Monday, September 26, 2011

chels is just peachy!

what a weekend! the top branch of the peach tree broke (so sad!) and we had to save all the peaches we could. also, it was about time i went out and picked all the tomatoes. so much produce! we planted 6 tomato plants this summer. my favorites are always the cherry tomatoes and the romas. i love romas. i love how meaty and red they get. i love putting seven or eight perfect red tomato circle slices on homemade bread with a good slather of mayo and tons of fresh-ground pepper, salt, greeeeen lettuce and bacon! it's not allowed to be autumn until you're sick of BLTs. seriously, though. i love homegrown tomatoes so much. check out these beauties!

so good! so good. a few of our romas had the dark ends from too much water (such a wet summer,) so these were left of those ones that we salvaged. anyway, i had a brilliant idea to use the salvaged tomatoes and the windfall peaches that fell when the branch broke, and i whipped up a big bowl of peach pico de gallo. it turned out super nummy. i blanched and peeled the peaches and the tomatoes, and chopped them up into about 1/3-4" dice... here, i'll just share the recipe and show the picture so you can see how pretty it turned out!

chel's peachy pico
6-8 medium peaches, skinned and diced in 1/4" dice
6-8 roma tomatoes, skinned and diced in 1/4" dice
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced in about 1/6" dice
4 jalapenos, seeded (unless you like it hot, then leave in some seeds) and diced in 1/6" dice
2 green bell peppers, diced in 1/6" dice
2 cloves minced (super finely) garlic (or you can substitute garlic or onion powder or both)
A whole bunch of finely chopped fresh cilantro
3-4 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp honey (to taste, i added it to cut down a bit on the acid of the lime juice)
1 tbsp salt (or more, or less, to taste. i might have used 1 1/2 tbsp.)
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tbsp chili powder

skin and dice the peaches first, and then toss them in a big bowl with the lime juice before you get started on the tomatoes, so they don't go brown. add the tomatoes, honey, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper and other seasonings while you finish chopping the onion and peppers. this really is just the easiest salsa to make, as long as you put the lime juice on the peaches first, you can just chuck everything in as you go. mix it all up good, and dig in with your favorite tortilla chips. it's even better if you put it in an airtight container and let it sit overnight to build the heat and let all those yummy flavors get cozy and acquainted.

just remember that with salsa fresca, you probably want to eat it all within a week (if you can make it last that long!) and keep it in your fridge in an airtight container. we had it with chicken enchiladas for sunday dinner, and it was great!

and that was just the salsa! spent most of today peeling and slicing and canning all the rest of the peaches, ol' fashioned style in some simple syrup. they really are delicious peaches, i'm so glad we have a tree. anyway, a few of the peaches were just a little too bumped and bruised to can them safely, so i set them aside and while i was peeling and canning i pondered in my li'l brain what i was gonna do with the extras. we made cobbler on saturday, and it was yum, but it's AUTUMN and chels loves her some autumn spices. it seems every year i wind up making some version of tiny peach pies... so here's this year's twist on...

chel's spiced peach harlot - i mean, tartlets
for the crust (you can double this recipe if you wanna make a whole regular-sized pie)
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt (none, if you're like me and could only find salted butter)
1/2 cup (1 stick) of COLD unsalted sweet cream butter, cubed (super small!)
3 tbsp COLD water
for the filling
4-5 medium peaches, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp rum extract
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (if you're not a cardamom fan (sad) then feel free to scale this back to taste)
big pinch of cinnamon
big pinch of nutmeg
dash of allspice
dash of ginger
in a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar for the pie crust. cut in the cubes of butter with a pastry cutter, or throw the lot in your food processor and let it go until it's got a coarse, mealy consistency. and the water 1 tbsp at a time until the dough is just wet enough to stick together. mush it all into a ball, flatten the ball a bit into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and stick it in your freezer to chill while you mix the peach filling. oh, and preheat your oven to 375 while you're at it.

in another large bowl (i just used the bowl i mixed the pie dough in, let's be honest, i hate washing dishes) put in the 1/2 cup of sugar and add the vanilla extract. mix it all up with a fork until it's been completely mixed through. if i were fancier (and wealthier) i'd have gotten half a vanilla bean, chopped it into chunks and put it in the tiny food processor and made some legit vanilla sugar. but instead i had to half-arse it. at least i used the good extract. toss the spices in, and the rum extract (for those of you so inclined, throw in a splash of the real deal) mix up all that sugary spicy goodness and then add the peaches. depending on how wet it looks, add 2-3 tbsp of flour (this will help thicken the filling while it bakes.)

stir it all up and let it macerate for a bit while you pull out the pie dough and roll it out to about 1/4" thick. get a big ol' biscuit cutter (like the 3" diameter ones) and a 12-muffin muffin pan. use your awesome baking skills to get 12 circles of outta that dough, and tuck them carefully into the bottom of each cup of the muffin tin making sure there's about a 1/2" of edge up the side. DON'T try to get them to fit the whole cup, they won't, these just sit nice and snug in the bottom. spoon your yummy filling in to the unbaked shells (try to get more peach than liquid in there. more fruit always = better.)

if you're so inclined, feel free to decorate your tartlets with the leftover scraps of dough. because these smell so yummy and autumnal, i had to use my cute tiny leaf cookie cutters to decorate, adding some leafy veins to them with a small paring knife. if you're feeling pro and want these picture perfect, egg wash the leaves so they golden up a bit better than mine did.

these baked at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. et voila! it's officially fall.