Friday, 24 August 2012

Free Blackberry Pie!



I meant free blackberry, not free pie. Sorry for the tease.

Really, who isn't a fan of free food? I love the whole idea of foraging, of searching for and getting food off the land. I've gone on about it before, I've cooked with weeds before, but I've never really foraged for anything on my own yet. I don't have quite the confidence to identify a strange poisonous plant from a medicinal/delicious one, and my mum has taught me never to trust strangers, certainly not to put them in my mouth.

These beautiful clusters of shiny black beads, though, I can easily recognise. And I didn't even have to  take a train out to the countryside or some far-flung corner of London to pick these. Because I'm feeling selflessly in love with the whole world today, I'll share with anyone who's reading, that you can find these brambles just along the Regent's Canal. But they really are everywhere if you keep an eye out for them. I just pop the lovely ripe fruit straight into my mouth, quite often stained a deep maroon from the sweet sticky juices of those I've already gobbled, and cheerfully contemplate the ridiculous price tag on a box of blackberries.


With my blackberry loot, I made a little jar of jam/compote the other day with cardamom and cinnamon, two of my favourite spices for both sweet and savoury Asian cooking, and had them on sourdough crepes that I discovered lurking in my freezer. Also lurking in the freezer, behind the crepes, was a ball of shortcrust pastry dough, too small for a proper pie, but just nice for a mini-galette for one. I stuck to the same spices because I'm boring.

RUSTIC MINI BLACKBERRY PIE
serves 1
Ingredients
super easy homemade shortcrust pastry dough (variation: This one uses leftover cider for the liquid part, it makes a shorter, slightly sweeter crust)
greedy handful of blackberries
1-2 tbsp unrefined turbinado cane sugar, plus more to sprinkle
1/2 tsp arrowroot starch (can also use cornstarch, or just slightly more flour)
1 tsp lemon juice
big pinch of cinnamon
pinch of ground cardamom
beaten free-range egg

to serve
plain organic yogurt (Full-fat please! A creamy Greek yogurt is perfect. Here I used buffalo yogurt from the farmer's market.)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius.
2. Prepare the dough if you haven't already got it. If you do, just roll dough out thinly into a 10 inch kind-of circle.
3. Toss blackberries with everything else except the egg, and arrange in the centre of the dough. Fold up the edges, don't worry if it looks crap.
4. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg, and do a final sprinkle of turbinado sugar over the pie.
5. Place on greased parchment paper, then place into the oven to bake for about 20-30 min, or until the pastry is golden brown. Let cool before topping with the yogurt.



I know some may call it a poor excuse for pie, but hey, if it's got a buttery crumbly crust and a deliciously sticky filling, it's pie. I call it rustic, the French call it a galette; you can pick how posh you want it, but this really is a simple treat, celebrating the simple pleasures of summer. The smell of the pie baking with all that wonderfully fragrant spices made that short wait while it's in the oven seem much longer than just 20 minutes, but it is essentially a really really quick, no-faff dessert. Topped with a dollop of creamy yogurt, it's a perfect combination of sweet, tart and buttery, of sticky, creamy and crumbly.

The next time I check back in, I will be back home in Singapore where berries come flown from Japan or New Zealand and cost you a painful sum, so I'm going to try see if I can lay my greedy hands on any more bramble freebies before I go. I do also have the house to clean and my luggage to pack so I better get going. But for now, PIE!

40 comments:

  1. And here I thought you were giving away free pies! This berry foraging reminds me of Norway where you could pick a ton of wild berries on the outskirts of town. I also love the serving size in the recipe ;)

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    1. Heh, just a tease. I like the serving size because it means I get it all myself (:

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  2. Blackberries are not cheap over here either. Your blackberry pie looks divine.

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    1. I know, they are so horribly overpriced!

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  3. Just beware the ones at dog level (if you catch my drift!) ESPECIALLY along the Regents Canal! I recently spent the afternoon at my Dad's house, picking chanterelles, raspberries and currents. Our dinner was the BEST! Love a freebie. Have an amazing time in Singapore, I wish I could come too!!!

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    1. I know what you mean, I've been careful to pick the top ones! That afternoon at your dad's sounds just amazing! I can just imagine the dinner already, freshly picked chanterelles, with raspberries and currants in a sweet dessert later I presume? AND best of all, all free.

      Thanks, I'm pretty excited. I haven't been back in a year!

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  4. so beautiful... I do love blackberries and my mum has a bush that grows over an old bomb shelter in her back garden!... beautiful beautiful pie!... i've missed your posts and pretty pictures, can we have more please?

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    1. aw you're sweet, I've been getting a bit busy of late, but I do post once every week at least (:

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  5. Hooray for urban foraging! There are a couple blackberry brambles growing along our local bike trail--I'm going to have to get out there and pick some soon. :)

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    1. get there before other people get their greedy hands on them first!

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  6. You know throughout my travels in Europe, I've never seen any Blackberries used for anything nor have I heard or read any reference to them. I even wondered if they grew over there. So thanks Shu, you've solved that mystery for me.

    Blackberries grow in such abundance here in Seattle and the whole Pacific Northwest that they quite often are considered a nuisance and can take over a yard or an vacant lot in no time at all, but as a kid it was manna from Heaven! I've gorged myself on a lot of through the years. And, yes, getting such a sweet, delicious bounty for free is very nice, indeed!

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    1. I can't imagine them as a nuisance when they taste and look so fantastic! I'm new to this sort of sweet delicious free bounty of berries, very pleasant surprise to me, coming from a land where you pay close to 4 pounds for a punnet flown in from halfway round the world!

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    2. 4 pounds, cripes! I can see why you were so excited to forage some of these beauties for yourself. The nuisance over here comes from the thickets themselves, they can easily reach 2 metres in height. They honestly grow like weeds here! Some people have taken to having goats graze on vacant lots to keep the vines under control, if not gone completely. Goats are voracious eaters! But the berries are delicious and free and these are good foraging days in August.

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  7. Quite right! I can never understand all these supermarket that charges £2.50 a for punnet when you can get them for free! I used to live in Cardiff where there were loads of blackberries grown along the railway track near me and I used to go with empty bags and return with bags full of them and made blackberries crumbles out of them. Any excess freezes very well too!

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    1. Have you found any near where you now stay? Haha you kiasu singaporean, I only picked a small bunch, you brought a few bags to "ta pao"!

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  8. I need to go picking! How delicious. And then make this pie. Double delicious. I think cinnamon and cardamom are perfect with (anything, really, but especially) blackberries. :)

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    1. I agree, those are two of the spices I can't live without. Then again, hmm I think I can't live without quite a few other spices too..

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  9. Shu, this pie is calling my name, and I can't reach it. What to do? :(

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  10. I wonder if u can pick more of them and bring em home?
    If fresh can't be brought in, what about the compote?

    The other day I picked some wild pepper leaves(daun kaduk) off the parking lot of KL's bird park and brought them to a blogger's pot luck. LOL, much to their shock and fear of contamination by bird's droppings. All were gobbled up when being served as Mieng Kham.

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    1. I was contemplating the same thing, but i think the flight (temperature, pressure etc) will probably affect their flavours, the way imported berries and foods never taste as good as fresh local ones.

      very cool to hear about the daun kaduk! totally didn't realise it's possible to carry on this urban foraging thing in singapore too, just need to know where to look, and to change what to look out for (:

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  11. I am loving the burst of those blackberries, and the best part is a pie to the chef ;). Recently I am craving to bake things with berries, so looks like I will be hitting the supermarket soon to stock up. Hope all is well and stay in touch. Cheers, Jo

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    1. maybe you can pick some free ones too, you'll definitely enjoy that balckberry pie more ;) Cheers x

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  12. Wow!
    You made making Free Blackberry Pie seem so simple!
    Would you join us in our food community www.mycookbook.com and let us know how you worked on the Free Blackberry Pie perfectly ?

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  13. Fantastic, I might just check out your brambles as I'll be in London in just a few weeks! Your petite pie looks wonderful, I'm imagining i warm,t with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, melting just a bit....... mmm mmmm mmmm!

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    1. okay, shh, not too many people need to know ..

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  14. the pie looks wonderful. I recently went to a farm in Long Island pick my own fruits. We ended picking a lot of peaches and some blue berries and blackberries. They were the freshest blackberries I had ever had and surprisingly they weren't not that expensive. If I pick my blackberries again I'll be sure to try your pie recipe!

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    1. definitely sounds gorgeous. fruit picked fresh from the land can't be beat!

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  15. Absolutely brilliant. I love 'money grows on brambles'. I am waiting for ours to ripen a little more before picking. This looks glorious.

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    1. Haha that's tp honour (or not really) my dad, who taught us money doesn't grow on trees.

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  16. That looks so sweet! I love the idea of little person-sized pies - will be trying this out.

    Blackberry picking was quite a big part of my lovely country childhood - I think I've only ever bought them in a supermarket twice as I just struggle to part with the sums of money they charge when I'm used to them being free! But there are a couple of good blackberry sites near my house, so I still go out in the autumn and pick some. The nearest ones aren't the sweetest, as the very wild bushes are a bit strangled, but I freeze boxes and boxes of them and use them in cooking throughout the year. I ran out of last year's harvest a couple of weeks ago, so I'm happy that it's foraging season once more!

    Now, if only I could find an incredible wild mushroom site...

    Have a great time in Singapore!

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    1. I just wish I had such a large freezer too! it's the size of a little postage box, so I tend to use things fresh as they come. forces me to really eat what's available and to plan my shopping well!

      (if you ever find a wild mushroom site, let me know..)

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  17. Gorgeous pie, Shuhan and congratulations for the "hunt"! You are right about ridiculous blackberry prices (here they cost a fortune too). I have heard that the British only recently started to forage their forests and other green spaces (on the other hand I have heard that Polish immigrants in the UK take good care of wild mushrooms ;-) They probably cannot believe so many jewels are left untouched by local people ;-) ). I used to pick wild fruits and mushrooms as a child, especially on holidays and have been missing it a lot. Fishing too...

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    1. Hah I need to find me some Polish friends ;)

      I would love to learn how to fish. I'm not the most patient of people though ..

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  18. Man, you just have to love anything you can pluck off a bramble bush and eat straight away (well, if they are above the reach of incontinent dogs at any rate). And a galette is the perfect quickly prepared way of eating something as simple and tasty as a good blackberry.

    Like you, i love to forage, but only well within my confort zone. Next on my list to try is nettles - they are plentiful and easy to gather (if you have rubber gloves...). Mushrooms I will happily content myself with buying in the shops though.

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    1. Haha did you see that post i did a while back on nettle saag? I have this pretty comical photo of my hands in yellow rubber gloves holding those nettles! I would love to be able to forage for mushrooms, but yes, don't really trust myself yet. Don't want to die early. There are mushroom foraging lessons that I saw on the edible experiences website, thinking of going for one in fall, maybe we could all go (:

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  19. Eeeek! Silly me wasn't sure if these were truly blackberries and nearly screamed when my much more intelligent child calmly plucked one and popped it into her mouth.

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  20. I've made pies like these before. Simple pies are the best! I love your little blackberry drawing. This post makes me want to go and pick some blackberries, and pick up a paint brush!

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