Peach and Crème Fraîche Pie

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I had a lot of things on my to do list this summer, and as per usual most of them (namely, my golf game, my tan, and my trip to the Hamptons) didn’t happen. But a few did, and happily one of those was to finally make Martha Stewart’s peach and crème fraîche pie. I saw this pie in her magazine years ago but never really had an excuse to make it – who makes pies, after all, besides grandmothers? Crisps and cobblers and just plain peaches with ice cream are so much easier. But the peach dumplings I made last year were such a hit that I thought maybe this summer I should try the pie.  And since we only have a few days left in August, which we all know is the month for peaches, I made it this past weekend. 

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Aside from the crust, this pie is so easy to throw together (although come to think of it, aside from the crust, so is every pie). I actually planned to use a store bought crust, but if you can believe it Whole Foods appears to only sell puff pastry, no frozen pie dough. Ugh. So my “quick dessert” that I planned to throw together in twenty minutes ended up taking the better part of an afternoon, but it was so yummy it was worth it. Simply peel and quarter your peaches and toss them with sugar and a little salt, mix together a quick crumble topping and then (once your crust is ready) you can assemble the pie in about five minutes.  When I searched google for this recipe, I found that Smitten Kitchen had beat me to it (even when I don’t intentionally blog her recipes, I still end up blogging her recipes – sorry Deb!).  In her notes she mentioned that the pie could use a little additional sugar, so when Martha told me to toss my peaches with two tablespoons granulated sugar, I added two tablespoons brown sugar as well.  I also added a little cinnamon to both the peaches and the crumble – not enough to detract from the simplicity of the pie, but just a pinch to spice it up a bit (literally, hehe).  There’s just something about the peach-brown sugar-cinnamon combo that is hard to beat.

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My only note to this recipe (aside from the brown sugar and cinnamon, and my subtle hint to use frozen pie crust) would be to use a “pie shield” to keep the crust from getting too dark.  I’ve seen these in the baking section at Met Market a hundred times and thought they must be a total gimmick – but I made the mistake of walking to the coffee shop while my pie was in the oven and came back to a VERY toasty looking crust.  I tried to cover the edges with tin foil for the last few minutes of baking time, but it was too late.  It still tasted fine, but I was pretty sad – at least, until I noticed that Deb’s and even Martha’s crusts looked pretty dang brown (and Martha even tells you to cover your crust).  This might be less of an issue if you didn’t par bake, but just FYI.

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Yum yummy yum.  The peaches and cream bake together into such a delicious custard, with the crumble adding a little crunch.  I served this on Sunday night after a long wedding weekend, and it was met with unanimously rave reviews. Everyone gobbled it up so fast I didn’t even have time to take a picture once it was all sliced up (it looked so pretty on the inside), which I think gives me an excuse to make it again – only this time, with a frozen crust. Just call me Grandma! 

Peaches, previously: dumplings with bourbon hard sauce, shortcakes

One year ago: pesto, two ways (and one is kale!)

Peach and Crème Fraîche Pie, from Martha Stewart Living

For the crust (you could use any crust you like, including store bought, but I’m going to give you Martha’s pâte sucrée recipe):
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

For the streusel: 
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cold, cut into pieces

For the filling: 
4-5 medium ripe yellow peaches, pitted and quartered (I peeled mine)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons crème fraîche (I used a little more)

Directions:

Crust: pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Add egg yolk, and pulse. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube until dough just holds together. Turn out dough onto a work surface; shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or up to two days.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Fit into a 9 1/2- or 10-inch pie plate (about 1 1/2 inches deep). Trim edge to one inch, fold under, and crimp as desired. Pierce bottom of dough all over with a fork. Transfer to freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover edge of crust with foil. Line crust with parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake, covered, 10 minutes. Remove weights and parchment (keep foil on edge). Bake until pale golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly; remove foil; reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

While the crust is baking, prepare streusel and filling.

Streusel: sift together sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon (if using) in a medium bowl. Using your hands or a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 

Filling: put peach quarters in a medium bowl and sprinkle with sugars and salt; gently toss to coat.

Put pie together: once the crust has cooled a bit, spread two tablespoons crème fraîche onto the bottom of the crust and sprinkle with one-third of the streusel. Arrange peaches on top; spread or dot with remaining three (or more) tablespoons crème fraîche. Sprinkle with remaining streusel.

Bake pie: at 375 degrees until bubbling and golden brown, about 50 minutes. Cover edge of crust with foil if it’s browning too quickly. Let cool on a wire rack 15 minutes. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.

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Brown Butter Nectarine Cobbler/Cake

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I have a “secret” pinterest board called “B&B – to make.” You know the secret pinterest boards, the ones you’re supposed to use to “pin” things for your wedding, or a party you’re planning, where you want to organize all your ideas but you don’t want other people to see, lest you ruin the surprise? Well, I have one for my blog, where I pin recipes I want to make at some point in the future (normal, right?). The problem is, I never rarely check my board to see all of the things I’ve pinned, so it’s kind of a wasted effort (much like most of what I do on pinterest, incidentally).

However, two things happened the other day, completely independent of each other. One, I had all these nectarines ripening on the counter, faster than I could eat them, and had been wracking my brain to come up with a way to use them. Two, I was searching for inspiration for a summer dessert (not related to nectarines) and for whatever reason thought to check my pinterest board. And, what do you suppose I found? A recipe for a nectarine cobbler, from none other than my very favorite, Melissa Clark. Kismet!

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Nectarines are a bit of an underrated fruit, I feel like – why is that? When I see peaches I see pies, crisps, cobblers, shortcakesdumplings, ice cream – you name it. When I see nectarines all I ever think to do is eat them. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, as they’re delicious just sliced up and served plain. But baked into a cobbler, they’re as good as any peach dessert you could dream up. And you don’t even have to peel them!

This “cobbler/cake” is essentially made up of four (very simple) layers – browned butter, buttermilk batter, nectarines, and an effortless topping.  I didn’t read Melissa’s article about the “cobbler/cake” until after I had already made it (she usually includes an article along with each recipe she posts in her column, where she writes about her creations much more eloquently than I ever could) – had I read it sooner, I would have made this in my cast iron skillet (and it would have been adorable).  As it were, I planned to make it in an 8×8 baking dish as the recipe instructs, but couldn’t find my good 8×8 pan so thought I’d get creative with some ramekins instead.

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To start, brown the butter (tips, if you need them).  Whisk the dry ingredients and buttermilk into a batter and pour it on top of the brown butter.  If you were using a skillet, you could melt the butter and then pour the batter right on top and use it as your baking dish (that many fewer dishes to wash!).  In my case, I divided the butter into four ramekins and then dolloped the batter on top. The cooked fruit and syrup go on top, and the cobbler is finished with a crumble topping of sliced almonds, nutmeg, and demerara sugar.

Melissa doesn’t tell you to toast your almonds beforehand, but I’ve had bad luck in the past with almonds never toasting quite enough when they start out raw, so I toasted them in a skillet over low heat for a few minutes beforehand.

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Seriously, have you ever seen anything cuter? They were almost too pretty to eat.  Only almost though, as of course we still managed to inhale them. (You might note that the recipe says it feeds 6-8, but I only had four ramekins so I decided each ramekin was for two people – and if anyone ate a whole one by themselves I’m not telling.)

Everyone that tried it asked me for the recipe, which I always take as a good sign.  Melissa never disappoints – I think this will be my go-to dessert recipe for summer 2014. You could definitely do it with peaches too (although I’ll be saving my peaches for the aforementioned dumplings), or any stone fruit. The nectarines will be hard to beat, though – underrated fruit no longer. Thanks, pinterest!

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Brown Butter Nectarine Cobbler/Cake, from Melissa Clark via The New York Times 

Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes (plus cooling)

3 cups (about 1 lb) fresh nectarines (or peaches), sliced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar, divided
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons demerara sugar

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the fruit slices, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup sugar. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a simmer, then take the pan off the heat.

2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until it smells very nutty, turns golden, and flecks of dark brown appear, 2-3 minutes. Pour the brown butter into an 8-by-8-inch baking dish (or divide into ramekins, 4 large or 6-8 small).

3. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Pour the buttermilk into the dry ingredients and mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Scrape the batter on top of the brown butter – use a spatula to even out the batter but be careful not to mix it into the butter.  Scatter the nectarine slices and juice on top of the batter without stirring.  Sprinkle with almonds, nutmeg, and demerara sugar.  Bake until golden brown, 50-55 minutes (45 for ramekins). Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool.  Serve warm, ideally with ice cream.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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Cucumber Melon Salad with Feta, Basil, and Mint

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Happy summer, everyone! Sorry for the long hiatus from blogging – I wish I had a good excuse, but sadly I don’t. Life just gets so busy in the summer, who has time to cook? But, I’m back now and I have really good intentions of being more consistent. I have good intentions about a lot of things that don’t always come to fruition (gym, yoga, being punctual, curbing my binge-shopping for my unborn baby nephew – just to name a few), but I have a lot of recipes on my to-do list so I’m feeling good about my re-committment to the blog.

It’s finally summer here in the Pacific Northwest, where we can count on blue skies and sunshine only after the Fourth of July. And with temperatures in the 80s and 90s all week/weekend, what sounds better than a cold, crunchy, watermelon salad? I love getting my Martha Stewart Living each month, but I have this problem where I put magazines in a “to read” pile and then kind of forget about them (see above re: “good intentions”). But it’s my dad’s birthday today (Happy Birthday, Dad!!!) and watermelon is one of his all time favorite things, so when we celebrated earlier this week I dug through my pile and tried my best to copy the gorgeous picture on the cover.

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This salad really couldn’t be easier. Just cut up your melons and cucumber, throw in some herbs (you could use just mint or just basil – Martha only lists basil, and most watermelon salads only use mint – it was delicious with both but if you only have one or the other on hand it would be fine), toss with olive oil and lime juice, and you’re good to go.  The feta is totally discretionary – I liked it with, but it would be equally good without. You can prepare the salad ahead of time and then just toss with the dressing before serving. I like my watermelon as cold as possible, so keep the salad in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.

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Cucumber Melon Salad, adapted from Martha Stewart Living 

(note: Martha’s recipe is for one serving, mine serves a crowd)

One cantaloupe, cubed or balled
One small or one half large watermelon, cubed or balled
1-2 large or 3-4 small cucumbers, diced or sliced
Olive oil to taste
Lime juice to taste
Small handful mint leaves, torn or julienned
Small handful basil leaves, torn or julienned
1/4 cup – 1/2 cup crumbled feta, optional
Salt and pepper to taste, optional*

Toss together your melons and cucumber. I used the melon baller for my watermelon and diced the cantaloupe like Martha told me to, but you could cut both or ball both, whatever is easier. If you’re using regular cucumbers, I would cut them lengthwise into quarters and then dice them, but if you can find persian cucumbers (Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, etc.) you can just slice them. I read once that in salads like this everything should be the same size (pieces of watermelon = pieces of cantaloupe = pieces of cucumber), so I used that as a rough guideline.

Just before serving, drizzle the cucumber and melons with olive oil and fresh lime juice and toss with mint and basil. I used only a tiny bit of olive oil and two limes (heavier on the lime, lighter on the oil) but you can adjust this to your liking. Garnish with additional mint and basil and sprinkle with feta, if using (I used it this time, but Martha doesn’t and I might not next time – it was good with it but would be just as good without). Chill in the fridge if time allows. 

*I didn’t use salt and pepper as I didn’t think the salad needed any – but if you weren’t using feta I think a little salt would be good.  

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Miraval’s Raspberry, Lemon, and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I attended a cooking demo while at Miraval a couple weeks ago, and these cookies were on the menu.  We were able to sample them during class, and as soon as I had my first bite I knew they’d be the first thing I made when I got home.  The woman who taught the class, Kim Macy, is the pastry chef at Miraval, so she was full of tips on how to make baked goods a little healthier – raw evaporated cane sugar, egg whites, adding fruit, etc.  What’s amazing about these cookies, though, is that you would never know they’re meant to be healthy – or as I call them, spa cookies.

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I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and anything fruity is my weakness.  I love the raspberry and lemon combo here, but I think these cookies would be delish with any other berry – blueberries or diced strawberries would work  just as well – use whatever sounds good to you or whatever you have on hand.  The egg whites make the cookies extra light and airy and almost scone-like. The recipe only calls for one third of a cup of chocolate chips, so it’s just enough to make the cookie feel indulgent without adding a ton of extra calories. I googled the recipe when I got home, and discovered they had even been on Oprah!  One of my favorite tips from the class – if you can’t find evaporated raw cane sugar (I never can), just pulse turbinado or demerara sugar (sugar in the raw) in your food processor until it’s a little more finely ground.

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The recipe says you can use fresh or frozen berries, but in the class we used fresh and Kim made folding the berries in look easy. When I tried it at home, it didn’t go quite so well – there were a lot of squished berries and my batter turned pink pretty quickly. When I make them again I’ll use frozen berries to avoid that problem – should you do the same,  just make sure they’re straight from the freezer when you add them to the dough or they’ll bleed even more than fresh berries.

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As you can see from the photos, Kim is also a lot better at icing the cookies using her whisk than I am – I considered piping the icing on, but then thought the whisk idea had just looked so fun….oops! Practice makes perfect, though, so that just means I have an excuse to make these again (soon).

One Year Ago: Split Pea Soup, Blueberry Muffins (original and my healthy version)

Cookies, previously: sugar, my favorite chocolate chip, pumpkin chocolate chip, lactation

Miraval, previously: magic bars

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter (or combination butter and coconut oil – the recipe calls for all butter but I used half butter and half coconut oil)
1 cup evaporated raw cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
1 large egg
3 large egg whites
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

For glaze, optional:

Powdered sugar, lemon juice – measurements aren’t exact, but I used about one cup of powdered sugar and a little less than the juice of one medium lemon.  Just add the lemon juice slowly until you reach the right consistency, and add more sugar if it gets too thin.  You want it thin enough that you can drizzle it over the cookies easily, but not so thin that it won’t dry/make the cookies soggy.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray cookie sheet(s) with non-stick cooking spray or line with parchment.  Cream together butter (and/or coconut oil) and sugar. Add egg and egg whites one at a time, then lemon juice and zest.   Combine flour and baking soda and mix into batter.  Stir in the chocolate chips, then gently fold in the raspberries. Bake 7-10 minutes.  To make glaze: Whisk lemon juice into powdered sugar until your desired consistency is reached.  Drizzle over cookies, let dry.

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Nutrition Information: (based on this recipe making 60 cookies – which would mean they’re teaspoon sized.  I made mine with a small cookie scoop – probably a rounded-tablespoon-size – and my batch yielded 36 cookies).

Calories: 56
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 10 mg
Sodium: 55 mg
Carbohydrate: 8 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 1g

Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango

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I realize tapioca pudding isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve always loved it. We didn’t get a lot of sweets growing up, but my mom used to make tapioca pudding on occasion, so I associate it with a childhood treat the way that most people probably think of chocolate chip cookies. I hadn’t thought about it years, though, until I saw this recipe pop up on my favorite blog a few weeks ago. Coconut and mango are two weaknesses of mine,  and while I’d prefer to eat them (or drink them) on a beach in Hawaii, this is the perfect consolation prize while we’re stuck in the freezing cold continental U.S.

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Tapioca pudding is easy to make, but it does require a bit of advance planning, as the tapioca needs to soak for 30 minutes before cooking and then the pudding needs to be chilled for at least a few hours. The actual cooking time, though, is only about 20 minutes.  I included an extra step (based on Deb’s suggestion and the directions on the bag of tapioca) and added egg whites – the recipe calls for one egg yolk, but you can save the white, whip it with a tiny bit of sugar, and then add it back into the pudding at the end in order to make the pudding a little lighter.  Just make sure to temper the egg white by spooning a bit of the hot pudding into the egg and mixing it up before adding the egg white mixture to the pudding.  Cook pudding for two minutes longer once the egg white is added. I loved the way the pudding turned out with the egg whites, but you could skip this step and just have a firmer, more jello-esque pudding.

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I love the mango topping here, but you could use strawberry purée too (it would be good with lime juice or lemon, or just plain), or any fruit you like, really. It would also be just fine on its own. Toast your coconut, whip your cream, and you have a delicious tropical dessert that will make you feel like you’re in the islands (and it’s dairy-free!).

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Coconut, previously: granola, cupcakes, cookies, soup

Mango, previously: salsa

Pudding, previously: chocolate

Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango, from Smitten Kitchen 

Serves Six (I doubled the recipe)

for the pudding: 
1/3 cup small pearl tapioca
2 1/2 cups coconut milk (I used light)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk (and white, optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the mango purée: 

1  ripe mango, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
juice of one lime

optional garnishes:
whipped coconut cream
toasted coconut flakes
lime zest

make pudding: in a medium saucepan, soak tapioca in coconut milk for 30 minutes. Whisk in egg yolk, sugar, and salt.  Heat the mixture over medium heat until it comes to a simmer, then reduce heat to low so that the pudding is barely bubbling.  Cook until pudding thickens, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.  Pour into pudding cups to chill for several hours or overnight.

make mango purée: purée mango with lime juice in a blender or food processor; add a little sugar to taste (optional, my mango was pretty sweet and I didn’t need any).  I did this step the night before and the purée was in good shape 24 hours later.

toast coconut: on a parchment-lined baking sheet or jelly roll pan for 5 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Stir halfway through so that the coconut browns evenly; watch closely so that it doesn’t burn.

whip coconut cream: put a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge the night before you plan to make the cream.  Deb brilliantly suggests turning it upside down, so that when you then open the can from the top you can pour the water right out (the cream will rise to the “top” when chilled).  Beat the coconut cream as you would whipping cream, in a chilled metal bowl and with chilled beaters; add small amount of granulated sugar to taste.  (Note: I used light coconut milk and still got a good amount of cream after chilling it overnight; I’m sure full fat would be even more delicious but mine turned out pretty yummy).

to serve: top pudding with mango; garnish with coconut cream, toasted coconut, and/or lime zest.

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