30 July 2010

Peach Pie with Lattice Crust - The Perfect Summer Dessert






Peach pie with a lattice crust is my all-time favorite pie. I know, I know, I just blogged about peaches last Friday. Can't help myself--these peaches are that good! I may be blogging about them next Friday as well. As I mentioned last time, I found these peaches at a chain supermarket of all places. I actually smelled them before I saw them! They are organic and grown as close to home as peaches can be grown.

I had to walk past all the conventionally grown produce to get to the organic section. Though I would never buy a peach that wasn't organic, I picked them up and smelled them anyway. Nothing! I could have been holding a fuzzy ball of styrofoam, for all my nose knew! And people buy those things!

Anyway ... got my fragrant little beauties home and decided to wait a day or two to make the pie just so I would have more time to enjoy looking at--and smelling--them. I believe they are called "Elegant Lady," a yellow-fleshed freestone named for its elegant balance of sugar and acid. They have a deep red flush (or, some might say, a crimson blush) on the thin, not-too-fuzzy skin with just a bit of yellow showing.

And these fabulous family farmers must be very good at timing the picking. You can tell a peach that has been picked too soon by its "green shoulders" around the stem end. Not a single peach in the entire display had green shoulders. I don't want to give these up! I contacted the distributor to see how long they'll be available. The nice man, Homegrown Organic Farms director of marketing Scott Mabs, told me they would probably be finishing up by mid-August.

About the pie: gorgeous, isn't it? You've got to make one! And tell me all about it. Eating vicariously is better for my waistline. C'mon, talk to me about pies!


(Added 05/28/15: Peach Slab Pie - Buttermilk Pastry)

Peach Pie(Makes one 9-inch pie, 8 servings)

Pastry for double-crust pie (Click and scroll for the pastry)
2 1/2 pounds (about 5 large) peaches
1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
tapioca flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (No, that "1/8" is not a typo!)
1/8 teaspoon mace or nutmeg (I want you to taste the peaches!)

1 Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 13-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Line 9-inch glass pie plate with pastry, trimming overhang to about 3/4 inch. Place in refrigerator.

2 On a piece of parchment, roll out second disk of dough just like the first. With a straight edge and a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 10 even strips about 3/4 inch wide. Transfer, on the parchment, to a rimless baking sheet, cover with plastic or parchment, and refrigerate while preparing filling. All-butter pastry is fussy about being kept cold!

3 Peel peaches (or not, if they're thin-skinned and smooth like these) and slice into a large bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure). You'll have about 6 cups of sliced peaches. (I slice them like this: Quarter peach, cut each quarter into 4 wedges, cut wedges in half.) In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, tapioca flour (vastly superior to cornstarch or any other thickener for fruit pies), salt and spices; add to peaches and mix gently but well. Pour into pie shell.

4 Working from the center, lay 5 strips of dough across the pie in one direction. Fold back every other strip halfway. Place a long strip of dough in the center going the other way. Unfold the folded strips over the crossing strip. Repeat with remaining 4 strips. Trim the overhanging strips even with the bottom crust and crimp the edge.

5 Place a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet in the middle of the oven to catch any drips, and place the pie on the baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Lower temperature to 350, and bake for an additional 35 minutes (juices should be bubbling). Cool on wire rack for at least 2 hours before serving.


23 July 2010

Peaches - Just Peaches





Peaches have been in season for a while, but I didn't buy any until yesterday. It was not until yesterday that I found a peach I could smell. I've found if it doesn't smell peachy, it isn't going to taste peachy. If I can find more fabulously fragrant yellow peaches, I'll be making lots of peach pies, cobblers and shortcakes. And pots of jam. But these first ones had to be enjoyed with no embellishment. And it was a Delightful Repast!

To me, a white peach is not a peach. A white peach does not have enough acid, flavor or texture to stand up to cooking. And I don't care for them raw either. My peaches must be yellow. And they must be organic--free of the multiple pesticides regularly applied to peaches in conventional orchards. I look for them at the farmers markets, natural foods stores and even, now, the supermarket. In fact, I found these little beauties at a chain supermarket!

I looked at the label to see where they were grown. Whatever produce I'm buying, it must be local or as close to local as possible. Peaches aren't grown in my immediate area, so I look for ones grown in my state or region. Needless to say, I enjoy them only in summer as I never buy the out-of-season imports.

With a little sleuthing, I was able to use the scant information on the label to track down the farmer who grew these peaches, Peterson Family Farm. I love supporting family farmers who are growing organic produce and being good stewards of the land.

So, no recipe today! Just ...

1 Buy some perfectly ripe and fragrant organic yellow peaches grown as close to where you live as possible.
2 Wash them. No need to peel, just wipe off as much fuzz as you can.
3 Slice into a pretty bowl.

Sweet, easy and delicious, and not a refined carbohydrate in sight! Can't say that's not comfort food!

I'd love to hear your "peach stories." And your thoughts on sustainable, local, organic foods.

16 July 2010

Apricot Hand Pies - Apricot Turnovers








Aunt Sissy, even in her 70's and 80's, was always ready to go camping (albeit luxury camping) with friends and family. Everyone, but especially her grandchildren, loved the special treats Nana brought to the campground or to the cabin. One of those family favorites was her apricot hand pies. Sweet, tangy filling in a tender, golden crust. No plates and forks required, they're perfect for snacking on the go.

I've been making pies since I was a teenager, and I always made my crust by hand. Much as I loved my Cuisinart* (I've had it since 1980), I never used it for pie crust. Until recently. I find myself more and more inclined to take advantage of the "mod cons." Come to find out, I think my all-butter crust actually turns out better in the Cuisinart. Just don't over-process, especially after the liquid is added.

Aunt Sissy's Apricot Hand Pies (more widely known as Nana's Apricot Pies)
(Makes 12 5- to 6-inch pies)

2 6-ounce packages dried apricots
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pastry (see below)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Cut dried apricots into 1/4-inch strips (the short way, if the apricots aren't round). In 1.5-quart saucepan, combine apricots and water. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in sugar, and return to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until most of the water has been absorbed and mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. It will thicken more as it cools. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours, before assembling pies.

2 While apricot filling is cooling, make pastry and chill two round disks of dough for 30 to 60 minutes. When ready to assemble, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Working with one at a time, cut each disk of dough into 6 wedges. Keep them in the freezer while you work with one piece at a time; butter pastry must be kept cold. Round the wedge of dough and, on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll into a 5- to 6-inch circle. Using a saucer of that size as a guide (I use a 5.5-inch saucer), trim any strangely shaped edges.

3 Place 2 level tablespoons (I use a metal 1/8-cup measure) of apricot filling on one side of the circle. (You may portion out all the filling on a plate first--it's that thick--to ensure you don't end up with too much or too little for the last one.) Fold in half, pressing edges to seal (I like to finish with a fork). Place on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat for total of 12 pies. In small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle pies with cinnamon-sugar. Bake at 400 degrees until golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.


Pastry (food processor method)

2 1/2 packed cups (12.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
2 tablespoons lemon juice or cider vinegar
Ice water to make 3/4 cup liquid

1 With metal blade in place, add flour, salt and baking powder to work bowl of food processor. Turn on for three seconds to combine. Add half the frozen butter and process for 10 seconds or until mixture has the consistency of coarse meal. Add remaining butter and pulse for six 1-second pulses, or until the frozen butter is the size of small peas.

2 In 3/4-cup measure, combine lemon juice and ice water. Pour over all of flour mixture; pulse for six 1-second pulses or just until dough forms large clumps; do not over-process. (The amount of water you will need depends on your climate and the moisture content of your flour. You may not need to use quite as much water as I do.)

3
Turn dough out onto work surface. Divide dough into two balls. Place each ball on a piece of plastic wrap and flatten slightly into a 4-inch round disk; double wrap; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to three days. (Let thoroughly chilled dough stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling.)

* I have the DLC-10E, which (understandably after all this time) is no longer available. See the "My Little Shop" page for a current model.

09 July 2010

Pancakes - Perfect Pancakes, Hotcakes, Whatever You Call Them


Pancakes - Perfect Pancakes / www.delightfulrepast.com

Pancakes are my favorite comfort food breakfast. I can't eat pancakes without thinking of my Southern grandmother. Grandma made The Best pancakes--actually, she called them hotcakes (Is that a Southern thing?). 

She made them really thick and fluffy, about 4 inches in diameter. I've never had much success making thick ones, though it's probably just a matter of more baking powder along with less milk. She served them with lots of butter and hot homemade syrup.

This is my basic pancake recipe, arrived at through trial and error over the years. Sometimes I use different whole grain flours, but I always use this formula. And, if I have some buttermilk, sour cream or plain yogurt languishing around, ready to go off, I might use 1/2 cup of that in place of 1/2 cup of the milk.
 

The pancakes aren't the super thin ones my mother liked (Is that an English thing?), but they're not as thick as Grandma's. What is your ideal pancake? Do you make them yourself or go out for them?


Pancakes


(Makes twelve 5-inch round pancakes)

1 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (7.5 ounces/213 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces/355 ml) milk,* room temperature
3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces/43 grams) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled


* I usually do the "buttermilk substitute" thing: Put 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar in a 2-cup glass measure and add enough milk to make 1 1/2 cups. But they're good with just plain milk, too.

1 Since I don't currently have one of those large, rectangular electric griddles, in order to serve everyone at the same time I must preheat oven to 200 degrees (actually, I now have a warming drawer) and, as each batch is cooked, place the pancakes slightly overlapping on an ovenproof platter, cover loosely with foil and keep in the oven.

2 Lightly oil the griddle (I currently have a round one but plan to get a square one again, the
All-Clad LTD 11-Inch Square Nonstick Griddle
) and heat over medium heat. Preheating the griddle properly is the key to good pancakes; it takes about 5 minutes.

3 In medium bowl (I use a 2-quart Pyrex glass measure), whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

4 In small bowl (I use a 4-cup Pyrex glass measure), whisk together eggs, milk and melted butter. Pour into dry mixture and whisk gently until just combined.

OR just make a well in the center of your thoroughly whisked dry ingredients and pour your individual wet ingredients into it; whisk them together in the well and work out from there, combining wet and dry; do not overmix.

5 Using a 1/4-cup ladle or measuring cup, ladle batter onto hot griddle (preheated for 5 minutes over medium heat, drops of water should dance and disappear quickly). Cook about 1½ to 2 minutes on each side. Don't rush it (like I often do!); wait for the bubbles to appear and break.

Serve with butter and real maple syrup that has been warmed. Or with fruit and/or fruit syrup.

02 July 2010

Trifle - A Traditional English Pudding (Dessert)





Trifle is one of my favorite desserts. A big bowl of trifle looks really pretty, but once it's served it looks a bit of a mess. So I always make individual trifles, even though the big bowl is quicker to make. Trifle, as we know it, dates from the mid-1700s. The English carried it over to America, and it's very popular in the South.

It's made up of layers of cake (moistened with sherry or something else), jam (and/or fruit), custard and whipped cream. I always use pound cake, but you can use another cake. And I always use either strawberry or raspberry, jam and/or berry, but you can use any kind of fruit you prefer. But, please, no tinned fruit! A homemade egg custard is best, but I know people who--and I try not look shocked-- use packaged (gasp!) puddings.

I know it's the height of summer, but I'm giving you my Winter Trifle, so called because I make it with strawberry freezer jam, giving us a taste of summer any time of year. I would not use a store-bought jam for this. Tell me about your favorite trifle!

Winter Trifle



(Makes 8 individual trifles, about 2/3- to 3/4-cup each)

1 recipe stirred custard
1/2 loaf pound cake
1/3 cup triple sec or orange juice
1 cup strawberry freezer jam
1 cup whipping cream, whipped with 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Stirred Custard


1/4 cup sugar
1/4 packed cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
2 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In top of double-boiler, whisk together sugar, flour and salt. Whisk in egg yolks, then milk, until thoroughly combined. Cook, uncovered, over boiling water, whisking constantly, for about 10 minutes, or until thickened (should register 160 degrees Fahrenheit on instant-read thermometer). Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Whisk for 2 minutes until custard has cooled a bit. Place pan in large bowl of ice water for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Proceed with trifle recipe.



1 Make stirred custard. While custard is cooling, cut half a loaf of pound cake into eight slices not more than 1/2-inch thick; cut slices in half. Measure out the triple sec or orange juice and jam.

2 Assemble trifles:

Cake
1 teaspoon triple sec or orange juice
1 tablespoon strawberry freezer jam
2 tablespoons custard
Cake
1 teaspoon triple sec
1 tablespoon strawberry freezer jam
3 tablespoons custard

You might want to use two teaspoons of liquid (one of triple sec and one of orange juice) to moisten each slice of cake. I use just one simply because my husband has an aversion to "soggy" and prefers things on the drier side.

3 Chill trifles for at least 8, or up to 24, hours. Not optional, this is a must.

4 When ready to serve, make the whipped cream. Put about 2 tablespoons whipped cream on each trifle; garnish each with a small strawberry with stem.
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