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I promise that I have been doing much more in the kitchen than baking up butter and sugar-laced treats. It just seems that the only time I think to snap a picture is when I have a baking project going on. Truthfully though, I haven’t been spending as much time in the kitchen as I would like to. We just moved and are still getting settled in. I was out of town for a week visiting family and friends across Connecticut and New York. And next week I am starting grad school so I am busy preparing for that, too.

Our CSA is going strong. This year we opted with Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-Op. Everything is from Lancaster County, just an hour away. They deliver to our favorite coffee shop in our neighborhood (which also sells take-out beer), so it makes our weekly trip totally worth it. It’s also walking distance, so we don’t have to drive to pick it up! We are pretty inundated with greens right now, but we scored a pound of sweet cherries a few weeks back. I had a potluck for work and Father’s Day was coming up, so I put them to use immediately. Of course, I left some for snacking, too.

Brown Butter Cherry Bars
from Smitten Kitchen

For the crust:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Pinch of salt

For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 pound sweet cherries (you will not use all of them, so there should be plenty left for a treat later on!)

To make the crust: Preheat over to 375°F. Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the 8-inch width of an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Press it into the bottom and sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, perpendicular to the first sheet. (It should look like this.)

Using rubber spatula or fork, mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Transfer dough to your prepared pan, and press the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until golden, about 18 minutes (it will puff slightly while baking). Transfer crust to rack and cool in pan. Maintain oven temperature.

To make the filling: Cook butter in heavy small saucepan (a lighter-colored one will make it easier to see the color changing, which happens quickly) over medium heat until deep nutty brown (do not burn), stirring often and watching carefully, about six minutes. Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup to cool slightly.

Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.

Arrange pitted cherries in bottom of cooled crust. Carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake bars until filling is puffed and golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes (though, of course, this took less time in my hyperactive oven so please watch your baking times carefully). Cool bars completely in pan on rack.

Use the parchment paper overhang to carefully remove cooled bars from pan and place them on a cutting board and cut them into squares with a very sharp knife. The cherries, if they fall over your slicing lines, will want to give you trouble but if you saw a sharp knife into them slowly before pressing down, they’ll cut neatly and with minimum carnage.

 

I did not snap a photo of the finished product. They were so delicious I ate them almost immediately. I made a second batch and they came out even better than the first. Having fresh cherries definitely made the difference, but you can use frozen, or any berry of your choice. It would probably be a lot of fun to stud this cake with lots of blueberries or rasberries in the upcoming weeks while they are in season. I don’t know if I’ll make them again- they have a LOT of butter- but I would definitely recommend that you make them. And maybe share them with your friends.

 

There is nothing as simple as chocolate and strawberries to make an impressive and delicious dessert. Usually this involves dipping the strawberries in melted chocolate, which is easy and always a crowd pleaser. For Mother’s Day this year, I wanted to make something that was delicious, yet easy, but would still impress the heck out of my ma-in-law. I’ve had some failures before involving last-minute Mother’s/Father’s day treats, so I was determined to find something utterly simple that I knew would work in a short period of time. I skimmed through my saved recipes and found something that caught my eye on The Kitchn a few weeks ago. A tart, with strawberries and marscapone cream, dotted with bits of dark chocolate chunks. Hello! I was sold.

The original recipe was from an on-line newspaper article from The Oregonian, discussing the simplicity of strawberries and the many different ways to use them. It combined a few different recipes, and The Kitchn basically tied them together and added a layer of rich chocolate ganache. The ingredients were easy to find and inexpensive. The recipe as a whole didn’t take long to make at all. I think I made it that Sunday morning, and brought the strawberries along with me to add once we arrived at dinner.

Strawberry Tart with Rich Marscapone Cream and Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from The Kitchn and The Oregonian

For the crust:

1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal, uncooked
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (1 stick)

For the cream filling:

1/2 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup mascarpone cheese (cream cheese is fine, too)
1/3 cup finely chopped dark chocolate
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar

For the ganache:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the oatmeal on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

In a food processor, add the oatmeal, flour, sugar and salt. Pulse until combined and the oatmeal is chopped. Add the butter and continue to pulse until the mixture looks crumbly.

Pat the dough into a 9- or 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Use the back of a measuring cup to help spread it evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.

For the ganache, melt 1/2 cup whipping cream and 1/2 dark chocolate in a pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted. Pour ganache over baked oatmeal crust and chill in the fridge until firm and cool.

 

To make the marscapone cream, place the cream and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat at high speed until cream begins to thicken. Sprinkle in the sugar, and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in the mascarpone cheese. Stir in the chocolate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a large bowl, mix the sliced strawberries, balsamic, and sugar until macerated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Immediately before serving, spread the marscapone cream in a thick and creamy layer over the ganache. Top with strawberries and serve cool. Eat. And eat and eat and eat. And enjoy!

What a hit! And honestly, so simple. I ate much more than I should have, and everyone else went back for seconds, too.  The rest of the tart was destroyed by Stu’s dad and brother. By the end of the night, we all had very full and happy bellies.  I guarantee that you will, too!

I know I am probably more than a month behind in this post, but I have been so excited to share this with you all. This year was the first time I spent Easter without my own family. I spent the holiday with Stu’s relatives and I was determined to bring something from my own family’s tradition. Although we are not super traditional-Italian, we always have an Easter pie. I don’t know my grandmother’s exact recipe, so I spent quite a while doing some research. I checked Food Network and found recipes from Emeril and Giada, but they just didn’t seem authentic. It was after a few different searches that I found a great article by Susan Russo from Food Blogga that totally defined my upbringing of Italian Easter dishes. I originally wanted to make a Ricotta Pie, but wasn’t keen on the addition of pineapple. I love the idea of Pizza Chena (or as we say, Pizza Gain),  but wasn’t into the addition of meat, and was a little intimidated by the whole concept. So I settled on the simple, yet delicious Italian Rice Pie, similar to my own family’s recipe.

Italian Rice Pie
adapted from Susan Russo

For the crust:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 stick unsalted butter (chilled)
1 extra large egg or 2 small eggs
1 to 2 tablespoons ice water, or as much as needed

For the filling:

1/2 cup uncooked Arborio rice
4 cups of water or whole milk
7 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon extract (or the zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 pound ricotta cheese, drained

For the crust, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until the dough becomes pebbly in texture. Add the eggs and pulse repeatedly until the dough begins to stick together. Slowly add the ice water by the tablespoonful, while using a few long pulses. Add more drops of ice water as necessary, until the dough holds together well. Invert the dough onto a floured work surface. Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate while preparing the filling. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before continuing.)

If you don’t have a processor, then combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add chunks of chilled butter, and using a pastry blender or two forks, chop the butter until it resembles little pebbles. At this point, add the eggs and ice water, and stir with a spoon until the dough begins to form. Using your hands and working the dough as little as possible, transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough holds together. Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate while preparing the filling. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before continuing.)

To make the filling, place the rice and water or whole milk in medium heavy-bottom saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook the rice, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the rice is sticky. The rice should still be firm as it will finish cooking in the oven. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add the eggs and sugar to a large bowl. Using a hand-mixer, beat until well combined. Add the lemon extract (or zest and juice) and vanilla, and beat on low for about 10 seconds. Add the drained ricotta, and beat on low for a few seconds until just combined. Stir in the cooked rice. Mix with a rubber spatula until well combined, making sure there are no clumps of rice. Place in the refrigerator.

Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Coat a 10 1/2-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into an 11 1/2-inch circle. Transfer the dough to the prepared pie plate, gently pressing it into the bottom and sides. No fluted crust is necessary. At this point, set the crust in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes to get it really chilled, which will make for a flakier crust.

Remove the chilled crust from the freezer and pour the filling to about 1/4 of an inch below the top of the crust, as it will puff up slightly when baking.

Bake for 1 hour or until the filling puffs up, turns golden, and is “set,” meaning it should be firm, not jiggly when you gently move the pie plate. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Note: If you have some extra filling left over, you can pour it into a small baking dish or ramekins for a crustless version, and follow the same baking instructions. Leftover rice pie can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

This came out almost exactly as how I remembered it. I would have loved to use fresh lemon, but was skeptical of using regular grocery-store lemons as opposed to the Meyer variety. I settled on lemon extract, begrudgingly. The pie was delicious though. The cheese and rice was a perfect combination, and it looked absolutely lovely in my Le Crueset pie plate that I got for Christmas. It was a huge hit at dinner. I left some of the leftovers and took some home to have for breakfast later in the week. I can’t wait to make it again next year. I may even try some Pizza Chena! I recommend this dish even if it’s not the Easter holiday. It’s delicious and refreshing.

Around Halloween (I told you I was behind in my posts), I decided to make a sweet treat that fit in with the pumpkin theme. While persuing my usual blogs, I kept stumbling upon recipes for cinnamon rolls. I’ve always been pretty hesitant about making anything involving yeast, but I’ve had some recent success with pizza dough, so I decided now was the time. Plus, Stu and his family are cinnamon roll fanatics, and I was trying to impress. I found a few different recipes, but I liked the one posted on Naturally Ella the best. It had whole wheat flour and lots of brown sugar in it’s ingredient list, so I figured it would be slightly healthier than the regular buttery cinnamon rolls. I also referenced a recipe posted on The Kitchn, and used a sort of combination of the two. Unfortunately this was weeks ago, so I’ll link both recipes and do the best that I can do remember what exactly I did for mine.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Pumpkin and Brown Sugar Glaze
from Naturally Ella and The Kitchn

For the rolls:
3/4 cup milk
2 and  1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/3 cup natural sugar
1 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
4- 4  and 1/2 cups Unbleached all purpose flour (I used half white/ half wheat)

For the filling:

1/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup natural sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

For the glaze:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
pinch salt
2  and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup pumpkin

Heat milk (either in a sauce pan or microwave) until milk begins to simmer- add butter. Let cool until a warm temperature (about 120˚).

In a stand mixer bowl, at milk mixture, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for five minutes. Add 3 cups of flour, salt, pumpkin, eggs and start mixer with dough hook. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time continuing until the dough pulls together. Continue kneading the dough until smooth and elastic- at least eight minutes.

Either in the mixer bowl or a separate bowl, lightly spray the dough with cooking oil and place in a warm draft free spot until dough has doubled in size (around an hour and a half.)

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out into a 10 by 14 rectangle. Rub butter over entire surface and cover with sucanat mixture. Roll the dough into a log, squeeze slightly and adjust to form. Cut into 12 pieces (cut in half, the cut each half into half then each piece is cut into three pieces.) Place in a sprayed 9 by 13 pan.


Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight. (or if you want to continue on, cover and let rise for another hour and follow with remaining instructions.)


The next morning, preheat the oven to 350˚ and remove cinnamon rolls from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for a half hour. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cinnamon rolls are a nice golden brown color. Let cool slightly.

While they are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and butter. When the butter has melted, add the brown sugar and salt. Stir until the brown sugar has melted. Remove from heat and strain into a mixing bowl to remove any sugar clumps. Stir in the powdered sugar. This should form a thick but pourable glaze.

Let the baked rolls cool for about five minutes and then pour the glaze on top. Sprinkle the remaining cup of pecans over the top, if more nuttiness is desired. Eat them immediately. Leftovers will keep for several days and are best reheated for a minute in the microwave.

This was an incredibly lengthy process. Although I was pretty pleased with how they turned out, I wouldn’t ever say that they were easy to make. I was pretty time consuming and required a lot of patience. I also ran out of pumpkin so my glaze ended up being more brown-sugar based than pumpkin. The whole process was definitely an exciting one, however. I was really impressed with how nicely the end result mirrored the pictures from both recipes. It was pretty incredible to assemble these guys and watch them rise and then bake into the actual rolls, looking almost like what you’d buy from the store!

Taste-wise, they lacked a little sweetness that I think everyone expects from a cinnamon roll. I thought they were pretty great, but Stu’s sweet tooth disagreed. I am sure this had a lot to do with the natural sugar and brown sugar, as opposed to white sugar and lots and lots of butter. I congratulated myself for taking the healthier route, but I suppose that if I’m going to be making these again for more people, I’ll probably use a recipe that has all of the sweet stuff, as opposed to all of the kind-of-good-for-you stuff.

Either way, this was a pretty big feat for me, and I’m rather proud of my accomplishment. It’s nice to know that this will be a breakfast option over the upcoming winter months. Next time I will probably make them when I know I’ll have something coming up where lots of people can enjoy them. I accidentally ate a whole bunch of cinnamon rolls for about a week and a half. Oops.

If there’s one thing I’ve been obsessed with this Fall it’s apples. In the same way I fell in love with peaches this summer, for the first time in my life, I’ve seemed to really develop a liking for apples. Probably because most of the times I’ve been sinking my teeth into them, they’ve been right off the tree, as opposed to the grocery store display. I can’t get enough of Galas, MacIntosh, Honeycrips, and Jonagolds. I’ve been trying all different recipes, but was really excited to put these blushing red beauties into donut form. A few problems arose. One: I had no desire to fry up donuts, and preferred to bake them instead. Two: If I did find a recipe for baked donuts, it involved a donut pan, which I did not have.

After a while of searching, I was pretty excited to find a baked donut recipe that involved baking the donuts in a mini-muffin pan to make donut holes. I ended up having to purchase a pan, but I’ll definitely put it to use more often than I will a donut mold pan.

Oven Baked Apple Donuts
from Jennifer Bartoli, contributor to The Kitchn

1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups bite-sized chunks of apple, peeled and cored
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1/4 cup milk

To Coat:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Preheat your oven to 350F. Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugars salt and and nutmeg in a bowl. Add the cold chopped butter. Rub the pieces of butter with the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Mix in the milk and fold in the chopped apples. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Stir using a spatula or spoon making sure not to overmix. Place a spoonful of batter into each mold of a buttered mini muffin pan.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the donuts are just golden. Remove from the oven, unmold and lightly brush each donut with the melted butter. Dunk in a bowl with the sugar and cinnamon mixed in. Shake off excess sugar and serve immediately.

 


These donuts were everything that I hoped they’d be. Filled with soft chunks of apples, dipped in butter, and coated with cinnamon and sugar. The mini muffin tin made them just the right size to pop in one or two for an afternoon snack or a quick dessert after dinner. I’ve found myself snacking on them after a long day at work, with a mug of hot apple cider. It was delightful! These also make a really great gift for friends, or would be great to bring along to a party of brunch. They’re fairly easy to make, so this won’t be the last time I’ll enjoy them.

After spending a few days in Connecticut a few weeks back, where the weather was cool and comfortable, I was greatly looking forward to the first day of Autumn. However, in Philadelphia, September 21st AND 22nd both had hot and humid days, not at all like the refreshing crisp and breezy weather I was anticipating. Regardless, I had a bunch of apples in the house from some apple picking back home, and decided to put them to use to welcome the change in season, not the change in temperature.

I found a recipe from Annie’s Eats called “Cranberry-Apple Harvest Muffins” that was adapted from a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa entitled “Cranberry Harvest Muffins.” I checked out the recipes and had to make substitutions either way, so I just made the necessary changes and called my adaptation “Harvest Muffins.” Click on the links to get the original recipes or follow my version below.

Harvest Muffins
Adapted from Annie’s Eats and The Barefoot Contessa

3/4 whole wheat flour
3/4 all purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 large egg
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup dried cranberries, reconstituted if desired
3/4 cup peeled and chopped apple, I used MacIntosh
1/2 cup diced fresh figs
1/2 cup raisins6 tbsp. packed brown sugar
6 tbsp. granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and giner; whisk together.  Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in the milk, egg and melted butter.  Stir quickly just to combine.  Add the cranberries, apples, figs, raisins, and both sugars to the bowl.  Stir just enough to distribute the fruits and sugars evenly throughout the batter.

Divide the batter evenly between muffin tin. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until browned on the top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

These came out great, even though they were packed with all different flavors. The figs were not totally necessary, and dried ones would have worked fine if desired. I added the raisins because I forgot that I had some fresh figs and ended up tossing the figs in at the last minute. I also substitute half of the flour for whole wheat flour. Not a huge difference, but always makes me feel the slightest bit more health conscious. When it gets closer to Thanksgiving and fresh cranberries are more abundant, I will totally use Ina Garten’s recipe for the Cranberry Harvest muffins- maybe without the figs though, we’ll see.

Feel free to check out both recipes and decide on what works best for you. These are great for breakfast, a side for lunch, an afternoon snack with tea, or dessert! They have just the right amount of sugar so that they are sweet enough but not overly. Mmm, I can’t wait to make more Fall harvest muffins!

Today marks a pretty important day in my family. I just want to take a minute to wish my DAD a very happy birthday! Unfortunately I can’t be at home in Connecticut this weekend to celebrate with him, but I was able to spend a few days back at home last weekend and we got to celebrate a bit early.

For his gift this year, I selected a bottle of Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction’s SNAP. It’s a liquor that tastes like a Ginger Snap. I’ve actually never had it, but I’m a huge fan of Art In the Age’s ROOT, which I received as a birthday gift this year. I decided to spread the Philly love, as only Philadelphians know how, and share this awesome new trend with my dad at home in Connecticut. I figured that with the holiday season swiftly approaching, it would be a great time to try out some new cocktail recipes to show off at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

Of course, to compliment the drink, I had to find the perfect baked good to go along with the gift. This was not hard. Duh, gingersnaps! And perfect timing, too. The weather at home was crisp, clear, and cool. Perfect weather to relax with a cocktail and some gingersnaps.

Gingersnap Cookies
from All Recipes

1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup white sugar for decoration

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, oil, molasses, and egg. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger; stir into the molasses mixture. Roll dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Roll each ball in white sugar before placing 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in preheated oven, or until center is firm. Cool on wire racks.


These came out perfectly, except that I may have over-baked them for one minute too long. Aim around 10 minutes, as opposed to 12. But don’t they look awesome? I love the cracked effect  and the sugar-coated texture. They are just bursting with flavor. They were pretty soft and chewy after just coming out of the oven, but hardened up quickly and would taste so good with a glass of milk or some hot tea… or a SNAP cocktail! This is a really fast recipe and is great for any chilly Fall afternoon and makes a great gift for friends. Enjoy!

I love the idea of peach pie. Earlier this summer it was popping up everywhere. I watched the woman who I’m babysitting for make three in one day, granted she used store-bought crust. One of my good friends has been working for the Farmer’s Markets in New York City and had been raving about how many peaches he gets to bring home each day. Imagine how many pies that makes!

For my birthday weekend, I decided to wind down with  day in the kitchen. It was pretty good weather and I had hit up the Rittenhouse Square farmer’s market early Saturday morning and scored some great Freestone peaches- white and yellow. I filtered through a few different recipes and decided on the Mark Bittman version.

Peach Pie
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

About 2 pounds of peaches, or a little more (6-10 peaches, depending on size)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
About 1/2 cup sugar, more if the peaches are not quite ripe, plus a little for the top
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ground allspice, if you use cinnamon
1 and 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or 2 tablespoons instant tapioca
2 recipes for Flaky Pie Crust (see my recipe for Blackberry Pie, here)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
Milk as needed

Heat the oven to 450F. Peel the peaches: Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop the peaches into it, a couple at a time, for 10 to 30 seconds, until the skins loosen. Plunge into a bowl of ice water. Slip the skins off, using a paring knife to ease the process. Pit, slice, and toss with lemon juice.


Mix together the dry ingredients (including the almond extract, if you’re using it) and toss the peaches with this mixtures. Pile into the rolld-out shell, making the pile a little higher in the center than at the sides. Dot with butter. Cover with the top crust. Decorate the edges with a fork or your fingers.

Put the pie on a baking sheet and brush the top lightly with milk; sprinkle with sugar. Use a sharp paring knife to cut two or three 2-inch long slits in the top crust; this will allow steam to escape. Bake for 10 minute; reduce the heat to 350F and bake for another 40 to 50 minutes, or until the pie is golden brown. Do not under-bake. Cool on a rack before serving warm or at room temperature.

This is the best photo I got of the finished product. I was a little too eager to dig in to the pie – it looked and smelled so delicious. As you can tell from the picture, I didn’t end up using a top crust. This is for a few reasons, mainly because I ran out of flour as I went to make my top crust, but also because I really love the idea of exposing your fruit in a pie. It’s the main element and I think it should be shown off. I looked up a recipe for a crumble topping and sprinkled it on top of the peaches.

Crumb Topping for Pies
from All Recipes

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cold butter, diced

In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar and flour. Mix in butter with a fork or stand mixer just until the topping is crumbly. Top your pie before baking.

So that’s just what I did. And this pie was great. I used a mixture of yellow and white Freestone peaches. I read that Freestone are the easiest to remove from the pit, and they certainly were. They were at their prime and very yummy. Upon first taste, I served it warm with eggnog ice cream. I’ve been eating it cold from the fridge since then and it is the perfect snack for a hot summer day. I just picked up a bunch of peaches from Linvilla Orchards in Media, PA this past week, and I’m contemplating what I’ll be doing with them before peach season comes to a close!

A few weeks ago I had a Friday off from work. The weather was perfect and I was longing to get out of the city. Off to Mood Farmer’s Market in Mulica Hill, New Jersey I went. A few hours in the sunny rows of blackberry bushes resulted in seven pounds of the berries. Oops. I had every intention of picking the berries specifically to make jam, but there was wayyyy more left over.

Upon arriving home, we gave the berries a little soak in the sink to get rid of any bugs, because there were quite a bit of bugs. Then we divided them up: freezer, jam, snacking, and baking. The next day I got to work on my pie.

Pie is very time consuming, especially in the heat. Luckily it wasn’t too humid like it’s been lately, so this was a slightly more bearable process than if could have been. I dove into Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything, and got to work. The recipes posted are a little out of order, but this is how I followed them. Bittman’s cookbook has basic recipes, followed by variations. I started out with making the pie crusts, then followed a recipe for Blueberry Pie, substituting some blackberries for blueberries. Try to follow along, and please comment if you have any additional questions.

Blackberry Blueberry Pie
Adapted from Mark Bittman

Flaky Pie Crust

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into about 8 pieces
3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add the butter and turn on the machine; process until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds.

Put the mixture in a bowl and add the ice water; mix with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball, adding another tablespoon or two of ice water if necessary (if you overdo it and the mixture becomes sodden, add a little more flour). Form into a ball, wrap in plastic, and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (You can refrigerate the dough for up to a couple of days or freeze, tightly wrapped, for up to a couple of weeks.)

Sprinkle a clean countertop with flour, put the dough on it, and sprinkle the top with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll with light pressure from the center out. If the dough is hard, let it rest for a few minutes. If the dough is sticky, add a little flour (if it continues to become sticky, and it’s taking you more than a few minutes to roll it out, refrigerate or freeze again). Roll, adding flour and rotating and turning the dough as needed; use ragged edges of dough to repair any tears, adding a drop of water while you press the patch into place.

When the diameter of the dough is about 2 inches greater than that of your pie plate, drape the dough over the rolling pin to transfer it into the pie plate. Press the dough firmly into the plate all over. Refrigerate for about an hour before filling (if you’re in a hurry, freeze for a half hour or so).

Trim the excess dough to about 1/2 inch all around, then tuck it under itself around the edge of the plate. Decorate the edges with a fork or your fingers. Freeze the dough for 10 minutes (or refrigerate it for 30 minutes).

When you’re ready to bake, either fill it or prick it all over with a fork for prebaking.

Blackberry Blueberry Pie Filling

3 cups blackberries/2 cups blueberries; both picked over, briefly rinsed, and lightly dried
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 flaky pie crusts (recipe to follow)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits

Gently toss the blueberries with the sugar, thickener, salt, and spices. Stir in the lemon juice and optional zest and pile into the rolled-out shell, making the pile a little higher in the center than at the sides. Dot with butter.

Clearly my pie was not perfect, but it certainly tasted that way! I’ve never done lattice-type topping before and I didn’t exactly weave the way I should have, but you get the idea. Now I am ready for apple pie season. I really liked the idea of the lattice work for the summer pies, I didn’t want to keep my beautiful berries all couped up under one big pie crust top. If only I had added a little more on the ends, it would have extended across the whole pie top. Oh well, minor details.

The most important step in this recipe was patience. I’ve made pies before but forgot that the dough has to chill for a while before use. When I started baking on Sunday morning, I thought, “Oh I’ll just whip up a pie.” About three hours later, it was finally cooling. I utilized Bittman’s advice on the freezer as much as possible.

Next time I pie-bake, it will be a bit cooler and hopefully my weekends will be less hectic so I can have more time to devote. Next up: apple and pumpkin, here I come!

Last weekend our CSA gave us a ton of apricots, peaches, and blueberries. The last time we received apricots in our CSA, I made a Claufuti, which went over terribly and got thrown in the trash after a week.

This time I was determined to make something that everyone would enjoy and would also use up most of my produce since we’d be leaving for a while and wouldn’t be able to enjoy it ourselves. We were visiting Stu’s parents on a Sunday afternoon which so happened to fall right before Stu’s birthday.

Our CSA included a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa for Peach Blueberry cobblers. I referenced that as well as a recipe from Simply Recipes and combined the two to make my own Apricot-Peach Blueberry Cobbler.

Aprioct-Peach Blueberry Cobbler
Adapted from Simply Recipes and The Barefoot Contessa

For the filling:
1 lb. apricots (approximately 10-12)

1 lb. peaches (4-6)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour

For the cobbler:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter softened plus 1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for at least five minutes.

Place the filling into a baking dish of your choosing. I used a 9x13x2 -inch baking dish. Ina Garten suggests making individual crumbles/cobblers in small ramekins.

Whisk together  flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, one tablespoon white sugar in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and toss into the flour mixture. Work the butter with your fingers to smear it and crumble it into the flour, until the mixture resembles a coarse cornmeal.

Add almond extract to the buttermilk, then form a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Gently mix (with wooden spoon or your hands) until the dough just comes together. Do not over-mix.

Form “cobblestone” shapes of the dough and arrange on the top of the apricot berry mixture. (You can also just crumble the dough over the top.) Sprinkle brown sugar over the top of the dough. Drizzle melted butter over the top (aim for the fruit more than the biscuits). Preheat oven to 425°F. Let the cobbler sit and rise for 10-20 minutes before baking.

Bake at 425°F for 10-15 minutes or until the top is just beginning to brown, then reduce the heat to 350°F. Cook for an additional 30 to 40 more minutes, until the center fruit is thickened and bubbly. Check during cooking, if the topping is getting too brown, cover it with foil and turn the heat down to 325°F.

This was so yummy! I’m really glad that I adapted the cobbler topping from Simply Recipes. It was cake-like and moist and a bit different from crumbles or cobblers that I’ve done in the past. It was also much more rustic looking, although it was a lot more time-consuming than Ina’s recipe or other basic cobblers. It was a hit over the weekend and I wish I had more right now! Hopefully this will not be the last time our CSA gives us peaches aplenty.