Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sweet Heirloom Sauce

Summer's hanging on by a thread.

I wore a skirt today and walked home from class but never took of my jacket. You can almost feel the anticipation brewing for wool sweaters and crisp leaves. I've also been fighting off my first cold of the season (new Seattle germs...) and leaning towards warm comfort foods. Grilled cheese is always a good one, but a batch of cheap cheap heirloom tomatoes a the Queen Anne farmers' market got me excited about sauce.

Warm and deliciously fresh sauce. Sweet sauce. I've added a small dash of sugar to the past few tomato sauces I've stewed up, to appease Steve's sweet tooth, and they always taste amazing. But this time I wanted to see if I could achieve the same effect in a different way: ripe heirlooms (sweet), fresh basil from my new housewarming herb-garden (sweet-ish), and removing the seeds (bitter-ish when cooked).


- 3 to 4 large heirloom tomatoes
- 5 to 6 fresh basil leaves
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- salt and pepper
- dash or sweet paprika (optional)

Slice the tomatoes and remove the seeds. For really ripe heirlooms, the flesh is so dense that there will be very few seeds to remove, as compared with roma or hothouse.

Dice roughly, cover and simmer with olive oil, salt and pepper for about 5 minutes. Remove lid and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes, or until sauce starts to thicken. At this point, you can blend or food-process, or let the chunks live.

Chop the basil and stir in with paprika.

Assemble with optional accouterments (sauteed broccoli and feta!)

The results? Perfectly yummy and comforting, but no comparison to the spoonful of sugar for sweet-tooth satisfaction.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Stone Fruit Summer Pie

As the weather turns dreary up north, I'm reflecting back on this past summer and thinking: "Man, I made a lot of pies!"

Well, sure, I actually only made two. And, yeah, it was really only because I got the fruit for free (Closing time at the farmers market, in the ugly section). But still, two pies feels like a lot when I'm generally not a big fan of either making or eating them-- I'll pick a crisp or crumble over a pie any day.

It's not that I have a problem with fruit (or pumpkin or pecan, if you prefer); it's just the crust that bugs me. It's finicky to make and work with, and then when all is said and done, I've never found it to do much flavor-wise. It's either dry or soggy (mostly dry and bland), and it gets in the way of my un-adulterated enjoyment of the filling.

But that's all changed, now that I have Dori in my life! I used her sweet tart dough with nuts in Ali's birthday tart, and it worked so well that I'm never going to try anything else ever again. It tastes unbelievably yummy, and it's so buttery-soft and easy to work with that you can turn a crust disaster into perfection in less than 30 seconds:

I used fresh cherries, pitted by hand (yeah, that sucked), and an assortment of white and yellow peaches and nectarines. The white ones are incredibly sweet, but I think yellows give more flavor when baked.

To prevent sogginess, I mixed up a small bowl with 1 part flour, 2 parts oats, and 2 parts brown sugar and scattered a thin layer on the unbaked crust before adding the fruit.

Drain the juices from the fruit (set aside in a small bowl), and assemble pie. No sugar or sweetener necessary when you have such ripe produce... just toss together and dump into the crust.

For finishing touches, I added some butter to the oat/sugar mix and sprinkled on top of the fruit (sneaking in some crisp and crumble bits), and I brushed some of the reserved fruit juice around the remaining exposed crust. Bake on 375 for about 40-50 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

And say yes to leftovers!