Honey and
Ricotta
a food journal

Monday, 22 August 2016

Nectarine & Blackberry Crumble Pie



By far the most important discovery I have so far made since moving to New York is that of the magical world of pie. Yes, pie. That simple, totally typical, all-American dessert. It's such a basic, widely-loved creation over here that it's almost taken for granted.  For those of us who have been bought up on crumbles, cakes, and flapjacks (this kind, not this kind), pie is a wonderful amalgamation of all my favorite things. Especially when it's a crumble pie, filled with bubbling fruit, and with a crust so thick it's almost too much for my teeth to handle.

On the subject of pie crust, I just want to take a moment to explain how it has taken me astoundingly long to get it right. I once spent a whole summer perfecting my French-inspired tart crusts, making them as thin, light, flaky, and buttery as possible. So whenever I roll out any pastry into a circle, up until this point in my life, I have immediately, automatically started treating it like that classic tarte au citron, and, inevitably, I am always disappointed by the lack of thick, crusty, almost burned, layered pie pastry when I cut into the tart-pie hybrid I have produced. However, it seems that I have finally managed to delete my muscle memory and I've managed to bake a pie where the crust is so thick that the crimping pretty much held it's shape, it's challenging to cut through, and it actually resembled the numerous slices I've eaten at Four and Twenty Blackbirds.

So, without further mumblings about my inability to not over-roll my pie dough, here's the recipe for the pie y'all need to make before we're out of nectarines for the year.

Nectarine and Blackberry Peach Pie

Makes 1 9-inch pie. 

Pastry (barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (110 grams) unsalted butter, very cold, cubed
1 cup iced water

Place flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter has broken down into pieces which are no bigger than tiny peas. Add 1/2 cup iced water and pulse. If the dough is beginning to come together, remove from the food processor. If it needs more water, add a tiny bit more, but be careful to not to use any more than you need. Knead the dough into a ball and flatten into a disc shape. Wrap in cling film/plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Filling

4 nectarines, stones removed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup blackberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
5 teaspoons caster sugar

Place the nectarines, blackberries, and vanilla extract in a large bowl, and stir together. Add the flour and both sugars and toss gently to combine, trying not to break up the fruit too much.

Crumble (barely adapted from Lily Vanilli)

30 grams (1 ounce) flour
30 grams (1 ounce) dark brown sugar
30 grams (1 ounce) unsalted butter, cold, cubed
30 grams (1 ounce) rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt


Mix the flour and sugar together. Add the butter and, using your fingers work it into the sugar and flour mixture until it has broken down and looks like breadcrumbs. Stir through the oats and the salt.

To Assemble the Pie

Flour, to roll and dust
Ice cream or whipped cream, to serve

Heat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F.

Roll the pastry out on a well-floured board into a circle at least 1 inch wider in diameter than your pie dish. Fold it into quarters and transfer it to your pie dish, and then unfold it. Fold the excess pastry back under the edge of the dough and crimp the edges as desired. Dust a couple of teaspoons of flour over the pastry base.

Pour in the fruit and sprinkle the crumble topping over it.

Place on a baking sheet (to catch any spillage) and bake in the oven for about an hour, or until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Let cool (this will take a couple of hours) before serving with ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Ferdinando's Focacceria


To celebrate a year since we moved from Haggerston to Boerum Hill, we spent a weekend being tourists in our local neighborhoods. Which really means we spent two days stuffing our faces. Our first stop was in the Italian streets of Carroll Gardens, at Ferdinando's Focacceria.

We were held back at the door as elderly (and obviously Italian) Alfredo and his wife had arrived at the same time as us, and their table was ready and waiting for them, so they were ushered in with the utmost courtesy and respect, while they motioned at us to wait to one side. Once that welcome serenade was over (this neighborhood is run by deeply-rooted family relationships, arguments, businesses, disputes, money, and friendships), we were acknowledged with a nod of the head, and once some tables had been rearranged for another  Italian family of nine, they found two seats for us in the corner. 


Stepping into Ferdinando's Foacceria is almost a culture shock. Walking through that door from Brooklyn sidewalk into Sicilian weekend lunchtime is likely the closest I'll ever get to being able to teleport. We were rapidly presented with menus, drinks came flying towards us, and we tried to quickly figure out what on the menu we could stand to skip.


Crispy, light, freshly deep-fried panelle with a huge splodge of ricotta and a scattering of sprinkled cheese will forever by one of my all time favorite accompaniments to a cold glass of wine on a hot summer's day.


We couldn't go somewhere Sicilian and not order arancini (or, more correctly, one giant arancina). Because, well, arancini are perhaps one of the best food inventions ever. And at Ferdinando's they're ginormous and stuffed full of meat and peas and covered in tomato sauce and cheese and... well... as you can see, it was fab. When we'd wiped those plates clean we realized we had definitely over-ordered.


Pasta con sarde followed. A giant bowl of bucatini topped with smoky, lightly spiced, subtly sweet sardine and tomato sauce, which was wonderfully slurpy and messy and made me massively regret my decision to wear white. 


And, just in case that wasn't enough, we'd also ordered a meatball parm roll. We didn't want to miss out. Rich meatballs, covered in sweet tomato sauce, melting cheese, and tucked in a fluffy bun are always welcomed, no matter how severe the food coma that follows.


Ferdinando's Focacceria, 151 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231. Cash Only.

Friday, 19 August 2016

5 Things & 3 More


5 happy things from the last 5 days:

1. Smoked salmon-filled breakfast bagels.
2. Baklava from Damascus.
3. Speedy running around the park.
4. Humshuka for dinner.
5. A surprise, dancing-filled present from T.

3 things to read this weekend:

1. For a productive afternoon, go out for lunch and have a glass of wine.
2. What you should and shouldn't worry about when you're living through your 20's.
3. Home dreams, inspiration, and wishes encapsulated in this North Fork house.

Happy weekend!

X

Saturday, 13 August 2016

1 Year On in NYC

Brooklyn Bride Park Summer 2015
On this day last year, we finally finished packing our bags, B's parents drove us to the airport, and we nervously boarded our flight to JFK. Just before midnight, we had landed, waited anxiously in line for security, quadruple-checking we really did have all the right papers and they were going to let us through. Finally we got in a taxi, drove through New York's outer neighborhoods, and arrived at a fairly grotty hotel in Gowanus.

One year on and this city feels less intimidating, overwhelming, and confusing than it did on our first week, although I am still surprised or taken aback by at least one event or conversation or discovery every day. New York feels a little more like home (but the UK is still what we refer to as home), we have some friends, jobs, an adorable apartment, and plenty of local food-related knowledge. However, I still can't discuss the temperature in fahrenheit, people regularly don't understand what I'm saying, and this humid, hot summer is simultaneous a novelty and impossible to survive in.

Brooklyn Bride Park Summer 2016
So, to celebrate, our New York-iversary, I'm not going to provide you with a list of my favorite New York places (that's what this blog does the rest of the year), but instead with a list of the weirdest, most confusing, and most basic American-NYC vs UK-London differences, which we never ever thought about before we arrived:

1. When you're asked 'How's it going?' or 'How are you?' when you walk into a café, restaurant, or shop, they're not actually just looking for a response, it's just their way of saying 'hello'.
2. New Yorkers have asbestos hands, and drink huge coffees, all day, every day.
3. Everybody uses the subway, but this doesn't mean it's an efficient way to get around. It's old, slow, smelly, there's no information anywhere, and it is regularly delayed.
4. New Yorkers are totally dog-obsessed. Until you have a dog, even if you live in a tiny apartment, you're not really one of them.
5. Iced coffee isn't just for summer.
6. Paying the 'check' in a restaurant will take many, many, meals out to get used to. And if you try explaining the efficient British method to your server they will be overwhelmed.
7. You have to tip. There's no point trying to play the 'I'm British card' - they don't care. People in tipping jobs are paid a minimum wage of next to nothing, so tips are the only way they can survive.
8. Apartments generally don't have washing machines. Welcome to the world of the laundromat.
9. This is a city with real seasons. The winter is cold and snowy and icy, the summer is hot, humid, and sweaty.
10. It's impossible to hear an American say croissant, niche, cassoulet, or lychee without laughing.
11. New Yorkers love giving directions. Generally, they don't acknowledge or communicate with strangers in public, but stop and ask for directions and you'll think you've found your new best friend.
12. If you're going to work in a restaurant, make sure you can speak Spanish first.
13. You could probably furnish and decorate your whole room with furniture and odd bits and bobs found on stoops. Everybody loves leaving things they would otherwise throw away on their stoop for passersby to adopt.
14. New Yorkers don't toast their bagels.
15. You probably won't get arrested if you jaywalk.
16. Doughnuts are definitely an acceptable breakfast.
17. Don't try and be ironic. It doesn't go down well.
18. Europe is thought of as essentially one country. And European is pronounced Eurpn.
19. Squirrel is pronounced squrl. Don't even try to talk about Eurpn squrls.
20. Unless you're a millionaire, you will have problems with bugs in your apartments, whether it's ants, cockroaches, or mice.
21. They think the first floor is the ground floor. We live in what would be called a basement flat in the UK and don't even know how to refer to it here.
22. As a Brit, it is assumed you know everything about the royal family. Everything.
23. There are 'commercials' everywhere at every possible opportunity: on TV every 2 minutes, at sports matches, on the radio, you can't get away from them.
24. New Yorkers don't fit the stereotype of Americans who eat early. Nobody sleeps in this city. Sleep is frowned upon.
25. Ordering eggs is its own language: over easy, sunny side up, hard scrambled, soft scrambled, coddled... It goes on.
26. Be careful when you cross the street on a go sign, cars still can run you over, they're allowed to if they're turning the corner.
27. Pizza is also called pie. Pie is also pie. It's confusing.
28. Cider is apple juice - normally posh apple juice. It can also be alcoholic, and they sometimes make this clearer by calling the alcoholic version hard cider, but not always. And apple juice is still a thing, but tends to refer to rubbish apple juice. But not always.
29. Writing the date will blow your mind. I am now simply unable to read or write a date at all.
30. If you use contactless on your credit card in a supermarket or shop, you will literally blow the cashier's mind.

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