There is this little place called 'heaven.'
No. It is not make-believe Bergdorf's shoe department where everything is free, comfortable (even the stilettos) and comes in your (giant) size but also makes your feet look tiny. We could finally get those Christian Louboutin ballet flats in python.
And, no. It's not a pretend Italy where all the calorie counts are zero. Though, yes, that would be quite divine. We'd start every single meal with a small order of Caprese Salad and a gelato entree, thankyouverymuch.
This version of heaven is the perfect Blackberry Farm resort in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
The location is absolutely idyllic, nestled in this green and misty valley and the food is pretty much to-die-for. That's to be expected at a Relais & Chateaux hotel, but seriously, Blackberry Farm took it to a whole new level. Every ingredient is grown on the property and prepared by the most talented chefs, from the coffee and granola at breakfast to the sandwich picnics and midnight s'mores baskets. Farm to table triumph.
Lucky ducks that we are, we had the opportunity to go to Blackberry Farm a few years back on an all-expenses paid mini-break.
Yup, you read that right. All-expenses paid. We know. You hate us. But, wait! We're making you pie!
We're going to convince you that Blackberry Farm actually is heaven one slice of pie at a time.
PS- This is RTT at Blackberry Farm. He is from Kentucky. He thinks Blackberry Farm's Lemon Chess Pie is also perfect for Derby this week! Restaurant month AND Derby week.
Cupcakes, what did we tell you? HEAVEN.
Blackberry Farm's Lemon Chess Pie
Adapted from The Blackberry Farm Cookbook
½ recipe basic pie pastry (see below)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal (we used a finer grind)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest of two lemons
pinch of salt
First, make the dough. The recipe is below.
Take the dough out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for just a few minutes. Use a rolling pin to roll it out to a circle about 11" wide and about 1/6 inch thick. Fold the dough over your rolling pin and unroll over a 9-inch pie pan (we used a deeper pie dish but your standard foil version is fine too). Ease the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Patch up any bits that may have torn with your fingers. Trim the dough if needed, leaving a 1-inch apron all around. Fold excess dough over and use your fingers to crimp the edges. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy with bubbles on top. Whisk in the sugar, butter, cornmeal, lemon juice, zest, and salt. Pour this mixture into the chilled pie shell. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the center is mostly set or a knife inserted into the filling comes out clean. For us, baking time varied so start checking on the pie after about 30 minutes.
Allow the pie to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 2 hours. Slice and serve with blueberry compote or syrup. We just warmed up some frozen blueberries, water and sugar for a few minutes.
Blackberry Farm Basic Pastry Dough
Makes enough for two 9-or-10-inch pie shells or one double-crust 9-inch pie
From The Blackberry Farm Cookbook
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons shortening
1 large egg
1/3 cup plus 1-to-3 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
Place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, 1/3 cup of the ice water, and the vinegar. Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture and stir with a fork just until dough comes together. If the dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently into a ball. Divide the ball in half and flatten each piece into a disk about 1½ inches thick. Wrap each piece in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days. The dough can also be frozen for up to 6 months and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to using.