Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dining In-A Culinary Tour of America: Celebration, Florida

Location: Celebration, Florida

This city is a relatively young city, and has an interesting background. It was developed in the mid 1990's by Disney's real estate division. The city's architecture has a distinct Disney touch to it. To a Disney fan, this city might be heaven on earth, but if you're not a Disney fan, it might be a bit much for you...It's proximity to Disney World is also beneficial to Disney fans. I am a Disney fan and if I could handle the heat and humidity, I would seriously consider living here one day. It would be like living in Downtown Disney and who wouldn't want that! The company continues to do much of their office-related work for the park in Celebration.

As of the 2010 census, there are 7,427 people living in Celebration. 91% are white, and the majority of the rest of the people are Hispanic/Latino. 4.1% of the city's population lives below the poverty line.

You might be asking, why did you choose Celebration? Well, for one good reason: It is the host of the annual "Great American Pie Festival" and 3/14/15 is Pi Day. One must always make pie on Pi Day, so what better place to visit? The festival is held in April, so we're a little early for it, but I think it still works.

The Food: Asparagus Quiche and Bumbleberry Pie

My first thought for dinner-related pie was the obvious: Chicken pot pie. However, I have done something quite similar to that already when I featured Vermont and I don't want to repeat myself if at all possible. So I wracked my brain a bit more and thought of quiche, another savory pie. I was able to find a recipe card that I had never tried and was quite excited about that. I also wanted to make a dessert pie and ran across another card for bumbleberry pie and thought it would be a fun one to experiment with. The quiche I followed the recipe exactly, but the bumbleberry pie I altered so much that I will just write out what I did, as opposed to writing out the original recipe with my notes. It'll be easier to read that way.

Asparagus Quiche: Courtesy of the Taste of Home Magazine, a recipe I cut out forever ago, but have never tried till now.

1lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 unbaked pastry shell, 9"
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups milk
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese(I used reduced fat and it worked just fine)
1/4 cups dry bread crumbs(I recommend Trader Joe's brand or make your own. All the other brands from the store have corn syrup in the ingredient list and that's not what I want in my bread crumbs...But to each his/her own...)

Cut 8 asparagus spears into 4" pieces; cut remaining spears into 1/2" pieces. Cook all of the asparagus in a small amount of water until tender(I did it until it was al dente. It will continue to cook in the oven so you don't want to overcook it at this point.); drain and set aside. Line the unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove foil; bake 5 minutes longer.(This is known as blind-baking, where you prebake the shell for a while without the filling in it. If you ever come across this term in a pastry recipe and don't know what it means, now you know!) Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, stir in flour and salt. Gradually add milk; cook and stir until thickened.(This is called a bechamel sauce and is usually the base for macaroni and cheese, if you have ever made that from scratch before.) Stir a small amount into eggs(this is called "tempering" and it's vital to do this properly or you will scramble the eggs. Do not skip this step and make sure to whisk the eggs constantly while adding the hot bechamel sauce.); return all to the pan. Stir in cheese and 1/2" asparagus pieces. Pour into the crust.(I found it was just a bit too much for the crust and about 1/4 cup of the liquid spilled out. I allowed it to spill and just cleaned it up because I didn't want it to spill even more in the oven and burn. This turned out to be a good way to do it because it turned out just fine.)

Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Arrange the 4" spears in a spoke pattern at the top.(As you can see from the pictures, I actually did that prior to baking and I think that worked out just fine.)
Yield: 6-8 servings

This was good hot out of the oven and I ate a piece cold for breakfast today and it was good too. I think though that room temperature would probably be ideal. This is obviously good for breakfast or brunch. Because the filling made so much that it spilled, I would not recommend adding anything else to this unless you wanted to leave out or reduce the amount of asparagus. This had no meat in it and I felt like it was just fine without it.)

Bumbleberry Pie: Source unknown, but heavily altered by me, so I will present my recipe.
1 unbaked frozen pie crust, thawed
1 cup each fresh/frozen blueberries(I used fresh), raspberries(I used frozen), blackberries(I used frozen), and sliced strawberries(I used fresh)(If you use frozen, let them sit in your bowl for a bit to begin to thaw)
1 cup fresh/frozen chopped rhubarb(I used fresh)
2 honeycrisp apples, peeled and cored, divided(One apple, dice for the pie. One apple, grate on the small holes of a box grater and make sure to collect any juice that comes out of it. Drain the majority of the juice from the shredded apple and keep these in separate containers.)
1/3 cup flour
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Oat Crisp Topping:
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup sliced almonds, crushed(I just had this on hand. You can leave it out or use walnuts or any type of nut you want.)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter
3-4 Tbsp. apple juice from the honey crisp apple you grated

In a large bowl, combine all of the berries, the rhubarb, the diced apple, and the lemon juice and mix together. Add the shredded apple and mix well to break up the clumps of shreds. This is replacing the sugar you would normally add to a pie.

In a small bowl, combine all of the oat crisp topping ingredients and use your hands to mix the butter in. When it's well incorporated, sprinkle in the 3-4 Tbsp reserved apple juice from the shredded apple and mix in to sweeten the topping. There will be juice left over from this, so mix it into the berry mixture for the pie.

Sprinkle the flour over the berry mixture and mix well until completely incorporated. Pour the berry mixture into the pie shell. You do not need to pre-bake or poke holes in the shell. When it's filled, place the pie onto a baking sheet. You don't want to bake it without one or you'll spill everywhere and the oven will become a smoky mess. Carefully spread the oat topping over the pie filling and try to make sure it's evenly divided over the top.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and the crust is cooked through.

I ate this while it was warm last night and it was good. The flour felt a little gummy and I was concerned that it might have been too much. I ate another piece cold this morning and it was just fine. This is definitely better chilled overnight. The diced apple is still basically raw, however. This was the only issue with the pie. If I do it again, I might saute the apple in a pan to partially cook it before adding it to the berry mixture. The flavor is amazing and you absolutely do not need added sugar to make this taste good. I really feel that I am onto something with this fruit-juice flavored desserts. I might need to develop a cookbook or something...! I would definitely enter this one in the Great American Pie Festival.

This was really easy to make. It was just chopping for the prep. You could make this gluten-free if you wanted too. All you'd need to do is prepare the fruit filling and leave out the flour. You could probably sprinkle a little cornstarch or tapioca in it and mix it together to help thicken it as it bakes. Put it in a pie tin or a baking pan and top it with the oat-crisp topping and you'd have a lovely fruit crisp that's added-sugar and gluten-free! And if you used vegan margarine instead of the butter for the topping, it would also be vegan!

My pies turned out really great last night and some day I will work on my pastry and not rely on frozen pie shells. But last night was not that day...! These were pretty simple baking projects. They'd be good for beginners who feel like they don't know what they're doing. So, if that might be you, then maybe you can try these out next year for Pi day! Happy baking!

City Picture


City Information with Pictures of the Town

Other City Information

Great American Pie Festival website


  1. LOVE me some Celebration Florida, hope to snowbird there in 15 to 20 years!! :) For now, vacations are good, come in Dec -Feb and you would be fine! ;) Good looking Pi day! ~G

  2. God, that berry pie sounds so good. great idea!