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Summer Fruit Pot Pie: New Duds for an Old Fruit Pie Friend

Summer Fruit Pot Pie: New Duds for an Old Fruit Pie Friend

Perfect Peaches Ready for a Summer Fruit Pie

I can see the problem you are having.  A giant mound of peach perfection and you are so tired of fruit pie and cobbler (Okay, we should probably admit that is NOT really a thing, being tired of pie and cobbler).   But it’s a holiday weekend and you MUST use that beautiful bounty ASAP yet you would rather be on the beach, boat, SUP or _____(fill in the blank). So with that last hurrah of summer celebration hurtling toward you at ram speed, here’s a dessert that you can make in a flash, yet will look like you have been slaving away.  Stone fruit –still abundantly available – is the perfect choice for this “cobbler, not-a-cobbler.”  Cut into wedges, a peach or nectarine is sizable enough to hold its shape (ain’t nobody likin’ fruit mush) and comes with its own good dose of pectin.  I throw in a few blueberries for a wee bit of flavor, color, and texture contrast, but warn against fruit with a high water content and thin skins (I got my eyes on you raspberries and blackberries.)

Normally a fruit cobbler comes with a streusel or pastry crumb topping, but I love this idea of biscuits.  I would say it’s fresh and new, but since I created this dish at New World Grill some 20 years ago, I will settle on timeless. It’s hard to find a fruit pot pie at all, and the ones I have seen are made with a double pastry crust.  This dish has no bottom – which means…..???? You got it!! No soggy bottoms!!! Pastry fraidies unite! You can do this!!  Just cook the fruit with a little cornstarch stove-top then drop biscuit dough on top. Super easy to serve as well because everyone gets a heaping spoon of fruit topped with a biscuit topped with …Ice Cream? Whip Cream? Greek Yogurt? Yes. Yes. And Yes. Please. It’s dessert magic.

Summer Fruit Pot Pie

I have made this with peaches and nectarines (peel the peaches, but no need on the nectarines), but you might also try plums or apricots.  And cherries could be a nice alternative to the blueberries I use.  Just keep a sturdy skin in mind when improvising.  And always let a fruit dessert cool to avoid the juice-bomb.  This is best served same-day, an hour from the oven or reheated.  Biscuits are a bit of a diva when it comes to humidity, so the longer it sits around the less flaky they will be.

I learned to make traditional biscuits from a woman who said “handle them like you are holding hot coals.”  (It was a KFC shoot and we must have made 1000 biscuits).  It was good advice – don’t touch them much at all. Biscuits are made by cutting little tiny bits of ice cold butter into the dry ingredients, so that each pea-sized bit is flour-coated.  Then you gently add the liquid – buttermilk, perhaps – until it just holds together. If you hot-handle the dough, the butter will start to melt.  The butter should melt only once – in your honking hot 425oF oven – because that creates steam and that, my friends, provides lift. Voilà! Flaky!!

The other reason to lightly handle the dough is to avoid overworking the glutens which will make a tough and sometimes shrunken biscuit. (That joke just wrote itself. I don’t even have to put it in words.)  I got you covered here, this dough is NOT fussy and is made in the processor and uses a small amount of boiling water to pull the dough together.  It’s a bit of the opposite of everything I have just said – no hot coals.  This makes it super simple and you can get away with it in part because it is going atop hot fruit which will also create some steam.

Summer Fruit Pot Pie

Nectarines and Blueberries

Fruit Filling

  • 8 cups pitted and sliced nectarines, about 8 pieces or 4 pounds
  • Juice of one lemon, about 3 Tablespoons (please zest it first and save the zest for the biscuit)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cups blueberries

Biscuit Topping:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 6 ounces ice-cold butter, cut into bits
  • ¼ cup + 2-3 Tablespoons boiling water

Preheat oven to 425oF. Butter a 9x13x2-inch 3-quart casserole.

Start the Fruit: Combine the nectarines with the lemon juice and sugar.  Set aside.  Dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water and set aside for 5 minutes.

Start the Biscuits: Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest in the work bowl of a food processor.  Pulse to combine.  Cut in the butter with the food processor, by pulsing 8-10 times, until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  (You can also use a pastry cutter).

Back to the Fruit: Combine the nectarines with the cornstarch in a saucepan.  Bring the cornstarch-nectarine mixture to a boil, and cook for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and gently fold in the blueberries.  Transfer fruit mixture to the casserole.

Biscuit Dough

Finish the biscuits: Slowly pour in ¼ cup boiling water and pulse a couple times until just combined. Scrape down sides.  Add additional water one Tablespoon at a time, up to 3 additional Tablespoons.  Pulse with each addition until dough just comes together and becomes spoon-able.  It should remain a bit stiff and not turn gooey. If you add the water all at once, you run the risk of adding too much liquid and melting the butter.  Add it gradually and it will just slightly soften it.  Drop the dough by scant 1/4 cups onto the fruit to form 12 biscuits.  Use a spoon or small spatula to ease the dough out of the cup.  All that butter will let it slide out quite easily.

Biscuits atop Summer Fruit

Bake in bottom third of preheated, foil-lined oven for 35 – 40 minutes until fruit is set, biscuits are golden, and a toothpick inserted in a biscuit comes out clean.  If the biscuits are getting too brown, cover loosely with foil for the last 10 minutes or so. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.  Cool for about an hour, to let the juices set.  Serve while still warm or reheat if it has cooled. Top with ice cream, whipped cream, or plain Greek yogurt.

Serves 12 grateful guests.

Nectarine and Blueberry Pot Pie

Still got peaches or nectarines a plenty? Don’t forget our old friend – roasted beet and peach/nectarine salad!

Roasted Beet and Nectarine Salad

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Hey Summer, Say Hello to Fall

Hey Summer, Say Hello to Fall

Roasted Beet and Nectarine Salad

There is still a lot of stone fruit hanging from the trees, if you are lucky enough not to have been hit by a late spring freeze. But truth be told, I’ve had my fill of cobblers and pies (and don’t really race to the sweeter side even at the peak of the season). I am much more likely to turn even the sweetest of produce into something savory given the chance. So ponder this if you will – a nectarine or peach salad, made savory with fresh goat cheese and mint, and…wait for it…tossed with some luscious roasted beets! Trust me, this works.

Perfect Peaches

I won’t take full credit because my pal Cindy dates it back to her Grandpa. Not sure, but I think I have made a few tweaks of my own. I love to drizzle mine with raspberry condimento. If you aren’t familiar with these, they tend to be more flavored (all kinds of fruits), cheaper, and have a higher viscosity than bona fide Balsamico. They are generally made in the traditional manner, but made in the wrong region or matured less than required for official Balsamico designation. Win-win in my books: great flavor and cheaper. And, I like the thickness. All the better to use as a judicious drizzle. The Cheese Lady has an enormous collection of flavors, though apparently in-store only. For online sourcing, I’m a big fan of O&Co.

This dish works on so many levels. The pungent earthiness associated with roasted beets is the perfect foil for the juicy sweetness of nectarines or peaches. The acidity of fresh goat cheese provides a needed contrast to any richness. And lots and lots of fresh mint truly elevate all flavors.

Best Beets

I love the idea of candy cane beets, which have a beautiful red and white stripe when cut into. But I have to say, their pattern is best in slices, not wedges, and their radiance smudges when cooked. There is nothing quite like a garnet-hued beet wedge up against a marigold-tinged nectarine wedge. If you haven’t roasted beets – before or lately – it could not be simpler! Preheat the oven to 400oF. Trim both ends of the beet and wrap each one, individually, in foil. Place on a baking sheet and pop in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on size. Start testing after 30 minutes, by sliding a knife into the flesh. The knife will slide right out when they are done. Remove from the oven and unwrap, when cool enough to handle. The skin will slide right off. There is zero point in struggling with a peeler in advance – this is much easier and has the added benefit of keeping all the nutrients within.

Be warned however, that you can’t tent the whole pan of beets in one big foil envelope. I’m horrified to report that I was beat by beets once before when I tried to, with 35 pounds of beets, short cut the individual wrap. I basically created a big ass beet steamroom, and they got very sweaty and harder still as they shriveled into small rocks. Just something about that individual foil wrap that makes the difference. Sauna 1. Steam 0, if you are keeping score.

Roasted Beet and Nectarine Salad

  • 1 pound roasted beets, any variety, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 pound nectarines or peeled peaches, pitted and cut into wedges
  • 3 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • Raspberry condimento (what’s condimento, you ask? See article above.)
  • Serious amount of mint, coarsely chopped*

*I like to remove the leaves from the stem, stack the leaves, and fold into a tight roll. Snip cross-wise with sharp scissors. You almost can’t have too much mint. Especially if it’s free because you steal it from a neighbor like I do.

Must have Mint

Prep

Arrange the beets and nectarines or peaches in a serving bowl. I try not to stir too much because the colors will start to bleed.

Crumble the cheese on top.

Drizzle with the raspberry condimento.

Sprinkle the fresh mint on last, just before serving.

Serves 8.

Nectarines and Candy Beets

 

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Roasted Fresh Chilean Blueberry-Stone Fruit Crumble

Roasted Fresh Chilean Blueberry-Stone Fruit Crumble

A-comfy-cozy-warm-and-toasty-sit-by-the fire-and-sip-port-dessert. Cutting the butter that normally makes a command performance in the topping, this dessert weighs in at only 117 calories and 2 grams of fat. Ah, but it feels like so much more.

 Ingredients

Crumble Topping

  • 6 Amaretti Italian cookies, coarsely crumbled
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Fruit

  • 2 fresh Chilean Nectarines, halved, pits removed
  • 1/2 cup fresh Chilean Blueberries
  • 2 fresh Chilean Plums, halved, pits removed
  • 2 Tablespoons port
  • 1 Tablespoon sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup non-fat Greek Yogurt

Directions

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Prepare 4 – 4” (1 1/2 cup) ramekins by coating the sides with a thin layer of butter.

Mix the crushed cookies, brown sugar and salt together in small mixing bowl.

Arrange 1/2 nectarines, cut side up in each of the four prepared ramekins. Divide the blueberries among the dishes. Place the 1/2 plums, cut side down, pushing the nectarines at an angle, so they overlap slightly. Drizzle each with the port. Sprinkle crumble on top and divide nuts among the ramekins.

Place ramekins on a sheet pan, and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, checking the topping after about 15 minutes. Place a small square of foil over the ramekin, if the topping is starting to darken. Fruit should be tender and juicy when pierced.

Serve warm with dollop of Greek yogurt on top.

Serves 4
Nutrients per serving:
117 calories, 2 gms fat, 18 calories from fat, 0 gms saturated fat, 0 gms cholesterol, 47 mg sodium, 3 gms dietary fiber, 4 gms protein