Blueberry, Nectarine and Lime Galette

I have a confession to make -- I don't like pie. The ratio of filling to crust is never optimal (I like lots of crust), and things always end up way too soggy. This galette maintains the concept of pie, but the smaller amounts of fruit cook in a shorter amount of time so mushiness doesn't occur, and there is crust galore.

And this galette is unbelievable. The original recipe calls for blueberries to be mixed with lemon juice and zest, but I think lime tastes even better. I also threw in some nectarines to amp up the color, and they came out really well, too.

Blueberry, Nectarine and Lime Galette
based on this recipe from Gourmet, July 2004

12 oz fresh blueberries
2 nectarines, pitted and sliced
1 tbsp finely grated lime zest
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup + 1 tsp sugar
1 9" refrigerated pie dough (I like this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, although store bought would also work)
1 tbsp butter
1 egg, beaten

Set the oven for 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix together the blueberries, nectarines, lime zest, lime juice, corn starch, salt, cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl. Roll out the pie dough and transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pile the fruit mixture onto the middle of the dough, leaving about a 1 1/2" border along the outside. Fold the edges of the dough up over the outer inch of the fruit filling.

Sprinkle the filling with the remaining 1 tsp of sugar, and dot the surface of the fruit with butter. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Best eaten warm.

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Fresh Corn Soup

This is a really easy way to take advantage of the fresh corn that's coming into season right about now. I used shallots instead of onions, and of course this was another great excuse to use my immersion blender. It's better to use yellow corn for this recipe -- some reviewers noted that using white corn caused the soup to turn out an unappetizing gray color. Either way, this soup came out creamy and was just heavy enough to be satisfying. I love summer!

Fresh Corn Soup
Bon Appetit

1 tsp corn oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small fresh poblano chili or anaheim chili, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin

6 ears corn
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, chili, garlic and cumin and sauté until onion and chili are tender, about 10 minutes.

Cut corn kernels from cobs. Add corn to pot. Stir in chicken broth. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until corn is very tender, about 45 minutes or less Transfer to processor and purée. Add enough milk to thin to desired consistency. Return to pot; stir to heat through (do not boil). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls; garnish with cilantro and serve.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Rhubarb season is drawing to a close, and strawberry season is beginning to warm up in Ohio. There is only one thing to do in such a situation -- and that is to make a kick-ass pie. I toyed with the idea of buying a ready made crust, but decided to tackle home-made pie crust once more (my previous attempts were all dismal failures). This recipe from Bon Appetit came highly recommended (4 forks, 129 reviews) on epicurious.

Well, I think I finally cracked the pie crust. The key was to make sure all the fats were COLD, and to add water until a workable dough formed. My pie dish flares out at the top, and the base of my pie crust wasnt quite large enough to wrap over the latticing, so I had to improvise.

All in all, it was a good recipe -- very easy to do (for a pie!), although my filling was a little tart. Many of the reviewers noted that the baking time (a total of 1 hr 45 min) was far too long, and a little over an hour was just fine for the pie. If you're going to bake for the whole time, you might need to protect the crust by covering it with foil for part of the baking time.

Lattice-Topped Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Bon Appetit, April 1997

For Crust:

3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsps sugar
2/3 tsp salt
2/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsps chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
10 tbsps ice water

For Filling:

3 1/2 cups 1/2" thick slices trimmed rhubarb (1 1/2 lbs untrimmed)
1 16 oz container strawberries, hulled and halved
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 tsp water for glaze

Make crust:

Combine flour, sugar and salt in processor. Using on/off turns, cut in shortening and butter until coarse meal forms. Blend in enough ice water 2 tbsp at a time to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; cut in half. Flatten each half into disk. Wrap separately in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.)

Make filling:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Toss gently to blend.

Roll out 1 dough disk on floured work surface to 13" round. Transfer to 9" diameter glass pie dish. Trim excess dough, leaving 3/4" overhang.

Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13" round. Cut into 14 1/2" wide strips. Spoon filling into crust. Arrange 7 dough strips atop filling, spacing evely. Form lattic by placing remaining dough strips in opposite direction atop filling. Trim ends of dough strips even with overhand of bottom crust. Fold strip end and overhang under, pressing to seal. Crimp edges decoratively.

Brush glaze over crust. Transfer pie to baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens, about 1 hour 25 mintues. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

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Shrimp and Grapefruit salad

This is a great salad to prepare for these hot, humid summer days. You only have to heat up one pot to boil the shrimp in (if you really wanted, you could use pre-cooked, although I wouldn't recommend it). The grapefruit really makes this salad something different!

A few notes about the recipe: since there are so few ingredients, and you don't really fuss with them a lot, make sure everything is fresh, fresh, fresh. You'll be able to taste it all, and it'll be painfully apparent when one of your ingredients is a little off. Fresh shrimp cooked at home would be a better choice than frozen, and make sure the avocado is ripe.

The segmenting of the grapefruit takes a little while, but there are two approaches you could take. The first is to peel off the grapefruit skin, and then peel off each individual segment (this is easier if you leave a little rind on the fruit). Alternatively, you could use this method, where a very sharp knife is used to remove the skin and peel of the grapefruit, and then the knife is used to cut the segments out.

Shrimp and Grapefruit Salad

3/4 lb large tiger shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 large grapefruit or 1 large pomelo, peeled and segmented
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 small ripe avocado, thinly sliced
4 tbsp Lemon & Fish Sauce
1 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
Juice from one lime

When peeling the grapefruit, leave some pith on around the segments so that the skin is more easily removed. Alternatively, you could peel and section the grapefruit with a sharp knife. You will leave a little flesh on the skin, but it's much faster.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the shrimp, and cook until pink, about 2 minutes. Remove shrimp and drain. Soak the onion slices in lime juice for a few minutes to remove the bite.

Place the grapefruit segments, drained onion, and avocado in a serving dish. Arrange the shrimp on top and drizzle with the sauce. Toss to mix well.

Lemon & Fish Sauce

2 small red chilies, de-seeded and chopped
1/2 clove garlic, crushed
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp Thai fish sauce
3 tbsp turbinado (raw) sugar
1/2 cup water

Mix together ingredients in a bowl (go easy on the fish sauce!). Transfer to a screw-top jar and store in the refrigerator, where this sauce will keep for a week.

Fresh Chinese by Wynnie Chan

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Simple Sugar Snap Peas

Last week at the market, lots of farmers were selling quarts of sugar snap peas and I couldn't resist their shiny pods and cute little crowns. Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of losing things in the fridge, so these little guys sat a week in the crisper. I did remember them today, though.

Snap peas are very similar to the snow pea, but they have rounder pods and are much sweeter. They're better for you than regular peas, as they have a lower sugar and fat content. They also benefit from simple preparation, so it's a win-win!

Sugar Snap Peas with Toasted Sesame Seeds

1 pound sugar snap peas, stringed
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Sesame seeds need to be toasted for their flavor to be released. Even if you bought pre-toasted sesame seeds, it's a good idea to toast them again before you throw them in with the snap peas. It's also important to buy toasted sesame oil, which is more fragrant than untoasted sesame oil. Toasting your own sesame seeds is very easy; heat up a small, dry saucepan on the stove and add your sesame seeds. When the seeds have begun to brown, you can remove them from the heat. This should take about 5 to 7 minutes at a medium-low heat.

To string the snap peas, pinch the crowned end of the bean (the part that attaches to the plant) and gently pull down the length of the bean. You want the tip to snap off, and to remove the fibrous section along the inner curve of the bean (the string).

Steam the snap peas for three minutes, until they are tender-crisp. Transfer to a bowl, and toss with sesame seeds and oil. Salt and pepper to taste (we like to add lots of freshly ground black pepper -- it gives the dish a nice kick).

Bon Appétit, April 2000

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