RETURNING READERS MAY remember last summer as the time of pie anxiety. After a cataclysmic conflict over crust, my mother and I foolishly faced off in a local pie contest and, well, let’s just say that neither of us felt like much of a winner by the end. Ever since, I seem to have been avoiding pie entirely, at least in my own kitchen.
My husband, fully aware of both the pie drama and the ensuing Year Of No Pie, was grateful when I came up with my latest favorite dessert. Not quite pie, not quite crumble, it remains nameless, and delicious. It is easy to make, foolproof, crowd pleasing. What more do you need in the waning days of summer?
I still have berries to pick (blackberries are just ripening in my secret patch down by the barn) so I’ve been combining them with peaches. It’s a perfect mix of bright sour flavors with succulent sweetness, but you could use any stone fruit, alone or in combination, with or without berries. (If you still have rhubarb, that’s good, too!) I prefer my desserts on the less-sugary side, but if you warm to a sweeter taste, increase the sugar to suit your fruit, and your liking.
Summer Fruit Whatchamacallit
6 cups mixed stone fruit and/or berries, stone fruit peeled if desired (I never bother) and cut into 1/4-1/2 inch wide slices, according to preference
1/3 cup granulated sugar
grated zest of one orange
1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 T cornstarch
1 c unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 c all purpose flour
1/8 t fine sea salt
3/8 c sugar
1/8 c light brown sugar
1/2 c blanched, slivered almonds
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Toss fruit with sugar, orange zest and corn starch. If using vanilla bean, cut it in half lengthwise and carefully scrape out the tiny black seeds into the bowl of fruit. (If using vanilla extract, add it to the fruit along with the orange zest and corn starch.) Toss the mixture gently to combine. Cover and macerate at room temperature for up to an hour.
Combine butter, flour, salt and sugars in a bowl. Work the mixture with a pastry blender or your fingers until you have a clumpy dough. (This is not sophisticated stuff. It will not be pretty, not uniform, not pea-sized pieces, but great walnut-scale lumps.) Add the almonds, and work them in with your fingers until they are distributed evenly throughout.
Turn the fruit out into a 10 inch pie plate or tart pan (I like to use one with pretty fluted sides, but not with a removable bottom. This mixture, even with the corn starch to thicken the juices, could leak during baking.) Top with spoonfuls of the dough, covering the top thoroughly. (It’s ok if the fruit peeks through a bit, but mostly, you want it covered.)
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Serve hot, warm or cold. This is wonderful on its own, but decadent with vanilla ice cream, or a mixture of half creme fraiche and half whipped cream, stirred together and ever-so-slightly sweetened.
HOW YOU CAN JOIN IN SUMMER FEST:
So now it’s your turn: Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? Starting today, for the next five Wednesdays, you can contribute in various ways, big or small.
Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. The possibilities:
Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.
The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.
Or think bigger: Publish entire posts of your own, if you wish, and grab the juicy Summer Fest 2010 tomato badge (illustrated by Matt of Mattbites).
THE 2010 SCHEDULE:
• Wednesday, July 28: That’s today. CUKES ‘N ZUKES, baby.
• Wednesday, August 4: CORN. Not corny. Sweet…
• Wednesday, August 11: HERBS, GREENS & GREEN BEANS. That’s a whole lot of chlorophyll to play with.
• Wednesday, August 18: STONE FRUIT. I said “stone”, not “stoned”.
• Wednesday, August 25: TOMATOES. Assuming, unlike last summer, we are blight-free. Fingers and toes all crossed.
And in case I forget what week it is, won’t somebody remind me on Twitter? Thanks. We’ll be talking it up there, too.
That’s how a Summer Fest works.
Who’s coming to this party?
Glad you asked. An incredible line up of bloggers-extraordinaire:
Alana at Eating From the Ground Up: Stone Fruit Slump.
Sara at Cooking Channel: Savory Stone Fruit recipes.
Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple: Riesling Poached Pluots.
Margaret at A Way to Garden: What is stone fruit, anyhow? Plus: Clafoutis batter revisited.
Caroline at The Wright Recipes: Ginger and Vanilla Poached Peaches.
The FN Dish: Paula’s Perfect Peach Cobbler.
Alison at Food2: Peachy Party Foods.
Kelly at Just a Taste: Peaches & Cream Cupcakes.
Liz on Healthy Eats: Puttin’ Up Peach Pickles, Compote and More.
Food Network UK: How to Poach a Peach.
Judy of Divina Cucina: Chocolate Amaretti Baked Apricots.
The Gilded Fork: dossier & recipes featuring peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums, cherries, almonds, coconuts.
Cate at Sweetnicks: Blueberry Peach Smoothies.
Tara at Tea & Cookies: Making Peach Jam.
Caron of San Diego Foodstuff: grilled peach parfait and coconut peach gazpacho.
Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: gluten-free peach-blueberry buckle.
Tigress in a Jam: nectarine preserve with summer savory and white pepper.
Marilyn at Simmer Till Done: Cherry Apricot Pie with Ginger-Almond Crunch.