August, 2009 Archive

Sunday, August 30, 2009

nectarine galette

nectarine almond tart

Has it really been nearly two years we talked about the Simplest Apple Tart? What a bummer, I say, a darn shame because there’s no reason to limit this pared-down approach to fruit desserts to apple season. Stone fruits are a natural match for this type of open, single crust tart — they bake up gorgeously, don’t lose so much liquid that you end up flooding the crust (or your oven floor) and oh, they’re all so flawless right now that even nectarines, which unfairly play second fiddle to peaches, deserve their own day in the spotlight.

jersey nectarinesa white nectarine snuck in!nectarine wedgesground almonds, sugar and flournectarines, ground almondsnectarine-almond tart, ready to bake

Plus? It’s ridiculous easy to make. A single pie crust, a brush of melted butter, a sprinkling of sugar and big wedges of peak-season fruit, in this case, arranged on a bed of ground almonds, baked until the edges are browned and the fruit is starting to caramelize. You don’t need a tart pan or pie plate, you don’t need streusel toppings or intimidating slabs of dough rolled out to uber-specific measurements and frankly, you don’t even need a recipe for this kind of approach — something I proved by managing in my spaced-out mental lala land of 36 weeks of pregnancy to fudge almost every step. You don’t even need a proper excuse to make this; “it’s 3 p.m. and I really ought to do something with those nectarines” was enough for me.

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, August 27, 2009

tomato and corn pie

tomato and corn pie

Let me tell you about something that always happens, and it’s the best thing, ever: A month or so ago, a reader emailed me and asked me if I’d ever tried a tomato pie. No, not the Italian-American tomato pie seen in New York and New Jersey — a thick, bready pizza dough slathered with sauce and broiled with Romano cheese on top then served in squares — but a Southern thing, baked in a pie shell. Where I’m from, “tomato pie” is the Italian-ish thing I’ve described it above, thus I responded that I’ve never heard of it before and added “but mark my words, not two days after I send off this email, I will have heard about it three times.”

white cornbeefsteak!peeled, sliced beefsteak tomatoesfresh white corn

Sure enough, tomato pie is everywhere this summer. I’ve seen a version from Paula Deen, Elise has a version up at Simply Recipes and my good old August Gourmet magazine — as packed with an impossible level of late-summer inspiration — adapts Laurie Colwin’s (remember her? We love her.) and James Beard’s (remember him? We love him.) nearly 20 year old version to include market-fresh corn, and updating the crust with a biscuit-like dough.

all piled up

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Monday, August 24, 2009

cubed, hacked caprese

cubed, hacked caprese

When it comes to off-the-cuff and mostly unplanned cooking, I have a tendency to do this thing that, depending on your perspective, is either a total shame or completely understandable: I don’t tell you about it. I’ll have thrown together a salad or a sandwich or some odd assortment of vegetables and couscous and made us lunch or dinner and Alex will say, “will you put this on your site?” and I’ll say “Of course not. Is there some shortage of recipes for sandwiches or roasted vegetables on the internet? Feh, it would be totally boring content.” [Yes, I actually talk like this. It's embarrassing and I should keep to myself.]

mozzarella

Anyway, I made one of these Deb Dishes the other night and again snorted when Alex suggested I share it with you, until I was about three-quarters of the way done with mine and I realized that just because talking about caprese, or my own hacked version of it, isn’t exactly the height of cooking originality, doesn’t mean that someone wouldn’t enjoy eating exactly what we had in front of us.

diced

So let’s talk about this cubed-up caprese salad I often make for barbecues or pot-lucks or whenever I want to eat something really summery without doing more than a lick of work: I dice mozzarella and tomatoes together, drain and rinse a can of white beans and toss it with a mixture of pesto (though slivered basil works in a pinch) and red wine vinegar and season it generously with salt and pepper. Sometimes I even add bits of proscuitto, if we have any around, and I’m feeling wild. Yes, revolutionary, I know.

pesto-addled caprese

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

melon agua fresca

melon agua fresca

I have a confession to make: this heat is kicking my butt. I know how earth-shattering this must sound: A 35-week pregnant woman is being done in by a streak of 95-degree muggy days in a city that requires walking, stair-climbing and waiting endlessly for trains on airless, timeless subway platforms? You don’t say!

But my confession is really about it being bad enough for me admit it, awful enough for me to break my own rules about what I will and will not complain about: Arugula that goes bad the day after you buy it? Fair game! The weather, and how it is hot, very hot? Nope! There is no more banal topic of conversation than the air out there, so let me attempt to stop this whining in its tracks. Also not up for discussion? How long 12 blocks feels when you’re carrying a watermelon. The oven, or any oven. Sautéing. Boiling things. Eating food that is in any way heated. The sixteen things I’d like to do with the eggplants and tomatoes I’ve hauled in from the markets this week, as they all require proximity to a lit stove, and that, my friends, is also not going to cut it.

cantaloupehoneydewchoppedchunkedstrainingstraining

Instead, let’s talk about a good and established way to cool down — I mean, besides sticking your head in the freezer, though lord knows I’ve done plenty of that this week — and it goes by the name of agua fresca, or “fresh water”. These drinks are made from any combination of fruits or herbs, water and sugar, and always served icy cold. There’s so much to like about them: they’re gorgeously hued, but mildly flavored. They’ve got none of the syrupy sweetness of bottled fruit juices, tasting instead like the sippable fruits that they are. A good one will taste like you managed to liquefy a piece of fruit without altering it one bit, and a great one will make you forget, even temporarily, exactly how much steam is coming off the sidewalks downstairs.

lime juice

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

peach cupcakes with brown sugar frosting

peach cupcakes, brown sugar cream cheese frosting

My friend Molly — she of the dry-rubbed ribs and apple tarte tatin fame — is leaving us for the kind of love that requires one to take up residence in another state. We’re all mighty bummed out about this and not making it easy on her, not only pouting over her imminent departure at every turn but insisting that she perform her half-day rib magic one last time at her going-away party this weekend.

peachesmm, street peachespeach cupcakes, ready to bakepeach cupcake, cooling

Because it was Molly who introduced me to the unparalleled awesomeness that is South Carolina peaches (albeit from the mountains of North Carolina) [and how they're even better when they're sliced and dolloped with whole milk yogurt, or about the only breakfast (with less-exciting and much-fuzzier local peaches) I can fathom on these steaming August days], I wanted to bake something with peaches for the party, but not peach hand pies or peach crème fraîche pie. I wanted to make peach cupcakes.

peach cupcakes, cream cheese frosting

Continued after the jump »