Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Little Slab of Heaven

We had quite a busy weekend of celebrating! Friday night we celebrated Derek's birthday at Delux, then ended up back at our apartment with a bunch of friends after they kicked us out (and had a minor incident with a car alarm). I cleaned out the liquor cabinet to make cocktails for everyone.

I used Myer's Rum and ginger beer to make (sort of) Dark & Stormies. And mixed up pretty martinis with vodka, tripe sec, pomegranate juice, lime juice, and a little more ginger beer. They were very tasty but I didn't even come close to finishing mine. We all stayed up until the wee hours of the morning placing bets on the circumference of each other's heads. A very late night for us.

Needless to say, we were not in the best shape to spend our whole Saturday attending parties. I cooked us a restorative breakfast of french toast made with challah bread, which helped.

First on the agenda was my soon-to-be-nephew's 4th birthday party. It was a spiderman theme - complete with pinata that seemed to be the highlight of Justin's day.

Derek also got to spend some time with his other nephew and namesake.

Baby Derek is a very good eater.

For the event, I decided to try making my first slab pie. A slab pie is basically a pie baked in a large baking sheet. Its perfect for feeding a crowd. And this one went fast!

I filled it with local peaches and raspberries and topped it with icing. It looked good on a spidy plate.

I switched off the vodka crust for this recipe and went back to an all butter crust. This crust is just a no-fail for me. The slab pie idea came from Smitten Kitchen - and this post gives great instructions on making flaky pie crust. I used a food processor this time, but I like the pastry cutter method to. It really is so easy and takes seconds! If you've never tried crust from scratch, I highly recommend giving it a shot. Its so worth it.

Peach Raspberry Slab Pie

for crust:
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1.5 Tbls sugar
1.5 tsps salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, frozen and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 to 1 cup ice water

for filling:
2 - 2 1/2 lbs ripe peaches (about 10 medium) pitted and sliced
1 cup raspberries
1 cup sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cornstarch

for icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbl milk and 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbl lemon juice

  • Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until just blended
  • Add frozen butter pieces to processor, and pulse until mixture resembles a course meal. You should have pea-sized bits of butter throughout the flour
  • Turn the flour mixture into a large bowl. Sprinkle 3/4 cup ice water over the flour, and stir dough with a wooden spoon until it starts to stick together. Add a little more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if its not sticking. Dough is the right consistency when it holds together when you squeeze it, but is still a little crumbly.
  • Divided dough in 2 parts, one slightly larger than the other. Pat each part into a small rectangle, wrap each in saran wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days. Can also be frozen for up to a month
  • Combine peaches, raspberries, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a large bowl. Stir to combine and set aside
  • Preheat oven to 375º
  • Grease a 9" x 13" baking pan and line with parchment paper
  • Flour a large work service or cutting board
  • Roll out larger piece of dough, adding flour to surface to keep from sticking, until it fits in pan with some overlap
  • Roll dough around rolling pin, lay the end over the edge of pan, and unroll into prepared pan
  • Add filling to pan on top of pie dough
  • Roll out second piece of dough and lay over top of pan
  • Fold over edges and crimp with fork to seal
  • Prick with fork all over top of crust to vent
  • Bake 45 - 50 minutes, until crust is golden and filling is bubbling
  • Stir together powdered sugar and milk and vanilla or lemon juice in small bowl. Add a little more liquid if icing is too thick
  • Let pie cool, then drizzle icing all over the top

After the birthday celebration, we headed to a party to celebrate my friend Allison's recent marriage. Allison and her husband eloped a few months ago, so her parent's threw them a lovely cocktail party at their house to celebrate. We took a photo of all the high school girls...

Me, Allison (in white obviously), Maria, and Lucy. Allison is actually a professional food photographer. She has a great blog of all her work. I love her style!

Sunday ended up being a pretty lazy day. We picked up the CSA and stopped by the South End Open Market for a little more produce. I had planned to run 6 miles this weekend, but that was just not happening. Instead - I baked.

If I haven't introduced you to my best friend in the kitchen, let me take a moment to do that. Please meet, my KitchenAid Professional Stand Mixer.

She helped me whip up a delicious batch of blueberry cupcakes.

These cupcakes were made with a basic vanilla buttermilk base, with ripe, sweet blueberries folded into the batter.

I thought these would be the perfect treat to bring to Shakespeare in the park tomorrow night.

Blueberry Cupcakes
Makes about 16 cupcakes
2 cups, plus 2 Tbls all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
zest of 1 lemon (optional - I forgot to add it!)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 - 1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbl lemon juice
  • Preheat oven to 350º
  • Line 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners
  • Whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until light and fluffy
  • Slowly add sugar and beat until combined
  • Reduce speed to low, and add 1/3 of flour mixture.  Beat until flour just disappears
  • Add half of buttermilk and beat until combined.  Continue adding flour and buttermilk in this manner, alternating between the 2 and ending with flour.
  • Beat in vanilla extract
  • Toss blueberries in small bowl with remaining 2 Tbls flour
  • Remove bowl of batter from mixer and gently fold in blueberries
  • Fill muffin liners about 3/4 full
  • Bake until tops are just golden and a toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean (except for some blueberry splotches)
  • Cool cupcakes for 5 minutes in pan, then remove from pan and cool on wire rack
  • Cook additional cupcakes in the same manner if you have more batter
  • Once cupcakes are cooled completely, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice
  • drizzle icing over cupcakes and allow to set
This seems to be the summer of pies, tarts, quiches, and casseroles. Putting fresh veggies in a dish and baking them with milk, cheese, and some butter is such a great way to turn a humble vegetable into an impressive main course. Last night I continued on that theme and baked a Tomato Corn Pie with our CSA loot. This recipe is a classic. Simple layers of tomato and corn, topped with sharp cheddar cheese and baked in a fluffy biscuit crust.

Derek thought it was so good it just seemed wrong. But what can be bad about eating pie for dinner?

1 comment:

  1. Derek, you are one lucky man! That dinner looks soooo good. I am going to recreate, but I'm sure mine won't look as pretty as yours!