkin puree
  • ¾ c. water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • ¾ c. brown sugar

For the Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 8 oz. package of cream cheese
  • ½ c. Greek yogurt
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ c. sugar

For the Danish Pastry Dough:

  • 2 c. milk
  • 1 ½ tsp dry yeast
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 7 c. all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ c. granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 lb unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp cardamom

For the pumpkin butter:

  1. If you are using whole pumpkins to begin with, follow these instructions to make your puree. If you are using canned pumpkin, skip to step two.
    1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
    2. Cut the pumpkin in half, and scoop out the seeds and fibers, discarding or reserving for another use.
    3. Place  pumpkins, cut side down, in a pyrex baking dish and fill the dish with ½ inch of water.
    4. Steam pumpkin in oven for about 45 minutes, until flesh is fork-tender all the way to the skin. Remove the pumpkins from the oven and let cool.
    5. Once the pumpkins are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and blend until smooth
  2. Combine all pumpkin butter ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the ingredients are evenly blended and the mixture holds it’s shape.

For the cream cheese filling:

  1. Whip together all ingredients until the mixture is smooth and completely combined.

For the Danish dough:

  1. Warm milk to 110°F (in a small saucepan over low heat or in the microwave), then sprinkle yeast over the top of the warm milk without mixing. Allow to sit for five minutes, then beat in eggs and vanilla. Whisk until ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl until just combined. Cut in 3 Tbsp of butter, cut into small cubes, and use a pastry cutter to loosely combine.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and knead until combined. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Leave remaining butter to soften while dough chills. The butter should be stiff, but spreadable.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 2’ x 1’ rectangle. Spread remaining butter over the bottom two thirds of the dough. Fold the top third of the dough down into the middle, then fold the bottom third up onto the top, and roll into a 2’ x 1’ rectangle again. Repeat the folds, and refrigerate for another hour.
  5. Repeat the folding and rolling process two more times to create layers of butter in the dough. This is what makes the final product light and flaky.

To assemble and bake:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Roll out chilled dough to approximately ¼ inch thickness. Cut into 6”x8” squares.
  3. Orienting rectangles such that the long edge is horizontal, make seven 1 ½ inch slits on either side.
  4. Spread a line of cream cheese filling and a line of pumpkin butter vertically down the center of the rectangle, keeping approximately ½ inch away from the inner end of the slits on either side.
  5. Fold the top and bottom slits on either side vertically down, to create a cup shape at either end.
  6. Fold the remainder of the strips over the filling diagonally, starting from the top and alternating sides to create a crosshatch pattern. Pat down the ends of the strips as you go.
  7. Place danishes on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the pastry is golden all over.

La Crema Wine Dinner // Corn Chowder with Paprika-Grilled Shrimp, Grilled Leg of Lamb with Ratatouille, Pear and Rosemary Crumb Bars

La Crema Wine Dinner {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Corn Chowder with Paprika-Grilled Shrimp {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

We hosted our second wine dinner last weekend, this time with three lovely, very drinkable wines provided by La Crema Winery in California. It’s hard to believe that our first wine dinner was way back in February – I had originally planned to do them more frequently, but it’s actually very tricky to get wine shipped to Massachusetts. Starting in January, the legislation will loosen up – maybe then we can do more of these dinners – but until then, having the wine shipped to my family’s place in Maine is the best option. The hidden benefit of this is having a built-in guest list composed of people who love to drink wine: my family. So Trevor and I headed North for Labor Day weekend for one last summer visit during which we could cook some good food and drink some good wine.

Grilled Leg of Lamb with Ratatouille {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

La Crema Wine Dinner {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

The team at La Crema was kind enough to send us three bottles of wine for this dinner – a Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir, and a Pinot Gris. All three bottles retail in the $20-25 range, and are solid, straightforward table wines. None of them left a particularly lasting impression but all were easy to drink and true to their type, and no one turned down a second glass of any of the three varietals. Since all three wines were relatively light-bodied and good for patio-drinking, we designed a menu with an “end-of-summer in California” vibe to complement the wines and the season, and call to mind the wines’ terroir. Most of the menu was done on the grill, and it featured plenty of end-of-summer produce, but the dishes were a little heartier than mid-summer fare and everything was served warm. We started with a corn chowder topped with paprika-grilled shrimp, the main was a grilled leg of lamb with ratatouille, and the dessert was rosemary pear bars served with whipped cream. I was very happy with how all three dishes turned out – the product of days of brainstorming – and even happier with how quick the whole thing was to throw together. I don’t think I’ve ever served a meal that was such a snap to cook with such stellar results. Of course, I have to give a big heap of the credit to Trevor (and to my other sous-chef, Aunt Robin!) as both the shrimp and the lamp were perfectly grilled, a skill I certainly don’t have in my repertoire.

La Crema Wine Dinner {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Grilled Leg of Lamb with Ratatouille {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

I knew ahead of time that the forecast was not good for Sunday, our planned dinner day, but the clouds cleared out early in the day and we ended up with plenty of sun all afternoon. Sadly, as dinnertime approached, the clouds rolled back in and I found myself racing to get the picnic table set before the rain began. Just as I ladled the chowder into bowls the first drops began to fall, so I snapped as many pictures as I could and we shuffled everything back inside. Although I’ll admit I was disappointed not to have the beautiful outdoor evening I had been imagining, the food and wine were perfect and the night still ended with tequila shots, a giant bag of peanut M&Ms, and my mom and Aunt Robin dancing in the rain – any night that ends that way is a success in my books.

Rosemary Pear Crumble Bars {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

La Crema Wine Dinner {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

My nutty family

La Crema Wine Dinner {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

The Details

First Course: La Crema 2012 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay with Corn Chowder with Paprika-Grilled Shrimp. La Crema produces seven different Chardonnays, and their Sonoma Coast line is one of the most affordable. The wine is quite tart, opening with a lot of acidity up front, but quickly mellowing into a buttery finish. You can certainly taste oakiness, but it’s subtle and not a dominant characteristic. I personally found it to be a bit more citrusy than I like in a Chardonnay, but my mother, who is not usually a Chardonnay person, really loved this one. We served this with a creamy, pureed corn and potato chowder, using super sweet end of summer corn. The chowder was topped with a few grilled shrimp which had been marinated in a mix of garlic, lemon, olive oil, and smoked paprika. Although I dislike most seafood, I loved these shrimp – they were perfect on top of the rich chowder, and the wine cut through the richness nicely.

Grilled Leg of Lamb with Ratatouille {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Second Course: La Crema 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir with Grilled Leg of Lamb with Ratatouille. The Pinot Noir was my favorite wine of the night, another release from the more affordable Sonoma Coast line. It was fairly dark in color compared to some Pinots, but light-bodied. Smooth and fruity, it was very drinkable, without feeling overly sweet or boring. For this pairing, we went a little on the heavy-side, grilling a sizeable piece of butterflied leg of lamb as the main course. We balanced the gaminess of the lamb with a meyer lemon and rosemary marinade, and kept the plate bright and acidic by serving the lamb with a tomato and kalamata olive ratatouille. This was basic, Mediterranean-inspired food – simple but well-executed fare for a simple but well-executed wine.

Rosemary Pear Crumble Bars {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Third Course: La Crema 2013 Monterey Pinot Gris with Pear and Rosemary Crumble Bars. To be honest, by the time we poured the Pinot Gris my note-taking was getting a little sloppy, but I’m going to count that as a good sign overall. I did note that the Pinot Gris had a fairly strong minerality, and was heavy on the citrus flavor. La Crema’s tasting notes also indicate that it has a subtle note of Asian pear, which is the pairing I chose to pursue for the dessert course. Of course, serving a wine that is not a dessert wine with a sweet dessert is tricky, but the whole table felt that the Pinot Gris and the rosemary and pear crumble bars went very well together. The bars were composed of three parts: a rosemary shortbread crust, ripe pears poached in a mixture of Pinot Gris and honey, and a simple butter-and-sugar crumble topping. After an hour in the oven, the pears turn into an intense, caramelly jam while the crumble and the crust stay a buttery golden brown. I had initially planned to serve these with a rosemary-vanilla whipped cream, but a few missteps left me with some very delicious rosemary-vanilla butter that could not be brought back from the brink. Whipped cream from the can was a fine substitute.

The Menu

Corn Chowder with Paprika-Grilled Shrimp served with La Crema 2012 SC Chardonnay see recipe below
Grilled Leg of Lamb with Ratatouille
 served with La Crema 2012 SC Pinot Noir  see recipe below
Pear and Rosemary Crumble Bars
 served with La Crema 2013 Monterey Pinot Gris  see recipe below

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Disclaimer: La Crema provided me with the wine for this post free of charge, but I was not otherwise compensated and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Corn Chowder with Paprika-Grilled Shrimp {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Corn Chowder with Paprika-Grilled Shrimp

Chowder recipe adapted loosely from Serious Eats. Serves 6.

Note: You will need wooden grilling skewers to prepare the shrimp.

  • 1 lb. 16-20 ct. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 5 ears corn
  • 4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 TBS butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 c. diced Yukon gold potato (about 2-3 medium potatoes)
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the paprika, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. Add the preapred shrimp and toss to coat. Cover, refrigerate, and let marinate for 2 hours. Place your grilling skewers in a large container of water and let soak for 30 minutes.
  2. To make the chowder, cut the corn kernels from the ears using a serrated knife. Set corn kernels aside. Add the stock to a large pot, then break the corn cobs in half and add to the stock. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer for 15 minutes to infuse the stock with the corn cob flavor. Remove from heat, remove and discard cobs, and set stock aside.
  3. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cumin seeds and saute until onions are translucent and cumin is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add corn kernels and saute in the butter for 2 minutes, then add reserved stock. Add the diced potatoes and bring to a simmer, simmering until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream.
  4. Blend the soup in batches in a blender, until each batch is smooth. Blend 3/4 of the soup in total, leaving 1/4 of the soup chunky. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Preheat the grill to medium-high, skewer shrimp on pre-soaked skewers. Grill shrimp until just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Serve the chowder with 2-3 grilled shrimp on top.

Grilled Leg of Lamb with Ratatouille

Serves 6.

For the lamb:

  • 4 lbs. of butterflied leg of lamb, cut into 6-8 pieces
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • juice from 2 Meyer lemons
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary, needles removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp salt

For the ratatouille:

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 medium Heirloom tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4 c. pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place the olive oil, Meyer lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the leg of lamb and massage the marinade into the lamb. Cover the bowl, refrigerate, and let marinate 3-4 hours.
  2. About 30 minutes before you intend to serve the lamb, heat 2 TBS of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme, and saute until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook until soft, 3-5 minutes. Add the tomato and zucchini and bring to a simmer. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally and using the back of a wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes, until tomatoes have released all their juices and zucchini is soft, about 10 minutes. Continue simmering over medium-low heat for another 10-15 minutes, until sauce has thickened slightly, then stir in olives and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Grill the lamb until medium rare, about 7-8 minutes per side. Set aside on a plate and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve lamb with the ratatouille sauce underneath.

Rosemary Pear Crumble Bars {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Pear and Rosemary Crumble Bars

Serves 8-10.

  • 1 stick salted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 TBS salted butter, chilled
  • 1/3 c. light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. flour, divided
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 c. white sugar
  • 4 ripe pears
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. Pinot Gris or other white wine
  • 6 TBS honey
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, beat 1 stick of room temperature butter until smooth. Add 1/3 c. light brown sugar, 1 c. flour, and 1 tsp chopped rosemary to the butter and stir to create a thick crumbly paste. Lightly grease an 11×7 inch or 8×8 inch baking pan, and press the rosemary shortbread crust evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes, then remove from the oven and set aside.
  2. To prepare the crumble topping, whisk the remaining 1/2 c. flour and the 1/3 c. white sugar together in a medium bowl. Cut in the 6 TBS of chilled butter, and use a pastry cutter or a fork to mash the butter into the flour until the butter is pea sized and thoroughly coated in flour. Refrigerate this mixture until ready to use.
  3. To prepare the poached pears, peel and core the pears, then thinly slice. In a large, wide-bottomed sauce pan or dutch oven, mix together the water, white wine, and honey. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then gently add the pears to the simmering mixture. Simmer the pears until soft and fragrant but not falling apart about 5-8 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to remove. Layer the pears evenly over the rosemary crust and set aside. Continue to simmer the juices in the pan until they have reduced to a thick, caramel-colored syrup – this will take about 20 minutes. Once you have a syrup, pour it evenly over the pears.
  4. Take the crumble topping from the fridge and sprinkle it evenly over the pears. Bake the crumble bars for 45-55 minutes, until crumble topping is golden brown and pear filling is thick and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before slicing. Serve with whipped cream.

Maple Mixed Berry Pie

Maple Mixed Berry Pie {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Blackberry Picking {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Picking blackberries is not for the impatient or easily deterred. Our blackberry patch has grown into a monstrous tangle of canes, 10 foot stalks that shoot up then topple to the ground in early summer, heavy with juicy black fruit. This year in particular, the berries are gorgeous – fat and sweet from just the right combination of rain and sun. The berries on the edges of the patch are easy to get to – as long as you refrain from grabbing the canes you can pick plenty of berries scratch-free. But the berries that beckon from the center of the patch are too numerous to waste, so we go after them despite the maze of thorns between us and them. As we cut paths into the center of the bramble and carefully weave our way in, our focus increases, and I find myself thinking only two things. Get the berries. Don’t touch the thorns. At the peak of the season, it can take the two of us over an hour to fully pick the patch, but there’s something I love about the concentration and straightforwardness of the task, moving slowly and precisely through the canes. And the reward – buckets of delicious berries – is always worth the inevitable scrapes and mosquito bites.

Maple Mixed Berry Pie {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Blackberry Picking {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Our patch is generous: so far this year we’ve picked 11 pounds of fruit, and I have a feeling we’ll have a last, small batch to pick tomorrow. Like cherries, my favorite way to consume blackberries is fresh, preferably just-picked, when they’re still firm and warm from the sun. But when you have 11 pounds of berries, there’s plenty of room to experiment with recipes and still be able to eat your fill of fresh fruit. This summer I’ve made blackberry clafoutis, blackberry crumble, and a big batch of blackberry jam, all of which were good, but my favorite by a mile was this pie, an intense mix of blackberries, wild Maine blueberries, cherries, and maple syrup.

Blackberry Picking {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Blackberry Picking {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

I love pie – in my book, it’s far superior to cake – and I have a particular weakness for berry pies. Juicy and summery, the berries break down to completely fill the space between the crusts, with no gaps like apple pies tend to have. And because I like berry pie so much, I have high standards for it, so I thought long and hard about exactly how to achieve the pie I was envisioning. I started with blackberry-maple, but thought the blackberries needed extra dimension, so cherries and blueberries got added to the mix. The ratio of cornstarch to fruit is just enough to have the pie hold it’s shape, but not so much that it loses its juiciness. And the crust utilizes a little extra butter and my new favorite pastry method, frozen butter grating, for extra flakiness. To top it all off (quite literally), I used a cute little leaf cookie cutter to decorate the top and make it all foresty and picturesque. Basically, I love this pie. I love it so much that I ate five slices in three days, bookending my Monday and Tuesday with pie: a slice with my morning latte, and a slice after dinner with ice cream. It’s probably good that there’s only a short window during which we get enough berries to make pie. Otherwise, I would be doing a lot more running.

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Maple Mixed Berry Pie {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Maple Mixed Berry Pie

Serves 8-12.

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 12 TBS salted butter, frozen
  • 6-8 TBS ice water
  • 1 1/2 c. wild Maine blueberries
  • 2 c. blackberries
  • 2 c. pitted sweet cherries, torn in half
  • 3/4 c. maple syrup
  • 4 TBS cornstarch
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  1. Whisk together flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Remove butter from the freezer and grate over the large holes on a box grater, working quickly to keep the butter from melting. Add the cold grated butter to the flour and toss with your fingers to coat the butter with flour. Add ice water to the mixture 1 TBS at a time, using a fork to swirl the ice water through the flour after each addition. Add ice water until the dough just comes together when pressed with your fingers. Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Mix the blueberries, blackberries, and cherries together in a large bowl. Pour half of the fruit into a large saucepan, and add the maple syrup to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until berries have broken down and released their juices, and liquid has reduced by about half. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and cinnamon. Whisk the lemon juice into the cornstarch. If it is still very thick, add a few tablespoons of the juices from the room temperature berries, whisking until you have a pourable mixture. At this stage, scrape the cornstarch mixture into the bowl with the chilled fruit and stir to combine, then add the cooked fruit and stir until thoroughly mixed. Set the filling aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Divide the pie dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. On a lightly floured surface, roll the larger piece of dough out into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Carefully lift and place into a pie plate, pressing dough gently down onto bottom. Trim the edges, leaving about 1/4 inch of overhang. Poke the bottom of the crust with a fork to allow air to vent, then bake the crust for 10 minutes in the oven, until just golden. Remove from the oven and add the prepared filling, then return the pie to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, roll out the remaining piece of dough and use a cookie cutter to cut out a number of small shapes. After the pie has baked for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and cover the surface of the pie with overlapping pieces of the dough shapes (I used small leaves). Return the pie to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbly and the top crust is golden brown, another 25-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before cutting. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Ingredient of the Week: Strawberries // Strawberry Recipe Round-Up

Strawberries {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

I’m taking a quick break from new strawberry recipes tonight to dig up some strawberry-themed posts from the archives. It’s been a long week, and I’m feeling a little short on words, so I’m going to let the pictures do most of the talking here. Hopefully if you picked a few pounds more berries than you know what to do with, this will provide some inspiration!

Drinks

Strawberry Lime Agua Fresca {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Strawberry-Lime Agua Fresca

An incredibly refreshing drink for a hot summer day, it’s also a little bit gorgeous.

Strawberry Rosewater Lassis {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Strawberry and Rosewater Lassis

Strawberries, buttermilk, cardamom, and rosewater come together for a Middle-Eastern take on a milkshake. Not too sweet, but still feels like dessert.

Savory Strawberries

Strawberry Balsamic Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Pecans {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Strawberry Balsamic Salad with Candied Pecans and Goat Cheese

This salad is almost like dessert, it’s so sweet and delicious. For times that you need to trick yourself into consuming raw spinach.

Fried Halloumi with Spring Veggies and Strawberry-Basil Gastrique {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Fried Halloumi with Spring Veggies and Strawberry-Balsamic Gastrique

An unusual appetizer that packs a lot of flavor into a little bite. Perfect for that moment in March when you get prematurely excited about spring produce, but are still craving foods like fried cheese.

Breakfast and Baking

Waffles with Strawberry Sauce {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Waffles with Strawberry Sauce

The only acceptable breakfast on my birthday…

Strawberry Sage Muffins {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Strawberry-Sage Muffins

My favorite basic muffin recipe, with the unusual (but delicious) pairing of sweet juicy berries and fresh sage leaves.

Strawberry Cornmeal Breakfast Cake {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Strawberry Cornmeal Breakfast Cake

A quick one bowl cornmeal cake, perfect for snacking on or for serving mid-morning with a steaming cup of tea.

Strawberry-Bourbon Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Sauce {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Strawberry Bourbon Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Sauce

Ridiculously rich and addictive dessert. Carb-y and boozy, it’s terrible for you but oh so satisfying.

Other Sweets

Strawberry-Rhubarb Meringue Pots {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Strawberry-Rhubarb Meringue Pots

A quick and simple spring dessert, lighter than a pie and without the hassle of making crust.

Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

Still the best ice cream I’ve ever made, and maybe the best I’ve ever eaten. Incredibly rich, but worth every calorie.

Strawberry, Chocolate, and Whipped Mascarpone Parfait {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Strawberry, Chocolate, and Whipped Mascarpone Parfaits

Layers of creamy sweetness, fresh sweetness, and crunchy chocolate sweetness. Pretty and elegant.

Strawberry Almond Cream Tart {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Strawberry Almond Cream Tart

A classic, and deservedly so. All your friends will ooh and ahh when they see it, as an added bonus.

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Strawberries {Katie at the Kitchen Door}