Monthly Articles

Summer Clam Bake

1-IMG_6067Even though we don’t live near the ocean, I wish we did. I miss the sound of the waves, the smell of the salt air and the plethora of fresh sea food. I would move back in a heartbeat if I wasn’t so terrified that one day a huge earthquake will hit and the coastline will sink.  So, summer time usually means a trip to the coast to say a quick “hello” to the ocean and gorge myself at a restaurant on the Harbour Quay.

This summer, the trip will not be possible, so we are doing the next best thing and having a clambake. Without clams, since we couldn’t find any to purchase, and we baked it in a roaster oven instead of a pit in the sand. This is basically the equivalent of someone who gives a recipe 5 stars on allrecipes.com but changed the whole thing – “Yes, I loved this recipe for deep fried cod, but I made a few changes and used tilapia instead of the cod. I also chose not to deep fry it since I’m trying to be healthier and chose to wrap it in parchment paper with a slice of lemon on top. Was fantastic! Will definitely make it again.”

The history of the clambake dates back to pre-colonization when the First Nations people along the coastlines would cook their seafood in large pits dug in the sand. Hot rocks would be layered at the bottom of a pit, topped with seaweed, clams, mussels and Sebastian’s ancestors (or predecessors) depending on where you place Ariel and her mermaid family on the timeline of evolution, and topped with another layer of seaweed. 

When we think of clambakes, we also think of beer. And homemade potato chips. And pie. Cherry pie to be exact. Because we are obviously super wholesome people. Warrant kinda wholesome.

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And we did them all to perfection. Best and easiest dinner ever! Pinkie swear. 

Menu:

Decorations, aka. ambiance:

It was a lot of fun and easier than we expected. We will definitely be planning a clambake 2.0 in the near future.

And, while we’re speaking of parties, don’t forget to check out our Top 10 Most Interesting People at a Party – R. Dolly.

 

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Recipes

Best Cherry Pie

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I came across this amazing recipe while searching for a way to use some of the fresh BC Cherries that I couldn’t resist buying at the local farmer’s market. I love fresh cherries but I always buy way more than my family can possibly eat fresh. Pie crusts have also been the bane of my existence. My usual recipe can have totally random outcomes for me so I tried the recipe Old-Fashioned Flaky Pie Dough Recipe, also by Stella Parks

I chilled it for the least recommended time and it turned out flaky and delicious. However, I also made another batch and left the dough sealed tightly in the fridge for a few days. Letting it sit in the fridge for the extra time made the layers on the bottom rise even higher and still kept the bottom crust crispy and brown. It made a fantabulous Banana Cream Pie.

I can’t wait to try out more recipes from the editors of Serious Eats

 

The Best Cherry Pie (With Fresh or Frozen Fruit)

Stella Parks

seriouseats.com

“This recipe changed everything I knew about pie. Before I sorted out a truly scientific ratio of ingredients, fruit pies seemed to be a hit-or-miss proposition: some days soup, some days gloop. But, after cracking open the mechanics of starch, I can count on a flawless cherry pie every time, regardless of whether I’m using fresh or frozen fruit! It’s always crispy on the bottom, flaky on the top, and nothing but sweet-tart perfection inside.

Why It Works

  • Tapioca starch forms a light, clear gel that’s never cloudy, slimy, or gloppy.
  • A 4:1 ratio of fruit to sugar raises tapioca’s gelatinization point so the filling and crust will cook at the same rate, meaning you never have to trade a thick filling for a soggy crust!
  • Tempered-glass pie plates conduct heat quickly and evenly to the dough, producing a far crispier crust than heavy ceramic or stoneware.
  • Yield:One double-crusted 9-inch pie
  • Active time:Between 5 and 30 minutes, depending on complexity of design
  • Total time:About 5 hours
  • Rated:

Ingredients

  • For the Filling:
  • 28 ounces pitted cherries (5 heaping cups; 790g), from about 2 pounds whole fruit (6 heaping cups; 910g) (see note)
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice (2 tablespoons; 30g) from 1 small lemon
  • 7 ounces sugar (1 cup; 195g)
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
  • 1 1/2 ounces tapioca starch, such as Bob’s Red Mill (1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon; 40g)
  • Old-Fashioned Flaky Pie Dough, rolled and chilled as per the directions for a double crust
  • For the Egg Wash (optional):
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 ounce heavy cream (1 tablespoon; 15g)
  • 1/8 teaspoon (1/2g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
  • To Serve (optional):
  • Cherry Pit Whipped Cream

Directions

  1. For the Filling: Combine pitted cherries, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and tapioca starch in a large bowl, folding with a flexible spatula until well combined. Scrape into prepared pie shell and top with remaining dough, using a solid sheet, cutouts, or a lattice-top design. (Check out my tutorials here.) Trim away excess dough and refrigerate pie to ensure top crust is completely chilled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 400°F.
  2. For the Egg Wash (if using): Whisk egg, egg yolk, cream, and salt in a small bowl. Brush over chilled top crust in a thin, even layer. This will give the crust a glossy, golden sheen, but it is not necessary in any way.
  3. Place chilled pie on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden, about 1 hour, then loosely cover with tented foil. (Alternatively, an empty baking sheet can be placed on the topmost rack of the oven to serve as a shield.) Continue baking until filling is bubbling even in the very center of the pie, about 15 minutes more. If crust completely covers filling, bake until pie reaches an internal temperature of 213°F on a digital thermometer. The time can vary considerably depending on the thickness and type of pie plate, the amount of top crust, how long the pie was refrigerated, et cetera.
  4. To Serve: Cool pie until no warmer than 85°F on a digital thermometer, about 3 hours depending on the type of pie plate (at higher temperatures, filling will be runny and thin). Slice into wedges with a sharp knife, pressing firmly against bottom and sides of pie plate to ensure the under-crust is completely cut. If you like, serve with Cherry Pit Whipped Cream. Wrapped in foil, leftovers will keep up to 3 days at room temperature; warm 10 minutes in a 350°F oven to revive crust before serving.
Special Equipment

9-inch pie plate (preferably tempered-glass), pastry brush (if using egg wash), rimmed baking sheet, digital thermometer

Notes

Update: Due to disparate sourcing practices, tapioca starch manufactured in Asia may be derived from plants other than cassava, which have different gelling properties. Look for products that mention cassava by name on the packaging, such as Bob’s Red Mill. For the most flavorful pie, reach for a mix of sweet and sour cherries—a blend of fresh and frozen works just fine. Fresh cherries can be pitted (I love my OXO cherry pitter) and refrigerated up to 3 days in advance. Or, use an equal weight of frozen cherries, thawed until softened. If you like, reserve cherry pits for a batch of Cherry Pit Whipped Cream, the ultimate garnish for cherry pie.

Old-Fashioned Flaky Pie Dough

Stella Parks

seriouseats.com

This is the sort of recipe pastry chefs tend to favor, but it doesn’t require any fancy ingredients, equipment, or training. Just smash some cold butter in a bowl of flour, stir in a bit of water, roll it out, and fold it over a few times. It’s essentially a streamlined blitz, making an easy layered dough that’s supple but strong. That means it won’t slump out of shape in the oven, so it can support all types of complicated decorative techniques, but it’s wonderfully buttery, so it always turns out flaky and tender, too.

In summer months, warm pantry staples and equipment will raise the temperature of pie dough, causing the butter to melt. If it’s warmer than 73°F (23°C) in your kitchen, a few simple precautions will keep your dough happy and cool; more here.

Why It Works

  • All-purpose flour gives the dough strength to hold its shape in the oven, preserving any sort of decorative design.
  • A blitz-style ratio of flour to butter creates a dough that’s pliable but strong, making cracks and tears a thing of the past.
  • One round of folding provides eight major layers with minimal fuss.
  • Refrigerating the dough after shaping ensures it’s fully chilled and relaxed, preserving its flakes in the oven.
  • Yield:Makes 2 single- or 1 double-crusted 9-inch pie (regular or deep-dish)
  • Active time:25 minutes
  • Total time:2 1/2 hours
  • Rated:

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces all-purpose flour (1 2/3 cups; 225g), plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 ounce sugar (1 tablespoon; 15g)
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter (2 sticks; 225g), cold
  • 4 ounces cold tap water (1/2 cup; 115g)

Directions

  1. For the Dough: Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes (this size is important, as smaller pieces will melt too fast) and toss with flour mixture to break up the pieces. With your fingertips, smash each cube flat—that’s it! No rubbing or cutting. Stir in water, then knead dough against the sides of the bowl until it comes together in a shaggy ball. Dough temperature should register between 65 and 70°F (18 and 21°C); if not, refrigerate briefly before rolling and folding (see note above).
  2. Make the Layers: On a generously floured work surface, roll dough into a roughly 10- by 15-inch rectangle. Fold the 10-inch sides to the center, then close the newly formed packet like a book. Fold in half once more, bringing the short sides together to create a thick block. Divide in half with a sharp knife or bench scraper. Dough temperature should still be somewhere between 65 and 70°F (18 and 21°C); if not, refrigerate briefly before proceeding (see note above).
  3. For Single-Crusted Pies: Using as much flour as needed, roll one piece into a 14-inch circle and drape across a 9-inch pie plate; it will be super easy to lift by hand. Dust off excess flour with a pastry brush, using it to nestle dough into the very corners of the pan. With scissors or kitchen shears, trim the edge so that it overhangs by 1 1/4 inches all around. Fold overhang over itself to create a thick border that sits atop the rim of the pan. Crimp or shape crust as desired. Repeat with remaining dough. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Use as directed in your favorite recipe.
  4. For a Double-Crusted Pie: Using as much flour as needed, roll one piece into a 14-inch circle and drape across a 9-inch pie plate; it will be super easy to lift by hand. Dust off excess flour with a pastry brush, using it to nestle dough into the very corners of the pan. With scissors or kitchen shears, trim the edge so that it overhangs by 1 inch all around. For a solid top crust, roll remaining dough as before, or roll into a 9- by 15-inch rectangle for a lattice-top pie. Transfer the entire sheet, uncut, to a baking sheet or parchment-lined cutting board. (The parchment will prevent dough from absorbing any savory odors from the board.) Wrap both portions in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Use as directed in your favorite recipe.
  5. For a Blind-Baked Pie: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F (177°C). Line chilled pie shell with a large sheet of aluminum foil, pressing so it conforms to the curves of the plate (a second sheet of aluminum may be needed for full coverage). Fill to the brim with sugar, transfer to a half sheet pan, and bake until fully set and golden around the edges, 60 to 75 minutes. Fold long sides of foil toward the middle, gather short sides, and use both hands to carefully transfer sugar to a heat-safe bowl. Let sugar cool to room temperature. If needed, continue baking crust a few minutes more to brown along the bottom. A full explanation of this process can be found here.
Special Equipment

Rolling pin, 9-inch pie plate (preferably tempered glass; see note below), pastry brush

Notes

Compared to stoneware or heavy enameled ceramic, tempered-glass pie plates conduct heat quickly and evenly, so the crust bakes up light and crisp, never greasy or soft.

Update: When “room temperature” exceeds 73°F, you’ll need to take proactive steps to keep the dough temperature below 70°F; otherwise, the butter will turn sticky and soft (more information here).”

~C. Dolly~