I don’t know if you remember, but I made another version of this pie back in December. That was the “winter” version; cranberries & cinnamon. This, however, is the summer version. Inspired by this.
Yes, sometimes I keep my lemons in a mortar & pestle…
And also inspired by MCA’s lyric in one of my favorite Beastie Boys’ songs, “No Sleep ‘Till Brooklyn“; “Like a lemon to a lime, a lime to a lemon, I sip the def ale with all the fine women.” As you probably know, MCA a.k.a. Adam Yauch passed away on May 4th. The Beastie Boys were always a favorite of mine, and they play a big role for me in the soundtrack of my life. I’ve got some awesome memories that match up with songs off more than just one of their albums, not to mention when I saw them back in 1998 it was one of the most fun concerts I’ve been to. Some of their songs are just sentimental favorites. I think that’s the one thing that is comforting about “famous” people passing, whether it’s John Lennon or Johnny Cash or Kurt Cobain or Mozart or Adam Yauch- the fact that they never really die. The music lives on in our memories and on records and CD’s and iTunes forever. As far as my computer is concerned, The Beatles are all alive & kicking, just like it’s 1965. But it made me really sad to hear MCA died for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that he was only 47 years old, and that he left a 14-year-old daughter. Fucking cancer. The older I get, the more I realize how young 47 is, and just how much cancer really bites the big one.
Anyway, I was listening to some Beastie Boys songs, I knew I was going to bake something up, then I heard that lyric & saw the bowl of lemons, and I got an idea. Plus, add the fact that I was going to make something for my dad, and he loves blueberries… I came up with this idea of altering the infamous crustless cranberry pie into a more summery dish. Whereas last time this pie was made with cranberries & cinnamon, blueberries & lemon zest are the two main players this time, along with the sliced almonds. You can add a bit of lemon extract just to boost the flavor, but it’s not 100% necessary (I didn’t). You could also add lime zest too, if you really like that particular lyric. Another option would to be to dollop some lemon curd on top of it over the streusel before baking. It’ll brown and bubble up and get all creamy warm, like a lemon custard. Or, you can swirl some lemon curd in it before baking, or just serve it with some lemon curd & cream. It’s not really a pie. It’s not just a cake. It’s more like a coffee cake, or cobbler. And so, a new version was born. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the Beastie Boys, but it’s just inspired by a lyric. It’s not like I wanted to create a literal interpretation of B-Boy Bouillabaisse. Although, shit. That would’ve been a great idea.
Like a lemon to a blueberry, a blueberry to a lemon, I eat the def pie with all the fine women.
Listen, I’m not a lyricist. I bake.
As you can see, streusel hates me. It always melts down into nothing. Oh well.
And just in case you’re wondering, I got that pie plate for a whopping $2.50 after Thanksgiving at Michael’s. I love the color (goes especially great with blueberries) & the large ruffle around the edge. I think collecting pie plates might be my new “thing.” I’ve only got three so far (this one, a pink one and one that was my mom’s that has a recipe for apple pie on it), but next on my list is a regular old Pyrex clear glass one. I’ve heard they’re the best for baking pies with a crust. Emile Henry makes some really nice decorative ones. Do you have a favorite pie plate?
Sorry, I got off-track there for a bit. Let’s get back to the goods.
MCA’S “LIKE A LEMON TO A BLUEBERRY” CRUSTLESS PIE (altered from the original cranberry-based recipe which was from All Recipes, also with alterations)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons set aside for topping
- 1 cup white sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole fresh blueberries (or whole frozen)
- ½ cup sliced almonds, divided, half set aside for topping
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar
- zest of one whole lemon
- ½ cup butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons butter just softened, set aside for topping
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- drop of lemon extract (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350° degrees F. Grease one 9″-inch pie pan (or 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish).
- Combine the 1 cup flour, white sugar, lemon zest and salt. Stir in the blueberries and half the almonds, and toss to coat. Stir in the ½ cup melted butter, beaten eggs, vanilla and lemon extracts. If you are using frozen berries, the mixture will be very thick. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
- In a small bowl, mix the 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons softened butter & light brown sugar together to make a streusel-like topping. Sprinkle mixture on top of pie. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup almonds on top of that, or arrange neatly if that’s your bag.
- Bake at 350° degrees F for 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean.
The coolest thing about this ‘pie’ is exactly the fact that it’s not really a pie. It’s called a ‘crustless pie’ but you can call it anything you want. It’s like a zombie-pie-cobbler-coffee-cake. It doesn’t even require a pie crust! But even cooler than that- you can eat it any time of day. Because of the fruit-y aspect & the nuts, you can eat a slice for breakfast just as easily as for dessert (with some whipped cream or ice cream). And depending on how you make it, you might make it more breakfast-y or more dessert-y. Use whole wheat flour or add some oats for a totally different spin. And another amazing thing? You can use any fruit or berries in it, any kind of nuts, any kind of extract and zest.
Some other ideas include:
- Blackberries & raspberries with almonds
- Chopped strawberries with lemon zest & sliced strawberries & almonds arranged on top before baking
- Peach slices with vanilla beans & chopped pecans
- Chopped pineapple with Macadamia nuts & orange zest
- Cranberries with cinnamon, walnuts & steel cut oats
- Mango with flaked coconut, coconut extract, lime zest & pine nuts
- Dried cherries with dark & white chocolate chips & walnuts
- Banana slices with chocolate chips
- Raisins & golden raisins with cinnamon, nutmeg, chopped walnuts & steel cut oats- “Oatmeal cookie pie”
- Chocolate chunks with chopped hazelnuts & marshmallows (minus the streusel)- “Rocky Road pie”
Of course, some of those aren’t 100% seasonally appropriate right now, but that’s up to you. You could even mix some marmalade in with the batter, then top it with some chopped or sliced nuts, then brush it with more marmalade right out of the oven (so it gets all melty like a glaze) and make a sort of marmalade-pie-cobbler-whatever. Honestly, it’s so easy, and it’s so easy to change it up that you can totally do anything with it. You can tinker with it ’till your hearts content. Plus, it’s basically the perfect last-minute picnic or barbecue dessert. It takes no time to make, doesn’t even require a mixer, travels well & a trained monkey could do it. Or someone who’s been drinking some Brass Monkey. Whatever. It’s easy, trust me. Blast some Ill Communication and get on that shit!
Rest in peace, Adam.
“He who sees the end from the beginning of time
Looking forward through all the ages:
Is, was, and always shall be.”
“B-Boy Bouillabaisse (A Year And A Day),” Paul’s Boutique