Baked Summer Ratatouille
One of the first local recipes we made for the Oregon Food Bank's Eat Local Challenge!
Hello. What day is it? I think it’s Monday. But I am not at work.
It is Day 3 of our Anniversary Long Weekend. I have absolutely loved every second of these three days. I’m pretty sure I haven’t been this relaxed all summer. And I even feel relaxed after mixing, pouring and smoothing 600 lbs. of concrete.
That’s right, we had our second step of building our backyard pizza oven today (yes, photos to come, in stages). Yesterday, Dave dug the hole, we built the frame, we poured sand and then we poured gravel. After that, you have to tamp it all down with a 4-foot instrument that basically has a flat surface at the bottom. It is basically like hammering straight into the Earth. NOT an easy task.
Today, in a couple of trips to the hardware store (as so not to overload the lil’ Toyota), we bought 8 80-lb bags of concrete, a mixing tub and a few other tools. We mixed the bags one at a time and poured them into the frame, smoothing it out when we were finished. And now we wait for it to cure.
Immediately after pouring the concrete, we went to the neighborhood Mexican place and got delicious tacos, and then we had PIE. With ice cream. And it might have been the summery weather, or the manual labor, but I’m pretty sure this pie ranks among my favorites ever:
Two days later, it’s half gone. I am not sure it will make it to Wednesday, the day we go back to work.
This recipe is from Epicurious. I did not use their crust recipe, but adapted the filling recipe.
For the crust, make two batches of my go-to pie crust recipe.
For the filling, you will need:
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
5 cups FRESH halved, pitted dark sweet cherries
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Make the pie crusts and form each batch into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for a few minutes while you make the pie filling.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Pour the sugar, cornstarch and salt into a medium bowl and use your fingers to blend well. Then add the cherries, lemon juice and vanilla.
Remove one pie crust from the fridge and roll out into a 1/8-inch thick disk. I recommend working between two sheets of well-floured plastic wrap. When you are at the correct size and thickness, remove the top sheet of plastic and place your pie dish upside down on the crust. You should have 2 inches of crust all around the upside down dish – this will ensure that your crust is deep enough. For a 9-inch pie dish, this recipe should make a little more than you need.
Slide one hand under the bottom layer of plastic, under both the crust and the pie dish, and hold the pie dish with your other hand. Flip over gently, and use the plastic to gently ease the pie crust down into the pan. Remove the plastic when ready and trim the edges to about 1/2 inch on the top edge of the pie dish.
Spoon the cherry filling into the pie dish, but leave behind the juice that has collected at the bottom of the bowl. Trust me, this pie will get plenty juicy. But don’t be afraid to pile the cherries high – shallow pies aren’t as pretty and the cherries will cook down.
To make the top crust, either make a lattice crust or roll disc #2 out and gently place it on top of the filled pie dish. Do not stretch it! Use your fingers to crimp together the edges of the top and bottom crusts, and trim anything that hangs over the edge of the dish. I like to turn them up, too. Poke a few holes in the top with a fork to let out steam, or use a cookie cutter to cut out a cute shape. But seriously, this is a summer cherry pie… The lattice crust was MADE for this.
Place the pie in the oven on a cookie sheet with a rim (otherwise you will have gross burned cherry goo in the bottom of your oven). Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then another hour at 375 (don’t take it out while the temperature goes down). I find that about halfway through, the edge starts to brown. So I fold a square of aluminum foil in half, cut a circle out of the middle, and make a cute little edge hat for the pie to keep the outside crust from getting too brown.
I know it will be difficult, but to make sure you get that perfect gel, and no ugly spillage out the side of the pie, you MUST WAIT UNTIL THE PIE IS COOL. It’s torture, but it’s a good thing. Enjoy!
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