Monday, August 26, 2013

Peach-blueberry pie

I thought I'd posted a recipe for a basic fruit pie here before, but it seems I have not.  Pandowdies, cobblers, yes, but a two-crust pie, no.  Frankly, I don't make them too often, opting for the pandowdy (top crust only) or cobbler (sweet biscuit topping), or crisp (breadcrumb and oatmeal topping).   

So, at the request of my cousin Lea, here it is!  I've converted to metric where I could for Lea's sake. 

Fruit filling
6 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, sliced (about 4 cups by volume)
1 pint blueberries (about two cups by volume, probably about 3/4 lb, or about 350 g)
1 cup sugar (abut 225 g)
Pinch salt (3 g)
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (5 g?) [canella]
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (2 g?) [noce moscato]
2 tablespoons butter (60 g)
3 tablespoons Minute tapioca, flour, or corn starch (25 g)
Juice of half a lemon

Mix the fruit, sugar, salt, spices, lemon juice, and flour or cornstarch in a bowl.  Let sit 10 minutes. 

Pie crust
3 cups flour (375 g)
1 teaspoons salt (6 g)
14 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled (200 g)
½ cup ice-cold water (120 ml)

Pulse flour, salt, and butter in a food processor into pea-size crumbles. Add water; pulse until dough comes together. Divide dough in half and flatten each half into a disk. Wrap disks in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour before using.

Roll out half the dough, and fit into a pie plate.  Turn fruit mixture into the crust.  Dot with butter. Roll out the other half of the dough, and cover the fruit.   Tuck the edges of the top crust under the edges of the bottom crust all around the pie.  Crimp lightly.  Cut a few slits into the top crust as vents.

Bake in a pre-heated 400°F (200°C) for about 1 hour, or until the crust is nicely browned and the juices bubble up a bit.

 Fruit mixed with sugar, tapioca (or flour or cornstarch), spices, salt, lemon juice.

 Turned out into the bottom crust.  Dotted with butter.

 Top crust laid over fruit, edges crimped, vents cut into top crust.

 Golden brown and bubbly.

A slice of perfection!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Blueberry tiramisù

I'm honestly reluctant to call this dessert a "tiramisù," as it contains neither coffee, nor chocolate, nor mascarpone, nor eggs.  But it resembles a tiramisù in its structure (ladyfingers, or savoiardi), a flavoring, and a creamy layer, repeated.

In the same way that we now call pretty much anything in a stemmed cocktail glass a "martini," we'll call this a "tiramisù."

I opted to not use eggs as this will be traveling in 80-degree weather to a pool party, and thought the raw eggs typical in a tiramisù might not be the best idea.  I opted not to use mascarpone because it's unreasonably expensive, and for a pool party, Philadelphia cream cheese -- with a bit of whole-milk Greek yogurt to add some sharpness -- will do just fine. 

There are a few components to this dessert.  We'll do each separately. 

Lemon simple syrup
1 c sugar
1/2 cup water
Juice of half a lemon
Squeezed lemon rinds

Zest one lemon.  Set zest aside for later use.  Squeeze lemon halves into small bowl.  Set aside.
Combine sugar, water, and squeezed lemon halves in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Stir.  Lower heat to medium, and let simmer about 5 minutes until clear.  Set aside to completely cool.  Add half the lemon juice.

Blueberry compote
3 pints blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
Scant 1/2 cup water
Pinch of salt
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of cinnamon

Bring berries, sugar, water, and salt to a simmer.  Stir.  Let cook just a few minutes until there is a thin sauce.  Set aside to cool completely.  Stir in the other half of the lemon juice and the cinnamon.

Crème filling
2  8-oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
Pinch salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of a whole lemon
1/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
1 pint whipping cream

Whip cream to soft peaks in a bowl.  Set aside. 

Beat softened cream cheese with sugar, vanilla, salt, lemon zest, and yogurt, until the mixture is creamy and the sugar is dissolved (there will be no grittiness remaining). 

Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until combined.  Refrigerate until read to use.

Assembling the tiramisù
Simple syrup
Berry compote
Crème filling
1/2 pint fresh blueberries

Put a layer of soft ladyfinger cakes in a deep 9" x 13" baking dish or foil pan.  Lightly drizzle lemon-flavored simple syrup on the cakes.  Cover the cakes with half the berry compote.  Spread half the crème filling over the berries.  Repeat with another layer of cakes, syrup, berries, crème.  Top with the fresh blueberries. 

Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Syrup-soaked ladyfingers, with berry compote spread over.

Berries covered with creme filling.

Second layer.  Ladyfingers soaked with lemon-flavored syrup.

 Final layers of berry compote and creme filling, then topped with uncooked berries. 

Special bonus treat.  Leftover ladyfinger, spread with a bit of homemade raspberry jam, and a bit of creme filling, topped with another ladyfinger.   Dang.  Heaven on spongecake. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

August tomatoes

August.  Tomatoes.  Gratin.  Crostini. 

A great way to enjoy the wonderful tomatoes in the markets this month.  I picked up a few pounds of beautiful red and yellow tomatoes at a farm stand while driving across the Delmarva Peninsula this weekend, on my way from Stone Harbor, NJ to Annapolis MD.

The first thing I did after returning home was to make a quick Sunday supper of tomato and mozzarella crostini.  Magnificent.  These were the yellow tomatoes -- to my taste, quite different in character from red tomatoes.  Sweet, fruitier.

I toasted some good Italian bread, then rubbed the slices with a clove of raw garlic (you can see the garlic left after the rubbing in the photo).  Plopped a thick slice of tomato on top of each slice, seasoned with salt and pepper, then topped with a slice of fresh mozzarella and a good glug-glug of Spanish olive oil.

You could, if you had some lying about, put a dollop of basil pesto on each slice of bread or atop the mozzarella, but I didn't have any handy, so forewent the pesto.  Next time.  I need to make some pesto anyway with the bounty of basil in the garden.  

I made a tomato gratin as a side dish for Monday's dinner, to accompany oven-roasted sausage and peppers. 

2 tomatoes, sliced 1/4" thick (about 10 slices total)  (I used one red and one yellow tomato.)
1 Tbp butter
1 Tbp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 c panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper
3 Tbp grated parmigiano or pecorino cheese
2 Tbp chopped fresh basil
2 tsp thyme

Melt the butter and olive oil in a small skillet.  Add crushed garlic and saute 30 seconds.  Add bread crumbs, salt and pepper, and stir for a few minutes until very lightly -- but not fully -- browned, and the crumbs are completely coated with the oil and butter mixture.  Add basil, thyme, cheese.  Mix well.  Set aside. 

Arrange about 1/3 of the crumbs in the bottom of a greased gratin dish.  Bake in a 375°F oven for 10 minutes until golden brown.  Cool slightly.

Arrange half the tomato slices in the gratin dish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover with another 1/3 of the crumbs.  Add another layer of tomatoes.  Cover with the remaining 1/3 of the crumbs.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

Bake in a 375°F oven for about 20 minutes.