peach, tomato, & thyme galette with vanilla yogurt

So, suddenly it’s the middle of August. How did that happen?

peach, tomato, & thyme galette with vanilla yogurt | Brooklyn Homemaker

I feel like the last time I looked at a calendar it was early June and I had the whole summer in front of me, just waiting to unfold. But time marches on, days come and go, and suddenly we’re half way through the last full month of summer. I’m not ready to let go yet, so I’m going to do everything in my power to make the most of what’s left this sultry season.

peach, tomato, & thyme galette with vanilla yogurt | Brooklyn Homemaker

Next week I’m heading upstate for a much needed vacation. I’m going to stay with family, get some R&R, and help my mom work on her new house. I’m also going to steal away for a few days to go camping with my sister and niece and nephews. I cannot wait. Fresh air, fresh water, clear skies, starry nights, & bug bites. Waking up in a hot tent and hearing the sound of birds chirping. Food cooked over an open fire. It really doesn’t get any better. Can you tell that I’m excited?

peach, tomato, & thyme galette with vanilla yogurt | Brooklyn Homemaker

For now though, I’m content to eat the best of what summer has to offer. Camping trip or no camping trip, I need to make sure I get my fix of fresh produce before it’s too late. Some of the best, freshest, juiciest, most quintessentially summery things to eat are peaches and tomatoes. Especially in the late summer, these are the foods that I crave more than anything.

peach, tomato, & thyme galette with vanilla yogurt | Brooklyn Homemaker

While I’m sure that a lot of people also love peaches and tomatoes this time of year, I would venture to guess that they think those two things should be eaten separately. Peaches are to be eaten as a sweet snack or as dessert, and tomatoes are for salads and savory dishes. Well, guess what… Those people would be dead wrong. It is possible to put a peach in a salad. It is. Try it. I dare you.

peach, tomato, & thyme galette with vanilla yogurt | Brooklyn Homemaker

Similarly, tomatoes can be used in sweet dishes. Think about it. Tomatoes are, technically, a fruit. They’re sweet. While they are biting and acidic, and lend themselves perfectly to savory dishes and sauces, they can be so much more than marinara. At their peak in the late summer, tomatoes are sweet and bright and fruity, with a lemony acidity that works really well for desserts.

peach, tomato, & thyme galette with vanilla yogurt | Brooklyn Homemaker

So, guess what happened…

I got the sweetest brightest little yellow cherry tomatoes the farmers market had to offer, and picked up a couple pounds of juicy ripe peaches while I was there. Then I did something totally crazy. Totally off the wall. Totally unbelievable.

peach, tomato, & thyme galette with vanilla yogurt | Brooklyn Homemaker

I went ahead and tossed the tomatoes and the peaches together, added some sugar and lemon juice, and baked them into one big rustic galette.

I’m a madman. I know.

peach, tomato, & thyme galette with vanilla yogurt | Brooklyn Homemaker

This dessert is crazy summery. The baked fruit is juicy and soft and thick, and the galette crust is tender and crisp, and super flaky. The filling is bursting with bright, sunny, crisp, sweet & acidic fruitiness. There’s enough sweetness to prevent the tomatoes from reading as savory, but it’s not overly sweet or cloying at all. While the tomatoes and thyme add a certain earthiness, the acidity from the lemon ties everything together and I can’t even begin to describe how well they marry with the peaches. I’m surprised that this isn’t something more people do already. Tomatoes and peaches just work so well together.  I’m sure I’m not the first person to pair these flavors together, so it seems strange that it hasn’t caught on.

I could go on, but there’s a plate of this in front of me and it’s rude to type with your mouth full. Unless you hate summer, you have to make this.

peach, tomato, & thyme galette with vanilla yogurt | Brooklyn Homemaker

Peach, Tomato, & Thyme Galette with Vanilla Yogurt

Crust:
2 1/2 cups AP flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/3 cup ice cold water

Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl, and add butter. Cut butter into flour with a pastry blender until the butter is in pea or pebble sized pieces. This can also be done by pulsing in a food processor.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, and water, and pour this over the butter-flour mixture. Stir with a spoon or a rubber spatula until a dough forms, kneading it once or twice on the counter if needed to bring it together. Pat the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and chill it in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Filling:
2 lbs peaches, skinned and sliced about 1/2 inch thick
3/4 lb sweet cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stems
3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons demerara (or any coarse raw) sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Combine peaches, tomatoes, thyme, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, & salt in a large bowl. Gently stir until well combined.

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 16–inch round. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread the filling over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the border over the filling, pleating it as necessary, leaving the center open. Brush the outside of the crust with the egg wash, and sprinkle coarse sugar over the whole thing, crust and center.

Bake until golden brown and bubbling in center, about an hour and 10 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet 10 minutes, then slide galette on parchment onto a wire rack. Let cool completely (or almost completely) before serving. Top with vanilla yogurt.

Vanilla Yogurt:
1 cup greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon honey

Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined. Spoon a hearty dollop over each slice of galette.

the C. D. Rocktail

A customer at work recently asked me what my favorite gin was.

introducing the C. D. Rocktail | gin cocktail with cucumber, lime, &  basil | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was struck at first by the thought that this was a sort of strange question. People who like gin tend to really like gin, and usually already know what brands they like, and people who don’t like gin usually avoid it like the plague and couldn’t give half a crap what someone else’s favorite brand might be.

Once I answered her though, and explained why I liked that brand, I was struck by another thought. I haven’t had gin in a good long time.

Before I started drinking whiskey, gin was usually my liquor of choice. Even after I became a whiskey boy I still tended to drink gin in warmer summer months. Gin gimlets used to be my favorite easy summer cocktail, but that all changed when I developed a taste for tequila and discovered the Paloma.

This is making me sound like a terrible lush. I’m not. Moderation. It’s all about moderation… Also, variety is the spice of life, so there.

introducing the C. D. Rocktail | gin cocktail with cucumber, lime, &  basil | Brooklyn Homemaker

The answer to the favorite gin question, for those of you who might be wondering, is Hendrick’s. While it’s not the only gin I like, if I have to choose a favorite this would be it. Hendrick’s is a small batch gin made from a variety of herbs and botanicals, and along with the traditional juniper that gives gin its distinctive piney flavor, this gin is infused with rose petals and cucumber. The resulting gin is smooth and mild with a subtle juniper flavor, pleasant aromatics notes, and hints of cool cucumber and floral rose.

The use of high quality ingredients also prevents you from feeling like you’ve pickled your insides if you drink one (or two) too many cocktails.

introducing the C. D. Rocktail | gin cocktail with cucumber, lime, &  basil | Brooklyn Homemaker

With Hendrick’s on my mind I started thinking about the best gin cocktail I’ve ever had.

introducing the C. D. Rocktail | gin cocktail with cucumber, lime, &  basil | Brooklyn Homemaker

Right after college I moved to Ithaca, New York, and took a job waiting tables at a hip & modern restaurant called Olivia. Olivia’s sister restaurant, Stella’s, was a trendy late-night cocktail lounge in Ithaca’s “college town” neighborhood. My coworkers and I would frequently head to Stella’s for a drink after Olivia had closed for the night. Sometimes there’s nothing like a good drink with other waiters to help you wind down after a busy night.

One of my favorite and most frequently consumed cocktails was called the C.D. Rocktail, which was named after the bartender who created it. (Her initials are C.D.) I was no stranger to gin even then, but I was not familiar with Hendrick’s and had never tasted such a wonderfully refreshing gin cocktail before. Back then the craft cocktail trend was still in it’s formative years, and most of upstate New York hadn’t yet caught on. The mixologists at Stella’s knew what was up though and came up with more than a handful of recipes for some seriously tasty tipple.

The C.D. Rocktail was made by muddling cucumber & basil with lime juice and simple syrup, and topping it all off with gin and soda water. This potent potable is unbelievably fresh, summery, & refreshing; with a subtle sweetness and just a hint of effervescence. The cucumber helps to mellow out the gin’s bite, the basil imparts a pleasant herbal freshness, and lime sweetens and brightens everything up and ties the whole thing together.

I mean, this was almost ten years ago and I’m still thinking about this cocktail. It’s a Stellar (har har har) drink, and I’m sure you’re going to love it just as much as I do. Even if you’re not a huge gin lover, you should give this a try. The juniper piney flavor of gin is extremely subtle in this drink and only adds to it’s bright green summeriness.

introducing the C. D. Rocktail | gin cocktail with cucumber, lime, &  basil | Brooklyn Homemaker

When that customer asked about the gin and jolted my memory, I knew I had to try to recreate this cocktail. It’s been a looooong time since I’ve had one and I’d almost forgotten how much I loved them. The problem though, was that I couldn’t remember exactly what went into it. I knew it was Hendrick’s and I knew there were cucumbers and lime, but my memory failed me and I thought it was mint instead of basil, and forgot about the soda water. I also wasn’t sure how it all came together as, at the time, I was paying more attention to how they went down than how they were made. Although Olivia has since gone out of business, Stella’s is still open, but unfortunately, the C.D. Rocktail is no longer on the menu.

I’m still good friends with a lot of my former coworkers though, so I started asking around. No one had the recipe, but one of them is still in touch with the bartender who dreamed up this dreamy drink. So, she asked and a few days later the recipe was in my inbox. Or, at least, a list of ingredients was. Quantities and directions weren’t provided, so it took me a few tries to get it right, but if memory serves me this is pretty damn close to the way the original recipe tasted.

So, you should totally make this. I went to sooo much trouble to find and recreate the recipe for you. I had to drink multiple cocktails to get it right. This is the cross I bear in the name of blogging, so the least you can do it try it for yourself. And besides, the C.D. Rocktail is an unbelievably summery and refreshing drink and you’d be crazy not to make it.

introducing the C. D. Rocktail | gin cocktail with cucumber, lime, &  basil | Brooklyn Homemaker

the C.D. Rocktail

  • Servings: makes one 8oz cocktail
  • Print
3 slices cucumber, halved (about 1/4″ thick)
1/2 oz lime juice
4 – 5 fresh basil leaves
1/2 oz simple syrup *see note
2 oz good quality gin, preferably Hendrick’s
2 oz soda water

Muddle cucumber & basil in a cocktail shaker with lime juice & simple syrup. Take your time and get them real good and mashed up. Top with gin, add ice, and shake well. Strain into an 8- 10 oz glass filled with ice, and top with 2oz soda water.
Garnish with a slice of cucumber, if desired.

*note- simple syrup is crazy easy to make. Heat an equal amount of sugar and water, until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool. You’re done.

roasted peach and creamy vanilla pudding ice pops

I love homemade ice pops.

roasted peach and creamy vanilla pudding ice pops | Brooklyn Homemaker

I mean, let’s be honest here, I also love homemade ice cream and all things sweet and frozen, especially in the summer. Hot weather basically ushers in the season of icy frozen sweet treats for me. There’s something about a homemade ice pop though that just really hits the spot on a hot day. They also happen to hit the spot on a cool day, or a rough day, a stressful day, or a great day, a lonely day, or a day spent with friends.

roasted peach and creamy vanilla pudding ice pops | Brooklyn Homemaker

Making ice pops at home tends to be much easier than making ice cream and doesn’t require such an investment in special equipment. They’re also the perfect single-serving-size. Where eating ice cream requires a certain level of self control, you know you’re done with an ice pop when all that’s left is a clean wooden stick. Ice pops generally tend to be a little bit healthier too, featuring milk, yogurt, or fruit juice rather than heavy cream. So if you go back in for a second one, it’s okay, I won’t tell.

roasted peach and creamy vanilla pudding ice pops | Brooklyn Homemaker

Since milk, on it’s own, isn’t as creamy as the custardy base of ice cream, I think that transforming the milk into a pudding before freezing really improves the texture. I recently did this with chocolate ice pops with great results, so when I was trying to think of what to pair with peaches this time around I thought I’d give it a shot. Worked like a charm!

roasted peach and creamy vanilla pudding ice pops | Brooklyn Homemaker

I infused the creamy pudding with a healthy dose of vanilla bean and thickened it slightly with egg yolk to give it a rich French vanilla custard flavor. It makes the whole thing taste just as rich and decadent as homemade ice cream, and it’s a perfect compliment to the deep summery roasted peaches.

roasted peach and creamy vanilla pudding ice pops | Brooklyn Homemaker

Roasting the peaches heightens and concentrates their flavor and gives them a toasty caramelized depth. It also helps to soften them and make them easier to peel and puree, which is especially great if your peaches aren’t exactly 100% ripe. Pouring the different flavors in alternating layers ensures that each slurp of these pops is a totally fun and refreshing experience.

roasted peach and creamy vanilla pudding ice pops | Brooklyn Homemaker

What more can I say about these? They’re creamy, rich, decadent, & custardy. Their amazing vanilla cream flavor is the star of the show, and it pairs perfectly with the sweet roasted peaches. Just right for summer!

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roasted peach and creamy vanilla pudding ice pops

  • Servings: ten 3oz ice pops
  • Print
1 lb fresh peaches (about 2 to 3 large or 3 to 4 small)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons of sugar, divided
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch, divided
pinch salt
2 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 450. Wash peaches and cut them into quarters, discarding the pit. Toss in a bowl with lemon juice and 3 tablespoons sugar. Arrange, cut side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet. Pour any leftover liquid over the peach pieces. Roast for about 20 minutes or until peaches release their syrupy juices and begin to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cool, remove the skin from each slice, which should peel off easily. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, whisk remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, and salt. Add milk and whisk smooth. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean and whisk into milk along with scraped bean. Heat slowly over a medium flame, whisking regularly. Once slightly thickened and bubbling, cook for one to two minutes more before removing from heat. Place egg yolks in a small bowl, and ladle in about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pudding. Whisk together, and return to pan. Whisk smooth, return to heat, and bring back to a simmer. Simmer for one or two minutes more and whisk in vanilla extract.

Pour a little more than half of the mixture (probably about 1 1/2 cups) off into a measuring cup or heatproof bowl. Add peaches and remaining teaspoon of cornstarch to remaining pudding mixture. Puree in the pan with an immersion blender or in the pitcher of a blender. Return pan to heat, bring to a simmer, and cook for one or two minutes more. Cool slightly before proceeding.

Layer vanilla pudding and peach pudding mixtures in ice pop molds. I use a mold with ten 3 oz pops, and alternated two layers of each flavor. Try to be slightly more stingy with vanilla pudding, and more generous with peach as you’ll have just a bit more of that.

Cover molds, add sticks about half way into pops, and freeze for a minimum of 4 hours, or until completely frozen through. Remove pops by running each mold under warm water for about 10 or 15 seconds.

rainbow trout almondine

When I was in college I studied in France for a few months.

rainbow trout almondine | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was enrolled in a hotel and restaurant management program and applied for a 3 month internship abroad. So, off I went, with 8 other students, to France. Most of the group were culinary students so we started in Paris and studied for a short time at Le Cordon Bleu, then we were off to Central Burgundy where we were each assigned to train at different hotels and restaurants in the area. During the week we were housed by our employers, but on weekends we would return to our home base, an old Bed and Breakfast in a tiny country village that had been turned into student housing. Many of our weekends were spent traveling to different restaurants, vineyards, farms, and assorted culinary points of interest; basically eating and drinking our way through the countryside.

During the week I trained as a backwaiter at a small Inn nestled in a picturesque river valley. The chef and owner was short, thick, and grey; and very much looked the part of French chef at a charming Burgundian Inn. He used to do this ridiculous King Kong impression, swinging from a support column in kitchen and beating his chest, trying to show off his knowledge of what I can only assume he thought was relevant to American college students.

The restaurant’s main dining room was surrounded by windows overlooking a stone patio, a 19th century river mill, and the lush walls of the valley beyond. At night the river and the overhanging trees were lit up to provide a stunning backdrop for diners. The kitchen specialized in upscale versions of homestyle regional classics like escargots, blood sausage with apples and butter, pates and terrines, and fresh trout.

rainbow trout almondine | Brooklyn Homemaker

The trout was so fresh in fact, that it was still swimming just before dinner service. At the back of the kitchen they’d diverted part of the river and built a screened in cage where they held live farm raised trout that were delivered once a week. One of my jobs before dinner service was to go out and scoop up 5 or 6 trout with a net and bring them into the kitchen.

I was completely surrounded by amazing food and, at the time, I was a vegetarian.

For those of you who don’t know much about the different regions of France, Burgundy is very rural farming country, and in 2003 the idea of someone choosing not to eat meat for reasons other than religion was completely unheard of. I knew going into the experience that if I didn’t want to starve (or upset my employer) that I would have to at least try to eat some fish. Lucky for me that the restaurant specialized in trout, so ate some fish I did. Now that I eat meat again, I still regret missing out on so many of the other amazing foods I politely turned down over those three months.

rainbow trout almondine | Brooklyn Homemaker

As a backwaiter, my main job was to bring finished dishes to the dining room and present them to our guests. My french was probably better than most of the group I was traveling with, but still left a lot to be desired. The restaurant was used to students with less than perfect French, so I was taught a series of pre-rehearsed lines to rattle off for each course during the dinner service. Despite my bad French, most Americans guests at the Inn had no idea that I was from the states. I’d recite my French lines and be on my way, never betraying the fact that I wasn’t a proper French waiter.

That was, until the couple from Rochester came to visit.

rainbow trout almondine | Brooklyn Homemaker

The Husband ordered our Truite au bleu, and neither of them knew what they were in for. Truite au bleu, or Blue trout, is a dish that’s prepared by taking a just-killed and cleaned whole trout and soaking it in vinegar before gently poaching in broth. After cooking the chef would prop the trout up on it’s belly so it looked like it was live and swimming, despite the fact that the skin had turned blue and started to peel off the flesh. It’s totally delicious, but I will admit that it’s appearance can be a bit off-putting for most Americans.

Before the plate even hit their table, I knew instantly that this couple was from Central New York. As I approcached them and the wife caught a glimpse of her husband’s dish, her hands went over her eyes and she started losing it. “Oh my gahd! Oh my gahd! That is just too much! Oh my gahd!”, all while peaking at the trout between fingers that were still covering her eyes. Growing up not far from Rochester, her accent was immediately recognizable to me, and I just started laughing and asked them (in English) where they were from.  I just had to speak up after that reaction, and we ended up having a really had a nice conversation throughout their dinner. Her husband, by the way, ended up loving the trout.

My favorite trout dish at the restaurant though, was the Truite aux amandes, or Trout Almondine. I don’t have the exact recipe from the Inn, but it’s actually a pretty common French dish so this recipe is very similar. Trout Almondine used to be considered a very fancy pants French entree in the 1980s, but it’s since gone out of fashion here in the US. I think its completely delicious and I vow to singlehandedly bring this traditional French dish back in to American kitchens.

rainbow trout almondine | Brooklyn Homemaker

Even though it’s considered “fancy”, this is actually rather quick and easy to prepare. It’s also totally delicious and decadent. Getting trout fillets instead of cleaned whole fish makes things even simpler, but slicing your own fillets is actually pretty simple if you have a nice sharp knife. The mild white fish is dredged in flour and seared in butter for a crispy skin and tender flaky flesh. Then slivered almonds get toasted in the same browning butter with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, and then everything is spooned over the plated trout.  Add a squeeze of fresh lemon and you’re done. Totally fancy. Totally French. Totally yummy.

rainbow trout almondine | Brooklyn Homemaker

Rainbow Trout Almondine

  • Servings: 2 servings
  • Print
2 whole rainbow trout (or 4 pre-sliced fillets)
1 tablespoon shallot, very finely diced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
½ cup all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2-4 fresh lemon wedges

Cut your trout into fillets if they aren’t already. In a dish large enough to fit the fillets, mix the flour, finely minced shallots, and thyme; and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Press the trout fillets into flour mixture and pat onto both sides to coat completely.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in the largest sauté pan or skillet you have, over medium-high heat. When the butter stops bubbling, try to place all four of the fillets in the pan, skin side down. If you have to do them in stages (I did), it’s fine, but you don’t want to let the first round cool for too long. Sauté the fillets for about 3 minutes, watching carefully that they’re nicely browned but not burned. Turn the fillets over and cook them for about 3 minutes more. Transfer the fish to warm plates while making the sauce.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and cook over high heat until it stops bubbling and turns a nutty brown. Add the sliced almonds and stir until just barely toasted. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for a few seconds. Toss in the parsley and a little salt and pepper and stir to combine. Pour everything over the trout fillets and squeeze with a bit of fresh lemon juice. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges, mashed sweet potatoes, and sautéed green beans if desired