August 27, 2008
I’ve mentioned my personal fruit farm next door (my kind-hearted neighbors) in past entries and I have been waiting all summer for their figs to come in season in late August. The sweet black skinned fruit is simply delicious eaten fresh off the bush, and we all get a little bellyache from eating so many that way. I also love to make various desserts with figs, and I will be presenting three different fig dishes in the next week.
Pâte Brisée recipe (see below)
4 C. fresh figs, stemmed and quartered
1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 400º F. Roll out chilled pate brisee into a large circle 1/4″ thick. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, lightly toss figs, sugar and zest with your fingers. Place figs in concentric circles, leaving a 1 1/2″ edge. Fold over the edge, crimping when necessary. Brush top crust with egg wash. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour.
July 4, 2008
Blueberries come into season at the end of June, early July in this area, so naturally, blueberries always figure prominently at our Fourth of July celebrations. This recipe is for my favorite way to prepare blueberries – a good old-fashioned blueberry crumble pie. The crust is flaky, and the crumble perfectly crunchy which is a nice counterpart to the softly sweet blueberry filling. Add some homemade vanilla ice cream (my ice cream maker has been working non-stop this summer, poor thing) and you’ve got yourself an all-American dessert.
Unfortunately for us, our blueberry bush is a favorite among the birds in the neighborhood. I am sure the ripe berries in the photo taken just yesterday are digesting in some hungry bird’s belly now. (Needless to say, the blueberries in the pie were store-bought).
BLUEBERRY CRUMBLE PIE
(Adapted from Martha Stewart Living who in turn adapted it from Lobster Rolls and Blueberry Pieby Rebecca Charles. Sort of like a blog version of “Whisper Down the Alley.”
Serves 8 to 10
2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt 1 C.cold (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 C. ice water
1 1/2 C. flour
1 C. firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 C. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 pints blueberries
1 C. sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. finely chopped lemon zest
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
To make the crust: In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and cold butter. Pulse until the mixture is the consistency of sand. Add the water while pulsing until the mixture comes together; being sure not to overwork it. Remove the dough from the food processor or bowl on a lightly floured work surface. Shape it into disk about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling out.
To make the crumble: Combine the flour and sugar in a food processor until thoroughly combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms a crumble, being sure not to over mix. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the filling: In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Using the back of a spoon, crush about 20 percent of the blueberries so the juice mixes with the cornstarch and thickens the filling.
To make the pie: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 10-inch pie tin; set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough. Place in pie tin, trim, and crimp the edges. Use a fork to poke holes around the sides and bottom of the crust. Chill until firm, about 20 minutes. Cover with a piece of parchment paper and fill it with dried beans. Bake until the crimped edges are firm, about 10 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and beans, and bake until the bottom is firm, about 10 minutes. Fill the crust with the berry mixture, spreading evenly, and top with the crumble. (Do not be alarmed at how high this will be – it will settle down when cooled). Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and bake until the filling starts to bubble, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove, and cool completely on a wire rack.
Serve with vanilla ice cream and enjoy the fireworks. Happy Fourth of July!
June 18, 2008
Ever since I received my June issue of Bon Appétit over a month ago, I’ve been waiting impatiently for sour cherries to come in season. Featured on the front cover, that Circean slice of lattice top sour cherry pie has been mocking me for weeks. Normally ready for picking at the end of June in this area, montmorency sour cherries have become ripe earlier and earlier, (no) thanks to global warming trends. Montmorency cherries are bright red, not to be confused with dark Morello sour cherries, which ripen later in the summer.
Montmorency sour cherries are ready to be picked.
I am extremely fortunate to have wonderful neighbors with not one but two sour cherry trees in their backyard and an open invitation to help myself to their veritable garden of eden along with enormous and prolific fig, blueberry, blackberry and quince bushes. Thankfully, they’re always bemusedly tolerant when they discover my kids with cherry or blueberry stained shirts in their backyard. Pies, jams and other baked goodies made with their fruit are always the perfect apology.
Picked with permission.
Sour cherries are perfect for baking since they retain their firmness better than sweet cherries and inherently have that needed tartness for successful pie filling. Sadly, sour cherries are hard to come by in even farmer’s markets since these small soft cherries bruise easily and do not travel well.
Pitting cherries can be, well, the pits. Unfortunately, with cherries these small, you need to pit a subtantial number of cherries for any given recipe. You do not need a fancy cherry pitter – these are really just too soft for it. A small metal paper clip shaped into a “j” shape will do the trick. Simply press the “j hook” into the top and scoop (or squeeze) out the pit. Works like a charm.
This recipe has a perfectly flaky crust and just the right amount of sugar for these tart cherries. It truly is a classic recipe, with only the most basic of ingredients. I think you’ll like it.
Classic Lattice Top Sour Cherry Pie (from Bon Appétit)
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons (or more) ice water
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups whole pitted sour cherries or dark sweet cherries (about 2 pounds whole unpitted cherries)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (if using sour cherries) or 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (if using dark sweet cherries)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon milk
Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl to blend. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until small pea-size clumps form. Add 5 tablespoons ice water; mix lightly with fork until dough holds together when small pieces are pressed between fingertips, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough together; divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into ball, then flatten into disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly before rolling out.
Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Stir in cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla; set aside.
Pie crust/pizza dough lifter is a must-have for anyone who loves to bake pies.
Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch. Roll out second dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Using large knife or pastry wheel with fluted edge, cut ten 3/4-inch-wide strips from dough round.
Transfer filling to dough-lined dish, mounding slightly in center. Dot with butter. Arrange dough strips atop filling, forming lattice; trim dough strip overhang to 1/2 inch.
Fold bottom crust up over ends of strips and crimp edges to seal. Brush lattice crust (not edges) with milk. Sprinkle lattice with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, covering edges with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 50 minutes to 1 hour longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or just by itself.