Friday, December 5, 2014


"A bite of the cherry" is a British idiom which means, 'a part of something good, especially when there is not enough for everyone who wants it.' 

So let's talk buttons and scraps. If you're any sort of a cook or baker, chances are you've probably been stuck with leftover ingredients you weren't quite sure what to do with; a case of 'a little of this but not enough of that' to actually make a second batch of the dish you originally purchased the ingredients for. So what do you do? Get creative. Some of the best dishes I ever came up with were happy accidents from scraps, leftovers, or odds and ends.

I bake a lot of pies so there are always dough scraps in my fridge, not to mention mini pie or tart crusts in the freezer ready to defrost and fill-- usually at some odd hour because of an unexpected sweet tooth or craving. This means with a little ingenuity I can always scrape together some sort of single-serving dessert. It's literally easy as pie. 

Fruit fillings are easiest to work with. I try to explore new flavor profiles by throwing together unexpected ingredients but most of the time it's just whatever I have on hand-- half an apple, a handful of assorted berries, a spoonful of dried fruit, not quite enough frozen peaches for a smoothie, a stray lemon, whatever. Sometimes I mix fresh ingredients with canned or jarred products to scrape together enough filling for one crust. At other times I may just have the one ingredient to work with. Where do you think make do pie came from?

Today, I had some cranberries, jarred sour cherries, and sage. 

A Bite of the Cherry Cranberry Pie
1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1/4 cup of jarred sour cherries (and 1 tablespoon juice)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons of light brown sugar
1 tablespoon arrowroot
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon zest of fresh lemon
  1. Position oven racks in the bottom and center positions, place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack, and preheat oven to 425º F.
  2. Have ready and refrigerated one pasty-lined 5-inch mini pie pan and pastry round or lattice to top.
  3. In a heatproof bowl, pour boiling water over the dried cranberries to cover about an inch. Allow them to pump while making the remaining filling.
  4. In a food processor briefly process 1/2 cup fresh cranberries to a rough chop; add them to a bowl, along with the remaining whole cranberries, chopped sage, sugar, salt, vanilla, and arrowroot. 
  5. Drain plumped dried cranberries of excess water and add to bowl. Mix all ingredients well. 
  6. Pour the filling into the chilled pie shell, arrange the pastry round or lattice on top, and crimp edges. 
  7. Brush the pastry with a milk wash, sprinkle with demerara sugar. 
  8. Place the pie on rimmed baking sheet on lowest rack of oven.
  9. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, then lower temperature to 345º F, and move pie to center oven rack and continue to bake until pastry is a deep golden brown and juices are bubbling, approximately 20 to 25 minutes longer. Allow to completely cool, 2 hours.

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