Thursday, August 30, 2012

back to school

My poor neglected blog.

It's been a sumer of transitions. I left my job a few weeks ago, took a trip to San Diego to visit family, spent a whirlwind week back in San Francisco and moved out of my apartment on Monday. I start school after Labor Day weekend. 

It's all been a bit surreal. A little scary, but exciting too.

I hope everyone has had a good summer and is looking forward to the long weekend. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

summer vacation

Forgive my absence- I've been spending my first week as an unemployed wastrel visiting my family in La Jolla and it has been delightful. I've read a few books, gotten a mild sunburn, eaten piles of avocados and generally enjoyed other such relaxing activities. Hooray for summer vacation!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

marian burros plum torte

Just checking in here quickly. Things have been sort of bonkers around here. Not that I'm so busy-  I'm staring down a few weeks of vacation coming up (hooray!) but I've been gearing up for a lot of big changes. I'll likely be out of commission for a bit here but I wanted to leave you with a recipe for one of my very favorite desserts. I first read about Marian Burros' plum torte four years ago, right when I was starting to get interested in cooking. I've made it a handful of times and I love it more with every passing year. This time I served it with cinnamon ice cream, a pairing I would highly recommend.

Marian Burros Original Plum Torte from the NYTimes

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
24 halves pitted purple plums
Sugar and cinnamon for topping.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream sugar and butter in a bowl. Add flour, baking powder, salt and eggs, and beat well.

Spoon the batter into a spring form of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, or to taste.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired (but first, double-wrap the tortes in foil, place in a plastic bag, and seal). Or cool to lukewarm, and serve.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

summer blueberry pie

It's hard for me to believe that it's August. My last day of work is next Friday and Daniel and I are moving out of our apartment at the end of the month. I start school in September.

Change is in the air. 

But for now, I'm just trying to focus on enjoying August. 

Blueberry pie helps.

I love pie but I don't make it all that often. The last berry pie I baked was back in 2010 and had a crust that resembled nothing so much as shoe leather. But after buying several pounds of blueberries at Costco earlier this week, I decided it was time to try again.

After consulting numerous recipes, I decided to go with Melissa Clark's all-butter crust, mostly because I already had butter on hand but no vegetable shortening. For the filling, I looked to the  the New Best Recipe cookbook.

The pie came together easily (one of the great things about blueberry pie- no pitting, no slicing) and within a few minutes was burbling away in the oven, perfuming the apartment with the smell of butter and syrupy fruit. 

We took the finished product over to our friends' place and ate it for dessert with heaping scoops of vanilla ice cream. The crust was excellent, if I do say so myself- light and buttery and not at all reminiscent of leather. It made for a singularly toothsome summer blueberry pie.

Happy August.

adapted from The New Best Recipe Blueberry Pie
double crust pie dough (recipe below)
6 cups blueberries
3/4 - 1 cup sugar, to taste
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
3 tbsp tapioca starch
2 tbsp butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet on it and heat the oven to 500 degrees. Remove pie dough from refrigerator and let sit for a few minutes before rolling out. Roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle and transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Leave the dough that overhangs the lip of the pie plate in place. Refrigerate.

Toss the berries, sugar, lemon juice, zest and tapioca starch in a medium bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Roll out the second piece of dough into a 12-inch circle. Spoon the berries into the pie shell and dot with the pieces of chilled butter. Place the second piece of dough over the filling. Trim the top and bottom edges to 1/2 inch beyond the pan lip. Tuck the rim of the dough underneath itself so that the folded edge is flush with the pan lip. Flute the edge. Cut four slits in the top of the pie and place in freezer for 10 minutes. Brush the top of the pie with the egg whites.

Place the pie on the baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate the pie and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees; continue baking until the juices bubble and the crust is a deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours.

Melissa Clark's All-Butter Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
20 tbsp unsalted Plugra (or other high-fat European-style butter) chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2-5 tbsp ice water

Pulse the salt and flour together in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until mixture forms pea-sized pieces. Add ice water 1 tbsp at a time and pulse until mixture is just moist enough to hold together.

Form dough into two equal sized balls, wrap with plastic and flatten into disks. Chill for at least one hour or overnight before using.

Yield: One double crust
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