Blueberry and Peach Crumble

Summer means blueberry time and here in Texas it also means Fredricksburg peaches.  This recipe puts them both together with a delicious brown sugar crumble topping for a delicious dessert best served with Bluebell Homemade Vanilla ice cream.  Make sure to use room temperature fruit so that it bakes evenly.

Serves 6
Blueberry and Peach Crumble
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 cups (1 lb) blueberries, room temperature
3 medium peaches (1 lb), halved, pitted, and sliced 1/2 in thick
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and lightly butter a 9 inch square baking pan.

2. Combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp of the salt.

3. Work the butter into the flour mixture until it readily clumps when pressed together.

4. In a large bowl combine the granulated sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, and the remaining 1/8 tsp salt.

5. Add the blueberries and peaches to the sugar mixture and toss to coat.

6. Spread the fruit mixture into the butter baking pan and cover with the brown sugar crumble.

7. Bake until the fruit is bubbling in the center and the top is crisp and well browned.  It should take about 45 minutes.

8. Cool slightly and serve warm with some ice cream.

Pie Crust

I’m the first to admit this recipe may seem like way too much work when you can just buy a pie crust at the grocery story for a dollar.  But if you have the time, this will give you an amazingly flaky, crunchy, buttery crust that goes way beyond what you can buy in the frozen food aisle.

Makes 1 13 in pie crust
Pie Crust
6 oz all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
6 Tbs unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2″ cubes
4 Tbs vegetable shortening, chilled, cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 to 4 Tbs ice water

1. Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes. (a zip lock bag works well for this)

2. Add half the butter and shortening cubes and toss to coat with flour.

3. Pour it all out into a food processor. Give it four 1 second pulses and then process for 4 seconds.

4. Add the remaining butter and shortening and pulse four more 1-second pulses.  Then process until you pea sized pieces of butter and shortening (3-4 more seconds).

5. Empty this into a bowl and drizzle 1 Tbs of the ice water over it.  Mix the dough together.

6. Keep adding ice water 1 Tbs at a time and mixing in between until the dough feels moist and binds together and is no longer super crumbly.

7. Form the dough into a 5 inch disk, flour, wrap in plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for about an hour (or up to 3 days if you’re making it ahead of time).

8. Roll out the pie crust until it is 13″ in diameter on a pastry cloth with a rolling pin – it should be about 1/8″ thick.  (Flour the pin and and not the crust to keep from incorporating too much flour in the dough).

9. Find yourself a good pie recipe and use your delicious homemade crust.

Sauteed Carrots with Ginger, Orange, and Scallion

It’s root vegetable season (I know you’re just as excited as I am!).  Lynn and I went to the Farmer’s Market downtown and picked up a ton of fresh carrots, some were even fun colors like purple. (Fun fact: All carrots were originally purple until the 17th century when they were bred for the orange color as a tribute to the House of Orange in the Netherlands.)  This recipe uses a lot of bright flavors to play off the earthiness of the carrots.

carrots with ginger, garlic and scallionsServes 4
Sauteed Carrots with Ginger, Orange, and Scallion
Juice from 1 large orange (I don’t want to tell you how much that is because you’ll just use orange juice, and it’s just not the same)
4 tsp honey
4 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbs butter
4 tsp olive oil
2 lb carrots (cut into 2 in long, 1/4 in sticks)
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp minced garlic

1. Whisk together the orange juice, honey, soy sauce, and lemon zest until the honey is dissolved.

2. Heat 2/3 of the butter and olive oil over medium heat in a 12″ sauce pan.  When it gets to temperature add the carrots and pinch of salt. Cover the pan.

3. Stir the carrots occasionally until brown, 16 minutes or so.

4. Add the scallions, ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant (20 seconds or so).

5. Add the juice mixture and stir until it thickens.

6. Remove the pan from heat and add the remaining butter to finish. Stir until melted.

Garlic Aioli

This is like mayonnaise on crack, you will never again go back to Helman’s or whoever makes that terrible excuse for a sandwich spread.  Adding some garlic only makes it even tastier.  Aioli, like mayo, is an oil and egg emulsion and takes a ridiculous amount of beating to come together, so if you have a stand mixer you’re in luck, if not, start warming up your whisking arm now.

Makes 1/2 cup
Garlic Aioli
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced (its even better if you add the salt below and grind it up either on the cutting board with your knife or in a mortar and pestle)
1 large egg yolk
1 tblsp lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1. With an egg beater, stand mixer, or your hand whisk if you have forearms of steel, mix the garlic and egg yolk together until it forms a smooth mixture.

2. Mixing as quickly as possible very slowly begin adding the olive oil.

3. If it gets too thick add some lemon juice and then go back to the olive oil.

4. When you’ve added all the olive oil you should have a nice emulsion and you can finish with the remaining lemon juice, pepper, and salt if you didn’t use it to mash your garlic.

5. Spread on your favorite sandwich and enjoy your own mayonnaise killer.

Sourdough Bread

The best kind of bread.  It takes on a unique flavor based on the yeast that lives in your area.  Mine had a hint of Parmesan cheese, which was great for my lactose intolerant friend who’s never been able to taste cheese before.  At least not without it ending very poorly.  This recipe has been modified slightly from the one shown in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, I know its long and very tedious, but very worth it.  Pro Tip:  The longer its been since you’ve refreshed your barm (3 days max) the sourer your bread will be.
Makes 2 Loaves
Sourdough Bread
2/3 cup barm
1 cup bread flour
1/8 to 1/4 cup water

4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups water (90 to 100 F)
Corn meal for dusting

 1. Use a measuring cup dipped in cold water to measure out 2/3 cup of the barm into a mixing bowl.

2. Add the flour to the mixing bowl and the enough water to make everything a firm, slightly sticky, doughy ball.  This is your starter.

3. Lightly oil the starter ball and seal with plastic wrap.  Let sit at room temperature until it doubles in size (4 to 8 hours depending on temp and humidity).  Then put it in the fridge.

4. Remove the starter from the fridge 1 hour before making the dough.

5. Cut the starter into 10 pieces, lightly cover in oil and let sit another hour to take the chill off.

6. Stir together the salt and flour in an electric mixer bowl.  Add the starter pieces and enough of the lukewarm water to bring everything together into a ball.

7. Mix with a dough hook on medium-low speed for 4 minutes, rest for 10 minutes and then mix another 4 minutes.  The dough should be firm but tacky.

8. Lightly coat the dough with oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

9. Let sit at room temperature to double in size (4 to 8 hours again).

10.  Dust a baking towel with cornmeal, split the dough into two equal parts and form into loaves gently being careful not to degas the dough.

11. Mist the dough with oil and cover loosely by folding over the towel.

12. Let the dough rest for 2 to 3 hours.

13. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Put a baking pan on the top rack (you will add water to this right after the bread goes in to create steam).

14. Score the dough diagonally like you see done with real dough (or in the movies).  Dust a peal or cookie sheet with cornmeal and put the loaves on it.

15. Put the loaves in the oven and add a cup or two of water to the baking pan on the top rack and close the door.

16. After 30 seconds spray the walls of the oven with water using a mister.  Repeat two more time at 30 second intervals.

17. Reduce the oven to 450 degrees and bake for 10 minutes.

18. Rotate the loaves 180 degrees and cook another 10 to 20 minutes until its rich golden brown all over and sounds hollow when you tap on it.

19. Transfer to a cooking rack for at least 45 minutes before eating your delicious, delicious reward.

Feeding Sourdough Barm

I started making sourdough about two weeks ago and am getting to the point of having to give bits away because there’s just too much of it.  Be warned, after a couple days it smells like pure rubbing alcohol, I’m told that’s normal.  So for everyone I give some too here’s how to take care of it.

Sourdough Barm1. Feed your barm at least every three days, if you can’t then refrigerate it for up to 2 months or freeze it for up to 6 in a tightly sealed container.  When you are ready to start using it again throw away all but 1/2 cup and refresh two consecutive days as described below.

2. Every time you feed the barm you must at least double it.  That is if you have 1 cup of barm add about 2/3 cup flour (either bread or high-gluten) and 1/3 cup water.  For sourer bread double the barm at every feeding, for less sour you can triple or quadruple it.  This will get a bit unmanageable after a few rounds of feeding and you will have to start discarding barm (or giving it to a friend).

Pro-tip: I keep mine in an airtight, flip-lid, plastic container I got from Target.  Its freezable so you don’t have to transfer it to something else for long term storage and it keeps the boozy smell out of the rest of the kitchen so Lynn doesn’t think I’ve been sneaking rubbing alcohol shots.

Chilled Lentil Relish

This doesn’t sound very appetizing from the name but it really is.  The herbs in the lentils play well with others, especially the raspberry vinegar.  Lynn and I made this to serve with the Pan Seared Duck.

Serves 4
Chilled Lentil Relish
1 cup lentils
2 cups chicken stock
2 Tbs diced onion
2 Tbs diced carrot
2 Tbs diced celery
1 Bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs raspberry vinegar
salt and pepper

1. Gently sweat the onions, carrots, celery, bay leaf, and herbs in a little olive oil over low heat until the onions are translucent. Don’t Add Salt, it will make the lentils gross.

2. Add the lentils and stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

3. Spread on a plate to chill in the refrigerator.

4. Before serving toss in the olive oil and vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste.