It was a Saturday morning and Nick was coming up to The Red House with his uncle and my brother Jack. While I had provisions for grilling (steak, hot dogs, ribs) and I had picked up some vanilla ice cream and chocolate cookies thinking if I was really ambitious I would make ice cream sandwiches (I wasn’t), I didn’t really have anything yummy for dessert.
I did have a watermelon that a new neighbor had given me a few days ago as a housewarming present (thank you Sue!) but the reality is I wanted something zaftig. Looking in the fridge I found lots of overripe fruit – blueberries, nearly a pound of cherries and a couple of peaches. Could I whip up some sort of fruit pie with these leftovers? Without a stove to bake them in?
Earlier in the week I had gone to an “antique” (mostly junk) store in the area to see what kinds of things they were selling. I ended up buying a funky tray with pictures of the Chateaux of the Loire Valley ($2), a pretty yellow creamer ($2) and a set of four dark green gratin dishes ($5). Since I had made a zucchini and tomato gratin for dinner one night, I knew at least one dish would fit in the toaster oven. Could I do a pie in a gratin dish?
I realized I hadn’t made crust by hand in a long time. Usually I put the flour, butter and ice water in a food processor or my KitchenAid mixer. Up at The Red House I had access to neither. I needed to make the crust the old school way so I put flour and half a stick of butter in a bowl and using two knives cut the butter up into the flour until it was crumbly.
Adding a bit of ice water to the mixture, soon I had the dough for the pies. It was a little looser than I was used to so I wrapped the dough in wax paper and stuck it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, I cut up the peaches and tossed them with the blueberries and a couple of tablespoons of sugar. I washed the cherries, took out the pits and tossed them with some sugar, too.
By then I retrieved the dough from the fridge, cut it in half and rolled out each half into an oval shape. I spooned each of the fruit mixtures into two of the gratin dishes, then placed the dough on top of each dish. Using the tines of a fork, I flattened the dough around the dish and made a decorative edge.
Since the toaster oven was small, I could only bake one “pie” at a time. Even at a 400 degree setting (or so the dial on the toaster oven said) this took about 35-40 minutes a piece. I kept checking the crust to make sure it wasn’t burning and when I thought it was done and lightly brown I took out the first pie and popped in the second.
And how were they? I thought they were pretty damn good. And the ice cream I bought? It was perfect as an à la mode topping.