Friday Pieday

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August is just a peachy-keen month. All that promise of spring and early summer is just bursting from the ground and off the trees.

We are fortunate in this corner of northwestern Pennsylvania in that we have peach, apple, cherry, plum, and pear trees that bear fruit. The weather has cooperated this year, unlike in 2015, and the farm stands are filled with fresh peaches right now.

They are wonderful eaten from your hand, preferably standing over a sink or someplace to catch the juicy goodness so it doesn’t run down your chin. My tip for eating peaches is to rub them with a cloth first to remove some of the fuzzyness.

I first picked peaches at age 14 at my cousin’s house outside of Florence. They had quite a few trees, which meant we had more ripe peaches than five kids could eat. I had been making berry and apple pies for a couple of years by then, so I showed my cousin how to make a peach pie. Purists will insist on peeling the peaches, which his best down by scoring the bottom with an X and then dipping in boiling water until the skin starts to loosen. Immerse in cold water to stop the cooking and the skin should just skip off.

It’s a pain. And, frankly, I don’t think it’s necessary. I make my peach pies with the skin on. Just wash, rub off the fuzz and cut into either 8 or 16 slices. If you are lucky, they are freestone peaches (meaning the flesh comes away easily from the pit). Clingstone, as the name implies, mean the flesh sticks to the pit.

The addition of the skin adds a bit of a ruby tint to the filling, which I think makes it more appetizing.

So, objection No. 1 to making peach pie is taken care of. A couple of years ago, I started making galettes. This is fancy French term for a freeform pie. You don’t need a pie plate, so there’s no lifting, tearing or panic. You fold the crust up over the filling, and bake it on a piece of parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet.

Roll out a single pie crust to about 14-inches in diameter between a top and bottom sheet of plastic wrap. Freeze for about 5 to 10 minutes. Then remove from the freezer and peel off the top sheet of plastic wrap. Invert it onto a sheet of parchment on a rimmed baking sheet. Then peel off the top. Add fruit in the middle and fold the edges over. Bake for about 35 to minutes.

Easy as pie. The fruit stays firmer because it bakes in about 1/2 the time.

Feel free to add blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, nectarines or plums and create your own mix. The two main rules are is the fruit needs to measure 3 cups and the galette needs to be about 14 inches in diameter. 

Print Recipe
Peach (or fruit) Galette
A galette is simply a free form pie made without a pie pan by laying down a crust, heaping fruit in the middle, and folding the edges over. It bakes in about half the time as a pie, meaning the fruit retains more of its texture. Don't skip the egg wash, this adds some beauty to this beast.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40-45 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
large slices
Ingredients
Crust
Filling
Egg wash for crust
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40-45 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
large slices
Ingredients
Crust
Filling
Egg wash for crust
Instructions
  1. To make the crust, add the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest to a food processor and pulse until combined. With motor running, gradually add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is combined. The dough should resemble pea-sized pieces. Add water, or vodka, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together in a ball.
  2. Place dough on a smooth surface and roll it into about a 6 to 8-inch round. Fold in half. Fold in half again. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  3. For the filling, toss fruit with tapioca starch, salt, vanilla and lemon juice.
  4. Place a sheet of parchment on a rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Remove crust from freezer. Place on a flat surface covered with plastic wrap. Place a layer of plastic wrap on top. Roll out crust until it is 14-inches in diameter. If it is still cold, then peel off top layer of plastic wrap and invert onto parchment. Remove second layer of parchment.
  6. If it is still cold, then peel off top layer of plastic wrap and invert onto parchment. Remove second layer of parchment. If the dough is soft. Put in the freezer for about 5 minutes to firm it up. Then follow instruction above.
  7. Place fruit into center of crust, leaving about a 2-inch rim. Sprinkle all but 1 teaspoon of the sugar on top.
  8. Cut slits in the crust and gently fold it over, enclosing the fruit, but leaving an opening in the middle.
  9. To make egg wash, whisk together egg and cream. Brush over edges of crust. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
  10. Place into heated 400-degree oven. Bake until edges are brown, about 35 to 40 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Serve plain or with whipped cream or ice cream.
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Bounty of Community Garden: More Zucchini (with chocolate)

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I’ve been a sucker for vegetable gardens since my father tilled a spot at our home in Erie. He carefully plotted out the garden on graph paper – tomatoes here, lettuce there and zucchini (eventually everywhere). He fenced it in to keep out the critters, which did find their way into our suburban veggie patch. I have memories of my mother telling my father that he wasn’t allowed to shoot groundhogs in Millcreek (Pennsylvania).

At the time I wasn’t particularly fond the garden. It involved weeding, watering and eating vegetables. We weren’t careful tenders to the zucchini, which eventually came to be the size if cricket bats if we weren’t mindful.

When I moved to the Midwest, I realized that farmstands with fresh tomatoes, peaches and corn weren’t the norm. So I started container gardening tomatoes. One year, I moved mid-summer, and packed the tomatoes in the back of my two-seater convertible for the ride across town to their new patio.

Until this summer, I kept my gardening to myself. I’d share the abundance of tomatoes and squash with friends and neighbors, but my home-grown gardening stills were limited to my home. This summer I have a much more flexible schedule, and so I started volunteering with the Sisters of Saint Joseph Neighborhood Network’s community garden at 22nd and Parade streets, Erie, Pennsylvania. My responsibilities included cleaning up, weeding, planting and watering. I’m on hand once a week to help the neighbors who have raised beds with any questions. This past week, I helped while the workers at PRI Community, an affiliate of Provider Resources Inc., weeded, cleaned, and planted the plot. PRI Community provided the services to the SSJ NN at no charge. The PRI workers were paid and learning skills in the process. With their help, we were able to plant more than 300 lilies along the border, weed the beds, mow, and trim in less than 4 hours.

This allowed me to get into the shared beds and harvest some squash that were hidden among the gigantic leaves. A recent post by TwoPeasandtheirPod provided just the right recipe to test.

Print Recipe
Bounty of a Community Garden: More Zucchini
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
9x13 cake
Ingredients
Cake
Frosting
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
9x13 cake
Ingredients
Cake
Frosting
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch pan.
  2. To make the cake, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, cream butter, coconut oil and sugar with an electric mixer or in a stand mixer. Add vanilla and eggs and beat to just combine. Stir in yogurt.
  3. Add dry ingredients to wet. I prefer to mix this by hand. Stir until there are no dry lumps.
  4. Stir in zucchini, coconut and chocolate chips.
  5. Pour batter into greased pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  6. To make the frosting, beat butter and powdered sugar until light and creamy. Add a pinch of salt and vanilla. Beat until combined. Spread on top of cooled cake and top with toasted coconut.
Recipe Notes

This recipe is from TwoPeasand theirPod.

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Market Monday: Gazpacho Nights

IMG_4228We are in the full heat of summer, when walking the dog is an early morning and a late evening activity. The rains have taken care of the morning waterings of the garden, which is full of tomatoes and cucumbers. This is the promise that keeps gardeners going through the Ides of March until planting around Memorial Day.

In early summer, when the plants were small and promise was great, the evenings were full of neighborhood families sitting outside under patio lights or burn pits, enjoying the warmth of the season. Laughter would be mixed with the sounds of the frogs and crickets serenading the night. For the past two weeks, the sound of human company on our walks has been replaced with the hum of air conditioners. The frogs and crickets were still going strong, but the click of Bobo’s nails was accompanied by the whir of compressor units. Our walks were no longer at sunset, but more like 10:30 or 11 p.m.

After these walks, the dog naps. Smart dog. I feel like it too, but life gets in the way of a good nap. Plus, there will be plenty of time for that once fall fades into winter. But I’m still feeling quite lazy. Certainly not up to the task of making a grand dinner. Barely up to lighting the grill.

The blender is my friend on nights like this. Into it goes garlic, onion, tomatoes, peppers (sweet and hot), cucumbers, salt, a dash of vinegar and some V8 Juice. Out comes my version of gazpacho, a lovely summer soup best eaten chilled (but not cold), and drizzled with some olive oil. If you feel the need for some protein, add some lump crab or cooked shrimp. Sometimes I want a little crunch, so I add some croutons. I’ve been known to put in a dollop of Greek yogurt. It’s really about what you hanker.

Last night, I wanted nothing more than the fresh taste of the vegetables, so I garnished with nothing more than a swirl of EVOO.

There are lots of varieties in the Spanish gazpacho family: red, white and green. All traditionally have bread, fruits and vegetables, vinegar, and olive oil pureed together. The white involves almonds and grapes. Green is usually herbs. But I’ve also seen it made with green melon, which I may try a little later this summer.

Mine is not a true Spanish gazpacho, but it is my American version fresh from my garden.

I hope you enjoy this taste of summer (and the amazing sunsets still to come).

XOXOXO

Marnie

Print Recipe
Summer Gazpacho
Perfect for summer nights with vegetables fresh from your garden or a farm stand.
Cuisine American, Spanish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour, chill
Servings
bowls
Ingredients
Cuisine American, Spanish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour, chill
Servings
bowls
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, jalapeno, pepper, vinegar and V8 to blender.
  2. Blend on high until texture is consistent and to your liking.
  3. Taste. And add salt. Some of this will depend on whether you use V8 or another tomato juice.
  4. Serve in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. you can add shrimp, crab, croutons.
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Make it Erie is now Meadballs.com, celebrating with Zoodles

I’ve moved again. My mother used to hate it when I would call her and tell her I was moving again. She would have to write a new address card in her Rolodex and make sure to throw out the old one. I used to do it about every 18 months after college. That’s a lot of Rolodex cards. She couldn’t hate moving as much as I did, what with all the change of address cards, movers, utilities, etc., but sometimes a girl just has to move on.

For those of you who follow this blog, it started as an e-newsletter via GoErie.com. When the company that owned the Erie Times-News, and GoErie, was sold, I continued it for awhile after I left my job there. But when they didn’t want to pay for it anymore, I decided to continue on my own. So I kept the name and set up shop as Make It Erie on WordPress.com. Some of you followed and signed up for my e-mail and some of you just followed me on Facebook or Twitter.

But the time had come to move to a different hosting service, and that meant rethinking the name of the column. I chose Meadballs.com because it reflects that this is a family, food and travel blog. Make It Erie, while useful, seemed to limit the posting to just about Erie. While Erie will be front and center, it won’t be a defining parameter.

I don’t like to be fenced in. Just ask Mom (and my ex).

Things are both simpler and more difficult moving around in the digital age. There’s still baggage to move from one place to another. Instead of moving vans, it is file export and import, URL transfer, a plug ins to add. Long way of saying, I think I’ve moved all the boxes from the WordPress.com site to Meadballs.com (a WordPress.org site, sort of like moving across town instead of across states). Ideally, the e-mail list will have migrated as well.

It’s not perfect yet. Think of the site like a new home with a lot of boxes to unpack. I will be unpacking for awhile, so it may look different from one visit to the next (at least I hope it does).

What’s in it for you? Ideally a cleaner site. A better recipe format. Eventually, I’ll be able to add video.

But first, let’s just try this post and a recipe for Zoodles with Pesto, Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes.

Print Recipe
Zoodles with Chicken, Pesto and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Zoodles, zucchini noodles, are a great way to use up those summer zucchini and squash. They aren't going to fool anyone, but with the addition of some zesty summer ingredients such as pesto and grilled chicken, they will disappear off plates. This recipe was inspired by Living, Loving Paleo
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5-7 minutes
Passive Time 10-15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5-7 minutes
Passive Time 10-15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Using either a manual or electric spiralizer, transform your squash into noodles. Cut into several sections, otherwise they are too long to eat.
  2. Lay the noodles onto a plate or baking dish lined with paper towels or, better yet, a linen dish cloth. Sprinkle generously with salt. Let sit for about 10 minutes to draw the moisture out. Then roll up in the paper towels or linen towel and press out extra moisture.
  3. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil and additional salt, if desired. Saute for a minute or two until no longer raw. Add pesto, chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Saute for about 1 to 2 minutes, until heated through. Remove from heat.
  4. Arrange on plates. Top with toasted pine nuts and basil leaves to serve.
Recipe Notes

This recipe is inspired by Living Loving Paleo

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