The Cowgirl Chef: Dip into the season’s fruit basket

Posted Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Blueberry turnovers

Makes 6 to 8

These are so simple. Make your filling in the morning (or the day before), and you can have turnovers that afternoon.


For the filling:

• 2 tablespoons cornstarch

• 18 ounces of fresh blueberries, rinsed

• 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, depending on the berries’ sweetness

• 2 teaspoons lemon juice

For the dough:

• 2 1/4 cups flour

• 1 tablespoon sugar

• 1 teaspoon sea salt

• 1 cup butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and put in freezer ahead of time

• 2 eggs (divided)

• 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

1. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water.

2. Put a quarter of the blueberries with 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and add cornstarch-water mixture, sugar and lemon juice. Stir, lower the heat and let cook until it thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Add remaining blueberries. Let cool, then refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

3. Make the dough: Put flour, sugar and sea salt in a food processor and pulse a time or two. Add butter cubes and pulse quickly, just until the butter is the size of small and largish pebbles.

4. Whisk 1 egg with half of the ice water and slowly add to mixture while pulsing, then as much additional ice water as needed — just until the dough starts to come together but is still quite crumbly, and you can pinch it together easily with your fingertips (you don’t want it to be one big mass). Dump dough bits directly onto a piece of plastic wrap and gently press it together into a fat disc. Wrap it up and refrigerate for an hour. You can also do this a day in advance, and keep the dough refrigerated.

5. Heat oven to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

6. Roll out dough into a large rectangle and cut out 6-inch circles, then place each circle on the parchment paper. (If the dough is too soft to fill, pop it back in the fridge to firm up for a half-hour or so.) Put 2 tablespoonfuls of chilled, thickened blueberries on one side of each piece of dough, leaving a half-inch border. Fold over the dough and seal the sides using a fork. Prick the top a few times. Whisk the second egg with a little bit of water and lightly brush this all over the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned on the edges.

Optional: When turnovers are completely cool, whisk together 1/4 cup powdered sugar and a tablespoon of milk or cream until smooth. Drizzle over the top.

Nutritional information per serving, based on 6: 597 calories, 33 grams fat, 69 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, 153 milligrams cholesterol, 655 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber, 49 percent of calories from fat.

Rhubarb bars

Makes 16

• 1 cup rolled oats

• 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

• 1/2 cup brown sugar

• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

• 6 tablespoons butter, melted

• 2 cups diced rhubarb

• 1 tablespoon cornstarch

• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

• 2 tablespoons brown sugar

• Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Put oats, flour, brown sugar and salt in the bottom of an 8-inch-by-8-inch square baking pan and mix. Pour melted butter directly into the pan, and stir until it gets lumpy. Remove half of the clumps. Press remaining clumps in the pan evenly so they form a crust.

3. Toss rhubarb in a small bowl with cornstarch, lemon juice and brown sugar. Add to the pan. Sprinkle reserved crumbly bits on top of the fruit and bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly and cooked through. Let cool completely before slicing into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Store whatever you don’t eat right away in the fridge.

Nutritional information per bar: 117 calories, 5 grams fat, 16 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 12 milligrams cholesterol, 106 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 38 percent of calories from fat.

— Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and “One Bowl Baking” (Running Press) by Yvonne Ruperti

Bourbon and brown sugar peach crisp

Makes 6

• 1 stick butter

• 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out

• 2 pounds ripe peaches, sliced into 1-inch chunks (about 6 cups)

• 1/4 cup bourbon

• 1/4 cup plus 1/2 cup brown sugar, divided

• 1 tablespoon cornstarch

• 1 cup oats

• 1 cup flour

• Pinch of nutmeg

• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1. Heat butter and half of vanilla bean seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter turns gold with bits of brown, about 5 minutes, then watch for it to continue to darken slightly and foam on top. Remove from heat when it’s the color of a hazelnut (which is why the French call this “beurre noisette” or hazelnut butter). Allow to cool. Remove vanilla bean.

2. Gently toss peaches with bourbon, 1/4 cup brown sugar (more or less, depending on the ripeness of the peaches), cornstarch and remaining vanilla bean seeds. Divide mixture among six 4-ounce ramekins.

3. Put oats, flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl. Pour cooled brown butter over this and stir until clumps form. Top ramekins with crumble mixture and bake for 25 minutes or so, until the tops are golden brown and the insides are bubbling up. Let cool before serving. This is best served at room temperature or just slightly warm.

Nutritional information per serving: 410 calories, 16 grams fat, 57 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 41 milligrams cholesterol, 321 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber, 37 percent of calories from fat.

— Adapted from a recipe on The Bojon Gourmet website and “The Farm” (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Ian Knauer

Chocolate-chocolate tart with strawberries

Makes 1 (10-inch) tart

The recipe for the tart’s chocolate filling is adapted from Greg Marchand’s new cookbook, Frenchie: New Bistro Cooking (Artisan).

• 1 1/4 cups flour

• 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

• 3/4 cup powdered sugar

• 2 tablespoons almond flour

• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

• 1 stick plus 4 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into tiny pieces

• 3 eggs

• 6 ounces of 70 percent chocolate

• 1 cup heavy cream

• 1/2 cup whole milk

• 2 tablespoons sugar

• 1 pint of fresh strawberries, thinly sliced

1. Put flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, almond flour and sea salt in food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add cold butter pieces and pulse until there are pebbly bits throughout. Lightly beat 1 egg and add to this, pulsing in quick bursts. When the dough just comes together, pour it out onto a piece of plastic wrap, form a disc and refrigerate for an hour or so.

2. Cut a piece of parchment for the bottom of a 10-inch tart pan. Roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle and gently lay this into pan. Trim the edges by rolling a rolling pin directly over the tart pan — the overhanging bits will come right off. Refrigerate again until firm — or freeze for an hour to quickly firm up the dough.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake dough for 20 minutes. Brush with 1 beaten egg, and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Let cool.

4. Make the filling: Finely chop chocolate and put it in a large glass bowl. Heat cream, milk and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high. Stir frequently to dissolve the sugar. When it comes to a boil, remove mixture from heat and pour over chocolate. Let stand for 30 seconds, then whisk until combined. Once it cools to lukewarm, add 1 egg and mix well.

5. Pour filling into tart shell and bake 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature, top with strawberries and serve. Do not refrigerate — it’ll become too firm.

Nutritional information per serving, based on 12: 368 calories, 26 grams fat, 32 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 113 milligrams cholesterol, 229 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 61 percent of calories from fat.

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Well, finally. The gang’s all here. Tart, bright red stalks of rhubarb. Fat, juicy strawberries. And my favorites of summer’s fruity parade: blueberries, blackberries and Texas peaches, to be eaten on their own, or mixed and matched and gobbled up in cobblers, crumbles, pies and tarts, for dessert, middle-of-the-night snacking and next-day breakfasts.

The great thing about these sorts of recipes is that the fruits are easily combined for something different (a friend of mine told me recently that his mother made rhubarb-blueberry pies) or you can exchange completely different fruits in the recipes themselves, which means they act as a base for whatever is in season.

For instance, I plan to try the rhubarb crumble recipe this summer with peaches and blackberries. Likewise, the chocolate tart, which is fabulous on its own and a great dessert served year-round, can be topped with anything that tickles your fancy — fresh raspberries are a good match, but what about apricots? Oranges or tangerines, when they’re in season? Ditto with the blueberry turnovers. You can fill them with whatever you’ve found at the market that day.

As many recipes as I already have, and as many as I read, dog-ear, find online and try to imagine or alter, I’m always on the lookout for keepers — recipes that are easily adaptable to what I’ve got on hand and with what’s available right then.

Sure, there are some that work exactly as they are — I love the combination of nutty brown butter, brown sugar and bourbon with peaches specifically, but that will likely lead me to consider using brown butter in another recipe for a nutty note or adding booze in another dessert — so I’m still borrowing from one to imagine something new.

The process of discovery is part of the fun of baking, even when it’s already so hot I should really be sitting next to a pool with an iced drink and a rhubarb bar (or three).

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?