Showing posts with label Fresh Glazed Strawberry Pie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fresh Glazed Strawberry Pie. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pittsburgh Dads, Kennywood Park, and School Picnic Memories from Cleo Coyle

It came! The first “coatless” day of spring. (Thank goodness.) My husband, Marc, who refers to our winter parkas as “space suits,” is not only cheered by the return of warmth, he’s downright nostalgic. 

I first met (and fell for) Marc here in New York City, but we didn’t grow up here. Our childhoods were spent (much like our amateur sleuth Clare Cosi) in small towns outside of Pittsburgh, PA, which gave us a common denominator of memories, including the culinary kind. 

Some of you may recall my past posts about recreating the Ohio Valley's Eat'n Park Fresh-Glazed Strawberry Pie or “Pittsburgh-style” Chipped Ham Sandwich... (Check out the comments on the Chipped Ham post and you’ll see a discussion that includes a bit of Pittsburghese.) 

My copycat Eat'n Park Strawberry Pie
For the recipe click here.
Well, when you grow up in Steelers’ country, the first warm day of spring usually means two things: excitement over the end of the school year and the annual picnic at Kennywood, a beautiful little amusement park that's been owned and run by the same family for over 100 years. (Along with New York's Rye Playland, Kennywood is one of only two amusement parks listed in the National Register of Historic Places.)

If you’d like to see what our annual
“school picnic” ritual looked like in this
adorable, landmark amusement park, watch
the “Pittsburgh Dad” comedy video below,
which was filmed on location at Kennywood… 

To play the video, click the little white arrow
in the center of the image below...

For those of you who grew up in the Ohio Valley, the comedian in the above video will have you falling off your chairs. I fell off mine and so did Marc. Although we didn’t grow up together, we both grew up with “Pittsburgh Dads,” and the video above looked very much like our school picnic with one exception—the food...

When we were young, we couldn’t wait to stuff ourselves with cotton candy, chocolate dipped ice cream cones, and bright red candy apples. Our parents, however, weren’t about to watch us turn green from riding roller coasters all day with a system full of nothing but sugar.

Their answer was the “picnic” part of the school picnic. They brought big coolers full of homemade food, and Kennywood provided beautiful shaded groves with old-fashioned wooden picnic tables for families to enjoy their own noshes. 


Cleo and her partner in crime writing,
her husband Marc. Together they write
The Coffeehouse Mysteries.
Speaking of nostalgia: Remember when you could plunk a big old basket down on a picnic table, spend a few hours on the park’s rides, and come back to find your food untouched, even the soft drinks still there? Okay, so the "good old days" weren’t always good—but the part where you didn’t have to lock every little thing down to keep it from being lifted? Well, I do miss that! 

As for my recipe today, it’s one of the items Marc’s grandmother always made for their family’s "school picnic" basket. With Easter dinner leftovers still sitting in fridges across the country, I hope this ham salad recipe comes in handy. If you make it, I sincerely hope you will... 

Eat with joy,

~ Cleo 

Cleo Coyle's
"School Picnic" Ham Salad

On school picnic day, the heavy steel cooler in Marc's family was packed with cold fried chicken, deviled eggs, potato salad, and (for dessert) homemade fudge. There was always another tasty treat in that cooler, ham salad and crackers for snacking. Here's our favorite recipe, based on Marc's grandmother's.

Too retro for you? No problem. Just call it "American Pâté" serve it with a glass of wine, and garnish those ham-salad topped crackers with slices of jalapeño and cured, pitted olives seasoned with Herbes de Provence. (Ooh là là!)

To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.

3 cups ham, fully cooked
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
2 heaping teaspoons dill relish (you can swap in sweet)
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 green onion, chopped (or 1 T. chopped shallots)
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard (or yellow if you like)
1/2 cup mayonnaise


Grind your ham slices with a blender, food processor, meat grinder, or (use the method of Marc's grandmother), a pastry blender! (See our photo.) Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Chill and serve on your favorite crackers or slices of crusty baguette. 

Eat with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Friend me on facebook here
Follow me on twitter here.
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 

To learn more, click here. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mysteries of Pittsburgh: How to Make Fresh Strawberry Pie, an Eat’n Park copycat by Cleo Coyle

I first posted my copycat recipe for Fresh Glazed Strawberry Pie back in 2009. For a short time, the link lived on my website, and then I bumped it for newer posts. With strawberry season upon us, I thought it was about time I shared this baby again. But first, a few words about its Pittsburgh origins...

I have plenty of favorite diners here in Queens, New York, but my heart belongs to Eat'n Park, a beloved regional diner chain located where I grew up, outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The place began during the days of the 1950’s car hops when everyone thought it was real keen to park and eat right in their hot rods.

Eat'n Park doesn’t serve you in your "ride" anymore. They're now a family restaurant and coffee shop chain serving a great American menu and the most amazing fresh glazed strawberry pie that I ever had.

I actually dropped a note to Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, suggesting he check it out. 

BTW - If you're a fan of Guy's show, and you’re wondering if he's ever visited any of your favorite diners or dives, click here and scroll down. The site lists all of the diners and dives (by state) that Guy has featured on his TV show thus far.

Back to that pie... 

My husband, Marc, and I grew up on Eat'n Park's food, and for years we pined for their strawberry pie because nobody even tries to do it the same way here in New York. Consequently, three summers ago, I decided to step up and attempt a copycat recipe. My multiple experiments were, well . . . interesting. Witness the beauty below.

Pretty to look at but about as tasty as waxed fruit. I’d used too much unflavored gelatin, which gave it great firmness but after a few hours rendered it as rubbery as an inner tube.

Next I reduced the gelatin way down—and got soup. Then I added cornstarch for thickening and the raw, chalky taste made my husband want to gag. Back to the drawing board . . . and finally, eureka! A combo of flavored gelatin, unflavored gelatin, flour, sugar, water, and strawberry jam created one of the best glazed strawberry pies we ever tasted.

Is it a worthy copycat Eat'n Park pie recipe? We think so. Now when warm weather begs for a delicious 
chilled fruit pie with sweet whipped cream, I whip up this recipe, take a bite, and suddenly I'm back in Someplace Special.

(And if you're from
Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, grew up on Chipped Ham Sandwiches, and can actually pronounce the names of the Three Rivers, then the phrase "Someplace Special" won't be a mystery to you. :))

Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Cleo Coyle’s 
Fresh Glazed Strawberry Pie


To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Servings: Makes one 9-inch pie      


2 pounds (about 2 quarts) fresh strawberries
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (for thickening)
2 tablespoons strawberry gelatin (for flavor & jelling)
2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (to speed & fortify jelling)
3 tablespoons strawberry jam or jelly (for glazing flavor - do not use diet 
   or fruit juice sweetened)
1-1/4 cup water
1 pre-baked pie shell*

*Note on pie shell: Use my favorite Sweet Pie Crust recipe. (You'll find it attached to the PDF of my Strawberry Pie recipe here.) Or use your own favorite pie or tart crust recipe. In a pinch, frozen or store-bought pie crusts will work. Just be sure to bake them first.

Step 1—Prepare strawberries: Because berries retain water, do not
wash until ready to use. Dry completely, gently squeezing each berry with
a paper towel. Remove stems and cut in half. If berries are large,
cut into quarters. Place cut berries in a bowl and set aside.

Step 2—Combine dry ingredients: In a separate, dry bowl combine
sugar, flour, strawberry and unflavored gelatins. With a dry fork whisk
these ingredients together. Use fork prongs to press out lumps in flour.
(Make sure bowl and fork are truly dry. Stray drops will clump up your

Step 3—Make glaze: In a nonstick saucepan, stir together water and
strawberry jam (or jelly) and bring to boil over medium heat. Stir in dry
ingredients a little at a time until completely dissolved. Bring to a second
boil and simmer and stir for 8 full minutes (do not remove early). Use your
spoon or spatula to press out any visible clumps from your dry ingredients.
As glaze cooks, it will thicken and darken. Bubbles will become large and
make quiet popping sounds. After 8 minutes, remove from heat.

Step 4—Glaze strawberries: Pour hot glaze over fresh, cut strawberries.
Fold gently to coat evenly and mound into baked and cooled pie shell (or
store bought crust). With clean fingers, arrange the strawberries to make
a pretty presentation by turning the sliced sides down. Chill in refrigerator
for 2–3 hours to set. Because newly glazed berries will stick to plastic wrap,
do not cover until after the pie is well chilled. 

F o o d i e 

P h o t o s

The photos above 
illustrate my favorite 
sweet pie crust recipe.

To get that recipe,
click here.

s now attached to the end
of my 
Strawberry Pie recipe.)

Serve with sweetened
whipped cream and…

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 

To get more of my recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.