Blueberry Crisp Pie and 20 Must-Haves for the Kitchen in Your Next Rental Home or Apartment

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I’ve been holding off on writing this post as long as possible. It feels right-on to write a Blueberry Pie recipe when fresh blueberries are abundant in August. But this is a Blueberry Crisp Pie with a crispy topping that’s somewhere between a crumble and a crisp and a filling that’s touched with flavors of fall baking — like rolled oats, almonds, and vanilla extract. I didn’t want to rush all of you into the next season. You know, too much fall too fast is a downer. You need to ease into these things. Relax, don’t do it, I say.

I suppose, though, there’s a small chance I’m making excuses. I mean, I sure didn’t want to rush you, but perhaps I didn’t want to rush me either. I think I knew that the moment I posted this Blueberry Crisp Pie, that summer would be over, and fall would be fresh on its heels, and I would have to leave the wilds of one of my favorite places on this planet, the green mountains of Vermont. I suppose I figured, the longer I waited to share, the longer I got to stay in Vermont. But fall waits for no one to arrive, and summer doesn’t really consult with any of us on the exact date of its last bright, sunny, gorgeous day.

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And Vermont, well, with just a few more weekends up in that summer house rental, I suppose those moments will have to live on in memories. And in this pie. Since I was too busy playing in those green mountains, I froze most of the fresh fruit I found. I stored about 10 pounds of frozen blueberries between all of our freezers, and this pie works wonders on frozen blueberries.

I dedicate this pie to Vermont and all the blueberry lovers, especially the one I love the most. Make it now, make it next month, make it with fresh or frozen fruit. Relax, and don’t worry. I will too, because summer always returns, always.

BEFORE YOU GO:

My time spent freezing blueberries and making pie and doing anything in another kitchen was fortifying. I had done it in the past, but to go back and forth between two kitchens for five months taught me so much, including the type of kitchen equipment needed to make fabulous dishes on the fly and how a minimalist kitchen really turned out better dishes.

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In preparation for my next opportunity to cook away from home, in a totally foreign-to-me kitchen, I’ve compiled a minimalist list of vital kitchen equipment that has made this summer experience the best one yet (seriously, summer 2016 was the best of my life). I’m going to presume that the next rental kitchen will have the basics like plates and bowls; forks, knives, spoons; mugs and a few cups; a sheet pan; a mixing bowl; a spatula; wooden spoons; a serving platter; cutting boards; and, naturally, dull knives. These are the 20 items I’d add to that basic kitchen.

Top 20 Rental Kitchen Must-Haves:

  1. One or two large sharp knives
  2. One or two paring knives (I prefer this one)
  3. One whisk (because pancakes)
  4. One can opener
  5. One wine opener
  6. One champagne bottle stopper (I prefer this one)
  7. Four to six small jars with lids (for storing food and spices, mixing dressings, and serving cocktails)
  8. One large jar with lid (to stand in as cocktail shaker)
  9. Eight wine glasses (I use these)
  10. One 8×8 casserole dish
  11. One frying pan
  12. One set of dry measuring cups
  13. One liquid measuring cup
  14. A teaspoon and a tablespoon measure
  15. One pie plate (because, duh!)
  16. One French press coffee maker
  17. One coffee grinder
  18. Kitchen storage bags (basic bags and freezer bags)
  19. Parchment paper (for lining baking sheet, freezing fruit, serving cheese)
  20. One extra large jar filled with all-purpose flour (because you bake on vacation too, right?!)

Bonus piece of equipment: A mandolin (I’ll tell you all about why I carted it back and forth all summer on Monday, stay tuned!)

What am I missing? Tell me in the comments.

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Blueberry Crisp Pie

I have used both my own pie dough and store-bought pie dough for this recipe. In the pictures above, I used a store-bought vegan pie dough, since I was up in the wilds of Vermont and had packed it in a cooler for a night when only a pie would do. The olive oil adds a nice savory layer to the maple sugar and blueberries. Some of this recipe has been reprinted from my cookbook, Food Gift Love: 100 Recipes to Make, Wrap, & Share.

Makes: 1 pie

Ingredients:

For Blueberry Crisp Pie
  • 1 store-bought pie dough, or 1 dough from recipe below
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter substitute or cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus more for greasing the pie dish
  • 3/4 cup maple sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups ground almond meal
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 cups (about 1 pound) blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For Pie Dough
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 6 to 10 tablespoons ice cold water or vodka
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Directions:

Make the Blueberry Crisp Pie
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie dish.
  2. Gather your store-bought pie dough or make a pie dough (instructions below). Place in a pie dish. Set aside.
  3. Make your topping mixture. In a large bowl, add the sugar, almond meal, oats, and salt. Add the cold butter and, with your hands, mash the butter into all the ingredients until the butter is well distributed and lots of small bits the size of hazelnuts emerge. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, gently toss the blueberries with cornstarch and vanilla extract. Pile them into the prepared pie dough, mounding them a bit in the center.
  5. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet. Sprinkle handfuls of the topping mixture all over the top of the fruit, taking care to cover as much of the exposed fruit as possible. If you have any trouble with crumb mixture falling down or off the plate, just use your hands to press it into place. Pile any extra mixture on the very top.
  6. Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the pie.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until the crisp topping is golden brown and bubbly. Watch it closely during the last 10 minutes to ensure it doesn't get too brown -- cover loosely with foil if you notice any extra browning. Frozen blueberries may require an extra 10 minutes of baking. Let cool before eating.
  8. Store covered at room temperature for up to 2 days, or a little longer in the fridge.
Make the Pie Dough
  1. Place the butter in the freezer until ready to use. Make sure your water or vodka are ice cold by adding a few ice cubes if necessary.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse a few seconds to combine.
  3. Add the butter cubes and pulse about 10 seconds or until the butter has incorporated into the flour and the flour resembles large bread crumbs. With a spatula, swipe down the side of the bowl to redistribute everything. Pulse another few seconds to evenly incorporate.
  4. Add 6 tablespoons ice-cold water or vodka to the food processor, pulsing a few times until the mixture begins to clump together. Test the texture of your dough: it should hold together when you press it together. If it doesn't, gradually add another tablespoon or 2 (or up to 4 tablespoons) of liquid and pulse again. Add the liquid slowly; you want to add as little liquid as possible because too much will make the dough tough. You shouldn't need more than 10 tablespoons of liquid in total.
  5. When your dough holds together when pressed, turn it out onto a clean surface. Gently shape the dough into 2 disks, pressing it together. Avoid overkneading as that will make the dough tough, too. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and place in the fridge 1 to 2 hours or up to overnight. Alternatively, you may freeze at this stage for future use; thaw in your fridge overnight before using.
  6. Remove one dough from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling your pie. (Save the second dough for another use.)
  7. Place the dough on a floured surface and roll it into a 12-inch circle that's about 1/8-inch thick. With a rolling pin, roll half the dough up onto the pin and lay it gently into your pie dish. Mold the dough to the shape of the pie dish. With a knife, trim the excess dough that hangs over the edge of the pan. Crimp the dough on the edge of the pan into your desired shape.
Photos taken by Maggie Battista.

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