Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Swoon Worthy

It’s summer in Vermont, which means we are eating all manner of locally grown fruit.  We start with strawberries and move to rhubarb.  Then come the black currants, red currants, and the magnificent Gooseberry.  This marvelous berry has a very short, and often fickle, season--three weeks at most. 

Although the Gooseberry has a long and illustrious culinary history in Europe, it tends to be less well known here in the States.  As the Gooseberry is hardy and tolerates cold climates very well, it has a long history in Vermont.  Green and pink varieties are the ones most often grown here.

The Gooseberry resembles a large green or red grape, the skin is most often smooth, and the plant itself has rather long spiky thorns.  (Pickers beware!)  Although tart when raw, the fruit when combined with sugar and cooked has a delicate slightly floral flavor that is swoon-worthy. 

If you happen to be fortunate enough to score some Gooseberries (they will be dearly priced) snatch them up and indulge in the great treat of Gooseberry Pie.  

 Notes for this pie:  We prefer our pies on the tart side.  If you tend to enjoy a sweeter pie, increase sugar to 1-1/2 cups.  Or, keep sugar the same and serve the pie with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream.

Gooseberry Pie

10 c. (approx. 2 quarts) Gooseberries, rinsed and drained
1 c. sugar
¼ c. granulated tapioca (a.k.a. instant tapioca)
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp. milk

Make pie crust and chill.  While crust is chilling, stem and tail gooseberries.  Place stemmed and tailed Gooseberries in a large bowl.  Add the sugar and tapioca, and a good grating of fresh nutmeg (10 or 12 scrapes) mix to combine and evenly coat berries.  Set aside. 

Preheat oven to 425.  Select a 9 or 10 inch deep dish pie plate or 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet and have handy.  Remove pie crust from refrigerator.  Cut into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other.  Roll out the larger piece and place in the bottom of your pie plate.  Triim evenly to about ½ inch from edge of pie plate.  Scrape in the fruit.  Break the butter into two or three pieces and place on top of the Gooseberries.  Roll out the smaller piece of pie crust.  Fold into quarters.  Select a sharp knife and carefully cut vents.  Place and center on top of the Gooseberries.  Gently unfold the crust.  Trim top crust to hang slightly longer than bottom crust.  Fold the overhanging top crust under the bottom crust and crimp to seal.  Put the egg yolk in a small bowl, add the water, and beat with a fork to combine.  Brush evenly over the surface of the pie crust using a small brush.

Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 and bake for 40 minutes or until filling is bubbling up through the center vents and crust is a deep golden brown.  If the crust becomes too brown, lightly place a piece of tented aluminum foil over it.  When pie is baked, remove to wire rack to cool. 

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