Friday, October 15, 2010

Peach Pie

In The Merlot Murders, Lucie Montgomery goes out to lunch with her best friend, and they have peach pie for dessert.

Peaches are just in season here, fresh and local. As a bonus, I also have an excellent pie crust recipe to pass along, as well.

Pie Crust

I got this delicious, flaky pie crust recipe from Colleen Hammond. It really is the best recipe I've ever tried, and, believe me, I've failed at many a pie crust! For years, I would only use those frozen pre-rolled crusts, that's how traumatized I was from bad crust. Something told me to give this one a shot, and I couldn't be happier. Even my Head Taste Tester, who does not usually like pie crust, liked this one. I used a pastry blender to combine the shortening with the flour mixture, and I mixed the liquids in by hand. It was very simple to do. It makes enough for four single crusts (9" pies). I wrapped the rest in the freezer for pies or even to top pot pies.

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 ¾ cups shortening
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 each egg
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • ½ cup water, very cold
Beat egg, vinegar and water. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles small coarse crumbs.

Add liquids and mix with a fork until it just forms into a ball. Chill for 15 minutes or so. Roll out as needed.

Peach Pie

  • 10 fresh peaches, pitted and sliced
  • cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 each 9" double crust pie recipe
1. Mix flour, sugar and butter into crumb stage.

2. Place one crust in the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate. Line the shell with some sliced peaches. Sprinkle some of the butter mixture on top of the peaches, then put more peaches on top of the the crumb mixture. Continue layering until both the peaches and crumbs are gone.

3. Top with lattice strips of pie crust.

4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 minutes, or until crust is golden. Allow pie to cool in the oven for several hours before slicing.

Friday, July 9, 2010


I baked my first scone just a few years ago, and I am sorry I waited so long! They are moist and delicious, as Dr. Kingston knows. He gets his, however, on the outside. I prefer the convenience, savings and flavor from home baked. Besides, the bakeries here don't sell them!

"Shortly thereafter, the meeting was adjourned and Kingston served tea in china cups accompanied by scones from a local patisserie."

I adapted my basic scone recipe from one I found at I omitted the currants in their recipe and made these plain. They are delicious that way, with jam if you like. You may also add in 1/2 to 1 cup of your favorite mix-in. I once made these as Chocolate Cherry Scones by adding equal amounts of chocolate chips and dried cherries.

  • 2 cups flour
  • cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, to sprinkle on top before baking


Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry knife until mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.

Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball.

Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Review: The Trail of the Wild Rose

Retired botany professor Dr. Lawrence Kingston is called upon by a colleague to lend his expertise to Thames Valley police investigating a vehicular assault which seems related to a recent overseas plant-hunting expedition. This is author Anthony Eglin's fourth novel in the English Garden Mysteries series. It was my first time reading this series.

I found the story to go rather slowly. We hear quite a lot about botany, and the history of roses over the centuries. The action unwinds over weeks to the point that I lost all track of how much time had passed in the tale. Dr. Kingston often does things he knows better not to do, but seems to not be able to help himself. Some of the dialogue seemed stiff, to me. And there seemed to be an unusually high percentage of people he comes across who are house-sitting, or having their houses minded. Is it that common in the 21st-century UK? I wondered.

Overall, this was a light read, enjoyable if you love gardens or descriptions of the English countryside.

Memorable Morsels:

Eglin doesn't disappoint in the culinary realm.

  • Proper English breakfast: bacon, eggs, sausage, grilled tomatoes, toast, marmalade, tea
  • Roast Aylesbury duckling
  • Truffles, duck confit and foie gras
  • Tea and scones
  • Sorrel soup, roast guinea fowl with port gravy and celeraic, chilled gooseberry fool
  • Melton Mowbray pork pie
  • Scottish salmon fillet, confit of fennel, new potatoes and lemon butter
  • Breakfast of kippers, toast with marmalade and a pot of Earl Grey tea.
  • Salad Nicoise, medium-rare entrecĂ´te, strawberries with Jersey cream
  • Steak and ale pie
  • Veal, ham and egg pie, and a jar of pickled onions
Links to Investigate Further:

Buy the book: The Trail of the Wild Rose: An English Garden Mystery (English Garden Mysteries)

The Final Analysis: