Category Archives: Food

Blackberry Pie

When one of my DNA matches and I got to talking about family, she happened to mention that her grandma, Catherine Blubaugh (my 2nd cousin)   made such great blackberry pie that she won her husband, William Goode, that way.  I asked the DNA buddy if she could find a recipe, and she is trying to find it.  But when I saw big luscious blackberries in the market, I knew I couldn’t wait.

Blackberry pie close up

Blackberry pie, close up.

There’s still a chance she’ll come up with the recipe and we can compare it to this one.  I do know that great grandma used lard in the pie crust, and I didn’t–but she also made a chocolate cake, so maybe we’ll get that recipe.

Of course, it was more fun in grandma’s day because you would have that expedition into the countryside where you filled a bucket with blueberries, getting scratched in the process, eating berries as you went, and getting berry stains all over you.  However, there are many other benefits to eating blackberries.

Catherine Blubaugh

Catherine Blubaugh (Goode)

Seeing Catherine Blubaugh’s picture, I suspect it was more than just a pie that won her husband!

Like all my pies, this one starts with the Perfect Pie Crust.  If you haven’t tried this fool-proof recipe that calls for a bit of vinegar, maybe it is time.  As for me, I thought it was about time that I bake a pie with a lattice crust. So I did.  It certainly is not picture perfect, but it has the advantage of looking home made.  You’d certainly never mistake this for a bakery pie, now would you?

Lattice top on pie

Before baking. Blackberry pie with lattice top

The Perfect Pie Crust dough is very forgiving, which makes it easy to handle for a lattice crust.  I cut the strips with a pizza cutter and after building up a higher than usual edge, started weaving the strips on the pie.

One other thing I want to show you is a recent acquisition.  You know how the edges of the pie tend to get too brown, because they stick up higher than the rest?  For decades, I have folded two strips of aluminum foil and awkwardly tucked them around the edges of the pie to protect it. Of course, when I pulled the rack out to check the pie, the hot aluminum foil fell off and it was a pain to try to get it back.

Recently I broke down and bought ONE MORE THING for my baking cupboard–a silicone edge protector.  How I wish I had one of these years and years ago. It is adjustable to fit all sizes of pie pans, and being silicone, will take the high heat you sometimes use to bake a pie shell.

Edge protector

Pie baked with edge protector.

Next time you see nice blackberries in the store, consider this pie. Even if you don’t need to win a husband. Not in the mood for pie? How about blackberry liqueur?

Let’s call it Blubaugh Blackberry Pie.

Blackberry Pie

Serves 6-8
Prep time 25 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 10 minutes
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Dessert

Ingredients

  • pastry for 2-crust pie
  • 4 1/2 cups blackberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Minute tapioca
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter (cut in small dice)

Directions

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
2. Roll out half of pie crust and line pie pan, forming a generous rim. Put in refrigerator
3. Mix sugar and tapioca, pour over berries along with lemon juice and mix gently. Let sit 15 minutes.
4. Put filling into pie shell and dot with butter.
5. Roll out 2nd half of pie crust into circle the size of the top of pie pan plus one inch.
6. Cut the circle of pie crust into 3/4 inch strips. Fasten one end of the strip along one half of the bottom crust. Fold back every other strip. Lay one strip perpendicular to the first strips, folding down the strips that are folded back. Fold back the strips that are now under the first perpendicular strip. Continue in this fashion to weave the top. Pinch the edges securely.
7. Brush top with egg yolk or milk and sprinkle with sugar.
8. Protect edges with aluminum foil or a silicone edge protector. Place pan on a cookie sheet to protect oven from drips. Bake at 400 degrees10 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 and bake until crust nicely browned and berries are bubbling.

Note

This recipe will work with any berries. You may have to adjust the sugar, depending on the sweetness, and be sure you have a generous amount of berries if you use a large pie pan I made this in a 9" pan.

 

Cottage Pie–or Is it Shepherd’s Pie?

Cottage pie, shepherd’s pie, pasties, pot pie.. the list is endless. Earlier, I shared a recipe for chicken pot pie. Pot pie is a mixture of vegetables and meat baked in a casserole with a pie crust topping.

While many people are looking for royalty among their ancestors, I have had to content myself with peasants and yeomen.  It is from peasants in the British Isles that we get the name Cottage Pie–a dish meant to combine a bunch of leftovers in an easy-to-make comfort food.

Our innovative great- great- great grandmothers found many ways to serve up the meat and veggies baked in a crust of some sort.  One favorite in the British isles particularly is Shepherd’s pie, which has become a catch all for casseroles topped with mashed potatoes.  However if it is not made with lamb, it is not a shepherd’s pie.  Cows don’t have shepherds.  Put beef in with the vegetables and you get COTTAGE PIE. And add bread crumbs on top of the mashed potatoes and you have Cornwall pie.

Cottage Pie or Shepherd’s Pie are great ways to use up leftovers, including leftover mashed potatoes. But if you want some Cottage Pie and don’t have leftover mashed potatoes, this recipes includes instructions for starting with raw potatoes.

As I so often do, I scanned the Internet and then came back to my old, ragged, falling apart Joy of Cooking cookbook.

As far as I can see, the only MUSTS in this recipe are mashed potatoes, some kind of meat, some kinds of vegetables, ad seasonings that include nutmeg. It is one of those recipes that is very open to interpretation.  For instance, I include cheese in the mashed potatoes. Some recipes line the entire dish with mashed potatoes.

Cottage pie without crust

Cottage pie divided in several pans for freezing, before adding the mashed potato crust.

Note: The picture you see of my several pans of cottage pie reflect the fact that I made 1 12 recipe because I wanted to freeze some small containers to give to someone who had recently come out of the hospital.  In the spirit of Cottage Pie, I used what I had on hand, which resulted in a thinner coating of both filling and mashed potatoes than I normally would have.

Also, this emphasizes the point that not only is Cottage Pie a supreme comfort food, it is easily freezable for future days when the cook needs the comfort of having a meal ready to eat with some warming up.

Cottage Pie

Serves 6
Prep time 1 hour
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Allergy Milk, Wheat
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Serve Hot
Region British
From book Joy of Cooking, 1991
The ultimate comfort food is Shepherd's Pie or Cottage Pie depending on what meat you use.

Ingredients

Potato Topping

  • 1 1/2lb potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Butter (I admit I use much more)
  • 1 cup cheese (grated)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Filling

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1-2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 celery stalk (cleaned, peeled and chopped)
  • 1lb ground beef or chopped cooked beef
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3/4 cups beef or vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Filling (Optional)

  • 1 onion (medium, chopped)

Topping

  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions

1. Put peeled, quartered potatoes in cool water in pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender.
2. Scoop out and set aside 1/2 cup of cooking water before draining potatoes.
3. Mash potatoes with fork or potato masher (preferably not mixer or blender), adding the cooking water, butter, cheese, and salt and pepper.
4. In heavy skillet, brown ground beef if not cooked. Remove from pan and pour off any excess grease.
5. Add vegetable oil and cook the chopped vegetables. Stir back in the meat . Sprinkle flour over, and stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in Stock and seasonings. Reduce to low and cook until thickened.
6. Pour into 9" pie plate or baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes on top, scoring with fork, or making peaks with the fork. Scatter bits of butter over the top.
7. Bake until the potatoes are browned and dish heated through--30 to 35 minutes.
8. If freezing, let cool slightly. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil, cool in refrigerator, then when cold transfer to freezer.

German Sausage: Mettwurst, The Controversial

I am surprised that wars have not been fought over food.  Controversies abound.  People have strong feelings and express them vociferously.

Let me get one thing clear straightaway. I loved the soft, spreadable version of Mettwurst and it will become a regular on appetizer plates and holiday buffets in my house.

Mettwurst plate

Mettwurst on crackers served with pickles and potato salad.

When I picked up a hunk of Mettwurst German sausage  at my neighborhood Dickman’s Meat and Deli, I wanted to continue my education on the many varieties of German sausage.

Mettwurst

The Mettwurst sausage that I bought.

TWO KINDS OF METTWURST

Then I turned to the website for the American sausage company, Steiglmeier, and ran into a brawl. Viewers of the site differed sharply in their ratings of the company’s Mettwurst.

It seems that there are many varieties of Mettwurst.  But unlike other sausages simply seasoned differently depending on what region they come from, Mettwurst comes in two distinct forms as well as in different flavors.  The one from northern Germany comes in a solid smoked link with a strong flavor that you must cook like bratwurst by boiling or grilling.

The  one I bought originated in southern Germany– a soft, spreadable, mild smoked sausage. The spreadable Mettwurst requires no further cooking. (That makes sense because Steiglmeier emphasizes Bavarian meats). Apparently the longer you smoke the chopped pork and beef the harder it gets.

THE CONTROVERSY

So on the Steiglmeier site, those people who had eaten spreadable Mettwurst in Germany, thought the American company did a good job. But those who had visited northern Germany, hotly demanded that Steiglmeier stop calling this sausage Mettwurst, when it did not resemble  the sausage they remembered.  (Sorry, you’ll have to take my word for it, as the company has apparently refreshed its site and removed the comments.)

The whole tempest in a sausage skin reminded me of the Indian tale about the blind men and the elephant. The man who touched only the ear of an elephant  thought the animal was flat and round, while the one who touched the trunk said it was an animal like a python–long and squirmy.

It does seem rather strange that two different sausages would have the same name. According to Wikipedia,  “The Low German word mett, meaning minced pork without bacon, is derived from the Old Saxon word meti (meaning food), and is related to the English word ‘meat’.” I don’t know about you, but knowing that the name of this sausage (wurst) –mett– means chopped pork, or meat, or food–does not really clarify much for me.

WHAT’S IT MADE OF?

The Steiglmeier sausage has both pork and beef, making it the Branschweiger variety. The essential flavoring in this sausage is garlic, and paprika plays a big role in this one as well, giving it a nice pink tint.

I have already written about my appreciation of the spreadable Braunschweiger.  And the style of Mettwurst I bought may be called Braunschweiger Mettwurst. You can find other names for varieties of this sausage on the excellent web site thespruceeeats.com  which also gives a scientific analysis of how the curing process works.

THE ENDLESS SAUSAGE SEARCH

The delicious garlicy Mettwurst  spread on crackers my be my favorite German sausage so far. However, I happened upon a blog post about sausage in Cincinnati that convinced me I have a duty to explore the German culture foods of my own state of Ohio. And that includes those link sausages that also go by the name of Mettwurst. My German ancestors mostly settled in northwestern Ohio as a child I lived either in the northwest or in Columbus, so Cincinnati foods were a world apart.  But, hey, its never too late to try another German sausage.

The German Sausage Series

Weisswurst

Gelbwurst

Krakauerwurst

Blutwurst

Berliner Leberwurst