Sunday, September 1, 2013

Cafe Selmarie — Chicago (Lincoln Square), IL — A Restaurant Recommendation

Tucked on the corner of a cute little pedestrian street in Lincoln Square, Cafe Selmarie is a delightful place to spend a late morning, catching up with your BF after months of being out of touch.  I recently spent a summer morning here for brunch with Julissa, one of my dearest friends and a foodie soulmate.

I ordered a sandwich, and Julissa ordered dessert.  Our thoughts?

The fried green tomato BLT: PERFECT.  Crunchy coating on the tomatoes, crisp bacon, soft brioche, tangy aioli.  Delish.

Julissa's chocolate lemon torte? Meh. We both found it quite bland.

It looked awfully pretty, but it was missing something.  I almost felt like it could have used a pinch of salt.  It just finished off flat.  The chocolate could have been a bit more heady, too.

Definitely would go back, though, and give other baked items a try.  And to have that BLT again...

A Slice of Summer: The Last Fresh Peach Pie Recipe You Will Ever Need

If there is one thing above all others that I miss most about PA (besides my family), it is without a doubt the peaches.

Not many people realize that Pennsylvania's orchards are loaded with peaches, not just apples, and they are the biggest, juiciest, most peachy peaches I have ever tasted.  Granted, I have never eaten a Georgia peach off the tree—but the Georgia store peaches I have had have never compared to Pennsylvania's huge, warm, tree-ripened beauties that I ate as a kid.

With the summer coming to an end here in good ol' Wisconsin, I can't help but find myself longing for peach juice running down my arm and my tastebuds screaming with peach-induced happiness. I've tried peaches a couple times from a couple of sources this summer, and they were all awful.  Pulpy. Foamy. Dry. Flavorless. Hard. Gag.

And then the other day I was sitting beside a co-worker as she was biting into a delicious-looking specimen.  "Where did you get that?" I asked, rather intensely.

"Piggly Wiggly," she slurped.

Guess where I stopped on the way home? And, wowzers, were they good! Still not up to PA snuff, but so so so much better than anything I've had for years.

So, today, when our friends Joe and Marie invited us over for dinner at the last minute (as only good friends do), the first thought that popped into my head was: PEACH PIE!!!

I based my recipe off of Cook's Illustrated's Foolproof Pie Crust and their Fresh Strawberry Pie. Chef Reiton helped whip the crust together (and I really do mean "whip." It takes less than 5 minutes to make, then it just chills, gets rolled out, and then chills in the pie plate a little bit longer while the oven heats.).  I prepped peaches for the glaze and the filling, my mouth watering all the while.

If you are lucky enough to have amazing peaches available, make yourself a treat this weekend.  Make yourself a fresh peach pie:

Shell Ingredients and Directions:

1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 oz.) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tblsp. sugar
10 Tblsps. unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks)
3 Tblsp. cold vodka
1 Tblsp. ice water

In a food processor, combine only 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, salt, and the sugar, then pulse together with a few 1-second pulses to blend.  Drop in the cold butter, cut into 1/4-in. slices, and process for about 10 seconds.  The mixture will look like curds the size of cottage cheese.  Scrape down the sides and the bottom and redistribute the mixture evenly around the bowl.  Sprinkle the remaining flour over the top, then pulse about 5 or 6 more times.  The dough will come together into a ball, and then redistribute itself around the bowl.  Dump the mixture into a medium bowl.  

Mix together the vodka and ice water.  Sprinkle the dough with the mixture, then take a rubber spatula and start smashing, folding, and flattening the vodka-water into the dough, pressing the spatula down into the dough to help mix in the liquid.  It's going to look like it's not going to do anything at first; just give it time and keep flipping, smashing, folding, and pressing; it will get there.  The dough is going to resemble Playdough when you are done. (If it looks too dry, sprinkle in the tiniest amount of ice water--like 1/2 tsp. at a time).  Gather the dough into a ball, then dump it onto a square of plastic wrap.  Lay another piece of plastic on top, then flatten the ball into a 4-inch disc.  Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and lay it in the fridge for at least 45 minutes (you can do this up to 2 days in advance).

Meanwhile, make your peach filling:

8 large ripe peaches (your thumb should readily sink into the flesh when you squeeze the peach)
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup. sugar
2 Tblsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. No Sugar Sure-Jell (pink box)
1 Tblsp. fresh squeeze lemon juice

Halve the peaches, then peel and pit them.  Cut each half into four wedges, then cut each wedge into 6 chunks.  Weigh out about 14 oz. (about 2 cups) of the peach chunks, then puree them in the food processor until they are completely smooth and juiced with no little chunks (a random big chunk or two is okay, as long as the rest is totally smooth). You will need 1 3/4 cups of puree when you are done for the glaze.  You may have to adjust this a bit.  The rest of the peaches you can cover and put in the fridge.

In a medium saucepan, whisk the sugar, salt, cornstarch, and Sure-Jell.  Whisk in the peach puree, then heat the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly (really be careful to scrape the edges and corners of the pan so it doesn't scorch), until it comes to a full boil.  Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  You will see the glaze turn from opaque to translucent.  Take it off the heat, then stir in the lemon juice.  Let it cool completely.

Now go back to your pie crust: heat the oven to 425 degrees.   Have a rolling pin, aluminum foil, pie plate, pie weights (use a bag of dried beans of you don't have ceramic beads) and a piece of aluminum foil ready.  Take the dough out of the fridge, generously flour the countertop, and plop your dough disc in the middle of it.  Flour your rolling pin, then roll your dough out to about 12 in. in diameter, flouring your rolling pin as needed.  (To roll evenly, start each roll in the center and press with even pressure as your roll to an edge.  Always roll two opposite sides one after the other.  For example, if I roll straight up, then I roll down next.  If I roll to the right, then I roll to the left. If I roll to 2 o'clock, I roll to 8 o'clock next.  Get my drift?) When your dough is evenly rolled out, place your rolling pin about 3 inches from the dough's edge, flip the edge up over the top of the rolling pin, then roll the pin backwards, wrapping the dough around the pin as you roll.  Use a bench scraper to help work the dough up off the counter if it sticks at all.  Take your pie plate, place the dough-wrapped rolling pin at an edge of the plate, and unroll the dough into the pie plate.  Adjust the positioning if you need to, then gently ease and press the dough down into the plate.  Refrigerate the plate for about 30 minutes to firm up the dough again (you can skip this step if you are really short on time, but the constant refrigeration keeps the butter chunks hard and will make your dough much flakier at baking).

Take a pair of scissors and trim the excess crust to about 1 inch of the edge of the pie plate.  (It is always better to have a bigger edge than less, so be careful not to get too close to the edge of the plate.)  Take the excess and flip it under itself, working your way around the plate.  Now press the edge down in whatever decorative pattern you want.  You can use the tines of a fork; you can push it down with your thumb at intervals; you can squish it with a knuckle on your right hand into the crevice of your left hand's pinched thumb and pointer finger.  Get creative.  Now prick all over the bottom and sides of the dough with a fork; this helps air escape that is going to heat and try to bubble up in and under the dough.  Put the crust in the fridge to firm up for about 15 minutes, then take the aluminum foil, gently press it into the pie plate, and dump in the weights.  Place the crust in the oven for 15 minutes.  Carefully remove the foil and weights, prick any bubbles that have formed with a fork, and continue baking the crust for another 5-10 minutes until the crust is nice and golden.  Cool it completely on a wire rack.

By this point your glaze should be cool.  Take the rest of the peaches out of the fridge, and dump them into the glaze, folding to coat every piece with your amazing homemade concoction.  Pour the filling into your cooled pie crust, then put the whole pie in the fridge.  Let it firm up for at least 2 hours, but no more than 5.  The CI guys say it will start affecting the crust at that point.  They also say to eat it all right away.  Darn.

Cut the pie into large slices, serve with freshly whipped cream, and savor those peaches as long as your will power possibly can.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Visit Me on Pinterest!