Cookoff at Malaprop’s

On Tuesday, June 15, Malaprop’s hosted the first of its vegetarian cook-offs. A good crowd showed, bearing all sorts of tasty treats featuring local ingredients. Three judges were on hand: cookbook author Barbara Swell, Laurey’s Catering Company Owner Laurey Masterton and Xpress food-and-features coordinator Mackensy Lunsford. The dishes were evaluated based on flavor, of course, but also on their use of the local ingredients. While all were good, only two winners would be announced — the winner of the sweet category, as well as the winner of the savory. Below is the recipes from the winner of the sweet category, Jen Ward, who whipped up a fluffy goat cheese and berry pie with a corn grit crust. The winner from the savory category will be posted on June 19. More of these events will take place in the future — keep an eye on the Malaprop’s web site for details.

Goat-Berry Pie
created by Jen Rhode Ward

Jen Wards’s goat-berry pie used a wide assortment of local ingredients — Haw Creek honey and local berries, as well as spinning spider chevre. As a matter of fact, the only ingredients that she didn’t source locally were butter and white balsamic vinegar. Pretty impressive, indeed. Here’s her method:

Crust (make very thin; check grittiness: should be like shortbread)
1 cup corn grits, ground
2 cup flour
1 stick butter (4 oz.), salted, cubed (in 8ths)
lavender-infused honey to taste (directions below. Note: Takes 3-5 days)

Filling (make very fluffy)

20 oz. chevre (half lemon, half plain)
4 eggs
2 tablespoons butter (helps with fluffiness)
lavender-infused honey to taste
3-4 tablespoons flour to thicken
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup serviceberries (or substitute any other berry if these are hard to find. Jen found hers on the UNCA campus)

Glaze (under berries)
½ cup white balsamic vinegar
½ cup lavender-infused honey
vanilla to taste
flour paste (equal parts flour + water) to thicken

Wrap fresh lavender (preferably flowers) in cheesecloth, and suspend in saucepan. Pour honey into pan, making sure that lavender is submerged. Bring honey to a boil, then let cool until it does not burn your tongue. Pour honey into mason jar, and suspend lavender in mason jar. Put lid onto jar, then leave in sun for 3-5 days so that more lavender oils can infuse into the honey.

Sift dry ingredients together in large bowl, and add vanilla. Use a pastry blender to mix in butter until texture is coarse and crumbly.  Add lavender-infused honey to taste. Roll out crust to make ½ inch thick round. Line buttered springform pan with the crust, and bake at 350 degrees for 9 – 12 minutes. Crust should look browned on the edges. Cool crust.

Using stand or hand mixer, cream chevre, butter and vanilla together. Sift in flour, and beat to thicken. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and add lavender-infused honey to taste. Pour mixture onto crust. Bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes. Filling should look brown on edges. Cool in oven with door closed to prevent the cheese mixture from cracking.

Reduce white balsamic vinegar to half of its original volume by simmering on a stovetop. Stir lavender-infused honey and vanilla into hot balsamic reduction. If needed, add flour paste to thicken.  Cool glaze until it does not burn your tongue, then pour over filling.

Arrange berries on top of glaze, then serve!


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