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Let’s start November off the right way, shall we? It is the month for indulging, after all.
Bacon. Bourbon. Pecan. Pie. The ultimate of pies.
I first started dreaming of this pie two years ago. I was obsessed with the idea of bacon fat pie crust. At the time, I really thought a sweet-savory sweet potato pie was going to be the answer. It was fine. But not life altering. So I went back to the drawing board the following year, and it went from being a sweet potato pie to a pecan pie, which was the obvious solution. Though it did require a little bit of experimenting (bacon or no bacon in the filling?). But then I found the sweet spot.
Bacon fat pie crust + gooey, crunchy pecan filling = love at first bite. A little bit of bacon fat in the pie crust really makes magic happen; it’s an instant flavor booster and makes for an ultra flakey base. And the pecan filling, spiked with bourbon and maple syrup, gets a subtle hint of savoriness with the addition of finely chopped bacon. And there you have it. Bacon and bourbon dreams really do come true. But you’ve gotta be careful with this sort of pie – it’s highly addictive. You might just end up eating straight from the pie pan if you don’t check yourself. You have my blessing, of course.
bacon bourbon pecan pie
makes 1 9-inch pie, serves 8
bacon bourbon pie crust (from the LA times)
1-1/2 cups (6.4 ounces) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons cold bacon grease or shortening, cut into 3 pieces
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
2 tablespoons cold bourbon
2 tablespoons ice water, more as needed
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecan halves
1/2 cup bacon, finely chopped
3 tablespoons bourbon
for the crust:
Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the bacon grease and incorporate using a pastry cutter or fork (the dough will look like moist sand). Cut in the butter just until it is reduced to small, pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the bourbon and water over the mixture, and stir together just until incorporated. Gently press the crumbly mixture together with a large spoon, rubber spatula or the palm of your hand just until it comes together to form a dough. Mold the dough into a disc roughly 6 inches in diameter. Cover the disc tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a round roughly 13 inches in diameter. Place in a 9-inch baking dish, crimping the edges as desired. Freeze the formed shell for 20 to 30 minutes before filling and baking.
for the filling:
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F.
Stir syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Increase heat and boil 1 minute. Cool to lukewarm, about 45 minutes.
Whisk eggs, vanilla and salt in 4-cup measuring cup to blend. Gradually whisk maple syrup mixture into egg mixture. Stir in the pecan halves, bacon, and bourbon. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until filling is slightly puffed around edges and center is set, about 55 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack.
Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Cut pie into wedges and serve.
Isn’t it crazy that the holidays are just around the corner? I feel like in the blink of an eye, Thanksgiving will be here and I’ll be knees deep in pies and sides. I know it sounds slightly insane that this is what I’m obsessing about at the moment since it’s not even Halloween yet (Halloween??!! OMG, I need a costume!), but this is how my brain sometimes operates – freaking out about the future instead of dealing with the present.
In the spirit of staying in the present, I’m giving you a fig tart. I know we’re on the very edge of fig season, which is why I hesitated sharing this with you. I considered waiting until next year, for the peak of fig the season. But then I realized that if I wait a whole year, I might forget entirely about this tart. And that would be a shame.
If you can still find figs at the market (I’ve been buying mine at Whole Foods), you’ve gotta make this tart. It is heavily inspired by the amazing fig tart I ate on my birthday. Figs are my favorite, so whenever I see them on a menu, I go for it. This particular tart is a sweet and savory number, which is always a plus in my book. There are lots of little elements that make this fantastic. Gorgeous figs. Sweet-savory onion jam. Salty prosciutto. Sharp watercress. Pungent blue cheese. Toasted hazelnut for a little bit of crunch. Together they become this little masterpiece. It’s the kind of thing that works beautifully as a first course, or a light lunch. Or if you’re feeling real ambitious, you could make them into bite size hors d’oeuvres. Whatever your little heart desires…
savory fig tart
inspired by Wood Tavern
1 sheet puff pastry
1 cup onion jam (store bought or make your own… I’ll post a recipe soon!)
1 pound black mission figs (about 3-4 figs per tart), quartered
3 ounces prosciutto
1 bunch watercress or upland cress, stems trimmed
1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Thaw the puff pastry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. On a lightly floured surface, unfold the pastry and carefully smooth out any seams or tears in the dough. Prick the surface of the dough all over with a fork. Cut the sheet into quarters, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place a sheet of parchment on top of the pastry, then place another baking sheet or pan on top of the parchment. This will prevent the pastry from puffing, leaving you with a flat pastry base. Place in the oven and bake until golden, about 15-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
When the pastry is cool, spread 1/4 cup of onion jam on each quarter of the pastry. Arrange figs on top of onion jam. Take slices of prosciutto and arrange on top of figs.
Pour the vinegar in a small bowl and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until the mixture is emulsified. Add the blue cheese and mix gently until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Just before serving, toss the watercress lightly with the vinaigrette. Arrange a mound of dressed watercress on top of each tart. Top with chopped hazelnut and extra blue cheese from the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
Do yourself a favor this weekend. Pick up a couple pounds of cherries from the market. Don’t wait – cherry season is pretty much over. And buy or borrow a cherry pitter. We’re making pie.
I always panic towards the end of cherry season. So this year, I decided to can a few pounds of cherries for later use (yes, I’m hoarding cherries). I also had a real hankering for cherry pie.
I’d never actually made a cherry pie. But I’ve come to understand that real cherry pie is made with sour cherries, which are pretty hard to come by in these parts as this is the land of sweet cherries. A sweet cherry pie sounded just fine to me. When I was growing up, my dad used to come home with bags of super sweet Bing cherries. It was one of my favorite summertime treats. It still is.
Speaking of childhood, does anyone else remember Home Run Pies? You know, those individually packaged pies that came in flavors like lemon and cherry and apple and chocolate pudding? They were really popular in the 80′s. I can’t even remember the last time I had one, but I do remember that as an adult, I wasn’t so impressed. Reminiscing about retro junk food made me want a grown-up version of Home Run Pie.
So I made my favorite all-butter pie crust, divided and rolled out eight discs of dough, and loaded them up with sweet cherry filling. Made little cutouts with the scraps. Egg washed and sprinkled with turbinado. Baked until each pie was golden and bubbling. Picked up a still warm pie and ate the whole thing in minutes. And there you go.
cherry hand pies
basic pie dough
from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
makes 2 10-ounce balls of dough; 1 double-crust 9-inch pie, 2 11-inch tarts
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup ice cold water
1 large egg
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix with a fork. Add the butter and work into the flour with a pastry blender or your fingertips, leaving some of the butter in fairly large, irregular pieces.
Pour in three quarters of the water, stirring all the while with a fork until the dough begins to form clumps and hold together. Keep adding water if needed.
Divide the dough into eight pieces (a food scale is helpful here), rolling each piece into a ball, and then flatten into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic. Let rest, refrigerated for 1 hour or longer.
adapted from The Fearless Baker by Emily Luchetti and Lisa Weiss
1-1/4 pounds fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons tapioca starch or cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Put the cherries, sugar, tapioca starch, water, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently but gently and scraping the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula to prevent sticking as the liquid comes to a low boil. After about 8 minutes, the cherries should have given off juice and thickened and cherries should still be whole. Let cool. Refrigerate until cold.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
Remove dough from fridge right before assembling. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll out each disk of dough until about 1/8-inch thick.
Place a heaping tablespoon of the cherry filling onto one half of the circle of dough. Fold the other side of the dough over the filling and press the tines of a fork into the dough to seal the edges together. For a neater looking pie, trim the edges with a pizza cutter or pairing knife. Make a small cut on top of the pie to make a vent. Repeat with the remaining discs of dough. Place the pies on the prepared baking sheets.
Collect any extra scraps of dough and roll out until about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out shapes using a small cookie cutter. With a pairing knife, lightly score the back of each cut-out. Set aside.
Whisk the egg with a little bit of water. Brush the back of each cut-out with egg wash and place on pie. Lightly brush the top of each pie with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and pies are golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes and serve warm.
I thought I’d sneak in one more post before Thanksgiving, just in case you still need a recipe. This one goes out to all of my vegan homies. I feel like vegetarians get the short end of the stick on Thanksgiving. So I’m giving back in the form of pie.
The first time I made this pie was last year, a few days before Thanksgiving. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. Nothing about it indicates that it’s 100% dairy free. The filling is smooth and silky, with hints of ginger and cinnamon.
Can we just talk about the crust for a minute? Initially, I was skeptical about the crust because it sagged a little while par baking. But all of my doubts vanished after my first bite. This crust is outstanding. It’s crisp and slightly nutty thanks to its coconut oil base and a little bit of whole wheat pastry flour. It is certainly in the running for my favorite pie crust.
If you like ginger like I do, a little candied or crystalized ginger is really nice alongside this pie. Just make sure to leave a little room in your belly. And have yourself a marvelous Thanksgiving.
maple yam-ginger pie
adapted from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry
makes 1 9-inch pie
for the crust:
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons raw cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
7 tablespoons solidified coconut oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup ice water
for the filling:
2-1/2 pounds garnet yams
2 cups coconut milk
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons agar flakes
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced or 2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
candied or crystalized ginger (optional)
for the crust:
Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium size bowl. Add the solid coconut oil to the bowl and rub it into the dry mix with your fingers until it resembles small pebbles.
Add the vinegar to the ice water. Drizzle the water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing as you add it. Stop adding water when the dough holds together when squeezed. Do not add more water than necessary.
Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape it into a bowl and then flatten into a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400°F. Pierce the yams all over with the tines of a fork. Place the yams on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and set aside.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator after 45 minutes and allow it to warm to room temperature. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a pie plate. Gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the plate. Trim the edges with a knife. Make a decorative edge by pinching the dough between your index finger and thumb.
Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork several times. Transfer to the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes. If your crust begins to shrink or sag significantly, gently press it back into shape with the back of a wooden spoon. When the crust is golden brown, remove from oven and set aside.
Lower the oven temperature to 375°F.
In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a simmer over medium heat. Do not let boil. Add the agar flakes and the ginger and simmer for 8 minutes, stirring often, until the agar dissolves. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla extract and simmer for an additional minute. Turn off heat.
Add the yams, agar mixture, cinnamon, nutmeg, arrowroot, and sea salt to a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until cream and smooth.
Pour the filling into the pie shell and smooth the top with a wet spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the filling is firm.
Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours, or until the pie has firmed up. Serve each slice with some candied ginger.
I know that it’s no longer tomato season for some of you, but it’s still happening in my neck of the woods. I just couldn’t pass them up at the market this weekend. It’s hard to keep walking when these heirloom varieties are so gorgeous.
So, I’m sneaking in one last tomato dish for the year. It must be done. Hopefully you can sneak one in, too. If not, there’s always next year.
Since these particular tomatoes were so handsome, I wanted to make something to show off just how good looking they were. A tart seemed like the perfect solution.
Tomatoes and puff pastry, together at last. I love the simplicity of this tart, and because it is so simple, it really showcases the goods. The combination of the buttery puff pastry and the juicy, slightly acidic tomatoes is perfect – definitely more decadent than your average tomato and pizza dough pairing. It’s really lovely served with a mixed green or arugula salad and a glass of white wine. Oh, tomatoes, until we meet again…
adapted from Canal House Cooking, Volume 4 by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
2-3 tomatoes, cored and sliced
2-3 branches fresh thyme
really good extra-virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt, preferably Maldon
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lay the sheet of puff pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using the tip of a sharp knife, lightly score a 1/2-inch border around the pastry. Prick the dough inside of the border all over with the tines of a fork to prevent it from puffing too much during baking.
Arrange the tomato slices on the pastry in a single layer, being careful not to crowd or overlap the tomatoes, which will make the puff pastry soggy. Strip the branches of thyme, scattering the leaves over the tomatoes. Drizzle the tart with olive oil and season with pepper.
Bake the tart until the pastry is crisp and deeply browned on the bottom and around the edges, 30-40 minutes. Season with salt. Eat warm or at room temperature, preferably the day you make it.
Dahlias in the morning.
Finally finding this out of print documentary on DVD after a decade of searching. The best ever 10-hour documentary on the history of rock and roll = 10 hours of nerding out at home. Very influential in my formative years. Thank you, PBS, for your excellent programming. And thank you, ebay!
Fresh San Marzano tomato sauce. And simple pasta dinners.
Homemade puff pastry and an Italian plum tart.
I’ve always thought of puff pastry as something you buy. All of those layers of buttery goodness seemed too good to be able to produce in your own kitchen. But after reading over Alice Waters’ recipe for easy puff pastry, it actually seemed very doable. I was feeling up to a challenge and decided I must give it a go. Making this puff pastry was actually pretty easy, it just requires time. It’s essentially a large mass of butter and some flour rolled out and folded several times. Nothing to be scurred of.
With my 2 pounds of puff pastry ready to go, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. Earlier this summer I made a plum tart with store-bought puff pastry. It was great, but I really wanted to try it with my handmade goods. And since there were finally Italian plums at the market, I knew it was time to make it again.
This is one of those throw-together, simple summer desserts. Whether you use homemade puff pastry or the store-bought stuff, it’s a winner. The plums and almond paste together are perfect. When combined with the sugar, the plum juices transform into a beautiful, sticky, slightly caramelized lacquer. And the puff pastry is awesome – buttery and flaky and buttery.
italian plum tart
adapted from Canal House Cooking Volume 1 by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted (about 1 pound of homemade pastry)
1/4 cup flour
4-6 tablespoons sugar
2 pounds Italian prune plums, halved lengthwise and pitted
4 tablespoons cold butter
1/4 cup almond paste, crumbled (optional)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle. With a pairing knife, lightly score a 1/2-inch border around the entire pastry. Prick the dough inside the border all over with the tines of a fork to prevent it from puffing up too much during baking. Transfer the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle the dough evenly with a few tablespoons of sugar. Arrange the plums cut side up in the center of the pastry, then sprinkle them with the remaining sugar. Dot the tart with butter and sprinkle with almond paste. Brush the 1/2-inch border with the heavy cream.
Bake the tart until the pastry is deeply browned around the edges and the plums are soft and jammy and their juices are bubbling and syrupy, 30-40 minutes. Best served the same day it is prepared. Excellent warm or at room temp.
adapted from Chez Panisse Fruit by Alice Waters
makes about 2 pounds
14 ounces (3-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2/3 cup ice water
1-2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unbleached bread flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
Place butter in the freezer for 30 minutes. Combine the lemon juice and water in a measuring cup. Combine the flours and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Add the chunks of cold butter a handful at a time, taking about 30 seconds to add it all. Mix for 30 seconds more, or until the edges of the butter have rounded off. Slowly add the water and lemon juice, pouring along the inside edge of the bowl, and mix until the dough comes together roughly. The butter should still be in recognizable pieces and most of the lour should be moistened but not wet. You may not need to add all of the liquid.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. With the heels of your hands, a pastry scraper and a rolling pin, quickly shape into an 8-by-14-inch rectangle, with an 8-inch side facing you and the long sides perpendicular to the near edge of your rolling surface. The dough may not knit together at this stage, but don’t worry, it will eventually. With the help o a broad, rimless baking sheet, fold the bottom one-third of the dough over the middle third. Brush off any lour, and then fold the top third over the middle. Lift the dough dough as you reflour the surface and turn the dough 90 degrees, so that the top flap is on your right, like the cover o a book.
Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll it again into an 8-by-14-inch rectangle. Fold in thirds as before. This completes 2 “turns”. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Remove the dough from the refrigerator after 30 minutes, unwrap it, and give it two more turns. Rewrap the dough and refrigerate for 40 minutes. (You can also refrigerate the dough overnight at this point.)
Give the dough 2 more turns (6 turns in total) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out. The puff pastry can be frozen at this point or refrigerated overnight. (Frozen dough should be defrosted overnight in the refrigerator.)
Last week was not my week. I wont get into the nitty gritty of it, but I will say that I had planned on sharing a tres leches cake with you. And I did bake the cake. And soaked the layers in a heavenly concoction of goat milk, heavy cream, and condensed milk. I even started to cover the entire cake with lightly sweetened whipped cream. And then in the blink of an eye, the cake was airborne. And then it was on the floor. Actually, it was everywhere. On the floor, allover a cookbook, on the legs of a chair. Normally, I would have had an episode after such a travesty. But I remained strangely calm, grabbed an empty paper bag, and started filling it with hunks of leche soaked cake. Did I mention that it was filled with fresh raspberries? Yeah, there were raspberries.
When things like this happen, I feel that the universe is trying to tell me something. Like maybe I shouldn’t try to do so many things at the same time. Or maybe I need a more organized workspace.
Or maybe, just maybe, the universe didn’t care for that tres leches cake. Maybe what the universe really wanted was a key lime tart. I had extra condensed milk and heavy cream left over from the tres leches. And I happened to have a sack of key limes. So, it seemed that maybe a key lime tart was meant to be.
For anyone who isn’t a fan of your typical graham cracker crusts, I’ve got the answer for you. This homemade graham cracker crust is perfect. It reminds me of a cross between a graham cracker and a shortbread cookie. It’s buttery and crunchy and sweetened with brown sugar and honey. It’s an excellent platform for a tart, silky key lime filling. And a healthy dollop of whipped cream. You know what they say, when life gives you limes…
key lime tart
adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook by Martha Stewart
makes one 9-inch tart (and a few tartlets)
for the graham cracker crust:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1-1/2 cups graham flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar and honey on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round. Dust off any excess flour with a pastry brush. Fit the dough into a 9-inch tart ring set on a parchment lined baking sheet or a tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing into the sides. Using a sharp pairing knife, trim the excess dough. Prick the bottom of the dough allover with a fork. Chill the tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line tart shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until crust is just beginning to turn golden. Remove parchment and weights. Return to oven and continue to bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
for the key lime filling:
4 egg yolks
1 can sweetened condensed milk, 14-ounces
2 teaspoons grated Key lime zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice (about 12 limes)
pinch of salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat yolks on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add condensed milk, lime zest, lime juice, and salt and beat until combined, about 1 minute, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Pour filling into cooled crust. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Transfer tart (still on parchment if using a tart ring) to a wire rack to cool completely. When completely cool, cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
When ready to serve, combine heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until soft peaks form. Serve tart with whipped cream on the side and a bit of freshly grated lime zest (optional).
I mentioned last week that I had a whole lot of peaches on my hands, so in my effort to make sure these beauties didn’t go to waste, we’re having an end the of season peach double-header. Though I was tempted to make obscene amounts of peach ice cream, I had to abandon that dream as I have limited space in my crazy freezer. And then I remembered pandowdy.
The first time I had ever heard of pandowdy was just a few years ago, when Rodney, my father, insisted that an apple cake I had made tasted just like an apple pandowdy from his childhood. Apple huh? Pan what? I was sure he was making this up until I did a Google search and found this. A pandowdy is basically a fruit pie sans bottom crust, and though my cake was not even slightly reminiscent of a one-crust pie, I was a little bit intrigued by this silly name, which easily could have been just another Rodney’ism.
I was trying to figure out why someone would make a pandowdy rather than a good ol’ double crust pie. I guess maybe if you were being carb conscious, you might eliminate the bottom crust of a pie in the manner that one would eat a burger with only one bun (though if you were being carb conscious you probably wouldn’t be eating dessert). And then I thought about all of the work that goes into rolling out pie dough and while it’s not difficult, it can definitely be a bit time consuming. So maybe it’s a sort of lazy man’s pie, which is kind of perfect for summer if you ask me.
A few weeks ago I flagged this recipe for peach pandowdy. And then, of course, forgot all about it. Luckily, seeing all of those peaches reminded me that I had business to take care of. So I handled my business. There is something really beautiful and rustic about pandowdy, especially when baked in a cast iron skillet. Initially, I felt that the ginger in this recipe was a bit overwhelming, but after it cooled for an additional hour, it seemed less intense and I actually rather enjoyed that unexpected hint of ginger. While I really liked the peach and blackberry combo, I feel that this would be just as good with the blackberries omitted (which is what I’ll try the next time someone brings home a lifetime supply of peaches). Either way, it’s a winner. I like to think of this little number as summer in a skillet. Rodney will be thrilled.
gingered peach and blackberry pandowdy
from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, for dish
1 disk all-butter pie pastry
4 peaches, pitted (2 lbs prepped)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
juice of 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 dry pint (2 cups) blackberries
all-butter pie pastry
makes 2 disks
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup ice water, or more as needed
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the pie pastry:
Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl, stir to combine, then put the bowl in the freezer for about 10 minutes, until super cold.
Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes, then add it to the flour mixture and toss to evenly coat. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, food processor, electric mixer, or your hands, just until the mixture becomes coarse and crumbly and the butter is about the size of peas.
Stir the water and lemon juice together, then drizzle over the dry ingredients, tossing with a fork to distribute the liquid. The pastry will be shaggy but should hold together when squeezed in the palm of your hand; if not, add an additional teaspoon or two of ice water.
Dump the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface and press down on the dough, folding it over on itself a few times until it holds together. Try not to handle it too much, or it will warm up and may become over-developed. Divide the pastry into 2 equal parts and shape each piece into a disk 1 inch thick. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
For the pandowdy:
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan (skip this step if you are going to bake in a cast iron skillet).
Wash the peaches, pierce the skins all over with a fork, then slice each peach into 10 to 12 slices, depending on the size of the fruit. Put the peaches in a bowl, add the sugar and lemon juice, and toss gently until evenly coated. Set aside for 15-20 minutes to draw out some of the juices.
Strain the peach juice into a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half. Rub the cornstarch, candied ginger, ground ginger, and salt together in a bowl.
Roll the pie pastry out a little larger than the diameter of your pie pan. Place the pie pan upside-down atop the pastry and use it to cut the pastry to size.
Add the cornstarch mixture and reduced juice to the peaches, add the blackberries, and stir gently until evenly combined. Pour into the prepared pan and top with the pastry circle. If the crust is a bit larger than the pan, tuck it inside the pan. Place the pie on a baking sheet to collect any drips.
Bake for 50 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling. Cool for 1 hour before serving, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream ( I liked it best after it had cooled for about 2 hours).
This dessert should be eaten soon after it is made, but any leftovers can be covered with a tea towel and stored at room temperature until the next morning.
I want summer to slow down and stay a while. I feel like July has just disappeared before my eyes, which might have to do with the fact that everyone I know is getting married this summer, and there are birthdays to celebrate, and a quick trip to Vegas (!) had to be taken. Somehow, in the midst of all this running around, I managed to sneak in my used-to-be-weekly visit to Berkeley Bowl. As I walked through the parking lot that afternoon, I thought to myself, “this is so nice”. At that moment I had to take a moment to appreciate that for the first time in weeks, I could spend the day doing whatever I wanted, at a leisurely pace, with no distractions, nowhere else to be, nothing. Sometimes, it’s the little things.
Speaking of little things… I found the most gorgeous baby graffiti eggplant while perusing the insane produce section at Berkeley Bowl. These little beauties literally stopped me in my tracks. I was immediately drawn to their pastel stripes and miniature stature; they looked like jewels. I had to have them. Because I felt that my little jewel eggplants were so special, I couldn’t just roast them. In my search for the perfect eggplant dish, I came across this eggplant tarte tatin. Sweet eggplant??!! I initially had my mind set on a savory dish, especially since I’m kind of, sort of trying to lay off the sweets at the moment. But I could not stop thinking about this recipe. So I caved.
Thank goodness for my non-existent willpower! This tarte tatin is seriously out of this world. It’s amazing that eggplant can make such a dramatic transformation when combined with a little butter and sugar. It has an incredibly deep, rich caramelized flavor. The combination of textures really is perfection – crispy, flaky puff pastry crust and sticky, gooey eggplant, which somehow manages to maintain some of that creamy eggplant quality, together are a match made. And the black pepper in the caramel gives it such a fun little kick at the end. I love the element of surprise of this recipe. I had so much fun making all of my tasters guess the mystery ingredient; my sister and Adrian both guessed figs, which would have been my guess, along with dates. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about a recipe. But don’t take my word for it. Try it! You’ve gotta have faith. I promise this will not disappoint.
eggplant tarte tatin with black pepper caramel
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 14-oz package), thawed
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 lb (5- to 6-inch long) bambino (also called Baby Bell) eggplants (about 4), peeled, halved crosswise, and then quartered lengthwise
Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.
Roll out pastry sheet into a 12-inch square on a floured work surface with a rolling pin. Brush off excess flour. Cut out a 10-inch round with a sharp knife, using a plate as a guide. Transfer pastry round to a baking sheet and chill.
Spread butter thickly on bottom and sides of a 12-inch heavy skillet. Sprinkle sugar, salt, and pepper evenly over bottom. Arrange as many pieces of eggplant as will fit vertically in skillet, packing them tightly in concentric circles.
Cook eggplant over medium heat, undisturbed, until sugar melts and caramel is deep golden, about 20 minutes (caramel may not color evenly).
Place skillet in oven and bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and lay pastry round over eggplant inside skillet. Bake until pastry is browned and puffed, about 25 minutes. Transfer skillet to a rack and cool 5 to 10 minutes.
Invert a plate over skillet and invert tart onto plate. Replace any pieces of eggplant that stick to skillet and brush any excess caramel from skillet over eggplant.
I have the luxury of spending my Fridays at school, in a photo studio, learning to be a better photographer. There is really nowhere I would rather be. One of my favorite parts of being a student, aside from learning new tricks and having a current student ID (and the small perks that come with that), are the people you meet. Over the past few semesters I have developed friendships with some of the coolest, kindest, most talented individuals. And I am extremely grateful that our paths have crossed.
Spring semester ended last week, and while I am super happy to be done with all of my assignments (photoshop was nearly the end of me a few weeks ago), I am really going to miss all of our Friday morning madness. Rather than having a traditional final on the last day of class, we ended the semester with an awesome dinner party hosted by our instructor, who we all love to pieces.
Dinner was fantastic – great food, great wine, and lots of laughs. After dessert, four little bottles of grappa appeared. It was my first time drinking grappa (the stuff is powerful!), so I definitely nursed my little glass. I think it’s safe to say we all left that night with full bellies and high spirits. It was a fabulous way to end the semester. I feel honored to be a part of such a special group of people.
I volunteered to be in charge of dessert for the evening, so I picked up a few pints of strawberries from the farmer’s market that morning, determined to make a pie. Somehow my pie turned into a strawberry cream tart. I was in a bit of a panic because blind baked tart crusts have been a challenge for me in the past and was worried that I would have to come up with a back-up plan in case of a disaster. But I focused. And nothing collasped or folded over(!!!). At one point, I decided that the pastry cream needed a splash of rosewater. Definitely one of my better decisions in the kitchen. I could’ve eaten an entire bowl of the pastry cream on its own, and I would have, had I not been aware of its egg yolk and butter content (I did have a little leftover at the end, so I had a dollop on top of apricot halves, which was sooo good it could easily pass for dessert as is). The rosewater cream made the whole tart so much more intriguing and really complemented the strawberries. I will definitely be making variations of this beauty in the future.
strawberry cream tart
makes one 8-inch tart
2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled, sliced if large
1/2 cup strawberry jam
1/4 cup melted chocolate (optional) – I used bittersweet
1 egg white, whisked
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
1-1/2 cups cake flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar (divided)
2 cups whole milk (divided)
4 eggs yolks, lightly beaten
1 pinch salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon rosewater (optional)
to make the tart dough:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract at medium speed, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed, until smooth and light in color, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolk and blend until smooth, 1 -2 minutes more. Add the flour all at once, mixing at low speed or by hand with a wooden spoon until just blended, about 30 seconds. The dough will be very crumbly when you remove it from the mixer. Gently press the dough into a disk.
Wrap the dough tightly and refrigerate for 20 minutes before rolling.
to make the pastry cream:
Combine the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of the sugar in a mixing bowl, then stir in 1/2 cup of the milk. Blend the yolks into the cornstarch mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth.
Prepare an ice bath. Combine the remaining 1-1/2 cups milk with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the salt in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat.
Temper the egg mixture by gradually adding about one-third of the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly. Add the remaining milk mixture to the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan and continue cooking over medium heat, vigorously stirring with a whisk, until the mixture comes to a boil and the whisk leaves a trail in the pastry cream, 5-7 minutes. As soon as the pastry cream reaches this stage, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla, rosewater and butter, one tablespoon at a time. Transfer the pan to the ice bath. Stir occasionally until the pastry cream is cool, about 30 minutes.
Transfer to a storage container and place parchment or waxed paper directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Cover the container tightly and refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days.
to make the tart:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll out the dough between two sheets of lightly floured parchment until it is 4 inches wider than your pan. Carefully transfer the dough to the pan and gently press into the sides of the pan, being careful not to stretch the dough. Trim the excess dough from the edges of the pan. Using a fork, poke holes in the bottom and sides of the dough. Line the dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Place in the oven and bake until the dough is just set and edges look dry, 10-12 minutes. Take the shell out of the oven and carefully remove the weights and parchment paper. Brush the bottom and sides of the crust lightly with the egg white. Return shell to the oven and bake until the dough appears dry and the edges are just starting to brown, another 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a rack.
Heat the jam in a small saucepan over low heat until it is warm enough to strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Strain the jam into a small dish and keep warm.
Brush the tart shell with the melted chocolate, if using. Spread the pastry cream in the tart shell in an even layer. Arrange the strawberries over the surface of the pastry cream.
Use a pastry brush to coat the strawberries very lightly with the warm jam. Let the glaze set for about 10 minutes in the refrigerator. If you are not serving the tart immediately, keep it covered and refrigerated for up to 12 hours.