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Archive for August, 2009

Brown Sugar and Cardamom Peach Pie

Brown Sugar & Cardamom Peach Pie

Pie is the new cupcake – mark my words!  It’s classic Americana –  comforting and easy.  Now that Colorado Peach Season is in full swing,  celebrate with this yummy pie!  (sorry Georgia, but your peaches don’t even come close to the ones we get from the Western Slope!) The caramel richness of brown sugar and the bright tones of cardamom really accent peaches nicely.  I feel that pie filling should really highlight the taste of the fruit, so very little spice is added.  Taste a peach first and adjust the sugar accordingly – you want to enhance the sweet-tart fruitiness, not cover it up!  Using cornstarch as a thickener gives a pretty and clear filling.  Just remember to let it cool before cutting, or the filling will run out and make for a not so pretty presentation.

 

Brown Sugar Cardamom Peach Pie

For a 9” Pie:         

  • 6 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced ( 8 – 10 peaches)
  • 2/3 to 1 cup brown sugar (depending on sweetness of fruit)
  • 2Tbs cornstarch (preferred)  or ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, if needed
  • Pie crust for a double crust 9″ pie

 Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Let the mix sit 15 minutes to let the juices run. Taste and correct the sweeteness.  If filling is bland, add up to one tablespoon of lemon juice.  Pour filling into a pie plate lined with one crust and cover with a top crust.  Crimp the edges and make sure to vent the top.  Bake at 400F until filling is bubbling out of the crust vents and crust is golden, about 1 hour.  If pastry edges start to get to dark, cover them with foil.  Let cool at least 1 hour before cutting.  Serves 8.  (Or 4 serious pie lovers.)

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Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

This has been my go-to meal all summer!  Fresh veggies from the garden, hearty chickpeas and crumbly creamy feta – what’s not to love?

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

  • 2 Tablespoons  good quality extra virgin olive oil – something fresh and herbaceous!  (I frequently use O&Co’s Mint Olive Oil)
  • 1 Tablespoon O&Co White Balsamic with Oregano (my preference), or any good quality white balsamic/wine vinegar handy
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 1 large cucumber, (peeled if waxed) chopped
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or 1-2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch radishes, sliced thinly
  • 3 scallions/green onions, sliced (include the deep green part) or 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs (or more!) chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 4 oz Feta, crumbled
  • 1 Tbs  basil or mint, sliced thinly (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar.  Normally, you would season the vinaigrette at this point, but since the feta and chickpeas will vary in saltiness, wait until the end.  Add remaining ingredients to bowl (except salt and pepper) and toss to combine.  Taste the salad, then season with salt and pepper as needed.  Don’t be afraid to toss in a little more olive oil or vinegar if the chickpeas or veggies are blah tasting!  Serves 4 as a main, 6-8 as a side or starter.  Keeps up to 2 days, refrigerated (will get more liquidy the longer it sits).

Variations:

This salad is great for improvising – add different herbs, use different beans, add cooked shrimp or chicken, even croutons, to make it heartier.  It’s also a great filling for pitas.

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Oatmeal Biscuit

Oatmeal Biscuit

I am ashamed to admit, quite some time ago I received a request for this recipe from my old housemate, Vicki, and haven’t quite gotten around to adapting it until now! (Sorry Vicki!)

When I was in Ireland and going to school at Ballymaloe, I had a hankering to make American style cookies after class one day, but had no recipes at hand.  Specifically, I wanted to make the oatmeal cookies I grew up making on Saturday afternoons.  Now, the cookies I grew up with used vegetable shortening (unheard of in the British Isles) and I only had butter – salted Kerrygold butter.  The oatmeal I had was Macroom Oats, a toasted and ground oat from the little town of Macroom, Ireland.  The toastiness and small size of the oats I thought would make for a more delicate cookie. So I  just started mixing things in until the dough seemed the right consistency and taste( I am very fond of eating cookie dough – a quirk that really helped me here!)  then baked them off.  I noticed the butter gave them a richer flavor and crisper crumb than shortening.  These are really more a cross between the traditional American cookie and an English biscuit.  My housemates and I polished them off within  minutes of them being out of the oven (Hey, there were 12 of us!)  I made them a few times after that, whenever anyone asked – they are quite easy!

Not long ago, another of my old housemates, Alex, emailed me and told me she made my cookies.  This made me think I had actually emailed the recipe to Vicki, but Alex set me straight!  So, since it was cool tonight, I thought I should work on getting the measurements down and produce a real recipe!

Oatmeal Biscuits

  • 1 cup / 8oz / 225g  butter, softened
  • 1 cup / 7.5 oz / 200g brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup / 3 oz / 80g granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups  / 6.75oz / 300g all purpose flour (plain flour)
  • 3 cups  / 10 1/2 oz / 300g quick cooking oats*
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • (1/2 tsp salt – if using unsalted butter)

Preheat oven to 350F/ 175C.  Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy.  Stir in vanilla and egg; mix well.  Add dry ingredients to bowl and mix until just combined.  Place walnut sized balls of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes, until lightly gold and slightly puffy.  Let cool on baking sheet a few minutes, then remove to cooling rack.  Makes about 3 dozen.  These will keep a week in an airtight container, or 3 months frozen.  Enjoy!

*Macroom, or Bob’s Red Mill’s Scottish Oatmeal (here in the States) – if you can find them.  Standard US quick cooking oats are what I had and they worked, they just weren’t as delicate textured or as toasty flavored as the others would be!

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In the garden…

Noir Des Carmes Melon

Noir Des Carmes Melon

Look at this delicious beauty!  This is a French heirloom melon, grown by Carmelite nuns in France.  While growing it is so dark green, it is almost black – this is where it gets its name.  “Noir Des Carmes” means Black Carmelite.  It is supposed to turn a lovely golden hue when ripe,  and when it (and its siblings) ripen, you’ll hear all about it!   At this point, it was too adorable not to share…

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Pull up a chair, and dig in!

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