Monday, March 7, 2011

Happy Birthday G-Dub!

Originally posted 2/17/11

Good morning….or afternoon, I guess.  We have had a lot of snow here, so our schools were on a 2 hour delay.  This means I had both kids home with me…..It’s easier to get work done with only one trying to use me as a jungle gym, play catch with the dogs, jump off the kitchen counter onto the couch, etc.  I am sure you know what I mean;) 

So now that Addy is off to school, I can get on with it….Does everyone know what this Monday is?  Besides a day off work/school?  Or great sales at the mall?  Or a day that you don’t get mail, and you can’t figure out why till you see on the news that it was a federal holiday?  Yep, it’s President’s Day.  It is the day that we as Americans celebrate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln….kind of.  It originally started as just a celebration for ol’ George, but Abe’s birthday was thrown in too.  I decided to make some cherry pies in honor of Mr. George Washington.  Remember the story of him chopping down cherry trees?  I have no idea if that is fact or just a fun story, but who cares?  Cherry pies are delicious.

I actually fried my pies, as opposed to baking them.  I made individual pies that are super cute and a good change from run of the mill pie.  I found fresh cherries (from Chile) in my grocery store.  I was really surprised, since it isn’t cherry season….but I guess it is in Chile.  I had gone in looking for frozen cherries, which they didn’t have….go figure;)  You can use frozen cherries, just let them defrost in a colander so that all the water comes out of ‘em.  So…I pitted my cherries, and chopped them, until I had about 3 cups.
So yes, I made my own filling.  It really isn’t hard, and it tastes so much better than canned filling.  But….If you are pressed for time, go right ahead and use canned filling….I won’t judge. 
Besides the 3 cups of pitted and chopped cherries, I also used sugar, corn starch and almond extract.  I love the flavor of almonds and cherries together.  If you don’t, you can always use vanilla extract.
I put the cherries in a pot with about ½ cup of water.  I cooked them, on medium, for about 10 minutes.  Then, I stirred together the sugar and corn starch to make sure there were no lumps.  I dumped that in the pot and stirred until the sugar and corn starch dissolved.  I also added the extract.
I cooked the cherries for an additional 10 minutes, on medium, until the mixture thickened.  It will end up looking just like canned filling.  Well, the texture will be the same, but it won’t have the bright red color of canned filling.  When you cook cherries, they tend to darken.
I poured the filling into a bowl and let it come to room temperature.  For the pie dough, I used packaged pie crust that you find in the refrigerated section.  I used 2 boxes, which is 4 circles.  Follow the package directions about how to bring the crusts to room temperature.
I unrolled the first crust onto a floured surface.  I used a bowl to make my circles.  My bowl was a few inches in diameter.  I cut around the bowl with a paring knife.  You will get about 3 circles from the crust at first, and then you can roll it out again and get another 1 to 2 circles.  A circle cookie cutter would have been easier…..but oddly, I don’t have one. I have every other shape possible, but no large circles….
I put a couple of spoonfuls onto the circle.  Then, I seal the edges with water.  The water will act as glue.  I also crimped the edges with a fork to make it prettier.
See-that was me crimping…
While I was filling my pies, I let vegetable oil pre-heat on the stove.  This is a “deep-fry” so it takes a whole bottle of oil.  You could always bake the pies….if you are no fun;) 
Once the oil was heated, I dropped the pies in, maybe 2 or 3 at a time.  Don’t overcrowd the pot because this will reduce the temperature of the oil.  If the oil isn’t hot enough, your pie will absorb all of the oil and be like a cherry flavored hockey puck.  You can test the oil by dropping in an extra piece of dough to see if it bubbles.

The pies will fry for about 2 to 3 minutes per side.  Yes, you have to flip them mid-way through.  Keep an eye on your oil and make sure it doesn’t get too hot….
As soon as the pies come out of the oil, place them on paper towels to drain.  I sprinkled the pies with raw sugar to make a nice, crunchy crust. Let the pies cool!  When they come out of the oil, they are filled with hot lava….not a delicious cherry filling….so let them cool off.
These pies are so good, you will always want to fry pie after this.  A baked pie just won’t cut it anymore.  I am sorry to ruin a good baked pie for you, but these are worth it.
I am pretty sure that Mr. Washington would approve of these as a delicious birthday treat;)  I hope you all have a great 3 day weekend!  Remember….you won’t get mail!;)

Fried Cherry Pies
3 cups cherries, pitted and chopped
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
3 Tablespoons corn starch
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 boxes pre-made pie crust
Flour for rolling
Water for sealing edges
Raw sugar for sprinkling

Place the cherries in a pot with ½ cup water.  Cook, on medium, for 10 minutes.  Stir frequently.  In a separate bowl, mix together granulated sugar and corn starch.  Add to put and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Add extract.  Cook, on medium, an additional 10 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened.  Remove from heat and let mixture come to room temperature.
Place first crust onto floured surface.  Using a bowl as your guide, cut circles from dough.
Place about 2 tablespoons of filling on one side of the circle.  Seal the edges by moistening with water and pressing together.  Use a fork to seal edges if desired.
Fill a large, deep pot with vegetable oil.  The oil should be about 3 to 4 inches deep.  Preheat the oil.  Test the oil’s temperature with an extra piece of dough.  Fry the pies, 2 or 3 at a time, in the oil, about 2 minutes per side.
Remove pies from oil and place on paper towel to drain.  Sprinkle immediately with raw sugar.


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