I realised the other night that my first two years of blogging had come and gone without notice or celebration – two years and 132 posts. It’s hard to wrap my head around, to be honest. What was a spur of the moment decision two summers ago to set up a small outpost on the internet has gradually grown into a major part of my life, much more than a passing interest. It was a sort of play-thing to record a few recipes and try my hand at photography, something that I quietly assumed would fizzle after a year or so and be an interesting record to look back on – the thoughts of Claudia at university, or something like that. I remember fussing over the photos and trying to work out my camera for the first few posts – plum, coconut and lemon syrup cake, and charred corn & salmon tacos – both recipes that I still make often. I was quite happy with those photographs at the time – anything was better than the pre-blogging yellow nighttime iPhone shots that hide at the back of my instagram page. I keep wanting to update them, but then convince myself I should leave it as a record of the starting point, as grimace-inducing as they are.
It’s gone further and seen more than I imagined: a couple of years of the ups and downs of full-time medical school, countless recipes, travel chronicles of Turkey, Cambodia and Cuba, and a trip to the Saveur Blog Awards in New York last year. It’s an outlet and a passion, and I’m probably a little obsessive – but I love it. I mainly want to say a huge thank you to everyone who sticks around to read some of my rambling and try a recipe or two. It means so much to me and puts a smile on my face every day.
To belatedly celebrate two years of blogging and a few weeks of summer at home in New Zealand, I’ve made a peach & blackberry pie with olive oil gelato. As I’ve mentioned previously, pie isn’t quite so popular on this side of the world, so this Four & Twenty Blackbirds Strawberry and Ginger Pie was my first attempt. Since then I’ve also made Jenny’s Salty Honey Pear Pie, Momofuku’s Crack Pie and chocolate bourbon pecan pie – and it isn’t quite so scary anymore. Peaches are at their peak here at the moment – the magic stage where sticky juice runs straight down your chin and coats your fingers as you bite in, and there’s none of the disappointing dry flouriness you sometimes get at the tail ends of the season. Tart blackberries counterpoint the sweetness, and I held back from my habit of adding more flavours – it really only needs the fruit to shine.
The olive oil gelato is my new favourite. It’s not strange, or oily, or an acquired taste. It’s cool and creamy, and though you notice the olive oil when it first hits your tongue, it quickly becomes something you can’t stop eating. It is a Gjelina recipe – a Venice Beach restaurant we scrambled a visit to in the hour before heading back to LAX last week. The online reservation system was fully booked, but a pleading smile and a promise to get out by 630 worked wonders! Their simple, seasonal vegetable weighted menu had me acquiring their cookbook at the first chance I got, and this olive oil ice cream is the ideal, not-too-sweet balance to summer fruit desserts.
So if there is one use for that stone fruit going soft on your kitchen bench and the premium olive oil languishing in the pantry, this is it.
- 2½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 225g (2 sticks, 1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 cup cold water
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 1 cup ice
- 900g fresh peaches, sliced into 2 cm thick slices (about 4-5 large peaches)
- 300g fresh or frozen blackberries
- ½ cup caster sugar (100g)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or essence
- zest and juice of a lemon
- ¼ cup plain flour (30g)
- 1 egg for egg wash
- demerara sugar for sprinkling
- Using a food processor or a pastry blender in a large bowl, stir the flour, salt and sugar together. Add the butter and cut into the flour mixture (or pulse briefly in the food processor) until mostly pea size pieces of butter remain. A few larger pieces are okay. If using a food processor, transfer the flour-butter mixture to a large bowl.
- Combine the water, cider vinegar and ice in a bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water over the flour mixture, and mix and cut it in with the bench scraper, spatula or your fingers until fully incorporated. Continue to add the ice water mixture, 1-2 tablespoons at time, until the dough just comes together with a few dry bits. This normally takes about 10-12 tablespoons total.
- Divide the dough in half and shape into two flat discs. wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C.
- Roll out one disc of dough to line a greased, 9 inch (22cm) pie pan: place the dough on a large piece of baking paper on your work surface with a sprinkle of flour (it may need to rest for 5 minutes to soften enough to roll). Use a rolling pin to roll out to about 30cm diameter. Move the dough onto the pie plate by folding the baking paper & dough in half over your rolling pin, peeling hte backing paper over and unrolling the dough onto your pie plate. Press firmly into the bottom and sides of the pan and trim the edges, leaving about 1cm overhang of the rim for crimping later. Place in the refrigerator.
- Reflour your surface and roll the second disc out. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut 2-3cm strips of dough, long enough to cover the diameter of the pie tin. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
- Combine the peaches, blackberries, caster sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and juice, and flour in a large bowl and toss to combine. Pour the filling into the refrigerated pie shell, making the fruit as even and flat as possible. Arrange the lattice on top, (see HERE for instructions) and crimp the edges.
- Chill the pie in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to set the pastry.
- Make the egg wash by whisking together 1 egg with a tablespoon of water.
- Place pie on a baking tray to catch any overflow and brush the egg-wash over the lattice and crimped edge. Sprinkle liberally with demerara sugar.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temprature to 180°C, and continue to bake for another 20 minutes or until deep golden and bubbling.
- Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2-3 hours. Serve with scoops of olive oil ice cream (recipe below)
- ½ vanilla bean , halved lengthwise and seeds scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
- ½ cup (125ml) cream
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup (100g) caster sugar
- ½ cup (125ml) creme fraiche
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ⅓ cup (80ml) good quality olive oil
- Combine the vanilla bean and seeds or vanilla paste with the milk, cream and salt in a small pot. Stir until it almost comes to a boil, and set aside to cool, about 20 minutes. Discard the vanilla bean pod, if used.
- In a medium bowl or stand mixer, whisk together the egg, egg yolk and sugar until very thickand pale. Gradually and gently pour the cool milk mixture into the egg base while whisking constantly. Whisk in the creme fraiche and honey.
- Refrigerate the ice cream base for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Churn according to ice cream maker's instructions until frozen. Gently stir in the olive oil by hand and transfer to a loaf tin or airtight container. Store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.