From our pie tip earlier and the photo of all those wild blueberries on Friday you might surmise that we dipped into pie-making again. And you would be correct - we made a pie, a very pretty violet pie. If we had gotten around to this during Hungry Reader month this would have been "Blueberries for Sal" Blueberry Lavender Cream Pie.
Whatever the name, this pie is so good we made it more than once.
We had a bag of frozen blueberries burning a hole in our freezer, and we wanted to match them up with lavender. Lavender has a delicate, herbal flavor that we love. You have to be sure not to overdo it, though, as it can become bitter when too much is used.
You can find dried lavender buds at many Asian groceries, often with the tea. Ours was labeled "lavender tea" but contained nothing but dried lavender.
We wanted a silky custard pie that didn't taste too much of egg - firm yet smooth. We used a bit of cornstarch to firm it up, so it slices well. But it's still light and silky and deliciously cool.
We used frozen organic wild blueberries from Trader Joe's - a great deal, and very sweet and delicious. They're no substitute for fresh blueberries, though. We're going blueberry picking this summer and we can hardly wait.
Blueberry Lavender Cream Pie
makes 1 deep-dish 9" pie
1 pie shell, from Basic Pie Crust
2 cups cream
1 cup half & half or milk
3 tablespoons dried lavender buds
1 tablespoon butter
2 1/2 cups frozen wild blueberries (12 ounces)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 eggs plus 3 yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
Make pie crust and bake in a deep-dish pie pan at 375°F for 30 minutes. Take out shell and turn heat down to 325°F.
Warm the cream and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to a simmer. Add the lavender, stir, then take off the heat and steep for 30 minutes.
Have a colander or mesh strainer ready over a bowl. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter and when it foams, add the blueberries. Cook just until they are soft and much of the juice has run out. After about 3-5 minutes, take off the heat and pour into the colander. Set aside the drained berries.
Mix the blueberry juice with two tablespoons cornstarch and set aside.
Whisk the eggs and egg yolks with the vanilla, sugar and salt and set aside. Reserve the leftover three egg whites and beat with a fork lightly. Set aside.
Strain the cream and discard lavender. Whisk in cornstarch/blueberry juice mixture and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly. When the mixture boils and thickens slightly, remove from heat.
Whisk a little of the cream into the egg and sugar mixture to temper, then add it all and whisk vigorously. It will look curdled and broken at first but will come together into a smooth, thick, glossy and violet mixture.
Stir in half of the drained and reserved blueberries.
Pull out the top oven rack and set the pie shell on it. Pour mixture into the parbaked pie shell and bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes sprinkle the rest of the blueberries on top. Brush the crust with the slightly beaten, reserved egg whites, and put back in. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the center is wobbly but firm and the crust is golden and shiny.
Take out and let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
(Images: Faith Hopler)