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Kate Neumann's Peach & Ginger Hand Pies with Vanilla Ice Cream

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

I recently invited a professional into my kitchen to teach me a few things and WOW, did it pay off big. Kate Neumann came by last week to teach me how to make these glorious hand pies and deliciously eggy vanilla ice cream.

Kate's the former pastry chef at mk the restaurant here in Chicago. I was their publicist for a spell and it was my job to get her gorgeous face and beautiful recipes on TV, and in newspapers and magazines across the country. One of the highlights of my career was our rendezvous in New York City, where we made the rounds to introduce Kate to editors from Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Lucky, Domino and Town & Country. One of the many ways it paid off was having her recipes featured in a lush eight page spread in the November 2007 issue of Food & Wine!

I'd always felt a kinship with Kate's baking style. Although she's fully fluent in the panoply of pastry, she tends to stick with the classics; always using beautiful, seasonal ingredients and often adding some modern, interesting twist. Check out this list of some of her mouth-watering creations:

one banana, two banana
warm banana brioche bread pudding, banana sherbet, roasted bananas, whipped cream, butterscotch

what’s up, peanut buttercup?
peanut butter mousse, crispy milk chocolate, peanut caramel tart, peanut brittle

nichols' farm rhubarb crisp, strawberry cream cheese ice cream, oatmeal raisin cookie, maple caramel

peppermint patty
bittersweet chocolate cake, peppermint stick ice cream, crushed peppermints, hot fudge

sticky toffee
warm medjool date cake, roasted lady apple, honey toffee sauce, crème fraiche chantilly

Kate made a batch of these hand pies for my birthday a few years back and I've never forgotten them. Since then, I figured if I wanted to experience them again, I'd have to ask her to make them again. Can you believe it never occurred to me that I could make them myself? They were professional hand pies, after all. It finally dawned on me all I had to do was ask her to come over and show me how to make them. See, I learn by doing. And so can you. If you have any questions, email me and I'll walk you through it.

Kate Neumann's Peach & Ginger Hand Pies
makes about 16

Pastry Dough:

3 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
10.5 ounces (about 2.5 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold and cubed
1 egg, cold & gently beaten
1/4 cup ice water


3 to 4 peaches chopped into small pieces (I actually threw in a few blueberries to some of mine as well, as you can see from the photo)
1 tsp. grated ginger
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. all purpose flour
2 tbsp. creme fraiche, sour cream or Greek yogurt

For assembly:
1 egg
demerara or cane sugar

Mix flour, sugar, salt and butter in a bowl. You can use a standing mixer with paddle attachment, a Cuisinart with a dough blade or if you're like me, use your hands.

Combine until butter has broken down into pea-sized pieces.

Add the egg and blend with a wooden spoon. Then, pour ice water in tablespoon increments until dough looks "shaggy" and feels slightly wet.

Knead the dough together by hand and form into a round disc, cover with plastic wrap and let chill in fridge for 30 minutes.

On a well-floured counter or pastry board, roll dough out to 3/16 inch thickness and cut out four inch rounds. We used the outline of the rim of a bowl and traced it out with a knife. Place each cut out round on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and a light dusting of flour. The scraps can be combined and rolled out again. Cover the rounds and chill while you make the filling.

In a bowl, combine peaches, ginger, brown sugar, flour, creme fraiche. Using a spatula, gently fold ingredients together to roughly combine.

Take out dough rounds and place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of each disc.

Whisk the egg. Brush a half circle of egg around the edge of exposed pastry to act as "glue." Fold the circle in half and press down the edges with a fork to seal. Chill for at least one hour.

Before baking, brush surface of the crust with egg, cut three slits as vents and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in pre-heated oven at 375 for about 45 minutes until golden brown.

Enjoy warm or at room temp with or without ice cream. Once fully cooled, store at room temperature in sealed glass or plastic container between layers of parchment paper.

Vanilla Ice Cream

For this you'll need an ice cream maker and a full day ahead prep time.

For the ice cream:

12 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
pinch kosher salt
1/2 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise and scraped of seeds
2 cups organic whole milk
2 cups organic heavy whipping cream

Make the custard:

Put together an ice bath (water and lots of ice cubes) in a large bowl that the bowl of warm custard can comfortably nestle in to chill. (see photo above)

Whisk together egg yolks, sugar and salt and vanilla (throw seeds and pod in there) in said bowl.

In a heavy saucepan, bring milk and cream to a strong simmer. Turn off the heat.

Put a small amount of the egg mixture into the saucepan (this is called tempering) and whisk like mad to prevent curdling. Then add the rest of the egg mixture in the saucepan.

Turn heat back on to a medium flame and stir constantly until the mixture thickens to coat the back of a rubber spatula or spoon. This could take 5 to 10 minutes.

Immediately pour mixture back into the bowl and nestle in the ice bath and allow to cool. Remove vanilla bean pod and discard.

Cover custard in the bowl with two layers of plastic wrap. One literally touching the top of the custard and one to cover the top of the bowl. You want to expose it to as little air as possible while it chills. Chill in fridge preferably overnight.

Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

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