What I’m Cooking: Summer Desserts & a Salad

First, a small brag. These peaches are from the two trees I have in my front yard. It’s been a couple of years, and I forgot some cardinal rules, so I lost a fair amount of the crop to critters, but I managed to salvage a nice amount. I was also surprised to learn that the younger (by a year) of the two trees is actually a white peach!

I made three great recipes this week that I had to share with you all. The first is a pie that I haven’t made in years, but one bite reminds me why it’s been on my mind for years.

Peach Creme Fraiche Pie is the easiest, best peach pie of summer. You take unpeeled peaches, quarter them, mix with some sugar and creme fraiche, and put in a pie shell dotted with streusel. It comes out almost like a custard around big pieces of slightly softened peaches, just sweet enough but the overriding flavor is that pure chunk of peach.

 

I only made a few changes from the linked recipe. I didn’t pre-bake the pie crust this time, although I have in the past – I think it works fine unbaked. I don’t actually measure the creme fraiche, I just use dollops. I also mix the creme fraiche and the sugar (I use the larger amount listed, and it’s definitely not very/overly sweet) with the peaches before dumping them into the crust. This year, I was so excited to use my own peaches from the front yard!

I had some blueberries, local and organic, that needed to be baked up, right around the time I stumbled upon this recipe for a Blueberry Crumb Cake. My best pan for it is a 10″ springform (only pan with high sides) so I decided to use it. I was worried that the extra volume of a 10″ round versus a 9″ round would make the cake too short, so I did a 1.5 times recipe (only exception was I just used 2 eggs, no fraction).

The cake definitely ended up quite tall, which makes for a nice presentation. If you also have a 10″ round and want a big cake, go ahead and make the 1.5 times recipe, otherwise I think it’d be fine just as a single recipe. I made it as written otherwise, with the exception that instead of butter and flouring the tin I butter and sugared it, which is a tip I had read years ago and love using with these kinds of recipes.

 

I promise, this blueberry cake is quick to come together and pretty forgiving – I mixed it with just a fork, and I promise it worked great! I served it to rave reviews, and it definitely has gone into my “make it again” file.

The third recipe is actually a salad, which I’ve been enjoying for lunch and dinner. It doesn’t involve any cooking, comes together pretty quickly, and is endlessly adaptable based on what’s in season and available for you. I’ve posted my version below, but encourage people to look at the original for more ideas, if you’re so inclined.

Summer Bean Saalad

Summer Bean Saalad

Inspired by this Mediterranean Bean Salad

  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, or similar volume of the tomatoes of your choice
  • 2 sweet bell peppers
  • 1 can black olives, drained
  • 1 cucumber, optional (see note)
  • 1-2 jars marinated artichoke hearts (see note)
  • Up to 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons Italian herbs
  • 4-8 ounces feta cheese
  • Place the beans in the bottom of the bowl, add the Italian herbs, and lightly toss together.
  • Begin cutting each item, adding it to the bowl as you go. Cut the tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumber (if using) into medium-large chunks (roughly 1/2" in size). If you're using cherry tomatoes, half them. Cut the black olives into quarters. Chop each artichoke heart into similar sizes as the other produce. Shake off some of the oil, but leave whatever remains - it will add oil to the salad.
  • Toss the salad together, and see if you like the proportion of items. If necessary, add more of a specific vegetable to balance things out. Pour a little balsamic vinegar over the salad, and then crumble the feta in. Again, use as much or as little as you'd prefer.
  • Toss again, and serve. This should keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
  • Note: If using cucumber, use your best judgement in terms of whether or not to peel and/or seed the cucumber. For the artichoke hearts, I've become addicted to Costco's Kirkland brand - I have yet to find a woody piece of leaf which has been my problem with other brands. It's also nice because it's a big jar and you can use as much or as little as you want. I've been putting in probably 8 pieces or so, depending on how it looks.
  • Eggplant,  Pomegranate, and Za’atar Salad

    Just in time for the weekend farmers markets, I had to publish this recipe. Like many these days, I can get lost in time browsing Pinterest and food blogs. And I thought I had seen a similar salad, but when I went back, I couldn’t find anything close too what I wanted. So in true Liz fashion, I winged it. What resulted was the salad in my dreams, and one I’ve craved pretty much every week since.

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