Strawberry Peach Pie with Sage & Honey

The greatest thing about being a known food lover is hearing about your friend’s fantastic food adventures. My friends are more than willing to tell me anything delicious; from what they had for dinner, to the complicated dessert they tried their hand at.  If something food-related happens to any one of my acquaintances I’m the first to hear about it.  And when my friend’s herb garden becomes so overgrown there’s no possible way they’re going to get through it all, you bet your bottom dollar I’m going home with a ziplock loaded with garden fresh goodies.  This happened to me twice in the course of a week.  The first batch I got from my cousin’s where I gathered a little bit of basil, sage, rosemary and thyme. I got the second round from my friend’s patio, which was experiencing a massive mintfestation.  Needless to say, the mint shall be used for mojito purposes.

Strawberries and Peaches

I told you last time that I promised myself I would use all of my produce and I was almost home free when I discovered four neglected peaches and a forgotten pint of strawberries.  The pie seemed the most logical (and reckless) solution to my problem.

Strawberries and Peaches

It is very dangerous to make an entire pie for a two-person household.  I don’t normally make a pie unless I’m sure there are at least five people to help me eat it, but I had just run close to 10km, so somewhere in my sick and twisted mind I decided I deserved an entire pie.

Sage

I was settled on the idea of strawberry peach pie, but then I found the remnants of my ziplock of herbs.  The thyme was all but gone and the basil looked a little worse for wear, but the sage was untouched and still gorgeous.  Sage in a strawberry peach pie?  Dare I tread into the unknown and possibly waste precious pastry on a potentially strange, inedible pie?  Yes, of course!

Strawberries, Peaches and Sage

The pie came out beautifully.  The strawberries and peaches were the perfect compliment to each other.  The strawberries brought a touch of tartness to the pie, while the peaches dominated with their smooth sweetness.  The sage added an element of savory to the pie, which served as an interesting contrast to syrupy sweetness of the fruit and the shortbread crust.

Filling and Pastry

My beau was adequately impressed.  He and his hallow leg polished off most of the pie, saving me from having to run the equivalent of three marathons.

Unbaked Pie

I know it may seem strange, but every now and then it pays to throw caution to the wind and let your imagination do a little bit of the driving.  While this pie is certainly not groundbreaking it’s a little off beat and unexpected, so if your bored of the same old pies (I can’t imagine why you would be) this might be a good way to break the mould.   I served this pie with a drizzle of maple syrup and it went down quite nicely. I was inspired for this recipe from Vegging at the Shore blog.

Strawberry Peach Pie

Strawberry Peach Pie with Honey and Sage: Serves 8

1 pint strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced

4 peaches, sliced

2 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped

2/3 cup demerara sugar

¼ cup honey

¼ cup flour

1 batch of pastry (see Irish Whiskey Pie)

1 egg

1 tbsp water

Maple syrup for drizzling

Directions:

Preheat oven 400°

Place peaches, strawberries, sugar, honey, flour and sage in a large bowl and stir to combine.

Roll out half of the chilled pastry and line a nine-inch pie plate with it.

Pour filling into the center.

Roll out second half of the pastry and cut into strips a quarter of an inch wide.

Weave strips of pastry on top of the filling to make a lattice top.

Trim and crimp edges.

In a small bowl whisk water and egg together.

Brush pastry with egg wash using a pastry brush.

Fit tin foil over the edge of the crust and bake for forty minutes.

Remove foil and bake for an addition fifteen minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Allow to cool and slice.

Serve drizzled with maple syrup.

Irish Whiskey Pie

Irish Whiskey Pie

Okay, if you put my last post and this post side by side, I can see how you would think I’ve been hitting the bottle pretty hard lately.  But, please cut me some slack, I’ve been on vacation.  Don’t worry; I’m heading back to Toronto tomorrow where sobriety will prevail once again.  So, enjoy these boozey recipes while they last, it’s not everyday I can afford to cook with a twelve year old Irish Whiskey.

Rolling out the pastry

Despite it’s name, this pie only contains about one ounce of alcohol (two ounces if you really want to push the envelope), so there’s no need to feel guilty if a piece finds it’s way into the hands of a child, although after you taste this pie you might not want to serve it at all.  I made two pies for my brother’s birthday yesterday and I greedily hid the second at the back of the fridge so I could eat a piece this morning after my run.  Breakfast of champions! *hick!  Pardon me!

Pastry in Pie Plate

This pie is really a glorified (and drunk) version of a butterscotch pie, but a wee nip of whiskey gives it something unexpected and makes it even more naughty.  The whiskey saves the pie from being sickly sweet.  It is a pie for grown ups, because it so faithfully steers the palette away from that intense candy flavor kids go for, but who am I to talk?  I still like sour patch kids.  Have ever poured them into a bag of hot popcorn? *drool!

Crimped Pastry

Sorry…

Got a touch sidetracked.  Too much beer I guess.

12 year old Irish Whiskey a.k.a Liquid Gold

Anyway, this pie is sure to capture more than a few hearts and like last week’s dessert I think it’s slightly more appropriate for the fall… Is it too early to start thinking about Thanksgiving?

Butterscotch Whiskey

Bite my tongue! I shouldn’t be thinking about life after summer when it’s still gorgeous outside.  I use to get so mad when they started running back to school ads at the beginning of August.  Sorry school age children (I’m sure you all read my blog faithfully), I won’t mention that hateful season again until it’s upon us.  I don’t mean to rush you back to school.

A Slice of Irish Whiskey Pie

I’ll be back in a few days with a summery recipe and to update you on my return to overpopulated civilization.  I’m expecting a total emotional breakdown in the first 24 hours.  Should be entertaining.

Wish me luck!

Irish Whiskey Pie: Makes one pie

Loosely adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

For the crust:

2 ½ cups pastry flour (all-purpose is fine)

1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and diced

1 tsp salt

¼ cup cold water

¼ cup cold vodka

For the Filling:

½ cup evaporated milk

¼ cup cornstarch

5 egg yolks

½ tsp salt

1 cup light brown sugar

6 tbsp unsalted butter

2 cups homogenized milk

1 oz Irish Whiskey

Directions:

For the crust:

Sift flour and salt together into a large bowl.

Using a food processor, a pastry blender or two knives and a good amount of patience, cut the butter into the flour.

Add water and vodka stirring after each addition until the dough comes together.

Form into a ball and cut it in half.

Flatten each half into a disc, wrap them in wax paper and refrigerate for at least half an hour before baking.

You will only need one half for this recipe, so feel free to freeze the other half for future pie emergencies.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°

Place pastry on a well-floured surface and using a well-floured rolling pin, roll out the pastry to fit a 9-inch pie plate.

Place pastry into the pie plate and trim and crimp the edges.

Prick the dough several times with a fork.

Wrap tin foil around the pastry and fill the center with pie weights or dried beans.

Place in the center of the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove weights and tin foil and bake for an additional nine minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool.

For the Filling:

In a medium sized bowl whisk together condensed milk, cornstarch and salt.

Add egg yolks one at a time, whisking until combined after each addition.  Set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan melt butter over moderate heat.

Add brown sugar and allow to bubble slightly.

Slowly whisk in milk.

Add egg mixture slowly, whisking constantly.

Bring back to a boil while whisking the mixture.

Once the mixture is boiling, let it cook while stirring for approximately one minute or until thick.

Remove from heat and stir in whiskey.

Pour into a cooled pie shell and cover with plastic wrap.

Place in the fridge and let set for four hours.

You may serve the pie with whipped cream if you wish, but I find it so rich that I like to eat it au naturale.

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

A week ago I took a spontaneous trip to Prince Edward Island.  I hadn’t been to the island in nearly fifteen years and I was keen to a do a little beach hopping, so I seized the opportunity to go.  With no plans in sight and little expectation, we managed to have one of the best getaways I’ve had in a longtime.  I am now determined to never plan a vacation again.  When nothing is expected everything is a wonderful surprise, much like today’s recipe, which is courtesy of the island.

Dates and Ginger

On one of the few sunny days I’ve had since arriving on the East Coast (I seem to curse this area of the world with rain every time I visit), we happened upon Dalvay House located just east of Charlottetown.  Built in 1896, the resort was at one time the summer home of the former president of Standard Oil, Alexander MacDonald.  Recently, Dalvay House became the host hotel to the Royals during their tour of the PEI countryside and to commemorate the happy event, the staff of Dalvay House placed a giant cardboard cutout of Will and Kate on the front porch.

Foamy Dates

I know… It was kind of weird, but I was totally digging Kate’s hat.

Dry Ingredients

If getting a picture with the 2D couple is not enough for you, the adjacent gift shop is happy to supply you with an entire tea set bearing the same priceless shot of the happy couple.  But if you would rather get the full scoop, locate any member of the staff and they’ll be happy to give a full play by play of the royal visit.  I got the details at least half a dozen times in the course of 24 hours and I didn’t even have to ask.

Sticky Date Pudding

But enough about the royals, I’m sure you’d much rather hear about the food.  Dalvay House boasts one of the best restaurants on the island.  They make a point of showcasing the best local produce and seafood in a relaxed, cheerful atmosphere.  Everything was amazing, but this Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce captured my heart completely.  The wait staff must have pick up on this intense bond (perhaps I was smacking my lips a touch too loudly), because they kindly offered me the recipe.  I was so taken aback by this gesture that I very nearly fell off my chair.  This would never ever have happened in Toronto, but in PEI, I suppose anything is possible.

Toffee Sauce

I replicated the recipe a few days after returning home and here it is in all its glory.  It wasn’t quite as good as the piece I had at Dalvay House, but it was pretty damn close and that’s good enough for me.  I followed the recipe quite faithfully, but I did swap in a little fresh ginger instead of the powdered.   I’m madly in love with in ginger, in case you were wondering.

Please make this!  Please, please, please!  Would it help if I told you Prince William ate it?

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Honestly, its so moist and delicious; so wonderfully naughty that it’s well worth the effort.  I have a feeling this pudding is going to be a very cozy companion come fall.  Oh, and word to the wise, this dessert was made to be enjoyed with a good single malt scotch.   They go together so well that I added a little scotch to the sauce.  Shhh, don’t tell!

Enjoy!

Dalvay’s Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce: Serves 12 if you have sense, 8 if you are senseless

For Pudding:

1 ¾ cups packed pitted dates, coarsely chopped

2 cups water

1 ½ tsp baking soda

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp fresh ginger, pureed

½ tsp salt

¾ cup unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

For Sauce:

¾ cup unsalted butter

1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

2 tsp single malt scotch (I used Redbreast)

Directions:

Pudding – Preheat oven to 375°.

Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.

Place dates, water, and ginger in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat uncovered for 5 minutes.

Remove heat from pan and stir in baking soda.  Mixture will foam.

Let mixture stand for 20 minutes.

While you’re waiting, sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs one at a time.

Mix in the flour mixture in three batches, beating after each addition until just combined.

Add date mixture and stir until combined.

Pour batter into baking pan and set inside a larger baking pan.  Add enough hot water to the large baking pan to reach half way up the sides of the smaller baking pan.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes.

When done, remove pudding from water bath to cool.

Serve with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Toffee Sauce – In a 2 quart saucepan, melt butter over moderate heat.

Add brown sugar and bring mixture to a boil stirring occasionally.

Add cream and scotch and reduce heat.

Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened.  About five minutes.

Cool sauce slightly and pour over squares of pudding.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Flax Seeds and Chocolate

Peanut Butter Cookies

What do you do when a cookie craving hits and you’re far too lazy to walk to the corner store let alone exert yourself in the kitchen? You bite the bullet and whip up the easiest cookies around: peanut butter cookies. A bare bones rendition of this classic treat requires only three ingredients; they don’t even need flour.

Chocolate

I make peanut butter cookies whenever my would-be mother in law unloads a couple of jars of Skippy on my beau and I. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when she gifts us edible items, its just when I was growing up brands like Jiffy were frowned upon in my household. My father has a passion for all things peanut butter. For most of his working life his go to lunchtime fix consisted of a single piece of bread slathered with peanut butter folded over itself, and for my Dad only natural peanut butter would do.

Peanut Butter Balls

I will say this about the not-so natural versions of the legendary spread: they make the best cookies by far. Perhaps, its because they already have salt and sugar added, or maybe its due to their overly consistent texture. Whatever the reason, I tend to favor the likes of Skippy and Jiffy in almost all of my peanut related baking exploits.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Flax seeds and Chocolate

True to form, once I had mustered the strength to enter the kitchen I decided peanut butter, sugar and an egg was not enough to hold my interest. After scouring my kitchen for fun additions, I came up with a flax seed and chocolate spike version and they were a-ok!  The flaxseeds gave the cookies a bit of texture and made me feel a little less guilty about eating them. Chocolate and peanut butter is a no-brainer, but this gorgeous dark chocolate from Venezuela really sent the decadent combination over the edge. You don’t have to use fancy chocolate to make amazing cookies, but it helps.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Flax Seeds and Chocolate

These cookies came together in no time flat. My beau was astonished when I offered him a cookie fresh from the oven; he could not believe I turned them out that quickly. So, the next time your inner cookie monster starts to gnaw away at you, you know what to do. Pull this recipe out of your holster and you’ll be going to town on a fresh batch of gooey warm cookies before you know it.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Flax Seeds and Chocolate

Peanut Butter Cookies with Flax Seeds and Chocolate: Makes 24

1 cup peanut butter (I used Skippy)

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

½ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup flax seeds

½ cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°

Grease two baking sheets.

Set your stand mixer on medium speed and combine sugar, egg and peanut butter.

Add vanilla, flax seeds and chocolate.

Mix until smooth.

Roll the dough into 24 small balls and place them on baking sheets.

Using a fork flatten the balls into cookie sized formations.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and leave to rest for ten minutes before transferring the cookies onto a cooling rack.

Serve with a tall cool glass of milk.