Peach Custard Pie

August 12, 2011

We just came back from visiting Will’s family in South Carolina! It was so relaxing. I read 4 books (including The Hunger Games SO GOOD), stuffed myself with fried chicken, and, let’s be honest, watched a lot of reality television. And received this trivial pursuit question during a game with my sister-in-law, Brianna and her boyfriend. Q: What animal is produced when a bottle-nosed dolphin is crossed with a false killer whale. A: A wholphin. FOR REAL.

One spectacularly hot day, our friends Vickie and Mike invited us to their lakehouse.

We did this:

And this:

And a whole lot of this:

Will’s mom and sister, Lily, and I baked this pie, too. There are a good amount of steps, but the sweet peaches, creamy custard, and buttery crust are well worth the effort. You know what else is worth the effort? Driving down a country road for boiled peanuts and an ice cold Coke.

Happy August, everyone!

PEACH CUSTARD PIE (from Martha Stewart Living, June 2011)

Serves 8

Ingredients (Pate Brisee)

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

Salt

2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces

1/3 to 2/3 cup ice water

Recipe (Pate Brisee)

Dump flour, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in  bowl, mix until combined. Cut butter into flour mixture using either a pastry cutter or 2 knives, until mixture looks like coarse meal. Slowly pour 1/3 cup ice water over flour/butter mixture, and stir in with a fork until dough holds together when pressed together with two fingers. Dough should be damp, but not wet or sticky. If dough is too dry, add more ice water by the tablespoon until dough is proper consistency.

Divide dough in half and pat into 2 disks. Wrap plastic wrap around in disk. Place in refrigerator until firm, (at least one hour and up to one day).

Ingredients (Pie)

4 medium ripe but firm peaches (about 1 1/3 pounds)

2 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

Recipe (Pie)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle flour over surface and roll out pate brisee. Place dough onto a 9-inch pie plate, and trim crust so it has about an inch of dough hanging over the edge. Fold the trim under the edges and press it down using your fingers or the tines of a fork. Use a fork to prick holes in the bottom of the pie. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  2. Place a piece of parchment over the crust. Fill crust with pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice. Bake for 20 minutes, take out of oven, and remove parchment and pie weights/beans/rice. Remove from oven; remove beans and parchment. Return crust to the oven and bake until the crust turns a golden brown color (about 11 more minutes).
  3. Make your filling: Boil a pot of water. Make an ice water bath. Slice an X into the bottom of every peach. Boil peaches for 1 minute and then dunk them in the ice-water bath. When cool enough to touch, peel and pit your peaches. Cut peaches into wedges but, if you’d like, leave one half peach in tact for the center of the pie.
  4. Place eggs, sugar, butter, flour, and salt and whisk until combined. Pour this mixture into pie crust. Place peach half in the center of the pie, cut side down, and surround it with wedges.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes. (Tent crust with a foil ring after 15 minutes.) Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Apple Crumble

September 20, 2010

A few days ago, two of my friends and I were discussing our favorite desserts. I had a slight epiphany when I realized mine was a cobbler or crumble. What a great favorite dessert! It’s so easy to make. Hooray for me.

And Saturday, we had a day that was misty and cold that actually felt like a blessing after all these hot and sunny days we’ve been having. I left football tailgating early to do what I have wanted to do ever since the beginning of summer: spend an afternoon making food that reminds me of Fall. No more salad. No more cold soup. Only things requiring cinnamon, oatmeal, brown sugar, or any combination of the three. This is my first apple crisp of the year.

I decreased the flour in this recipe from 1 cup to 1/2 cup, because I like my crumbles to be mostly crispy oatmeal, rather than mostly cake. But if you prefer a more cake-y crumble, keep the flour at the original recipe’s 1 cup.

Happy Autumn, everyone!

APPLE CRUMBLE (adapted from Bon Appetit’s Apple Crumble, October 2003)

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 4 pounds large Granny Smith apples, peeled, halved, cored, each half cut into 6 slices
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Vanilla ice cream

Recipe

Mix oats, 1 cup sugar, and flour in bowl. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until topping comes together in moist clumps. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Mix apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, and 1/2 cup brown sugar in bowl. Transfer to dish. Sprinkle topping over.

Bake crumble until apples are tender and topping is brown and crisp, about 55 minutes. Cool slightly. Spoon warm crumble into bowls. Serve with ice cream.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

September 9, 2010

I have always been intrigued by Moroccan Preserved Lemons. Those bright yellow orbs floating in a jar bring to mind some kind of odd science experiment. I was up late one night, bored, and declared to Will, “I must make them!” And after I made them, I realized I had no idea how to use them. I also had no idea what they would taste like.

Regarding their taste, they are really quite lovely and exotic. They taste almost like a salty, fragrant, lemon candy. Regardung how to use them, I was a bit perplexed. I knew they were sometimes part of a Moroccan dish called “Lamb Tagine,” but I could only find them used as an ingredient in only a handful of recipes. But, since a marinade is composed of a fat, an acid, and an aromatic (see my Marinade Basics) and since we had lamb in our fridge, Will and I used it to marinate and then sprinkle over the lamb, which was very good. The preserved lemons, here, are so fragrant they function as both the acid and the aromatic. I just chopped them into bits and mixed it with a little canola oil (which would not not to overpower the lemony taste. Also because Thomas Keller usually uses canola oil over olive oil in situations like this). I’ve also tried it sprinkled over sauteed vegetables which I like very much.

To use these, rinse and scoop out the flesh. You can use all of the rind.

Oh, and just a note. Don’t be like me and try to make these when you have a papercut. Unless you like to rub both salt and lemon juice in your wounds.

MOROCCAN PRESERVED LEMONS (from David Lebovitz’s Moroccan Preserved Lemons)

  • Scrub the lemons with a vegetable brush and dry them off.
  • Cut off the little rounded bit at the stem end if there’s a hard little piece of the stem attached. From the other end of the lemon, make a large cut by slicing lengthwise downward, stopping about 1-inch (3 cm) from the bottom, then making another downward slice, so you’ve incised the lemon with an X shape.
  • Pack coarse salt into the lemon where you made the incisions. Don’t be skimpy with the salt: use about 1 tablespoon per lemon.
  • Put the salt-filled lemons in a clean, large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add a few coriander seeds, a bay leaf, a dried chili, and a cinnamon stick if you want. (Or a combination of any of them.)
  • Press the lemons very firmly in the jar to get the juices flowing. Cover and let stand overnight.
  • The next day do the same, pressing the lemons down, encouraging them to release more juice as they start to soften. Repeat for a 2-3 days until the lemons are completely covered with liquid. If your lemons aren’t too juicy, add more freshly-squeezed lemon juice until their submerged, as I generally have to do.
  • After one month, when the preserved lemons are soft, they’re ready to use. Store the lemons in the refrigerator, where they’ll keep for at least 6 months. Rinse before using to remove excess salt.

To use: Remove lemons from the liquid and rinse. Split in half and scrape out the pulp. Slice the lemon peels into thin strips or cut into small dices. You may wish to press the pulp through a sieve to obtain the flavorful juice, which can be used for flavoring as well, then discard the innards.

Rustic Strawberry Tart

June 4, 2010

There was a giant box (2lbs!) of strawberries on sale at Whole Foods and I decided to go for it. This summery weather does not entice me to spend long hours in the kitchen, but most of this particular day was cloudy and so I decided to make a tart. YUM. I wish I’d made four! I wouldn’t say this is the greatest pie crust I’ve ever made, (not quite as flaky as I wanted), but it’s still really good. Also, I have a secret. I have done something some may say is unforgivable. I made a pie crust from… Cooking Light.  I know, I know. But it seriously didn’t taste like it was light. It was quite delicious, actually.

Is anyone here good at rolling dough into a circle while it’s encased in Saran Wrap? I managed to form something that resembled a parallelogram, but that’s about as close as it got. Fortunately, the name rustic allots for such derivations from the instructions. The truth is, I love things that are rustic and imperfect because I love things that look homemade. Attempting to arrange my strawberries in concentric circles for this tart was laughably futile but the tarts were still charming to me.

So there you go. You can pile on some whipped cream or some ice cream or just eat it straight up and cold like I did at work. It was a much needed break from a crazy day! And, believe it or not, you can’t tell it’s light (I mean, without the whipped cream of course). Seriously, I wouldn’t lie to you. I just thought I’d venture outside the box in honor of swimsuit season. And I am so glad I did!

Tune in next time when Will and I receive our first CSA delivery of the season and figure out what to do with 3lbs mixed field greens, 3lbs arugala, 3lbs spinach, 3lbs of an unidentifiable leafy green, mustard greens, green onions, and easter radishes. You know, besides eat salad for breakfast (TWICE!)

RUSTIC STRAWBERRY TART (adapted from Rustic Strawberry Tart at TheKitchenSinkRecipes.com who adapted it from Cooking Light)

Serves 4, makes two tarts

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces, divided

3 1/2 tablespoons ice water

2 cups sliced strawberries

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Zest of half a lemon

1/2 teaspoon corn starch

1 pinch salt

2 tablespoon Sugar in the Raw

To prepare crust, lightly spoon 1 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 1 cup flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; cut in 3 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 3 1/2 tablespoons ice water; stir just until moist. Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface; knead lightly 5 times. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Place each dough portion between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; roll each dough portion, still covered, into an 8-inch circle. Chill 20 to 30 minutes (until the plastic wrap peels easily away from the dough).

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the berries, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, corn starch and salt. Stir to combine.

Preheat oven to 350°. Uncover dough; place dough circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange half of the strawberries in a pinwheel pattern in one of the dough circles, starting in the middle and forming concentric circles of strawberries, leaving a 2-inch border. Repeat with the second dough circle and remaining berries.

Fold up the edges of the dough circles over the berries, crimping to seal. Lightly brush the pastry with the beaten egg. Sprinkle the two rounds with the raw sugar.

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Mango Salsa

April 22, 2010

Let me preface this by saying that this recipe turned out poorly. Don’t be fooled by my colorful pictures. It was waaaay too onion-y and bitter for my taste. However, it wasn’t totally fruitless (har). Along the way, I found this excellent tutorial on how to cut a mango. And, for the first time in my life, I started with a mise en place. It felt like it took a billion extra hours but I did it.

Will has a very unfortunate impediment for a food lover–Will hates onions. I can slip them into food if I cook them, sometimes, but he really detests them raw. I only like them raw in salsa or guacamole so this hardly ever impairs my cooking. I thought if I made the salsa early and let it rest for a while, the acid in the lime might cut through some of the onion-y taste. No such luck. Oh well. I’ll look for a recipe with a higher mango to onion ratio next time. Any suggestions? And speaking of food impediments, here’s an interesting article for you few but mighty cilantro-haters out here. Turns out your revulsion may not be your fault, it might just be the fault of evolution.

Well, I’m bummed I don’t have a good recipe to share this post. I’m sorry, friends. But here’s a picture of an onion wearing a mango hat!

MANGO SALSA (adapted from Ellie Krieger’s Mango Salsa)

Ingredients

1 mango, peeled and diced

1/2 cup peeled, diced cucumber (mushy inside and seeds removed)

1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno

1/3 cup diced red onion

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves

Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Recipe

Combine all ingredients in bowl. Let sit at least 30 minutes before serving.

Remember those 4 pints of strawberries I bought? Well the compote only used up 2 of those pints. Fortunately, this means I can have my favorite pre-work breakfast of greek yogurt and strawberries, and make Will and my very favorite salad. It’s a cinch to put together, and makes a full meal when paired with a crusty hunk of bread. Strawberries, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar is a classic pairing. It makes for something that’s sweet, spicy, and tart. This salad will make you want to eat your greens!

SPINACH, GOAT CHEESE, AND STRAWBERRY SALAD (serves 2)

I’ve also substituted raspberries for the strawberries in this salad, which is also delicious.

Recipes

3 cups fresh spinach

5 oz goat cheese

8 large strawberries, cut into slices

Black pepper

Balsamic vinegar

Ingredients

Divide spinach into two bowls. Lay strawberry slices across spinach. Crumble goat cheese over salads. Grind black pepper over greens, (a little if you like a little spice, a lot if you like a lot of spice). Sprinkle on balsamic vinegar to taste.

I almost let out a shriek of delight in the produce aisle today. I was scanning the vegetables when, there, nested between the parsley and the carrots was… RHUBARB! I haven’t seen it since last summer, though I have fantasized about it’s return. I know it’s a bit early for rhubarb, but I am impatient by nature and bought a bunch of it. I had no idea what I’d make with it, but I figured 6 stalks should have me covered. (Yes, I do have a tendency to get carried away, in case you haven’t noticed).

Then, as if fate was intervening in my dessert menu for tonite, strawberries were $2.99 per pint! So I bought 4 pints. Thankfully, I know how to can, which is what I did tonite. Can lots of Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote and  spoon a bunch of it over vanilla ice cream.

If you would like to read more about buying and preparing rhubarb, click here for a nice rhubarb rundown. Here is the gist of it: chop the ends off your rhubarb, remove any dark spots with a vegetable peeler, and, most importantly, DO NOT EAT THE LEAVES. They are poisonous. This is why rhubarb is the badass of the vegetable world. And yes, it is a vegetable!


If you like rhubarb you’ll love this. I’m already making plans for my canned compote. These plans include a slump and a topping for waffles. I could also probably eat it straight up. When I was eating this dessert, I kind of went into a rhubarb trance and when I finally came to, I was licking the bowl and Will was laughing.  Now that is what I call a success!

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB COMPOTE (from Martha Stewart Weddings)

I wound up doubling this recipe so I could can it. And because I impulse purchased 6 stalks of rhubarb at the store.

Ingredients

2 cups fresh strawberries (rinsed, hulled, chopped)

1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 3/4 cups trimmed rhubarb, cut into 1/4 in pieces (about 2 large stalks)

2 tablespoons water

Recipe

  1. Stir strawberries, 1/4 cup sugar, and lemon juice in a small nonreactive pan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Remove strawberries; place in a bowl and let cool. Set aside pan with strawberry liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, in another small pan over medium-low heat, combine rhubarb, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, and the water. Simmer gently, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved and rhubarb is almost tender, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rhubarb to bowl with strawberries. Add strawberry liquid to pan.
  3. Raise heat to medium and simmer until thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes. Let cool. Stir into strawberry-rhubarb mixture.