20 July 2009

Sour Cherry Pie, and commotion


Let me tell you something. This is the third post that I've written in a week. You don't believe me? It's probably better that way, since they were terrible. Terrible! Let's pretend that I didn't write them at all. That would make me feel better.

The thing is, I've been a little distracted. The weather has finally been nice, so I've been attempting to be outside for most of the time, and Jeff and I are moving in less than seven days to a new apartment with a kitchen that is even tinier than the one I have now. "How can that be?" those of you who have been at the current apartment are thinking. Ummmmm, I'm not sure. It just is. And I have been moping about it.

I suppose that I should be doing my darndest to take advantage of the kitchen that I have now, but really? It's been hot.

Whine, whine, whine.


Thankfully, we caved and put in the air conditioner, and that makes me feel better. YAY AIR CONDITIONER!! Now I can bake you a pie. Please excuse me while I do this.

While I'm off baking air-conditioner allowed pie, I should probably let you know that I'll be taking (another) brief hiatus, just so I can get things packed up and shipped out to the new place. I still have a few things to tell you about (maybe I'll re-write those posts that never made it), so hopefully I can get my act together. If not, I'll just throw myself a pity party and eat the rest of this pie.


Classic Sour Cherry Pie with Lattice Crust, adapted from Bon Appéit

for the crust: make two recipes worth of pie crust, found here, chilled in rounds

filling
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups whole pitted sour cherries, or dark sweet cherries (about 2 pounds)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (if using sour cherries), or 3 tablespoons (if using sweet cherries)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons raw sugar

1. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Stir in cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla; set aside.

2. Roll out 1 dough round on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1/2-inch. Roll out second round on floured surface to another 12-inch round. Using large knife or pastry wheel, cut ten 3/4-inch wide strips from dough round. Transfer filling to pie dish, mounding slightly in center. Arrange dough strips on top, forming a lattice**; trim dough strip overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold bottom crust up over ends of strips and crimp edges to seal. Brush lattice crust with milk (but not the edges). Sprinkle top of pie with raw sugar.

3. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, covering edges with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 1 hour longer. Transfer pie to rack to cool completely.

**NB: A lattice crust is a painful thing to make. Next time, I'm going with a fully-covered pie.

11 July 2009

New York, New York


Where to even begin? This weekend has been the first that we've spent in New York in nearly a month, and it was a good one for reimmersion into city life. This whole week, actually, has been nice. Aside from making a delicious Boy Bait for a friend's backyard shindig, we also went to Katz's Delicatessen with our occasional dinner group, and today went to the Greenmarket at Union Square and bummed around Soho.

But back to Katz's. Perfect pastrami on rye, cheesy When Harry met Sally atmosphere, and great half-sour pickles, so green that they looked as though they were straight from the vine. Pickled. Check out the background, because it looks exactly the same now as it did in 1989:


After dinner, cinnamon babka from Russ and Daughters, a gem of a smoked fish and other Jewish foods outlet, only a block away from Katz's. I also picked up some smoked salmon. The picture above is from their website. I didn't take it myself.

What I did do myself, however, was make a version of our friend Mo's salmon carbonara. And maaaaaaan... it was good. It was simple and creamy and lemony and everything you would want out of such a dish. Moreover, it took about ten minutes to make, a perfect note to end on after a day of tromping around. I suggest you make it after such a day, too. It's delicious.

Salmon Carbonara, adapted from Mo Gunning

1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup cream or thereabouts
zest of 1/2 lemon
3 sprigs fresh dill, leaves only
1/2 pound angel hair pasta
1/4 pound smoked salmon, cut into small pieces, or flaked

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and season well with salt. Add pasta, and cook.

2. Meanwhile, heat butter in a large skillet, and add onion. Sauté until translucent. Add cream, lemon zest, and dill. Simmer slowly until pasta is done.

3. Drain pasta and add to cream mixture. Turn heat to medium and simmer for a minute or two, or until the cream sauce starts to thicken and absorb into the pasta. Add salmon and toss. Serve immediately. Add salt to taste.

08 July 2009

Seriously, here


One of the major things I miss about living anywhere else but here (and Paris) is the absence of a personal grill. Man, do I love grilled food. But who's kidding whom? We all love grilled food. So last night, when we were invited to an impromptu backyard/patio barbecue, we dropped everything else and hightailed it over there. And it was such a pleasant evening--sitting around with wine and beer, the tantalizing aroma of fat sizzling on hot coals, looking up at a quickly overcasting sky, it was great. I offered to bring dessert. Quelle surprise!

Even though Deb at the Smitten Kitchen only posted this recipe yesterday, I couldn't resist making it immediately. (By the way, how much do you love the Smitten Kitchen? I mean, seriously, here.) I had blueberries lying around from my less-than-stellar foray to the grocery store, and leftover buttermilk from my cherry cake from a few weeks ago, so there was nothing standing in my way! (I love knowing that I have all the ingredients for something. Running to the store can be the pits.)

And our cake? Light, luscious, slightly caramelized from the sugar topping--this may be my new favorite dessert. We all had seconds. More than a few of us surreptitiously went back for (small!) thirds. As one of our friends described it, it tasted fresh--not heavy, not cloying, just fresh. With or without all the baited boys that hang around the door.

Blueberry Boy Bait, adapted from the Smitten Kitchen

2 cups all purpose flour, + 1 tablespoon, set aside
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks/ 16 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar (use vanilla sugar if you've got it)
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup blueberries (if frozen do not defrost first

1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup sugar (vanilla, again, if you've got it)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

2. Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl, and set aside. In a large bowl, beat sugars and butter until light and fluffy; add eggs, one at at time, stirring until just incorporated. Beat in one third of the flour mixture in, and stir until just added; add half of the milk, and stir in. Repeat, ending with the flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold in to the batter with a spatula. Spread batter into prepared pan.

3. Scatter remaining blueberries over the top of the batter. In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the top of the cake. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let rest in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and let cool completely.

06 July 2009

Reset

Now that I've come back from the West, it would appear that my reset button has been pushed. Yesterday, wandering around the little grocery by my apartment, nothing looked good except yogurt, blueberries, and croutons. (I purchased all three.) And today... well, let's just say that I'm making my *new* standby of fried potatoes and sunny side up eggs, since I actually have a few potatoes, and a few eggs. I don't really want to go to the store. And thanks to Project June, my pantry is pretty much wiped out. I mean, looking at the canned goods, I have... 2 cans of pumpkin/sweet potato purée, one can of sliced bamboo shoots, and waaaaay more grains and pasta than I'll be able to eat in a few weeks. Also, way too much tea. Let's not even talk about the fridge. I mean, it's OK to eat eggs that have been sitting there for just over a week, right? That's what I thought, too.

I'm not even getting that little tingly glow from looking at my piles of recipes. I'm telling you, this is very dire. Luckily, Wednesday will bring fresh vegetables and new eggs, and maybe then I can start thinking about feeding myself again. Wish me luck.

04 July 2009

SumSumSummertime


There is nothing so lovely as a roasted tomato. I love them straight-up roasted, with nothing but some baguette to soak up the juices, or with a little aged goat cheese on the side, or over pasta or polenta or with nothing else, save perhaps a fat basil leaf or two.

For me, roasted tomatoes are the essence of summer (that and anything grilled, but I don't have a grill *SOB*). They are especially good if you start with good tomatoes, preferably from the back yard, or the farmer's market or your CSA, if you're unfortunate enough not to have a good place to grow tomatoes. See, to me, a good tomato tastes like sun and warmth and is meaty and delicious. And the best part is, roasted tomatoes can be as ugly as they come--since they're going to melt in the oven anyway, there's just no reason for them to be perfect specimens. All tomatoes can get some love.

So it was only fitting that Jeff and I ended our summer vacation with them--after having spent almost 10 lovely days in Denver, we gave Jeff's mom a night off from cooking, and we made Jeff's very favorite summer pasta. Summer pasta has roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and plenty of herbs to brighten it up. It is warm and creamy and tastes pretty much like you would hope summer would.

Summer Pasta, adapted from The New York Times

2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, sliced about 3/4-inch thick
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound chunky pasta, such as farfalle or orichiette
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cups fresh, ripe cherry tomatoes
1 tub (about 12 ounces) fresh mozzarella, either the small balls or large
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup torn mixed herbs, such as assorted basils, parsely, and mint

1. roast the tomatoes Heat oven to 275 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchement paper or aluminum foil, and place tomato slices evenly on them. Sprinkle the tomatoes evenly with salt and sugar; pour on olive oil. You may need a little more; also, make sure that each tomato gets at least a smattering of oil--I usually rub it in with my fingers. Bake tomatoes for 15 minutes, and reduce heat to 200. Continue baking, turning halfway through, until tomatoes are shrunken and chewy, but not crisp, 4-6 hours.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, chop roasted tomatoes very finely, until they are almost a paste. Place in a large serving bowl, and add the garlic, butter, and olive oil. When the pasta is done cooking, drain and add it to the tomato mixture. Toss well.

3. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, and cut the mozzarella until it's about the same size as the tomatoes. Add these, as well as the parmasan and herbs, to the pasta mixture. Toss again, and serve warm.