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Posts Tagged ‘peaches’

Miniature versions of just about anything are universally accepted as the ultimate in cuteness. Puppies? Yup. Babies? Them too. These miniature pie bites are no exception to the rule. 

But the real question at hand for Miss Menu is, how does size affect taste? Is the proportion of crust-to-filling acceptable? Can a mini-pie hold a candle to a traditional wedge sliced from a 9-inch pie plate?

The original version of these miniature pies over at Crepes of Wrath (love the name) called for a blueberry filling. While I’m a fool for blueberries in my everyday life, blueberry pie does not rate at the top of list of fruit favorites. I remembered achieving a certain degree of success a few years back when I served a free-form, rustic tart stuffed with nectarines and raspberries. Something about that particular combination is my idea of the perfect mixture of texture and flavors. So, I decided to tweak this recipe for a recent celebratory picnic – but feel free to tweak it right back.

Now, here’s a note on a few things I didn’t do that I’d advise that you do do.

  1. I didn’t serve with homemade vanilla ice cream. You really should. Or maybe homemade cinnamon ice cream, eh? And certainly nobody shall call the dessert police if you use Edy’s as a stand-in.
  2. I didn’t use arrowroot powder. I knew I should. Cornstarch works, but lends a slight chalkiness of texture and muddiness of flavor, to my taste buds, at least.
  3. I didn’t roll my crust thin enough. I also didn’t use a proper biscuit cutter. I let nostalgia get the best of me, perhaps, and used the vintage juice glass that my mom used to use to cut biscuits when I was a kid. But with such a tiny bite, you’d be wise to use a properly sized cutter – no bigger than 2 inches across – and roll it thinly to produce the appropriate ratio of filling to crust.

Now, even when you roll the crust to just the right width, this is still going to be a bit more crust-heavy than your traditional pie. Lucky for this girl, I’m a crust fanatic. The recipe I used was one that mixes butter and Crisco to be both buttery AND flaky – but feel free to use your own all-butter crust, if you’re a butter purist. I’d trust this Smitten Kitchen recipe.



Peach-Raspberry Pie Bites

Serves 24.

For the Pie Crust:
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
2/3 cup shortening, cold
2/3 cup ice water, plus more as needed
4 teaspoons distilled white vinegar, chilled
2 tablespoons room temperature butter
1 egg yolk, for the egg wash
1 tablespoon water
1-2 tablespoons additional sugar 

For the Filling:

½ pint raspberries
2 ripe peaches, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/3 cup sugar

Food Processor Method: Combine flour, sugar and salt in bowl of food processor. Add cold butter and shortening, pulsing to combine until fat is pea-sized. Mix together cold water with vinegar and add to mixture, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing between each addition until a dough forms. You probably won’t use all of the liquid.

Or,

Pastry Cutter Method: Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add cold butter and shortening, using a pastry cutter or two forks to blend fat into dry ingredients until pea-sized clumps form. Mix together cold water with vinegar and add to mixture, one tablespoon at a time, turning dough with forks and incorporating liquid into the mixture until a dough forms. You probably won’t use all of the liquid.

Then,

Turn dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a ball. Wrap well and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour (but only if you have a really cool fridge – two to three hours is more likely). I made mine the night ahead.

Meanwhile,

Mix the fruit together in a large bowl and sprinkle with sugar and arrowroot powder. Stir well to combine and set aside.

When dough is chilled,

Remove dough from fridge and divide into two halves. Place one half back in fridge. Roll the remaining half nice and thin, about 1/8 inch thick, between two sheets of waxed paper. Cut 24 rounds from the dough. Keep in mind that you might not be able to get 24 rounds on the first roll-out – you might have to collect your scraps, stick them in the fridge for a few minutes and then re-roll to eke out all 24 rounds.

Then,

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray your mini cupcake tin with non-stick cooking spray. Tuck a round of dough into each of the 24 cups. Shmear each round with room temperature butter (I used a pastry brush, but a spoon would also suffice). This will help prevent the crust from becoming too soggy. Place the cupcake tin in the freezer while you roll out the remaining dough and, once again, cut out 24 rounds.

Next,

Remove tin from freezer and spoon a heaping tablespoon-full of fruit mixture into each cup. Top with another round of dough and pinch to seal the edges. Make three slits in top of crust. Whisk together egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water. Using a pastry brush, spread the wash lightly on top of each pie, then sprinkle with sugar.

And finally,

Bake for about 20 minutes, until crust starts to brown just a bit around the edges. Allow pies to cool in tins on a cooling rack before loosening around the edges with a butter knife and popping them out. Don’t forget to serve with ice cream!

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Every few months or so, Miss Menu gets the itch to entertain. I love an opportunity to try out some new dishes – not to mention the added bonus of providing the motivation for me to clean my apartment.

Before we sit down to eat together, though, my guests must be made aware of one fact: I’m not of the mind that when company comes, you should only prepare safe dishes that you’ve cooked and perfected 100 times before. No, my dinner parties tend to be a bit more experimental in nature. This past Saturday’s menu, while nothing fancy, definitely provided an opportunity for me to experiment to my heart’s content.

The Event: A summer dinner gathering for high school friends.

The Menu: We started things off with the help of my partner in cooking, Cookbook Queen, who provided a delectable Crab Crostini Prepappetizer: Crab Crostini. Slices of crisp, toasted baguette received a topping of creamy avocado, a heft sprinkling of steamed crab meat and a leaf of arugula, the perfect appetizer bite to start the meal.

I was looking for a menu of good, clean flavors that highlighted the season. Of crucial importance was thatTenderloin w/Mango Salsa nothing could require any last minute baking – my vent-free kitchen becomes unbearably hot in the summer. I decided on Island Pork Tenderloinas the focus point for my meal – it whips up in a jiff and relies on my favorite spice combo: cumin, chili powder and cinnamon. Rolls, garlic mayo and a homemade mango salsa (diced mango, red onion, cucumber and crushed red pepper) rounded out the pork.

I’ve been curious to try the much-lauded combo of watermelon and feta for a while now, so thanks to my sister’s recommendation, I tried out this Watermelon, Arugula & Feta Salad with Balsamic Reduction. My only complaint was that I didn’t use enough of the delectable goats’ milk feta from local Caromont Farm. And I didn’t realize that one shouldn’t reduce vinegar in the aforementioned vent-free kitchen.

Peaches in ProsciuttoSummer fruit played another role in this menu in the form of Peaches in Prosciutto. I found the inspiration for this dish over at Yumsugar.com, where bloggers recommend grilled peaches wrapped in pancetta as one of the top 10 recipes to try this summer. With the consultation of my local butcher, I opted for prosciutto in lieu of the pancetta. The prosciutto had the bonus of sticking to when it’s wrapped around the peach, which I sliced into sixths (leaving the peach skin on). A quick sear in a hot pan made them ready for eating, served on a bed of beautiful green mache.

And finally, a quick Shrimp, Corn & Avocado Salad, inspired by a recipe from Gourmet, completed the meal. Shrimp SaladIt couldn’t have been simpler: I sauteed one pound of shrimp (de-tailed and de-veined) with the kernels from three ears of corn in about a tablespoon of butter, with plenty of salt and pepper to taste. After letting cool to room temperature, some diced avocado and chopped basil finished off the mixture. My favorite part about this particular dish was its serving vessel – I finely had the chance to inaugurate my fish tureen for this seafood dish!

For dessert, I thought I was playing it pretty safe by continuing the summer fruit theme with a Very Berry Bundt Broken CakeCake – basically a moist yellow pound cake heavy with raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Yum. But when I went to unmold the cake from the pan, it split in half, to my dismay! Instead of throwing together the ingredients for a second cake, I decided that when life gives you a broken cake, you make a trifle! Rather, a trifle-inspired dessert casserole might be the more appropriate description. I whipped up some fresh whipped cream and layered the broken cake slices between layers of the cream, topped with raspberries. The result was perhaps not as pretty as I had intended, but the flavors were spot-on.

And so, another dinner party comes to a close. Now I can start looking towards the next menu adventure. . .

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