What's Cooking - Paprika Peach Pie


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's peach season and I can't resist a peach dessert!  To ensure that I indulge in a quality dessert I decided to try my hand at making a pie or two this summer.

Pies are a food that I associate with gatherings of family and friends at a special event or holiday.  I am happily discovering that making a pie is a fantastic way to lure your busy friends over.  It is WAY more satisfying to share a slice of pie over a good conversation with a good friend or three.  Pies are special and peach pie is even more special because this fruit has a very short season (mid to late summer).

Yes, I know pie is not typically on the "healthy" spectrum of the "what to eat" list but on occasion a slice of pie will not harm your diet especially if you are sourcing quality ingredients.  For this pie recipe I used minimally treated nectarines from a local farm, unbleached, organic, all-purpose flour, and grass fed cow's butter.  These three ingredients make up the bulk of this pie recipe and I felt confident that I wasn't compromising my diet.  I also feel that if you like to bake making something from scratch with the intention of sharing it with friends can be a very therapeutic and meaningful exercise.

The benefits of eating peaches & nectarines:
  • Nectarines contain both antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene which have the power to protect your body certain illnesses and diseases.
  • A cup of nectarines contains 186 mcg of lutein which is also an antioxidant that helps destroy free radicals in the body.
  • Nectarines are low in calories.  One medium nectarine contains about 60 calories and no fat.
  • Fact: the only difference between a peach and a nectarine is their skin. Peaches have a fuzzy exterior where as nectarines are smooth. 

This recipe comes from a cookbook authored by a very popular pie shop in my neighborhood called Four & Twenty Blackbirds.   I can't recommend this book enough if you are looking to make a variety of excellent pies and want learn how to make an outstanding crust.  (I substituted nectarines instead of peaches for my pie.)

2 1/5 lbs peaches peeled (enough for about 5 cups)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 Tbsp potato starch
1 Tbsp sweet paprika
1/8 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 to 2 dashes Old Fashion bitters
Egg Wash (1 large egg whisked with 1 tsp water and a pinch of salt)

*All butter crust for a 9 inch double crust pie - you can use a homemade crust or a ready made from the store.

1.  Slice the peaches into 1/2 inch slices, add to a large bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice.
2.  Add the granulated and brown sugars, potato starch, paprika, white pepper, allspice, ginger, salt and bitters and toss will to combine.
3.  Spoon the filling into the refrigerated pie shell, leaving behind excess juices.
4.  Arrange your second crust as a lattice or pastry round on top and crimp the sides as desired.
5.  Chill the pie in the refrigerator for 10 - 15 minutes to set the pastry.
6.  Position the oven racks in the bottom and center positions, place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack, and preheat the oven to 425º F.
7.  Brush the pastry with the egg wash to coat.  If your pie has a lattice top, be careful not to drag the filling onto the pastry (it will burn).
8.  Place the pie on the rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown.  Lower the oven temperature to 375º F, move the pie to the center oven rack, and continue to bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling throughout, 30 to 35 minutes longer.
9.  Allow the pie to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours.
10.  Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Note:  The pie will keep refrigerated for 3 days or at room temperature for 2 days.
For  alternative raw, delicious, gluten-free peach cobbler recipe click here!

Strawberry Fields, Family & Fresh Cream


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

In May while I was down South visiting friends I jumped at the chance to go strawberry picking.  I haven't done this in years so it was nostalgic for me to be in a beautiful open field filled row after row with strawberries.  My friend Gayle and her two sweet girls, Louisa and Amelia are my photogenic, strawberry loving buddies. 
Strawberry season is in it's full glory here in the northeast.  Unfortunately strawberry picking is over in some parts of the country but fortunately we have access to these juicy red jewels most of the summer. In this month's post I will share with you the benefits of eating fresh, organic strawberries and a simple recipe to dress them up if you are looking for a new and easy summer dessert. 
Amelia got right to business - there is nothing like a freshly picked juicy strawberry - it's too good to wait!
The health benefits to eating fresh organic strawberries:
  • Strawberries rank 3rd (right behind blackberries and walnuts) for antioxidant capacity. Antioxidants (like vitamin C) are nutrients that help protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals - rogue molecules that attack healthy cells. 
  • Unwanted inflammation can be improved by regular intake of strawberries.  Research indicates that eating a cup of berries 3 - 4 times per week is recommended to see these anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • The diverse phytonutrients in strawberries work synergistically to provide many cardiovascular benefits: decreased oxidation of fats in the cell membranes of cells that line our blood vessels and decreased levels of circulating fats, including total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.

serves 4

I adapted this recipe from the Food & Wine Annual 2013 cookbook.  It makes a wonderfully fresh dessert for summer months.  If you are feeling naughty you can serve this on top a shortcake! 

1 quart strawberries, thinly sliced
4 TBSP honey
1 TBSP fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp lime zest, plus more for garnish
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
1 cup heavy whipping cream

1.  Put strawberries in a bowl and set aside.
2.  Combine 3 tablespoons of honey with the lime juice in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Turn of the heat then stir in the lime zest and cardamon.  Let the sauce cool.
3.  Pour honey lime sauce over the strawberries and refrigerate for 25 minutes.
4.  Whip the heavy cream in a bowl with the last tablespoon of honey until soft peaks form.
5.  Place strawberries in four small bowls and top with cream.
6.  Garnish with lime zest and serve!

For more refreshing recipes with strawberries click here and here.

Chocolate - Is It Good for You?


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mmm… chocolate!

Chocolate is the only ingredient that is its very own food group.

Well not really – but it seems as if it should be. Powerfully comforting, creamy, delicious – many people eat chocolate at least several times a week.

Which begs the question…

Is Chocolate Good for You?

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