Monday, August 10, 2015


Summer produce feels a little like being in Provence for a few months because the middle of the summer is a time to eat a lot of basil, zucchini, and squash. One way is to make a ratatouille. Another is to make Provence's answer to Italian pesto in soup form or pistou.

Flavors of Provence by Nouvelle Images

Soup au Pistou

5 cups water
1 leek, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 zucchini, cubed
6 haricot verts beans cut into small pieces
1 ½ tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
Sprig of parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Pistou sauce
4 garlic cloves
5 sweet basil leaves
½ cup olive oil
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Place 5 cups of water in a large soup pot. Add all the vegetables and herbs and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for an hour, until beans are tender. Add salt and pepper. Simmer and stir for another 15 minutes. During final simmer prepare pistou sauce. Mash the garlic in a mortar and basil leaves and continue mashing with the pestle until well mixed. Add grated cheese and mix well until it turns into a stiff, consistent paste. Place the mixture into a serving bowl and add the olive oil gradually while stirring until evenly mixed or prepare in a blender or food processor. Serve the soup and let individuals garnish their soup with the pistou sauce.

Castle Downs Lavender, one of the biggest lavender producers in the U.K.

Seeing this image, I may be inspired to try to figure out how to make the lavender chess pie that was always a summer offering at Scratch Bake in Durham, NC.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Peach of a Cream Pie

Peaches are some of the most highly prized fruits of the summer. They have been the object of affection for the Impressionists and the Ancient Chinese.

George Daniel de Montfried "Peaches"

Henri Fantin-Letour "Still Life with Peaches" (1862)
July 7 is Peach Ice Cream Day. Who doesn't have fond memories of either turning the crank on a homemade ice cream machine full of peaches and cream or going to a peach orchard and eating cold peach ice cream after picking a bushel or two to take home to make peach pie, cobbler, and jam?

July 7 is Peach Ice Cream Day

Peach Cream Pie

My grandmother used to bake a summer peach cream pie that was a cream cheese base topped with fresh poached, sliced peaches. Since most of the components can be cooked on the range or are uncooked, you can make this pie without getting the kitchen hot too.

1 cup flour
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter
lemon zest
dash of salt

4 pkgs (3-oz) cream cheese or Tofutti
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp cinnamon

5 large peaches, blanched, peeled, and sliced
3 Tbsp peach preserves

Pastry: Combine in mixing bowl flour, egg yolk, sugar, butter, lemon zest and salt. Mix by hand and press into a 9-inch pie pan. Refrigerate to harden.

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Combine cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and  cinnamon using a hand mixer or pulsing in a food processor to remove all lumps. Pour into the cooled pie shell and bake for 12-15 minutes or until pastry is lightly browned. Blanch, peel, and slice the peaches. Place the peaches in concentric rings, with all the curved sides facing clockwise or counterclockwise. Top the pie with a glaze made from peach preserves. Alternatively substitute a 1-lb 13-oz can of sliced peaches. Chill to set. Slice and serve chilled.

Peach  blossoms