Monday, August 5, 2013

A Very Blue Cure for the Monday Blues

If you read my last post about malasadas, or if you are my friend and subjected to my self-indulgent facebook posts, you will know that I was on vacation last week.  It was a great week and, in truth, it was also good to come home.  There is something, however, about that first Monday back at work--the email waiting, the goings-on missed.  It's all rather dreary.

Wanting to resist the funk, and inspired by picture-perfect weather, we opted to finish the day with a little adventure.  Twenty minutes in the car with the windows down landed us at Grisamore Farms for u-pick blueberries.  We wandered the rows and basked in the sunshine and filled our big bowls with a good five pounds of dark, plump berries.  (We also picked up peaches and a huge bag of cucumbers for pickles.)

I'll make muffins this weekend.  If I'm ambitious and organized, I'll make some peach and blueberry preserves, too.  Tonight, however, it's all about the crumble.  I've done peach and blueberry crumble before.  I go back to Ina Garten's recipe because it's that good, but this time I went for one big pan and threw in some almonds for good measure. 

Here's how it goes:

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

For the fruit:
2 pounds firm, ripe peaches (6 to 8 peaches)
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)

For the crumble:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or custard cups.

For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it's in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Literate Baker notes: I'm always tempted to skip the dunking of the peaches into boiling water, but it makes them so easy to peel--it's worth it.  As before, I eliminated the cinnamon from the topping and added vanilla to the filling.  I also added about 3/4 cup of sliced almonds to the topping.  I baked it in a 9x13 dish (a little smaller would have been fine) for about 50 minutes.  Oh!  I almost forgot--two full cups of blueberries!

Honestly, as I sit here shoveling it in, there isn't anything more to say but...

Keep it sweet.

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Fried Dough for All

Let's be honest.  Who doesn't love fried dough?  Whether doughnut or beignet, state fair confection or sopapilla, it's good stuff.  This morning, I had the pleasure of experiencing fried dough in a new way.  I also had the pleasure of learning stuff.  For a food nerd, it really doesn't get much better.

Note the way the generous size fills a saucer.

I am currently on vacation in Provincetown.  Although it is known now primarily for its status as a gay mecca and artists' community, P-town has a long and fascinating history.  It was, for example the initial landing place of the Mayflower.  It also became home to a vibrant Portuguese community in the 1800s, primarily via Portuguese sailors hired to work on U.S. ships. 

That Portuguese community is still alive and well in the town, evidenced by the bustling Provincetown Portuguese Bakery.  Located right on Commercial Street, the bakery offers a variety of doughnuts and pastries.  It is famous, however, for the malasada.  Malasadas are doughnuts on steroids in all the right ways.  A rich yeast dough, fried until it reaches chewy/greasy nirvana, dusted in sugar.  Chewier than your average yeast doughnut, more tender than your average state fair fried dough.  Save my beloved beignet, this might just be my new favorite.

Note the sugary nooks and crannies.

Chewy yet tender inside.

The fact that the malasada is traditionally a Mardi Gras treat is total Literate Baker bonus.  Since it'll be a year before I'm here for my next one, I might just have to try making them at home.  In the meantime, I hope y'all are getting a little summertime rest and relaxation.  Take it easy and...

Keep it sweet.


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