Entries in holiday traditions (1)


Cooking with the Kids: Martie and CCA Chefs Club Huntsville

I have the great honor of working with many different groups and one of my favorites is the CCA Chef's Club from Huntsville, Alabama. The group is comprised of junior high and high school students who have a love of cooking and may possibly want to seek a career in food one day. I've had the chance to hang out with the kids a number of times; we cooked together last holiday season and made my chocolate roulage recipe. Last year, some of them were able to come to Birmingham for a tour of the Southern Living campus, the legendary test kitchens and the studios where I film my videos for


I asked the group for a family traditions recipe and they selected this old school whip pie crust recipe to share. Filled with fresh blackberries or your favorite fruit filling, try it for yourself. Here are some photos of the kids with their own variations. The pie crust recipe calls for items I've never even heard of: a pie crust cloth and a rolling pin cover. I guess that just shows how old school it this recipe really is. If you do not have these items, just make the substitutions I've indicated.

CCA Chef TIP:  The use of a pastry cloth and rolling pin cover helps keep the pie crust from absorbing too much flour when rolling it out.  Too much flour and too much handling make a tough pie crust.


(Recipe for 9” two-crust pie)

3/4 cup Crisco
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon milk
2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted once before measuring)
1 teaspoon salt

Put 3/4 cup Crisco in a mixing bowl.  Add 1/4 cup boiling water and 1 tablespoon milk; whip with a fork until water and milk are incorporated into the Crisco.  It should be smooth and thick like whipped cream.  Sift in 2 cups sifted all purpose flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir quickly, with round-the-bowl strokes, into a dough that “cleans” bowl.  Take up dough in hands and work gently into a smooth, blended round. Handle dough as little as possible.  Divide dough in half; roll each half separately. Place one half of the dough onto a lightly floured pastry cloth. (ok to use floured plastic wrap) Using a rolling pin with cover, (ok to simply flour the rolling pin) roll out the bottom pie crust.  Once dough has been rolled out, use the edge of your pastry cloth to carefully raise dough up and over the rolling pin.  This will make it easier to transfer rolled dough to the pie tin.  Fill the bottom crust with desired filling.  Roll out second half of dough and place on top of pie filling.  Trim dough ½ inch beyond pan, and flute edge.  Make several slits in top of pie crust for steam vents and sprinkle with sugar.  (Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon if making an apple pie.)  Baking temperatures and times depends on the filling you have placed inside.

Blackberry Pie frpm CCA Chefs Club HuntsvilleFresh Blackberry Pie Filling

3 cups fresh blackberries rinsed and drained

4 tablespoons All-Purpose flour

1 cup sugar plus more to sprinkle on top of crust

4-5 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon unsalted butter 

Place blackberries in bottom pie crust.  Layer the remaining ingredients.  Cover filling with top pie crust; seal and flute edge. Make several slits in top to allow the steam to escape. Sprinkle top with sugar.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.  Cool on cooling rack for 2 hours before serving.

Thanks to all of my sweet future chefs for providing us with the recipe and photos of all the fun! Hope to see you all again soon.