Blackberry Pie Bars

Blackberry Pie Bars

This is the beginning of a summer full of pie bars.

I love pie but I’ve never made pie bars before. So when my coworker, Susi, gave me some juicy blackberries from her garden, pie bars were on the top of my mind. To be honest, I wasn’t up to making pie crust on a weekday. Whether you call them pie bars or crumb bars, this dessert starts with a shortbread crust, followed by a layer of fruit filling which is then topped with a reserved amount of the crust to create a crumb topping. I can totally imagine that I will use this base recipe to create all sorts of summer pie bars. Blue ones with blueberries, red ones with strawberries or cherries and orange ones with peaches, nectarines or apricots. Summer fruit is one of my favorite things and I am incredibly glad it is back!

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Classic Peach Pie

Classic Peach Pie

The last few weeks of August are here but even with the beautiful weather in the 80s we're having this week, I know summer will most likely be around until October for the Sacramento Valley.

Even though I love peaches, I've surprisingly found both white and yellow nectarines to be the tastier stone fruit this summer. They have been the perfect balance of tart and sweet with a juicy, smooth texture rather than hard or mealy. This has made them exceptionally good for everyday snacking and sometimes even simply just as dessert (shocking, I know). The peaches on the other hand, I have reserved for baking purposes rather than eating them raw. Even when their texture is not fantastic for regular eating, they have been amazing in galettes, scones, a pandowdy and this pie. 

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Roasted Tomato Sauce with Mini Meatballs

Roasted Tomato Sauce with Mini Meatballs

Every few months I crave the favorite classic—spaghetti and meatballs.

Sometimes I'll make the sauce from scratch depending on what kind of jarred sauce is on sale. If I do make it myself, I will usually opt for for using canned San Marzano tomatoes but since we are in the middle of tomato season, I was hankering for something fresh and truly from scratch. 

The last time I made tomato sauce from raw tomatoes was almost exactly two (!) years ago. That was a delicious sauce but for some reason this one was even tastier. I used almost the exact same recipe, but with a few changes.

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Zucchini Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Zucchini Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I tend to crave grilled cheese sandwiches more in the summer rather than in the fall or winter.

In the colder parts of the year, I am more likely to make soups or stews because they release all of that cozy heat that I don't want to deal with in the summer. Grilled cheese sandwiches are perfect for summer because they don't require any major, long-term cooking. There's something about fresh bread, melted cheese and summer produce that is a different sort of combination from a salad. Typically, I reach for tomatoes but this time I chose to stick with zucchini. I love summer tomatoes in a grilled cheese sandwich but towards the end it can make the bread soggy which we'll save for this salad

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Apricot and Lime Galette

Apricot and Lime Galette

This is one of those recipes that took a while to develop but with some patience and some advice, I was able to get it to just the place I wanted it to be. 

On my summer journey to make every possible type of pie/cobbler/crumble type thing, I just had to throw a galette in there. I thought galettes were supposed to be easier than pies but I think I made it harder on myself. This first started with the idea of mini galettes as it had been a while since I'd made anything mini. I wanted to bring individual ones to work but also wanted to try a different shape other than the usual circle. I've been inspired by puff pastry lately so the idea of doing something with fruit on top of a square piece of pastry was in my head. However, galette dough is trickier to work with in smaller sizes and after many renditions of many rectangular galettes, I concluded that perhaps doing mini galettes was a bit ambitious. With a deep sigh, I went back to square one (literally). 

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Tomato and Basil Frittata

Tomato and Basil Frittata

Breakfast for dinner, anyone?

Sometimes eggs don't agree with me in the morning so I am perfectly happy to eat them at a later time in the day. This time, I found that the addition of slow-roasted tomatoes helped cut down the taste and texture of the eggs and I even found myself reaching for seconds. Either that or I was really hungry post-photographing this frittata. 

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Roasted Corn and Shishito Pepper Pizza

Roasted Corn and Shishito Pepper Pizza

Another summer, another year to roast the heck out of shishito peppers. 

Since my first introduction to these funny little peppers, I can't help but roast pints of them when they are in season. Usually I opt for some variation of this super simple method, and this year is no exception—they are best simply charred with a little bit of sea salt. 

So why not top them on pizza? 1 in 10 of these peppers has a bit of a fire, although for the most recent basket I bought it was more like 1 in 3. As a person who is still working on being comfortable with spicy foods, I'll eat them like chips until I get a particularly spicy one. Luckily, the fire from shishito peppers quickly fades away. This spice lends a similar kick to topping your pizza with crushed red pepper flakes but with more of a fresh pepper taste.

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Almond Granita

Almond Granita

A few months ago I was watching Chef's Table: Pastry, and was pulled in by the episode featuring Corrado Assenza—a Sicilian chef who specializes in cannoli, gelato and granita.  

Prior to watching this episode, I had never heard of the Sicilian tradition of eating granita for breakfast. There are debates on whether or not lemon or almond was the best flavor but I was drawn in by the idea of eating something cold and refreshing like granita in the morning. 

It's traditionally served with brioche and espresso which sounded like the perfect summer morning breakfast. Since I don't drink espresso, I completely nixed that part of it. I do like brioche but had some difficulties when I tried making it by hand so I'm not sharing that recipe. It's been a while since I've made bread and I've never attempted brioche. Perhaps I'll try it again in the near future. 

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