Saturday, July 30, 2011

Baby It's Hot Outside...Cool Drinks!

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This has been one of the longest and hottest summers I can remember.  Not just the temperatures, but everything that's going on in politics and the world economy makes you want to pack it all up and head for them hills.  Unfortunately, most of us are so broke that's not an alternative. (Notice I said broke and not poor.  As a friend of mine used to say, "broke is temporary, poor is a state of mind")

These days, after the market closes at 4 p.m I find myself reaching for a glass of iced tea or lemonade.  It's so hot at that time here in Georgia that the idea of liquor is the last thing on my mind.  Now I understand why  Southeners are so fond of their iced tea and lemonade.  Afternoon temperatures have been in the mid to upper 90's since the beginning of May and just walking up to the mailbox is a chore.  The dogs, who are so fond of lying on the deck and watching for cats and squirrels, don't even want to go out.  All they want to do is head for the lake and dunk and that means I have to chase them in this heat and towel them off before they get their muddy paws all over the house.  

Cooking is the last thing on my mind these days and that says a lot about this heat.  We have  been doing lots of grilling and enjoying light meals. I will be back in full force when temperatures cool off but in the meantime I wanted to share some cool drinks that I have saved from this month's Southern Living and from Martha Stewart's website.  Enjoy!

Check out my favorite lemonade recipe in the lake blog. 

Tell me, what do you drink when it's this hot?!





Governor's Mansion Summer Tea Punch
Makes One Gallon

Ingredients

3 family-size tea bags
2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 (33.8-oz.) bottle peach nectar
1/2 (12-oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup Simple Sugar Syrup
 1 (1-liter) bottle ginger ale, chilled
 1 (1-liter) bottle club soda, chilled
 Garnish: fresh peach wedges

 Preparation

1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan; add tea bags and mint leaves. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat. Cover and steep 10 minutes.

2. Discard tea bags and mint. Pour into a 1-gal. container; add peach nectar, lemonade concentrate, and Simple Sugar Syrup. Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.

3. Pour chilled tea mixture into a punch bowl or pitcher. Stir in ginger ale and club soda just before serving. Garnish, if desired.

Junior League Of Austin
via Southern Living



Lavender Infused Lemonade

Serves 12 

Ingredients

3 cups granulated sugar
3 cups water
1/4 cup dried lavender
4 cups fresh lemon juice (from 16 to 20 lemons)
Ice, for serving
Lemon slices and fresh lavender sprigs, for garnish

Directions

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Stir in lavender. Remove from heat, and let stand for 10 minutes.

Strain, discarding lavender. Let cool.

Stir in lemon juice. (Lemonade can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.) Serve over ice, and garnish with lemon slices and fresh lavender sprigs.

Martha Stewart





Mint Julep Sweet Tea
Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 lemon, sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups cold sweetened tea
1 cup bourbon
Crushed ice
Garnish: fresh mint sprigs

Preparation

Combine first 3 ingredients in a 2-qt. pitcher. Press mint leaves against sides of pitcher with back of spoon to release flavors. Stir in tea and bourbon. Serve over crushed ice. Garnish, if desired.





Lemon Mint Lemonade
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

1/4 cup sugar for simple syrup
Ice cubes
1 2/3 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons julienned mint, plus leaves for garnish
1 lemon, sliced 1/4-inch thick, plus more for garnish

Directions

1.In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1/4 cup water. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Let stand until completely cool.

2.In a large pitcher half-filled with ice, add 2 cups water, lemon juice, simple syrup, mint, and lemon slices. Stir to combine. Serve over ice. Garnish with mint leaves and lemon slices.

Martha Stewart



Blueberry Lemon Iced Tea
Makes 5 cups

Ingredients

1 (12-oz.) package frozen blueberries
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 family-size tea bags
3/4 cup sugar
Garnishes: fresh blueberries, lemon rind strips

 Preparation

1. Bring blueberries and lemon juice to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Remove from heat; pour through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, using back of a spoon to squeeze out juice. Discard solids. Rinse saucepan clean.

2. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in same saucepan; add 3 tea bags; let stand 5 minutes. Discard tea bags. Stir in sugar and blueberry juice mixture. Pour into a pitcher; cover and chill 1 hour. Serve over ice. Garnish, if desired.

Southern Living
MAY 2011






Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Georgia Peach Chutney With Caramelized Ginger

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The Georgia peaches at my local Farmer's Market are so good I can't stop myself from buying them every time I stop for fresh local produce.    This year I have already made peach jam, peach pie for company three times, and peach ice cream at least a couple of times now that I have a new ice cream maker.  I just posted a recipe for a light peach smoothie in the lake blog.  Normally, by this time, I would scream if I saw another peach;  but  they are so good,  I can't stop looking for recipes to make use of this sensational harvest.

One thing I have not made is peach chutney, something I have been thinking of making and canning for presents this Christmas. The recipe I have in mind comes from Damon Lee Fowler's The Savannah Cookbook. It is made every summer by the women of St John's Episcopal Church for sale at their annual bazaar and though it is indeed a labor of love,  it is very simple to make.  This recipe makes a lot of chutney,  so this afternoon I decided to make a test run and try a small batch.  The only thing I did not have was fresh ginger so I used caramelized ginger and thought it added a nice touch to the texture of the chutney. 

I know canning sounds like a lot of work, particularly in this heat.  It isn't and you will be happy when Christmas comes along and half of your presents are already sitting in the pantry.  Wine has gotten so expensive it is no longer an option for a hostess gift unless you like the people an awful lot.  More and more, in this world of prepackaged ready to eat junk, homemade food is a treat so set aside an afternoon and kill two birds with one stone.  And when winter comes and you have to entertain, a couple of jars of chutney will come in very handy to serve with a fancy pork roast, ham or game.

Make sure you use golden raisins.  They are sweeter and blend well with the color of the peaches.  For a variation, I thought sweet red peppers would make a nice addition.




Makes 7 to 7 1/2 pints

Ingredients

3 cups cider vinegar

7 cups white sugar

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced

2 TB mustard seeds

6 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced, 2 tablespoons

3 cups golden raisins

4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

3/4 cup peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped (I used caramelized ginger pieces) 

1 TB kosher salt

2 dozen (12 cups) Georgia peaches, blanched to remove the skin, pit removed, sliced into wedges

Variation:

Add 1 large sweet red pepper, seeded, diced 1/4 inch, about 1/2 cup (optional)



Preparation

Put the vinegar and  sugar into a non-reactive pot, place over medium heat and bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes.. Add the onion, jalapeño, raisins, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, salt and peaches and simmer 10 minutes or until peaches are cooked.  Do not overcook so peaches don't get mushy

Pack the chutney in sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch at the top.  Seal with sterilized new lids and process jars in boiling water for 5 minutes.  As an alternative, chutney will keep in the refrigerator covered for a week.

If you are serving right away, allow to cool 15 minutes and serve room temperature

Photos Lindaraxa








Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cherry Cobbler

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Now that cherries are at the height of their season, I have been looking for a recipe to post that was not a cherry pie.  You see, in this house that was my mother in law's territory and no matter how good a recipe for cherry pie I can come up with it will never be the same.  Maybe one of these days when my children are far away, like in Alaska, I will get the courage to make one.  In the meantime, here is an easier alternative.

A cobbler is really a biscuit top over fruit.  There is no bottom layer to worry about and very little pin action.  My cup of tea...

Serves 8


Ingredients

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter

2 cups cold heavy cream, plus more for brushing

3 pounds fresh sweet cherries, pitted, or 2 1/4 pounds frozen cherries

4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tsp. vanilla or 2 TB cranberry juice

Directions

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 cup sugar. Using large holes on a box grater, grate butter into flour mixture. With a fork, stir in cream until dough just comes together. On a floured work surface, roll out dough to a 3/4-inch thickness with a floured rolling pin. With a knife or biscuit cutter, cut out 8 to 12 rounds or squares of dough.

2.In a bowl, combine cherries, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, the cornstarch, and cranberry juice. Divide mixture among four 1- to 1 1/2-cup ramekins; top each with 2 to 3 dough pieces. ( You can also place the cherries in one baking dish and with an ice cream scoop,  scoop biscuits on top, spacing them 1 1/2 to to 2 inches apart). Brush tops with cream. (I also like to sprinkle a small amount of sugar on top).


 Cook's Illustrated


Bake cobblers on a rimmed baking sheet until biscuits are golden and juices are bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.




Adapted from Martha Stewart



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Swordfish Brochettes, Spanish Style

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One of my favorite ways of preparing fish in the summer is on the grill.  If the fish is very fresh, all you need is a small amount of olive oil and some lemon and garlic.  As a variation, I sometimes cut the swordfish in medium pieces and cook it kebabs style with tomatoes, zucchini, onions and whatever else is in season.

In the recipe below, the swordfish is grilled in the Spanish style and served with a sauce called "alino" that is poured over the fish after it is grilled.  As an alternative, you could cook the steaks "a la plancha"  in a very hot plate in the oven.   You can substitute monkfish, halibut, grouper or any other firm-fleshed fish for the swordfish.

I have eaten fish in most parts of the world but I can tell you, without reservation, that the best fish I have ever eaten has been in Spain. I don't know if it's the variety of fish, the quality or the cooking method but it is "sans pareil". This is an approximation of what you will get when you order swordfish at a Spanish restaurant.

As a caveat, make sure what you are buying.  I purchased some swordfish a few months ago that came from Nicaragua and although it smelled fine, it tasted terrible.  Swordfish has been fished almost to extinction and I have even heard wild stories of substitution, including shark.   When I was young, I remember my mother bringing home big swordfish steaks.  Have you noticed their size today? If you want real swordfish, order it at a good restaurant or purchase it at reputable fish market where you will spend extra but at least you will get the real deal.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

- 600 g (1 lb. 5 oz.) Swordfish

- 2 tbsp. olive oil

- 1 tomato

- 1 onion

- 1 green pepper

- Salt

Sauce for the grilled fish

- 3 cloves of garlic, minced

- 4 tbsp. chopped parsley

- 150 ml (10 tbsp.) extra virgin olive oil

- Juice of 1 large lemon

- 1/2 tsp. salt

Method

1.Cut the swordfish into cubes; place in a bowl with the olive oil and some salt.

2.Cut the tomato, onion and pepper into eighths and add to the swordfish. Marinate for 30 minutes.

3.Place the swordfish onto skewers, alternating with the vegetable pieces.

4.Heat a grill, brush with olive oil and grill the brochettes, turning occasionally until the fish is cooked, about 8 minutes.

5.Combine all the ingredients for the sauce, pour over the grilled fish and serve immediately


Recipe adapted from Worldwide Gourmet
Photo, Cooking Light

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shrimp Butter

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A specialty of Charleston and the Carolina Low Country, this is a rich puree of sautee shrimp, lots of sweet butter, sherry and spices.  Ideal spread on toast points for cocktails or on white bread for tea sandwiches.  A truly southern way to enjoy shrimp paste is stirred into hot grits and served with toast as a breakfast or supper dish.

When I serve shrimp butter on toast for cocktails, I use Pepperidge Farm Very Thin White Bread toasted at 200 degrees in the oven for about 1 hour.  You can make these early in the day and store in a tin until ready to serve.

Yield:  2 1/2 cups


Ingredients

2 sticks ( 1/2 pound) unsalted butter
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
 Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup sherry
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

 1.In a large skillet, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter until it foams. Add the shrimp and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Cook over high heat, stirring, until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a food processor.

2.Return the skillet to high heat. Add the sherry, lemon juice and cayenne and cook until reduced to 3 tablespoons, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the liquid over the shrimp and process until very smooth.

3.With the machine on, add the remaining butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and process until smooth and silky. Transfer the shrimp paste to a serving bowl and let cool. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerated for at least 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.

The shrimp paste can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Adapted from Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock
Photo Food And Wine

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Grilled Lamb And Figs On Rosemary Skewers

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Lamb, figs and  rosemary are the ultimate combination and if you throw them on the grill with a little olive oil and garlic you might just think you have died and gone to heaven!

I know from my friend Sandra Jonas that the figs in her garden are almost ready for the table.  When I came across this 2008 recipe from Mark Bittman in the New York Times online I thought enough of it to sacrifice one of my allotted free clicks.  I was not disappointed.

The only suggestions I would offer when making this recipe, is to marinade the lamb in olive oil, garlic and rosemary for an hour or two before grilling.  A small amount of mustard wouldn't hurt either.

Also make sure you skewer the figs separate from the lamb as they take half the time on the grill and you don't want them to get too mushy by overcooking.

Things have been quite busy at the lake with more visitors this weekend and more expected the next. We are up to our ears in peaches and just as I thought I had seen the last for awhile, my daughter showed up yesterday with another dozen. Peach ice cream and jam have been on the menu the last couple of days and I will be delighted to change gears when the figs come to market; although something tells me we haven't seen the last of the peach pies for at least another month!


Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into chunks
10 to 20 fresh figs
Rosemary branches
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more or less
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary.


Directions

1. Start a charcoal or wood fire or heat a gas grill; fire should be moderately hot. Thread lamb and figs onto rosemary branches, three or four chunks or figs per skewer. Do not mix meat and figs on same skewer.

2. Brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the lemon juice, garlic and minced rosemary and brush a little of this mixture on lamb and figs.

3. Grill, turning skewers as each side browns and taking care to avoid flare-ups; total cooking time should be from 6 to 10 minutes for medium-rare meat, and 4 or 5 minutes for the figs. Meat will become slightly more done after you remove it from grill, so take this into account.

Photo: Evan Sung, NYT

Monday, July 4, 2011

Lattice-Top Peach Pie

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This is perhaps the most perfect, if not the best, peach pie I have ever tasted. There is no room for improvement here except perhaps changing around some of the steps involved to shorten the time it takes to prepare.

Rose Levy Beranbaum's is not a name that I am terribly familiar with but that changed a couple of days ago.   Her first book, The Cake Bible, was the 1989 winner of the IACP/Seagram Book of the Year and the NASFT Showcase Award for the cookbook that has contributed most to educating the consumer about specialty foods. A culinary best-seller, The Cake Bible is currently in its 47th printing. It was listed by the James Beard Foundation as one of the top 13 baking books on "the Essential Book List." She has been called the "Diva of Desserts" and "the most meticulous cook who ever lived."

It was not until I finished the pie and was ready to work on this post that I read the last line of her bio. Meticulous? that is one word I avoid like the plague, particularly when I'm cooking, although I have to admit that despite all the work, this pie was extraordinary. Not only was I pleased with the crust, but the filling had the perfect consistency.

In spite of the fact that I read the recipe through twice, I didn't realize how much down time there was. For every step there seemed to be another 45 minutes in the refrigerator and towards the end I started to grow impatient and cranky and started to cut back to about 15 minutes in the freezer. "Meticulous" meets "practical and impatient". Luckily I had the Sunday puzzle to work on and time went by like a breeze; but this is not a pie to make at the last minute.

Next time I make it, and I will make it again, here are some of the changes I suggest to speed up the process without sacrificing the end result.

- Make the dough the day before.

- When it calls for chilling in refrigerator, cut the time in half by placing it in the freezer

- Adjust the size of the disks by 2/3 for the bottom crust and 1/3 for the lattice

- Prepare the peach filling before you roll out the bottom crust

- Watch the cooking temperature closely. I adjusted down to 400 degrees for the last 20 minutes

When all is said and done, this is definitely the pie you want to make to impress your mother in law!


I macerate the peaches and boil the juices to concentrate them. This intensifies their peachiness and means you need less cornstarch thickener, thus preserving the fruit’s flavor. Rose Levy Bernbaum


Serves 8
Yields one 9-inch pie.

Ingredients

For the dough

6 oz. (12 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter
6-1/2 oz. (1-1/2 cups) bleached all-purpose flour
3-1/2 oz. (3/4 cup) cake flour
1/4 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
4-1/2 oz. (1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs.) cold cream cheese
3 Tbs. heavy cream
1 Tbs. cider vinegar

For the filling:

2-3/4 lb. ripe but firm peaches (about 8 medium Georgia peaches)
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup turbinado sugar (or granulated sugar)
Pinch table salt
4 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract

For the glaze:

2 Tbs. milk
1 Tbs. turbinado sugar or granulated sugar

Directions

Make the dough: (I suggest you do this the day before)


Cut the butter into 3/4-inch cubes. Wrap them in plastic and freeze until hard, at least 30 minutes. Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, salt, and baking powder in a metal bowl and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Put the cold flour mixture in a food processor and process for a few seconds to combine.

Cut the cold cream cheese into three or four pieces and add it to the flour mixture. Process for 20 seconds (the mixture should resemble fine meal). Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse until none of the butter pieces is larger than a pea, about five 3-second pulses. (Toss with a fork to see it better.)

Add the cream and vinegar and pulse in short bursts until the dough starts to come together (which will take a minute or two); the dough will still look crumbly but if you press it between your fingers, it should become smooth. Turn it out onto a clean work surface. Gather and press the dough together to form a unified mass.



Cut the dough in half and put each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Loosely cover the dough with the plastic. Using the wrap as an aid (to avoid warming the dough with your bare hands), shape one half of the dough into a flat disk and the other into a flat rectangle.( It took more than 1/2 the dough for the bottom crust.  I suggest you do 2/3 disk for bottom and 1/3 rectangle for lattice) Wrap each tightly in the plastic and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to 24 hours.

You can make a day ahead up to here


Roll out the bottom crust:

Remove the disk of dough from the fridge (keep the rectangle refrigerated); if it’s very firm, let it sit at room temperature until it’s pliable enough to roll, 10 to 15 minutes.

Set the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap sprinkled lightly with flour. Roll it out to a 13-inch round that’s 1/8 inch thick, occasionally loosening and reapplying the plastic wrap.

Remove one piece of plastic and flip the dough into a standard metal 9-inch pie pan (it should be 1-1/4 inches deep and hold 4 cups of liquid). Fit the dough into the pan and carefully peel off the plastic. Trim the dough so there’s a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold the overhang underneath itself to create an edge that extends about 1/4 inch beyond the rim of the pie pan. Cover the dough-lined pie plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Make the filling and top the pie:

For easier peeling of the peaches, drop them in boiling water for a minute.  This makes it much easier to peel.


Peel the peaches. Halve each peach, remove the pit, and slice each half into eight thin wedges; you should have 6 cups.

Put the peaches in a large bowl and sprinkle the lemon juice over them. Sprinkle on the sugar and salt and toss gently to mix. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours. Transfer them to a colander suspended over a bowl to collect the juices; you should have almost 1 cup of liquid (if the peaches sat for several hours, you’ll have 1 to 1-1/2 cups liquid).

Pour the juices into a small, nonstick saucepan set over medium heat. Boil down the liquid, swirling but not stirring, until it’s syrupy, about 10 minutes; it should reduce to 1/3 to 1/2 cup, depending on how much liquid you started with. Set aside to cool for 1 or 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, transfer the peaches to a bowl and toss them with the cornstarch and almond extract until all traces of cornstarch have disappeared. Pour the reduced peach juices over the peaches, tossing gently. (Don’t worry if the liquid hardens on the peaches; it will dissolve during baking.)

Remove the rectangle of dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature until it’s pliable enough to roll, 10 to 15 minutes. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to an 11x14-inch or larger rectangle (if it becomes an oval, that’s fine); it should be no more than 1/8 inch thick.

Cut ten 3/4-inch-wide strips lengthwise down the rectangle, using a ruler to measure and mark 3/4-inch intervals and to cut a straight edge. If you want a crimped edge on the strips, use a fluted pastry wheel.

Stir the peach filling a few times and scrape it into the pie shell. Arrange five strips of dough evenly over the filling, starting with a long strip for the center. Gently fold back every other strip (the second and the fourth) to a little past the center. Choose another long strip of dough, hold it perpendicular to the other strips, and set it across the center of the pie.



Unfold the two folded strips so they lie flat on top of the perpendicular strip. Now fold back the strips that weren't folded back last time (the first, third, and fifth ones).




 Lay a second perpendicular strip of dough about 3/4-inch away from the last one. Unfold the three folded strips. Fold back the orginal two strips, set a a third perpendicular strip of dough 3/4 inch from the last one, and unfold the two strips.




Repeat on the other side with the two remaining strips: fold back alternating strips, lay a strip of dough on top, and unfold. Remember to alternate the strips that are folded back to create a woven effect. Trim the strips to a 1/2-inch overhang. Moisten the underside of each one and tuck it under the bottom crust, pressing to make it adhere. Crimp or flute the edges if you like.




Bake and let the pie cool:

Lightly cover the assembled pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. (I placed it in the freezer for 30 minutes while oven was warming up) After 30 minutes of chilling, set an oven rack on the lowest rung and put a foil-lined baking stone or baking sheet on it. Heat the oven to 425°F.


Notice how meticulous I was cutting the strips

When the pie has chilled for 1 hour, brush the lattice with the milk and sprinkle on the sugar.

Set the pie directly on the baking stone or sheet. Bake until the juices are bubbling all over (the bubbles should be thick and slow near the pan edges), 40 to 50 minutes. After the first 15 minutes, cover the rim with foil or a pie shield. If the lattice starts to darken too much in the last 10 minutes of baking, cover it loosely with a piece of foil that has a vent hole poked in the center.




Let the pie cool on a rack until the juices have thickened, 3 hours.


Notice how in the end...it didn't matter!




by Rose Levy Beranbau
From Fine Cooking 65, pp. 68-71
July 1, 2004




Recipe via Fine Cooking
Photos #1, 3-6 Fine Cooking, #2,7-9 Lindaraxa


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