Thursday was a very cherry day for me.
That’s because a friend of mine, Marty Berg, e-mailed me to say that the Nanking cherry bush at my old house near University Park had produced an abundant crop of berries this summer, and he was wondering if I wanted some. I immediately replied yes and went there after having supper and walking my dogs.
I was rewarded with a large container of the berries, which also are know as also known as Korean cherry, Manchu cherry, Downy cherry, Shanghai cherry, Ando cherry, Mountain cherry, Chinese Bush cherry, Chinese Dwarf cherry or Hansen’s Bush Cherry. They are native to northern and western China (including Tibet), Korea, Mongolia and possibly northern India.
Before moving, I thoroughly enjoyed the fruit, which is sweet but slightly tart. I ate them right off the bush and also made some jam one year.
I’m not sure what we’ll do with this year’s batch, but the following recipe has given me some ideas, especially since we have an abundance of raspberries, and blueberry season in nearly upon us.
Very Berry Pie
1 cup cherry preserves (see note)
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ pound blueberries
¾ pound raspberries
2 teaspoons butter
Prepare pastry (see recipe below). Roll out the smaller round of chilled pastry into a 9-inch circle. Using a pastry wheel, slice into strips ¾-inch wide. Line a baking pan with parchment or waxed paper. Calmly weave a lattice onto the paper. Brush with milk, sprinkle with sugar. Slide pan into the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
Roll out the larger round of pastry into an 11-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Chill.
Scrape preserves into a large bowl. Stir together sugar and cornstarch, sprinkle onto preserves, mix thoroughly. Roll in blueberries and raspberries. Add butter, cut into bits. Using a rubber spatula, mix gently.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set chilled crust on top. Pile fruit mixture into the crust. Settle frozen lattice on top.
Slide into a 400-degree oven and bake until crust is light brown, 25 minutes. Cover loosely with foil and continue baking until the crust turns golden brown and the juices bubble, 20 to 25 minutes more. Cool on a rack completely before sliding off ring and slicing.
Yield: Serves 8.
Sour-Cream Pie Pastry
In a large bowl whisk together 1¾ cups flour, 1 tablespoon sugar and ¾ teaspoon salt. Tumble in ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes.
With quick fingers, work butter into flour until bits range in size from specks to peas. Stir together 1/3 cup sour cream, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons cold water.
Pour cream mixture over flour mixture. Toss with a fork to form lumps. If the pastry looks dry, drizzle on 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water. Turn out, knead once or twice. Divide pastry into 2 discs, 1 slightly larger than the other.
Wrap and chill at least 1 hour.