Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper Parking Karma

Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper

I really like unexpected ingredients. From cocktails with pea tendrils to Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper.

Let me tell you how this Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper came to be. It’s a story as unexpected as the flavors in this pie. This Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper was inspired by a parking space in Hollywood.

Like most tall tales this story starts with vinegar. I’ve had a bottle of Honey Ridge Farms Balsamic Honey Vinegar hanging out in my pantry since Christmas. It was a gift from Honey Ridge Farms. I’ve been using it to shake some flavor on quick salads when I don’t have the energy or creativity to make a more demanding vinaigrette. It has enough flavor all on its own to add pizzazz to simple salads (especially arugula with lots of black pepper). However every time I shake some onto my green lunch leaves I can’t help but feel like I’m eating a dessert salad. This vinegar is made from pure honey and pure vinegar (and nothing else). It’s sweeter than any vinegar in my cabinet. It’s not overpoweringly sweet or cloying, but it’s sweet enough to notice.

This week, instead of reaching for the Honey Ridge Farms to shake onto my salad, I decided it was time to pair this vinegar with something sweeter than croutons. Strawberries seemed like the logical choice. They’re in season and they’re proven winners with balsamic vinegar.

However, it was late in the day in the middle of the week. Late in the day in the middle of the week means there are no farmers markets close enough to sanely consider. So I chose to drive to Trader Joe’s. I like Trader Joe’s well enough, but I don’t love it. Especially when it comes to produce. Too much packaging and most of their fresh fare doesn’t seem to last more than a day or two. But, as I said, it was late in the day in the middle of the week and I was on a mission to make a sweet and savory dessert with honey vinegar. Even if I got stuck with lousy strawberries.

I go to the Trader Joe’s in Hollywood at Selma and Vine. As with every other corner in Hollywood, they’re building something giant there. Which of course creates mayhem. Somehow between the orange cones and “temporary” scaffolding I missed the turn into the Trader Joe’s parking garage. I was really peeved at myself because this meant I had to circle around the block and attempt to make four more right turns. Right turns should be easier than left turns – but in Hollywood they’re not. Right turns mean you have to navigate through jammed crosswalks that are constantly in motion. The kind filled with tourists who suddenly step out of your blind spot while taking selfies and dawdling over the famous names on the sidewalk, or craning their necks for a glimpse of the Hollywood Sign. In other words, four right turns means four opportunities to kill a German family of four. I’d already maneuvered the gauntlet once. I didn’t want to press my luck.

I was just about to give up, when out of nowhere, I noticed an open parking space at Hollywood and Vine. At first I couldn’t register what was happening. I’d never seen an open parking space at Hollywood and Vine before. Was it a cruel trick? Was I on Candid Camera?

Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper

I didn’t stop to think, I parked. Then another miracle befell me. As I was swiping my credit card in the meter a street vendor appeared before me hawking fruit. Do tourists buy fruity souvenirs. Is street vending legal in this area? Does Trader Joe’s know about this? Am I dreaming?

Who cares? I went to see what the man had to offer. He didn’t have strawberries, but he did have gorgeous little blueberries. I was torn. If I bought these blueberries I’d have to give up this great parking spot before the meter ran out. But if I stuck around I could walk into Trader Joe’s and have the glory of telling the checker that I got a parking space right in front. He’d probably give me the lousy strawberries for free!

It was a hard decision. But, as you see from this Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper, I abandoned that parking space – and with it all my parking karma. Oh well, at least I did it for pie. GREG

Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black PepperBlueberry Balsamic Pie with Black PepperBlueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper I received a complimentary sample of Honey Ridge Farms Balsamic Honey Vinegar to make this Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper. All opinions are my own.

Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 8Source Adapted from Southern LivingPublished

If you don’t have Honey Ridge Farms Balsamic Honey Vinegar you can substitute another balsamic vinegar. In which case cut the sugar in half and add ⅓ cup honey to the berry mixture.

Blueberry Balsamic Pie with Black Pepper


  • 390 gram all-purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
  • 20 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter (cut into ½‑inch dice)
  • 2–3 ice cubes
  • ⅓ cup very cold water (plus more if necessary)
  • 2 pound fresh blueberries
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoon Honey Ridge Farms Balsamic Honey Vinegar (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 egg yolk (mixed with 1 teaspoon water as egg wash)
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar


In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment pulse flour and 1 teaspoon salt 5 or 6 times until well combined. Add 18 tablespoons butter, and continue pulsing 10 or 12 more times until the mixture is crumbly and coarse, with various-sized but obvious chunks of butter scattered throughout. Place 2 or 3 ice cubes, broken up if necessary into the feed tube of the food processor. With machine running, pour up to ⅓ cup very cold water through the ice-filled feed tube of the food processor, a tablespoon at a time until dough just comes together and begins to pull cleanly away from the sides of the bowl in jagged clumps. Don’t let the machine run too long and don’t worry if you don’t use all the water. Overworked dough and/or too much water are the main culprits in pastry that is tough or dense. However, in warm weather or dry climates you may need up to an additional 2 tablespoons more cold water. You’ll learn to know when it’s the right balance of wet and dry.

Move the dough to a lightly-floured work surface and gently knead 2 or 3 times. If the dough seems quite sticky or at all wet, sprinkle in another few teaspoons flour. Give dough another couple of quick, gentle kneads. Divide dough in half, shape into 2 discs, one about 6‑inches in diameter and 3/4‑inch thick, the other about 4‑inches in diameter and 3/4‑inch thick; wrap discs in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days) to distribute moisture evenly, or freeze up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.

When ready to form shell, transfer larger disc of chilled dough to a lightly flour work surface. Roll the dough to about a 13-inch round, a generous 1/8‑inch thick. Carefully fold dough in half, and slide it onto rolling pin. Transfer to a 9‑inch deep dish, or a 10-inch standard pie pan. Unfold the dough, easing it gently into pan; do not stretch dough. Let excess dough drape over the sides, trimming it to about ½‑inch overhang all the way around. Roll the second disc into an 11-inch round, a generous 1/8‑inch thick. Carefully fold dough in half, and slide it onto rolling pin. Transfer the round to a parchment line baking sheet, cover both the lined pie pan and the pastry round lightly with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator to chill.

Place oven rack in center position and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, place blueberries, cornstarch, sugar, vinegar, vanilla, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, cinnamon, and black pepper; gently fold the mixture until cornstarch dissolves. Pour into the chilled pie pan, and dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter cubes. Carefully fold the pastry disc in half and slide it onto a rolling pin. Transfer it to the top of the filled pie pan. Trim edges of pie, leaving a ½‑inch overhang, then fold the edges under and press together; flute or crimp decoratively. Refrigerate until chilled, about 20 minutes.

Brush top of pie lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinada sugar. Use the point of a sharp knife to pierce 4 or 5 steam vents decoratively into the top crust. Transfer pie to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in heated oven for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees F and continue to bake another 40 to 45 minutes or until the crust is well-browned and the juices are bubbling. It may become necessary to lightly cover the pie with foil for the last 10 or 15 minutes if the edges get too brown before the juices bubble.

Remove pie from oven and let cool completely on a rack. Slice and serve.