A pie for the summer holidays

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It’s hard to believe that we are in our second pandemic summer. The good news is that the country is slowly opening up and Canadians are turning to beloved routines like getting out for the fresh air to visit local farmers’ markets and country stores.

This is where you’ll proudly see the nation’s bounty – fresh Canadian strawberries, for example, and rhubarb stalks, fiddleheads as well as strips of healthy greens. Goodness comes our way with seasonal favorites such as wild blueberries, peaches and pears, and much more.

With that in mind, summer pies come to mind for a variety of reasons – they’re everywhere, teeming with the rich topping of local dishes and the creativity of the person who made them.

They come in all shapes and sizes – Saveur.com currently features beautiful hand-made pies where the star ingredient includes fresh cherries. And Canadian cherries are coming to us!

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My condo is full of creative cooks and bakers, and one of those neighbors is a lovely young man named Victor Azoulas, a career chartered accountant – who also happens to be an amazing baker. (I met Victor as he was walking his new puppy, Flavia, last Christmas, and we ended up talking about food and recipes, and sometimes swapping dishes for the fun of it).

When Victor once asked me if I would like to try his pie, I said – absolutely! I was blown away by how delicious it was. Over the months, Victor has created more as well, including a fresh peach pie, a ricotta torte, and an amazing strawberry rhubarb pie. Victor’s pie crust is one of the best I have ever tasted, light and buttery.

I finally asked for his recipe, and he happily shared.

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Strawberry rhubarb pie from Victor Azuolas

Victor uses Martha Stewart’s “pate-breeze” pie crust for her fabulous strawberry rhubarb pie. According to marthastewart.com, “The pâté breeze is the French version of the classic tart or pie crust. “

This recipe is sufficient for a nine inch double crust pie or a 10 1/2 by 15 1/4 inch single crust pie.

Pastry

2-1 / 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1-1 / 2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tbsp. sugar

2 sticks (1/2 lb) cold unsalted butter (not frozen), cut into small pieces

7 to 8 tbsp. ice water

1 egg white, beaten with a teaspoon of water

Sugar

Pastry : In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Add the butter in pieces and mix until the mixture resembles coarse flour, 8 to 10 seconds. With the machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to over process. To test, squeeze a small amount together: if it’s crumbly, add a little more ice water, about 1-2 tbsp.

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Divide the dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Place in the refrigerator and refrigerate for about 1 hour. (The dough can be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.)

Take the discs out of the refrigerator and let warm for five minutes before removing them from the plastic wrap. On a floured surface, lay out a disc (you will see chunks of butter in the dough – this makes for a crumbly crust.) Roll out 1/8 inch. Gently fold into a pie plate, being careful of any tears. Cut and prime the edges. Place in the refrigerator until use. The second disc is for the lattice trim.

Pie filling:

4 cups of strawberries, sliced

4 cups rhubarb (fresh or frozen, cut into 1-inch pieces)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 C. each vanilla and cinnamon

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1 C. each lemon zest and lemon juice

2 tbsp. (15 mL) all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. butter, cubed

Pie filling: In a large bowl, thoroughly combine all the ingredients except the butter. Pour filling into refrigerated pie shell. Sprinkle pieces of butter all around. Roll out the second disc and, using a rolling pin, cut even strips of dough to cross over the pie filling. Brush all around with gilding. Sprinkle coarse granulated sugar over the crust.

Place in preheated 425 ° F oven for 15 minutes, lowering heat to 350 ° F for an additional 45 to 50 minutes, or until filling begins to bubble a little. If the crust cooks too quickly, cover the edges with foil. Remove and let cool, serve plain or with a spoonful of fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Cherry Pie
Cherry Pie Photo provided /Foodland Ontario

Cherry Pie

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A gorgeous recipe, courtesy of Motherland Ontario (foodlandontario.ca)

Pie crust (See Victor Azoulas’ recipe for two 10 1/2 by 15 1/4 inch tarts.)

Filling

1-1 / 4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

7 cups (1.75 L) chilled tart red cherries, drained (in fruit or frozen food section)

2 tbsp. cherry juice

2 tbsp. milk

2 tbsp. Granulated sugar

Let the cold dough rest for 10 minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile, line a 15×10-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 17 x 12 inch rectangle. Place in prepared pan, pressing in corners and sides. Roll out the rest of the dough to the same size and cut 3/4 inch strips lengthwise for the mesh top.

Filling: In a large bowl, combine 1-1 / 4 cups of the sugar and the cornstarch. Stir in cherries and juice; mix well. Pour over the bottom crust. Place the trellis strips diagonally over the cherries, about 1/2 inch apart to cover the top. Lay the remaining strips diagonally in the other direction, on the first strips. Pinch the ends of the strips to secure them to the edges of the dough, press the edges into the inner edge of the mold. Brush the network with milk; sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Bake in lower third of 375 ° F oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until crust is golden and topping is bubbling. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Cut into squares. For 12.

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