Monday, July 19, 2010

berry time

 I think one thing in particular that I can't wait to have in summer months are berries. They might be my favorite fruit for anytime, and I get overwhelmed at the sight of endless berry flats at the market. Each little berry packs its own intense burst of flavor, and the variation in taste across the berry family is as exciting as the thought of all the days of summer you have to enjoy in different ways. I want to eat as many as I can while they are here, and savor them like I do the season.

This week at the market I had to convince the "Berry Man" to give me as many blueberries as he could with the cash I had left. I only had $6, but being the kind Berry Man he was, he gave me $8 worth. I was ecstatic, and my purse was empty. Thankfully farmer's markets don't take debit cards or I would have spent at least $20 on berries. 

One of my favorite modes to showcase fresh berries is in a simple pie. Since I didn't want to make one big pie that will get soggy too fast with just me to eat it, I decided to make little pie turnovers that I could freeze and bake up for whenever I had a berry pie craving.

They are especially good on days like this.

Berry Turnovers
If you have a favorite pie crust recipe, use that. The filling is very simple and could be adapted for any fruit. If the fruit is juicier add more corn starch, if the fruit is sweeter lessen the sugar.

Pate Brisee
by Martha Stewart

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 c cold unsalted butter, my favorite for pie is the Organic Valley Cultured European Style
1/4-1/2 c ice water

Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter in cubes to the flour. Crumble and cut the butter into the flour either with your hands, knives, or pastry cutter until it resembles coarse meal. Add the water slowly, stirring it into the flour as you pour. Add only enough water to hold the dough together, it should not be wet or sticky. Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap, form into a ball and chill for an hour.

Berry Filling

2 1/4  c. blueberries - or any other berry
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp salt

Combine everything in a bowl, and let set for 30 min.

To make the Turnovers:

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take the dough out of the fridge, work with one half of the dough at a time. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until about 1/8 inch thick. Using a bowl, or other stencil, cut out circles of dough 5-6 inches in diameter. You can do smaller ones as well, 3-4 inches in diameter. For each circle, scoop 2 Tbsp of berries into the middle of the circle. Carefully fold over the dough to make half circles. Press the seam together to seal, crimp with your fingers to tighten the seal. Place the turnover on the prepared baking sheet. After all the turnovers have been made, put the sheet in the freezer for 30 min. About 15-20 min. before you plan to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, if you have a baking stone place that on the lowest rack for the preheat. After the turnovers have been thoroughly chilled, take out of the freezer to prepare for baking. You could also at this time put them in a zip lock to freeze for later. Brush the tops with cream, milk, or buttermilk, and sprinkle with sugar. Cut three steam vents into the top of the crust. Slide the turnovers, on the parchment, onto the baking stone (or baking sheet). Bake for 20-30 minutes until bubbling and golden.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

warm nights on the porch

With sunny days and long nights finally here, I have found myself spending many hours lounging on my deck in the back yard. We have these wood and canvas chairs that you can sink into, and are perfect for book reading and snacking. The ice cream and shortbread I savored one warm night recently had been made for Fourth of July, which made me crave my new wool sweater more than a sundae. 

Other treats I have been enjoying in the evening light

An apricot and strawberry tart made with Rustic Rye Dough out of Good to the Grain (I have tried multiple delicious recipes from this book, this dough stood out). I made this as a dessert for a dinner I prepared for two friends of mine visiting Seattle from Germany. They enjoyed the dessert, but were pickier with their beer. They chose a tall can of Busch over the Alaskan Summer Ale I offered, although they said they appreciated the Orca Whale on the label.

I also took up a culinary adventure by grilling, which I have never done on my own. I was tenacious and grilled a whole salmon. Inside the salmon I tucked in garlic, lemons,  and rosemary. It sizzled and dripped tasty fats while over the charcoal. The only difficult process was when I went to turn it over; I almost capsized the entire grill, demolished the salmon, and burned my hands. It was all in good efforts though, as it turned out delicious. 

I ate the Strawberry Lemon Ice Cream and Ginger Oat shortbread intended for Fourth of July for many meals over the past week, including breakfast. The last spoonfuls of the ice cream were eaten as an after-work bike ride refreshment this afternoon. The combination of the buttery oat cookie with the tang of the strawberries and lemon are perfect for summer evenings outside, and I am excited to make more ice cream and cookie combos. 

Ginger Oat Shortbread

1 stick unsalted butter
2 Tbsp shortening, non-hydrgenated
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 c. all-purpose flour + 2 Tbsp
1/2 c. oat flour
1/4 c. oats
2 Tbsp powdered ginger
1 tsp salt

 In a stand up mixer, beat together the butter, shortening and sugars until well combined, and beginning to become soft, but not too fluffy. Add the flours, oats, ginger, and salt. Mix until all components have just come together. Turn out dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Lightly flour the top, and roll into a rectangle approximately 1/4 inch thick. Cover the top of the dough with plastic wrap. Place dough sheet on a cookie sheet and chill at least one hour. At least 15 minutes before you decide to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  When ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge and unwrap the dough. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut the dough into rough 3x3 inch squares, and place on the parchment. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the cookies begin to brown on the edges. Cool on a rack before trying to remove from parchment.

Strawberry Lemon Ice Cream 

2 c. Heavy Cream
1 c. Whole Milk
1/4 c. honey
1/3 c. sugar
thick zest of 2-3 lemons
Fresh Cidronella (optional, I had some in my garden)

3/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
2. c strawberries, roughly chopped

In a saucepan on medium high heat combine the cream, milk, honey, sugar, and zest. Heat until just before boiling, but do not boil. Take off heat, cover, and let the cream infuse for one hour. Transfer to the fridge to chill overnight. In another saucepan combine the lemon juice, water, and sugar. Boil unti reduced by half. Add the strawberries and toss them until coated with the syrup. Keep over heat for 5 minutes, until the strawberries loose some of their structure. Transfer to the fridge to chill overnight. To freeze ice cream, take the cream mixture out of fridge and strain into a large bowl. Mix in strawberries, and freeze according to your ice cream maker.