I did it.
You guys, I actually did it.
I graduated culinary school! Forty weeks of chopping, slicing, dicing, sautéing, broiling, baking, poaching....I'm done.
And it feels amazing.
Five years ago, this was only a beautiful dream of mine. If you would have told me back then I would be a culinary graduate today, I would have rolled my eyes and very kindly told you where to go. I find it funny after all these years, food finally chose me.
It should come as no surprise that I grew up around food - and good eats at that. Mom and Grandma were both amazing cooks and bakers. My paternal Grandmother was as well, but aside from her incredible Italian dishes and desserts, we weren't very fond of each other. Let's just leave it at that for now.
I often find myself quite jealous of those that say they grew up sandwiched in between their Mamas and Grannies in the kitchen. It wasn't like that at my house. We watched. We listened. We absorbed. We offered to help, but Mom was so fast and so meticulous, it was just easier for her to do it and digest what we saw. There wasn't any, "I'll do it, then you". Grandma was the complete opposite. Oh Grandma. She was keen on us doing and learning as much as our little brains could take without her guidance. In fact, she'd often make us think for ourselves by asking, 'What do you think would be the next step' or 'What other ingredients would make this more interesting?'
Lucky for me, I was that annoying child that was so eager to learn. And experiment. And make really big messes. Some things never change.
Where am I going with this? I'm happy that my Mom was the way she was. It not only gave me the desire and patience to teach my littles, but it gave me that hunger to constantly learn and the drive to follow my passion.
So take it from me, I don't care if you're 18 or 81. If you have a fire in your belly to learn something, take that leap and follow that dream. You'll never regret it. And regret is such an ugly word.
To celebrate my graduation, I made a honking slab pie. Pie is synonymous with my days as hell on legs. As much as I love it, it's also the one dessert that took me well into my 30s to finally master. I like to think it was that final thread that ties my past to my future.
Oh, the future.
It never looked clearer.
Or more delicious.
CHERRY BLUEBERRY SLAB PIE
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 55 minutes
Yield: 24 pie slices
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1¼ cup very cold water
2 cups Stirling Creamery Churn 84 Unsalted Butter, frozen
6 cups cherries, washed and pitted
2 cups blueberries, washed
¾ cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of kosher salt
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and sugar. Using a cheese grater, grate butter into flour. Using two cold forks or a cold pastry blender, cut in butter until incorporated. Slowly add in cold water until a ball of dough begins to form. You want your dough to look moist, but not wet. Once dough comes together, divide into two balls. Wrap both in plastic wrap and flatten into disks. Refrigerate for about an hour to allow the proteins to relax.
Just a side note: The key to a flaky, buttery crust is keeping everything cold.
To make filling:
In a large mixing bowl, combine cherries, blueberries, sugar, salt and cornstarch together until fruit is completely coated. Add in lemon juice. Mix well and set aside.
Once ready to assemble and bake, preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly flour surface and rolling pin with all purpose flour. Roll out your dough to fit slightly larger than the 18" x 12" baking sheet needed for this pie (leave about an inch overhang on all sides). Fix dough onto baking sheet. Pour filling into crust. Place in fridge while rolling out top layer.
Roll out the same way you did the bottom crust. Remove sheet from fridge and place on top of filling. Crimp, roll, or fork print dough together to seal in filling. Stab top with fork to help release steam while baking. Brush top with egg white and sprinkle sanding sugar all over.
Bake for 50-55 minutes or until crust is a golden brown. Remove from oven and allow pie to cool almost completely on a wire rack. Filling will be extremely hot otherwise. (Says Captain Obvious).
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or a custard sauce.