Recipe Round-Up: Four Fresh Ways to Enjoy Sweet Georgia Peaches

The familiar taste of a ripe, sweet Georgia peach is the ultimate flavor of summertime. Nothing beats biting into the fuzzy, soft fruit and hearing the sound of the peel break, while the juices run down your chin. Continue reading “Recipe Round-Up: Four Fresh Ways to Enjoy Sweet Georgia Peaches”


Savory Pie Boasts Heirloom Tomatoes with Pesto and Goat Cheese

Heirloom tomatoes. What a nice name for a fruit. Attach the word heirloom to anything and you immediately get that fuzzy feeling. Try it: Heirloom necklace. Heirloom desk. Heirloom antiques. Suddenly, I’m drawn to anything heirloom. The word is nostalgic, making you wonder about the subject’s history. When you think about it, having an heirloom tomato in your kitchen is pretty fascinating. It’s like cooking with a little piece of history. Here’s why: Since the 1940’s, farmers have saved the seeds and passed them down from generation to generation. Available in many different sizes and colors, my heirloom tomatoes were purple and yellow. With caramelized onions, these beauties made a gorgeous filling for my savory heirloom tomato pie with goat cheese and toasted pine nuts.

Open any leading food magazine today and there they’ll be: colorful, unique and bursting with flavor. Heirloom tomatoes are often the celebrity in soups, salads and tarts. If the heirloom tomato is there, the party is on.

The recipe starts with a cornmeal crust. Combine 1 cup of unbleached, all-purpose flour with 3/4 cup of yellow cornmeal and a stick of cold butter in a food processor. Add fine sea salt and ice-cold water and this is the result. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, form it into a disk, cover in plastic wrap and chill it in the freezer for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, salt your tomatoes and let them drain. You wouldn’t want a watery pie, now.

Once your dough has chilled, you’ll roll it out and place it in your pie crust, then crimp the edges. It’s not finished chilling, just yet. Place it in the refrigerator to let it set for about 20 minutes.

Cover the crust with aluminum foil and weight it down with something heavy like beans or rice. I thought I would be clever and kill two birds with one stone–I used pine nuts thinking they would keep my crust from puffing up while toasting at the same time. Unfortunately, they weren’t actually heavy enough. No worries, everything still turned out alright.

I am not above using what you have on hand. Though I did not have any fresh basil to make my pesto from scratch, I did have a sauce mix. It came together easily with water and extra virgin olive oil and served as the perfect base for my tomatoes.

The assembly is so much fun. Spread a thin layer of pesto into the golden brown, cooled crust…

…then top with gorgeous, caramelized onions. I sautéed these in a skillet with butter for about 15 minutes and added a tablespoon of sugar for a little sweetness.

Next, I layered in my tomatoes, alternating colors, then topped them with crumbled tomato & basil flavored goat cheese. Mild and creamy, the goat cheese is a nice bite with that cornmeal crust.

Flat leaf parsley adds a freshness and a nice pop of color to the pie when it comes out of the oven. Of course the key to any amazing dish is quality ingredients.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes. Top with toasted pine nuts and parsley. The goat cheese browns up so beautifully!

My savory heirloom tomato pie will be a welcome guest at any table. Enjoy it with a good glass of red wine and let this 50-year-old fruit take you back.

Fried Pie Features Georgia’s Finest Fruit

If Georgia were a food, it would be a fried peach pie with bourbon and cinnamon. Nothing says pride in the Peach State like a made from scratch buttery pie pastry, filled with local, sweet peaches fresh from the Farmers’ Market. At first taste of Fried Peach Pies with Bourbon and Cinnamon , you won’t even need to visit the fair when it comes to town. The flaky, crunchy exterior of this turnover with soft, bright red-orange peaches in the center, dusted with cinnamon sugar is one fine way to celebrate this summer fruit. Don’t limit these peach pies to dessert–pour yourself a glass of sweet tea and savor one for breakfast!

First things first. I’m all about a short cut folks, but nothing beats homemade pie dough. Combine self-rising flour, sugar and kosher salt with cold, cubed butter and a little egg wash and you’ve got yourself something to write home about. A food processor is the quickest way to bring everything together. Divide the dough onto a floured surface into 10 equal discs. Then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for at least 45 minutes.

Now, while everything gets underway, go ahead and crank up Georgia Blues by Jimi Hendricks and Lonnie Youngblood.

Lately, Saturday morning finds me at the Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers’ Market. I really enjoy talking with the area farmers and learning about what they grow and how they like to cook their crops. These were some of the most beautiful peaches I’ve ever seen, grown by Jacob’s Produce, a family farm located off of GA Hwy 17 in Screven County.

To peel peaches, forgo the vegetable peeler. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add peaches one at a time with a slotted spoon. Let them boil for about 45 seconds, then remove them from the boiling water and put them directly into an ice bath for about 20 seconds. This is the best way to get the most fruit out of your peach. Man alive, those are pretty!

Once your peaches are peeled and sliced, transfer them to a large skillet and add in a good quality bourbon (I like Bulleit Rye American Whiskey), lemon juice, brown sugar, tapioca and cinnamon. You’ll let those flavors marry for about 10 minutes before cooking them.

In an earlier blog post, I mentioned tapioca and many of my readers had questions about it. This is tapioca. Tapioca is an ingredient in tapioca pudding. It can be found on the baking aisle of your grocery store near the cornstarch and baking powder. Tapioca is used as a thickening agent and to sweeten fruit pies.

Once the peach mixture has set and cooled in the freezer for about 20 minutes, create an assembly line for the fun part! You can use water to moisten the edges of your pie dough, but I used milk for added flavor.

Roll out each disc of dough six inches wide. Fill the center with about a teaspoon of the peach mixture, but don’t overfill it. Then, paint the edges with milk, fold over and seal.

I like to use a fork to seal the edges because it makes a pretty pattern. 🙂

Fry the pies in vegetable oil by the batch. The length of time you’ll fry them will depend on how hot your oil is. My first batch took a little longer than the others. You just want to achieve that deep, dark golden brown color. Remove them from the oil and onto a paper towel-lined plate and immediately dust them with cinnamon sugar. The kitchen is smelling Some Kinda Good at this point, y’all.

These peach pies are a real treat. It doesn’t get more Southern than this.

Georgia Blueberries Star in Summer Tart

I’ve always loved the concept of a tart. I think it’s the ease of preparation that appeals to me. The idea that you can whip up a pastry base and fill it with anything you like, whether sweet or savory is just exciting, and the ridges–I can’t get over the ridges. Any combination of summer fruit will make a beautiful tart. This buttery, comforting blueberry tart was inspired by The New York Times Dining & Wine Recipes of Summer Fruit.

It all starts by combining your dry ingredients with cold butter, egg yolks and ice water. It’s important that the butter is cold, so your dough comes together in the right consistency.

Once your dough is blended, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and cover with plastic wrap. I recommend refrigerating it overnight. If you don’t allow it to set long enough, here’s what happens…

…one big sticky mess! Just keepin’ it real. After 30 minutes in the freezer, my dough was firm on the outside, but once I began to roll it out, it stuck to the rolling-pin and the plastic wrap. I formed it back into a ball, and refrigerated it overnight.

It just needed to “chill” a little longer. Don’t we all? You’ll want to roll it out to be a little bigger than your tart pan.

The rolling-pin provides a nice vehicle for transferring the dough and keeps everything from falling apart.

Press the dough into the crevices of the pan, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Meanwhile, toss your blueberries in sugar and cornstarch, reserving a few to top off the tart just before cooking. The sugar adds the sweetness, the cornstarch thickens it up and gives it that comforting, pie-like texture. While mixing the blueberries together, crush a few of them with a fork to release the juices. (That’s Millie in the bottom right corner. Isn’t she cute? A great kitchen mate.) 

A little close-up action.

Cover the crust with aluminum foil, then weight it down with dried beans or rice. It may seem strange, but it’ll keep the center of the dough from puffing up while cooking. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees.

When the crust comes out of the oven, it’ll still be pale, but not raw. It’s ready for the filling! Pile the blueberry mixture into the crust, then top with the remaining blueberries you reserved. Adjust the oven’s temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. A friend gave me these blueberries, farmed in Baxley, Georgia.

The tart bakes up beautifully and bubbly. You can serve it with whipped cream, cool whip, ice cream…the options are endless. A little dusting of powdered sugar and it comes to life! Look closely at the full blueberries compared to the ones that were crushed…great texture.

Those ridges are just gorgeous. The crust tastes so buttery and flaky, and the blueberries burst with sweetness in your mouth.

Serve it warm with a side of cold vanilla ice cream. The temperature difference does it for me every time! This recipe is a definite keeper.

Visit the Georgia Blueberry Commission website for more recipe ideas! How do you eat blueberries?