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Crêpes are one of those things that I have always met with uncertainty. Until today I wondered why I would usually pass them by and came to the conclusion that most crêpes I have had are unusually sweet. Who knows if that is how a sweet crêpe is supposed to taste like? I am not particularly fond of ultra-sweet syrupy soaked food. If kept simple, a plate of buttered crêpes  is more tempting than eating syrup with a fork.

Going back to the thought that food should taste of itself, why not make crêpes that are sweet, but still allowing the crêpe itself to stand up for itself. A few roasted peaches, a spoon full of jam and a dollop of whipped cream I feel is a nice combination and a great way to stretch out lazy weekend mornings.

Roasted Peach Crêpes

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon granular sugar

½ teaspoon sea salt

 

¾ cup whole milk

½ cup water

2 eggs

3 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter

 

6 ripe yellow peaches

2 Tablespoons vanilla bean sugar [recipe below]

Whipped Cream [to serve]

Dark Cherry Jam [to serve]

 

cooking the crêpes:

1. Whisk together flour, sugar and sea salt. Set aside.

2. Combine milk, water and eggs in a separate bowl.

3. Add wet ingredients into the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

4. Whisk in the melted butter gradually.

5. Allow crêpe batter to rest for 30-60 minutes to allow air bubbles to come to the surface.

6. Heat a crêpe pan [or non-stick pan] to medium, using a little butter to grease the pan, pour ¼ cup batter into pan and immediately swirl the batter to coat the bottom. Cook crêpes until the bottom starts to turn golden, flip over and cook for a few more moments. Repeat with remaining batter. Makes 10 crepes.

roasting the peaches:

1. Cut peaches in half and remove the stone.

2. Slice peaches into quarter inch slices.

3. Place peaches on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with vanilla sugar.

4. Roast peaches in a 400ºF oven approximately 5-10 minutes or until sugar starts to caramelize and peaches are tender, but not mushy.

Vanilla Bean Sugar Recipe

2 Tablespoons granular sugar

1 whole vanilla bean, split

 

1. Scrape out seed from the vanilla bean and combine them with the sugar.

*reserve vanilla bean pod for another recipe.

I am always thrilled when someone takes pleasure in such simple things. Yesterday it was a friend of mine who wanted nothing less than some good old blueberry pancakes. And I would agree; those simple things make us happy. An outing for breakfast was in order before the day’s activities started.

Arriving at one of my favorite breakfast places [Bon Vie], she got her pancakes. I am often asked if I have any recipes for this or a recipe for that, so I thought posting a recipe for blueberry pancakes would be a great way to send her a recipe. Hopefully she will enjoy this recipe as I enjoyed the pancakes this morning.

This recipe is based off a basic one that can be adapted for whatever fruit or additions you may want to put in the batter.

Blueberry Pancake Recipe

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup granular sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon sea salt

 

1 ¾ cups whole milk -or- buttermilk

2 eggs

3 Tablespoons safflower oil

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh -or- frozen blueberries

 

1. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and sea salt. Set aside.

2. Combine milk, eggs, oil, butter and vanilla extract.

3. Add wet ingredients into the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

4. Heat a skillet to medium, using a little butter to grease the pan, pour 1/3 cup batter into pan. Once air bubble form on the surface of the pancake, they are ready to be flipped over. Cook for few minutes. Repeat with remaining batter. Makes 10 pancakes.

Mid-season and the gardens are growing well. No pest problems, no disease to speak of. I guess this is a good year for a garden and with ample amounts of rain, watering has been kept to a minimum.  This is the time to feed the garden one last time before the cold season arrives.

If you have read the post on spring fertilizing, I have an all-purpose fertilizer recipe I use twice a year for the job. This year the garden is so large and full that I am going to feed with poultry pellets. This can easily be broadcast around the garden and not burn the plants.

As a general rule, stop fertilizing the garden no later than mid-August, as new growth will not survive the winter months ahead. Amongst the benefits of keeping plants healthy, mid-season fertilizing will help your garden to look its best through the dog days of summer.

In addition to my mid-season fertilizing routine, if there are plants that need an extra boost or need some quick food or perhaps looking a little tired, worn out, I give them a good watering with sea kelp and fish emulsion. This treatment usually is for those plants that are heavy feeders.

Alyssum planted annually fills in this two inch gap between the stone edging which will eventually cover the stone below.

Every year a few alyssum seeds fall between the cracks and grow.

Moneywort creeping over the edge. Another two inch gap is utilized for more plants.

Something unusual about this year is the rate at which the flowers are blooming. It’s not such a bad thing to see a garden filled with colorful flowers, however, many of the fall bloomers are ready to go.

Looking through past years blooming charts, these fall bloomers typically start at the end of August. I started keeping track of plants at their peak of bloom, because for me it is easier to plan on what changes I want to undertake or new plants to accentuate the garden. This works very well when annuals are selected to enhance a perennial garden. Here is a sample of the charts I keep for quick reference for garden planning.

‘Regale’ Lilies just before bloom.

This lily stalk holds almost twenty trumpet blooms!

Balustrade Garden Update

Photo [LEFT] is the current growth | Photo [RIGHT] after planting.

To read more about planting of the balustrade garden click here.

 

A sneak peak into the stone tarrace garden. Here I am experimenting with large planters. In this one and many others, elephant ears add height and drama to liven this space.

Where is the summer going? I think a lot of us are extra busy this year and its time we take a little break to enjoy what short summer we have. The garden seems to be in a hurry this year to bloom. The fall bloomers are just about ready. Checking years past they start to bloom at the end of August. So let’s take some relaxation time and perhaps serve it up with something sweet.

Who’s in the mood for pears, I am? It’s one of my favorite fruits. Don’t let the heat of the summer keep you out of the kitchen. This recipe is rather quick to make and with a short time in the oven you will have a delicious dessert to enjoy outdoors.

Almond Pear Tart Recipe

 

3 ripe D’anjou pears

Pâte Sucrée

Frangipane

1/3 cup apricot jam

1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Pâte Sucrée

2 cups all-purpose flour

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 large egg

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

1. Process butter and confectioner’s sugar together until fluffy, 2 minutes.

2. Add egg and sea salt and process for another minute or so.

3. Add flour and pulse just until combined, approximately 5 seconds.

4. Dump bowl onto a work surface and knead just to form a ball.

5. Roll out between two sheets of wax paper to an eighth of an inch.

Chill at least 2 hours.

6. Peel off one side of the parchment and invert over 6-4 1/2 inch tart rings.

7. Press down on the dough so the tart pans cut the dough to size.

8. Press dough into the sides of the pans and then the bottoms.

-If there are any tears in the dough just push to seal.

-If it is very warm in the kitchen, you can roll out individual tart shells; just divide dough into six even pieces.

 

Frangipane Recipe:

¾ cup granular sugar

¾ cup almond meal

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon almond extract

1 large egg

 

Preparing the frangipane:

1. Combine the butter and sugar together until smooth.

2. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth.

3. Fill a piping bag with a ½ inch round tip with frangipane.

 

Baking the tarts:

1. Remove prepared tart shells from refrigerator and pipe a ¼ inch layer of frangipane into the bottom.

 -Alternate: Divide frangipane evenly between tarts and spread out using the back of a spoon.

2. Peel, halve and core pears, placing one half in the center of each tart.

3. Bake for 35-40 minutes until frangipane has risen and edges are golden in color.

4. Cool for 15 minutes before removing tarts from their pans.

Finishing the tarts:

1. Heat apricot jam in a small saucepan and strain through a fine mess sieve.

2. Brush jam over tart tops and sprinkle toasted almonds around the edges.

There are many places to linger around the home. One particular spot that would be considered unusual to hang out in is a small alcove just outside the back door. It’s one of my favorite social spots to talk with neighbors and to view the shade garden from above.

On a whim, I set up a small table right outside and shared these delicious little afternoon treats with my next door neighbor.

Store-bought puff pastry can be notorious at getting the paper bag syndrome. If you don’t know what I mean, it is when the puff pastry develops large air pockets and resembles a blown up paper bag. To combat this unsettling moment, poke the air pockets with the tip of a sharp knife to deflate, bringing the layers closer together.

Sweet and savory treats slightly warm from the oven are perfect discussion food when gardening topics come up, or perhaps neighborly gossip.

Fig & Goat Cheese Tart Recipe

5 black figs, halved

¼ cup honey

1 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, tiny cubes

 

½ sheet puff pastry dough

4 ounces fresh goat cheese, room temperature

1 egg

1 teaspoon water

 

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

 

Preparing the tarts:

1. Unfold puff pastry on a floured surface and cut out 5-five inch rounds.

2. Place on parchment and chill for 10 minutes.

3. Beat the water and eggs together. Set aside.

4. Spread goat cheese evenly over the puff pastry rounds leaving a ¼ edge.

5. Chill tarts again for 10 minutes.

6. Brush egg wash on edges of pastry and bake for approximately 22-25 minutes.

-The tarts are done when they are golden brown and cheese starts to brown.

-Sometimes puff pastry dough expands so much as to ruin perfect puff pastry symmetry. To handle this common occurrence, midway through the baking process insert the tip of a sharp knife into the air pockets to help deflate the tarts a little.

 

Preparing the figs:

1. Place fig halves on a parchment lined sheet pan.

2. Drizzle honey over figs, dot with butter bits and sprinkle with thyme.

3. Roast figs for 10 minutes.

 

Assembling the tarts:

1. For each tart, place two roasted fig halves on top of cheese.

2. Drizzle any pan juices over figs.

-For roasting the figs I used a buttered small cast iron skillet; creating a good amount of liquid to generously glaze the fig tarts.

The name galette just sounds delicious. Filled with ripe summer fruit cradled so delicately within butter-flaked pastry, you can’t but help yourself to a whole galette.  

Summer time was our family’s routine trip to St. Louis where we visited family and to pick up free-stone peaches. To this day I still reminisce over such fresh summer fruit. The peaches were pre-ordered, and picked at the exact ripeness which made for an extraordinary delight.

Galettes are rustic style tarts, free formed by hand and filled with whatever fresh, ripe fruits are available. In this recipe I have added a favorite spice mix, quatre épices. This French four spice blend works well to season sweet and savory foods alike and is easy to make.

 

Ginger Peach Galette Recipe

 

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 ½ Tablespoons granular sugar

12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

¼ cup ice water

2 eggs

 

4 large peaches

 

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

3 Tablespoons sugar

1 ½ Tablespoon ginger, grated

½ teaspoon qautre épice*

 

2 Tablespoons butter bits [for dotting the galettes]

2 Tablespoons sanding sugar

Confectioner’s sugar [for dusting]

Preparing the dough:

1. In a food processor, combine flour, sea salt and sugar.

2. Add in chilled, butter cubes and process until a coarse meal forms.

3. Beat the water and eggs together. [This step should be done before you start.]

4. While the machine is running pour in egg mixture.

5. Process until a ball of dough forms, approximately 10 seconds.

6. Dump out onto a hard surface and form a ball, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

 

 

Preparing the fruit filling:

1. Whisk corn starch, sugar and quatre épices together, set aside.

2. Slice peaches into eighth inch slices.

3. Fold in sugar mixture and fresh ginger. Allow macerate for 10 minutes.

 

Assembling the galettes:

1. Roll out a quarter of the dough to an eighth inch.

-Cut a circle using an eight inch plate as a guide.

2. Place fruit in the center of the dough in overlapping layers, leaving a two inch edge around the fruit.

3. Pull the dough over the sides of the fruit.

4. Repeat with reaming dough and fruit.

-note: I find it best to move the dough onto a sheet pan and fill there. Pâte brisée dough is soft.

5. Brush dough with eggs wash and coat with sanding sugar.

6. Dot the exposed fruit with butter bits.

7. Bake galettes at 400ºF for 35-40 minutes.

-The center of the filling should be bubbling and crust golden.

-Cool for 10 minutes and dust with confectioner’s sugar.

 

*Quatre Épices Recipe

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cloves

1. Combine all of the spices in a tight sealed jar, use within a month as freshness dissipates rapidly. 

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