LittleJudeonFood

One kid's adventures in gastronomy


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Easy as Pie

Yesterday, Mama and I went blueberry picking.

berry picker/littlejudeonfood.com

We’ve done this many times before, and I told Mama, “I have good memories of picking blueberries with you.”

berry hider/littlejudeonfood.com

I told everyone we met that we were going to make blueberry pie and blueberry jam.

blueberries/littlejudeonfood.com

Soon after Mama stuck a bunch in the freezer (remember to freeze on a tray before putting them into bags!), we set to work on making that pie. We’ve made all kinds of pies before, and I thought we might make a Bluecherry Pie or a crumble, but Mama wanted to show me how to make a pie that’s both fast and doesn’t require an oven.

Here’s what we needed to get started:

Just graham crackers, melted butter, and a bit of brown sugar is all you need to put together a crust.

Just graham crackers, melted butter, and a bit of brown sugar is all you need to put together a crust.

Then Mama let me pound the graham crackers into crumbs:

This is a GREAT activity for a kid like me.

This is a GREAT activity for a kid like me.

Then we added the melted butter and brown sugar:

I got to eat the extra graham cracker.

I got to eat the extra graham cracker.

This is what it should look like when it’s all mixed:

crumb crust/littlejudeonfood.com

It doesn’t look like it will hold together, but trust me: It will. Mama explained that if you use too much butter, your crust will be greasy and not hold its shape. (Too little, and it will fall apart.)

Mama pressed the crumbs into the pie plate. (I didn’t want to touch it.) You should use your hands, but to help press it firmly into the edges and up the sides, use a measuring cup or glass.

edging pie crust/littlejudeonfood.com

From this point, you can chill the crust before filling it, or bake it (cool before using). Either way, you’ve just made yourself a pie crust that will hold together. (Shortcut: Buy a graham cracker, Oreo, or Nilla Wafer crust.)

Scatter blueberries around the set crust. (You may use any kind of berry you like.)

add the berries/littlejudeonfood.com

Use just enough to cover the bottom. (I put a little more in than that, and it was yummy.)

Use just enough to cover the bottom. (I put a little more in than that, and it was extra yummy.)

For the filling, Mama let me whip the cream. (Remember how to make chantilly?) Then she made sort of the same thing, but with cream cheese.

ready to assemble/littlejudeonfood.com

She said to do the whipped cream part first because you can use the same beaters for the cream cheese without having to wash them first. (If you did the cream cheese first, any fat left over from the cream cheese would inhibit the heavy cream from whipping.)

This is my preferred method of cleaning beaters.

This is my preferred method of cleaning beaters.

Fold the two together, add some lemon zest, and you have your filling. Carefully spoon the creamy mixture over the berries, and now you have pie!

blueberry pie/littlejudeonfood.com

I have to say that this is the easiest pie I’ve made. And Mama let me have a small piece for breakfast today…just before we had our blueberry pancakes. I love blueberry season!

Love, Jude

No-Bake Blueberries & Cream Pie

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 7 1/2 full-size crackers; may also buy pre-crushed)
1/3 cup melted butter (we used salted)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1.5-2 tablespoons + 1/2 cup powdered sugar, divided
2 splashes vanilla
8 oz cream cheese, softened
Zest of 1 organic lemon
About 2 cups organic blueberries

Mix together the crumbs, butter, and brown sugar until uniformly moist. Firmly press into a 9″ pie plate. Chill for 1 hour or bake at 325°F for 10 minutes; cool before proceeding.

Use a hand mixer to beat the heavy cream, 1.5-2 tbsp powdered sugar, and a splash of vanilla until stiff peaks. Taste and adjust flavorings, if desired. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and a healthy splash of vanilla until smooth. Stir in the lemon zest, then fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese.

Scatter the blueberries over the bottom of the chilled or baked-and-cooled crust. Carefully spoon the cream mixture over top. Garnish with berries, lemon curls, mint, etc. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

 

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Strawberries and Cream

This year, our favorite organic berry-picking patch was overrun by hungry deer, so we couldn’t pick our usual lovely collection. Mama found another patch, though it was much less unkempt. Witness the weeds:

I didn't like picking these strawberries because it was too much work. I kept asking Mama to add her berries into my basket.

I didn’t like picking these strawberries because it was too much work hunting for them. I kept asking Mama to add her berries into my basket.

But the berries were warmed by the sun, and they positively burst when I bit into them.

At home, Mama ended up doing all the cleaning, but I helped her by eating a lot of those strawberries so that there were fewer of them for her to clean.

With them, we made a lot of freezer jam. We’ve made it before, but this time Mama tried a new recipe, based loosely on this one. Voilà:

Though all the jars ended up sealing, we're going to store them in the fridge & freezer.

Though all the jars ended up sealing, we’re going to store them in the fridge & freezer.

But the real show stopper, the easiest and most delicious part, was the fresh berries with whipped cream we ate for dessert. Mama says anyone with a whisk can whip cream, but not everyone does it correctly. She showed me how to do it right.

First, we kept everything cold, including the bowl and the beaters. Mama said this isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s been pretty hot out lately, so better to be safe—you’ll get a better whip with cold equipment. (She also wanted to save her arms by not whipping it by hand, though she suggests everyone ought to give that a try sometime.)

Mama explained that the only cream that’s going to whip is heavy cream, or whipping cream (either one will work). If you try to whip light cream or half-and-half, you’ll be whipping until I turn 4. This is because of the fat content (the fat is what holds it together). She also explained that plain whipped cream tastes about as bland as… well, plain whipping cream. Bleck.

Jude on Food: Flavor everything!

To remedy this, Mama showed me how to make chantilly cream. If you’re feeling fancy, you can pronounce it “shahn-tee-ee,” but I’m really good at making “L” sounds, so I’m going to stick with that. Chantilly is basically sweetened whipped cream with added vanilla.

You can find all sorts of recipes for basic chantilly cream, but Mama’s advice is to taste it once it’s beginning to whip up. If it needs more vanilla (or other flavoring, such as orange, lemon, or almond), add it. If it could be sweeter, sprinkle in more sugar. As for the type of sweetener you use, regular sugar works fine, but Mama likes to use confectioners’ sugar—that’s the soft powdery kind we sometimes put on crepes. She told me she’s never tried other sweeteners, but she supposes they would work just as well. (If you try one, let us know!)

Two other things Mama noted about making whipped cream: 1) go slowly—if you rush it by turning your mixer on high speed, you’ll not only splatter cream everywhere (as I found out), but you’ll heat up the cream, and it’ll take longer. 2) Don’t overwhip it.

whipping cream/littlejudeonfood.com

Whip it–whip it real good!

The problem with overwhipping cream isn’t the taste. It’s the texture. Even I don’t want my whipped cream to look like cottage cheese. Ewww, right? You can whip it to soft peaks or stiff peaks, but if you go beyond that, you can’t do much with it…except, maybe stuff it into something.

Because it’s just Mama and me right now (Papa’s out of town), she showed me what would happen if we pushed the cream too far:

Who am I kidding? I'd still eat that.

Who am I kidding? I’d still eat that.

Mama let me beat the cream at first (note the splatters), but then took over to finish the job. I took this picture (and about 18 more like it):

Do you see the trails that are created by the beaters? They're loosely holding their shape, but they're still very soft.

See the trails that are created by the beaters? They’re loosely holding their shape, but they’re still very soft.

Another way to tell when the cream is getting close is to stop beating it and check how it looks on the beater.

The whipped cream is just clinging to the beaters, and there's a soft little peak down in the bowl.

The whipped cream is just clinging to the beaters, and there’s a soft little peak down in the bowl.

From here to ruin is a short path, so beat carefully from now on. If you’re planning to pipe the cream, you’ll want stiffer peaks, as they’ll hold their shape. If you’re looking for just a bit of billowy adornment, as we want for our berries, then stop when they’re soft.

Stiff cream will hold in the fridge, covered, for a day or so. Soft cream should be used pretty soon after it’s made. If it starts to weep, give it a light whipping with a whisk before using.

berries and cream/littlejudeonfood.com

And what’s not to like about having a little whipped cream on hand?

Love, Jude

Chantilly Cream

1 cup cold heavy cream or whipping cream*
1 Tbsp powdered sugar (or, to taste)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or, to taste)

Place cream, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl and beat at low speed with an electric mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer with whip attachment); alternatively, use a whisk. When the cream begins to take shape, you may increase your speed a little bit more, but not more than medium. Move the beaters around the bowl and rotate the bowl to ensure you reach all the edges. Beat until desired stiffness, then serve or store until ready to use.

This dessert is Mama approved AND Jude approved.

This dessert is Mama approved AND Jude approved.

Note: For an extra-special treat, try whipping crème fraiche. As sour cream’s sophisticated (and more pricey) cousin, it’s tangy and makes for a great complement to lemon curd and supersweet berries.

For a vegan alternative, put a can of full-fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight. Without shaking it, take it out of the fridge, remove the lid, and scoop out the solid white part. (Reserve the watery portion for smoothies.) Whip & flavor the white solids like you would cream.