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by Sarah Steimer

The inspiration for this pie came from a dessert at Owen & Engine here in Chicago. On the restaurant’s menu right now is a blueberry pie with a cheddar crust, caramel popcorn cobbler and sweet corn ice cream.

For the crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Combine the flour, sugar and salt. In a food processor, combine the flour mixture with the butter and pulse until pea-sized pieces appear. Pulse in cheddar cheese. With the food processor running, add the water and mix just until the crust comes together.

Remove the dough from the machine and form into a block-like shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to two days.

Once the crust has chilled properly, cut it in half and roll out one half on a lightly floured surface, making it wide enough to overlap the lip of your pie dish by about 1 inch or so. Place the crust in the pie dish and refrigerate. Roll the second half out on a piece of parchment paper, again slightly larger than the dish itself. Refrigerate this half as well, allowing it to remain flat on the parchment paper in the fridge until firm, about 20 minutes.

For the filling

  • 8 cups (about 4 pints) blueberries, picked over
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 egg

Place the blueberries in a large bowl and crush about 1/2 cup’s worth with your hands. Add sugar, butter, cornstarch, flour and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Pour the berry mixture into the prepared pie dish once the crust has set. Allow the berries to mound slightly higher in the center of the dish.

Top the pie with the other half of the crust that has been rolled out, tucking the edges underneath and crimping if desired. Using a sharp knife, cut slits in the crust for steam to escape.

My mom told me my grandfather used to eat apple pie with a slice of cheese, and the idea never appealed to me until more recently. Apple pie and cheese is, however, much more common than blueberry with cheese, so I may use this crust recipe with an apple pie in the fall.

Whisk the egg with 1-2 teaspoons of water and brush the top of the pie crust with the egg mixture, making sure it does not pool. Refrigerate the pie for an additional 30 minutes.

Place the pie on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees in the lower third of the oven. After 20 minutes, once the crust has begun to golden, lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 40-50 minutes, or until the berry juices begin to bubble and thicken and the crust is golden brown. NOTE: Always check the edges of your crust. If they begin to brown quickly, cover the edges with aluminium foil.

If not eating the pie immediately, cover and refrigerate.

Makes one 9- or 10-inch pie.

Crust recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart

Pie recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart

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by Sarah Steimer

This pie turned out very well – but I’ll admit that it wasn’t without some angry struggling. I’ve made this pate brisee crust a million times but was having a lot of trouble keeping it together in my too-hot apartment. If you think you may have the same problem, maybe consider a store-bought crust.

  • pate brisee crust (recipe)
  • 2 cups rhubarb, sliced 1/2-inch thick on a diagonal
  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

For the crumble topping:

  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, corn starch and spices to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally and allow the mixture to cook down to a jelly-like consistency; about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

I took this to a Memorial Day party and it disappeared pretty quickly. That’s either a good review or a party full of extremely polite people.

Combine the crumble topping either in a food processor, pulsing a few times until coarse, or by mixing with your hands until coarse crumbs appear.

Place the crust in a pie dish and fill with the strawberry-rhubarb mixture. Trim the sides of the crust if necessary. Top with the crumble topping, being sure not to cover the sides of the crust so you can see it brown properly. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Recipe adapted from: Eats Well With Others

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by Sarah Steimer

Don't make this if you're very, very hungry - like we did. Not that it won't fill you up, it will. It just takes a little longer to prepare than you would expect and the fantastic smells will kill you.

  • 4 flour tortillas*
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 ounces beer (this is the average bottle size – choose a milder beer like an amber ale or lager)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers (or another vegetable of  your choice, or just more corn)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces shredded cheese – we went with Monterey Jack

    Neither corn nor peppers are in season where I live - BUT this was the perfect time to whip out the veggies I blanched and froze at the end of last summer!

Spray a springform pan with oil, or apply oil with a paper towel. Place one tortilla in the bottom of the pan, trimming the edges if necessary.

In a pan with oil, add the onions, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until onions have softened.

Add the beans and the beer, bringing the liquid to a rolling boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow the liquid to almost completely evaporate. The recipe said this should take 8-12 minutes but I think that was a complete lie. It felt more like 15-20 or so. But we were also wildly hungry so it may not have taken that long.

Add the peppers, corn and scallions until heated through. Remove from the heat.

Layer about 1/2 cup or so of the mixture onto the tortilla in the pan, followed by a handful of cheese and top with another tortilla. Repeat and finish with the last tortilla on top, sprinkling some extra cheese on this.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts and starts to brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.

Makes about four servings.

*I don’t have a springform pan and, instead, used an 8-inch cake round and smaller tortillas. Because the sides of my pan were not very high, we were only able to layer four tortillas and had about two cups of the black bean mixture left.

Recipe adapted from: Elly Says Opa!

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by Sarah Steimer

Bennison's is literally a 5 minute walk from where I work, so I had to learn to ignore the bakery smells at peak "I deserve something really great because I just finished work" moments. It's been tough, but most of the time my exhaustion somehow beat out my sweet tooth.

I visited: Bennison’s Bakery, an award-winning bakery that offers everything from doughnuts with a strip of bacon on top to painstakingly delicate petit fours and everything in between.

I really like the old-school appeal of the vertical sign and corner entrance. It looks so inviting in the evening all lit up when you see it from the train.

I tried: A miniature (maybe 5-6 inch?) chocolate cream pie edged in whipped topping and chocolate sprinkles. This size isn’t a regular menu item, but was made specially for Pi Day on March 14. The bakery normally carries this pie in its full-size form (my guess is about 9-inches).

Why it stood out: Well, because it was Pi Day and it seemed silly to go without. Bennison’s was one of a handful of bakeries throughout Chicago that offered special Pi Day deals, so I popped in on my way home. I’ve had Bennison’s cookies and a few doughnuts before, but this pie really stood out. They were also offering cherry, banana creme and a few other flavors for Pi Day, but I nabbed a fresh chocolate creme because I knew it was a flavor both Bill and I would enjoy. We loved it – it was rich without being overbearing. The crust was perfect and the chocolate creme itself was set somewhere between an expensive, decadent dessert and your mom’s chocolate pudding pie.

It cost: $3.14 – because it was Pi Day! (Plus tax.) But as I said before, this is not a size they normally carry.

Find out more: Bennison’s Bakery is located at 1000 Davis Street in Evanston, Ill. http://www.bennisonscakes.com/

*$6 Snacks is a recurring feature that reviews an area eatery’s snack — for $6 or less. Look at a map of the places we’ve tried.

Bennison's Bakery on Urbanspoon

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by Sarah Steimer

I definitely talked this pie up to my family, so let's all hope I don't ruin it for Thanksgiving. Trying to maintain the "best daughter" image I've created.

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree,* or canned
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 egg for glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • pate brisee pie dough (recipe here)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream (can use the rest of the carton for whipped topping – just add a little cinnamon!)

*For the pumpkin puree

Use a pie pumpkin – such as a sugar pumpkin or long pie pumpkin – that is about 1 1/2 pounds. Do not use just any pumpkin, as some are stringier than others.

Using a sharp knife, pierce the skin of the pumpkin, going all the way through. Place in a glass baking dish and fill with about 1 inch of water.

Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour, or until a butter knife can be easily inserted into the pumpkin.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Slice in half and remove the seeds. Scoop out the flesh and puree in a blender or food processor. Make sure there are no stringy bits and the puree is the same consistency throughout. Keep refrigerated.

Using my excess dough, I cut out leaf shapes with a cookie cutter. I brushed the leaves with the same egg wash used on the crust, sprinkled them with a little cinnamon and baked them on a cookie sheet for about 10 or so minutes.

For the pie

In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin puree and 3 eggs. Beat well. Add evaporated milk and combine.

Once your pate brisee has set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours (hope you followed directions), roll it out into a 12-inch circle or so. The crust should be about 1/8 of an inch thick. Place the crust in a 9-inch glass pie dish and cut off the excess edges, leaving about 1/2-inch overhang. Pinch edges to form a decorative edge, if you so please.

Beat the remaining egg together with the tablespoon of cream and brush the crust, being sure to get into all the nooks. Fill with the pie mixture.

Place the pie on a baking sheet in the oven (not sure why, but I was afraid to find out). Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes more. When I switched the heat, I took the pie out to let the oven lower its temperature and put foil over the crust edges – because you can never be too safe.

When the pie is done, the very center should still be a bit wiggly. Let cool on a wire rack for at least an hour.

Serve with whipped cream.

Recipe: Martha Stewart

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by Sarah Steimer

Did I sing "She's My Cherry Pie" in my head the whole time I made this? No...

  • galette
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted and halved cherries
  • 5 apricots, sliced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • handful of slivered almonds
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Toss the fruit with the brown sugar in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

Roll galette dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 15-inch circle (does not have to be perfect). Place on a baking sheet.

I'm not usually an apricot fan, but I much prefer them cooked I now know.

Layer the fruit in the dough, leaving about 2-3 inches around the edge. Top with slivered almonds. Fold the dough in those 2-3 inches. Brush the crust with the egg and sprinkle granulated sugar lightly over top. Bake at 400 degrees for about 55 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

Serves about six.

Recipe: Sarah Steimer

Photos: Sarah Steimer

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by Caitlin Saniga

This melty-good pie almost didn't make it through the front-porch photo shoot.

For crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups crushed (almost powdered) lemon wafer cookies (The vanilla wafer cookies work, too, I suppose.)
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter

For filling:

  • 1 pint mango sorbet
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream

Use a food processor to crush the cookies. If you don't have one, put the cookies in a heavy-duty zip-top bag, and use a rolling pin to crush the cookies.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, use a rounded spatula to combine the cookie crumbs and butter. Pour the mixture into a pie pan and flatten it with your fingers to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 6 to 8 minutes, just enough so that it firms. Place the pan on a potholder and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Microwave the mango sorbet for 15 seconds. Use a spatula to spread the sorbet over the bottom of the pie crust. Freeze pie for 30 minutes.

Microwave the vanilla ice cream for 15 seconds. Use a spatula to spread the ice cream over the sorbet, being careful not to mix the two layers. Freeze pie for 30 minutes.

Run a flat-edge knife or pie cutter under hot water and cut the pie into slices. Serve immediately.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe: Caitlin Saniga

Photos: Caitlin Saniga

*Throughout June, “Freeze These” will feature our favorite frozen dessert recipes — all of which can be found here.

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