Cherry Crisp

Cherry Crisp3

Goodbye summer.

Cherry Crisp

Goodbye ice cream trucks and picnics and ripe tomatoes.

Cherry Crisp2

Goodbye road trips and outdoor concerts. Goodbye action blockbusters in air conditioned theaters. Goodbye lemonade.

Topping Ingredients

Goodbye s’mores and dandelions and thunderstorms and fireworks. Goodbye reruns and strappy sandals. Goodbye sunburns. Goodbye baseball and crickets chirping.

Cherry Filling

Goodbye fresh cherries.

Cherries

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Brown Butter Shortbread Cookies with Fig Jam and Pine Nuts

Dear Martha Stewart,

When I read your recipe for Aunt Maggie’s Jam Thumbprint Cookies, I had the highest of hopes. See, I had this jar of fig jam in the fridge, and I wanted to use it for something special. I’d spent countless hours perusing Pinterest boards when I came across your simple recipe for what seemed to be the perfect vehicle for my sweet, figgy spread.

The cookie that came to be in my galley kitchen, however, was nothing like the cookie you (and your commentariat) described.

And yes, I’ll admit that I didn’t exactly follow your recipe to the letter. It’s true—I browned the butter then cooled it in the fridge before creaming it with the sugar.

But still! Should that have affected the recipe to such a dramatic degree that instead of a perfectly round, soft, chewy confection, I ended up with a charmingly misshapen, tender, delicate shortbread? Really, if it weren’t for the sweet-sticky figs and $8 worth of pine nuts, this cookie would be nothing but an over-sized, nutty bite of heaven that melts in your mouth.

It’s lucky for you that this cookie turned out as beautifully as it did. Your reputation was really on the line.

Most humbly,

Bake Up, Little Suzy

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Pear Napoleons with Bourbon Caramel

It’s embarrassing how much time I spend thinking about recipes I want to try. I’ll start with the germ of an idea (say, a pear dessert for Mom’s birthday dinner). Then I’ll spend weeks – maybe months – considering the options: pear tart, pear cobbler, pear cake, pear sorbet… And when I finally decide on the perfect recipe, I abandon the idea entirely because I’m terrified of making a mistake. (Yeah, I never said my process was a healthy one.)

In this case, the paralyzing fear was invoked by the menace of homemade caramel sauce—it’s the easiest thing in the world to ruin. I think if I ever get around to recording another CD, it’ll be called Ways to Ruin Caramel, with forlorn country ballads like “Too Runny,” “Too Hard,” “Bitter and Scorched,” and “Grains of Sand.”

It took no less than three glasses of cheap wine for me to face my caramelized fear, and I’m so drunk—I mean, I’m so happy that I did! This caramel sauce is the perfect texture (creamy but not too thick), with the subtlest bite of sea salt and just enough booze. *hiccup*

The other components of the recipe – poached pears, sweetened mascarpone, flaky puff pastry, and toasted pistachios—are a cinch to prepare, yet every bit as delicious as the bourbon caramel.

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Pear and Apple Crostata

It’s my 2nd blogiversary! That’s right, imaginary internet friends, Galley Kitchen turns two this month.

I plan to celebrate the terrible twos by having a temper tantrum in the grocery store and demanding TWO stories at bedtime. Or maybe I’ll make a pie. I haven’t decided yet.

A year ago in my one-year blogiversary post, I set a couple goals for the 2011-2012 blog year, and I’m feeling pretty good about my progress. I learned to cook fabulous dinners on an unemployed lady’s budget, I learned to take decent photos after sunset, and, thanks to Handsome Greg, I have three new adverbs at the ready (frostingly, gravily, and somewhatkumquat).

The very first recipe I shared on Galley Kitchen was inspired by an overabundance of apples, so today I’m sharing another apple recipe. This Pear and Apple Crostata is a perfect fall treat; the filling has just enough sugar and cinnamon to turn  the apple and pear juices into a luxurious sauce, barely coating the tender fruit snuggled under a flaky duvet of pie crust. Next time I’ll brush the pie crust with egg wash—it was a tiny bit dry—but I’ll otherwise follow the recipe as is.

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Blueberry Crumb Bars

Winter in Minnesota is notoriously treacherous. Sub-zero temperatures. Deadly blizzards. Icy winds that’ll blow the lip gloss right off your face, and leave your naked maw puckered and chapped.

By March, after months of potatoes drowned in gravy, when the snow is still piled up in grey, icy mounds and it seems spring is never going to come, I dream of fresh, ripe summer berries. I long for strawberry shortcake and blackberry pie and homemade jam. And I wonder when will the berries at the grocery store drop in price and stop tasting like sawdust already?!

Well thanks to global warming or the world ending or something, we’ve seen record highs in temperatures and record lows in snowfall this winter. And I can’t help but believe this bizarro weather is somehow responsible for the rock-bottom price on sweet, juicy, organic blueberries at Rainbow last week.

We may very well pay the price down the road for this uncharacteristically mild weather. But if I can do nothing to change it, I figure I may as well enjoy it. And I’m enjoying the weather with blueberry crumb bars. The crust is rich and buttery with a satisfying crunch, and the blueberries bake to a perfectly thick, sticky jam that’s packed with fresh fruit flavor but not too sweet. Y’know what summertime tastes like? This.

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Chocolate Cherry Napoleons

Last night I made a special Valentine’s Day dinner for Handsome Greg.

Valentine's Day Napoleons
He arrived at 7:30 sharp, looking handsome as ever, with a bottle of wine, the sweetest Valentine ever, and a box of heart-shaped chocolate truffles. I, on the other hand, was still wearing my bathrobe and slippers, having only just emerged from the shower. Dinner was a good 45 minutes behind schedule, but I managed to buy a little time by convincing Greg to drop the gifts and take out the garbage. (Yeah, he is pretty much the nicest guy in the universe.)

Valentine's Day Napoleons3

I knew Saturday would be a mad rush — preparing a special dinner is an all-day affair for me, and I lost a big chunk of time earlier in the day at my web programming class. So, I planned to simplify preparations by following a complicated dinner menu with a mostly store-bought dessert.

And it was a good thing I did. Once we finally ate dinner, dessert came together quickly and easily. I’d cut out the pastry hearts earlier and they were waiting on a parchment-lined baking sheet in the fridge. After dinner I popped them in the oven, heated the cherry pie filling, made the ganache, and dessert was warm and flaky and squishy in no time.

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Lemon Pavlovas with Blackberry Sauce

I have a number of weirdo food quirks:

1. I eat all the crust off a slice of bread first, in a circle, until all that’s left is the center

2. I suck on Cheetos until they’re soggy, then chew and swallow

3. I eat french fries two at a time, and they have to be identical in length. I’ll sort them first, to match each fry with a similar-sized french fry companion, then eat them together

4. I don’t like cold foods touching hot foods

And relatedly:

5. I like to eat desserts one layer at a time

Cake, then frosting. Crust, then pie filling. Whipped cream, then Jell-O. Bars present their own issues, but that’s another story for another, messier day.

Lemon Pavlova with Blackberry Sauce

On the evening I served these ethereal splendors to Mom and Handsome Greg, I took care in sequestering the creamy filling from the cloud of meringue. Yet somehow, a crispy shard of meringue found its way onto my forkful of sweetened mascarpone, stained with blackberry juice.

Clean Plate

How could this have happened? I mean, it’s not like I’d had three glasses of wine, or anything.

Meringue with Lemon Zest

And then a light bulb turned on in my mouth, or maybe in my head. In that one, incredible you-got-your-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter-no-you-got-your-peanut-butter-in-my-chocolate moment, I finally understood the desire to construct “the perfect bite” of food.

Blackberry

While each element of the recipe – the light, crunchy meringue, the duvet of butter-sweet cheese, and the fresh, tart blackberry sauce – is tasty in its own right, together they are magical.

So what are your food hang-ups?

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