Strawberry Hand Pies

IMG_3955Speaking of summer, another one of my loves for the summer is berries – strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc. They are so versatile and can be used in countless ways – salads, sauces, cocktails, crumbles, gallettes, etc.

One thing I like to make, which is a cousin to my empanada obsession, is hand pies. I find strawberries fall apart too much when you prepare them as a filling, making a really slopping and unattractive traditional pie. But for a hand pie, they are a great consistency.


I was at the grocery store yesterday and found a good deal on strawberries. I often freeze and reserve for smoothies, but I decided to go the sweet route. I also had some Dancing Deer Flaky Pie Crust mix, and as always, some butter in my freezer, so I was good to go.

Preparation is really easy, especially using a pie crust mix. You can go an extra step with laziness by using refrigerated pie crust or frozen puff pastry for turnovers. I do not suggest cheating on the strawberries – keep them fresh.

STRAWBERRY HAND PIES
Makes 8 Pies
1/2 package Dancing Deer Flaky Pie Crust Mix (7.2 ounces)
1 stick Butter, cold
2 ounces water

2 cups fresh Strawberries, cleaned and halved or quartered
1/4 cup Sugar or Maple Syrup
2 tablespoons Corn Starch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

Extra Butter or Coconut Oil

  1. Prepare pie crust according to package directions. Roll into a large, thick disc and cut into 8 equal pieces. Refrigerate until ready to prepare pies.
  2. In a heavy bottomed nonstick pan, add the strawberries and sugar. Boil until some of the liquid is reduced. Add the corn starch mixture and cook until well incorporated and mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat and allow too cool. If filling is too hot, it will melt the butter in the pie crust and the crust will fall apart, or you will have soggy pies.
  3. When ready to assemble, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Roll dough out, one piece at a time, to about 1/4 inch thick. Add about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center and fold the hand pie over, sealing the edges by hand. Too much filling will spill out. Score the top of the pie to allow ventilation during baking.
  5. Line a cookie or baking sheet with parchment paper. Line the pies on the sheet, about 1 -2 inches apart. Baste the top of each pie with a bit of butter or coconut oil. Bake for 25 minutes or until crust starts to turn a light golden brown.
  6. Serve warm with ice cream, whippped cream, or all alone 🙂


  

    
    
  

Summer Corn Chowder

IMG_3955

My years of living in New England made me a chowda lover. In addition to the regional cuisine, I had a roommate who was obsessed with the dish, especially corn chowder.

Now that summer is here I am taking advantage of all the fresh beautiful produce out there. This afternoon I picked up corn, potatoes, and bacon for the soul purpose of transforming them to soup.


I also love any reason to use my Staub coquette.


The soup is really easy to prepare once all the chopping is complete.

SUMMER CORN CHOWDER
5 ears fresh Corn
3 Potatoes
1 sweet Onion
5 strips Bacon
1/4 cup Flour
1/2 stick Butter
2 Tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
2 quarts Chicken Stock
1 cup Greek Yogurt
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Cheese and Scallions to garnish, optional

  1. Prep the corn, potatoes, and onions. Strip the corn from the cob, using either a knife or corn stripper. Dice the onion to a medium chop, and peel and cube the potatoes into one inch pieces.
  2. In a heavy bottom pan, render the bacon. Once browned, remove the strips, leaving the grease.
  3. Sauté the onions until soft and starting to brown. Add corn, flour, and butter. Cook, stirring constantly, about two more minutes until ingredients are well incorporated.
  4. Add chicken stock and potatoes. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer about 25 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.
  5. Ladel out about 2-3 cups of soup, process in a blender until smooth and creamy. Mix in to the rest of the soup.
  6. Chop the bacon and add to the soup. Adjust seasoning to taste preference. Serve with cheese, scallions, and fresh ground pepper, if desired.


  
  

Sangria is Summer

Ah, Sangria. For me, it is the perfect summer beverage. Chilled wine, fresh fruit, a hint of sweetness…

My love affair with the beverage began when I was in college. I was first introduced to it in San Francisco by my sister, who was living there at the time. She and her then boyfriend snuck me into a bar they loved as I was only 20 years old. The first glass I was not getting what was so great about sangria. Granted, you need to keep in mind I was 20 and Malibu Bay Breezes and Buttery Nipple shots ruled my underage world. By the second glass I was hooked, and by the end of the pitcher as I nibbled on all the punch infused fruit, I was very, very drunk. I have to say, though, years later the first glass always goes down a little rough and then sangria is my BFF.

As I continued my college career, which included culinary school and a bartender’s license, I started experimenting with making sangria. My college best friend Susan and I discovered this awesome mix at Le Gourmet Chef which had a location at Providence Place Mall. The mix looked like this: It was such a simple recipe – wine, water, the mix, and brandy. Since it was the late 90s/early 2000s, we of course thought we were so clever and went with what all the rappers drank, Courvoisier. We were hooked. Nearly every time we hit up the mall we bought them out of the mix. Over time, the store stopped carrying it and we were devastated, so we had to start replicating our own recipes.

I have been complimented on my sangria quite a bit, and it’s time to share it with you all. I wish I could brag and make it out like I’m sharing this amazing trade secret, but I am almost embarrassed by how easy this is to make. The most time consuming part is chopping up fresh fruit.

ANNA’S SANGRIA

  • 4 bottles (750 ml) red wine – preferably a mix of sweet and dry
  • 1 pint-size bottle brandy – these days I keep it low brow with E&J VS
  • 2 cans seltzer
  • 2 cans ginger ale or sprite
  • assorted fresh fruit – I prefer a mix of citrus and tart apples, fruits that can hold up to a lot of alcohol.

Cut up fruit into chunk size pieces (about 1.5 inches), set aside. Mix all the liquids in a large container – preferably 2-3 gallons, leaving room for the fruit. Add fruit, chill overnight. When ready to serve, add a bit of ice and make sure each glass has plenty of fruit. Enjoy!

If you don’t have a large container, you can divide up the liquid into smaller pitchers for serving. It’s best to leave the fruit in overnight because it allows more flavors to develop, but if traveling to a party you can store the liquids in one container and fruit in another.

The liquids – a mix of dry and sweet red wines, ginger ale, seltzer…

Assorted fruits – ruby red grapefruit, navel oranges, lemons, limes, pink lady apples, granny smith apples

Fruit in chunks

Party-ready Sangria