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Category Archives: savor the season

Savor The Season: One Last Taste of Summer

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By Cal Virgilio

This past Saturday, my wife, Lisa, and I went out to dinner at an Irish Pub in Maplewood, NJ. It was a damp and rainy evening, and as we sat by the fire in this cozy restaurant, it hit us both—another summer was coming to an end.

Just last weekend, we were at Lisa’s Uncle Frank’s house at the Jersey shore, sitting by the pool in 80-degree weather. Frank’s house was built for summer entertaining. The property sits on a lagoon in Brick Township. He has a salt-water pool, fire-pit and ample patio space for relaxing. And if we get tired of sitting by the pool, Frank will start up his boat and we’ll troll out to the bay for cocktail hour. Summer living doesn’t get much better than a weekend at Franks.

So now that there are just a few days of summer left, let’s take advantage of the last of the seasonal offerings we’ll be dreaming of when it’s 30 degrees and snowing in December. Farmer’s markets are still filled with produce such as heirloom tomatoes, and fruits such as peaches and blueberries. And if you want to finish summer with a bang, what better way than to steam some Lobsters and mix in with a rich pasta sauce?

Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited for autumn and comfort food season. Hearty stews, pot pies and just about anything made with pumpkin…what’s not to love? But this weekend, I’ll hold off on slow cooking my food and allow the flavors of summer to do the work.

The Menu

Burrata with Heirloom Tomatoes and Toasted Bread

Spicy Lobster Pasta

Peach & Blueberry Pie

 

Peach and Blueberry Pie

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Peaches and blueberries are two of the season’s best fruits. There flavors work great together in this pie recipe, and the homemade caramel adds a unique sweetness.

Makes 8 Servings

Pie Crust

  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 sticks + 6 Tbsp. salted butter, sliced into small chunks.
  • 1 cup of frozen Crisco, sliced into small chunks.
  • 1 cup of ice-cold water.

Pie Crust Directions

Process flour and salt to blend. The add butter and the Crisco and process until the dough has pea-sized pieces. There should be no big chunks of butter or Crisco in the mix.

Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl. Create a small well in the middle of the dough and pour 3/4 cup ice water into the well. Mix the dough with a fork until the pea-sized pieces become larger. The dough should be moist, but not too wet. You can add the remaining 1/4 cup of water if need be. Use your hands to form the dough into two large balls. Roll each dough ball out between two sheets of parchment paper. Refrigerate dough until ready to use.

Filling

  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon (scant) ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds firm but ripe peaches, peeled, halved, and sliced thin
  • 2 pints fresh blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten to blend with 2 teaspoons water (glaze)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (cinnamon sugar)

Pie Directions:

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Place foil-lined baking sheet in bottom of oven to catch any spills. Roll out 1 pie crust disk on lightly floured surface to 13 1/2-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim overhang to 1 inch. Fold edges under and crimp decoratively, forming high rim (about 1/2 inch above sides of dish). Chill crust 30 minutes. Line crust with foil; fill with dried beans. Bake crust for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and take aluminum and beans from the crust. Put the pie crust back in the oven for another 15 minutes until it is pale and golden. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, line another baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out second pie crust disk on floured surface to 13 1/2-inch round. Cut into 3/4-inch-wide strips. Place strips on prepared baking sheet. Chill while preparing filling.

For filling:
Combine 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl. Add peaches, blueberries  and lemon juice and toss gently to coat. Let stand 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 11 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter and cream (mixture will bubble vigorously); stir caramel until smooth. Strain juices from peaches into caramel; cool to lukewarm. Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix the caramel and flour, and then add this to the peaches and blueberries; toss gently.

Take a handful of flour sugar and coat the bottom of the pie pan. This will soak of some the juices from the fruit to keep the bottom of the crust from becoming soggy. Then, transfer fruit filling to crust, mounding in center.

Arrange 6 dough strips in 1 direction across top of pie, spacing apart. Working with 1 strip at a time, arrange 6 more strips in opposite direction atop first, lifting strips and weaving over and under, forming lattice. Gently press ends of strips to edge of baked bottom crust to adhere. Trim overhang. Brush lattice strips (but not crust edge) with egg yolk glaze. Sprinkle strips with cinnamon sugar.

Bake pie 35 minutes. Tent pie loosely with foil to prevent overbrowning. Continue to bake pie until filling bubbles thickly and lattice is golden brown, about 25 minutes longer. Cool pie on rack.

Savor The Season: August and Everything After

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For our menu & recipes, see links at the end of the article.

By Suzanne Virgilio

There is nothing better than enjoying food and drink with friends during the month of August. The mid-summer nights are perfect for entertaining in the yard and setting a long communal table for dinner. That was the plan for our first ever “Savor The Season” event We would invite 25 of our good friends, set a table in the grass and light the fire to make paella.

Let me start by saying that our family loves to cook and entertain. Cooking great food for ourselves is always nice, but seeing others enjoy our recipes is what makes entertaining worth the effort. And when you are hosting a dinner party for 25 guests, there is a lot of effort that goes into it.

Gathering recipes for a menu, grocery shopping, prepping the food, setting tables and stocking the bar. Fortunately, we have son our Calvin and our baker and friend Dea to help with the cooking. Calvin’s wife, Lisa, would take care of decorating and setting up the outdoor ambiance.

Since we’d be cooking paella, I wanted the menu to stick with Mediterranean theme. I decided that a crostini with goat cheese, figs, Serrano ham and mint would be a tapas style dish that could be prepped ahead and served quickly. We also made two other appetizers, a salmon and dill ceviche, and warm brie with roasted red peppers, pine nuts, olives and golden raisins. For the salad, I made a Spanish mixed green salad with toasted almonds and a citrus vinaigrette. For dessert, we would finish the evening with a light and simple recipe for a salted caramel panna cotta.

 

This was going to be a lot of work, of course, but cooking to us never feels like work. As soon as we start mincing our aromatics and sautéing them in olive oil, the work ends and the enjoyment begins. We’ll of course be tired by the end of cooking everything, but that is when the party starts and the wine is corked. And all of the sudden, we get our second wind when guests arrive. It’s now Saturday evening, and the sun is shining, the fire is lit and the table is set. We’ve been blessed with a perfect mid-summer night for entertaining, and we’re going to savor every last bit of it before it ends.

 

The Menu & Recipes:

Crostini with Goat cheese,  Serrano Ham, Figs & Mint

Salmon and Dill Ceviche

Warm Brie with Pine Nuts, Olives & Golden Raisins

Spanish Mixed Green Salad with Toasted Almonds and Citrus Vinaigrette

Seafood Paella

Salted Caramel Panna Cotta