We are just a few days away from the Fourth of July and, as tradition goes, I always like to enjoy some classic American dishes for the holiday.
By JASPER J. MIRABILE JR.
There are always barbecue ribs on the table along with potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob and slaw. And for dessert the usual watermelon and pie. I love pie. Actually, I have never met a pie I didn’t like. I mean seriously, who doesn’t like pie?
Now pie is not as traditional as you may think. Historians make no mention of it when Columbus arrived nor at the first Thanksgiving table. What we do know is that the English introduced pies and they were not filled with fruit. The pies consisted of meat or chicken. The pie that we know today was actually introduced in the late 16th Century. Americans had to start growing fruit before they actually put the fruit into pie and we have all heard, “As American as apple pie.”
When I was growing up, there would always be the traditional apple pie during the summer. I mean seriously, what is more traditional than apple pie with a dip of vanilla ice cream. It just spells America and fireworks for the Fourth of July.
This year, I am changing things around a little bit. Actually, I’m playing with tradition. Instead of apples, I am adding cherries, and the pie I am making is more like a cheesecake. An uncooked cheesecake, that is. It is so easy to prepare. My mother used to make this recipe for our family when we were kids.
She actually took the recipe off a can of Eagle Brand Milk. She would always add some amaretto liqueur to the rich filling for that extra kick. Talk about delicious. My father loved this pie so much he added it to his famous dessert cart at Jasper’s Ristorante.
Now there is no reason you can’t experiment with Mom’s Amaretto Cherry & Cream Cheese Pie. You could always add blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or even peaches. I am thinking a combination of the berries would be nice. Perhaps something to represent the American flag? As for liqueur, you can add orange or raspberry or even lemon instead of amaretto. Believe me, any liqueur would taste great.
So on this Fourth of July, I hope you get to celebrate with a piece of pie. As for me, as you now know, I never met a pie I didn’t like, so I’m sure it will be more than a few slices of this pie on my plate. I mean come on, we have to keep the tradition going and I’m just doing my part.
Enjoy the holiday and our independence and don’t forget to do your part and enjoy a piece of pie.
Mom’s Amaretto Cherry & Cream Cheese Pie
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 14-ounce can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup Amaretto Liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 8- or 9-inch prepared graham cracker or baked pie crust
1 21-ounce can cherry pie filling, chilled
Beat cream cheese until fluffy in large bowl. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Stir in lemon juice, amaretto and vanilla. Pour into crust and chill 4 hours or until set. Top with desired amount of cherry pie filling before serving.
Source: Eagle Brand Milk with additional ingredients added by Mama Mirabile.
Chef Jasper Mirabile of Jasper’s commands the helm of his family’s 59-year-old restaurant, consistently rated one of Kansas City’s best Italian restaurants. In addition to running the restaurant with his brother, Mirabile is a culinary instructor, founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He hosts many famous chefs on his weekly radio show Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM and sells a line of dressings and sauces.