Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hold on to your tastebuds to make way for the pie of the century—Blackberry-Apple with White Cheddar Cheese Crust

I had mentioned that my second birthday goal, besides making yesterday’s veggie casserole, was to bake myself a birthday pie. I’m pleased to report that that was accomplished in fine fashion and that it was a colossal success. I don’t think I’ve ever had such an amazing dessert. The photo of Blackberry-Apple Pie with White Cheddar Cheese Crust drew me in when I first saw it in the Thanksgiving issue of Southern Living. I don’t know how the one SL baked as its “model” could have tasted any better.

This called for six apples (a combination of Granny Smith and Braeburn) and 2 cups of blueberries (the recipe said frozen could be used, but Kroger had some packages of fresh ones, so I went for fresh all the way). The apples were cooked until tender and the blackberries stirred in before they were added to the crust.

Now for the awesome crust! I’ve never blended anything into a piecrust mixture except the traditional water, butter or shortening, and flour. But this called for 1 1/2 cups shredded white Cheddar cheese to be part of the mixture. I know lots of folks love big slices of cheddar atop apples pies (I remember seeing this on pies in cafeteria lines), but I never considered actually making the cheese a part of the pie itself. How would this work?

The cheese is added after the butter is cut into the flour mixture so that it resembles small peas. After the cheese, water is drizzled onto the mixture until the dough can stick together to form a ball. Shaping the mixture into two flat disks, wrapping it in plastic wrap, and allowing it to chill (from 2 to 24 hours) is essential. By that point (I think I waited 6 hours) the dough is firm. It never stuck to the rolling pin or to the pastry board a single time during the rolling-out process. Lattice strips are cut from the second crust and woven over the top of the fruit. Again the pastry strips, cut from the chilled dough, were easy to work with and didn’t fall apart during the weaving process.

After having been brushed with a beaten egg, the crust is prone to brown speedily. The recipe directs that after 45 minutes, you cover it loosely with foil and bake a remaining 25. I had to cover mine before 45 minutes; I actually covered the edges with aluminum strips after about 10 minutes of baking because they were an over-browning disaster waiting to happen. After 75 minutes of baking the pie’s insides were bubbly; the outside, having been protected, was golden.

After Hubby and I returned from our promised birthday run both ways over the Two-Mile Bridge (over Lake Ray Hubbard), our daughter had arrived at our house to bring a balloon and birthday greetings, so we considered that to be our occasion to dig into the waiting pie. It became my birthday lunch. (I don’t suggest having pie for lunch every day, but on one’s birthday, living a little is surely sanctioned!) Absolutely stunning! The fruit combo of apples and blackberries and the from-scratch cheesy crust was a once-in-a-lifetime treat. On a birthday, Thanksgiving, or anytime table, Blackberry-Apple Pie is a memorable winner.

Blackberry-Apple Pie

3 pounds Granny Smith apples
3 pounds Braeburn apples
1 1/2 cups sugar (or sugar substitute)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1 (12-ounce) package frozen blackberries (I used 2 cups fresh blackberries)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Peel apples and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges; toss with sugar and 1/2 cup flour. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add apple mixture and sauté 15 to 20 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove from heat. Cool completely (about 1 hour). Toss blackberries with 1 tablespoon flour and stir into apple mixture. Use immediately.

White Cheddar-Cheese Crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups (6-ounces) shredded white Cheddar cheese
1/2 to 3/4 cup ice water
1 large egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute), lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon sparkling sugar

In a large bowl stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles small peas. Stir in cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup ice water over flour mixture. Stir with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened and dough is crumbly but forms a ball when pressed together. Add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary, up to 1/4 cup. Divide dough in half. Place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Shape each dough half into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap; chill 2 to 24 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface; sprinkle dough lightly with flour. Roll dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. Starting at 1 edge of dough, wrap dough around rolling pin. Place rolling pin over a 9-inch pie plate; unroll dough over pie plate. Press dough into pie plate; trim off excess crust along edges. Spoon Blackberry-Apple Pie Filling into crust. Mound filling slightly in center. Roll remaining dough disk to about 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough into 9 (1-inch-wide) strips. Arrange strips in a lattice design over filing; gently press ends of strips into bottom crust; crimp edge of crust. Brush lattice with egg; sprinkle with sugar. Place on baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees on lower-oven rack 45 to 50 minutes. Cover loosely with foil to prevent excess browning. Bake 25 more minutes or until juices are thick and bubbly. Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

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