Peach Pie

PeachPieSo I told you I was going to make a peach pie with the 8,759,428 peaches we picked, and I did. A little vanilla ice cream, some fireflies, a few dear friends, and a last minute switch from an-all-too-shallow standard pie plate to a just-perfectly-deep cast iron skillet to handle all of the peaches and we had quite a summer treat on our hands.

Peach Pie
(recipe lifted/half-assed by the addition of store bought pie-crusts/slightly adapted with joy from Smitten Kitchen)

This is a classic peach pie with no frills, because peach pie needs no frills to be fantastic. Let this pie convince you. I like to split the sugar between white granulated and light brown for best flavor without too much of a muddy beige color. Feel free to use all of one or the other, or bump up the sugar if you think you’d like the pie sweeter.

2 store bought pie crusts
About 3 1/2 pounds peaches (approximately 6 large, 7 medium or 8 small)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, from about half a regular lemon
1/4 cup granulated sugar (see note up top; use 1/3 cup for a sweeter pie)
1/4 cup light brown sugar (ditto)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Few gratings of fresh nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch

To finish
1 tablespoon milk, cream or water
1 tablespoon coarse or granulated sugar

Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Prepare an ice bath. Make a small x at the bottom of each peach. Once water is boiling, lower peaches, as many as you can fit at once, into saucepan and poach for two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to ice bath for one minute to cool. Transfer peaches to cutting board and peel the skins. In most cases, the boiling-then-cold water will loosen the skins and they’ll slip right off. In the case of some stubborn peaches, they will stay intact and you can peel them with a paring knife or vegetable peeler and curse the person who made you waste your time with poaching fruit.

Halve and pit the peaches, then into about 1/3-inch thick slices. You’ll want 6 cups; it’s okay if you go a little over. Add to a large bowl and toss with lemon juice. In a small dish, stir together sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch until evenly mixed. Add to peaches and toss to evenly coat.

Preheat: Oven to 425 degrees.

Assemble your pie: Put one pie dough in the bottom of the pie pan, trim the overhang to one inch.

Scoop filling into bottom pie dough, including any accumulated juices (they contain the thickener too, also: tastiness).

If you’d like to make a regular lidded pie, use it as is, cutting some decorative vents in the pie lid before baking. To make a lattice-top pie, cut the pie dough into strips anywhere from 1/2 to 1-inch wide with a pastry wheel, pizza wheel or knife. Arrange every other strip across your pie filling in one direction, spacing the strips evenly. Fold back every other strip gently on itself and add the longest remaining strip in the other direction. Fold the strips back down, repeat with the other strips until a full lattice-top is formed. Trim the lattice’s overhang to the diameter of the pie dish’s rim. Gently fold the rim of the bottom crust over the lattice strips and crimp decoratively.

To finish:Brush pie with milk, cream or water and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake pie: For about 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the crust is set and beginning to brown. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and bake pie for another 30 to 40 minutes, until filling is bubbling all over and the crust is a nice golden brown. If the pie lid browns too quickly at any point in the baking process, you can cover it with foil for the remaining baking time to prevent further browning.

Cool pie: For three hours at room temperature before serving. I know you won’t listen to me — there’s hot delicious pie to be eaten, after all — but if you’re concerned about the runniness of the pie filling, keep in mind that the pie filling does not fully thicken until it is fully cool. Pie can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge; from the fridge, it will be even thicker.

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Mulberry Pie

mulberriesThese are Mulberries. I have no idea how I hadn’t heard of them until just this spring. I mean, I knew a Mulberry Tree was a kind of tree that existed and that there was something vaguely to do with silkworms liking them, but that was it. I had NO IDEA that literally EVERYWHERE there are big beautiful Mulberry Trees growing with millions of dark, juicy, sweet, totally edible, totally delicious berries on them just ripe for the picking. I have a bunch of trees growing wild at my house, Sweetheart and I stopped for lunch at a roadside stand and there was a Mulberry Tree in the parking lot (dessert!), even on our block in Brooklyn, right by the bus stop, there are low hanging branches of this sweet fruit (and a bunch of bamboozled people waiting for the bus looking at me funny as I stop en route to the subway every morning to pick+shove a handful of the sticky sweet berries in my mouth). pickedmulberriesThe Mulberry itself tastes most like a blackberry (almost I-dentical, actually), but bigger and juicier than the wild blackberries that are just starting to green up on the thorny embankments around here. So much sweet bounty, just growing for the taking? I say: FREE PIE! When the boys were down visiting from New York, Tony had specifically asked for a pie, so Seth and I took a ladder and a bowl out to the back yard and spent 20 minutes in the tree canopy, picking classically: a berry for the bowl, a berry for me, a berry for the pie, a berry for the pie-hole. We filled our bowl and baked her up. Deee-licious.mulberrypie

Mulberry Pie 

This recipe was pretty inexact, which is usually not how I roll with baking, but with a berry pie, (apparently) it doesn’t really matter.

-One large bowl freshly picked Mulberries, enough to fill a tarte pan
-1/4 c. sugar
-2 tbs. flour
-2 piecrusts (I cheated and used pre-made)
-butter
-1 egg white

Preheat oven to 400

Toss Mulberries in sugar and flour

Line tarte pan with one pie crust, cutting off any excess, fill with berries

Cut a design into your top crust (or lattice it, or cut a slit… do what you feel! I cut stars)

Dot the top of the filling with as many pats of butter as you are comfortable with

Layer the top crust on top and crimp the edges (again, cutting off any excess)

Lightly whip egg white and brush crust with it

Bake for 15 minutes at 400, reduce head to 350 and bake for another 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown

If you can possibly stand it, let the pie rest until cool so the gooey berry filling will set (cutting the pie warm means the filling will be oozy, you can make your own t-chart about the detriments of oozing filling vs. the benefits of eating warm pie).

Have any of you ever made mulberry pie? mulberry jam? I’d love any stories or recipes since I feel like I just discovered this AND it’s supremely old fashioned (my favorite combo).

Easter Egg Radishes

EasterEggRadishesO Easter Egg Radishes, with your multitude of colors and strange bulbous shapes, how delicious you are pulled right from the garden, thinly sliced, and put on a plate with thick dutch cheese, bread, and mustard (and a nice cold beer). We felt very European, and also, even though the chilly spring and our beginner-gardener-flailings means we aren’t pulling our radishes until mid-June, pretty proud of ourselves.

Salty Potatoes Oh La La!

SaltyPotatoesSweet fancy moses. I met Miss Jennis in town at her (amazing, lovely, festooned with vintage suitcases and turned wooden bowls and multiple aprons) apartment for dinner+a movie. Dinner: Cold mexican beers, freshita carnita taquitas, cool citrusy slaw, and these salt-crusted potatoes with “cilantro mojo”. “Cilantro Mojo”? That’s just one facet of this recipe that makes it seem like a real jerk at first. Using words like “mojo”, “scant”, and “Muscatel if possible” almost made me forgo the whole thing and just mash ’em up with butter like I usually do. BUT, if you can get over the pomp, this recipe is a new, stunningly simple technique for cooking fingerling potatoes that leaves them perfectly tender and COVERED IN A SHEEN OF SALT. It knocked our socks right off. +A Movie: “Waiting for Guffman”… needless to say it was a pretty stellar evening.

Salt-Crusted Potatoes with Cilantro Mojo

2 1/4 pounds evenly sized waxy new potatoes, such as fingerling, scrubbed but unpeeled
Sea salt flakes

3 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 green chili pepper, seeded and chopped
Leaves from a bunch of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds
Scant 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar, Muscatel if possible

Put the potatoes into a wide, shallow pan in which they fit in a single layer. Add 2 tablespoons salt and 1 quart cold water (just enough to cover), bring to a boil, and leave to boil rapidly until the water has evaporated. Then turn the heat to low and continue to cook for a few minutes, gently turning the potatoes over occasionally, until they are dry and the skins are wrinkled and covered in a thin crust of salt.

While the potatoes are cooking, make the cilantro mojo. Put the garlic, green chili pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt in a mortar, and pound into a paste. Add the cilantro leaves, and pound until they are incorporated into the paste. Add the cumin, and gradually mix in the oil to make a smooth sauce. Just before serving, add the vinegar, and spoon into a small bowl.

Pile the hot potatoes onto a plate and serve with the mojo, instructing your guests to rub off as much salt from the potatoes as they wish before dipping them in the sauce.

 

recipe from here, with thanks to Mama for discovering.

Seeds don’t care where they grow

CucumberSeedlingsThese little guys are in. Transplanted in their New York Times paper-starter pots alongside many direct sown seeds they are the only little greenies showing yet in the garden. Boston Pickling cucumbers, Lemon cucumbers (which grow round and yellow), old fashioned White Wonders (which grow fast and white), classic slicing Ashleys, and one solo vine of Costata Romanesca summer squash. While we’ve been waiting and tending and watching and fussing over these precious little heirloom seedlings, we’ve also apparently been forgetting to turn the compost (whoopsie embarrassing).CompostSprouts It seems that given half a chance, some cucumber seeds, composted leftovers from last month’s cucumber sandwiches, have sprouted over in the compost bin. Are these little guys from Brooklyn? Hardscrabble seeds flourishing, finding a place to put down roots amongst the Chemex paper coffee grounds and banana peels (and seriously digging the reclaimed-wood-shipping-pallet decor of the compost bin). Brooklyn Cukes indeed. A testament to the power of compost and that maybe we shouldn’t be so precious with our little plants. If they want to grow, they will grow. Can we keep ’em?CompostSprouts1

The Secret Best Thing Ever

CaneSyrupSecret Best Thing Ever: Cane Syrup from Ravenel’s family farm. Dark and sweet and funky in the rummy way of Molasses (which makes sense since this is what molasses is before it gets hot, boils down and goes rogue), but with the lightning quick pour of hot Aunt Jemima. Sugar Cane juiced by mules (named Molly and Weezer) in the ancient manner, bottled in an old Hurricane (with the label drawn by Rav’s dad) perfect on buckwheat cakes. Secret Best Thing Ever.

And the Bees

BeesWe are getting bees! We are in week three of our ahhhmazing beekeeping class, a collaboration between the Central Virginia Beekeeping Association and Parks and Rec (I can’t help but picture Ron Swanson). We will be installing our hives in April, with hands on help from my honey mentor, McKay, whose HiHat hives have made the best honey I’ve tasted out of Brooklyn and whose bees are currently pollinating the dogwoods and magnolias of Mississippi. The more I learn about the bees, the more I love them. They are brilliant and capable and changeable and what they can do is some sort of ancient magic. I can’t wait to share my adventures with them here.

incredible salivation worthy hive image from the ever-beautiful Wayward Spark

Roadside Snack

MexicoBananasThe best places are always on the side of the road. Like the infinite honey-charred stick-meat shacks of so many Caribbean islands, the baskets of cactus flower fruits of Morocco, the boiled peanuts in styrofoam cups of the American South. Just pull over, make a u-ey, turn a little dust, get your perfect bananas. Your local honeys that taste like sweet sage flower and smoke. Your steaming tamales cooked over wood fires. Carry a small knife, ask for spice or pickled anything or sauce, and definitely eat whatever they give you. MexicoHoneysMexicoTamales

Para Comer: El Pez Gigantesco!

MexicoFishingBoatYou know it’s a good sign when you pull into the roadside pescaderia and see a boat. Still dripping from the briny waves, towed by an extremely muddy jeep (begging questions about just how and where this particular barco puts out to sea), with an iron handed fisherman transferring gigantic long fish into a bucket to be transferred directly into your lap to be transferred directly onto the flames of an open fire to be transferred directly into your mouth. It’s certainly a good way to cut out the middle man.MexicoCodFishMexicoFishEyeTwo things. Firstly, the color of the interior of this fish case. I might move in. Then, LOOK at that fish-eye! Now that is a fresh fish. A fresh 16 pounder plucked from the waters that very afternoon. How much? 200 pesos. $15. You’ll scale it and clean it for us? Um, ok, sure, that sounds good (inside we’re saying: OHMYGODTHISISPARADISEANDWEBOUGHTALLTHEWHITEWINETHEYHADATTHEFUNNYGROCERY!!!). We’ll take it, after all, we’re having seated dinner for 19 in the Weekend at Bernie’s dreamhouse.PhillyKHelmsTheGrillSweet Philly K (my favorite, pictured here as an ancient fisherman-scientist, “The Old Man and the COBE“) dressed her up in spangles of orange, lime baubles, onion bracelets, and strange dark peppers, we rolled her like a 10 cent Havana cigar, and roasted her over the open flames for an hour. Para Comer, El Pez Gigantesco!

thanks again to E.B.P. for the last photo.

Double Dip

PhilippeLosAngelesFrenchDipI love a good origin story, the confluence of events leading to the creating of something great. Some uppity American ladies visiting south of the border have a hankering for a midnight snack, a Tijuana barkeep tosses whatever old tortillas he has with some canned jalapenos, the ladies swoon, Nachos are born. The Earl of Sandwich wants something he can hold in one hand to chow down on whilst playing poker, the rest is history. In a pinch, Caesar Cardini uses the dregs of his larder (egg yolks? parmesean? anchovies?) to quick dress a salad, and voilà. It all seems a matter of luck, happenstance, and, generally, a deep hunger. Which, when adventuring, is sort of how I roll- letting fate call the shots, getting really hungry in the process. How fortuitous, then, that TWO different places in Los Angeles both claim to have invented the French Dip Sandwich. Forget Grauman’s Chinese Theater, this is the kind of thing I want to do in LA. ColesLosAngelesFrenchDipPhilippe’s (which looks just like Katz’s inside) claims that their pre-jused buns were accidentally dipped first when Philippe himself (slippery Frenchman) butterfingered a roast beef sandwich into a pan of meat drippings. Cole’s (which looks just like Milk & Honey inside*) claims that the sandwich was invented in 1908 by a sympathetic chef for a customer (une Frenchy?) who was complaining of sore gums. Philippe’s comes wet with juice, Cole’s comes with a side of dip. Philippe’s has briny deli-style pickles, Cole’s has shoestring fries. Phillipe’s has beers, Cole’s has impeccable whiskey cocktails. Both have an incredible (and incredibly horseradishly spicy) mustard. We ate both. We came, we dipped, we conquered. It would be wholly impossible to pick a favorite, and, in the rarified world of archetypal sandwiches, why should you have to?

*ed. note: light googling actually informs me that the new Cole’s cocktail menu is created by Milk & Honey’s Sasha Petraske, so- boom.