Sunday, July 14, 2013

Red Plum Galette with Cream Cheese and Pomegranate Filling

If you have irregular, shaggy dough edges, don't worry, it creates a wonderful rustic look, with lots of little crispy edges.
This is the time of year when I get carried away. I see a giant basket of fruit, it is all perfectly, or almost perfectly ripe, and I buy a whole lot of it. Then I get home and realize that they are all going to be ripe at the exact same time, and I may lose some as we hit our limit of whatever it is I bought.

So this morning as I looked at over a dozen very ripe red plums, I figured I need to cook with some of them. And because my sister Kelley is here, I decided a breakfast fruit tart, or galette would be perfect.

I started with a basic white flour pie crust, with a little added cinnamon and sugar.

Pie Crust

2-1/2 c. all purpose flour
4 Tbl. butter
8 Tbl. vegetable shortening
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 1/2 icey cold water

In a large mixing bowl, pinch together the butter and shortening in the flour and salt, until coarse crumbs form. You want little balls and pieces of it in the flour. A Tbl. at a time, add the water and mix the dough, adding water until it is able to just hold together when squeezed. Do not overwork, you want the little bits of butter and shortening to remain and not get too melty. Today I only needed 1/4 c. but it all depends on the humidity and the flour.

You want the incorporated butter and shortening to get cold again, so place the bowl in the fridge and work on the filling.

Plums and Cream Cheese Layer
8 oz. soft cream cheese
6 oz. Chobani Greek yogurt with pomegranate
4 Tbl. raspberry jam
6 to 8 plums, pitted and sliced, but not peeled

Stir together everything but the plum slices in a bowl and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a single circle, about 16" in diameter, dough should be about 1/4" thick. Transfer dough to a large flat cookie sheet. The measurements were more a function of my pan size, you could do this in two smaller ones as well.

Spread cream cheese/fruit filling on crust, covering about a 12" circle in the center. Then layer on the plum slices, creating even but overlapping layers.

This looks a bit loose on the outer ring, but as you pull the crust up over it, it kind of pulls it together, and you don't want it to heavily filled on the edge.
Carefully fold the crust edges up and over the fruit, creating an occasional pleat to keep the crust even over the edges. You want to make about a two inch edge folded over, not a crimped edge. The fruit will show through in the center.

Sprinkle the top of the fruit with about:

2 Tbl. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. ground mace

Then top with a crumb mixture made from:

4 Tbl. cold butter
1/4 cup of flour mixed with about 2 Tbl. sugar and some cinnamon.

You want to pinch it together like the crust, but do not add water or try to make it stick together, simply evenly cover the fruit exposed on the top.

Put in a preheated 425 degree oven. After 15 minutes, when you see the crust has started to crisp and brown a little, reduce the oven heat to 375 degrees for another 30 minutes or so. The time will vary depending on the fruit and the sugars, but you should see a nicely browned crust, a crisped crumb topping, and bubbling sticky fruit juices peeking through.

Remove and let cool about 20 minutes or so before slicing.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

FRENCH COCONUT PIE . . . The easiest pie in the WORLD

This time I baked it in a tart pan, you just need to check it after about 30 minutes because it is thinner and cooks faster.
I have always loved pie, and actually enjoy making them even more than I enjoy eating them. I spent some time in my early 20s living in Santa Barbara and working as a nanny/housepacker for Tom and Pat Harding, long time friends and colleagues of the Deetz family. I have no idea where Pat got this recipe, but I do remember cherishing the index card I had the recipe on, and made sure to copy it into the inside pages of more than a few cookbooks so I would not lose it. IT IS TRULY ONE OF THE EASIEST PIES YOU WILL EVER MAKE!
Cool completely before cutting
 What is also great about this pie, is that you can keep all the ingredients on hand long term, so you can have the ingredients on hand and make this on a whim.
It fills a small crust, a basic 8" crust. You can make your own, buy a frozen one, a premade one you roll out, or even save some calories and bake it crustless. I used to use the roll out pillsbury crusts but found out they have lard in them. Most frozen ones do as well. While I have no qualms about lard, many people I cook for do not eat meat, so I stopped using them. Trader Joe's has a version with butter, and they are difficult to use, as they seem to crack often, even when at room temperature, but they come in two layers of plastic, and I have solved that issue by rolling the crust again, keeping them between the plastic, and rejoining the cracks. But it is also easy to learn how to make crust from scratch.
Crust fit into a tart pan with a removable bottom
 This pie is great a day after it is made, so it is great for pot lucks where you need something easy to make ahead of time.

French Coconut Pie

1 stick of butter. melted
1-1/4 c sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tblsp. white vinegar
3 whole eggs, lightly beaten
3-1/2 oz flaked coconut

1 unbaked pie crust

It is easy because it all goes in one bowl
Mix thoroughly and pour into an unbaked 8" pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Filling should be set in the center when done, but not too set. not jiggly. Really the best the second day so its great as a make ahead pie. coconut haters have been known to love this pie.

Just stir completely and pour into the uncooked pie shell

You want it to bake until the top gets nice and golden brown, creating a chewy, kind of macaroony layer on the top. I believe this is very much like a southern chess pie, which is a firm custardy egg based filling without cream or milk added to it. This one is fairly chewy throughout because it is so full of coconut.