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Summer tomatoes fresh from your own garden. These tomatoes are prettier than flowers in my opinion. My expectations for my first season of tomato-planting were actually pretty low. Needless to say they have been exceeded “astronomically” (heh heh).
We have had them in all sorts of things, but to be honest I enjoy them best right off the vine and straight into my mouth. My favorites are the little yellow ones. They are so sweet I feel like I am eating candy when I eat them and I could easily imagine them in a dessert. No wonder tomatoes are actually fruit.
In our recent trip to Quebec we learned that tomatoes can actually be used to make wine. We found it tasted more like grappa than wine, but still, it just goes to show how sweet these guys can be.
Speaking of sweet, we’ve been enjoying our fare share of Niagara peaches this summer and I finally decided it was high time I make a peach pie. I’ve made plenty of pies from blueberry to apple, but I hadn’t yet tried peach. So I rolled up my sleeves and got rollin’
I used this recipe, because I know I can always trust Smitten Kitchen. I didn’t change it up all that much, but used cornstarch instead of the instant tapioca. I also made sure the six cups of peaches were really heaping. In fact, I suspect I used closer to seven.
I decided to go the lattice route, which really is quite lovely and is worth the extra minute or two. With such beautiful peaches on hand, it seems a pity to completely cover them up.
All you need is some strips of dough. You lay four down on the pie and then lift alternating ones and hold them back while you slip in the other strips perpendicular. In this case, I used a crinkled edge, but a straight knife cut works fine too.
The final product was peach heaven! I am already dreaming about making another one, before peach season draws to a close.
Since I followed the recipe pretty much exactly, I won’t bother reproducing it here, but I thought I might offer some advice on pie dough. People seem to think it is an awful lot of work or that is doomed to failure, but it is really easy to master.
The key here is to keep your butter cold. Unlike cakes and cookies where the butter is mixed thoroughly with the sugar, you want little bits of butter in your dough. So whatever you don’t mash the butter so that it melts away into the flour. Really, no mashing, okay?
The butter should be mixed with the flour first to create a rough pea-like texture. Again, bits of butter preserved and not mashed away. Then you slowly add the water to bring the mixture together. In order, to prevent mashing the butter in, at this point, handling the dough only a little is best.
From here everything needs to be well chilled before rolling. Again, we are trying to keep those bits of butter! Even after rolling it is a good idea to chill the dough before baking it off.
Here are a few ways to help keep that butter cold when you are making the dough:
- Freeze the stick of butter before and then grate it on a box grater. Freeze the grated bits before tossing it with the flour with your hands.
- Put an ice cube in the water before you add it
- Use a metal bowl to mix the ingredients that has been chilled in the freezer for a minute or two prior to
- if at any point it looks like the butter is getting soft – put the whole works back in the fridge for a bit
Once you get the hang of mixing in cold butter, a pie can come together in under an hour! How can you resist?
Ramekins finally entered my life. I usually try to resist accumulating too much kitchenware. More often than not something you already have can do the job and clutter in the kitchen is something to be avoided at all cost.
That said, recipe after recipe kept coming up that needed little bowls that can take the heat of the oven. Fortunately, ramekins can also serve a variety of other purposes and so I decided I needed a set. In short, I caved to dreams of hot little chocolate pots and asked someone to treat me to these for a gift.
My Christmas wish came true and since that time, we’ve made quite a few delicious treats including baked eggs with chives and tomatoes, chocolate lava cakes and this delicious dessert – chocolate whiskey pots de crèmes. You will notice that 2/3 of these things require chocolate…
What I love about these chocolate pots is that you can flavour them however you like and you can whip up just one or two servings if you’re scared that you might just eat a dozen if they were sitting around.
They make the perfect bed for fresh berries, whipped cream and, if you want to go overboard, chocolate shavings. They are also just fine on their own.
So if you are one of the lucky folks out there that owns a set of ramekins – give this recipe a try. If you don’t, I think you might be able to pull this off by using a muffin tray and just filling the empty holes with some water so that the tray doesn’t bend. However, you and your guests will have to communally share that muffin tray – but for the love of chocolate – some of us will go to great lengths!
Chocolate Whiskey Pot De Cremes (serves 4) adapted from Tartelette
- 3 egg yolks
- 2-3 tbsp. honey (depending on how sweet you want it)
- 1/2 cup cream (I used 35%)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3 oz or three squares of dark chocolate (bittersweet)
- 2 tbsp. whiskey (use another flavour if you like – vanilla, cointreau, etc.)
Add whiskey or other flavour and then divide into your ramekins. Put the ramekins in a roasting pan and fill it with hot water. Place the pan with the ramekins into the hot oven.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until the pots are set. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge. Chill for at least two hours. The little pots keep for a few days.
I like to serve it with fresh berries and vanilla whipped cream.
It has been too long. What can I say… After far too long a time, spring has inspired me to get back to this blog. All the lovely fresh produce has put a spring in my step and I am eager for the summer’s bounty.
As soon as the first spring blossoms appear on the scene I start to ask myself – ‘where is the rhubarb?’ followed by – ‘where is the asparagus?’. These are pretty much two of my top ten ingredients to cook with.
Needless to say I was thrilled when our two gardening guru friends brought us over a bushel of their first rhubarb crop. I could barely hold myself back from making a crisp on the spot.
I think a good crisp might just be my all time favourite dessert. I love the juicy fruit coupled with the crumbly topping all coming together in one big bowl. It feels like a warm hug.
Crisps are really easy to make it and there are so many recipes out there I don’t really think I need to give you another one. I will share my top crisp tips though and my adaptations to Heidi’s recipe on 101 Cookbooks for strawberry rhubarb crumble, which was the final resting place for this luscious spring bounty of mine.
Please share your own fancy tips and tricks to making the perfect crisp!
- I always add baking powder to my crisp or crumble topping. It makes it puff up nicely into big chunks.
- After I incorporate the butter into a crisp, I make sure it has a crumbly texture (i.e. large chunks). I then put this in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before I put it on top of the fruit and in the oven. This makes sure the crumble stays crumbly.
- I like to add nuts and oats to my crumble. It gives it more texture. I like Heidi’s recipe but I swapped the pine nuts for walnuts, just because that’s what I had. Crisp are very forgiving.
- Many crisp recipes call for excessive amounts of sugar. I like the fruit to take center stage. Heidi’s recipe does that for sure, but I was even scant with her sugar amounts.
- I also added a zing of fresh lemon zest, which always livens up a crisp.
- While ice cream is certainly my go-to sidekick for crisp, here I tried ricotta mixed with a little cream and more lemon zest. It had more refreshing and earthy flavour.
I am glad to be back! Happy Spring everyone!
The weather has been fabulously hot here. I can hardly even remember what rain is like. Every day this month we’ve had clear blue skies and high temperatures. While it has been wonderful to have such sunny skies, the heat has certainly taken its toll on us and I have been avoiding the oven like the plague.
On the weekend we celebrated my Mom’s 58th birthday. We were a bit late in celebrating so we decided to do it up right with a big meal with many courses. We made a lot of things, but I could not bring myself to bake a cake on such a hot day. We opted instead for dessert which showcased the fresh fruit in season right now – red raspberries!
The raspberries were sauced in their own puree and sat atop a soft pillow of jelly vanilla cream. It was my first stab at working with gelatine and I was pretty pleased with the results.
I got the recipe from a Food & Drink magazine that my Mom had lent me a little while ago. Although I was nervous to use the gelatine for the first time, it came together very quickly and only needed a few ingredients. I think it will definitely become part of the summer dessert repertoire.
I hope to share at least one more recipe from the birthday dinner so stay tuned!
Raspberries & Potted Cream
(note: 1 Tbsp of gelatine was one envelope in the KNORR package. While the package said to use with 2 cups of liquid, I followed the Food & Drink recipe, which had 3 cups and it set just fine.)
- 1 Tbsp of gelatine
- 1/4 cup cool water
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract or about half of a large vanilla bean
- 3 Tbsp. of sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of raspberries (the fresher the better!)
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. water