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eptember
09
Sweet Corn Crème Caramel
 



Corn this time of year is so sweet and full of natural sugar, that it lends itself to both sweet and savory preparations.  (They don't call it "Butter and Sugar" for nothing.)

This recipe is part homage to Meredith Kurtzman, the pastry chef and queen of all things gelato, at New York City's Otto.  In addition to her famous and irresistible olive oil gelato, Meredith also has a criminally delicious sweet corn gelato, that I first had at a master class she gave while I was in culinary school.  Not too sweet, creamy and highlighting everything that is best about corn right now, it is perfect, and only available for the few weeks while the best fresh corn is in season.

Crème caramel, often called crème renversee, is a classic french custard dessert.  Very similar in overall flavor to a crème brulee, but the difference being that in this case the caramelized sugar is first placed on the bottom of the ramekin baking dish and the custard baked on top of it.  It is then removed from the dish to serve, and reversed, like an upside down cake, with the now top of the custard infused with the caramel.  The magic trick of this recipe, is that also somehow in the cooking, some of the caramel first put in the bottom of the dish and hardened, permanently liquifies, making its own sauce at the same time.  (For a crème brulee, the custard is baked on its own, topped with sugar just before serving, and then the sugar is burnt (bruleed) with either a torch or broiler, to make that crackly hard top.)

Anyway, custard + caramel= amazingly good.  Caramel + corn=old time ballpark good.  Two together?  Yes, good.

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ugust
18
Peach and Custard Pie


 

This is a peach pie my grandmother has made for years.  I adore the visual of the entire peach halves, that always elicits at least one gasp of admiration when set down on the table.  With peaches stunningly sweet this time in the season, I also really appreciate the addition of the custard-like filling, instead of the usual toss with cinnamon and sugar.  Though it does contain sugar, the custard-souffle-y filling really compliments the fruit and cuts the sweetness some.

This pie is also really beautiful, and really delicious, with blueberries tucked into the spaces and cavities in and around the peaches.  Summer overload in a crust.  I haven't tried it, but I imagine raspberries wouldn't be awful either.


Peach and Custard Pie

5-6 six regular sized peaches, peeled, pit removed, and cut into halves.
1 cup blueberries, optional
1 single pie crust (see my Pie Crust 101 post here.)

Custard:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 large egg, slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Peel peaches.  Cut in half and gently pull apart, trying to keep halves intact.  Remove pit and discard.

Put halved peaches, cut-side up, in pie crust.  Quarter peaches if very large, and perhaps cut a few into large slices to more evenly fill in gaps between halves.

If using, add about a cup of blueberries in the spaces around the peaches.

For the custard, blend sugar, flour, melted butter and egg together fully.  The mixture will be quite stiff.  Pour over the fruit in the pie crust, making sure to fill in the spaces between the fruit.

Bake at 375 for 45 mins, until the custard has set on top, is no longer wiggly, and has formed a light brown crust.



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uly
22
Raspberry Clafouti


There are few things that could get me to turn on the oven in the middle of this oppressive heat wave.  However, much to the dismay of my panting dog, clafouti is one of them.

Unlike almost everyone else in the country right now, the red and golden raspberries in our garden are adoring the heat.  They have just started to really take off, offering up several pints a week.  (That is, those that aren't stolen when I'm not looking, right off the thorny branches, by aforementioned panting dog).

Clafouti ("klau-foo-tee") is a both rustic and elegant dessert, with a ridiculously fun to say name, that originated in the Limousin region in the southwest of France.  It was traditionally made with cherries, as they had an abundance they had to figure out what to do with each summer, poor things.  I learned of it from my well-loved, dog-eared copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and was in love from the start.  Further investigation revealed that when made with any other fruit other than the traditional cherries, it is actually not called Clafouti, but "Flaugnarde".  Are you kidding me?  I feel like those rogue Limousinians just came up with the most clumsy sounding word they could to shame the rest of the world into strict adherence to their recipe.  My fancy, summer, whatever-berry-filled french dessert will be called clafouti, so there.

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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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