I'm having a slow week.
I'm not scheduled to work this week. No appointments. I had a Mexico City reunion dinner in Pailo's honor on Tuesday night, but that's been all. Thankfully, I have a gym membership - I'd be going nuts if I didn't.
It's all changing next week, though. My boss, John, is going out of town for two weeks and I'm taking all of his shifts. Plus I'm photographing an event for Publicolor in the middle of these shifts. So two very full weeks coming up, then I'm off to LA for a week to visit cupcake-assistant-Greg and a few other friends. My pal Mike (whom I was just visiting in Austin) will be there, too. Greg and I are going to go hang gliding over a nude beach somewhere. Pretty exciting. I've never been to LA (and never really wanted to go, actually), but I have to admit I've been pretty curious lately. Plus, it'll be fun seeing Greg again and hanging out with him on his turf. I offered to bake him a birthday cake, too, since his birthday happens during my trip.
I was walking around Union Square yesterday and happened upon a taping of Tyra's talk show. Not so special in and of itself, but it was an episode that ALSO featured some Top Models. In fact, it was Tyra, Jaslene, Saleisha, and Claire. (I'm not too sure why Claire was there, except that she got kicked off last week and maybe it was just timely.) Here are a few pics I grabbed on my phone:
All the girls:
And while I didn't get any pictures of Claire, I did talk to her (because no one else wanted to). She was nice but clearly very "over it." Maybe it's because on the episode she was eliminated, she looked like this:
I'd be angry, too. (Thanks to Rich at FourFour for this).
After my modelicious afternoon, I went about looking for ingredients to make a pie. I hadn't made one in a long time and with Spring in the air, I was feeling a berry pie of some sort. After finding nothing but apples in the Greenmarket, and not much more at Whole Foods, I was feeling discouraged, though.
I made one final stop at the produce store on my subway stop before coming home, and hit the jackpot. White peaches, on sale, 6 for a dollar. I'm really not a big fan of white peaches (even less so after cooking them into this pie), but I figured for $3 I could scratch my pie-baking itch. And honestly, I really just wanted to make a crust, anyway.
I usually make pate brisee, which is an all-butter crust, but decided I'd try something new. I had some trans-fat-free Crisco (appetizing name), so I gave it a go. I should say that I really do not like the idea of Crisco (barf), but I was experiementing here, so I allowed myself to use it. This crust is still mostly butter anyway. It tasted very buttery, but was a bit flakier than I can usually do with an all-butter crust. I was pretty satisfied, and may actually use this recipe again (though I'd like to find one that uses lard instead of Crisco).
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
6 tablespoons (about) ice water
Combine flour, sugar and salt in large bowl. Add butter and shortening; using fingertips, rub in until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add vinegar. Using fork, mix in enough water to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; divide dough into 2 equal portions. Flatten each portion into disk. Wrap each in plastic; chill 45 minutes. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)
So I made the crust, peeled, sliced, and seasoned the peaches with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, almond extract and an extra bit of sugar to try to add some flavor. Blah blah blah. The pie came out ugly (I'm out of practice!) and as expected, tasted pretty bland. Why the heck were white peaches invented?! They have no flavor. Also, it was very watery. I had the same liquid problem when I made that apple pie last fall (but at least that one tasted good).
I forgot how much I like working with pie crust, though. It feels so good when you get it right - smooth and pliable and velvety. I maybe rushed through this one a bit, which would explain the beastly look of it, but whatever. This was an experiment and I didn't use a recipe for the filling, so I can forgive myself more easily. Next time, though, I will DEFINITELY add flour and maybe even some cornstarch to the filling to thicken it up. I forgot that step this time. Doh! Or, um.. dough!
More to come. Making this pie re-ignited my interest in pastry. I've been doing cakes and sweets all winter and I'm ready to use more fresh ingredients. And with summer coming, and berries and rhubarb coming into season, ya'll best just watch out.
Pie for now!