Nature’s candy in a pie

Posted: September 28th, 2009 | Author: adi | Filed under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »
I wanted more crust, right?

I wanted more crust, right?

Yes. That’s another pie. To boot, it’s even another peach pie. What makes this post new and exciting? It’s brought to you by roux. No way, roux in a pie? YES. ROUX IN A PIE. Roux in a pie solving my blueberry pie problem and cementing itself a place in my permanent repertoire.

If you recall, my blueberry pie was both watery and floury. It was the worst of both–thin and liquid and with a strong flour taste. What could be worse? The burnt crust, maybe. But, determined to produce pie perfection, I persevered.  My reward was a peach pie with a thick and flavorful sauce and a golden crust. I don’t want to gush too much, though, so this post will be short and sweet. My preening done, I’ll pass on my recipe:

  • Crust for a two-crust pie (see “Sweet Success“)
  • 5 cups peaches (roughly–I always estimate), sliced and peeled
  • 2 tbs. lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • cinnamon & nutmeg to taste–I use more nutmeg than cinnamon but it’s up to you. 1/2 tsp. each is a good jumping-off point.

For the roux, I just melted the butter in a saucepan and added in the flour, cooking for…under a minute, anyway, at medium heat. I added that to the rest of the ingredients in a big bowl, and mixed it with my hands until the roux had melted the sugar and everything was smoothly incorporated and the peaches were covered. I can’t tell you how long I baked it, but it was at 425 until the peaches were tender and the crust was golden. It really depends on how ripe the peaches are.

Once the pie was done, I actually let it set up a bit this time, and served it with vanilla ice cream. Coming back for seconds, I was delighted to have to split the last piece with my aunt, and then have Matt ask if he couldn’t just have one more little bite of mine.

And that, I would say, is a compliment.

Praise me like you should

Posted: September 22nd, 2009 | Author: adi | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Can't get enough

Eat your heart out

I can be….slightly jealous. Territorial, maybe. Nothing major–I don’t make public scenes and throw things and embarrass myself. But when I feel threatened, I tend to make it known. How does this relate to cooking, you ask? The answer is, of course, cookies.

I love baking cookies. I consider myself quite capable in the cookie arena, from my classic chocolate chip cookies to my iced orange cookies. I make a killer snickerdoodle and I can’t even be falsely modest about how awesome my chewy sugar cookies are. So when people encourage me to bake for them less, citing reasons like their quickly-expanding waistlines, I get a little bummed. Sure, it can be a compliment–my baked goods are so irresistable the recipients overindulge regardless of diet. But it’s also a let-down. I LOVE baking. Nothing makes me happier than feeding someone and hearing how much they enjoyed being fed. I thrive on praise.

My boyfriend, Matt, is pretty good about the praise. He could certainly be a bit more enthusiastic, but he does tend to say, “That’s good,” every time I make him something. He’s not as effusive as my bosses, who tend to exclaim every time they come home to something new that I am both wonderful and soso terrible for tempting them. He’s certainly a step up from my brother, though, who has even claimed the flan I baked him was “cakey.”

This weekend, however, I almost killed him.

We went to a farmer’s market, and sampled the bounty. Everything from lentil soup to basil gelato, passionfruit chocolate to fresh mozzarella–all the things I enjoy at the market because I either cannot or will not make them myself. When we came to a cookie table neatly displaying organic cookies and cookie mixes (”just add oil and water”), I kept going. What’s the point in paying six dollars for a couple cookies, or, even worse, a bag of flour, sugar, and baking powder? For me, none. However, I was forced to watch, horrified, as Matt not only sampled a cookie, but proceeded to BUY some.

That’s right. He told me to stop baking for him so much, and then he bought someone else’s cookies. I was livid. Not only were the cookies overpriced, but they were simply oatmeal raisin. Had I not made him oatmeal raisin cookies? Had I not proved to be a competent oatmeal raisin baker? It was an insult. A slap in the face. He was, dare I say, cheating on me.

That night, his cookie lust still unsatisfied (take THAT farmer’s market cookies), we made a late-night run to the grocery store and half an hour of zesting, juicing, rolling, and baking later, he was testing out a new oat/flour ratio on my orange oatmeal cookies with dried cranberries and enjoying the leftover fresh-squeezed orange juice from the recipe.

And, based on the yummy noises and sheer quantity consumed, I can officially tally this as:

Adi: 1 Farmer’s market cookies: 0

Sometimes, I want to be like you

Posted: September 15th, 2009 | Author: adi | Filed under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »
I wish I could say I shared this

I wish I could say I shared this

I get inspired by a lot of things. Books make me want to write, scenes make me want to take photos, faces make me want to draw, and food makes me want to cook. Usually the inspiration is beyond anything I could create, and I am satisfied to  make my own variation on the theme, flawed as it might be. Being able to, at least in part, have some of the greatness transferred into something of my own is enough for me. This time, it struck here, on Pretty Girls.

It was all the excitement surrounding our own Improviser’s Pumpkin-White Cheddar Mac & Cheese. Gooey cheese? Hearty pasta?  Nutmeg and cumin?? I was inspired. I was also house-bound and had limited supplies, so I took a different page from Josie’s book and improvised. Rather than test Josie’s recipe as our Triple Threat did, or follow the ever-delightful Ina Garten’s mac & cheese recipe like our Test Kitchen, I made something a little more on-the-fly and a little more everyday. My bread crumbs were Wonderbread, my cheese was a mixture of swiss, parmesan, and cheddar, and my macaroni was actually ziti.

Regardless of its shortcomings, it was exactly what I needed. I made a roux and stirred in the shredded cheese to melt it, along with a splash or two of milk, boiled the macaroni, and pan-fried the crumbs in butter. I did manage to include the nutmeg and cumin, however, and some sliced tomato finished it off nicely. I set it to bake at 425 until the cheese bubbled and the bread crumbs browned, and then gorged. I would give you a recipe, but a) I didn’t use one, b) I didn’t measure anything, and c) you really should use one of the above recipes, instead. Gruyere and pumpkin make much more flavorful dishes than mine.

The good news is, my craving was satisfied. The bad news is, now I need to perfect it.