On the Fly Blackberry Pie

On the Fly Blackberry PiePie on the Fly
Last Saturday, my sister and I grabbed our buckets and boxes and set out for Brentwood to pick fruit. We picked a lot of fruit. Peaches, pluots, cherries, and blackberries. I personally harvested almost 9 pounds of blackberries. And, I felt the fruits of that labor for an embarrassing two days after. I gathered that much because I had a jam plan for the blackberries and I wanted to make sure I had enough for a double batch.

Turns out I had more than enough to make the jam as well as a fresh blackberry pie.

My grandmother had a huge blackberry bramble in her garden and we used to pick blackberries every year to make in to jam. But, she also had a killer recipe for blackberry pie. And, I have no clue what that recipe was. Maybe she just eyeballed the sugar and cornstarch and threw it and the fruit together in a pie crust. But, for the life of me, I can’t find a copy of her pie recipe, or for that matter her jam recipe, anywhere.

So, while my jars were processing, I went on a hunt for a blackberry pie recipe. You think it would be easy—but you would be wrong. Most of the pies that have blackberries in them also have other fruits and I wanted a straight up blackberry pie. I never found one that was quite right. So, I eventually just combined a bunch of different recipes into one and went with it.

Turns out my Blackberry Pie on the Fly was darn tasty. In fact, the scent of the pie and our impatience prompted us to cut into it before it had finished cooling—which was a mistake. The blackberry goodness inside did not stay inside and oozed out of the crust into the pie plate. Note to self, the pie must be allowed to cool completely. The visual did not affect the flavor though and all traces of pie were gone by morning…

On The Fly Blackberry Pie
Yields 10 servings Read more…

Fresh Cherry & Apricot Clafoutis

Fresh Cherry & Apricot ClafoutisRainy Day Cherries
It is the month of May, right? Ok. Good. I just wanted to check because as I gaze out my window right now it’s looking a whole lot like February. What is this rain, people? I had big plans for this weekend and now they are all washed out…

For the past week, I have been getting notices from some of my favorite U-Pick farms that they will be open for business this weekend. (Let the cherry and apricot picking begin!) And while I have no problem going picking in a light rain, the thunderstorms and torrential downpours that are predicted might be a bit much. My disappointment in possibly not being able to go is less about the fruit and more about this being the first time in years that we actually have a free weekend to go a-pickin’.

I love U-Pick farms. Probably to the point of obsession. I just get so much joy being outside on a ladder trying to find the best ones. Plus my kids still think it’s fun which is fantastic because the list of activities they deem acceptable to do with their parents is minuscule.

At this point, I am in wait-and-see mode. Sunday looks like it might be okay. And, yes, I can grab some at the store since the cherries and apricots are in. But, the experience is not the same. They kinda frown on climbing ladders in the Produce Department. Party poopers!

Fresh Cherry & Apricot Clafoutis Read more…

French Fruit Tart — A Classic

French Fruit Tart — A ClassicCamp de Cuisine
I’ve written about my daughter and her summer kitchen shenanigans a few times over the past weeks. And, you might be happy to know that things are still going full steam (just ask my dishwasher). Right now, she seems to be in a French pastry phase. While I fully support her curiosity and creativity, I am wondering when she’ll get to the one bowl or less phase….

Though she hasn’t quite reached that Julie & Julia work her way through an entire cookbook level of obsession, she’s pretty close. For Fourth of July, she made Pâte à Choux for red, white and blue cream puffs with raspberry cream and blue sprinkles. That same week, she tackled French Macarons and they turned out way better than any of my attempts. The macarons actually had feet—and anyone who’s watched any of the baking championships knows how important feet are. Thankfully, my sons are her taste testers or there would be no way for my husband or me to fit into our pants.

This week, my kitchen (and the dishwasher) is getting a much-needed break as my teenaged chef de cuisine is attending a summer pastry camp. (Where was this when I was 12?) Yesterday they made a classic French Fruit Tart and I actually learned something new. If you spread a thin layer of semi-sweet or white chocolate on the bottom of the tart shell and then put the pastry cream in, the tart will not get soggy. (My mind is blown.)

These tarts are so versatile and fairly easy to make that you will find it easy to whip one together for any of your summer get-togethers. To make it even easier, I will substitute a good quality vanilla pudding mix like Dr. Oetkers or even Bird’s custard mix instead of making the pastry cream. Feel free to use any combination of ripe summer fruits to finish.

French Fruit Tart — A Classic
Adapted from Sur la Table
Finish the top with the ripest, most luscious seasonal fruit you can find. Summer berries are an obvious choice, but also try slices of nectarines, plums, poached pears, mango, or kiwi, depending upon the season.  Read more…

Almond Stone Fruit Tart

Almond Stone Fruit TartGone Stone Crazy
In case you haven’t been in the produce section lately, I am here to let you know that stone fruit season is upon us! And, that makes me very happy. It also creates a bit of a problem…

I am a fool for stone fruits. I look forward to this season every year. To me, there is nothing better than a juicy peak-of-season peach. I have been buying nectarines by the dozen…and don’t get me started on the cherries. I’ve become a bit of a stone fruit hoarder. I just can’t help myself. I see ‘em and I gotta have ‘em.

My fruit hoarding has presented other problems. Usually, I can count on my family eating all of the fruit before I can even get to it. But, my current obsession means that they are having trouble keeping up—which is how I found myself with a few pounds of black plums that needed to be consumed ASAP. So I made this almond stone fruit tart.

The best thing about this tart is that you can use whatever fruit you have on hand as long as you let it dry a bit before baking. I’ve made it with peaches and nectarines. Cherries are good too or even a combination of all three and, of course, plums or pluots are amazing!

Almond Stone Fruit Tart
This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. She uses orange sections for her tart. I decided to be different…

If you want to make this tart gluten-free, we recommend using King Arthur Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour instead of the regular flour.

This tart takes some time to make, and we have marked where is possible to prepare some of the steps a day or so in advance for ease of assembly on the day you bake it. Read more…

Roasted Pork Chops with Fresh Fig Sauce

Roasted Pork Chops with Fresh Fig SauceWho gives a fig?
The other day I found myself in possession of two beautiful baskets of fresh Black Mission figs. Knowing that they wouldn’t last long in the hot weather I set about figuring out how to use them.

I knew I didn’t want to use them in a dessert—the last thing I really need to be eating is dessert. Also, that seemed too easy. I wanted something different. So I went searching for savory recipes that included figs.

There are a lot of things you can do with figs beyond just shoving them in your mouth. There’s fig and balsamic jam. Fig pizza. You can slice them up in a salad with fresh goat cheese. Or, you can wrap them in bacon and throw them on the grill. (See our recipe for Prosciutto Wrapped Figs and Blue Cheese.)

When I think of the combination of figs and savory, pork often comes to mind. Probably, because pork can handle the sweetness of the figs the same way it can with apples. So, it was no surprise that my search for something new landed on a recipe that was the inspiration for these Roasted Pork Chops with Fresh Fig Sauce. I knew I had found what was for dinner.

The original recipe calls for pork tenderloin, but I brined some thick-cut, boneless pork chops instead. I used the same pan that I used for the pork to make the fig sauce. Once the sauce was done I pulled the chops from the oven and spooned the figgy goodness on top.

Roasted Pork Chops with Fresh Fig Sauce
Adapted from Food 52
Read more…