Wild Blackberry Pie

August 31, 2010

The surprise of finding wild blackberries creeping along the edges of the woods is one of the great pleasures of these deep summer days. Even the mean wild vines, stretching out their vicious thorns to scratch you, cannot dim the pleasure. The purple juice stains your fingers for days, a trophy, a tattoo.

No other pie tastes quite like this one, and few are so forgiving. The most important point is to taste the berries and decide how much sugar to throw in. Some berries are large, moist, generous with sweetness while others are so small, tight and circumspect that only heat can make them sweet. Taste the berries, and then add anywhere from half a cup to a whole one for 4 to 5 cups of berries.

You can thicken this pie with anything you like; I’ve used cornstarch, instant tapioca or flour. Choose one, and use about 3 tablespoons. You can add cinnamon if you like, but I think these berries deserve to stand on their own.

Stir the sugar and the thickener into the berries, squeeze in some lemon juice and mix gently. Toss the berries into a pie crust, dot the top with butter, cover with a top crust and cut some vents. Put the pie on the bottom rack of a very hot oven (425 or so) for about 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 and bake until fragrant and golden, about 45 minutes more.


Warm Peach Cobbler

August 28, 2010

This is summer, served warm on a plate. Just peeling the peaches, uncovering that color just beneath the skin, makes me happy. As does the scent of this simple cobbler as it bakes, filling the house with its golden aroma

Peel 4 large peaches, and slice them directly into a glass or ceramic pie plate, being sure to capture the juice. Squeeze half a lemon over the fruit and toss in a half cup of sugar and a tablespoon of cornstarch.

Mix a cup of flour with a teaspoon of baking powder, and a quarter teaspoon of baking soda and salt. Cut in half a stick of butter and very gently mix in a third cup of buttermilk. Plop the dough onto the fruit, shake a little sugar over the top and bake in a 400 degree oven for about half an hour.

Serve warm, with a pitcher of cream.


Fast, Easy, Satisfying: Indian Chicken

August 25, 2010

This is one of my favorite fast dinners; the most time-consuming part is pulling the skin off the chicken legs, and you can do that in about a minute. The yogurt tenderizes the meat, making it incredibly silky, and the spices penetrate it, making it sing with flavor. The high-heat of the oven gives it a few charred spots, which makes the chicken even tastier.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Pull the skin off 6 whole chicken legs (or a dozen thighs if you prefer).

Chop up a handful of mint and another one of cilantro, and stir them into a cup of whole-milk yogurt, along with a few good dollops of bottled vindaloo paste and some salt and pepper. If you like your food really hot, shake in some ground chile flakes too. Slather the chicken all over with this mixture, put it onto a foil-lined baking pan and roast for about half an hour.

Wonderful finger food – and terrific cold the next day.