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Archive for July, 2012

Summer peach pie

Peach pie

July is the perfect time for summer peaches. I found some fantastic Jersey peaches near Ocean City, NJ, for $1 a pound (not something you can find on the island of Manhattan) and since you need several pounds of peaches for this pie, it was a great find.

The subtle sweet flavor of summer peaches are a great canvas for a pie. I like to keep my peach pie relatively straight forward, as peach juice can easily be overpowered by stronger flavors (save your cinnamon for fall!).

I recently made this pie with an almond crumb topping. I would also be great as a traditional double crust pie. Enjoy!

Summer Peach Pie
Yields one 9-inch pie

Ingredients
One double crust dough recipe, or single crust (if using optional crumb topping recipe below), recipe here
3 pounds ripe local peaches (approximately 10), halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

To pre-bake the pie crust
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out ½ of a double crust pie dough recipe and pre-bake with pie weights for 20 minutes, as directed here. Set aside to cool. Keep oven preheated to 425 while you assemble the pie.

To assemble the pie
Combine the sugar, flour and nutmeg in a small bowl. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the sliced peaches and gently toss until combine and peaches are coated. Pour the peaches into the prepared pie shell, mounding slightly in the center. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the peaches (recipe below) or roll out the second half of the pie dough, lay over the peaches, vent, brush with egg wash (one egg, beaten with a pinch of salt) and sprinkle with sugar.

Place the pie on foil lined baking sheet and place on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Cover the crust of the pie with foil to prevent it from burning while cooking.

Bake the pie at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 40- 50 minutes or until the pie is golden brown all over and the filling is bubbling over.

Cool the pie completely at room temperature and store, uncovered (to keep the topping crisp!) at room temperature. Enjoy within 48 hours, or refrigerate for a longer shelf life. Serve it with your favorite ice cream, or this recipe for Sour ice cream.

Crumb topping (optional)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut in pieces
1/2 cup slivered almonds (or other chopped nut of choice)

Combine the flour with the sugar and salt.  Add the cold butter and mix with your fingertips, gently crushing the bits of butter until they are broken into smaller pebbles and the mixture resembles a streusel. Gently toss in the nuts. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Peach pie with sour ice cream

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Sour ice cream

Peach pie with sour ice cream

Sounds weird, right? Wrong! Sour (cream) ice cream is velvety smooth and a perfect complement to sweet desserts.

I needed something tart to accompany a sweet peach pie and wanted to go beyond popular flavors like crème fraisch to try something different. As it turns out, sour cream freezes well due to its high fat content and tastes divine.

After some googling and kitchen experimenting, I have an incredibly easy, flavor-packed recipe to share. No crème anglaise, no eggs, no forethought. You just need a blender, a few hours, an ice cream maker and viola!

I recently paired this ice cream with a summer peach pie (recipe coming this week!), however, you can pair it with any sweet pie, including blackberry, blueberry or apple in the fall.

Sour Cream Ice Cream
Adapted from Gourmet magazine, July 2009

Ingredients
1 16 oz container of sour cream (do not use reduced fat)
1 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

To make the ice cream
Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until the mixture is smooth and the sugar has dissolved. Chill the ice cream base in the refrigerator until very cold (at least one hour), then freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

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Sweet cherry pie

Cherry pie

I love summer pies. From early summer berries to juicy stone fruit, there are so many options. I was contemplating what to make for a Fourth of July barbeque and realized I had never made a cherry pie. It sounded like a fun and festive challenge.

What I love about cherry pie is that the cherries hold their shape nicely throughout the cooking process. This pie won’t look like a mushy mess when you cut into it. The cherries cook through and release their juices without falling apart, making it a very attractive slice. Since cherries are a relatively juicy fruit, this double bake method works well for the crust.

A cherry pitter is a great tool to have, but it won’t save you the mess of cherry juice.  Pitting them by hand works just fine, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a volunteer who will split the task with you (thanks Tom!).

This is a great base recipe for you to play around with. Consider adding in another flavor you love, such as ginger, kirsh, almond extract, lemon zest, etc.  I went with a stars theme for the Fourth of July, but you can do a full top crust, lattice crust, or use any cookie cutter to cut out shapes and decorate the pie anyway you like.

Bon appétit!

Sweet Cherry Pie
Yields one 9-inch pie

Pie Ingredients
1 double crust pie dough separated into two disks, recipe here
5 cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted (about 2 ½ – 3 pounds unpitted)
4 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten with a dash of salt
Sugar in the raw (or regular refined sugar), for sprinkling

To pre-bake the crust
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out one disk of pie dough (1/2 the recipe) and pre-bake with pie weights, as directed here. Set aside to cool. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees.

To make the pie
Stir together the cherries, cornstarch, sugar, salt and lemon juice gently in a large bowl, set aside.

Once the pie crust is out of the oven, remove the pie weights and spoon in the cherry filling. Dot the top of the filling with small pieces of cold butter. Roll out the remaining disk of dough (or cut into shapes and lattice crust) and place over the filling, crimping the edges as desired. Make sure to vent the top crust with a couple of slits or openings. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar.

I would recommend covering the crust of the pie with foil, like this, to prevent it from burning while cooking. You can choose to add the foil now, or keep an eye on the color of the crust and add the foil once its reach a desired golden brown color. I prefer the latter.

Bake the pie at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 25 – 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and you can see the filling bubble up. Remove the pie and cool completely on a rack.

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New York City is on fire right now! When you’re in the heat of summer, who wants to turn on the oven? I mean, I do, but I usually get in trouble for competing with the air conditioner. So instead, I turn my kitchen into an ice cream shop.

Whether you’re making gelato, ice cream or sorbetto, they are all a refreshing treat on a hot summer day. My friend Mary bought me the Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto and I’m having a lot of fun exploring its recipes.

I love this gelato recipe because it’s so versatile. This particular combination was inspired by what I had in my kitchen at the time, which was fresh basil and a few pints of berries. Feel free to experiment with whatever is in your kitchen right now. For instance, substitute blackberries instead of raspberries or diced strawberries instead of blueberries. Make a blueberry or raspberry only recipe by doubling the below syrups. The sky is the limit!

It’s always great to prepare ice cream bases (and syrups) one day ahead of time, if possible, to ensure all of your components are as cold as possible before you churn. Make sure you set up your ice cream machine in a cool place. I actually churn ice cream in my bedroom because it’s the coolest room in my apartment and my galley kitchen tends to feel like a sauna in the summer.

Enjoy, and stay cool!

Berry Basil Gelato

Basil Gelato Base
Base recipe inspired by the Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto
Makes approximately 1 quart of gelato (enough to fill a home ice cream maker)

Ingredients
2 cups whole milk
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt

In a saucepan, bring the 2 cups of milk to a boil. Turn off the heat, add a handful (to taste) of fresh basil leaves and cover the saucepan tightly with plastic wrap. Let steep for 30 minutes. Strain out the basil leaves and pour the milk back into the saucepan. Add the cream to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.

Meanwhile, in a heat-proof bowl, mix the egg yolks, sugar and salt together until completely smooth and pale yellow in color.

When the milk mixture has reached a temperature of 170 F, or when tiny bubbles begin to form around the edges, temper it into the egg mixture by slowing pouring approximately half of the milk mixture into the eggs while whisking constantly (see tempering guide here). Pour all of the custard back into the saucepan and cook, stirring continuously over medium-low heat until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and reaches 185 F. Do not boil.

Immediately pour the mixture through a mesh strainer into a clean, cool bowl and let cool to room temperature, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Once cooled, cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill overnight or until very cold, approximately 4-6 hours.

Blueberry sauce

Ingredients
1 pint blueberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons of sugar

Place the blueberries in a medium saucepan. Sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice and toss until combined. Let sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Place the blueberries over medium-low heat and cook until the blueberries pop and soften and the syrup starts to thicken, approximately 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a cool bowl, cover and chill until very cold, about 1-2 hours.

Raspberry sauce

Ingredients
1 pint of raspberries
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Combine the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a food processor or blender and puree. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a cool bowl and discard the seeds and solids. Cover and chill until very cold, about 1-2 hours.

Berry Basil Gelato

Basil gelato base
Raspberry sauce
Blueberry sauce

Combine half of the ice cream base with the blueberry sauce in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the blueberry mixture back to the basil base by whisking until combined. Whisk in the raspberry sauce until combined. Process the gelato according to manufacturer’s instructions (approximately20-25 minutes), then freeze for 4-6 hours before consuming.

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Me and chef Kir, my level 3 chef instructor

Long time, no write! Forgive me for my brief sabbatical. A LOT has happened in the last month and unfortunately my blog writing was pushed to the back burner.

I’m back now and wanted to share that I officially graduated from the French Culinary Institute with a grand diploma in Classic Pastry Arts! Yahooooo! Nine months sure flew by.

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It’s official!

I’m very excited to embark on a new chapter in my life and hope to work on more catering/wedding projects over the next couple of months (call me!). I’ll also be getting back into the swing of writing (gelato recipe coming up!).

In the meantime, I thought I’d share photos of a few of my final projects. Enjoy!

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My wedding cake project, which had a Barcelona theme for a wedding in Park Guell, Barcelona

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Flower close up

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My final sugar showpiece, which had to showcase espresso bon bons, a classic genoise cake (in this case covered in green marzipan) and palmiers

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My final presentation, awaiting my judge Zac Young, contestant on Top Chef Just Desserts

Oh, and I had to throw this one in here. One of many memories from the best meal of my life.

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One of several sweet endings to our celebration dinner at Daniel – exquisite

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