Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pickles & Pie: A Short Verse

I made a batch of pickles & pie
For my guests on the 4th of July

You can make these dishes anytime
They'll still be tasty, but will not rhyme

Unless you make them another day in July.
In which case...

Oh, never mind.

Spicy Pickled Cucumbers
Adapted from a recipe on Tasty Kitchen.  My garden has been spitting out cucumbers lately, so this seemed like a good one to try. I subbed in a thinly sliced anaheim chili (also from the garden) for the chili pepper flakes the original recipe called for*, and was very happy with the results. They'd be even better with both, I think. The pickles were excellent on our bbq'd burgers, and a refreshing treat to eat right out of the bowl.

1 large or 2 smaller cucumbers
1 c. rice vinegar
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. chili flakes
1 small fresh chili, seeded and thinly sliced

If your cucumber has nubby or thick outer skin, peel it.  Otherwise, thinly slice and set aside in a ceramic or glass bowl, with the fresh chili, if using.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, and stir until sugar and salt have dissolved.  Allow the mixture to come to a simmer, whisk one more time, then remove from the heat.  Stir in the chili flakes (if using), and allow to cool completely.

Pour over prepared cucumbers. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or until you need them.

Click to print this recipe!

Fresh Fruit Pie with Mascarpone
Inspired a flat of peaches I'd picked up, I grabbed a tub of mascarpone cheese and improvised.  The topping is from my Skillet Caramel Apple Crisp, and the basic idea of a tangy element in the filling is from my Sour Cream Apple Pie.  Totally decadent. Totally delicious.

Crust for 9 inch pie (I used Trader Joe's)

For the filling:
About 2-3 lbs. of fresh fruit of your choice.  I used fresh peaches (peeled and sliced) and cherries (pitted) - you'll need about 6 generous cups of sliced fruit all together
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
2/3 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract

For the topping:
1 3/4 c. flour
1 c. sugar
generous 1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
generous grating of fresh nutmeg
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, cut into small pieces

Line a pie plate or tart pan with the crust, and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 375.

Prepare your fruit, set aside.

Using an electric mixer, combine mascarpone cheese with the remaining filling ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well to combine.  Add the fruit, and stir gently until all the fruit is coated.  Turn into the prepared pie crust.

Bake for 20 minutes.  While the pie is in the oven, prepare the topping.  Place flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, allspice and nutmeg in a food processer, and pulse to combine.  With the processor running, drop in the butter, a few pieces at a time, until large moist clumps form.

Take the pie out, and reduce oven temperature to 325. Carefully crumble the topping over the fruit.  Return the pie to the oven, and bake for 20-30 minutes more, until topping and crust are golden brown, and fruit mixture is bubbling.

Cool for 20-30 minutes, then serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Click to print this recipe!

* Because my chili pepper flakes had been invaded by cupboard moths and I'd thrown the entire jar into the trash, shrieking, and have been nervous about buying more in case the moths come back.  For a very funny story about cupboard moths, click here.

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