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Skip the Valentine’s Day Hype! Just Make Cherry Pie!

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Let me say this right up front.  The Deerslayer household DOES NOT subscribe to the Hallmark-induced Valentine’s Day hype.  There is nothing romantic or sweet about flowers, candy, jewelry, cards and restaurant menus that have suddenly, inexplicably doubled in price.  Puzzling, yes.  Romantic and sweet, no! Even grocers raise the price of steaks, seafood, sparkling wines.  What the hell?  I have no doubt that St. Valentine is spinning in his grave over this travesty.

To honor St. Valentine and the spirit of the day, we will sear up some nilgai tenderloin, roast some asparagus, prepare a nice salad, and finish the evening off with some homemade cherry pie….. on February 16th!  In my book, nothing says “I love you” like nilgai tenderloin done right, beautiful seared color on the outside, juicy and oh-so-pink on the inside.

Also, Junior Deerslayer had been wanting to try her hand at baking a cherry pie.  Since my New Year’s Resolutions included both branching out with my cooking AND never passing up a worthy dessert, honoring the request to try the pie was easy. Don’t get the wrong idea.  We didn’t go outside to pick the cherries, nor did we render the fat necessary to produce the lard needed for the perfect crust.  But I did purchase the (canned) cherries from our local grocer, refer to my NEW Lard Cookbook (yes, there is such a thing) for the perfect flaky-crust recipe, use some kettle-rendered leaf lard that I received as a birthday gift (really) and commence with the pie making!

I ordered mine from Amazon but it’s available from a number of booksellers.

I was able to find canned, tart cherries, packed in water. So that was our starting point. One of my intentions for 2016 has been to practice making flaky crusts from scratch for fruit pies, quiches, pot pies, empanadas and pasties (meat pies).  Hands down, people who know pies know that lard makes the flakiest crust.  Leaf lard is the prized fat around the kidney area of an animal. I found some available online.  I was surprised by how light it was and what a beautiful, smooth dough it made.

Cherry Pie with Lard Crust

3 cans tart cherries in water, drained (water set aside)
1 to 1½ cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
zest from one orange

Your favorite prepared pie crust or pie crust recipe for 2 crust pie. This one is from the Lard Cookbook:

2½ cups all-purpose unbleached flour plus more for dusting, 2 tsp. salt, 1 cup cold and coursely chopped lard, 6 tablespoons ice cold water

1½ tablespoons butter, to dot

1 egg, beaten for egg wash
1 tablespoon granulated or raw sugar, to sprinkle

For the crust, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Using a pastry blender, two butter knives, or your fingers, cut in the lard until the mixture is a very fine crumble. Sprinkle the cold water over the mixture and combine just until the mixture sticks together.  Divide the dough in half.  Form into 2 balls.  Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.  Prepare a work surface by sprinkling with flour, and roll out into two discs to fit your pie plate.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the filling, pour cherries in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cover. After the cherries lose considerable juice, which may take a few minutes, remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Pour this mixture into the hot cherries and mix well. Add zest and mix. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool. If the filling is too thick, add a little reserved water, too thin, add a little more cornstarch.

Pour cooled cherry mixture into the crust. Dot with butter. Moisten edge of bottom crust. Place top crust on and flute the edge of the pie. Make a slit in the middle of the crust for steam to escape. Brush with egg. Sprinkle crust with sugar.

Place pie on a cookie sheet in case of bubbling over.  Bake for about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.

Share the love, not the hype!

 

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2016 in Sweet Things, Uncategorized

 

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Whitewing Season and Chocolate Cake

DSC_0134You may be wondering what whitewing season has to do with chocolate cake.  If you bear with me for a few minutes, not only will the connection become clear, but you’ll end up with a fabulous chocolate cake recipe as well.

Preparations had begun for the first big whitewing dove hunt of the season. Members of the Deerslayer (hopefully whitewing slayer) Clan would soon be converging on the southernmost part of Texas where the hunt would take place. All the accouterments necessary for the big weekend began to pile up in the front hallway; Yeti coolers, folding chairs, shotguns, gun cases, boxes of shells, shooting vests, all varieties of khaki and camo attire, boots and muck boots, plenty of thirst-quenching beverages, shears.  The pile grew and grew.  I could no longer get to the laundry room.

As the pile began to encroach on the surrounding environs, the Deerslayer’s wife developed an ever-so-slight twitch. The twitch was accompanied by a bout of crankiness. Don’t get me wrong, my mantra is “Go with the flow, embrace the moment.”  However, I also like a tidy house.  I’m guessing that the extensive paraphernalia that is part and parcel with the hunting way of life might be one aspect that makes a deerslayer’s wife wince. However, it’s important to remember that the planning and preparation are part of the thrill of it all. It was time for me to step back, take a deep breath, regroup…. and bake a nice chocolate cake for the hunters to take with them. A small, thoughtful gesture like that can bring a tear of gratitude to any hunter’s eye.  And it provided me with a creative outlet on which to refocus my energies.

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I discovered a great recipe on the King Arthur Flour website a few weeks ago when I was scouring the internet for a chocolate birthday cake for one of the Junior Deerslayers. Cake Pan Cake was just what I was looking for.  While I love to cook all sorts of wild game, baking has never been my forte.  This recipe is just what I needed; rich, moist, chocolaty, and EASY!  This fabulous cake was well received  It even has a backstory; hearkening back to WWII and the days of rationing.  The original recipe has no dairy or eggs and is supposed to be mixed together in the baking pan. Check out the website for the original recipe and its history.

I adapted the original recipe a bit and the results were delicious.

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My dry ingredients. Black cocoa powder and espresso powder were ordered from King Arthur website.

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My liquid ingredients. I used half & half in place of water. The bottle on the far right is vanilla and not beer!

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar, cider or white
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold half & half
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Everything is better with a layer of raspberry jam. The prepared frosting worked perfectly well. And almonds (or pecans or whatever)…..

  • 1 jar of raspberry jam (between the layers)
  • dark chocolate prepared frosting
  • sliced toasted almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I used two 9″ round pans and sprayed them with baking spray with flour.

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Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir around with a fork until mixed.

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In a two cup measure, combine all liquid ingredients. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.

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Divide mixture equally into two round pans. It will barely cover the bottom of the pans.

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Bake for approximately 20 minutes (less than the time listed on the original recipe since I divided the batter into two pans).

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Check for doneness around 20 minutes.  All ovens differ.  Remove pans from oven and cool on a rack.When cool, smear as much raspberry jam as your heart desires atop one of the layers. Place the top layer where it goes (on top). Frost the cake, lick the spatula. Sprinkle with slivered almonds. Eat some. Sneak some more frosting. Enjoy.

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This post is dedicated to my favorite chocoholic fiends: Junior Deerslayer and Kelly!

 

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