Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

Personally Imported from Virginia

August 18, 2010

There were many things which came together to inspire and create this delicious treat. First Friday is always a reason to come up with an interesting recipe. Summer is a fun time as well because there are so many fresh ingredients at the markets. This month I was able to bypass the market and go directly to the source.


Half peck of peaches from Carter Mountain Charlottesville, Virginia.

I took a short trip to visit friends in Charlottesville, Virginia. I really enjoyed the farmer’s market there but also got to go to Carter’s Mountain for a peach festival. They were demonstrating how to make peach salsa which got my mind going. With the half peck of peaches I brought back to Philly, I made peach chutney, peach gazpacho, and just ate peaches non-stop. The downside? I don’t want another peach for the rest of the summer!

Regardless, on the 5 hour train ride, I used a napkin in lieu of my notebook to materialize all of the peach ideas in my head. Another source of inspiration for this treat was a sprig of rosemary from a neighbor’s garden in Charlottesville. Given these two ingredients, I decided goat cheese would work well to bridge the divide of sweet and savory. With some help from Angelo at Downtown Cheese, I found a perfect young goat cheese which turned into a wonderful whipped consistency. The final component of this dessert is my favorite pie crust by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin adapted to a small bite size pastry cup.

peach pastries

Peach and goat cheese pastries.

Savory Peach Pastry

created on by Sarah Johnson

NOTE: measurements for the filling are approximate and can be adjusted to taste


  • 4 peaches
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • ¼ nutmeg
  • 1 t rosemary (sprigs for garnish)
  • ¼ c + 2 T sugar
  • ½ c + 2 T muscat wine
  • ¼ lb goat cheese
  • Pastry

    • 2 c flour
    • 1 ¾ sticks butter chilled
    • ½ t salt
    • ½ t sugar


    1. Peel and dice 2 of the peaches.
    2. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, rosemary, 2 T sugar, and 2 T wine. Let sit covered in a bowl for at least an hour.
    3. Combine goat cheese, ½ c wine, and ¼ c sugar in a bowl. Mix until smooth and light. Add more sugar or wine as needed.
    4. Stir the peach mixture into the cheese mixture.
    pastry cups

    Pie crust shaped in miniature muffin tins. Recipe from Julia and Jacques.


    1. Slice butter into ½ inch pieces.
    2. Combine flour, butter, salt, and sugar in a cuisinart for a few seconds, or with a pastry blender.
    3. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for about one hour.
    4. Remove the dough and roll out to ¼ inch thickness.
    5. Cut dough into 3" squares. Place each square into a mini-muffin pan.
    6. Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes.


    1. Peel remaining two peaches and cut into slices.
    2. Fill each pastry cup with a spoonful of goat cheese mixture.
    3. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a slice of peach.

Too Hot To Handle Custard

June 13, 2010

I learned some very important lessons in making this custard pastry treat.

  1. Custard, heat, and humidity do not mix.
  2. Puff pastry, heat, and humidity do not mix.

My vision of a pile of custard atop a paper-thin piece of pastry deflated in all the wrong places: the custard melted and the pastry puffed. In spite of these disappointments, I did confirm my philosophy that messy = tasty. Perhaps I should have followed the actual recipe and served it in a bowl as a sit-down dessert, not as finger food at First Friday.

Rhubarb Custard Pastry

A single piece of rhubarb grand marnier custard pastry.

Millefoglie With Grand Marnier and Rhubarb

inspired by Gourmet, March 2003 found on Epicurious


  • 2¼ c whole milk
  • ¼ t salt
  • 4 egg yolks (large)
  • ⅔ c sugar
  • 2 T flour
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 2 T butter
  • 5 T grand marnier
  • 1½ lb rhubarb
  • 1 c water
  • ⅓ c sugar
  • large bowl of ice water
  • 1 (17oz) package frozen puff pastry sheets
  • 4 egg whites (large)
  • ⅔ c heavy cream
  • 48 pieces of mint
  • ¼ c powdered sugar
Rhubarb Custard Pastry

A beautiful pastry, even if it's melted and messy. That just makes it taste better!


  1. Thaw the puff pastry sheets in the refridgerator.
  2. Boil 2 c milk and salt in a heavy saucepan.
  3. Whisk egg yolks, sugar, flour, cornstarch, and ¼ c milk in a bowl.
  4. Whisk egg mixture into saucepan.
  5. Boil the mixture for two minutes while whisking.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in chopped butter until melted.
  7. Stir in 3 T grand marnier.
  8. Transfer to a bowl covered with wax paper.
  9. Chill at least one hour.
  10. Rhubarb

  11. Chop rhubarb stems into 1-inch diagonal pieces.
  12. Simmer rhubarb in water, sugar, and 2 T grand marnier in a heavy saucepan, uncovered, until rhubarb is tender (4 min).
  13. Place the saucepan in a bowl of ice water for 2 minutes.
  14. Drain the rhubarb, returning the liquid to the saucepan.
  15. Cover the rhubarb and keep at room temperature.
  16. Boil the liquid until reduced to ½ c.
  17. Pastry

  18. Preheat oven to 400F.
  19. Grease a large baking sheet.
  20. Unfold a puff pastry sheet and roll out into a 14-inch square on a lightly floured surface.
  21. Place puff pastry on baking sheet and prick all over with a fork.
  22. Do the same with the other puff pastry sheet.
  23. Place baking sheets in top and bottom third of the oven and bake for 7 minutes.
  24. Switch top and bottom sheets and bake another 7 minutes or until golden brown.
  25. Cut pastry sheets into 2-inch squares.
  26. Baked Puff Pastry Sheets

    Puff pastry sheets after baking a bit too long.


  27. Beat heavy cream in a bowl until it forms soft peaks.
  28. Fold cream into custard mixture.
  29. Beat egg whites in a bowl until stiff but not dry.
  30. Fold egg whites into custard mixture.
  31. Place a teaspoon of custard on each pastry square.
  32. Place a piece of rhubarb on each custard spoonful.
  33. Place a piece of mint on each custard spoonful.
  34. Drizzle some syrup over each piece.
  35. Sprinkle some powdered sugar over each piece.

Variations and Notes

I departed from the original recipe in a variety of ways, most notably in that I made single layer pastry squares instead of a multi-layer dessert. I used grand marnier instead of grappa because I had it on hand and read a user’s comment that it worked well. I added mint leaves for presentation and they wound up completing the taste of the pastry. There was a spice and freshness that the mint leaf contributed and the pastry tasted too sour without it.

I also left off the syrup and powdered sugar. I added the egg whites. These two decisions were driven by the weather that day: 90F and humid. I’m not familiar with custard, only mousse, so I’m not sure of the tactile characteristics of custard. However, I think the weather really deflated the custard and made it very running. Although, the small teaspoon that I was able to fit on each pastry square was well-balanced in terms of flavor. Just a bit messy!

Puff Pastry Sheet

The difficulties of puff pastry. My solution was to thaw it in the refridgerator to prevent it from sticking to itself.