We have a valley about three hours away by car that grows wonderful fruit; grapes for wine making, cherries, melons, apples, peaches, apricots and nectarines for jams, wine, preserving and just enjoying. This time of the year I always look forward to the first of the local nectarines and generally do not do anything other than wash, cut and enjoy the experience of letting them live up to the meaning of their names (sweet as nectar). This time though, for a Cooking with Herbs class, there was a little more effort involved.
Nectarines and peaches are very close genetically. Both come in yellow and white fruit and in freestone and cling stone varieties. The no fuzz difference between peaches and nectarines is the result of a recessive gene that expresses itself with smooth skin. They are also generally firmer, smaller and more aromatic than peaches. On the flip side, the trees and fruit can also be more susceptible to diseases.
2 cups crushed corn flakes
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. honey
2/3 cup almonds, roasted and ground
6 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 cups milk
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. butter
Nectarines (or peaches or apricots)
1/2 small jar apricot jam
1 stem of basil
sweetened whipped cream
With so much to be grateful, this time of the year, it can be hard to know where to start. There is so much coming ripe and ready to use that this can be a very busy period for kitchen witches. Keep your sense of humour, find appreciation for all that available and begin.
Begin by placing the cornflakes, butter, sugar and honey in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until just combined. The cereal pieces will have broken down a bit but should not be a powder.
Transfer the mixture to a 9 inch pie plate and press into the form. Don’t worry if more pieces break as they are pressed.
Leave a little edge above the pie plate and ensure that the corners where the sides meet the bottom are not too thick. It will make the slices more difficult to cut once the pie is finished and cold.
Pop in the oven and back for 10 – 15 minutes.
Once the pie shell is baked, transfer to a cooling rack and let cool.
Sprinkle with ground nuts. The purpose of the nuts is to act as a layer of protection between the crust and the filling and add a little protein. Between the pudding and the fresh nectarines, there is moisture and it is better for that moisture to be absorbed into the nuts than to make the crust soggy. Almond flour can be substituted. If the plan is to serve the pie immediately, leaving this step out is possible.
Once the pie shell is on the oven begin the pudding layer by whisking the sugar and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. While continuing to whisk, add the milk and whisk until smooth.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and butter. Pour through a strainer into a serving bowl. This will separate the basil and any clumps. Allow to cool before spooning into the pie shell.
Pouring the pudding into the pie shell hot will soften it and since there will be fruit on top, there is no need for the pudding to be fully smooth once transferred.
While the pudding filling is cooling, wash and slice the fruit. The pictures below were three nectarines cut into eight slices with the left over bits in the center but more could probably be squeezed in.
In a small pot warm the apricot jam with a stem of basil. There is no need to boil the jam just get it warm enough to allow some infusing to happen and to easily spread the jam over the fresh fruit, whichever option you go for.
Top the pie with sweetened whipped cream. It can be piped on in a pattern as below or simply spread out on the pie in swooshes to cover the entire pie.
This pie is at its refreshing best served cold but if it gets several hours in the fridge before serving, a half hour to warm up the crust for cutting is a good idea.
So often we think of pies as baked fillings. Late summer is a great time to go with fresh uncooked fruit fillings. The nectarine season is a short one here and I generally choose to just enjoy them as is but lemon and basil are lovely compliments to my favourite fruit.
Fresh Nectarine Pie with Lemon and Basil from My Kitchen Wand