Bye, Guy! and a Pie

A friend wanted a pie. Isn’t that how all pie stories begin?

The plot of this one is simple–last day of work for a coworker and he wanted a peach pie. It’s the sequence of events that get a bit blurry in my medi-fuzzed mind. Since I can’t seem to write down recipes as I go, and I have some preternatural aversion to measuring, the particulars of this one may be a bit sketchy. In spite of all that, here we go.

Bourbon Peach Pie with a Bacon Lattice Maple Syrup-Drizzled Topping

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When I think of peach pie, I tend to think of bourbon. When I think of bourbon, I think of bacon. Now, we’re not going to get into an argument about whether Jack Daniel’s is a whiskey or a bourbon or a bourbon whiskey. For my purposes, it mixes with the flavors of peaches, bacon, and honey just riiight.

20160809_192636.jpgWith ingredients like that, the only way to screw up is to use a store-bought pie dough. Just say no, people. Making your own is pretty damn simple. It may take six or three times to master it, but it’s worth it every single time. So get to learning if you don’t know how already.

Yep. There’s mine in all its near perfection glory. And yes, I’m bragging, but in all seriousness, there’s something about melding together the basics of flour, butter, salt, and water with your hands until it becomes not just the carrier of all the other flavors, but often becomes the star of the show.

*I have to admit that somehow my crust shrunk a little too much during the par bake this time around. Gah! and shhhhh.

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While the par-baked pie crust cooled, it was time to skin, slice, and season the peaches. I ended up using a mix of regular and white peaches because I wanted ripe ones. After a lot of feeling up of a lot of peaches, I found five firm, juicy big ‘uns. Tossed with the JD, lemon juice, honey, brown sugar, nutmeg, salt and flour, they were ready to set aside while soaking up all those flavors.

For the bacon lattice top, I chose a thick cut, lower sodium bacon. Personally, I have to
watch my sodium intake for health reasons, but the more I’ve learned about it through 20160809_195530.jpgnecessity to keep myself healthy, I’ve realized most people need to cut back. PSA aside, when it’s floating on a delicious peach mixture and drizzled with maple syrup, nobody is going to notice if it has a little less sodium. I cooked the bacon on the stove-top just long enough so it wasn’t completely done, but not totally flimsy either. Browned, but not crunchy. Mmmmm, bacon.

Once the peach filling was poured into the homemade pie crust and the latticed top drizzled with maple syrup, it was time to pop that sweet lovin’ baby in the oven and sit back with glass of JD. The perfume of the mapled meat and honeyed peaches mingled with the warmth of the liquor sliding along, soothing away the tough moments of the week, month, year, so far. Pie baking is my therapy.

And then it was done. And then it was brought to the party. And then it was gone.

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Pie Dough:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 stick of unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup ice water

Sift the flour, toss in the salt, and work the butter in until the butter pieces are about the size of a walnut. Make a well in the center and slowly pour in the ice water a tablespoon at a time kneading it until the dough just comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in fridge for at least thirty minutes before rolling out. Put back in the fridge after setting in pie plate before par-baking it.

 

Peach Filling:

2-3 pounds peaches (about 5-6 large)

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup sugar (I used dark brown)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2-3 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey (I used 4 tablespoons. heh)

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch of salt

5-6 tablespoons of flour

 

Bacon Topping:

8-10 slices of bacon (I used thick cut, lower sodium)

Maple syrup, enough to drizzle all over

 

425 degree oven for 15 minutes and then drop the temp to 375 for 25-30 minutes.

I had to cover it with aluminum for a few so the bacon didn’t overcook. Just keep an eye on it and let it go to your liking.

 

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Meatless Monday & Friends with Benefits

Tonight, I made a simple meatless meal–an open-faced egg sandwich. Yes, it was absolutely delicious, but the best part about it was that almost all of it was created with handmade products from friends. I’ve scored big time with homegrown/made gifts in the last couple of weeks. The season of giving apparently started early and I took full advantage of those benefits tonight.

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The bread is what my friends and I like call “tail bread” because one time an otherwise rustic-round loaf my friend made had a small, protruding piece that looked like a tail. I don’t know how she does it, but this bread is always spot-on with the flavor, crust, and crumb. I like to toast it on my cast iron griddle with a butter and olive oil combo.

Once the slices were toasted, I topped them with thin layer of Duke’s Mayo and then the most scrumptious zucchini relish ever. This relish and the dill pickle spear were made by another friend who grew the zucchini and cucumbers. Whenever I get my hands on a jar of this relish, I eat it every single day until it is gone. It pairs perfectly with the bread and over easy eggs, which I put on top with a handful of sliced, cherry tomatoes from my fall garden, a sprinkling of pecorino cheese, and then another friend-crafted delight–pickled jalapeños. The heat from the peppers she grew herself is balanced by a tiny hint of sweet from a dash of sugar in the pickling recipe. Absolutely delectable.

Again, this was a very simple meatless meal, but the fact that my friends shared their hard work and talent with me made it so much tastier than any ol’ regular egg sandwich. I have some seriously talented friends and I’m lucky to have them in my life. Not only do I enjoy the fruits of their labors–from breads and honey to vanilla extract and candles–but I also like to learn from them and share what I am able. My lovely friends with benefits.

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Although this was a meatless meal, it was enjoyed with the scent of bacon in the air. Another crafty friend sent me an all natural, soy-based Bacon-scented candle! It smells heavenly.

Today may be Meatless Monday, but I’m already thinking about my next baking adventure. I’m thinking it’s going to be a meat pie. MEAT PIE, Y’ALL.

Not. Even. Once. …instant eggplant addiction happens.

Pretty sure I just accidentally cooked meth…with eggplant and bacon and goat cheese. And some other stuffs too. We’ve all seen the commercial and I think it just happened in my kitchen. Here’s what happened–

I was starving. This is how these things always start. Scavenged through my fridge and garden and pulled together a grouping that looked nice together. Yes, I do put together foods like other people put together outfits.

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The color combo pleased me, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do with what I had in front of me. I thought about ditching the bread because I didn’t want a sandwich for dinner, but I hadn’t had a good baguette in so long, I decided to work it in somehow. Going through a few options in my head, I started with chopping up the eggplant and bacon, tossing them in olive oil, and roasting them. While those were cooking, I bit off the butt of the bread and decided I’d do an open-faced type sandwich after all. I sliced up the red pepper along with white onion and caramelized them on my cast iron griddle with some of the now rendered bacon grease from the roasting sheet poured on top.

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If you think you don’t like eggplant, roast it on a pan with bacon. You’ll change your mind. The eggplant soaks up all that smokey, salty flavor and gets crispy on the outside while staying soft on the inside. The bacon turns into morsels of perfection.

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While all of that worked itself into what would become the meat of the meal, I mixed together the goat cheese with some olive oil and fresh English thyme, making a spread for the bread slices. When the red pepper and onions were almost done, I threw on some chunky pieces of one big garlic clove until it was ever so slightly browned. Moving that to a bowl, I used the leftover bacon grease and flavors on the griddle to toast the baguette slices.

Cooking is much easier for me than baking. I can time everything and this meal came together all at once, just like it needed to. The bread was heavily slathered with the goat cheese spread, covered with the eggplant and bacon, topped with the onions and peppers, and garnished with sliced fresh basil and scallions. The deep purple skin of the eggplant with the bold red of the pepper, the bright green of the herbs, and the cream of the cheese all came together into a thing of beauty. It was stunning. It was like the “whatever is a high-end brand of clothing” of the dinner plate world.

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I mean, really? Yes.

And then I took a bite and realized it was, in fact, crack. Worse. I had cooked meth. I wanted this meal every damn day. The flavors, the textures, the colors…I couldn’t handle it. I’m telling you, if you think you don’t like eggplant, you’re wrong. This meal right here will become an instant eggplant addiction for you. I’m warning you though, like the commercials, if you don’t want to spiral into a world of fiending for your next eggplant fix…NOT. EVEN. ONCE. Close out of this page right now and never look back. Or stay and try it and cry on your shower floor this winter because eggplant isn’t in season anymore. Either way.

Ingredients and such:

one medium eggplant, chopped with skin left on

3 slices of uncured bacon, chopped

half a large red pepper sliced

half a white onion sliced

one large garlic clove cut thick

1-2 ounces goat cheese

olive oil

about a tablespoon each of fresh thyme, basil, scallions

baguette

Toss the eggplant and bacon with about one tablespoon of olive oil and roast on the middle rack at 425 for a total of 25 mins. turning about every 7-10 mins.

Slice the pepper and onions and use some of the poured off bacon grease from the roasting pan to caramelize them. Add the chunky garlic near the end.

Mix the goat cheese with a tablespoon of olive oil and the fresh thyme until it is easily spreadable.

Toast the bread on the griddle with the leftover bacon grease.

Slice the basil and scallions as a garnish.

Stack and serve immediately. This is one you’ll need to time right so nothing gets mushy.