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Archive for the ‘Summer Desserts’ Category

To me, there is nothing better to do with summer fruit that fold it up into a delicious pastry crust. While the pie from my past post was pretty spectacular, it does take some time to make. The chilling of the dough and chilling of the pie are key parts to the success. So when patience is not on my side and I have an abundance of fruit in the house and I’m craving that perfect summer dessert, I turn to pie’s less-fussy, easier cousin, the galette. These free-form, open-faced tarts can be filled with nearly anything — some fruit with a bit of sugar, some cheese bound with a bit of egg.

I’ve made galettes with a variety of different doughs and was excited to try this week’s Tuesdays with Dorrie’s baking assignment. The recipe called for a mix of flour and cornmeal (a nice addition for a bit of texture) and a mix of butter and yogurt (another nice addition for a bit of tang). The biggest difference between a pie dough and a galette dough is the way it’s handled. Pie dough should have big steaks of butter/shortening in it and should not be overworked — this ensures a flaky crust, the hallmark of any good pie. Galette dough, on the other hand, should have the fat worked completely into the flour(s), creating a more sturdy dough with a crumbly instead of a flaky texture. This is good news for the speedy baker — it means making galette dough in a food processor is a great choice….your dough will be ready in minutes!

We stayed true to the recipe and filled this one with a mix of seasonal berries, added just a bit of sugar and honey, folded up the edges and in a short 35 minutes we had this lovely, golden galette.

 

This week I got a hug batch of plums in my Farm Box. I think a feel a plum and almond paste galette coming on….

Visit this week’s hosts for the full recipe: The Kitchen Lioness and Tomato Thymes.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am no pastry chef….and, in fact, I can hardly be called a baker. I think this has less to do with lack of schooling and more to do with lack of confidence. While I’ve cooked professionally for over a decade and can easily make delicious food for any size party, it takes nothing more than the simplest baking task to throw me (see: The Genoise Disaster). It’s worth clarifying that I have never been to a cooking class, never trained to be a culinary professional. But what I’m lacking in schooling I’ve made up for with my own earnest study of all things food related, a deep love of cooking/eating and an unfettered confidence (it’s just food, right?). While all of these things have seen me through my culinary career, they fail me when it comes time to bake. Maybe it’s because baking takes a precision that challenges my impatient nature. Maybe it’s because baking requires getting it right from the start and cooking allows you to fix and tinker as you go. Regardless, I tend to enter each TWD assignment with a little trepidation. But lately things have begun to to turn around….and this week’s Blueberry Nectarine Pie is a stunning example.

This pie is glorious summer perfection tucked between the best crust you’ll ever have. Big promises, I know. But this pie lives up to it. This should really be the master recipe for anyone who wants to make pie and is a little scared — it’s not only easy but also has some fail-safe steps that ensure success. (See the complete recipe on this week’s hosts: That Skinny Chick Can Bake and Manchego’s Kitchen.)

First, there’s the dough. As per most good pie dough recipes, this one uses part butter and part shortening (the butter ensures good flavor and the shortening ensures a flaky crust). This recipe makes enough for two double-crust pies. I considered cutting the recipe in half but realized this was the kind of thing that has gotten me into trouble with baking recipes before so I put my head down and did as I was told. I made the full recipe and froze the dough for the second pie. I made the dough by hand and it was a bit softer and wetter than the doughs I usually make — turns out this is what makes it so easy to roll out. Genius!!

While the dough was resting and chilling, I made the filling. The method for this filling was another revelation. I cooked HALF of the berries and nectarines with sugar and lemon zest and a bit of flour until thick and bubbly and then folded in the raw fruit and let cool. The result was the perfect jammy-pie-filling consistency that still has nice chunks of fruit. After the filling chilled I was ready to build.

This is where I usually get a little nervous — will the dough break? Will it be too sticky? Not this dough — it was the EASIEST roll-out I’ve ever experienced. The dough was soft and supple but not sticky. Success!! After filling the dough with the chilled fruit mixture and topping it with dots of butter, I covered it with the other round of dough and chilled the whole pie for about 30 minutes. The old me would have considered skipping this second chilling step thanks to that lack of patience I mentioned. But the new, better-baker version of myself knew better. So I let the pie rest, baked it for 50 minutes and was greeted with a gorgeous, golden pie with fruit filling bubbling through the vents.

Oh, and it tasted amazing, too! In fact, it was so good and so quickly gobbled up by my book club friends that I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of a cut slice. Whoops! The best part? I still have pie dough in my freezer and I’ll be getting peaches in my Farm Box next week. Peach Pie, here I come!!

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Did you know that July is National Ice Cream Month? As if we needed an excuse other than the warm weather of Summer to eat more ice cream 🙂 Every Summer around this time, I climb up my step ladder to the cupboard above my fridge — you know, the one that holds things rarely used like my waffle maker, bamboo steamer basket and ice cream maker. I dust off my ice cream maker and tuck the inner container in the freezer in preparation for the first homemade frozen treat of the season. Most years I make a basic strawberry ice cream for my first batch….I just love that fresh berry-and-cream flavor. Funny, I don’t ever buy strawberry ice cream. It’s one of those flavors that is best homemade when the berries are at their peak.

This year, I wanted to return to my beginning-of-summer-ice-cream-tradition but there was a little catch: I recently had to come to terms with the fact that I’m lactose intolerant. A sad, sad day indeed. But I couldn’t let my poor digestion ruin a seasonal tradition, so I decide to experiment with making strawberry sorbet. And boy am I glad I did!

 

First, it bears stating the obvious: sorbet is SO MUCH EASIER to make than ice cream! There’s no cream to heat, no eggs to temper, no custard to strain, no base to chill. It’s a simple matter of blending together fruit, your sweetener of choice and any additional flavorings and you’re ready to freeze. I did some reading and learned that getting the texture right in your sorbet (smooth and not icy) is reliant on the right ratio of sugar to fruit. I also learned a little trick: add a small amount of alcohol to your sorbet and it will stay smooth, soft and easy to scoop because alcohol doesn’t freeze solid. Brilliant!! So I decided to start with some market-fresh strawberries, use honey as my sweetener, add a bit of black pepper for a little kick and a splash of smokey mezcal (like tequila but so much better!!). I decided on honey because (A.) I like the flavor, and (B.) If I used sugar I would have had to make a simple syrup and allow it to cool.

 

I blended it all up until smooth, poured it in my ice cream machine and 15 minutes later had the most delicious soft serve sorbet. I decided to pop it in the freezer for another 2 hours and ended up with the perfectly scoopable sorbet that was full of berry flavor with a hint of floral honey and kick of black pepper. And that mezcal! It offered a smokey liquor aftertaste that was amazing. This recipe is definitely a keeper! Who needs dairy?!
Strawberry Sorbet with Black Pepper & Mezcal

makes about 3 cups

16 oz strawberries, cleaned, hulled and halved

1/4 cup honey

1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

1 tbl fresh lemon juice

2 tbl mezcal (or vodka or other liquors)

Place the inner canister of your ice cream maker in the freezer overnight to get very frozen.

Combine the berries, honey, pepper, lemon juice and mezcal in a blender and blend until smooth.

Place the frozen canister in your ice cream maker and pour in the sorbet base and freeze according to your ice cream maker’s manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze for about 15-20 minutes or until soft-serve consistency. Eat right away OR freeze in an air-tight container until firm.

 

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