This recipe for my grandma's blueberry pie is a summer staple in our house. It's simple and pure, just like my grandma made it, and really lets the blueberries shine.
A few weeks ago we surprised my grandma for her 80th birthday. We threw a small family barbecue at my Aunt Ang's house and everyone had a great time, even Uncle Dennis who was stuck grilling out in the pouring rain.
Grandma Genovese, aka Ro, is our family matriarch. She's a no nonsense kinda lady who enjoys the simple pleasures in life: a delicious meal, a competitive game of cards, wearing a new "top," a glass of Bailey's on the rocks, a juicy romance novel or soap (aka "stories") and the warmth that comes with having the whole family together. My mom always used to tell me how much I was like my grandma, in both appearance and attitude, and the older I get the more I see it.
Of course I had to make a pie for the occasion. After all, it was Grandma who taught me how to make pies in the first place. In fact, she taught all of us how to make them. Every year in November all the girls in the family get together to bake apple pies, and it's one of my favorite traditions of all time. But in summer, apples are out and blueberries are in. Jersey blueberries are at peak season right now, and there's no better way to use them than in a simple, but perfect blueberry pie. (She also makes an incredible Custard Pie, too)
It's the simplicity of grandma's blueberry pie that makes it so good. I've tried fussing with the recipe, adding lemon zest and nutmeg and all sorts of other unnecessary ingredients, but it never turns out as good. Just a bit of sugar and cinnamon - maybe a pinch of salt - is all it needs. That way, the blueberries really get to shine. They're so plump and sweet this time of year, so let's celebrate them for what they are. It's summertime, and there's no need to complicate things.
The blueberries are obviously the star here, but what really makes grandma's pies magical is the crust. Admittedly, I rarely make grandma's recipe for pie crust as I've adapted my own version over the years. Grandma uses strictly shortening, which produces a tender and flaky crust that is downright delicious and there is really nothing wrong with it at all. Only thing is, I'm a Gaffney now, and if theres one thing I can tell you about Gaffney's, it's that we put butter in everything. EVERYTHING. So my recipe marries both families of fat together for a crust that's not only tender and flaky, but super buttery and flavorful too. Everyone wins.
The technique for making the crust, however, is exactly the same. I made a video about it a few years ago, but I now realize it's way too rushed and sped up so you can't really even grasp what's going on. But it's worth watching if you're still a little apprehensive about making your own crust. I promise it's really nothing to be afraid of. My best advice this time of year is to keep your ingredients cold, cold, cold. Pop the bowl into the freezer for a few minutes if it starts getting even a little bit warm, because we're in the middle of a heat wave and I don't know about you, but my house is still a bit balmy even with the air pumping.
Nothing says summer in America like a freshly baked blueberry pie, a la mode of course. I can't think of a better way to wish this fine country - or my grandma - a happy birthday than with a big fat slice of this American classic. Cake is overrated. Long live pie.
Happy birthday Grandma and Happy birthday America! I hope you all celebrate safely and in style (and obviously with pie).