It’s the height of summer and I’m knee deep in fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s wonderfully overwhelming how this precious burst of bounty lingers for just a short breath. I’ve got so many great Mexican recipes for you, chilaquiles, sopes, gorditas, churros, but all these summer things are clamoring for my attention and my table never tasted so good.
My trips to the market are getting ridiculous. I go to get chicken and I come home with piles of peas in a pod, garlic scapes, fresh arugula, cherries, berries, peaches, corn and summer squash. While I constantly try to invent and collect new recipes, in summer I’ve been returning to my classics. Last night I made my favorite creamy quinoa corn chowder with baby spinach. My sister reminded me about my jalapeno lemonade with basil and mint, which I’ll make tonight. For appetizers (I’ve been making appetizers!) capreses, ricotta stuffed beer battered zucchini squash, and a million versions of this salad (dressing is key) have made cameos. I’ve been using peaches as a braise for everything meat-related and I’m about to transition to plums.
I’m wistful for the days when this was all I knew. Where school let out and I’d play outside all day with my brothers and sister in the pool, listening to Nat King Cole (Lazy, Hazy Crazy days of Summer), a Mets game on the radio or reading on the porch. I long for the days when I’d actually be annoyed that my mom interrupted our games to feed us all of these wonderful grilled summer meals and made us eat gazpacho and stuffed grape leaves. I have memories of eating the peas out of the pods and shucking corn, making wigs out of corn silk. Open doors and windows, salads, barbecues, drive-in movies and evenings under the stars. This is summer.
When it’s just the two of us here in the city, the best solution I’ve encountered to use up everything and conjure up the summer feeling (other than with a drink) is this pie! It’s a catch-all. You can use the same recipe to cook up your peaches, berries, plums and even grapes. You can mix and match and never go wrong here. The crust is very easy and flaky, but if you want to get fancy you can make a tried and true pate sucre that I’ve used here. I stumbled upon the the sketch for this recipe on Jovina’s blog. She provides the basic form and I’ve improvised from there. Jovina is extremely talented and her voice is that of a patient and supportive, learned professor, but without the snobbery. You get the sense from her posts that she’s passing on precious information that you may not otherwise come by and that all of her recipes are classics. She is the most informed person I know on Italian history and regional cooking. She’s a talent in the kitchen and generous with her knowledge. She’s also very supportive, which means the world to me.
My version of the pie combines peaches and strawberries with a little brown sugar, vanilla and almond extract and a hint of lemon. A friend gave me some rosemary and lavender from her burgeoning garden and I figured it would add just a touch of savory contrast to the natural sugars in the fruit. This recipe worked so well that it is going to be my new thing. This pie is quick to make and is bursting with all of the joys of summer. Showing up anywhere with one of these is bound to bring sunshine with it. That smells like summer to me.
Wishing you all a happy summer with lots of pies, salads, sun, shade and fresh ingredients!
SUMMER STRAWBERRY PEACH PIE
Adapted from Jovina Cooks Italian Summer Pie Season post
For The Two-Crust Pie:
- 3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2/3 cup melted butter
- 6 tablespoons cold water (or more if needed)
For the Filling:
- 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups fresh peach slices (about 18 peaches, sliced; about 2 1/2 pounds whole peaches)
- 2 cups (about 1 large punnet) strawberries, sliced
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- juice of one lemon
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon lavender (optional)
For the Pie Crust:
Preheat oven to 425F.
Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and mix evenly.
Combine the butter and the water.
Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula or fork until the dough is evenly moistened. Add more water if needed one tablespoon at a time.
Separate 2/3 of the dough and place it in a 9″ pie pan, reserving 1/3 for the top crust. If you have a scale, this is easy to measure out; if you don’t, just eyeball it.
Pat the dough across the bottom of the pie pan and up the sides. A flat-bottomed measuring cup or glass helps smooth it out. Flute the top of the pastry around the pan.
For the Filling:
Mix the sugar, flour and salt in a large bowl. Toss with the peaches, strawberries, extracts, rosemary, lavender if you choose to use it and lemon juice.
Spoon into the crust-lined 9 inch pie pan. Then either roll the remaining dough and lay it on top, cut into lattices and place them evenly parallel in two directions over the top or add 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons brown sugar to the remainder and crumble into a crisp. It should break easily into small pieces. Spread it evenly over the filling. The topping will be crisp and streusel looking.
Place the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet to catch any spills.
Bake for 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for 40 minutes more or until the filling bubbles and the topping is brown.
Remove the pie from the oven and cool it completely on a wire rack before slicing.