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STARS-AND-STRIPES PIE

Whether you're headed for a cook-out or hosting the most spectacular Fourth of July barbecue, an All-American pie is the showstopper any patriotic party deserves. So why not make this drool-inducing treat the centerpiece of your Independence Day celebration. Scroll down for the lowdown on our cherries, blueberries and flaky crust of stars and stripes dessert which is also the perfect summer picnic dessert.

Ingredients

Pie Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter or margarine, cut into chunks
6 tablespoons cold solid vegetable shortening, cut into chunks

Cherry and Blueberry Filling

5 cups fresh, sweet, dark cherries, rinsed and pitted, or frozen pitted cherries (If using fresh cherries, buy about 1 3/4 pound; if using frozen, you'll need about 1 1/2 packages, 16 ounces each.)

3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained, or frozen blueberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons butter or margarine, cut into small pieces
Vanilla ice cream to serve with (optional)

Directions for Pie Crust

1. In a bowl, mix flour and salt. Add butter and shortening. With a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in fats or rub in with your fingers until mixture forms pea-size pieces.

2. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons cold water over mixture and stir with a fork just until evenly moistened. Gently squeeze about 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. If it won't hold together, add 1 tablespoon of water and stir with a fork until evenly moistened. If the formed ball doesn't hold add 1 tablespoon of water again. Repeat until the dough is firm enough

3. With lightly floured hands, gently squeeze dough into a ball. Divide in half and pat each half into a 4-inch-wide round. Lay one of the rounds on a lightly floured surface. With a flour-coated rolling pin, roll gently in short strokes from center of dough outward to form a 12-inch-wide round. If edges split, push back toward center to make relatively smooth. Occasionally lift dough and dust underneath with flour to prevent sticking.

4. Fold the rolled-out dough in half, lift gently without stretching, and lay folded edge across the middle of a 9-inch pie pan. Unfold pastry and fit into pan without stretching. Trim dough 3/4 inch beyond pan rim.

5. Fill as directed for cherry-blueberry pie.

6. On lightly floured board, roll remaining pastry dough into a 10-inch round.

7. With a pastry wheel or a sharp knife, cut six strips (3/4 in. wide) across center of round.

8. Place filled crust in front of you with blueberry quadrant at the upper left. Lay the longest pastry strip across pie with one edge adjacent to bottom of blueberry quadrant, then evenly space remaining strips across pie parallel to first strip. Cut away portions of strips over blueberry filling.

9. With a 1 1/2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter, cut 6 stars from remaining pastry; arrange over blueberry filling.

7. Fold edge of bottom crust over ends of strips, flush with pan rim. Flute decoratively.

Directions for Cherry and Blueberry Filling

1. In a large bowl, mix cherries with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. In a smaller bowl, mix blueberries with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

2. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a third bowl and gently stir 1 cup of the mixture into cherries and 1/4 cup into blueberries.

3. Spoon cherry mixture over 3/4 of the pastry in pan, leaving 1 quadrant free. Spoon blueberry mixture into unfilled area. Scatter butter evenly over fruit.

4. Top filling with stars and stripes as directed above. Set pie in a foil-lined 13- by 17-inch baking pan.

5. Bake on the bottom rack of a 400° regular or convection oven until fruit is bubbling in the center and pastry is well browned. That should take about 1 hour. If pastry edges brown too quickly (check after 40 minutes), cover loosely with foil.

6. Let pie cool on a rack for at least 3 hours; let stand at room temperature for up to 8 hours. Cut into wedges and serve with ice cream, if desired.

Enjoy and Happy 4th of July!

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