Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Stone Fruit Pie

Fruit pies are the best this time of year. I might have just tired of baking pies for the summer already, but before I did, I made this one a couple weeks ago, using the *best* fruits from my local Greenmarket farmer's market. I love stone fruits - from peaches to apricots to plums. This pie was made just before apricots sprang to the scene at the local market, so I used peaches, nectarines and yellow sugar plums. But, you could easily substitute another stone fruit. I know I say this every time, but this really was one of the best pies of the summer.

Sasha's Stone Fruit Pie

2 1/4 cup of flour
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
two sticks of butter cut into pieces, cold
1/4 cup of ice water (will then need to add an additional tablespoon or two)

2 1/3 cups of peaches, sliced in wedges
2 1/2 cups of nectarines, sliced in wedges
1 cup of sliced sugar plums
3 T cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon

To prepare the crust, follow my detailed instructions and techniques on crust making here.  I recommend using your hands and doing this the old -fashioned, rustic way, rather than using a mixer. Combine the flour and butter, salt and sugar with your hands. Add the ice water slowly and combine into two balls of dough until they just form. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for thirty minutes.  During this time, prepare the filling. Then roll out the bottom, fill the pie, and roll out the top and cut into a lattice. Using a pastry brush, glaze the top of the pie with an egg yolk. Bake at 400 (covered with foil) for 30 minutes. Then uncover and bake at 350 for another 25 - 40 minutes. Allow to cool somewhat before serving warm.  I think this would go amazingly with some Blue Marble ice cream from around the corner.

Have you checked out my recent post on Philly Style Cheesesteak on the ShopRite food blog, Potluck? Yum!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Cream of Asparagus Soup

Asparagus is one of my husband's favorite vegetables. I'd been looking to make an asparagus soup for awhile, before coming across this one in one of my favorite soup book that we bought a couple years ago on a lovely trip to Ireland. This is isn't a traditional Irish soup by any stretch of the imagination, but the Irish sure do know how to make a good pot of soup. This cream of asparagus soup is nice and healthy, and a good, easy to make soup for spring or summer. I've been under quite a bit of stress lately (more of the crap that I seem luck enough to get in extra-large doses), so this was a nice and easy weekday soup that didn't further complicate my day. It's a perfect, quick and east weekday meal.

Cream of Asparagus Soup (adapted from Irish Soups & Breads)
16 spears of asparagus
1 cup potato, peeled and chopped
2 medium leeks
4 T butter or olive oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
5 cups low sodium chicken stock
4 T non-fat sour cream (recipe calls for creme fraiche)
salt and pepper to taste

Cut off the tips of the asparagus and set aside for garnish. Chop off the lower portion of the stalks and discard.  Cut up the remainder of the asparagus, and peel and cube the potato. Wash and finely chop the leeks. Blanch the tips of the asparagus in lightly salted water for five minutes and set aside.

Saute the asparagus (main portion), potatoes and leeks in canola oil or butter and cook for about five minutes. Then add the chicken stock and simmer for about 25-30 minutes. Puree in a food processor and add in the creme fraiche or sour cream. Serve and top with the asparagus tips, and some croutons, and season as desired.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Stuffed Teriyaki Rice Balls (Yaki Onigiri)

Today's recipe / blog post is my attempt at some Japanese street food. It all started when I had some delicious stuffed Mimi & Coco teriyaki balls at Smogasburg in Williamsburg a couple weeks ago.  They were so good that I educated myself a bit about this Japanese street food before trying to make my own. They're based on Yaki Onigiri, or fried Japanese rice balls that are the quintessential Japanese street food. Here's a sample of a traditional Onigiri recipe that I found on another blog.  I can't way this was a success in full but it was a good first step, as they still pale in comparison to the stuffed Onigiri at Mimi & Coco that I tasted.

Sasha's Stuffed Yaki Onigiri
cooked sushi rice (I started with 1.5 cups uncooked rice)
1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
teriyaki sauce
1 lb ground grass fed beef

Top prepare this, first I cooked the beef for the inside of the teriyaki balls. I added about a quarter cup of teriyaki sauce and cooked until the beef was done and had a nice teriyaki flavor. Then, the beef cooled to room temperature while I prepared the rice. Once the sushi rice was done, I seasoned it with a bit of the rice wine vinegar, the same was as making sushi rice. 

When working with the rice for this recipe, make sure your hands are wet, as the rice is very sticky. Using your hands, shape some rice around a teaspoon or so of the ground beef which you should place in the center. Add some more rice and form a nice sized ball. Because of the stuffing, these will be a bit larger than traditional Japanese rice balls.  Continue to make a whole bunch of rice balls with the teriyaki beef filling. 

After you have formed the onigiri, it's time to grill them up. This is the tricky part - a couple of mine did fall apart but the rest did stay in tact. I think I can improve on this next time. Using a cast iron skillet, add a small amount of oil and grill on each side until it forms a crisp skin and are lightly browned - over medium heat. When all sides are grilled, brush on a layer of teriyaki sauce using a pastry brush.  Then grill all sides again. Serve hot!

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