Desserts

Prune Plum Galette

“There are a million reasons to be unhappy, all the time, for all of us. I mean, the world is in terrible shape. The future looks grim…one in eight children in America goes to bed hungry. If you want to be miserable, it’s not hard. But, balancing that, there are all kinds of things, little things, that can give you great pleasure in life. Different people like different things, I truly like everything that can happen in a kitchen.”
— Ruth Reichl, Burnt Toast, “Ruth Reichl Is Coming To Dinner”

I am eating a meringue cookie right now. It’s crumbly on top and little chewy on the bottom. It’s sticking to my teeth. They’re supposed to have this bi-textural thing going on though, I’m 87% sure of that. The other 13% knows that I probably just didn’t let them dry out completely. I think I like the top section more. I may have bitten off the tops of two others, but I’m not saying anything for certain.

I’m okay with little imperfections, like this batch of less-than-pâtisserie-perfect cookies. Imperfections like these are good. So are the masses of concentrated melanin that make freckles– constellations on faces that are far more interesting to look at than my own. My favorite two baking pans: Tin Man-colored, except for the black bits of caramelized sugar that no amount of scrubbing can erase are others on this list of imperfect, but lovely. An apple picked right from the tree that has a few more bruises than preferable would also be included.

But there are imperfections that are decidedly not good. The hole developing in my car’s tire after an ill-timed encounter with a pointy rock. The skin on my hands, chapped from washing them thirty times today after seeing an alert about flu season. The things I’m too self-conscious to write about– words I’ve typed and then deleted because I know that once I print them here they become real. I notice them. I’m trying to let them bother me less. This is not to say I’ve adopted anything resembling –god forbid– the Chill persona. Nor is it that I’ve achieved a new level of self-actualization and am no longer letting the “little things” bother me. I didn’t even get a cool job or anything. But I am trying to notice those not-so-good-imperfections less. It’s probably healthier, though I don’t know how long it’ll last.

Speaking of imperfections: galettes. While one can trim the dough to be an even circle, lay out each slice of fruit into a balanced twisty spiral, and painstakingly flute every two inches around said circle, I don’t recommend it. While flawless desserts are incredible to look at in an Vogue-airbrushing sort of way, I’m constantly drawn to rustic pastries. Fruit bubbles over the top and onto the sides of crust, chocolate oozes down the layers of a cake that leans slightly to the right. Some of the best food styling comes from just making the thing and placing it in a natural space.

Prune Plum Galette

1 batch pie crust

~20-30 prune plums (about 2 pounds)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
zest of 2 clementines (or one large orange)
1 tablespoons clementine or orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange flower water or 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
a few tablespoons flour
pinch of salt

1 egg
1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk

Make the crust: Make and chill the crust according to these directions. Instead of the egg white, mix a whole egg with cream or milk.

Make the filling: Wash, halve, and pit the plums. Slices thinly and place in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup sugar, zest, juice, extract, orange flower water/Grand Marnier, ginger, and 2 tablespoons flour and combine well. Set aside.

Put it all together: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the crust out onto a floured work surface and roll until you have about a 13-inch round (no need for perfection.) Carefully wrap the crust around the rolling pin and unroll onto the baking sheet. Mix 1 tablespoon of sugar and flour together and sprinkle it onto the center of the crust. Dump the fruit into the center, spreading it out evenly, but leaving an inch or two boarder. Fold the dough over the filling, fluting it every few inches to ensure no fruit leakage (brush the underside of the flute with cold water if they’re not sticking together.) Brush the crust with egg mixture and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 30-40 minutes, checking after 25. It’s done when the filling is starting to bubble and the crust is golden. If the crust starts to get too dark, tent with foil until the last 5-10 minutes.

 

 

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140

No-Bake Chocolate Cherry Tart (V, GF)

Well, I’ve been back at school for a few weeks now and it’s finally started to feel real. I think it’s living in a new space that’s making everything feel like a blur. I’m in less of a school-with-a-side-of-life space and in more of an I-live-here-but-oh-also-homework world. I’m not sure how to feel about it. Like, if I can’t sleep and I want to make brownies at one in the morning I totally can, but I do still have to finish the readings for class on Tuesday. It’s even weirder to think about the fact that a year from now I probably won’t be here at all. I’m quickly realizing that once you say you’re a senior in college a short play is presented:

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: So you’re a senior?

Me: Yes.

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: Wow, that’s so exciting!

Me: It is, but y-

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: What’re you going to do when you graduate?

Me: Well, I-

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: Grad school?

Me: Um, at this point-

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: Oh! Are you like, looking for places where you can work that involve the thing you majored?

Me: I’m not quite-

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: Well, I’m sure you’ll figure it out!

Every. Single. Time. If it hadn’t happened to me more than thrice in one week with almost the exact same conversation I wouldn’t feel so strongly about writing this down, but it has. It’s almost as though everyone who’s older/younger than college seniors has banded together to rehearse this. I would be very impressed that mankind has finally found something to agree on if it weren’t so freaking terrifying. After this summer I’ve realized I have NO IDEA what I want to do when I graduate, other than not be in school for a while. I wonder where I’ll be, where my friends will be. Maybe I’ll be living in some cool new city and working at a fun job? Relatively unlikely. But we’ll see. I know the places I’d like to see and the people I’d like to spend time with, but in terms of what I’ll be *doing*? No idea. In the meantime I’ll be eating a lot of chocolate.

Tart (from Oh, Ladycakes with a few adjustments)

Crust

1 c rolled oats

1 c raw almonds

Pinch sea salt

6 medjool dates, pitted

2-3 tbsp non-dairy milk (I used light coconut milk)

Filling

1/2 c unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder

1/4 c coconut oil, melted

1/4 c maple syrup

2 c cherries, pitted and quartered

Line the bottom of an 8-9″ tart pan with parchment paper and spray with oil. In a food processor fitted blend the oats, almonds, and salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and blend just until combined. Add two tbsp of the milk and blend until the dough is crumbly but sticks together when pressed between your fingers. If it doesn’t seem to be as moist as it could be add the third tbsp (I only used two because I was nervous about the crust getting too tough but alas, it was still extremely crumbly. Oh well, it still tasted good!) Once you’ve reached the desired consistency, press dough into the prepared tart pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the cocoa powder and one tbsp of the coconut oil. Stir relatively smooth then add the syrup. Then whisk in remaining coconut oil and pour into the crust. Top with the cherries, then transfer to the refrigerator for at least an hour. I don’t think this needs anything to accompany it except maybe a cup of tea or glass of sparkling wine!

 

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Desserts

135

Strawberry Cherry Crostata

I thought I’d share a piece of very important piece information with you all today: red fruit is perfect. If I had to only eat one kind of food for the rest of my life it would be red fruit. Cherries, raspberries, strawberries, dried cranberries, gala apples, goji berries- you get it. Yes, there are moments where I find myself enjoying other colors of fruit (I peel a banana from the bottom, I rub the fuzzy outsides of kiwis at the grocery store) but I never really can mindlessly munch on these other colors as I can with red fruit. Honestly, I’m a little scared that this school year when I have to buy all my groceries as opposed to relying on the dining hall, my fridge is going to be 83% red fruit. More honestly, this does not scare me at all. Especially when that red fruit becomes the inside of a crostata. Emily and I recently spent an afternoon making this fantastic thing and I can’t describe how incredible it was. We put it in the oven around noon. We sampled our first slices around 1. By 4, it was more than halfway gone. And we hadn’t even shared it with anyone yet. I simply never get tired of fresh fruit and buttery crust. This might be the reason I prefer pie to cake. As much as I hate myself for saying this, I can get sick of too much cake. It’s just too rich for 3+ slices. But pie. I could eat a whole pie with a fork accidentally. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve done it. And never felt nearly as bad as I should’ve that no one else got a slice. As I’ve said recently, you never know when you’re going to need to make a pie or tart, so it’s best to keep doughs in the freezer for when inspiration strikes. Same goes for crostata. Just fyi- crostata is an Italian baked tart that is essentially open faced rustic pie without a pan. It’s very similar to a French galette. But I am Italian after all, so why not embrace it? Okay, let’s bake!

 

Crust (tweaked ever so slightly from Joy the Baker)

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 c unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

1/2 c plus 1 tablespoon cold buttermilk

 

Filling

1 1/2 c sliced strawberries

1 c sliced cherries

2 tbsp granulated sugar

3 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

pinch of salt

1 large egg, beaten granulated

raw sugar

Pulse together flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse seven or eight times until the butter is the size of small peas. Pour in the buttermilk and pulse a few times until the flour is just moistened. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. After its been in the fridge for about half an hour, make the filling!

In a medium bowl, stir together strawberries, cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Cover and set aside (room temperature or refrigerated) until your crust is done chilling. In a small bowl, beat the egg and set aside.

Preheat the oven 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper. On a well-floured surface, roll the disk out to a 1/4-inch thick large round disk (it’s okay if it’s not perfect- in fact, that’s better!) Roll the disk onto the rolling pin and unroll it on the baking tray. Pour the fruit mixture into the center of the square- leave at least 1 1/2-inches of crust on all sides.  Brush the edges of the disk with some of the beaten egg. Fold the crust up and around the fruit, neatly tucking in the edges. Brush the top of the crust with the rest of the beaten egg, then sprinkle generously with raw sugar. Bake 25-30 minutes. Devour with a fork directly on the tray!

 

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131

Blueberry Lemon Curd Tart

There is nothing quite like the simple pleasure of biting into a fresh fruit tart in the middle of summer. Your hand gets sticky from the lemon curd, blueberries slide down to stain your shorts, but who needs napkins? You’re just going to get covered again when you go in for a second slice in about 45 seconds. This is a recipe that will ultimately lead the the kind of pleasure I’m describing. If you’re  not using a premade crust it takes a nice chunk of time to put the whole thing together (the crust needs to be fully baked before any lemony-blueberry goodness can set up shop inside) but I can assure you it’s well worth the wait. I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m very lazy. But I try to push that attribute under the rug when it comes to making pie and tart crusts; homemade crust is just better. There’s no way to describe it. However, I know there are times when one doesn’t have the entire afternoon to wait around for a disk of butter and flour to chill to the perfect temperature so here’s my tip. Find one day where you have many free hours (or maybe that night when you couldn’t sleep and ended up watching half a season of Mad Men on Netflix..) and make a bunch of crusts. Label them with dates, then stick ’em in the freezer for future use. They’ll be perfectly preserved! Then you’ll be all set when the cry for fresh pies ring out on a lazy summer Sunday. You’re welcome, earth! Just FIY, this recipe would be just as good if raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or even bananas were used in place of the blueberries. Blueberries aren’t my favorite fruit, but my father has gotten into the habit of bringing home two cartons of them home literally four times a week. Check my fridge if you think I’m kidding. It looks like a million tiny Violet Beauregardes are taking over the fruit shelf. Not great. Now, were he bringing raspberries or peaches I’d probably be greeting him at the door every day with a mini confetti cannon, but beggars can’t be choosers, so here we are! It was still pretty darn delicious.

Crust (from Williams Sonoma Essentials of Baking)

1 1/4 c. flour

1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. butter, cut into pieces

2 egg  yolks

1 tbsp. heavy cream

In a food processor, combine flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt, pulsing one or two times to mix. Add the butter pieces and pulse 7 or 8 times until the mixture forms coarse crumbs (size of small peas, you know the drill). In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks, then stir in the cream. With the motor running on the food processor, add the egg mixture and process just until the dough comes together, but does not form a ball. On a work surface, shape the dough into a six-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to overnight.

Remove the dough from the fridge, unwrap it, and bring it to a lightly flour-dusted work surface. Rolling from the center out, roll the dough into a 13-inch round that is a little less than 1/4-inch thick (let’s not talk about how my cookbook told me it should be 3/16-inch thick and I had a mild panic attack because I couldn’t find a ruler and apparently forgot for a moment how to do second grade math. It’s fine guys.) Remember to flip and turn your disk, adding more dustings of flour to the rolling pin and work surface, as you roll it out to prevent sticking and cursing and starting over again.

First things first, check to make sure your tart pan has a removable bottom. Now get a bunch of neon post-its and write “MY TART PAN HAS A REMOVABLE BOTTOM IF YOU TOUCH IT WITHOUT REMEMBERING THIS YOU WILL LIKELY BURN YOURSELF AND RUIN A NICE CRUST YOU DO NOT WANT THIS ON YOUR CONSCIENCE BEWARE”. Now you’re ready. To get your disk of dough onto your tart pan, carefully roll the dough around the rolling pin. Unroll the dough. Lifting the dough and ease it into the curves of the pan. Trim off the overhang and press it into the sides to create a double thick crust edge. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

You’ve now reached the second to last step in your Crust-Quest: Prebaking. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line your chilled crust with heavy aluminum foil, being careful to gently press the foil into all the nooks and crannies of the crust. Fill with dried beans, uncooked rice, or pie weights (I use dried chickpeas). Dry out the crust by baking for 15 minutes. Check to see if it’s ready by carefully lifting the foil. If it sticks, continue to bake for 2 minutes at a time, checking the foil. When it no longer sticks, remove from the oven REMEMBERING THE REMOVABLE BOTTOM. Remove the weights by gathering the foil and carefully moving it up and out. Now you’re ready to fully bake. Reduce oven temperature to 350 and put the crust back in the oven and bake until golden, about 10 minutes. If the edges are getting very dark but the center is still not done, cover the edges with small pieces of aluminum foil or crust shieldsIf the crust begins to form giant bubbles, prick them with a sharp knife and gently press down with a metal measuring cup. When it’s done, remove from the oven REMEMBERING THE REMOVABLE BOTTOM and place on a wire cooling wrack. Make the filling as the crust cools.

To unmold the crust, place the fully cooled crust on a large inverted bowl and carefully slide the outer ring off. I like to leave the bottom of the tart pan on as a reinforcer, but you can do as you will and bravely use an offset spatula to separate the pan bottom from the crust

Filling (from foodnetwork.com)

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. lemon juice

6 tbsp. butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 tbsp. lemon zest

3 eggs, beaten

about a pint of fresh blueberries

In the top of a double boiler, heat all the ingredients until they thicken to a custard and bubbles form on the surface, about 10-15 minutes. When the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, remove from heat and strain through a mesh sieve. Let it cool until you’re ready to assemble the tart. To assemble the tart, pour the filling into the cooled crust and arrange the blueberries in a pretty pattern or simply dump berries on to embrace Normcore in your tart. Chill until you’re ready to serve!

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Breakfasts, Desserts

127

Brown Butter Blueberry Doughnuts w/ Bourbon Basil Glaze 

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I don’t know about you guys, but there are some days when I really just need to have a doughnut. Or two. Especially when they’re dunked in a bourbon glaze. You get it. My life changed last year when I got my first doughnut pan. I’d never fried my own doughnuts, so this pan was a great way to dip my toe into the doughnut game. I made these, insisting upon calling them “doughnuts”, as I felt they didn’t deserve the title without sarcasm unless the dessert was deep fried until golden brown. But now I think I’m ready to take that back. Baked doughnuts are people too! They’re less messy, and less filling (so you can have five of these bad boys before hitting a wall, unlike their fried friends which always seem to leave me feeling stuffed three bites in. Not that I call it quits there, just saying.) Not to mention it’s a much easier clean-up, and in my opinion when one has doughnuts to glaze, the last thing one needs is to deal with wiping oil off every surface in the kitchen. This recipe came out very sweet, what with fresh blueberries mixed right into the batter, so I’m really glad I picked a glaze that included basil. You may not think so, but basil works incredibly well with sweets. The herb mellows the sugar in desserts (and cocktails) perfectly, while also adding new flavor profiles to what might otherwise be a mundane sweet!

Doughnuts (makes 10-12; altered slightly from Joy the Baker)

2 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 pinches ground cinnamon

2/3 c. granulated sugar

4 tbsp. butter

2 eggs

1 c. buttermilk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

blueberries (at least 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a doughnut pan with cooking spray or butter and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and sugar.  Place butter in small saucepan over medium low heat. It will crackle as it browns- don’t be afraid, but keep your eye on the pan! As soon as it looks golden brown and smells nutty, remove pan from heat and transfer to a bowl (even the very brown bits).

In a small bowl whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Add the browned butter and combine. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry. Combine well but try not to overmix the batter!

Spoon batter into the prepared pan.  Smooth out and fill each doughnut three-quarters full with batter. Sprinkle blueberries over the top. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. Sample one doughnut to make sure they’re not poisonous. While the doughnuts cool, make the glaze!

Glaze (from the Candid Appetite)

1 cup blueberries

1 tbsp fresh basil, torn

3 tbsp bourbon

3 cups powdered sugar

In a food processor blend the berries until smooth, then add the basil and bourbon and blend. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add powdered sugar. Whisk until combined. If it’s too thin, add more sugar; if too thick, add more bourbon or water (1 teaspoon at a time!) Dunk the doughnuts and then decorate with sprinkles or torn basil leaves!

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Desserts

103

Vegan Lingonberry Bars

I was craving Linzer torte recently (a fantastic dessert that is, when I make it, essentially just raspberry jam in almond crust) but to my dismay I had NO RASPBERRY JAM. And this isn’t even a case of me being lazy, I promise! It was 10pm, the grocery store was definitely closed, and I obviously could not wait until morning, so I decided to poke around my house for a substitute. It came down to three choices: raspberry jelly (no way it could ever be as good as jam, and likely would yield depressing results); blackberry jelly (the flavors from blackberry could’ve been fun here, as I like to consider them the raspberry’s more intense dark lipstick-wearing sister, but again, jelly<jam); and lingonberry jam (one of many impulse purchases from Ikea simply due to the amount of fun I have poorly attempting say Swedish words- has anyone been looking for a Stenstorp or Förhöja? I know I have.) Although I had no idea what the lingonberry was, let alone its flavor, I knew it was jam so it had to be at least slightly promising. To my surprise and delight, the jam tasted like a mixture between raspberry and cranberry! A+. Since I was already using a new flavor, I decided to be crazy and change up the crust as well, which let to my discovery of a recipe for vegan walnut crust. Perfect. By the by, the crust is so simple and delicious, I may or may not have eaten the majority of the first batch and had to make another for the topping.

Bars (adapted from Love and Lemons)

– 4 tbsp. coconut oil (hard)

– 1 c. flour

– 1 c. walnuts

– 1/2 c. brown sugar

– 1 tsp. cinnamon

– 1 tsp. salt

– 1/3+ c. lingonberry (but really, you could use any fruit!) jam

 

Preheat oven to 350° F and line a 5 x 7 (or equivalent size) pan with parchment paper. In a food processor, pulse together the coconut oil, flour, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt until it’s crumbly and moist. Take 3/4 of the mixture and press it into the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust for 10-15+ minutes or until the edges turn lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. Add a bit of water to the remaining crumbly mix (it’s about to become topping), and mix it gently with your fingers until thicker crumbs form. When your crust is cool, spread a generous layer of  jam, then add the topping. Bake for an additional 15-20 (but check it after 10) minutes. Let cool, then carefully lift out parchment and slice.

 

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Desserts, Snacks

seventy seven

(Toaster Oven) Granola Apple Crisp

One of the biggest challenges I face keeping up a food blog whilst living in a dorm with no kitchen is, quite obviously, being able to make food consistently. Of course, I could whip up a bunch of no-heat recipes and call it a day, but I also don’t have a freezer, so ice cream pies and the like are mostly impossible. I do have a (communal) microwave in the “kitchenette” (read: a sticky counter top, sink, and three ironing boards that have probably resided there since 1957 when the dorm was built), but how badly does anyone really want to make a microwave cake? Like, it’s fun and it’s done in three minutes, but there’s no process. And the process is the part I like. Baking is my emotional homework, guys! Basically my point here is food blog at college = hard.

However, as I’ve mentioned before, I do have a toaster oven that I occasionally have the energy to lug out of it’s place under my bed, place on the aforementioned-sticky-counter, and create some (slightly small) oven magic. So, recently my friend and I actually managed to make mini apple crisps using ingredients that -aside from the flour- were entirely pilfered from our dining hall! Let me tell you, it’s no small feat measuring half a stick of butter in tiny 1/2 tablespoon foil-wrapped packages. But boy, was it worth it. My favorite part of this endeavor was definitely using granola instead of oatmeal in the crumble topping. It added a really great texture and flavor to the crisp, I very much recommend trying that out, even if you aren’t ransacking a dining hall and are perfectly capable of obtaining oats. Also the whole floor smelled like cinnamon and happiness so basically I had a lot of friends that night.

Fun tip: if you’re terrible at making friends in college like I am, just get yourself a toaster oven and start baking things. You’ll have more buddies than you’ll know what to do with!! Of course, there’s an 87% chance they’ll leave once all the cookies you’ve made are gone. It’s a high-risk, high-reward move, I’d say.

Just kidding everyone I have lots of friends don’t worry about me!!!!!

Apple Crisp (adapted from foodnetwork.com and Smitten Kitchen)

I created this recipe being mindful of the fact that my toaster oven is pretty small and that I needed to fit them in four tiny baking dishes, but if you make it all in one big dish it’ll still work, you’ll just need to bake it 10-15 minutes longer!

Topping

– 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

– pinch of salt

– 1 tsp. cinnamon

– 1/2 cup oat-based granola

– 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

– 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Add all ingredients in a bowl and work into a crumbly topping with your fingers or a pastry cutter. The butter may start to soften a little, but that’s okay. Set aside.

Filling

– 5 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into smaller-than-bite-sized pieces

– 2 or 3 tbsp. granulated sugar

– 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

– 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

– pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients and toss well. Butter your glass/metal baking dish (or dishes) and spoon the apples into the bottom, then cover with the granola topping. Bake 25-30 minutes if using small dishes or 40-50 minutes if using one large dish (glass dishes make take even longer, but heat distributes more evenly; it’s really a toss-up in my opinion). Note: apple crisp is delicious by itself, but gets out-of-this-world-incredible if you add a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream on top…just a suggestion.

(I do apologize for the poor quality of these images. Someday I’ll live in a space with non-florescent lighting, but right now kitchenette + cooking props is really the best I can do..)

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seventy three

Latticed Peach Raspberry Pie

There are few things I find more satisfying than biting into a really good slice of pie. Tart fruit juice running down your face, flakey crust crumbling under the weight of your fork, it’s the best. Is making the perfect pie filling tricky? Yes. Is making the perfect crust even more so? Yes. But oh man, is it worth it. Here’s a (not very secret) secret: I’m a little bit lazy sometimes, I used to be a semi-homemade kinda pie gal. I’d buy a frozen crust and then make my own filling. A good homemade filling is usually enough to distract one from a mediocre crust, but it doesn’t let you forget. Even though the people eating my halfway homemade pie couldn’t tell, I aways knew. I had to stop. It’s now just worth it to make my own crust. Try this one and I promise you’ll get it. Now, in terms of the filling, there’s absolutely nothing better than fresh summer fruit in a pie, but how does one make a perfect pie in the dead of winter? There aren’t any good peaches in January! Or in November! Or April for that matter! I’ll let you in on another secret for my perfect peach pie all year round: frozen peaches. Now hold on, before you all scream and boo and hiss, frozen fruit has such a bad rap, it really bums me out. But it’s the real deal, and I swear by frozen peaches in pie. Unless of course you happen to grow consistently perfect peaches in your yard or something, then excuuuuuse me. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.

Pie (filling adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking cookbook, crust straight from the book, I’m not quite ready to mess around with such a delicate recipe)

Crust (makes a standard “double crust” recipe, so just cut this in half if you’re looking to make an open faced pie)

– 2/3 cup unsalted butter (I like to cut it into small pieces and then stick it in the freezer for 5 minutes)

– 6 tbsp. vegetable shortening (do the same thing as the butter with this ^)

– 2 2/3 cups flour

– 2 tbsp. sugar (optional)

– 1/2 tsp. salt

– 8 tbsp. ice water

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Pulse 2 or 3 times to combine. Remove the butter and shortening pieces from the freezer and pulse 8-10 times until the mixture forms course crumbs (about the the size of large peas.)  Add the ice water a tablespoon at a time and pulse 10-12 times just until the dough just begins to come together. Transfer the dough to a work surface (I swear by the Silpat).  Split the dough in half and form each half into a 6-inch disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour or up to overnight. Make the filling (see below). Here’s my method for rolling out a perfect pie crust: After the crust has chilled, remove one disk from the freezer and place on a piece of floured waxed paper on top of a work surface. Flour the top of the crust disk. Place another piece of waxed paper on top of that. Moving from the center out, rotating often, roll out your crust to fit a 9-inch baking dish, making sure to lift the waxed paper from the dough and flip it over every few rolls (crust should be about 1/4-1/8″ thick). Place in pie pan. To make the lattice pieces, roll out the second pie crust using the same method described above, but this time try to keep it in a rectangular shape. Cut the crust into ten 3/4″-1″ strips. Place in refrigerator while you assemble the pie.

Filling

– 2 16-oz. bags frozen peaches, fully thawed

– 3 cups fresh raspberries (you can use frozen here too, but keep in mind that the berries get a little too squishy post-baking, so don’t thaw them before baking)

– 2 tbsp. lemon juice

– 2 tbsp. cornstarch

– 2/3 cup granulated sugar

– pinch of salt

– 1 tbsp. flour

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Combine all ingredients except for the flour in a large bowl. Sprinkle the flour onto the base of the pie crust, then pour in the fruit mixture.

Assembly

– one egg

– 1 tbsp. granulated sugar

To make the lattice top: Place five of the strips evenly spaced vertically around the pie. Fold every other strip over itself. Going from the center out, place another strip onto the pie horizontally. Fold the first strips back into their original position over the new horizontal piece. Then fold the strips you didn’t use the first time over themselves and add another horizontal strip. Continue until all strips have been used. Right about now I bet you’re saying “Whaaaaaaaaat???!”, so here’s a handy illustration from Show Me Now, a freaking incredible site/book/app, to help because I was dumb and didn’t photograph my latticing

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Once you’ve latticed the pie to your liking (I tend to redo mine about 57 times), whisk up your egg and brush it onto the crust, then top the whole thing off with a sprinkling of sugar. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for about 25 minutes more, until the crust is brown and the fruit is bubbly. Keep an eye on the edges, they’ll get brown real quick, so get your hands on these bad boys (I have really great 4 inch ones, which work for all sized pies, but I couldn’t find them on the internet, I’M SORRY EVERYONE).

Now enjoy your beautiful pie! It’s almost too pretty to eat!

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Desserts

forty eight

Mini Post: Banana Graham Pudding Parfait

This mini post is going to be a life saver to you someday, I almost guarantee it. You got a last minute invite to a potluck dinner party and were explicitly told to bring dessert. You search in your freezer for an unopened container of ice cream (as if), you look in the cabinets for a bag of cookies that aren’t yet stale (no luck), but you do happen upon three boxes of instant pudding. Now, you probably bought these nine months ago becuase the box was retro looking and they were 79 cents each, and you almost throw them out every time you look on that shelf, but the expiration date says 2016 so you never do. I’m pretty sure this will happen to you if it hasn’t already (if the former, you’ll appreciate a use for those boxes. If the latter, you should probably go out and buy some pudding). This is a dessert that, depending on how instant your pudding mix is, could take all of 15 minutes to put together. AND you probably won’t have to go the store to buy extra ingredients. Just in case anyone hasn’t noticed this about me, I don’t like going to the grocery store if I’m suddenly in the mood to cook. Artists don’t have time to go out and buy paint if inspiration hits!!!! (lol guys that happened forgive me I know I’m not an artist) But #srsly, if I ever get a cookbook deal at least a whole chapter, if not the whole book, will be based around a master list of groceries one should always have on hand so they don’t have to go to the store all the time! IT. WILL. HAPPEN.

 

Parfaits (makes about 3-4 depending on how big you go)

– 1 box instant pudding (chocolate or vanilla, you pick)

– 1 banana

– 4 graham cracker’s worth of crumbs

– mini chocolate chips and/or chopped nuts

Cook the pudding according to the directions on the box. Let cool completely and then layer into parfait cups along with banana slices, graham crumbs, chocolate chips, and nuts. Continue for as long as you can. Top with crumbs! Boom! Lightning fast dessert!

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(Had to share this. However, as adorably retro as this box is, I’m not sure the My*T*Fine was chocolately enough for me. I recommend Jello brand.)

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Desserts, Snacks

thirty five

Lemon Raspberry Blueberry Sorbet

…..AKA Becca Wanted to Make Ice Cream But Had No Heavy Cream in the Fridge and was Too Lazy to go to the Grocery Store

But in all honesty, this was a lot better than ice cream in many senses. Firstly, it’s full of fruit, so hellllo nutrition (kinda). And secondly, it was ridiculously easy (compared to many ice cream recipes which require you to use eggs and make custard and let it cool/thicken and blah blah unnecessary). Also, I discovered you can totally kick this up a notch even further AND to avoid the sorbet from freezing rock solid if you don’t eat this straight out of the ice cream maker you can add like 3 tablespoons of vodka! Woo! No worries if you don’t feel like that though, just remember you’ll need to thaw the sorbet for a while before serving if you’re planning to freeze it.

Sorbet (adapted from allrecipes.com)

– 1 lemon peel, finely chopped

– 1 cup water

– 1/2 cup granulated sugar

– 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

– 1/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen and thawed a bit)

– 1/4 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen and thawed a bit)

– 1/2 cup seltzer

– 3 tbsp vodka (optional)

In a saucepan, combine the chopped lemon peel, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for five minutes to make a think syrup. Remove from heat and cool. After it has cooled, strain it to remove all the lemon peel.

In a food processer, combine the berries and blend until smooth (or leave ’em a little chunky if that’s your thang. It ain’t mine). In a bowl or pitcher, stir together the lemon syrup, lemon juice, pureed berries, and seltzer (and vodka if you’re using it). Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to directions. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, pour the liquid into an 8-inch metal baking pan and freeze until solid (2-3 hours or so). Then, break up the frozen sorbet and puree it in a food processor or blender. Return to the freezer and freeze again (but not completely). If you’re feeling super professional, blend it up again and then eat!

image image-1I only had frozen berries..they don’t photograph so well. Sad.

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