Tag Archives: pastry cream

A TALE OF TWO PEACH ICEBOX PIES: STRAWN’S EAT SHOP REVISITED

During our recent visit to Shreveport, we stopped at our old neighborhood haunt several times. The chicken-fried steaks, hamburgers, and fries were all tasty and much as we remembered them. But the main purpose of our frequent visits was to get a slice of one of their famous icebox pies. Strawberry is probably the most popular, but the fresh peach and coconut cream are not far behind. Although the names identify the fillings, the rest of the contents are very similar: a good down-home crust, a layer of custard, the fruit, and real whipped cream on top that hides the contents. To assist the serving staff, every pie has a slice of fruit plunked down in the middle of the whipped cream. You can buy a whole pie and take it home. Many folks do that, and we did, too, but an honest-to-goodness North Louisiana lunch consists of the plate special of the day, along with sweetened iced tea (Is there any other kind in Louisiana?) and a big slice of pie.

Sarah decided to create a new dessert for Rich Table based upon Strawn’s peach pie. Hers became a deconstructed version with dollops of custard and whipped cream topped with fresh peaches. Along side were pie-crust sables. It turned out to be a very sophisticated dessert that became a big hit the first night it appeared on the menu.

The deconstructed version of peach icebox pie served at Rich Table, San Francisco

The deconstructed version of peach icebox pie served at Rich Table, San Francisco

My version is a little more straightforward: cream pie topped with fresh peaches and whipped cream. Since peaches are in season right now, it is a perfect dessert for a patio meal at sunset.

RECIPES

Almond Pie Crust

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond meal
  • ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons ice water

Method

  1. Place all of the ingredients in the beaker of a food processor fitted with the metal blade
  2. Pulse several times and then process until the dough forms a ball.
  3. Remove the ball of dough from the processor and wrap with plastic film. It may be a little sticky from the heat of the blade. That’s ok. It will firm up in the refrigerator.  Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm.
  4. When you are ready to bake the crust, press the dough into the bottom and along the sides of a 9 inch metal pie pan, forming an edge of dough on the rim of the pie pan.
  5. Pierce the bottom and sides of the crust all over with a fork. Bake in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 425° F for 12 to 14 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely in preparation for filling.

Cream Filling

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten until smooth and slightly foamy
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Method

  1. In a heavy saucepan, bring the milk to a boil and turn off the heat
  2. Combine the sugar, four, and salt in a medium bowl. Very slowly pour the hot milk into the dry mixture, whisking continuously to prevent lumps of flour from forming. As you add the milk, you can increase the rate of pouring until it has been completely added to the mixture.
  3. Return the mixture to the saucepan and adjust the heat to medium. Stirring continuously, heat the mixture slowly until it boils and thickens.
  4. Remove from the heat and cool for a minute. Beat in the egg yolks. Then return to the heat, and return to the boil for one minute. Remove from the heat, and beat continuously for another minute, allowing it to cool slightly.
  5. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts and butter until they are completely incorporated. Transfer to a bowl. Cover directly with plastic film and refrigerate for at least one hour until you are ready to assemble the pie.

Peaches and Whipped Cream Topping

Ingredients

  • 5 medium ripe peaches
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar (or to taste)

Method

  1. Blanch the peaches in boiling water for 10 seconds and then cool
  2. Peel the blanched peaches and cut them into slices. Sprinkle with sugar and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
  3. When you are ready to assemble the pie, whip the cream with confectioner’s sugar until it forms  stiff peaks.

Assembly

  1. Spread the pastry cream evenly on the bottom of the pie shell.
  2. Drain the peach slices if necessary, and arrange over the top of the pastry cream
  3. Cover the peaches completely with the whipped cream. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.

 

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AIX-EN-PROVENCE AND PASTRY CREAM

Back to Europe. One of our favorite visits during our recent Mediterranean cruise was a beautiful little city just north of Marseilles. Aix-en-Provence is about the same size as Santa Fe but a lot older. We think that Santa Fe is old and it is for the USA, going back to 1510. But Aix-en-Provence dates back at least to 300 BCE and was a Roman outpost in 150 BCE. The main part of the “old” town, though,  dates to the sixteenth,  seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, while the “new” city is filled with modern buildings and young students from the several universities and colleges located there.

We spent a too-short-day strolling up the Cours Mirabeau from the elegant fountain set in the center of la Rotonde to the statue of the “Good King” René at the head of the street before turning into narrow streets lined with beautiful old houses and interesting shops. The Cours Mirabeau is a narrow street set between two wide sidewalks under palisades of towering plane trees. Moss-covered fountains sit in roundabouts in the narrow street. Banks line one side of the boulevard, and there are several cafés on the other side. The cafés include the Deux Garçons famous for hosting Cézanne, Zola, and other famous artists and writers.

Instead of stopping in one of those cafés, we chose to continue our stroll through the old town. One of our stops was a farmers’ market in the place de l’Hotel de Ville. There were rows and rows of stalls filled with fresh fish and shellfish, meats, sausages, eggs, vegetables of all sorts, jellies, soaps, and even a smiling bronze boar peeking from behind a refrigerator truck. The market stood under the shadow of a sixteenth century clock tower and flags of the European Union, France, and Provence.

Enticed by a windowful of elegant pastries, we took a break at La Boutique du Glacier with tea and coffee and pastries including a delicious napoleon.

We walked past the carousel before boarding our tour bus to end a most enjoyable day that we would like someday to repeat.

 

RECIPES

Inspired by our visit to Aix, this is an effort to make a simple napoleon with absolutely no pretenses of duplicating the wonderful pastry we enjoyed in France.

First task is to make the pastry cream. This is a cousin to the three sibling creams I wrote about a while back: creme anglaise, creme brulee, and crema catalana. The main difference with this cousin is the addition of flour which enables you to boil the sauce without worrying about scrambling the egg yolks. It is actually fairly easy to make..

Puff pastry is beyond most home cooks – at least this one – so frozen sheets of pastry become the ticket to making an easy, quick, but tasty “home-made” napoleon.

CRÈME PÂTISSIÈRE

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Method

  • In a medium, heavy saucepan, heat the milk just to boiling
  • In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, flour, and salt. Then pour in the heated milk gradually, stirring to eliminate lumps. Then return the mixture to the saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, stirring continually until the mixture is thickened and smooth.
  • Remove from the heat and cool just slightly before beating in the egg yolks. Stir constantly while returning to a boil. The eggs will not curdle with the added flour.
  • Cook for about 1 minute. Then remove from the heat and, beating constantly, let it cool for about another minute before adding the vanilla and butter.
  • Continue to beat until the butter is completely  melted and incorporated into the sauce.
  • Transfer the sauce to a small bowl. Cover with plastic film directly on top of the sauce to prevent the formation of a skin, and cool in the refrigerator for an hour or mor

EASY NAPOLEONS

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet commercial frozen puff pastry
  • 1 batch creme patissiere
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar

Method

  • Remove one sheet of frozen puff pastry from the package and thaw according to package instructions
  • Place the thawed pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface and roll very lightly with a rolling-pin to smooth the folds in the pastry.
  • With a sharp knife, cut the sheet in half and then each half into 6 equally-sized bar shapes.
  • Transfer the shaped pastries onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned
  • Cool the baked pastries on a rack. Then split each in half so that you have 24 individual layers
  • Spread pastry cream between layers, stacking them so that each pastry has four layers. You will probably need to flatten the top of the bottom pastry by slicing a thin layer off the top with a very sharp knife.
  • Brush the tops of the assembled pastries with milk and then sprinkle with a mixture of the cocoa and confectioner’s sugar using a tea strainer.

Makes six napoleons

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