Get ready to restrain yourself because you’ll need all the strength you can muster to stop yourself from eating this entire pie in one sitting! I decided it was time for me to make a pie, however with all of the fruits in season now in Southern California, I couldn’t decide which fruit to use: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, or peaches?
Well, I decided to use them all for this deep dish rustic pie- called Rustic since you don’t need to make the crust look real fancy and this pie only requires one pie crust, not two.
All you do for this recipe is cook the peaches with some sugar and corn starch (for thickener), add all the other fruits, toss all the ingredients into a casserole dish and top with a pie crust- and oh, don’t forget the dab of vanilla ice cream on the side!
120 g (1 cup) all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg yolk
60 g (4 tbsp.) cold butter cut into small cubes
80 ml (1/3) cup cold water
4 – 5 medium peaches, pitted and cut into 1 -inch chunks
100 g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
60 ml (1/4 cup) cold water
3 cups assorted berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries)
For the crust: combine the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a medium bowl.
Make a small well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the egg yolk. Stir with a spoon until the ingredients come together.
Cut the cold butter into small cubes and add several cubes at a time to the bowl. Using your palm of your hands, rub together the butter and dry ingredients together briskly until the mixture resembles fine crumbs of sand. This technique is called sable (sand) in French. *
Add the cold water to the ingredients and form a ball of dough, using your hands. If necessary, add a bit more cold water to the dough if it is too dry.
Place the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour until the dough is chilled.
For the Fruit Filling: pre-heat the oven to 400 F ( 200 C). Peel the peaches and cut into small pieces. In a large saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and cornstarch together and heat until the mixture thickens. Stir in the peaches and simmer for about 5 minutes until the peaches soften.
Remove the pan from the heat and gently stir in the other fruits. Now pour the fruit mixture into a medium-size casserole dish or into a deep dish pie plate. Dot the fruit mixture with several pats of butter.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll-out onto a lightly-floured piece of parchment paper or directly onto your benchtop (counter-top in American-speak).
Place the round crust on top of the pie filling and let the crust over-hang about 1 inch over the sides of the dish. Trim the crust using kitchen scissors.
Brush the crust with egg wash (whisk one egg together in small bowl and apply to the crust using a pastry brush).
Cut a 4-inch ‘X’ in the center of the pie and gently fold back the points to make a square opening.
Bake the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet for 35 – 40 minutes until the fruit is bubbly in the center. If the crust browns too quickly, cover the pie loosely with foil after 20 minutes.
Let pie cool and serve plain or with ice cream.
* You can also a food processor to blend the cold butter pieces into your dough, if desired.
This recipe is for those times when you just get home from a busy day and find you only have 30 minutes to put together a tasty meal. It only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and if you want to add some protein to the salad, like chicken or boiled eggs, you’ve got a meal in one.
If you think this recipe looks familiar to the one in Jamie Oliver’s ’15 minute Meals,’ you’re right- except I salsa-fied it by adding chili and coriander and a surprise ingredient, dried chili strawberries.I found this product by browsing through a local Sprouts Farmers Market store- a chain of grocery stores located in the western U.S. states, specialising in organic foods and grains. (I see this company recently listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange, doubling its share price on the first day of trading. Hmmm, do you think I maybe should invest?)
The dried chili strawberries combine the slightly sweet taste of the strawberries with chili flavouring and gives a nice added punch to the recipe (although this ingredient is optional).
Dried Chili Strawberries from Sprouts Farmers Market
Jamie Oliver says he can make this dish within 15 minutes (along with his Jerk Pork recipe), but I reckon it takes me at least 20 minutes to comfortably prepare the Tortilla Salad, since it takes at least 7 minutes to grill the corn cobs (but on second thought, I probably could get it down to 15 minutes!).
4 – 5 soft tortillas (corn or flour)
4 corn on the cob
10 – 12 mixed-color cherry tomatoes
1 ripe avocado
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 fresh chili, chopped finely
juice from 1 lime
2 tbp coriander, coarsely chopped
dash of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp dried chili strawberries (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 180 C (360 F)
Remove husks from the corn cobs. Place several tablespoons of oil on a grill pan and grill the corn cobs over medium-high heat. Turn them frequently so they cook evenly. They are ready when they are evenly charred, but not burned (about 7 – 8 minutes total).
While the corn is cooling, arrange the tortillas around a large salad bowl or casserole dish. Place in the oven for 5 – 6 minutes until the edges are crisp.
Remove the ends and lower spines of 4 – 5 large Romaine lettuce leaves and place them in the salad bowl with the tortillas- standing vertically against the sides of the salad bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the following ingredients for the salad filling: Hold each corn cob vertically and scrape the kernels off the cob onto a cutting board, using a sharp knife, then add to the bowl.
Peel the avocado and cut into small cubes; add to the ‘filling bowl’ along with the diced chili pepper, onion, coriander, lime juice and olive oil. Toss all ingredients lightly and add salt and pepper to taste. Place the filling inside the bowl holding the tortillas and Romaine lettuce leaves.
Add the chopped chili strawberries on top (optional).
French Canelés originally came from Bordeaux in the 18th century and only became popular in the 1980’s- today you can even find Canelés served at the McDonalds in Bordeaux. They are known for their soft chewy inside contrasting with their crisp, caramelized exterior. They taste so good that they are traditionally served plain. In fact, some purists might even say they are not REAL Canelés unless they are served plain, without a sauce.
However, I recently drove by a market stall near San Diego selling Blood Oranges, screeched on the brakes (I was attracted to their sign advertising KICK ASS BEEF JERKY) and bought a basket full of Blood Oranges. So, my post morphed into ‘Canelés with Blood Orange and Cardamom Sauce.’
You can serve them plain, as in the photo below (just pick them up with your fingers and pop them in your mouth) or serve with a little sauce for that extra flavour!
Canelés served plain (no sauce):
Canelés are baked in a mold that gives them their unique shape with fluted ridges. Some people swear by using the traditional copper molds, which cost about $20 for each individual mold, but being on a budget, I used one of the silicone molds:
Despite their simple form (i.e. no endless layers of cake to frost or fill with cream), Canelés do require a little mothering to prepare, as follows:
Let the Canelé batter rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours before baking. This allows time for the gluten in the batter to relax and ensures a more uniform texture to the finished product. This might be in my imagination, but it seems like it would also give more time for the rum and vanilla flavors to infuse into the batter.
Temperature control is very important. To ensure the Canelés have a crisp exterior, place them in the oven at 475 F. (250 C.) for the first 15 minutes, then lower to 375 F. (190 C.) for the remaining 45 minutes. The outside of each pastry should be crisp and brown, but not black.
The batter should be stirred as much as possible, not whisked. Whisking causes the batter to be aerated, thus producing a fluffy Canelé; we want the texture to be more compact and chewy for the end result.
Don’t be afraid of trial and error- my first batch of Canelés were disastrous, as you can see with my first batch below (they didn’t rise at all and were rather gloopy, but they still tasted good!).
A delightful dessert with a crispy outside and luscious custardy inside. Ready to pop in your mouth, it's good either plain or with a sauce.
500 ml (2 cups) whole milk
50 g (3 tbsp) butter
100 g (~ ¾ cup) white flour
225 g (1 cup) caster sugar
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
85 ml (1/3 cup) dark rum
3 tsp vanilla extract
Pre-heat oven to 475 F (250 C).
Combine the milk and butter in a saucepan and bring almost to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool until mixture feels lukewarm to the touch.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Now add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients; stir but do not whisk.
In separate bowl, combine the 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks together, then add them to the bowl with the remaining ingredients.
At this point, there will be some lumps in the batter- pass the mixture through a sieve to remove lumps.
Add the rum and vanilla extract and stir until smooth.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 24 hours to rest.
When you are ready to cook the canales, fill the silicone molds up to the ¾ level. Place the silicone mold directly on the oven wrack (if possible) and bake for 15 minutes at 475 F (250 C) then reduce heat to 375 F (190 C) for the remaining 45 minutes. The caneles are finished when the outer part is brown and crispy and the inside is soft and 'custardy.'
Remove from the oven and let cool. To remove each canele from the mold, push the bottom of each mold upward and release each one separately. Turn over each canale onto a plate and serve plain or top with a delicious orange cardamom sauce (see below).
The Blood Orange Cardamom Sauce
Blood Oranges – Yum!
1/2 cup Blood Orange Juice
1 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tbsp. white flour mixed with 2 tbsp. water
Heat the juice from the Blood Oranges with the butter over medium heat.
Add the sugar and cardamom powder and stir.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour and water to make a paste. Then stir this into the other ingredients over medium heat, to thicken the sauce.
Spoon over the Canelés or serve separately in a small bowl.
I’m a self-confessed chocoholic, so I was delighted to learn that Mexicans sometimes use chocolate in their savory dishes- how good is that? Chocolate was a sacred drink of the Mayan Indians in Mexico, who harvested it from the seeds of the cacao tree. It then made its way into dishes such as Mole Poblano, which blends chocolate with various chiles and spices and is served at special occasions.
Since I’m now based in San Diego, California, I’ve had to shift my cooking away from my familiar French techniques (think butter and cream), to more Mexican-influenced cooking, with its chiles and strong flavors.
So, my next offering is Smoky Chipotle Chicken with Chorizo – perfect to serve to your guests over to watch a week-end football game on TV or as an alternative to eating the hum-drum Big Mac. Chipotles are jalapeño peppers that have been smoked and they will add a nice smoky ‘punch’ to your dishes.
Chipotle Chiles- they’re smokin’ hot
This dish also combines shredded chicken with chorizo sausage and fire-roasted red bell peppers to provide further depth to the flavors. But how to satisfy my chocoholic yearnings? Well, I decided to add a little unsweetened dark chocolate to the dish, providing a little chocolaty ‘undercurrent’ to the flavors, without being overbearing- NICE!
For the chipotle peppers, use canned Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce. Adobo sauce is a spicy, dark red Mexican sauce made from ground chiles, herbs, garlic, tomatoes and vinegar. You can find this product in many U.S. supermarkets or Mexican specialty stores in other countries. If not, you can substitute either chipotle chili powder or Mexican chili powder.
Warning- do not use more than two chiles in your recipe or you may be reaching for the nearest fire extinguisher!
For the chorizo, use Mexican chorizo. This is ground pork or beef seasoned with chile and garlic and stuffed into casings. After removing the casings, the meat resembles soft, minced meat and must be cooked prior to eating. Spanish chorizo has milder flavorings and usually has a harder outer casing.
Mexican Beef Chorizo with casing
Fire Roasted Red Bell Peppers- these are bell peppers that have been roasted in the oven or on top of a gas burner. I used ready-roasted peppers purchased in a jar, but you could roast your own.
Shredded chicken pieces cooked in a smoky chile sauce with a slight hint of chocolate flavoring.
4 - 5 chicken thighs with bones
½ onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 can (14 oz or 455 g) chopped tomatoes
¾ cup fire roasted red peppers (in jar)
2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
½ lb (250 g) Mexican chorizo (pork or beef)
1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock
2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened dark chocolate
salt to taste
Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F)
In large pot or Dutch oven, add 2 tbsp. oil and brown the chicken thighs over medium high heat, about 3 minutes each side. Remove from heat and set aside.
Drain off excess oil/fat from the pan and retain a small amount to cook the garlic and onions.
Add the diced garlic and onions to the pan and cook for several minutes until translucent in color. Now add about ½ cup water to the pan and scrape the brown 'cooked bits' from the bottom of the pan. This is called de-glazing and these pan scrapings will add flavour to your dish. Add the chicken pieces back to the pan.
Now add the can of tomatoes, fire-roasted red peppers, chopped chipotle chiles and chicken stock to the pan.
Remove the casings from the Mexican chorizo and break the meat up into small pieces. In a separate fry pan, cook the chorizo about 4 minutes, then add this to the other ingredients in the pan.
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and add to the other ingredients, along with salt to taste.
Cook in the oven for at least one hour until the chicken meat falls off the bone.
Remove thigh bones prior to serving. Serve in a bowl over rice and add avocado pieces and coriander for garnish.
If you can't find canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, you can substitute either ground chipotle chili powder or Mexican chili powder.