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A nice combination of sweet and tart makes a healthy pie

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It is nice to find something to do with cranberries besides make sauce. I do have a recipe for a cranberry-apple pie, but in this case the sweetness of blueberries combines well with the tart cranberries to make another taste. Since both fruits are considered very healthful, it is also a good idea to keep this recipe in mind if you want to make up a quick home-baked dessert.

Buy the crust pre-made, in one of many forms found in Tucson's supermarkets, frequently on sale, and for thickening you can always use fine-grained tapioca, usually found in the stores as Kraft Minute Tapioca. Besides a great recipe for tapioca pudding, the package also features a reference guide for using the tapioca as a pastry thickener. Personally I like tapioca in any form.

When I lived out on Guam years ago, I often saw tapioca being prepared for various dishes that are served out there. I learned how to grind it up so that you can make a pudding out of it. Tapioca resembles a long white carrot, but it is even more dense than carrots are--more like sweet potatoes. To grind it, you first have to peel it and cut it into chunks, and then pass it through the shredding wheel on a food processor. It is infinitely more convenient to find it at the store.

Substitute an equal quantity of quick tapioca for the pastry thickener/cornstarch specified in the recipe, and proceed for a vivid, tasty pie.

CRANBERRY BLUEBERRY PIE

Ingredients:

For the filling:

16 oz. frozen wild blueberries (do not thaw)
12 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries (do not thaw)
1-¼ cups sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch or pastry thickener
2 cinnamon sticks
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

To assemble:

2 disks pie dough for a double crust pie
Heavy cream
Grated nutmeg

To make the filling, combine the frozen blueberries, cranberries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon sticks, lemon juice and lemon zest in a medium-large saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring to blend, until the mixture thickens and begins to boil, about 12-14 minutes. Once the mixture reaches a boil, continue boiling for 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Transfer the mixture to a bowl or other container and let cool to room temperature before proceeding.

When you are ready to bake the pie, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line the pie pan with one round of dough and cut the other round into strips to make a lattice crust.

Remove the cinnamon sticks from the filling mixture, then spread the filling into the bottom pie crust. Roll out the remaining disk of pie dough and cut into thin strips. Use the strips to form a lattice over the top of the filling. Cut off the excess crust and pinch the edges together, using your fingers to create a fluted pattern. Lightly brush the top crust of the pie with heavy cream. Sprinkle grated nutmeg over the crust.

Place the assembled pie on the upper rack of the oven (top-middle position). Place a rimmed baking sheet on the lower oven rack beneath the pie. Bake, rotating halfway through baking, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, about 60-70 minutes. If the crust seems to be browning too quickly, loosely tent with foil to prevent over-browning. Let cool on a wire rack to room temperature.

Years ago I also bought a little thingy that you roll over a round of pie crust to produce a fine lattice. After the cutting, you stretch the pie crust and the lattice appears. It's tricky, but if you let the pie crust warm to room temperature before you attempt the stretch, you get a dainty dish, I can tell you. This apparatus is called a Lattice Pastry Roller. You can also get a simpler version: a round plastic stamp that is laid over the top of a piece of pie crust. It is stamped with a lattice design or sometimes a pattern such as leaves or an abstract design. You can find some of them at Bed, Bath & Beyond in Tucson if you'd like to enlarge your gallery of pie presentations.

You can make a very pretty, unusual pie with this recipe and an striking presentation, and it could very well become a signature dish at the potluck supper.

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