It already seems like a lifetime ago - the road trip, the winning, the motels and farmlands. The pie has stuck with us. Both in the form of larger bellies and butts as well as inspiration. I made a Strawn's Strawberry pie yesterday, and was surprised to see people's jaws hitting the floor - no one on the West Coast DOES a pie like this - in the heart of strawberry country we still cover our berries in red dyed goop and top them with cool whip. That just wouldn't stand in Louisiana... Here in Los Angeles they were in awe of such a simple treatment of something already perfect (why f with a perfect California berry?).
There was that Blueberry Crumble with cold cream in Greensboro - our favoritest place on the trip. Greensboro will be haunting my dreams and days for years I presume. I guarantee a few visits back to that quiet, beautiful and hopeful main street. Buy an antebellum home for $20 grand? Yes please. Renovate with found barn wood? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
As soon as I got back in the kitchen in Los Angeles, I channeled Greensboro/Pie Lab/Pam Dorr into a quick blueberry crostata for Gjelina. I called upon our pie lunch in Texas for a pecan crumble topping. Greensboro style again, I drowned it table side in cold Strauss Cream. At the Pre-Shift that night, eyes widened as the cold cream streamed over the warm slice of blueberries and crumble - in the land of low fat and sauce on the side this southern presentation could cause a freak out. I'm sure butterflies flew up into their stomachs imagining the indulgence to come.
It seems like we came home in the middle of road trip season - every magazine I subscribe to landed on my doorstep while I was away advertising "Country's Best Road Eats" or "Chefs on the Road." So we probably missed our chance to get published in a magazine this year... but we will finish our little movie and maybe write a book proposal and see where this trip continues to take us.
Yes, you can have the recipe for the Blueberry Crumble Crostata.
Blueberry Pecan Streusel Crostata with Cold Cream
14 oz of your favorite pie dough (see Nicole’s pie dough recipe below)
3 pints blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
pinch of fine sea salt
zest and juice of one medium lemon
1/2 cup heavy cream (reserve for serving)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup pecans – toasted
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons cold butter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Roll a 14oz portion of dough into an 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
For the filling:
Toss the blueberries with the sugar, flour, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Squeeze one large handfull of the berries to break them up – I like to do this to create more sauce and yield a shinier filling. Place the mixed fruit on the dough circle, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border.
For the Streusel:
Combine the flour, the brown sugar, and the salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and toasted pecans and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Pour into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts to hold together. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Gently fold the border of the pastry over the fruit, pleating it to make an edge.
Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the fruit is tender and bubbling. Let the crostata cool for 5 minutes, then use 2 large spatulas to transfer it to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. After you slice it and plate it, pour a few tablespoons of the heavy cream over the plated crostata.
Gjelina’s Pie Crust (developed by Nicole Mournian)
I always weigh my ingredients, something I learned from two great pastry chefs (Gina Bledsoe in San Diego and Chef Miho Travi in Los Angeles) who I worked for early on. It’s essential for accuracy in a recipe.
400g cold unsalted butter (I prefer Strauss European Style)
665g all purpose flour (King Arthur is my choice)
5g fine sea salt
5 oz cold water
100g granulated sugar
1/2 oz white vinegar
First make sure everything is cold. Mix the water, vinegar and sugar into a syrup and chill. Then, pulse the flour, salt and butter in a food processor until it is the size of medium peas. Dump this fatty flour out on a work surface, and gather it into a pile. Pour in half of the sugar syrup, and start mixing it all together gently, this is messy work. Squeeze the dough together and lightly rub the butter peas into the flour. Use the palm of your hand and press against the table gently and smear/rub the dough together. Sprinkle on more of the syrup, keep squeezing and rubbing. Try to work quickly so that the butter does not melt. This is the key to flakiness. When the dough comes together in a shaggy ball, I wrap the whole thing in plastic and let it chill in the fridge for an hour. This relaxes the gluten and brings the dough together. After that hour, I portion the dough into 14oz balls and roll them out. Usually very thick, depending on the pie… Roughly an 1/4 of an inch. Lay the dough into your desired pie plate and chill it for half an hour while you mix your filling.