We’re in the home stretch of Project Pastry Queen, just a few weeks left. This week, Emily of A Gilt Nutmeg chose to turn back the clock and make a beautiful peach tart from the early days of the project, the Fredericksburg Peach Cream Cheese Tart.
A sweet, ripe juicy peach is one of summer’s gifts. I don’t want to seem ungrateful but let’s be totally honest, here. Summer kind of owes it to us. Triple digit heat index? No rain for months and then it floods? A potential hurricane?
But we’ll take it.
This week’s tart is not just for summer. As written, it showcases the sweet Texas peach but it also makes a wonderful fall tart when made with apples and cinnamon.
But like all of the desserts in The Pastry Queen, it’s Texas-sized. And beautiful.
The last time I made the peach tart for PPQ, I only made a half-recipe of the filling and used a 9.5-inch tart pan. I eliminated the egg and cream in the dough and added just enough water for it to come together like a normal pie crust. Leftover pie crust can be frozen for future desserts. Or you can be even more resourceful and make homemade pop tarts
If we are what we eat, my stellar eating habits over the last two months would produce some sort of cherry-Sauza-Cool Ranch Doritos hybrid. But mostly cherries.
We took advantage of cherries being so plentiful and affordable this summer. Was it like that everywhere else? I swear that this was the first summer they virtually begged us to buy them.
With the end of cherry season approaching, I hoarded a few pounds for the freezer and then spotted a terrific idea in Food & Wine for the very last pound of cherries I had on hand: pickling in balsamic vinegar.
The balsamic vinegar takes on the sweet cherry flavor and made a tasty vinaigrette to drizzle over grilled pork tenderloin. And the sweet & sour cherries are perfect for snacking, eating in a salad, over toasted baguette slices topped with goat cheese (my favorite!), and piled on top of brined & grilled pork chops.
The original recipe (for Pickled Figs) noted that the figs would be good on the shelf for 6 months. Cherries are more delicate than the slightly under-ripe figs recommended and I wanted them to retain as much of their texture as possible. I was certain that they wouldn’t survive a 15-minute canning bath so I chose to skip the “official” canning procedures and stored them in the fridge instead.
Stretch out the cherry season with these balsamic pickled cherries.
4-5 1/2-pint canning jars with lids and rings
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 pounds cherries, stems and pits removed
In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and balsamic vinegar until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring to a boil and then add the cherries, simmering over low heat for 10 minutes.
Spoon the cherries equally between the jars (I ended up with 4 full jars of cherries and a 5th jar that was just over half full of cherry-balsamic vinegar).
Turn up the heat to high and cook the balsamic mixture for another 5 minutes.
Ladle the syrup over the cherries, leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top.
Screw the lids and rings on top and try to wait a few days before opening the first jar.
The cherries will keep a couple of months in the fridge.
If you wish to store the cherries at room temperature, you'll need to follow appropriate canning procedures: sterilizing the jar components first and then boiling the closed jars for 15 minutes in a hot water bath.
Once a week, we do a clean out the fridge night. It’s never the most popular night of the week and it can be quite boring.8 soggy sweet potato tots, 3/4 a serving of pasta that’s never as good on night 3 as it was on night 1, and half a dry chicken breast… It usually involves wrapping less desirable tidbits from the last 3-4 nights in a tortilla.
Honestly, it’s not my favorite.
So rather than having pulled pork sandwiches with the last 1/2 cup of cherry barbecue sauce, we reimagined the sandwich as pizza and added goat cheese. Because goat cheese is pretty much the universal “you complete me” ingredient.
The sweet barbecue sauce and tangy goat cheese make for a very unboring leftover night – and no one in this house ever complains about pizza night!
That right there, that’s one of the biggest, sweetest victories to ever come out of our garden: yellow tomatoes.
Squirrels and birds love yellow tomatoes. Like swarm-the-plant-like-locusts-and-leave-nothing-but-bare-stems love yellow tomatoes. For the most part, they’ve ignored the rest of the garden but the potted heirloom tomatoes? Total buffet. The very second that a would-be yellow or black tomato gets bigger than a golf ball?
They didn’t stand a chance.
In a last ditch effort to save them, we triple wrapped the pots with a bird block netting and have gotten a dozen yellow tomatoes in just the last two of weeks. Not a totally perfect solution – the first weekend we didn’t wrap them quite tightly enough and a squirrel actually crawled INSIDE. I have never wanted to be the owner of a pellet gun so badly in my life than I was at the moment I looked out the window and saw that little guy standing inside the barrier, holding and eating my tomato. But for the most part, it has worked pretty well.
We diced up a few of those sweet-victory yellow tomatoes along with some fresh cherries, red onion, and what was quite possibly the world’s second hottest jalapeno for a colorful, sweet & spicy, summery salsa to give some leftover-from-the-freezer pulled pork a makeover.
It made more salsa than 2 adults and a toddler with a bad attitude could eat on tacos so we used the leftovers on prosciutto-wrapped tilapia (talk about an easy meal – you just wrap & broil!). And then the leftover leftovers were eaten with chips. Continue Reading…