Thursday, July 30, 2015

Nothings Perfect Peachy Pie

Peach Pie: Striving For Balance Not Perfection

I had to make a little play on words with this post, because I am one of those perfectionist people. At least with most things. Its a lot of pressure trying to make things come out perfect all the time. I was recently reminded of my perfectionism working on a laborious project, trying to iron out every wrinkle, only to find a trail of wrinkles behind me, wanting it to be absolutely symmetrical. Snapping at my friends who were helping. 

Personal life scenarios also throw it in my face all the time. This past week has presented some serious ups and downs for me and also reminded me, life isn't perfect, no matter how hard we try and control the situation to make it that way. It's those imperfections that allow us the space to grow and learn, as hard as they might be sometimes. I am confronted with my perfectionism in the kitchen as well. Feeling disappointed when the texture, taste, color, presentation isn't exactly what I had envisioned. Of course, striving for greatness is a positive thing. It gives us reason to keep improving ourselves, our products, our relationships, etc. But we will never reach perfection. 

With the difficulties this week, have also come triumphs. I received news that I have been awarded a full scholarship to start a Yoga Teacher Training in October! Achieving balance, different than achieving perfection. This has been something I have wanted to do for ten years! The timing was never quite right, but I felt like now was the time, and success. I am trying to shift things in my life, career wise, as well as in other areas too, and I think this will be the perfect blazer at the start of the trail. 

I feel like I have been living on fruit this summer, at least fruit mixed in with other sumptuous yummies. What better time of the year than too spend most of your grocery budget on fresh fruit. Sometimes in Maine, getting good fresh fruit can be difficult and for years seemed near impossible. Since we are so far North and East, our fresh peaches and other stone fruits come much later in the season than other places across the country. But I have been quite impressed by those I could get at the supermarket. And not to mention, but the mangoes have been out of this world! Two fruits that make me very happy!


So with all that juicy peach eating, I am making a peach feed. Get ready for a lot of recipes featuring the fuzzy fellas. Peach salsa, Peach Caprese Salad, Salad with Honey, Goat Cheese and Fresh Peaches. Oh Yum! 


This peach pie recipe was from Two Peas and Their Pod. I made a few slight alterations and would probably add ginger to it next time. Especially considering Zsuleikah didn't like it anyway. I don't think she likes the texture of cooked peaches. With the extra crust we made her a little hand pie. I can include the directions to that below. Super easy, low sugar and aside from the buttery crust not so terrible for you. 



Ingredients 

Pie Crust
  • 2/12 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, cold
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, cold
  • 1 small egg, beaten, for the egg wash
  • Turbinado sugar, to sprinkle on top of the crust to give it that sparkly look
Filling
  • 8 cups sliced peaches, skin removed
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (this includes cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, cardamom and lemon zest)
  • 3-4 tablespoons cornstarch, depending on how juicy your peaches are
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
I never have buttermilk on hand, and it seems silly to buy the large container that they sell in the store, when you never use that much. So here is a way to make buttermilk at home.   

Combine 1/2 cup of milk (I used 2%)  and 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (you can also use white vinegar) Let stand at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. And voila! buttermilk. 


Step 1: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Mix it well with a wire whisk. Add the cubed butter and toss with your fingertips to coat each cube in flour. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, mix the butter into the flour until it is nearly the consistency of very course cornmeal, it will be quite flakey. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. 
Step 2:  Remove from freezer and add the buttermilk. Use a spoon and then your hands to stir the mixture until it comes together into a ball. If it is too dry, add the water a tablespoon at a time. Divide the dough in two. Place in ziplock bags or wrap in plastic wrap and flatten into disks.  Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
Step 3. While the dough is chilling, make the peach pie filling.  In a large bowl, combine peaches, sugar, spices, cornstarch, and vanilla extract. Gently stir until mixed well. 
Step 4. When ready to roll out, let the dough rest at room temperature for five minutes. At this time you should preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a rough 13 inch circle. Dough should be about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer dough to pie dish. Fill pie with peach filling. Repeat with the second disk of dough. You can cut the dough and make a lattice over the filling. I used small cookie cutters to make different shapes to lay over the filling, but the juiciness of the pie made them a little soggy. Or you can you can just lay the rolled out dough over the top and cut a few vents with a sharp knife. 
Step 5. Fold the edges of the top and bottom crusts together and use your index fingers and thumb to pinch into a pattern. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. 
Step 6. Bake in a 400 degrees oven for 45 minutes or until the pie is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. My fruit wasn't notice bubbly, but I believe this was due to the type of crust I put on top. Let the pie cool completely on a wire cooling rack before cutting. And of course, best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 
To make the hand pie. We rolled out the remaining dough. I spooned in some greek yogurt into the center on one side, sprinkled on a handful of blueberries, and a little sugar and folded over the dough. Then fold up the edges of the dough and press with your fingers or fork to seal. Lastly, cut some steam vents into the top. There was plenty of egg wash left to brush with the egg wash. 


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Grilling Part III: Ginger Bourbon Glaze for Mushrooms, Tofu, Pineapple, Salmon and More

Ginger Bourbon Glaze

On my first grilling post, I used this recipe for tofu, mushrooms and pineapple. I planned to have it be a bourbon glaze, as the original recipe calls for, but we were  out of bourbon, and instead of being bothered to run to the store again five miles away on the 4th of July, I subbed fresh pineapple juice for the bourbon. This is a recipe my mom came across, I think in a newspaper clipping or something to that nature. That recipe, made with the bourbon, too, has been tried and true. It is amazing on salmon! This recipe was so darn good, I am salivating just thinking about it. Can someone please cook this up for me for dinner tonight?! 
Ingredients: Original recipe is intended for 8, 6 oz. salmon filets. It can also be used for chicken breasts or pork tenderloin. As I said above I have also used it for the vegetarian items listed below. The recipe makes enough to glaze for the amount I have listed. 
  • 1 small container of Crimini mushrooms, washed with stems removed
  • 1 container of extra firm organic tofu, drained and cut into thick slices
  • 1 whole fresh pineapple, with peel trimmed and core removed, cut into slices
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 6 TBSP bourbon (you can also sub pineapple juice from the pineapple here) 
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP lime juice
  • 2 tsp fresh, grated peeled ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
Step 1: Combine all the ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl, and mix well.  Layer  a large sealable leak proof container first with mushrooms, then tofu, then the pineapple. Pour the bourbon mixture over the mushrooms, pineapple, and tofu. Cover the container tightly and slowly mix by turning container up and down. 

Step 2: Let marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, mixing every 30 minutes or so. 

Step 3: When you are ready to grill, remove the items from the glaze. Place the mushrooms tops down on the grill. Place the other items on the grill and cook all over a low or medium-low flame. The mushrooms may need longer to cook than the tofu and pineapple. You will know the mushrooms are done when they are soft and slightly shriveled. Remember to flip the pineapple and the tofu, this is not necessary with the mushrooms. As this was all vegetarian, I also made a reduction by cooking down the left over glaze in a skillet on the stove. That way I could pour it over the veggies and tofu for a little added yum. 

See my other grilling recipes to accompany this main staple and make a real feast of vegetarian delights!

Note: If using this for salmon, you can make it on the grill, skin side down. Or you can make it in the broiler. Place salmon filets on a cookie sheet with an edge, skin side down. Pour remaining glaze over the fish. Cook in the broiler until flesh of salmon begins to separate just slightly. (about 7-12 minutes). Finish by sprinkling with sesame seeds and sliced scallions. 


Grilling Part II: Grilled Chipotle Lime Sweet Potato Coins

Grilled Chipotle Lime Sweet Potato Coins 

I think of summer as endless time, where I can get things done and get ahead of myself a bit. But then when it arrives, I am reminded of how busy I always am. Trying to soak up the goodness of it's warmth and rays. Taking advantage of its sweet bounty, berries, fruits, veggies. Getting in fun time with my daughter. Keeping up a steady exercise routine and finding a moment in the middle to relax. All these things seem to leave little time for blogging. 

This recipe is really  simple and can be made either on the grill or roasted in the oven. Again, I don't have exact ingredients for the recipe, as it involves just mixing together a few things, just enough to coat the potatoes. 

Ingredients

  • 2-4 sweet potatoes (depending on how many you are feeding), washed, scrubbed and cut into coins (circles)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • juice of 1-2 limes ( I like 2 to make it zesty)
  • 1 large clove of minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. (or more to taste) chipotle flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about 3-4 tablespoons or enough to coat)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Step 1:
In a sealable container, place the sweet potato coins, pour all ingredients over the top, in no particular order, but doing the olive oil last. Cover and shake well so that the potatoes are well coated with the sauce and ingredients are well mixed. Set aside to sit for an hour on the counter, or if more time, in the fridge. 

Step 2
If grilling, place potatoes on grill and cook over a low flame. Cook on each side for 5-7 minutes (depending on grill it could take longer). If you have extra sauce, you can brush it on with a grill or pastry brush. You will know they are done when there are nice grill marks and the potato itself has browned slightly on both sides and are softened.  

If roasting in the oven cook in a preheated oven at 425. Cook about 15 minutes on each side. 

This is a great side with fish, meat or other veggies. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Summer Means Its Time to Grill

Grilling I: Lemon and Garlic Veggies or Chicken

You will never hear me complain about how it is too hot in the summer. Maybe too hot to cook, but never too hot. I dream all year about nights of tossing and turning, sheet half on half off, because its warm and muggy. Afternoon cumulonimbus clouds, building to create thunder storms that make you jump even though you've heard thunder millions of times before. The magical sounds of the cicadas buzzing in the trees. Hot sand underfoot at the beach. Eating just a little too much ice cream. I'm the kind of girl who tries to spend as much time outside as possible. So grilling is that perfect excuse for spending more time out of doors. I just purchased my first propane grill this spring and have come up with some great recipes that have gotten the thumbs up from friends and family. For the Fourth I did a lot of marinating and grilled up quite the vegetarian feast. These marinades work great on chicken too.  I mostly grill veggies, as I stick to a mostly vegetarian diet, and because they are so versatile. Great for dinner and excellent leftovers on a sandwich for lunch. I find that with marinating, a lot depends on personal taste, so none of these measurements are perfectly round or exact. This post will also be organized a bit differently from my other posts, as far as steps for cooking. 


Veggie or Chicken Lemon and Garlic Marinade

I use this marinade on eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, bell peppers and chicken. Of course the more herbs you add to it (keep in mind how the flavors of the herbs meld and their intensity) the more flavorful it will be. 

Ingredients

  • Veggies for grilling, see suggestions above
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons or more)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
To prepare zucchini or summer squash, I cut it into thin slices lengthwise, I find this cooks the best and is easiest to grill. For eggplant, I cut in 1/4-1/2 inch thick rounds. Keep in mind that eggplant can get really dry grilling. It also soaks up a lot of oil, and this gives it the best flavor and consistency. You might want to marinate your eggplant separately, and increase the olive oil. Asparagus doesn't need any special preparation, nor does it actually need to marinate. Just toss it in the ingredients for the marinade before grilling. For the peppers, they need to be cut in halves and have the seeds and membranes removed. 

To make the marinade, place the prepared veggies in a leakproof storage container. In a 2 cup measuring cup squeeze 2 lemons (more if using a large quantity of veggies). Remove any seeds. Whisk in about a 1/4 cup of EVOO. Add garlic, salt, pepper and any other seasonings. Whisk ingredients well. Now pour the mixture into the storage container over the veggies. Cover and shake to coat all veggies. If marinating for more than an hour, refrigerate and shake frequently. If you are not marinating the veggies longer than an hour, you can leave the container at room temperature. Once your grill is fired up, place veggies at an angle on the grill and cook on a low to medium-low heat. The thing about grills, is each one is different, so you just need to get to know your grill. Turn once the veggies start to wilt or brown. Pay close attention, so that you don't burn the veggies. Zucchini and squash will cook faster than eggplant. I like to let my eggplant cook on a low flame until it gets almost mushy. Remove carefully from grill. When grilling peppers, I cook until there is a good char on the skin, and remove the skin before eating. 

On the next grilling post I will include my recipe for Pineapple-Ginger and Bourbon Mushrooms and Tofu. And another will have the Chipotle Lime Sweet Potatoes. Also to come my grilled veggie sandwich recipe. Man, I've got a lot of work ahead of me.