Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Peach and Raspberry Pie

It's here. Ramadan is finally here.

It's most definitely my favourite month (and that of almost everyone else I know!). There's such a feeling of community spirit that surrounds the entire month- from getting up at 4AM and sharing the first (or last, depending on how you look at it) meal of the day with your family, to breaking your fast with family and friends, to sending food to the neighborhood mosque so those less fortunate than you can enjoy a hearty meal as well, to sending food to those you care about, to going to the mosque at night and meeting everyone for special Ramadan prayers- all of these bring with it such a feeling of peace and harmony.

And more than just the community feeling, the sense of spirituality within oneself is even more overpowering. Ramadan is not just a month where you don't eat from sunrise to sunset- it's only one aspect of that- and perhaps the aspect most easily noticeable. Ramadan is about freeing yourself from worldly trivialities and from material concerns. It's a sort of asceticism where you look deep inside yourself, challenge yourself spiritually, connect with God, and strengthen your faith. It's supposed to be a month of reflection, where you are grateful for all that you have and where you evaluate where you are spiritually. It's a month of askance and forgiveness. And personally, I think Ramadan is the one of the best gifts you get being a Muslim.

Yes, you do feel hungry, and yes, you do feel tired- but the aim of the abstaining from food is to be able to empathize with those who have to experience this on a day to day basis, and I think with what is happening in Somalia just now, this fact is especially poignant. While you 'suffer' for about 15 hours, what keeps you going is that you know there's going to be a feast for you when the sun sets. Can many other people say the same? I think worse than the feeling of hunger is the feeling of not knowing whether that hunger will be satiated, the feeling of not knowing what is to come. We should all unchain ourselves from our selfish preoccupations and focus on what we can do to improve the situation of those who have to endure hunger, thirst, exhaustion, fear, and doubt on a day to day basis.

Sadly, in this world where money is tried to be made on just about anything, Ramadan has become commercialized. Media industries have played on the lazy factor that not eating tends to create by preparing year long for television shows to be specially aired during this month. The shows are all day long and are, to put it bluntly, pointless. How many soap operas can one watch? I know people who are obsessed with their shows and make a list of which ones to watch, when to switch channels, and which airing of the show to watch so they can watch another one.

I know people who make countless amounts of food, and ironically make food the entire focus of the month. Ramadan, quite surprisingly, is now associated with iftars (the meal when you break your fast- which probably lasts less than an hour). Supermarkets and restaurants have put out such intense marketing campaigns and the day before Ramadan, the supermarkets were packed and all the shelves were empty. I know many other people who eat from dusk till dawn (the time when we do not fast) and sleep throughout the day (when we are supposed to abstain from food). Is this the purpose of the month? I highly doubt it. The general, basic requirements of the month are to do your prayers (like always but perhaps more diligently), refrain from food from dawn till dusk, and to read the Quran. Sure, you do all of that, but then you watch TV for hours, eat like a someone who hasn't for weeks, and sleep for 12 hours a day? What's the point? Is food really that important?

Now you're probably thinking how messed up I am for blogging about all of this in a food blog, right before I post a recipe but here's what it is: I don't have work or university this month, I am completely free, and I miss cooking. And so I am helping out the household by making meals so we can send food to our family, friends, and the mosque. And yes, one of my aims this month is to try making new things I haven't made before, and I plan on blogging about them- but what's wrong with sharing food with those you love if you do it in moderation?

****

Ingredients
for the pastry
1 cup plain flour
90g chilled and cubed unsalted butter
2 tablespoons icing sugar
2 tablespoons iced water
for the filling
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons corn flour
1 cup milk
170g white chocolate, chopped
50ml whipping cream
for the topping
3 peaches, sliced
70g raspberries

Procedure
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 23cm loose-based fluted pie tin.
Sift the flour into a bowl and add the cubed butter with your finger-tips, mixing till you achieve a sand like texture.
Add the icing sugar and mix in. Then, make a well in the center and add the iced water. Using a knife, make a cutting action through the dough until the mixture comes together.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface until its big enough to fit base and sides of tin. Place in tin and refrigerate for twenty minutes.
Place a sheet of wax paper on top of tin and fill with uncooked rice. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the wax paper and uncooked rice and bake for a further 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Then, make the filling. Whisk together egg yolks, caster sugar, and cornflour until pale. Heat the milk in a pan until almost boiling and separately melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Gradually pour the milk into the egg mixture, whisking CONSTANTLY. Sieve the mixture back into the milkpan and cook over low heat until mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. Remember to constantly stir.
Once mixture has thickened, fold in melted white chocolate and whip in the cream. Allow to cool to room temperature and then place in the fridge for 15 minutes.

After that, pour the custard onto the pie crust and arrange the peaches and raspberries on top.

****


I've never been lucky with pie crusts. I have never had a glitch free experience while making one. Today, after I rolled out the dough and while lifting it to the tin, the mixture kept on sticking to floured surface. Then, I added some MORE flour and then the mixture kept on breaking. Eventually, I went caveman style and pressed the dough gradually into the tin. When it finally came out of the oven, I ended up pushing the loosebased tin up and so a quarter of the crust lining broke off. And then, obviously, when I poured the custard in, it sort of dripped out and down..

I've been craving peaches for the past five days and decided that I would pair them up with raspberry a la peach melba style..

It's now in the fridge, recovering...


6 comments:

  1. Anonymous2/8/11 17:53

    I love the filling combination. Let us knw what it tastes like. I'd love to see more pictures of the pie to.

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  2. Gorgeous pictures! This looks like a dessert that has "summer" written all over it.

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  3. This looks so beautiful! You must have a lot of self control to be able to cook and bake while fasting. I'm always in awe when Ramadan falls in the summer. It is a long and hot month of fasting. Best wishes!

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  4. Flawless write-up, loved this post.

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  5. Beautiful looking pie... peach and raspberry are so good together. Happy fasting and have a blessed Ramadan.

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