Sunday, August 31, 2014

Food from Turkey

Almost a year ago, my spouse and I took a vacation to Turkey.  The trip very much reminded me of how weakly educated I am in history before the past 100 years or so, something that I suppose is not a surprise, living as I do in the "New World," on a thoroughly colonized continent in a society that chooses to view its own history as beginning a bit over 200 years ago.  In Turkey, you can't avoid the physical signs of layers and layers and layers of history, society upon society, world upon world.  It's dizzying to the American mind, and very wonderful.

Anyway, this here is a food blog, and the reason I'm posting so belatedly about our trip is that I've been making some very tasty melon-black olive-bread skewers all summer, and as I thought about posting them here, I realized that the idea came from eating many Turkish breakfasts involved juicy, honey-sweet melons and mild, wrinkly black olives.  This made me nostalgic, I went back to my photos of the trip, and here are all the delicious things I found there:

White beans in rich broth in Cappadocia.

Melt-in-your mouth mezze at Seten.

A bulgur-and-chickpea soup with the most amazing flavor (which I've been meaning to try making), also at Seten.

Breakfast:  Olives, cheeses, fruits, tomatoes, raisins.  Heaven.

Eating a little wild apple from an abandoned orchard in the Rose Valley.

There were grapes, too!

Wonderful bread and haydari

Clay pot, cracked open (which took some effort) for eating on a chilly night

Cheese-filled flatbread on the river in the Ihlara River Valley

Honey and pistachios and flaky pastry

More mind-blowing mezze in Kalkan, at a place called Olive Garden

Lunch to go in Istanbul.

Beautiful pasta at a museum restaurant in Istanbul

Fancy manti at Mikla

Sweets and spices at the Spice Bazaar

Peppers and white beans from another lovely lunch counter

Husband with sesame bread


Friday, August 29, 2014

Bourbon Peach Pie

We know this space has been neglected.  Just the other day Kate sent an email to us asking for the recipes that are currently simmering on our stovetops, and as she declared herself in a cooking rut I realized that I am in the same uninspired place.

To be fair, we've had a busy summer of changes.  In July, I ended my two-year AmeriCorps program and moved out of the sweet old house that I was lucky enough to live in for two years.  Somewhere in between there I waved good-bye to Kate and Pete as they moved across the country for an exciting new chapter.  Sarah, meanwhile, has been working her tail off in her own new professional venture.  And now I sit, still in the Phoenix heat, rarely feeling the motivation to do much more than roast some simple veggies or follow someone else's recipe to a T.

Luckily, motivation can always be found in pie, and all the more so when that pie involves booze.  I've been on the hunt for a solid bourbon peach pie recipe all summer, dreaming of something that married two of my favorite vices perfectly.  In early summer, my friend and (now) new roommate Mandy and I had a night of too-much-pie-baking to celebrate our program graduation that ended with us laying on her floor at midnight while pies (multiple) still sat in the oven, including these bourbon peach hand pies by smitten kitchen.  Her husband declared them the best "pop tart" he'd ever eaten, and they were delicious to be sure, but lacking the kick of bourbon I was hoping for.  It seemed every recipe I could find gushed about adding a "splash of bourbon", but who wants just a splash? I, personally, would like some drunken peaches. A few weeks later, I decided that another google search was in order, and baked a peach pie with bourbon-laced caramel as my last pie in the kitchen I dearly loved.  The caramel didn't set quite right, but it was also lovely and perfect for feeding the kind friends and family that helped my roommates and I move.  Still, the truly boozy pie I was seeking alluded me until Mandy found what we had hoped for: a recipe that validated our desire to simply soak the peaches in bourbon until the cows came home. We loosely followed that, and here's the result, a pie that will make you ecstatically happy to be an adult even while dealing with responsibilities like moving in 100+ heat.  I should know, it's already been made three times since then, somehow always coming before the many other berry-filled summer desserts I have vague ambitions to bake but haven't gotten around to.

Hopefully fall will provide these sisters with a little more stability, and we'll have some fresh veggie-filled ideas for you.  But until then, pie:

1 double pie crust dough, chilled
7 juicy peaches, pitted, peeled and sliced
(at least) 1/4 cup of bourbon
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon salted butter (or unsalted butter and 1/4 teaspoon of salt)

In a large bowl, douse sliced peaches in bourbon (don't be shy).  Cover and let chill for awhile, at least a couple hours but overnight recommended (the longer they chill, the more bourbon they'll soak up).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Whisk sugar, flour, cinnamon and lemon juice in a bowl, then mix with peaches.  Roll out pie crust and place in 9 inch pie pan.  Fill bottom crust with peaches, cover with scattered pieces of butter, cover with top crust (or lattice, if preferred).  Be sure to ventilate crust,  then brush with egg wash and dust with raw sugar.

Bake for 35 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 for an additional 25-30, until crust is golden.  Cover crust edges with aluminum foil or pie shield if browning too quickly.