Apricot Pie

Apricot Pie

I roll out some pretty ugly pie crusts, but no matter. As you can see, at the time of this writing, my roommate and I have polished off half of this apricot pie, less than 24 hours after making it. It’s been dessert and breakfast and a snack. It goes very well with coffee and after lamb biryani and just on its own. It is a good way to send off summer, or what is left of it (summer has more or less dropped into a cool early spring here in Boston).

Apricot Pie Halved Apricots

If you have to work with a stone fruit, by the gods, apricots are some of the kindest. They have a natural seam in the outer skin that splits open easily just as soon as the tip of your knife touches it. The pits barely need a nudge with your finger before prying loose.

I have read about apricots being intense and flavorful in the Middle East, in certain orchards on the U.S. West Coast. Here in the U.S. Northeast, apricots are rather mild. They are lightly sweet, pleasant, but somewhat unremarkable. They do not betray a hint as to what they become when cooked in sugar and pastry. Which is to say that the first taste of the apricot pie yields an immediate tartness and tang on your tongue. Then a hint of that sweet, formerly mild apricot flavor bubbles up. It would almost be enough to sear off your taste buds, but then the buttery sweetness of the tender, flaky crust begins to cut through, balancing the flavors and creating this gorgeous harmony.

Apricot Pie

Breakfast. I barely kept myself in check to photograph it.

This is a pie that will be going on the “To Make Again, Preferably As Soon As Possible” list, possibly with a few changes (I pretty much did no adaptation this time since pie-making is my general Achilles Heel and I approach rolling out pie dough with a lot of trepidation) such as:

  • If using European butter as I did this time, consider eliminating or reducing the oil in the recipe, as the butter will have a large amount of fat it in already. The crust is tender, but very fragile and prone to tearing easily.
  • Swap out the flour in the filling for pectin or tapioca starch. There’s a lot of syrup in the final product, and while delicious (especially when scooped up by a spoon), it’s rather messy.
  • Experiment with maple sugar. I bet that would be pretty freakin’ amazing.
  • For a prettier crust: use an egg wash next time.

Drift

Sweet Corn Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream 1

Last week, two good friends of mine had a baby each, a girl and a boy. With such amazing parents as I have come to know them, these new creatures can’t not be primed for great things. They will have amazing taste in music, will be educated in great literature, and will both be progressive feminists.

So I am eating Snapea Crisps and drinking rose perhaps a little too early in the day and my mind is swirling around thoughts of having babies and getting married and being one of the few who remains of the Old Guard. And by ‘Old Guard’, I mean single and childless, but more importantly, very happy to be single and childless with no inclination to change either of those things anytime soon. I see everyone I know gradually pairing off and then eventually getting pregnant and conversations soon drift towards and stay unswervingly on kid-related matters and couples start only scheduling events and activities with other couples or play dates with the kids. All around you, people are changing and you are not. They are moving away from you and you are standing still.

So I am learning to gently cup every treasured relationship in the palm of my hands and, when I must, to gently let them go when as they begin to drift away. Their priorities are not your priorities. Yours are to have enough sleep, a glass of wine every night, and a good book. To make good food and eat good food. To challenge yourself in small ways if you can’t quite yet bring yourself to face larger ones.

Today’s soundtrack is: Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown, which is a concept album that tells the story of Orpheus and Eurydice via a folk opera featuring notable musicians such as Ani DiFranco, Justin Vernon (lead singer of Bon Iver), and Greg Brown.  Just a taste of how lovely this album is:

Today’s summer feat is a barely adapted homemade sweet corn ice cream recipe from the New York Times that is punched up with a tart raspberry swirl. I found the end result to be a sweet, summery treat with a light corn flavor but the ice cream itself was pretty mild and had a somewhat starchy mouthfeel. The raspberry really adds a great dimension, making this ice cream really sing.

Corn kernels and cobs are infused in a mixture of cream and whole milk. The cobs are removed while the kernels are pureed, simmered, and eventually turned into a custard that forms the base of this ice cream.

Infusing cream and milk with corn kernals and cobs Ready to strain

The corn custard gets strained through a fine mesh sieve for a smooth consistency, and the remaining cream mixture is thoroughly chilled in the fridge for at least four hours. After that, pour the mixture into your ice cream maker, follow your ice cream maker’s instructions, etcetera, you know how these ice cream recipes end.

Straining corn kernals from custard

My raspberry sauce was made by simply cooking down a pint of raspberries, a little lemon juice, and a 1/8 cup of granulated sugar. I then strained the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds and put the sauce in the fridge to chill for a few hours.

Making raspberry sauce

To get my raspberry swirl, I poured my ice cream from my ice cream maker into a storage container that is more shallow than deep and poured my raspberry sauce on top. I then took a butter knife and cut swirls into the ice cream. I do not have a very elegant hand in doing this.

Swirling in raspberry sauce

Put the whole thing into the freezer and let it freeze overnight or so.

Ready to scoop

Sweet Corn Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream 2

Stollen, boys, etc.

Stollen 1

After a year and a half of intentionally not speaking to each other, a boy who I went on a few dates with tries to re-establish contact.

It’s been awhile since we’ve talked. Do you want to go out for coffee some time after work to catch up?

Continue reading

Year of the Pie

This is admittedly a whole bunch of stuff I had never gotten around to posting, the only time to take photos was with my iPhone before dashing off to the party or to work or to catch the plane. In 2013, I vow to use my swanky and very expensive new camera a lot better and a lot more.

2012 seems to have been the year of pies, of various types and flavors.

New Year’s Eve: Cubano Puff Pastry Pie(ish)

cubano

Continue reading

Banana Bread, Paleo Style

Paleo Banana Bread

It’s been awhile hasn’t it? I think I’m finding that my baking and cooking runs in anti-bear fashion: hibernate in the summer, out in full force in winter. Well, the days are finally cooling off, the sky is slowly being drained of its color, and the leaves are blooming and littering the narrow sidewalks of my wee little Boston neighborhood, Jamaica Plain. It’s the perfect kind of day to stay indoors and warm your apartment by running the oven and baking something.

Continue reading

Apricots

DSC_0013

I have very fond memories of my grandfather’s apricot tree and how, every summer, he would gather as many ripe apricots (and some not so ripe) as he could carry in the folds of his flannel shirt and bring his haul inside. How he would hold one up proudly and consume it within seconds, leaving only a pulpy stone behind.

I am very fond of apricots.

DSC_0007

Continue reading

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Spring has finally settled in Boston, which, in typical New England style, means schizophrenic shifts between almost 90-degree days and below-40 degree nights. Next week it will probably snow. However, there is one constant you can count on during spring even when all else fails: pollen attacking your face hard.

Continue reading

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake — or, grinning and bearing it

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

When you:

  • Feel a little ground down from life
  • Are questioning whether you are a big hypocrite
  • Just want to curl up in your bed, under the covers, and never leave
  • Count down the days until the weekend, starting Monday morning
  • Are frustrated with some of your co-workers and wonder if the workplace isn’t actually just the setting of a passive aggressive war in which there are many weapons and tactics at your disposal
  • Hate the slavish bi-partisanship of your Supreme Court and the batshit, corrupt, the malevolent insanity of your Congress, and the crushing disappointment of your president
  • Have a sore tastebud on the tip of your tongue, making everything you eat torturous
  • Are totally running out of healthy meal-like food but don’t have time or the energy to make a grocery store run (so you totally just eat peanut butter frosting instead)
  • Find the charm of cakes to lie in their presentation, not their taste
  • (Okay, maybe you also like their taste too)

Continue reading

Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook

Corn Cookies

It’s taken me a few weeks to really soak in just one of the many amazing cookbooks I recently purchased. First up: Momofuku Milk Bar, which is a super attractive book on a purely aesthetic level, but the story behind Momofuku Milk Bar‘s origins and Christina Tosi’s voice throughout is wry, evocative, and sheer engaging. There’s something delightfully appealing about all the trashy/delicious eats unapologetically served up here. Recipes like Compost Cookies and Crack Pie, with their reliance on things like potato chips, chocolate chips, and pretzels, are practically a stoner’s wet dream.

Continue reading