Thursday, September 8, 2016

Fresh Peach Pie

We are sadly coming to an end of peach season here in Central Texas.  I love a good, juicy, sweet, fresh peach.  Reid and I actually have 2 peach trees in our front yard that my dad planted around 2008 that we have managed not to kill.  Miracle!  This year we got a really good harvest from them.  Usually the birds or neighbors get to them before we do.  So back around July (before I was forbidden to eat pie by my gestational diabetes nutritionist) we picked about 1-2 lbs. worth of fresh peaches form our tree.  It was awesome.  Until I broke out in a skin rash. (I must be allergic to the fine hairs or splinters on the peach tree)

Our peaches are the small kind.  I think they are some French peach variety.  Real small and a bit firmer then what you'd find in Fredricksberg.  I blanched, peeled, cut and pitted them.  And made a pie.  It was a time-consuming, but relaxing Sunday project.

I do like to make my own pie crust if I have the time, and I made my own here, but you could just as well do a crumble top or store-bought freezer pie crust.  I think I Frankensteined a few peach pie recipes together to get this one.  One recipe was from a cookbook my in-laws' old church put together that I got for my bridal shower, one was from Cook's illustrated, one was from something online.  I can't honestly remember how I got here.  Sorry for not citing recipes!

Fresh Peach Pie
Pie Dough (based on Tartine's Cookbook Recipe)
makes 2 crust
  • 1 lb. flour (3 cups and 3 tbs.)
  • 1 lb. cold butter, cut in small cubes (4 sticks)
  • 2/3 c. ice water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 c. peaches, blanched, peeled, sliced, and pitted
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 3 tbs. flour
  • 1 tbs. corn starch
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten

For Pie Dough:

  1. Combine flour and salt in a large food processor with normal cutting blade.  Pulse to mix.
  2. Add butter and pulse 5-10 times or until pea-sized crumbles form.
  3. Slowly add water while mixing and pushing down sides of food processor.  Separate dough into 2 halves and wrap in plastic wrap.  Create 2 disks of dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. On a clean, floured surface, roll out 1 disk of dough at a time.  If the dough becomes too warm, refrigerate again.  Your goal is about ~1/4" thickness.  Transfer to 9" pie pan and trim edges or freeze unused dough.
  5. Unused pie dough will keep in the freezer for about 3 months.  I'll often have a disk of unrolled dough in the freezer ready for any last-minute dessert making hankerings.  Defrost in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 2 hours.

Fresh Peach Pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 400* F.  Line the bottom of a 9" pie plate with dough.  Brush with egg wash. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together peaches, lemon juice and vanilla.  In another mixing bow, mix together sugar, flour, corn starch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Combine the dry ingredients in with the peach mixture and mix gently until well combined.
  3. Pour peach filling into pie dough and top with second pie crust.  Flute edges to seal and cut designs into top to allow for steam to escape.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle 1 tsp. each cinnamon and brown sugar on top.  Place pie pan on a baking sheet to catch any pie drippings that may spill over.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 300*F and bake an additional 35 minutes or until pie is golden brown and filling is bubbly.  Allow to cool at least 45 minutes before serving.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Five-Spice Duck Breast with Blueberry Pan Reduction and Stir-Fry Bok Choy

So, I'm trying to be good on my gestational diabetes diet while still not getting bored of what I'm eating.  Reid and I went to the farmer's market yesterday and picked out some stuff I wouldn't usually buy.  I bought some duck breast.  I love duck, but have never cooked it myself.  The farmer at Belle Vie Farms  was more then happy to share with me some cooking tips.

Also picked up some bok choy and oyster mushrooms at the market, so I thought I'd do an Asian style duck breast.  I thought about doing a Hoisin sauce-style duck, but since this was the first time I'd cooked duck and really didn't want to screw it up, I actually looked up a recipe.  This recipe is inspired by the New York Times recipe.  It came out great!

Five-Spice Duck Breast with Blueberry Pan Reduction
Recipe inspired by
Serves 2

  • 2 small Moscovy duck breasts, about 10 oz each
  • 2 tsp. Chinese five-spice
  • salt
  • 1 tbs. grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and additional 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c. fresh blueberries
  • 2 tbs. brown sugar
  • 2 tbs. sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth

  1. Score the skin side of duck breast with a sharp knife in diagonals.  Season both sides of duck breasts with salt and Chinese five-spice seasoning.  Rub ginger and garlic into both sides of duck and allow to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Place duck skin-side down for about 7 minutes.  Flip and sear for another 5-7 minutes or until internal temperature reaches about 125*F for medium-rare.  Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove extra duck fat from pan.  
  4. Over medium heat, brown the garlic and use sherry vinegar to deglaze pan.  Add blueberries and brown sugar.  Use the back of a spoon to smash blueberries and release juice.  Add chicken broth and allow to simmer until sauce reduced about half the volume.
  5. Slice duck breast against the grain and pour over pan sauce.
Stir-Fry Bok Choy and Oyster Mushrooms

  • 2 tbs. sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Thai red chile pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 large bok choy cabbage or 2 small bok choys
  • 1 ~0.5 lb. oyster mushroom
  • Korean sesame seeds, for garnish

  1. To a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, add all ingredients except sesame seeds.  Stir-fry for 5-8 minutes until bok choy is cooked through.  Top with sesame seeds.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Italian Sausage

I was recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes. It was a bit challenging for me to be OK with the news because there was just a lot of frustration. I was frustrated with my doctor for not really giving me any information, I was frustrated with the situation because I consider myself rather healthy, I was frustrated in general and didn't have my normal coping mechanisms available: food and wine. 

I work out a lot and I eat pretty healthy but I freaking love carbs. I literally made a shirt once in high school that said "I love carbs".   I could eat bread or rice or pasta everyday.  So being diabetic where I have to be more careful with my carb choices was really depressing to me. 

I'm in a lot better place right now. I am meeting with the perinatal specialist and nutritionist today where I will hopefully get a lot of my questions answered, I got to talk to several friends who went through it and calmed me down, and I've been reading every single thing the American Diabetes Association has at the library and on Pubmed. 
Educating myself
So now I"m in my "I Can Do This" phase.  I'm starting to experiment a little with some recipes.  I convinced my hubs to go to the downtown Austin Saturday SFG farmer's market with me.  This was no small feat.  I think the farmer's market is one of my husband's most dreaded places.  This is where pregnancy sympathy comes in handy.

At my last visit I picked up some spaghetti squash from Johnson's Backyard Garden, bulk Italian sausage from Smith&Smith farms and a few other goodies like fresh figs. 

This was an easy weeknight meal. A great substitute for pasta (which I love). Whole wheat pasta doesn't quite appeal to me as much so spaghetti squash was a great alternative to one of my favorite carb heavy meals. 

Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Italian Sausage
Serves 2 
  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 3/4 c. fresh basil
  • 3 tbs. pine nuts
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Olive oil 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut the squash in half with a large, sharp knife. I will usually microwave the squash for about 3 minutes so it is softer and easier to cut. Use a large spoon to remove seeds from the center. Drizzle each half with olive oil, and add a little salt and pepper.  Roast in oven for about 30-45 minutes or until cooked through.  In a separate cookie sheet, toast pine nuts for about 3 minutes until fragrant but not burnt!  Remove the spaghetti squash and allow to cool.
  2. While squash is roasting or cooling, combine the basil, Parmesan and pine nuts in a food processor or blender.  Drizzle olive oil in while food processor running to emulsify until desired consistency. 
  3. Once the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape out and separate the flesh into noodle-like threads.
  4. In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute the onion, garlic, and Italian sausage.  Combine the sausage, spaghetti squash flesh, and pesto into the pan and warm through.  Remove and serve in a plate or in the reserved squash skins.  Top with a little extra grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Italian Sausage