Dani Goes South.

Sweets

The Peach Truck's Fried Peach Hand Pies

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Two weekends ago, we went to Ben’s parent's’ house about an hour outside of town, and picked roughly 45 peaches to take home off their booming peach tree. The stars (and nature) seemed to perfectly align, as I was recently sent an early copy of The Peach Truck Cookbook to share a recipe or two from. In my humble opinion, there are a few things that make a cookbook amazingly inspiring. First, being the story. I feel like with cookbooks, we often get so lost in the recipes, I see people flipping through the forward or the pre-recipe stories that are full of subtle, beautiful inspiration. Then, we have photos that make you want to eat all of the foods through the book, using only your face. Finally, we have wisdom. PASS ME THOSE HELPFUL TIDBITS. I’m like Ms. Pacman with helpful tidbits! I’ll eat them up all day long whilst avoiding those ghosts. Everyone has methods that are uniquely theirs, honed by culture, tradition, hell, even the way we operate our bodies.

The Peach Truck cookbook offers all the aforementioned things that add up to an inspiring cookbook in spades. Truly, one I’ll covet each peach season for years and years to come. What I really enjoyed about Jessica and Stephen’s story, is that among the elements that made me dream of an idyllic farm life, they were not shy in talking about the stark struggle of farming. Beautiful in both its bounty, and its brutality, I found this book to be such a lovely metaphor for life. Certain trees look like they’re thriving, only not to deliver what was visibly promised. Other trees look like they’re struggling for life, and then give the best fruit of the season. They came onto the Nashville scene where people had already-established, long-term relationships with the farming community. They had to slow-grow it. Make connections. Put themselves out there, even when they were unsure of the outcome. Metaphors for life, wrapped in the most delicious fruit of the season. Very clever, indeed.

The recipes in this book are so stunning, I had the hardest time choosing what to make first. Ultimately, the fried peach hand pies won the household vote (of 2). Perfect pie dough half-moons get folded over bright, gently spiced peach compote, which, by the way, would be incredible on biscuits, scones, waffles- INSERT PASTRY HERE - You’ll be glad you have extra on hand.

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The Easiest and Only Strawberry Shortcake You'll Ever Need

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In today's episode of "things my mom tells me to do about food", we have strawberry shortcake. I am not in the practice of not taking my mom's advice, and she's been telling me how much I "NEED" to make strawberry shortcake with Bon Appetit's shortcake recipe for about a year. Not unlike me in my teen years, it took a minute for me to get around to taking her advice, but when I did, everything instantly fell into place, because these bad boys are *clap* that *clap* good *final clap*. It's also fitting that this recipe comes just in time for Mother's Day, because well, I'm partial, but my mom just so happens to be the absolute best. 

Let's talk shortcake. This could not be a farther cry from that produce section "angel food cake" gar-bazhe that seems to sneak its way into many a casual function. Listen, I'm not saying it's the worst; I'm simply saying we can totally do waaaay better, and it's not even that hard. These shortcakes are tender, have that perfectly crunchy, sugary texture on top, with an unexpected added delicious layer of texture from cornmeal. I posted on my Instagram stories yesterday that these call for 2 hard boiled egg yolks, which is literally the only fussy step of this whole shebang. I say, throw a few extra eggs in your pot, and call it meal prep. Multitasking: The thing no one's really that good at, but everyone claims to be pretty good at... Am I right, or am I right? 

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Coconut Creme Brulee

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The time has finally come for dresses, warm-night-walks, laying next to lakes and oceans (with copious SPF), and coconut scented EVERYTHING. I can hardly contain my excitement- though, I won't lie to you: my first Texas summer kicked my ass. Within 2 days of moving here my legs were covered, and I mean COVERED in 60+ (I counted) mosquito bites. I remember crying to Ben "THIS IS NOT WHAT I MOVED HERE FOR!!!!" I'm laughing now, but at the time...I was NAT having it., to say the least. Luckily, this summer we are planning ahead with a few getaways on the docket we couldn't be more excited for- one being Maui. YAAAAS. I actually haven't been since my junior year of high school (Wow, that sentence makes me feel old!), and my wheels are already turning with outfit ideas, where to grab the best poke, and thoughts of pina coladas by the pool (again, with copious SPF). 

Since we've got a few months until said Hawaiian getaway, I'm bringing a healthy dose of island flavors home with these coconut creme brulees. You guys, I kid you not, this dessert tastes like a straight-up vacation. Vanilla-flecked coconut custard is our base for a crunchy, caramelized, sugar shell, and charred pineapple and strawberries. I almost named this pina colada creme brulee, but truth be told, it tastes equally like a lava flow so I was torn between the two. Please grab your nearest tropical button-down, and accompany me to coconut creme brulee town.

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Key Lime Vanilla Bean Pie With the Butteriest Graham Cracker Crust

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Not all desserts are created equally, am I right? I've mentioned before that I don't have the hugest sweet tooth, so when it comes to dessert, I'm surprisingly persnickety. First of all, when it comes to me actually making a dessert, I am reeeeeally good at talking myself out of doing it, and maybe making pasta instead. Measuring? Ick. Team eyeball-it like an old world Italian g-ma all. Day. Long. Cake decorating? Do I not have enough anxiety to contend with?! I do not require unicorn horns on my treats, nor do I want a rainbow bagel, and if I ever purchase fondant, well, then we'll know I've really lost myself. All of this said, I have nothing but the utmost respect for those who love sifting and measuring, who perfect their piping to a T. In truth, I envy you!! I want to take quite a few pages out of your book...(and leave the ones regarding cake pops and fondant). 

I digress...

I began this by saying not all desserts are created equal, and I stand by this. However, there are a scant handful of treats that have captured my heart, and you best believe I'll attempt to make them kewt and new just for yew. Under this sweet lil' umbrella resides my longtime bud, key lime pie. Creamy, tart lime custard married to crumbly graham cracker crust- what's not to love? Well, how about juicing one million tiny limes? Yeah. I'm not into it, either. So, with saving you and I from that in mind, I give to you: Key lime pie, hold the keys.  

As though that's not already cutting down on our heavy lifting, aside from the oven, this is a total food processor situation- graham cracker crust, filling, and all! There are benefits to this, beyond cutting down on dishes (which is high up there on the silver linings roster for your girl, and if you don't have a dishwasher, I've been there MULTIPLE times, and I applaud you all day every day).

First off, the aforementioned food processor sitch makes for the crumbliest, most buttery pie crust. Truth be told, when I first made this, I mumbled "shit" repeatedly to myself, while taking it out of the pie plate because I was certain I over-pulsed the crumbs, and made a base of essentially, sand, meaning that the whole thing was sure to crumble. Much to my surprise and delight, it held PERFECTLY, and the butter permeated throughout every crumb. So essentially, my "shit's" took an immediate 180 and made their way to "fuck yes-ville". I really love when that happens in culinary situations. Like, almost more than anything. This is the pie crust to reignite any lost love of graham cracker crust, AKA, the unsung hero of pie-town. So, in addition to the food processor giving our crust the pulverizing strong-arm it needs, it also whips our custard into perfectly fluffy shape, ensuring the smoothest filling ever. The vanilla bean is the sleeper hit of this whole shebang, though. It scents the pie beautifully, and frankly who the hell is mad at a vanilla bean fleck-studded pie?! Guys, I don't say this outright often, but this is JUST. SO. GOOD. I'm clearly chatty; let's make this already!

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