Sunday, June 9, 2013

First Pie of the Season

And just what is the season, one may ask?
First of Season Apricot Pie
In California.
It's end of cherry - beginning of ApricotPlumPeach season in this part of the world. Bring it on.
I have apricots dehydrating in the Excalibur, apricots I've already dried, lots of apricots in my tummy, apricots waiting for me in a bag, and now - ta da! - an apricot pie in the oven. It's in the 70's outside, close to 80 in my kitchen, and the oven is on 400F.
It takes a certain kind of mind (one may consider "unstable") to think this is fun, but I certainly do.

So here's my recipe for this lovely pie:

Roughly 5c of chopped, freshly picked lovely apricots, full blush :-)
1 c of sugar (more was in the original recipe, but I *know* these apricots, and they don't need more)
1/2t of salt (because human tongues need that)
3T of cornstarch (or flour, or tapioca, or rice flour, whatever you fancy for thickening)
about 1/4 c candied ginger (because I have a thing for ginger), chopped fine
a good dose of freshly grated nutmeg (I was having issues with my grinder, so I'm betting I have at least 2t in there)
(Note: some lemon juice would have worked, but isn't required. Maybe 2T. Adds just a little bite. Depends upon your apricots, are they super sweet or do they have acid content?)

Mix it all together. Let it get soupy.

Make your favorite double 9" pie crust. Keep it in the fridge for an hour (then discover that your fuse has thrown itself and your fridge is defrosting. Choke down the panic. Go out and throw all the breakers and then try something in the outlets until they work. Sigh of relief. Back to the pie). Roll it out and try not to let it get hot. I actually put my pie plate back into the fridge while I was rolling out the 2nd crust. Pour the filling into the 1st crust, top with the 2nd, crimp the edges, brush with milk, dust with sugar (I happened to have cinnamon sugar sitting RIGHT NEXT to me, so that's what went on top). Cut a pretty design in the top.
Bake the extra strips, dusted with cinnamon sugar, next to the pie, take them out in a few minutes and eat them hot, and give them to your kids and remind them this is one of the BEST things about having a mom who knows how to bake.

Bake at 400F roughly 45 minutes, or until it's a golden brown.

Great with vanilla ice cream.
When you're an adult, you can even eat this BEFORE your dinner.
Life is good. As coach Erik Hajer says, always remember to SMILE.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Get crackin'

Candied yuzu peel
It's citrus season again. The trip to my Mecca (Lindcove orchards just past Fresno, CA) was last weekend, and my living room floor is once again covered with some of the rarest citrus in the world (and I'm not being hyperbolic here).
The first batch, since I found it was so perishable last year, was the yuzu. I've made yuzu marmalade, and what I'm calling A to Z marmalade (Avana Apireno mandarin mixed with Yuzu, since the yuzu doesn't produce much juice); followed by candied yuzu peel. Here is a picture of the peel right after I swooped it out of the yuzu crack, which unfortunately did not set up overnight. Instead of leaving it as a syrup, I will cook it down some more until it reaches the hard crack stage. Crack is what I'm after here, although if necessary of course I could use the yuzu syrup as well. My chai doesn't care if it's syrup or crack.
I did a 3x blanching method with the peel, but if I were to do it again I would only blanch them once, because I don't mind the bitterness so much and really love the yuzu peel flavor. Last year I used the candied peel in breads, muffins, cookies and jams so far. Aromatic plum preserves (Howard's Miracle or Inca), I have discovered, combine beautifully with candied yuzu peel. Go wild with this stuff, you can't go wrong.
Yuzu (YOO-zoo): A traditional Japanese citrus, used almost exclusively for its aromatic rind. Yuzu has an aroma that's distinct from lemons, limes, or any other Western citrus fruit.