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Archive for August, 2010

Peach pit ice cream

Thank you, Lee Bailey! (Author of Country Desserts) His cookbook continues to inspire me to make outrageously decadent treats.

I started by selecting some deliciously ripe peaches. I peeled them, this time with a paring knife, I figured I was using the skins so I didn’t mind if a little meat was clinging to the skin. I placed the skins and pits in one bowl and the shiny halves in another.

I put the peeled and pitted peach halves in my food processor, squeezed some lemon juice on them and pureed them. I poured the puree into a bowl and set it in the fridge to chill.

I poured equal parts milk and heavy cream into a heavy bottomed sauce pan and added the peach skins and pits.

I brought the mixture to a simmer and kept it there for about 20 minutes. I added some sugar  and then took it off the heat. I added a little bit of the hot liquid to a couple of egg yolks to temper them before adding them to the pan. I put it back on the heat and cooked it, stirring frequently until the custard coated the back of a spoon. I transferred the hot custard to a mixing bowl and put it in the fridge. When it was nice and cool, I strained out the skins and pits and mixed it with the peach puree.

I put it back in the fridge for some serious chilling. The cooler the mixture is when you put it in the ice cream maker, the better. Once you put the mixture in the ice cream maker all you have to do is wait and watch the mixture get thicker and thicker until it climbs over the blade and onto a spoon (for quality control, of course.)

When the mixture was sufficiently chilled, I transferred the ice cream into two bowls, one for later and one for immediate use. I cut up some fresh peaches and picked some mint from the garden to finish it with.

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I got some of the last of this seasons peaches yesterday, went home, got into bed and browsed through several cookbooks. When I woke up this morning, I was still surrounded by books. I decided to go with a recipe out of Deborah Madison‘s Seasonal Fruit Desserts, a great cookbook that features the best of the harvest. She had several tempting recipes using peaches but I settled on the Peach Frangipane Galette, never having made frangipane before I thought it would be fun to try.

I put almonds, sugar, a touch of flour and a pinch of salt in my food processor and pulverized the almonds.

I added some eggs, a touch of almond extract and a splash of kirsh and mixed it again until it was nice and smooth. I turned it out into a bowl, covered it and set it aside in the fridge while I made the dough.

Today was the first time in over a year that I have made pie dough in a food processor, it definitely speeds things up! After whipping up the dough (I separated it in two, one smaller and one larger piece) I put it in the fridge to cool.

I blanched the peaches for about 10-15 seconds and then plunged them into an ice water bath. I slipped them out of their skins and sliced them into quarters.

I rolled out the dough, spread some of the frangipane in the center, nestled in some peaches and folded the edges over.

I brushed the crust with a bit of melted butter and sprinkled a little sugar on it and slid it into the hot oven and pulled it out when it was bubbly and golden.

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I was introduced to buckles recently and I can’t seem to get enough of them! The idea behind a buckle is that you load the (coffee cake) batter with so much fruit that it buckles in on itself. My sister got a big box of Missouri peaches the other day so this morning I crept into her house while she was still sleeping, and snatched several. I had to resist an urge to take one of her pies from her kitchen counter.

I rinsed the peaches and cut them into little pieces about the size of blueberries (which also make really really good buckle!) I prepared the streusel topping (brown sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon) and then mixed up the batter.

I folded in the peaches, poured the batter into a buttered baking dish..

… sprinkled on the streusel, and put it in the oven at 350*F. 55 minutes later…

I made a pot of coffee while it was cooling at sat down and devoured a piece with my coffee.

(I am feeling a little guilty that I don’t have anyone home to share it with.)

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blueberry-peach pie

A friend asked me to bake a birthday pie for this morning, I was glad to do it! I love the taste and look of blueberries and peaches together so that is what I chose. I made the pie dough last night, so I would have a one-up this morning. For pie, I like to skin the peaches. I plunged the peaches in boiling water for roughly 30 seconds to a minute and then set them in an ice water bath, this way the skins slide off really easily.

I never really “measure” my ingredients for pie filling, I always mean to but for some reason it never happens. (I think it may be because each fruit has a different level of sweetness and juiciness so the ratio is constantly be adjusted.) This pie was no exception. I like to prepare the fruit and put it in an extra pie pan, this way I keep going until it is heaped up nicely. I rolled out the pie crust and set it aside in the freezer until I was ready for it.

I used xylitol to sweeten the pie, this was the first time I have done any baking with it. I did a little research and everyone said that it is equally sweet as sugar, though I tasted it and I think it is a bit sweeter so I used a little less than I would use if I was sweetening the fruit with sugar. The thing that I thought really interesting that people had to say about xylitol is that is soaks up a lot of moisture. If there is one thing I don’t like, it is a pie that has too much flour or corn starch, so I was pleased to be able to use a little less flour. I mixed a little flour, xylitol, cinnamon, and lemon zest together and tossed it lightly with the fruit. I took the pie crust out of the freezer and filled it.

I scattered several tiny bits of butter on it and topped it off with a lattice crust and a sprinkling of cinnamon-xylitol. I baked it at 425*F for about 15 minutes and then dropped the temperature to 375*F for another 45 minutes. I pulled it out and let it cool for about an hour, pies always take longer to cool than I expect.

I like my pies full of fruit, sometimes you have to go for a fruity pie with some juices that bubble up over a pristine looking pie with less fruit. If you ask me, the juicy bit along the crust is delicious! Now, it’s off for delivery! (My sister lent me her beautiful pie basket that our friend Duncan made.)

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Ever since I was little I have loved my moms peach dumplings! (The recipe actually comes from my mom’s neighbor, not her Aunt, who we always called Auntie Merle.) With peaches in full swing I can’t help but make some myself! I got up early this morning to make the dumplings to have for brunch along with some crepes.

I started by putting the farina (cream of wheat) in a pot with some milk and a little salt. I let it cook down until it was pretty thick. (Next time I will cook out a little more moisture before I take it off the heat.) I transferred the farina and milk mixture to a large mixing bowl and set it aside to cool.

Meanwhile, I rinsed the peaches. Do not peel them! Their fuzzy little skin is what keeps the dough from slipping off. Now that the farina was cool, I beat in two eggs. (This is when I knew that the dough was too wet.) I added the flour, it was still going to be too soft so I added an extra half cup.

I turned it out onto the counter with a very generous amount of flour and kneaded it into a pretty soft dough and loosely shaped it into a little loaf. Next, I cut off a little slice of dough…

…and gently pressed it around the peaches, making sure not to leave any holes. I repeated this until all the peaches were covered.

When they were all finished I popped them into boiling water for about 15 minutes.

They are best served hot with a little bit of melted butter and a sprinkling of sugar on top!

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simple summer lunch

Yesterday I made myself a very simple and satisfying little lunch. I made some m’hamsa couscous, a traditional Berber style couscous from Tunisia, and then went out to the garden and picked some tomatoes, basil, and a carrot. I brought them inside and rinsed off any dirt. I also pulled out a couple of my favorite condiments wild caper flowers, preserved lemons, and harissa (all Tunisian) from the fridge and chopped away. I didn’t salt my couscous so I left the salt on the capers.

I put the couscous in a bowl and tossed everything on top, added a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Delicious!

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mmmmmm….Baci di dama. These are one of my absolute favorite cookies! They are little hazelnut cookies sandwiched together with a layer of chocolate, in this case chocolate hazelnut spread made by Shawn Askinosie (a favorite chocolate maker of mine.) I had a jar of Shawn’s ‘Hey Hey Hazelnut’ spread that Margot, the ‘chocolate lady’ at Zingerman’s Delicatessen, gave me to play around with. I had been mulling over some ideas when, one of my friends mentioned that she had a recipe for baci di dama! That was all I needed to hear, I decided to make a batch to share with everyone on my last day at the deli.

The recipe that I used originally came from Massimiliano Campanari, now the head chef at Circo in the Bellagio. I left the butter out to soften, when I returned, it was quite soft. (The kitchen was particularly warm when I was making these cookies.) I creamed together the butter and sugar. The recipe had me sifting together flour and hazelnut flour together, I skipped this step because the bag of hazelnut meal/flour I used was a little to course so make it through the sieve. I also added a tiny pinch of sea salt.

I gently mixed the dry ingredients in with the butter and sugar and rolled them into little balls. Now, when I say rolled it was more like gently molded, the butter was too soft to hold the dough together when I tried to roll little balls. (Because of this, the balls were a little larger than I would have liked.)

I pressed them down a little on the cookie sheets and baked them for about 15 minutes, flipping them midway.

When the cookies had cooled, I spread a layer of the chocolate hazelnut spread on top using the back of a spoon, stacked them in a little box, and put them in the fridge overnight so they wouldn’t melt.

I pulled them out of the fridge about 20 minutes before serving them to take the chill off. They were really tasty! When I got back to Iowa on Monday and saw several jars of ‘Hey Hey’ on the shelf at my mom’s store I was thrilled! I can’t wait to make them again, maybe with a finer hazelnut flour?!

Baci di dama:

225g butter
250g sugar
250g 00 flour (I used pastry flour)
250g hazelnut flour

I added a pinch of salt

Cream butter & sugar. Add sifted dry ingredients, do not overmix.  Roll into small balls & plop them onto a silpat to flatten them slightly
Bake at 325F for 10 minutes, turning halfway through. When the cookies are cool, sandwich with hazelnut-chocolate spread.

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The other day I went over to my friend Monica’s house, we put up all kinds of fruit. Peaches, cherries, greengage plums, and apricots!

About a week earlier, Monica had a preserving party. She canned peaches as well as making a variety of jams.

I had never preserved whole fruits so when Monica and I got together to make preserves we decided to can our fruit whole. We started by preparing the fruits. We blanched the peaches and apricots to remove their skins.

The plums and cherries have skins that are tender enough so we left them on. Meanwhile, we made a light sugar syrup and brought it up to the softball stage (238*F.) When the syrup was hot enough, we poured it over the prepared fruit, covered it, and let it sit.

After about 20-30 minutes, we drained the fruit, packed it into jars, and brought the syrup back to a boil.

Next, we poured the hot syrup into the jars and processed them for about 25 minutes. We both now have a healthy stash of canned fruit for the winter months.

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blueberry pie(phone)

The other day I picked blueberries. I had big plans of picking lots and lots of blueberries to make pies and all sorts of preserves. Unfortunately, my picking time was cut short when a huge storm came barreling in, forcing me to run for cover. I did however pick enough berries to make a pie.

For the filling, I mixed together about 1/4 c flour with 2/3 c sugar, a pinch of nutmeg, and some lemon zest.  I tossed this together with the blueberries and poured them into the crust.

I scattered several little dots of butter on the berries and topped it with a lattice. (My friends were teasing me for talking on the phone while I was putting it all together, so when it came time to name it, they dubbed it the ‘piephone’)

I baked it at 450 for about ten minutes, then brought the temperature down to 375 and continued to bake it for about 40 minutes more. When it was cool, I took it to a pie festival in Ypsi to join 70 other pies!

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