Entries from May 23rd, 2013

{Product Review} A Pocketful of Peaches

June 21st, 2010 · 29 Comments · Fruit, Pastry, Recipes, Reviews, Tools

Minipeachpie

Like many a baker, gadgets are my Achilles heel. And I’ve noticed that all the cooking stores are getting better and better at pumping out cute little tools and machines that illuminate previously-unknown voids in your kitchen inventory. My saving graces are that I don’t have a kitchen the size of Martha Stewart’s, nor do I have her budget either.

Still, it’s always fun to browse my neighborhood stores, if only to get baking inspiration. While I might not purchase the newest giant Oreo-shaped cake pan, I might go home with a hankering to make whoopie pies or cream-filled sandwich cookies. Sometimes, though, they pitch to the perfect sweet spot, and you find yourself walking home with another spatula in your absolute favorite shade of pink, or some Star Wars-shaped cookie cutters, or perhaps this mini lattice pie mold from Williams-Sonoma.

The little mold is fairly clever in design: The outside of the mold works like a cookie cutter so you can cut out the shapes for your pies; then you place one of the pieces of cut-out dough on the inside of the mold, spoon in some filling, place another piece of dough on top, and close the mold to crimp the edges together. Obviously, this is not a true lattice top per se, but it’s a pretty replication. And the fact that there are peaches everywhere right now, and I was struck with an intense desire to make some peach pie right away.

If you don’t mind accumulating baking gadgets (despite all attempts at a thorough cleaning-out when I moved, my baking collection remain an eclectic, ever-morphing warren of the long-coveted, the impulse-purchased, and accidentally-acquired), this little guy is less than $10 and does its job fairly well. I wouldn’t say it renders pie-making hassle free: you still need to make the pie dough and filling, and then assemble the pies. For those pie purists who’ve honed their pie strategies within an inch of their carefully-floured counter, this might seem a little silly. But I rather enjoyed making little individual pies, flaky-crisp pockets of rosy peaches dotted with cinnamon and nutmeg. The way these pocket-pies are shaped too, almost remind me of muffin tops in form and function: there’s almost a constant perfect crust-to-filling ratio, with no soggy parts.

The pie crust recipe below is adapted from the box the cutter came in, although your favorite pie crust recipe will do just fine. I threw some ginger in the recipe to give a prickle of heat that played nicely with the gloriously sweet, juicy peach filling. (P.S., if you aren’t in the market for a cutter, you can always cut out shapes with your favorite cookie cutters – remember it should be big enough to contain a generous dollop of filling – and crimp the edges together with a fork.)

P.P.S. I am slowly getting around to thank-you notes and replies to everyone who sent wedding well-wishes. I’m trying to get to everyone as soon as I can – thanks for your patience!

 

Peachpiemold

Mini Lattice Peach Pies

Makes about four 5″ round pies

Pie Crust

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ginger

1 tablespoon sugar

1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

about 3-4 tablespoons ice water

1 egg, beaten with a a teaspoon water, for egg wash

Sugar for sprinkling

 

Combine flour, salt, ginger, and sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times until combined.

Add butter and pulse just a few times until pea-sized crumbs form. It should still be crumbly.

Add water a tablespoon at a time and pulse just a couple times. Dough should hold together when you squeeze it but should not be sticky. Add more water if necessary, a teaspoon at a time.

Turn out dough onto plastic wrap, form into a disk, and wrap tightly. Chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

 

Peach Filling

 

3 ripe peaches, peeled

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons minute tapioca

 

Halve and pit the peaches. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

Toss peach pieces in a medium bowl with lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and tapioca.

 

To make the pies: Take out dough and let stand at room temperature for a few minutes.

Roll out dough to 1/8″ thick on a floured surface. Use cutter to cut out shapes for tops and bottoms.

Place a bottom disk of dough on the cutter mold. Brush the edges with a little egg wash.

Spoon in a few tablespoons of the filling. Top with another disk of dough.

Press mold down to crimp edges together, or use a fork to press the edges together.

Transfer the pie to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Repeat with remaining disks of dough.

Freeze pies for 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the tops of the pies with some egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 20 to 24 minutes, until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling.

Cool baking sheet with pies on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.

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{SF} Wall of Cupcakes

June 17th, 2010 · No Comments · San Francisco, Sweet Spots

Cakowall

Cupcake display at Cako. Very modern pop-art-ish. The lemon raspberry cupcake was a winner.

Cako
211 O’Farrell Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 404-7303

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{SF} Ice Cream Tour, Stop 3

June 13th, 2010 · No Comments · San Francisco, Sweet Spots

Taraorganic

Salvation on a sweltering summer day at Tara’s Organic Ice Cream: Black sesame ice cream, nutty and fragrant. Not pictured but equally ambrosial: strawberry rose ice cream, like tasting a garden in full bloom.

Tara’s Organic Ice Cream
3173 College Ave
Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 655-5014

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{SF} Ice Cream Tour, Stop 2

June 13th, 2010 · No Comments · San Francisco, Sweet Spots

Humphryslocombe
Bacon peanut brittle at that most avant-garde of ice cream parlors in SF, Humphry Slocombe. The szechuan strawberry sorbet left our mouths pleasantly tingling, like we had eaten peppery snowflakes.

Humphry Slocombe
2790 Harrison St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 550-6971

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{SF} Ice Cream Tour, Stop 1

June 13th, 2010 · No Comments · San Francisco, Sweet Spots

Mrmrsmisc
New ice cream store in Dogpatch with a tongue-teaser of a name: Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous. Highly recommend the Chocolate Malt Crunch with Valrhona chocolate pearls.

 

Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous
699 22nd St (between Illinois St & 3rd St)
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 970-0750

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Return to the Kitchen

June 8th, 2010 · 26 Comments · Fruit, Personal, Recipes, Tarts

Strawberrytartetatin

I’m back!

Thank you ALL for your well-wishes and congratulations – they meant so much to me. Whether you’re a long time reader, or just someone who dropped by and left a note, it made me feel that on the 23rd of May, the happiness I felt spread out beyond the sun-dappled garden where I stood with Mike to encompass everywhere happy thoughts were being sent our way.

In an impeccable stroke of timing, just as I was going to publish this post, I found that our photographer had put up a gallery of images from our wedding.

Please click here to see Ricky’s wonderful work in capturing our day!

There aren’t photos yet of the reception, or the cake – I’ll be sure to post as soon as I get them!

Oh, and I thought I’d also share this photo taken by the wonderful Lisa, who’s a pretty darn good photographer herself:

AnitaMikewedding

Photo courtesy of lisa-is-bossy

Moments after being married. Did I cry? Yes – a little:) I teased my husband(!!) after the ceremony that although I consider him the more sensitive of the two of us, he was rock-steady during the entire thing. Well, I mean rock-steady while beaming the whole time.

The Bay Area had been plagued with chilly weather and – more forebodingly – showers, the entire week before. But as you can see, we got married under a shining, sunlit sky. I like to think that everyone’s good wishes chased all the rainclouds away for that one afternoon (the rain came back with a vengeance later that week!)

So after a few days relaxing down in Big Sur, I’m back to work with a new band on my hand. We will be travelling to Hong Kong at the end of the year for a second reception, as most of my relatives live there and were unable to make it to the states for the wedding. We’ll likely do our honeymoon at that point – and I’ll be wearing my dress again (I’m sure every woman understands the need to get as much mileage out of the dress as possible).

 

 

Justastrawberry

I’m working my way back into the blogging groove (I have missed my oven!) so I hope you stick around in the next few months to see what I bake up! One of the first things that tweaked my apron strings was a combination of some creme brulee dishes we received as a present and the strawberries that are in full flush right now. It’s almost impossible for me to walk by a display of strawberries at the store; when their wafting, sweet scent entangles me in thoughts of kisses under a just-flowering tree, or a stolen bite of extravagantly flaky pie, or simply pure, unfettered happiness. It’s not difficult for me to be in a happy mood right now, but strawberries never do anything but improve one’s day immensely.

This is based on a Donna Hay recipe for strawberry tarte tatin: ripe strawberry halves arranged in dishes and drizzled with vanilla bean-infused caramel, then topped with a thick layer of puff pastry, pot pie-style, and tucked into the oven to puff up into a buttery, sweet delight.

A note: the recipe indicates to roll the puff pastry to 3/16″, which may seem thick, but I discovered if you roll the dough too thin, it will drape lumpily over the berries instead of lying flat. Don’t be afraid to bake until the puff pastry gets nice and golden so it will be flaky as possible!

 

Emptyplates

Strawberry Tarte Tatins

adapted from Donna Hay

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons water
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
500g (1 lb) strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
300g puff pastry (you can use the blitz puff recipe here)

Preheat oven to 390 degrees F.

Combine butter, sugar, water and vanilla bean in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 5 minutes until caramel is golden brown – don’t let it get too dark or burn.

Remove from the heat and discard the vanilla bean.

Lightly grease four 10cm round pie dishes with butter.

Arrange the strawberries in the dishes and pour caramel over them.

Place the pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll out to 5mm thick. Cut four 11cm rounds from the pastry and place on top of the strawberries.

Place the dishes on a baking sheet and bake the tarts for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden. Turn the tarts out onto plates and let cool slightly before serving.

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