Lazy Hazy Glaze-y Days


When the weather gets hot and humid, we like a fruit tart better than a dense brownie or cake for dessert.  In this light delight, fresh berries and peaches take center stage, baked on a puff pastry shell, and glazed with apricot jam to sweeten it up and provide a beautiful, shiny finish.  For a variation, you can use any kind of berry, apples, pears or apricots. In late summer, for a "Tuscan twist," try it with juicy little Italian plums or fresh figs. It bakes up in only 20 minutes, so it won't heat up your kitchen. If you use store-bought frozen puff pastry, give it 40 minutes on the counter to defrost while you take a cool shower or run to the gym ... then your prep time will be less than an hour, start to finish. To serve, top with a generous spoonful of whipped cream, creme fraiche or marscapone, bring out an icy bottle of wine and watch it disappear.  Perfetto!

Ingredients

Two sheets of puff pastry (One box of frozen Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets)
Flour for rolling pastry
One pint each fresh raspberries and fresh blueberries (or berry of your choice)
Two peaches (or plum, apricot, apple, or pear)
Apricot jam for glazing (about 3 tbsp.)
One egg and 1 tsp water, beaten with a fork
Ground cinnamon and nutmeg for topping
Sugar for topping

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Boil peaches for two minutes, submerge in ice water, peel and slice thinly
Heat apricot jam over low-medium flame until it becomes soft and spreadable, about 1 minute 


Roll out defrosted puff pasty on lightly floured surface to approximately 14" x 14"
Using pastry wheel, trim off 1/2" from edges.


Using a pastry brush, brush the inside of the trim lightly with water, fold over pastry square, and brush with egg/water mixture.

Brush center of square with apricot jam. Place berries and peaches in a creative design on puff pastry and glaze fruit generously with the rest of the apricot jam. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, grind a few twists of nutmeg all over and put in the oven.


Immediately reduce oven temp to 375 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes, checking at 15 minutes.  Set on counter to cool for 2 hours before serving. Serve at room temperature, and top with a spoonful of whipped cream, creme fraiche or marscapone if desired.


As American as ... Apple Pie


This favorite dessert is the final entry to our Memorial Day menu. An American classic, filled with juicy apples, cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg!  When you're pressed for time, as I was today, instead of making my own pate brisée, I used store-bought Pillsbury pie crusts from my grocer's refrigerated section.  The secret to this pie is Williams Sonoma's perforated pie tin that sits within a solid tin. Makes the crispiest crust and firmest apples.

This pie is a big winner for not a lot of effort.  It travels well, doesn't need refrigeration on first day, is delicious alone, works in every season and gets lots of oohs and aahs when you bring it to the table.  Perhaps best of all, it takes only 1-1/2 hours start to finish (one hour in the oven), and will keep for up to two days in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Ingredients

Pastry crust: Use your favorite pate brisée or one box (two crusts) of Pillsbury refrigerated crusts
3 large organic Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut in 2" rough pieces
3 large organic Red Delicious apples,  peeled, cored and cut in 2" rough pieces
3/4 cup sugar plus 2 tsp. for topping
3 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinammon plus 1/8 tsp. for topping
1-2 tbsp. butter

In large bowl, mix ingredients well with a wooden spoon.  Let sit for a few minutes while you spread the bottom crust in the pie tin.

Fill pie tin with apple mixture.  Brush the outer edges lightly with water using a pastry brush. Dot the top of the mixture with 1-2 tbsp. butter and top with the second crust. Fold top crust over bottom crust and crimp edges to seal.

Cut vents in top to prevent bursting in oven.  I always draw a little design on the top with a sharp knife -- initials if it is a birthday pie, an apple, a fir tree for Christmas or a pumpkin for Halloween. You can be creative!

Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top and bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees on center rack of oven. This will give maximum crisp to the crust.  After 30 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and move pie to upper third of oven.  Bake 30 minutes longer. Allow to cool two hours before cutting.  Serve with whipped cream, ice cream or all by itself!

Variations:

Add to apple mixture: 1/3 cup raisins, 1/3 cup walnuts and/or 1/3 cup dried cranberries. If adding all three, reduce to 1/4 cup each.