Saturday, June 28, 2008


The Stonewall, TX Peach JAMboree experience (which I highly recommend) isn't complete without mutton riding, wild cow milking, and walking away with a half bushel of peaches. Some idea of what half a bushel minus 20 peaches looks like...
Needless to say, some peaches need eated.

Peach Project #1: Spiced Peach Pie with Buttermilk Crust

Pie crust and I have a brief, yet unhappy history together. However, as a firm believer that buttermilk makes everything better, this recipe prevailed. The crust rolled out easily and baked up tender; the cardamom and cinnamon gave the peaches a hint of warm, delicious spiciness.

I also made this pie with a handful of blackberries thrown in with tasty results. This crust recipe would work well for just about any fruit pie.

Spiced Peach Pie with Buttermilk Crust
Adapted from Bon Appétit | August 1999

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
5 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup chilled buttermilk

½ cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 3/4 to 4 pounds ripe peaches (about 6 cups fruit)
1 egg, beaten (for glaze)

Make crust (when you don’t have a processor):
Mix flour, sugar and salt. Toss in butter and lard. Take 2 steak knives and cut up the chunks into smaller bits. Should look like chunky flour, yum! With a spatula, stir in 3/4 cup buttermilk, smearing the bits of dough against the side of the bowl. Dough should look a might dry and crumbly, but comes together in a moist clump when you take a handful and squeeze it. Gather dough into ball. Divide into 2 pieces, 1 slightly larger than the other. Flatten each into disk. Wrap disks in plastic; chill at least 1 hour or overnight.

Peel your peaches:
Boil some water. Cut a little ‘X’ into the bottom of peaches and toss them into water for 30 seconds. Transfer them into a bowl of ice water for a few minutes. Peel, halve and pit peaches. Mix 3/4 cup sugar and next 4 ingredients in large bowl Slice peaches into bowl with sugar mixture; toss to coat. Let filling stand until juices form, 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out larger dough disk on floured surface to 12- to 13-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim overhang to 3/4 inch. Mound filling in dish. Roll out second disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Drape dough over filling. Pinch overhang and edge of top crust together. Fold edge under. Cut several slits in top crust. Crimp edge. Brush pie with beaten egg; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.

Place pie on center rack in oven. Bake 50 minutes. Place baking sheet on lowest rack to catch drippings. Continue to bake pie until crust is brown and juices bubble thickly through slits, covering very loosely with foil if top browns too quickly, about 20 minutes. Cool on rack 1 hour, or cut into it hot and let it run everywhere with a scoop of ice cream.

Monday, June 16, 2008

eat more veggies

I love carrot cake, but sometimes there's just too much going on. Pineapple, coconut, raisins, nuts... it skirts fruitcake at times.

Looking for simpler times, I have been eying this recipe I saw for Carrot Honey Cake. I finally made them outsourced their creation (thanks, friend!) in cupcake form for a dinner shindig, and my tummy was glad I did.

I often say that people think they can't cook because they follow poorly written recipes. Ambiguous phrases such as "mix until barely incorporated" or "cook till just done" add anxiety and don't tell the inexperienced cook what to look for. On the flip side, this carrot cake is a good example of a very well written recipe that is concise yet descriptive. At a glance it looks a bit wordy, but follow these directions and you will have a moist, subtly spicey cake with a nice hint of sweetness from the honey. They would be delicious as muffins sans cream cheese frosting, but why wouldn't you want cream cheese frosting?

good pie bad pie

Hard at work perusing my Google Reader news feed (procrastination: more efficient than ever!), I saw a recipe for strawberry pie. Deluded by promises of plump, fragrant berries in pie form I hit the market. Five pounds of strawberries richer, I was confident I was going to churn out a gorgeous scarlet red pie, nevermind my knack for misshapen pies.

Hasty, hasty, Jen. Had I taken the time to read the recipe carefully, I would have realized that I was setting myself up to make strawberry jello in a pie crust. As far as jello goes, this was a winner. I, however, am keen on my food having a little less wiggle to it.

With 3 lbs. of berries remaining, I felt the need for revenge of the strawberry pie. I settled on the recipe below, adapted from
Bon Appétit. This recipe was simple, fast, and gone soon after its conception. The orange zest provided a nice brightness, and the cookie crust was easy to make (no rolling out dough, yay!).

Strawberry Icebox Pie with Almond Crust

Adapted from Bon Appétit | April 2003

1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 2 graham crackers)
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

5 cups quartered hulled strawberries (about 24 oz)
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons orange zest

1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar

For crust:
Preheat to 350°F. Butter 9" pie dish. Coarsely chop almonds. Add graham cracker crumbs and sugar; mash up together to mix. Add butter, mix. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides of pie dish. Bake until crust looks toasty, about 12 minutes.

For filling:
Place 2 cups strawberries in medium saucepan.

Mash strawberries until chunky. Add sugar, cornstarch (slowly so you don't get clumps), and lemon juice. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture boils and thickens, about 3 minutes. Stir in orange zest. Transfer mixture to bowl. Cool to room temperature.

Stir in remaining 3 cups strawberries and grated orange peel. Mound filling in crust. Chill pie until cold and set, at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.

Using electric mixer, beat cream in large bowl until peaks form.

Spread whipped cream decoratively over filling. Cut pie into wedges and serve.
Spread a few spoonfuls of mixture over bottom of crust. Organize remaining strawberries till pretty. Mound filling in crust. Chill pie until cold and set.

Beat cream and sugar in large bowl until soft peaks form. Serve together!