Friday, July 25, 2014

ChezCindy: Why Not Plum Pie?

Plum Pie

Once again I was seduced by the beauty and abundance of produce at my local market.  I bought too much and found myself with stone fruit that were ready to be eaten.  I had gorgeous plums that were calling out to me.  Pie, they were saying.  Make a pie.  But I had never seen a plum pie recipe before; of course peach and sometimes apricot, but never plum.  So I decided to figure this out.  Once I compared several basic peach and apricot pie recipes, I was ready to begin. 

I most always buy plums with the deep red flesh.  I just think they create a prettier dish whether used in desserts or with savory dishes - plums and pork are magical together, but that's another post.  If you don't have plums, of course use standard peaches.

Plum Pie Filling
2 pounds plums
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon orange juice

Crumb Topping
1 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
1 egg yolk

Basic Sweet Pie Crust
 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
 2 sticks of cold unsalted butter
 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4-6 tablespoons ice water

For the crust:  In the bowl of your mixer, combine the flour, salt, and sugar.  Cut the cold butter into 1/2-inch size cubes; add it to the mixer.  Mix until the butter is the size of small peas, and the mixture is crumbly.  With the mixer running, add the cold water one tablespoon at a time until the dough forms into moist clumps.  Remove the dough and gather into a ball.  Divide the dough in half.  Flatten each piece into a disk; wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  The disks can be frozen for future use.

For the plum filling:  Cut the plums into quarters; remove the pits, skin remains on.  Place the plums into a large bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Stir to combine. 

For the crumb topping:  Working with a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the flour, brown sugar and a pinch of kosher salt to the work bowl.  Pulse to combine.  Add in the toasted walnuts; pulse for 30 seconds.  Add the butter to the flour nut mixture.  Pulse until the mixture resembles small pebbles.  Add the egg yolk and pulse until crumbly. 

To assemble the pie:  Roll out one disk of pie dough into a circle large enough to fit a 9-inch pie pan.  Place the crust into the pie pan; crimp the edges.  Add the prepared plums spreading out evenly.  Spoon the crumb topping over the plums to cover, reaching out to the crimped edges. 

To bake:  Place the pie pan onto a baking sheet to catch any plum juices that may drip during baking.  Place the pie into a preheated oven set at 375 degrees.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.  If the edges become too brown, cover with foil and continue baking until the crumb top is golden brown and the plum juices are bubbling and peaking through.  Cool before serving. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

ChezCindy: Summertime Grilling and the Living is Easy

Grilled Pork and Apricot Kebabs

I have a renewed passion for summertime grilling.  My old grill was in need of new grates.  The grill still worked fine, but the grates had really broken down.  A little research at my local hardware store and poof!  It looks like a new grill.  Ready for summertime grilling.

This simple kebab recipe packs a bunch of flavor with few ingredients.  Anytime you can pair pork with fruit is a great combination.  The kebab is brushed with a sweet-spicy glaze made by mixing apricot jam and a touch of cayenne pepper.  If apricots are not available, use peaches or plums. 

Remember to soak the wooden skewers for at least an hour in water.  This will keep them from burning as you cook the kebab.  Or use metal skewers that can be used time and again. 

I made small skewers with just 3 pieces of pork per skewer to serve as an appetizer for a party.  Skewer 6-8 pieces for a dinner, perhaps served with couscous.  A dry Riesling wine pairs well. 

Grilled Pork and Apricot Kebabs

1 pound pork tenderloin
8 apricots
1 small red onion
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons white vinegar
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil

Soak the wooden skewers in water for about an hour.  Cut the pork tenderloin into 1-inch cubes.  Cut the red onion into 1-inch wedges, separating the pieces.  Pit the apricots and cut into quarters. 

To make the glaze, combine the apricot jam, cayenne pepper and white vinegar in a small saucepan.  Heat for a few minutes to melt the jam.  If the sauce seems to thick, add a tablespoon of water to thin out. 

Thread the pork, apricots and onion onto the skewers, alternating pieces, beginning and ending with a cube of pork.  Brush the kebabs with the canola oil; season with salt and pepper.  Grill the kebabs for about 10 minutes, turning to cook evenly.  Brush on the apricot glaze in the last few minutes, once the pork has begun to char, slathering generously.  Remove from the grill, and brush with the remaining glaze.