Golden Beets and Walnuts Tart

I have come to love beets. I even willingly drank a beet beer once. But the abundance of beets that inevitably comes from our CSA fills me with panic and dread as I try to figure out what I can do with them that my kids will actually eat.

I’ve tried making beet chips, which the younger kid seemed to like, but the older kid rejected because it still tasted too much like well, beets. I then put them in smoothies which the older kid liked but the younger kid rejected probably because it tastes too healthy. And although I think these were a success, I’m not feeding my kids cupcakes each week.

When last week’s share brought us our first bunch of golden beets, I hit the Internet up for some inspiration, searching for beet recipes my kids will eat. Among my search results was this beet, walnut, and chèvre tart. I figured at the very least, they might eat the crust without complaining and we’d call it good.

I adapted this tart in a few ways. It starts with swapping in some whole wheat flour in the crust, which you could say is to make it healthier but really, I thought the nuttiness of the whole wheat would complement the walnuts more. Next, I roasted the beets instead of steaming them, adding some flavor by throwing in some thyme sprigs. More color, as well as a healthful boost and frugal use of the beet tops was added by sautéing the chopped beet greens with the caramelized onions. Lastly, instead of chèvre, I used more kid-friendly Beecher’s Flagship cheese.

The result was gorgeous and glorious! But did my kids like it? Well, the older one picked up a beet suspiciously, asking what it was. My husband and I refused to tell her so she took a bite and gleefully declared it to be a carrot. We probably should have lived up the lie, but told her the truth. After that, her interest in the tart suddenly dropped off.
But the younger one? The one for whom it took 3.5 years before she’d willingly eat a strawberry? She begrudgingly declared it “half good,” but she also did not hesitate to eat more bites, greens and all. My husband gave me a high five on the sly. I’ll take that as highest kid praise when it comes to a hard sell like beets!

Golden Beets and Walnuts Tart

(Adapted from here. )

Tart Shell Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Tart Filling Ingredients
3 small beets, halved
Olive oil
2-3 thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Beet greens, trimmed off of stems and finely chopped
2 tablespoons dry Sherry or whatever dry wine you have on hand
3 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces Beecher’s Flagship cheese or a hard, nutty white cheese. Maybe gruyere or even a sharp white cheddar can work
1 cup chopped walnuts (Although I think pinenuts might be a nice swap.)
About 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Start by making the tart shell. In a food processor, add the flours, salt, and butter. Pulse 8-10 times, holding the button down for 2-3 seconds each pulse, until the butter is the size of small peas. With the processor running, add 4 tablespoons of ice water until the dough just comes together. Remove to a sheet of plastic wrap and clump together into a ball, drizzling more water if the mixture is too dry. Flatten the ball into a disk then wrap tightly in plastic. Chill for at least 30 mins or up to two days.

Preheat your oven to 375. Roll out dough to a 13 inch circle then carefully lay it over a 10 inch tart pan, pressing the dough up and into the sides. Cleanly cut off excess dough by rolling your rolling pin over the top and breaking off the overhanging dough. Place a large sheet of aluminum foil over the crust and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake shell on a baking sheet for 20 minutes, then remove from oven. Carefully remove the foil and set shell aside.

To make the filling, start by roasting the beets. Turn your oven to 400 degrees. Place beet halves on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and top with thyme sprigs. Wrap tightly in foil and bake for 1 hour or until tender. Unwrap beets so they can cool a little.
Heat 1 tablespoon each of unsalted butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt. Stir to coat in the butter and oil then cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 7 mins, stirring once halfway through cooking time. Remove lid and continue to cook onions until lightly caramelized, for me, that was about 15 mins more. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the chopped beet greens, then crank up the heat to medium high. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the sherry. Cook until greens are wilted, about 3-5 minutes. A lot of liquid will be in the pan. Using tongs, remove the greens and onions to a colander, squeezing out extra liquid as you do. When all of the greens and onions are in the colander, press on them with a wooden spoon to get rid of more excess liquid.
Set the oven to 350 and place the tart pan on a baking sheet.
Place the greens and onions in the bottom of the tart shell. Peel then thinly slice beats crosswise. Place them on top of the greens– you can layer them decoratively, if that floats your boat. In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs then add the 3/4 cup of cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk together until combined then pour over the beets in your tart shell. Break apart the cheese into small crumbles and scatter over your tart.
Bake tart on the baking sheet for 20 minutes then scatter walnuts on top and return to the oven, baking for another 20 minutes or until the filling is firm but still slightly quivers. Remove from oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before scattering parsley on the top and removing the tart from the outside tart shell ring.

Yields 12 slices.
CSA count: 3 (golden beets, parsley, beet greens)
Kid rating (out of two empty plates): 1 empty plate

Notes for the working parent: I made and blind baked the tart shell, roasted the beets, and cooked the greens and onions over the weekend, storing the beets and greens separately in the fridge. I then assembled and baked the tart on a weeknight, giving me lots of downtime while it was baking to shop for workout clothes online, so you know, a relaxed, post-work cooking effort.


Roasted Banana Cream Pie

A seemingly endless state legislative session, a crawling infant, and a defunct computer have all conspired against me and this blog. But now that we have a new computer, I can now happily write a post for this long neglected blog. I was about to post a piece on a tofu and noodle dish, but the temporary return of my interest and energy in blogging is for me at least, a cause for celebration and what is there in life worth celebrating unless there’s pie?

The pie here is banana cream. Although bananas are my least favorite fruit, I have a deep, dark love for banana cream pie. When I was little, my mom once bought me a banana cream pie for my birthday instead of a cake. Normally when I tell people that story, they oddly feel sorry for me but I was not a disappointed 6-year-old. Not at all. I can only guess it’s because banana aside, banana cream pie has some of my favorite things from when I was little– vanilla pudding and whipped cream. I remember always asking for vanilla pudding cups when I was a kid and as for whipped cream, well even as an adult, I could honestly sit down with a giant bowl full of it and a spoon and be deliriously happy.

So I made a banana cream pie to satisfy a craving for one. This pie, however, is not your regular banana pudding in pie form banana cream pie. This one has a thick but quick pastry cream, rich with vanilla, and is layered with a puree of roasted bananas to intensify the banana flavor. I also added layers of firm, under-ripe banana slices for texture. Finally, the whole pie is frosted with whipped cream and sprinkled with toasted almond slices for a little crunch. It’s perfect when you cut a slice and eat it with a tall glass of cold milk. I doubt anyone would feel sorry for you if you had this instead of cake for your birthday.

  • Your favorite pie crust, pre-baked. I used a half portion of the baked flaky pastry recipe from The Joy of Cooking.
  • 3 ripe, on the verge of overripe, medium bananas.
  • 2-3 under-ripe (some yellow but spots of green) bananas.
  • 1 box (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 4 cups heavy cream, separated
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, separated
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Place the ripe bananas on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until banana peels are a deep, dark brown. Let bananas cool enough to touch then using a paring knife, split the bananas lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Puree until smooth. Set aside.

Make the pastry cream by making the pudding according to package directions, only using cold heavy cream instead of milk and adding a teaspoon of vanilla. Chill until set. While pastry cream sets, slice the under-ripe bananas into 1/4 inch thick rounds.

Assemble the pie by spreading half of the roasted banana puree on the bottom of a cooled, prepared crust. Top with half of the pastry cream. Spread the remaining banana puree on top of the pastry cream and cover with a single layer of banana slices. Top with remaining pastry cream then cover with plastic wrap and set pie in the fridge to chill and set for at least an hour. Right before serving, whip the remaining 2 cups of heavy cream with an electric mixer. Let the mixer go for about a minute on medium speed before adding the sugar and remaining teaspoon of vanilla then crank the mixer up to medium high speed. Whip until you have peaks that hold their shape when you lift up the beaters, about 3-4 minutes. Spread an inch thick layer of whipped cream over the pie. If you want to get fancy, you can put some of the whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and make curls around the border of the pie. (See my sloppy attempt in the picture above, but hey! I’m a lobbyist not a pie decorator!) Set a circle of banana slices around the edge of the pie then place 2-3 slices in the center. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve.

Salmon Pie

Yep, still blogging about things I made months ago. Right now, it’s the first full week of April, and I’m getting around to documenting what we ate for Christmas dinner. But I truly believe that with the bright pink of the salmon  and the flecks of green tarragon in the crust that this is at its heart a spring time dish. As proof, I offer the following picture of the vegetables I used in my stock:

Don’t the colors and the sun light sing spring to you? What’s that? You don’t hear choruses from your food and that’s just me? Oh… how embarrassing… moving on…

I made this for dinner on Christmas Day but this was technically part of my family’s Christmas Eve dinner. My brother and his family arrived in Seattle on the evening of the 25th so our plan was to delay Christmas Day activities (present opening and swiping a Morrison family tradition, cinnamon rolls) until the morning of the 26th. My dad wanted to have roast beast for dinner but since my brother and his family are pescatarian, I volunteered to figure out an alternative main dish. This salmon pie idea seemed like a good fancy yet comforting meal to meet that need.

Unable to locate fish stock for my sauce, I opted to make my own vegetable stock instead. Since I wanted a soft anise flavor in the background of the cream sauce in the pie, I had the stems of fennel bulbs to use in my stock, along with some tomatoes, half a purple onion, carrots, celery and some dried shiitakes to boost up a meaty flavor. The stock simmering on the stove in the late afternoon was so homey on a holiday afternoon!

Let me emphasize how easily this all came together. To boost up the anise flavor in the pie, I added flecks of fresh tarragon to my pie dough that I always make quickly and easily with my handy food processor. The salmon was cooked in a hands off and flavor enhancing process by roasting it in my oven. And to save on chopping and cutting, I used a frozen vegetable mix. The one step that sounds laborious was that I was unable to find frozen pearl onions so I opted for fresh ones instead. This means having to remove their thin skins before cooking, but I have to say that this was less difficult and tons more fun than I thought. I boiled them for 10 minutes then dunked them in an ice bath. Cut off the tip of a pearl onion and then squeeze, squish and the onion pops out of its skin whole. What’s that? I’m the only one who finds squishing pearl onions to be fun? Oh… how embarrassing… moving on…

So anyway, I only swiped a bite of this pie when served so as to save as much of it for Ted and Michelle as I could, but this was really good! The crust was buttery but danced with flecks of fresh licorice from the tarragon which cut through nicely into the creamy sauce. The crunch of the vegetables and firmness of flecks of salmon  were textures that contrasted with the flaky crust. Try out this seasonally versatile pie for your next gathering!


Vegetable Stock

  • Stems and the fronds reserved from 1 large fennel bulb
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 5-6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 purple onion
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 small bunch of parsley
  • 3-4 stalks of fresh thyme
  • 6 cups water
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil


  • 1 lb salmon fillet
  • 1/2 bag of mixed frozen vegetables (I use the soup variety since it has snap peas for a little fancier touch)
  • 2 tsp olive oil plus 1 tbsp, divided
  • 8 oz pearl onions, skinned
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp butter, divided
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2.5 cups vegetable stock (see above or use store-bought)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh tarragon
  • salt and pepper

Make the crust according to recipe directions, only omit the sugar. As dough is just about to come together, add the tarragon to the food processor bowl so that it blends in. Divide dough in half and press into flat, 1 inch thick disks. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

Make the vegetable stock by heating about 1 tbsp olive oil in the bottom of a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Toss in all the vegetables and let them saute for about 10-15 minutes to develop their flavors. Add the water and herbs then bring to a light simmer, not a boil. Let simmer uncovered for 1.5 hours then strain out the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Take first disk of dough and let it sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes so that it can warm up before rolling. Roll out so it fits into a 9 or 9.5 inch pie plate. Fit into pie plate and trim edges, leaving a 1/2 inch overhang. Put pie plate back in the fridge to chill while you make the rest of the filling.

In a large roasting pan, add 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil. Place the roasting pan in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees, letting the fats heat in the pan while the oven warms up. Dry off the salmon with paper towels then sprinkle both sides liberally with salt and pepper. Place the salmon skin side down and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Flip the salmon over so it’s flesh side down and continue to roast for another 10 minutes or until the flesh is opaque lightly browned. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. When salmon is cooled to the touch, use your fingers or a fork to flake off bite sized pieces of salmon and set aside.

Take out the second pie dough disk so it can warm up for rolling while you finish preparing the filling. In a large skillet, heat 2 tsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, fennel, and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened slightly. Add the butter and once it melts, sprinkle the vegetables evenly with the flour, stirring continuously until the flour is absorbed. Let this mixture cook for about 2 minutes then add 2.5 cups of vegetable stock until the roux dissolves. Fold in the frozen vegetables, pearl onions and flaked salmon. Stir in the cream then reduce the heat to medium low, letting the sauce simmer while you roll out the top crust.

Roll out the remaining pie crust to fit your pie plate. Pour the sauce mixture into the chilled pie bottom then brush the edges of the bottom crust with the egg wash. Lay the top crust down and trim the edges to a 1/2 inch over hang. Lightly press the dough down so it seals with the bottom crust that you’ve brushed with egg wash. Crimp the crust edges with a fork. Using a paring knife, cut a few slits in the top of the pie then brush with the remaining egg wash. Sprinkle flecks of sea salt on top if you wish then set in the oven to bake, about 45-50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving in wedges.

Chocolate Hazelnut Pie

I had prepped to blog about some chicken with cream sauce dish I’d made, when I saw on my Facebook news feed that tomorrow, Jan. 23 is National Pie Day. (It’s what happens when you’re a fan of King Arthur Flour… yes, I’m a geek, but we’ve established that awhile ago.) So in honor of such an illustrious day, I put this one at the head of the posting queue even though I’ve been blogging about things I made back in September, and this delicious pie was made for Thanksgiving.

This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving at home and hosted friends and their new baby (well, the baby belongs to only two of them, but that’s probably assumed and besides the point.) Every year, I go through this internal debate about what pie to make for T Day. Apple? Pumpkin? Pecan? The internal debate gets even more complicated because I feel like pumpkin is a must have, but there’s always some idiot guest who doesn’t like pumpkin, even in delicious pie form. So despite the additional work it creates on a day of already long hours spent in the kitchen, I always make a second pie. Frankly, I could have made this, but I didn’t know of its existence until a pie plan had already been made.

I cannot tell a lie– I make a fabulous apple pie, and damn well should as I actually spent a summer perfecting that craft. (No complaints from John despite eating an apple pie each week for 3 months.) But what’s the fun of cooking if you can’t challenge yourself to something new? I love pecan pie and there’s an additional challenge to make a good one since John’s mom made such fabulous pecan pies, so in the continuing internal debate, pecan pie was edging out apple to join its pumpkin friend on our table. Only problem? Above mentioned friends do not like pecans.

I just… I just… I can’t… I… I don’t understand how you can’t like pecans?! There so buttery and delicious, the natural embodiment of heavenly toffee taste. To say you don’t like pecans is like saying you don’t like adorable puppies in my book. (Yes, I’m judgmental, but I believe we also established that awhile ago.) But to take a negative and turn it into something positive, I accepted this as my challenge. Hazelnuts were apparently acceptable as a nut, so rather than going the cream pie route, I thought I’d try making a chocolate hazelnut pie in the style of a caramely pecan one.

Success! The chocolate was gooey and vibrant with hazelnut flavor, thanks to a shot of Frangelico. It had the melty, creamy consistency of a good, freshly made ganache which paired so nicely with the buttery crunch of the toasted hazelnuts. And to make this even better? We topped it off with that pecan pie staple: bourbon spiked whipped cream. I still crave a good caramel pecan pie, something I don’t think I’ve had since my last Christmas with my mother-in-law, but now my holiday debate may be drawn and quartered as this chocolate hazelnut pie will definitely want to make a come back.

Bourbon Whipped Cream Topping

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 3 tbsp sugar

Blind bake the pastry shell: roll out the prepared dough and set it in a 9 inch pie pan. With the tines of a fork, prick the sides and bottom of the pie dough then set in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Lay a piece of foil over the pie shell and weigh it down with dried beans or pie weights– enough to cover the bottom of the pie shell and spread out to all sides. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil with your weights from the pie plate. Using the back of a spoon, press down any bubbles that may have formed in the dough. Back for an additional 5-10 minutes or until crust is golden. During this last bake, whisk together 1 egg yolk and a pinch of salt. Brush this egg wash over the bottom and sides of the dough and return to the oven for another 1-2 minutes. You can do this a day in advance as long as you reheat the pie shell so it’s hot to the touch when you get ready to pour in your pie filling.

In a an oven preheated to 375 degrees, toast the hazelnut pieces. This should take about 5-10 minutes, but watch them to make sure they don’t burn, stirring them around every now and then to ensure even toasting. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter, Frangelico and salt.

Put the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Place bowl in the microwave and set on full power for 30 seconds. Take the bowl out and stir the chips around. Continue to microwave in 10-20 second intervals, stirring the chocolate to ensure even melting and no burning. This should take maybe 3-4 more turns. When you have mostly melted chocolate and a few chips, you can stop microwaving and just keep stirring the chocolate, allowing the residual heat to do the rest of the work for you.

Mix about a quarter of the batter into the chocolate then add all of this back to the rest of the batter. Fold in the hazelnuts. Pour all of this into the hot pie shell (if you made the shell the day before you can let it heat back up by putting it in the oven while you make the filling) and bake for 35-45 minutes. It should be baked at the edges but wiggly in the center. The filling will firm up as it cools, at least 1.5 hours before serving.

When ready to serve, put the heavy cream in a mixing bowl and mix on high speed for about a minute before adding in the sugar, bourbon, and vanilla. Beat until fluffy and dollop giant spoonfuls on pieces of pie.

Ginger Asian Pear Pie

Hi, my name is Christina, and I hate ginger. Well, hate is a strong word. I just dislike its soapy flavor when in excessive amounts. I still use it when I make Asian foods or put it into my pumpkin pie. I’ve even come to love ginger snaps ( especially when paired with ice cream and caramel.) But I just hate biting into large chunks of it or when it dominates my palate. For this, John calls me, “The Worst. Asian. Ever.”

And perhaps that title is also earned to a certain degree since I hate Asian pears. I just don’t like the super grainy texture (as opposed to the slightly grainy but still soft flesh of a regular pear) and frankly, I just don’t think they have much flavor. The juice is refreshing… but for the lack of flavor, I might as well drink water.

Nonetheless, I put these two items together in homage to a delicious ginger, maple, pear pie recipe that I once made from Simply Recipes (see blog roll.) I sincerely believe that like all loves and hates in life, there are outliers– in this case, combining two ingredients that I strongly dislike resulted in something that I loved! The Asian pears were great for baking because they kept a firm texture in the pie filling. The maple syrup and brown sugar I used in the filling helped caramelize the pears and the ginger (and I used a lot here!) added a spicy zing that woke this pie up. Lastly, the streusel topping, made with slivered almonds, was crunchy and buttery, rounding off all the flavors. If you’re looking for an alternative to the pecan v. pumpkin v. apple pie debate for your Thanksgiving meal, you might consider giving this pie a shot as your new holiday dessert!


  • 1 lb Asian pears, cored and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (or less if pears are sweet)
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp chopped candied ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • lemon juice to taste

Streusel Topping:

  • 3 tbsp cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 3-6 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp minced candied ginger
  • dash of cinnamon

Roll out pie dough and set in a 9 inch pie plate. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the filling ingredients. Let sit for 15 minutes. While that’s resting, combine the streusel ingredients in a medium bowl and using your fingers, pinch together the ingredients until you get a crumbly mixture.

Pour filling into pie dough, just heap it up in there. Crumble your streusel topping so it covers the filling. Bake for 40 minutes or until the streusel is browned. Cool to room temperature before eating. I bet this would be fabulous with some sweetened creme fraiche or you can use plain whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if you want.

CSA Count: 1

Asian pears

Variations on a Pie

Pie baking, particularly making the crust, has such a bad reputation. Whenever I produce a pie for a get-together, someone always comments about how impressed they are and how difficult it must have been to make. I suppose it has to do with how temperamental crusts can be, depending on the heat and humidity of the day or perhaps people have such lofty Platonic ideals of pies in their minds, thanks to the tireless baking of a loving grandmother or mother. Me? No such psychological obstacles as the only pie I ever got from my grandmother (who incidentally baked an amazing pound cake) was cold leftover apple pie from McDonald’s. That’s not a complaint as I took it for what it was– a loving gesture to bridge the vast language and cultural divide between us. Of course, it might be easy for me to say this now after having spent an entire summer devoted to perfecting my apple pie making skills.

berriesReally, it only took 3 or 4 pies before I got the hang of making a basic pate brisee from the Joy of Cooking, and by hang of it, I mean knowing what to look for to make sure the fats are well distributed and the texture that indicates the right amount of water has been added. After that, pies became a pretty easy ground for improvising while baking and I mostly enjoy experimenting with different ideas for fillings.

Although baked about a month apart, I’m collapsing these two pies into one blog post as they are variations on this delicious peach and creme fraiche pie. Basically, you add fruit and creme fraiche, a little sugar, and a crumbly streusel topping in a par-baked pie shell. The creme fraiche mixes with the fruit juices and gets all custardy and the streusel is sweet and crunchy. It’s delicious, especially if you like your desserts not overly sweet.

marinatingberriesIn one version, I swapped out the creme fraiche for marscarpone cheese, and instead of peaches, I used plums. I also added hazelnuts and a dash of cinnamon to the streusel. I thought that the plums, marscarpone, and hazelnuts were a nice reference to Italian food for the grilled pizza party I hosted. The second variation was inspired by one of my favorite summer pie fillings: mixed berries, macerated in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. I just thought that tart-sweet, gooey sauce that develops in that pie filling would be lovely with the slightly sour creme fraiche. I also added a handful of chopped Marcona almonds to the streusel and a dash of almond extract.

Unfortunately, I was having pie crust issues on the day I made the first pie(not enough scraps to make a full crust so when I par-baked, it kept sliding down and was more a flat disk than shell) so I had to resort to, gulp, frozen dough. That crust was a bit too crunchy when baked for my liking, and the plums were overripe so there wasn’t much of a fruit flavor to that pie. The second one was marvelous, but I might be biased since I made my own creme fraiche for that pie so the effort felt extra special!


For plum version (pictured above):

  • 4-5 plums, sliced
  • 5-6 tbsp marscarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt (one for filling, one for streusel)
  • 1/4 cup cold, unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

For mixed berry version:

  • 4-5 cups mixed berries (I used raspberries and blackberries from the farmer’s market)
  • 5-6 tbsp creme fraiche
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of salt (one for filling, one for streusel)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup Marcona almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Follow directions for making pie dough (I use a food processor for quicker mixing.) After dough has rested according to directions, roll out half the dough to 14 inches in diameter and lay out over a pie plate. Trim the edges so that there is 1/2 inch overhang, roll under, and flute or crimp if you’re into that. Prick the bottom of the pie shell with a fork until it’s covered with little fork holes. Freeze for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay a piece of foil over the pie shell and weigh down with pie weights, dry beans, or uncooked rice. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375, remove the foil and weights, and bake for another 5-8 minutes or until golden brown, being sure to push down any bubbles with the back of a spoon. Let cool on a rack while you make your streusel topping and filling.

Mix together filling ingredients (everything above butter in the ingredients lists above EXCEPT the marscarpone or the creme fraiche) and let sit for 15 minutes. To make streusel, cut the cold butter into cubes and combine with rest of ingredients (everything below butter in ingredients list, plus a pinch of salt) in a small bowl. Use your fingers to smoosh together until you get a crumbly mixture. Set aside while you make the filling.

In the cooled pie shell, add the fruit filling and then dollop the marscapone or the creme fraiche on top. Crumble the streusel filling on top of that then bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. This pie tasted best when cold, so be sure to at least let it cool to room temperature before diving in or refrigerating if you can wait longer.