Summer - along with lemon bars - seems to mean all sorts of pies. After all, this is the time of year when almost everything that can avail itself to becoming pie filling is in season.
From strawberries to tomatoes, and ice cream to whipped cream, it seems that everything goes in a pie crust in the summer.
While I was making some mini peach tarts a few weeks ago (okay... peaches aren't in season yet - I know that - I was actually using a jar of peach preserves), I looked at the tools I was using and realized that they are some of my favorite things in my kitchen.
Do you have something like that? A kitchen gadget, or bowl, or towel, or mug that automatically makes you happy when you use it?
Here are the things that I had pulled out to work on my pie dough:
First of all, I'm not sure you can tell, but that bowl is huge - and I think that a really big, heavy bowl is pretty much mandatory in my kitchen. I use it for doughs of all kinds (from pies to cookies and back again), but also for mixing batters and salads and serving chips. My mom had (and still has) a massive crockery bowl that I used when I was growing up, and mine is about the same size, and it's perfect (if, occasionally, maybe even just a little too small).
The rolling pin actually was my mom's until she got a marble one many years ago. (I swear that she got the marble one before I walked off with the wooden one.) I know that chefs on TV are always happy to have their flat pins with no handles, but I love the handles. They help me stay connected while also keeping my knuckles out of the flour. (Which, really, is kind of ironic considering the next tool.)
That thing in the bowl is a pastry blender. Whenever I watch the TV shows, people are constantly giving recommendations for how to make pastry in the bowl of a food processor, but I've tried that and just don't love it. Sure, it's fine for something like a graham cracker crust, but for a true pie crust (or scones or biscuits or any other flaky dough, in my opinion) you need to have better, more direct, control - and a closer feel for what you're doing.
While I'm at it - and while I'm admitting to putting my hands directly into my dough - I should mention that my most-used kitchen tools are probably my hands.
Have you ever seen the movie Chocolat or the movie Babette's Feast? In each of those, there is a discussion of the way that a cook's emotions impact the final product that leaves the kitchen. I love having my hands in my cooking and baking for that very reason. And I think that being able to look down at my hand and see my wedding ring covered in flour pretty much guarantees that whatever leaves the kitchen is going to be filled with love.
And, yes, I know that most people will tell you that you should never put your hands into a dough that is supposed to be flaky because it will mess up your butter. But... well... they've obviously never tried my pie crust.
So what are you cooking this summer? Is there anything you are considering making that you'd like me try, first, so you know what you're getting yourself into? Let me know and I'll be happy to get my hands dirty on your behalf.