25 August 2014


I never seem to tire of those few songs that can play over and over again and still feel fresh, the swaying, the collective gathering, the permission to dance, ennui obliterated by rhythm. I love music, I am reminded. Music is now. At a concert recently, we drank from the ongoing beat, elsewhere. And then, we left, to find Uber in "surge" mode, charging double for midnight rides, I thought, I'd take a cabin in the woods making, slicing, eating this pie again right about now. We get home, eventually. We get on with it. Luckily, I have a minute this morning at our desk before any form of, to share some of this homey, wholesome, fresh blueberry pie with you.

An incentive for at least one pie before summer's end came in the form of a 6-inch pie plate I ordered on a whim, and an irresistible recipe I'd tagged when blueberries started appearing. Of course, I delayed, and made galettes. But this pie, from Rose Levy Berenbaum, was recently talked up on the Genius Recipes column on Food52. It's a pie that defies what makes pies sometimes too dramatic. It's the one that walked in in the little breezy dress and knocked everyone's socks off. Ok, you have to put in a little time, but, this is a fruit pie that only requires the oven to be on for 35 minutes. Yes, that's right. Now, go fetch a few pints of the last bushels of seasonal blueberries. We're going topless.

Rose is a good person to listen to. I don't need to say much more. She has you make and bake the crust first, brush a little egg white on it while it cools, and then cook roughly a third of your blueberries on the stove-top, mix in a little cornstarch, sugar and lemon juice and then fold in the rest of the berries raw. All this happens in the few minutes after blind baking the crust, so, you'll pour the berries into your crust and go, "that's it?" With this hack, they stay plump and glistening and magically glued together when you cut the pie. Then you just need to distract yourself because you have to let it sit for a few hours before cutting.

Now, about the crust. Rose included her own with the recipe, but I just had to go with the part-rye crust I love. You can use a pre-made crust if you lack time, or another you're comfortable with, but my favorite way to go here is to use the Chez Pim mix on the counter technique with a little rye flour (via Heidi) and apple cider vinegar (via Kim Boyce) thrown in. It makes for a nice flakey crust and I like the method. It gives you roll-and-fold and fraisaging, all in one. 


We cut slivers of this over the coarse of 2 days, which is how long Rose says it will keep, lightly covered in the dish at room temperature. The blueberries are jammy and plump, even after it has sat, and the crust  nicely maintained itself. I on the other hand, could not stop thinking about the pie. I'll make it again and again. Enjoy the last week of summer!

Fresh Blueberry Pie in a Rye Crust

barely adapted from Food52

Notes: Though I used a 6-inch plate and cut the recipe in half, using a half-recipe of standard pie dough for a single crust, I'll include the full recipe as it's intended for a 9-inch pie, below, because I assume you want more pie.

1 9-inch chilled pie crust, unbaked
4 cups blueberries, divided
1 Tbsp egg white, lightly beaten  
1/2 liquid cup and two tablespoons water, divided 
2 tablespoons cornstarch 
1/2 cup sugar 
2 teaspoons lemon juice 
Pinch of salt

Flaky Rye Pie Crust
37 g /  scant 1/3 cup rye flour
88g / 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
 4oz / 1 stick salted Euro/Irish butter
2.5  Tbs ice water*
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (optional)

*I like to prep water this way: Fill a glass measuring cup with about 1/2 cup ice, then follow with a cup cold water. Stir in your apple cider vinegar, and set this in the fridge or freezer. Then when you go to take your measured water out, dip in the Tablespoon, and add the appropriate amount that way.

Make the crust: using the above ingredients, use this technique.  Fold as per in Pim's instructions 3x-4x. After it has rested, let it sit at room temp for about 10 minutes to take the chill off. Roll dough out to 1/8 inch thickness in confident strokes between two pieces of lightly floured plastic or parchment, giving a quarter turn often. Ease your pie crust into the plate, fold under excess and crimp. Chill, lightly covered, for an hour.

Make pie: Preheat oven to 425 15 minutes before baking. Line the pastry with parchment and fill with pie weights, pie rice or beans, and bake 20 minutes. Carefully remove parchment and weights and with a fork, prick the bottom and sides. Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes, until pale golden. Check and prick any bubbles with a fork after 3 minutes.

Cool the crust on a rack for 3 minutes, so it is no longer piping hot, then brush the bottom and sides with the egg white to prevent sogginess.

For filling: Measure out 1 cup of the blueberries, choosing the softest. Place in a medium saucepan together with the 1/2 cup water. Cover and bring  to a boil. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and the remaining 2 tablespoons of water. Set aside.

When water and blueberries have come to a boil, lower heat and simmer, stirring constantly for 3 to 4 minutes or until the blueberries start to burst and the juices begin to thicken. Stirring constantly, add cornstarch mixture, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Simmer for a minute or until the mixture becomes translucent.

Immediately remove it from the heat and quickly fold in the remaining 3 cups of blueberries. Spoon mixture into the baked pie shell and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before cutting. Store covered at room temp for up to 2 days.

19 August 2014

I said it's a plum

Summer desserts seem to be infinite this time of year. Crisps, crumbles, pies, galettes, galet-ettes...make them, make them now, the fruit gods seem to pronounce, even amidst the hot kitchen. While eating perfect seasonal summer fruits raw with your hands is like nothing else, neither is cooking them into jammy goodness them while they're around and ready to be plucked upon. I haven't seen a strawberry at the farmer's market in a few months, and while I just got used to picking up pints of cherries in every visit, those plump juicy-crisp dollops of perfection are now filed under nostalgia. Though I've still been hoarding blueberries to sprinkle on granola, freeze or maybe make one last pastry with, for now, I'm mostly onto stone fruits. 

The point is, they go fast.

That said, speaking of berries, if you've still got a bounty of them, my rye cherry-blueberry galette is a Community Pick from Food52's Your Best Berries Contest. You can see the page here and scroll down past the gorgeous photos to the list of four other community picks at the bottom. But back to stone fruits. Peaches took over last week. I made quick fro-yo one night, and then turned two that went from firm to overripe overnight, into a simple stove jam into which I grated ginger. A few more went into last weeks simple tart. And the other one got halved and gussied in the simplest guise: baked like this (omg. do that now). I'm watching the other peaches ripen slowly while I think about how they me combined with a tiny bottle of rum I have...

Meanwhile, a bucket of round magenta plums piled high under the farmer's tent caught my eye. And before that, a basket of Italian prune plums. That's what I'm here to report on. They're a fruit I'm not so used to baking with. and they really shine when allowed to jam up and concentrate. Over the weekend, I made Marian Bull's Plum Galette. For the crust, I used a bit of spelt flour in place of her whole wheat. Delectable. Check out her recipe and funny write-up. "A galette is a lazy woman's pie." Amen to that!

Plum Galette

And with those prune plums? The credit goes to another Marian. Marian Burros via Molly. Plum Crumble. Plum CRUMBLE. I'm not exaggerating here, there's genius to this recipe. I'm already thinking about making it again. Just so I can eat it for breakfast. First you'll enjoy a scoop after it cools a little, with a dollop of creme fraiche, but know that it also holds up well overnight and is fabulous with another dollop of creme fraiche in the morning. It will warm gently for just a few minutes in a low oven, while you make coffee. But what's notable is the topping. The dough, without butter at first, is clumped over spiced plums and then the butter is poured on the topping which makes it a bit crispier than usual, almost like a giant cinnamon cookie baked over jammed plums. I even snuck a little spelt flour into that, too. Can't find prune plums? Word is you can do the same with peaches. I'll have to try that next... maybe spiked with rum. Anything's possible. Until soon. xx MN

Plum Crumble (the morning after)

12 August 2014

You deserve to know

Rising on a weekend morning not the third time the eyes opened from a stir but the first, was a sign that production could occur before the afternoonI made my move into the kitchen, a three second walk, shut the bedroom door and ground the coffee beans as muffled and quickly as I could. Then I made oatmeal. The beguilingly austere, toasted, steamed oats I mentioned a few months ago, with a system that leaves little mess, topped with blueberries, toasted nuts and a generous drip of maple syrup. I made extra, and left it out along with the fixings. I got in some quiet reading, then slipped out the door. The text I received while finishing up a loop at the farmer's market confirmed a few things: a) do not doubt leaving out food for men b) do not doubt oatmeal c) time on your own speed in a weekend morning transforms the day.

Then, last week started, and I got behind, again. The days long, away from home, the daily granola I brought along, a tie to my kitchen. Lunch was leftovers on a bench in the prettiest spot I could find in Battery Park, dinners planned while walking home immersed in an inner scan of what was there and what needed. One thing that's been on the queue based on the zucchini abundance: Ottolenghi's turkey-zucchini meatballs. Tender, moist and and studded with the unexpected green shreds of goodness and punchy aromatics, they hit the spot. It was too dark for a photo. I tried again the other night, thinking I got an earlier start. And then, shredding the courgette, chopping the pungent scallions and mixing ground turkey as the sun dwindled and I thought of a side, I realized it was high hopes I'd get a decent photo of them, again.

But so be it. It's the next day's photo you're getting- did I mention leftovers make an excellent room temperature antipasti or lunch? It's zucchini season and you deserve to know. I love this recipe for a few good reasons: a) Sear to start, finish in oven. This ensures even cooking and minimizes time standing over the frying pan b) ground turkey has been hated on as a dull, lean bodybuilder food, and here it gets a total makeover. I love the mildness of the light meat compared with the spices and strong herbs in the mix. c) rustic, tender, gluten-free meatballs d) any excuse for a garlic-yogurt dipping sauce. Go Ottolenghi.

Ottolenghi's turkey-zucchini meatballs with yogurt sauce
adapted from Yotom Ottolenghi's Jerusalem

notes: squeezing the zucchini a bit isn't in his instructions but the second time I did so just a little and found it helped the mix adhere a little better. Also, his sauce recipe makes a lot- this is half of that and is plenty. I am crushing over a nice smoked paprika from Savory and therefore didn't source the sumac he intends. Sue me. This was plenty good. I'm sure sumac is, too. Next time...

Yogurt Sauce
115 grams/ 1/2 c Greek yogurt or combination yogurt + sour cream or creme fraiche
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest
1 small garlic clove, grated or minced
 Scant 1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika or 1 tsp sumac
1/4 teaspoon salt 
Generous few grinds fresh ground black pepper

500 g/ 1 pound ground turkey (white or dark meat) 
1 large egg
200 g/scant 2 c zucchini, grated
3 scallions, whites, sliced thin
2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped basil or cilantro leaves
2 large cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Light olive or vegetable oil for searing

First make the sauce by combining all ingredients well in a bowl or working glass. Cover and chill until needed.

Oven to 425.  Line a sheet pan with parchment.
Grate the zucchini on a paper towel over a cutting board. You can either measure the weight (I used a 200gram zuc) before or your shreds after. Once grated, sprinkle with just a teensy pinch salt and let sit 3 or 4 minutes while you mince the herbs and scallions. Lightly squeeze the zuch shreds in the towel a little to move a little moisture. You don't need to be aggressive though.

In a large bowl place turkey, egg, cumin, salt, cayenne and black pepper, herbs, scallions and zucchini. Mix with your hands gently until incorporated but don't overwork it. Scoop into heaped Tbsps and gently squeeze and lightly toss from hand to hand to create balls. Set on a plate or plastic wrap.

Heat a nice slick of oil over medium heat in a large skillet, like cast iron. Use a slotted spoon to spoon half the meatballs into the pan, just browning them gently on all sides, searing for about 4 minutes. They will cook through in the oven. Carefully transfer to the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining balls, adding extra oil to the pan, if needed. Place tray in oven for 6-8 minutes until just cooked through. You can take the temp (165) and/or cut into one to check.
Cool a few minutes and serve with sauce. 

Yield:16-18 balls depending on how you roll

09 August 2014

Form and ease

Is there anything that could go wrong when sweet oven-caramelized August peaches enter the mix? If there was I didn't have the time or care to think about it. I wanted ease, and Amanda Hesser's peach tart is the summer wildcard among seasonal fruit pies and I can't help sharing it here. It's one every cook should try when peaches are piling at the markets, dessert is in order and time is of the essence. Here, rather than a shortcrust, you have a tender/crumbly pat-in crust featuring light olive oil, almond extract and milk, a crust much more likely to be pulled off on a hot weeknight or pulled together for a gathering when you've got lots of other things on your mind. 

The tart is easy-peasy but still requires an eye. After you pat in the fragrant almond-scented crust, you arrange the peaches, then shower it with a sugar crumble that is hinted with just a touch of butter and flour; that becomes the gelling agent for the peaches. I added orange zest to the crumble, too, and did not regret it. You'll want to still treat your crust lightly and bake it until those peach juices are bubbling. Then cool it well on a rack before cutting and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche on the side. It's worth mentioning that the last two slices were a decadent addition to a late breakfast the next day along with fruit, coffee and an egg or two. Lightly wrapped in parchment and foil, it held up fine on the table. 

Amanda's Peach Tart (adapted from Food52)

Notes: I must enjoy keeping my math sharp and my kitchen shelves minimalistic, so I reduced the original recipe by about a third to fit into my 8-inch tart pan. The original specifies an 11 inch, so if that's what you've got, go with that one. If you have what I have, I have you covered. I love the 8-inch pan. It's big enough to give a bit of leftovers but small enough for a mini-household. I found these ratios the perfect size for my pan. Amanda has great photos on the linked recipe page of steps. 

140 grams/ 1 c + 2 Tb all purpose flour
scant 1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp natural cane sugar
6 Tbsp light/mild olive oil, vegetable oil or combo (I used 5 Tb light olive/1 Tb liquid coconut oil)
1.5 Tbs milk (I used half-and-half)
1/4 tsp almond extract

2 medium, ripe peaches, thickly sliced 

Pinch orange zest
16 grams/ 1.5 Tbsp flour
100 grams/ scant 9 Tbsp natural cane sugar
scant 1/4 tsp salt
21 grams/ 1.5 Tb cold butter

Oven to 425

Stir together crust ingredients: flour, salt, sugar in a bowl. Whisk oil, extract and milk separately. Pour into flour mix and mix gently with a fork. Just to dampen, do not over work. Transfer moist clumps to an 8 inch tart pan. Use hands to pat dough so it covers bottom, and sides to meet the edge. Go for about 1/8 inch thick all around. 

Lay peaches snuggly, concentrically, and place a few slices in the center. Combine topping ingredients in a bowl and pinch butter in until crumbly. Shower this mix over the peaches. Note that if you have very juicy peaches you may want 1-2 teaspoons more flour in the topping. Bake 35-45 mins, until shiny thick bubbles begin to appear and the crust is light brown. Cool on a rack.