Nectarine-orange blossom pie

So while I was in quarantine, I had been doing a lot of cookbook reading. And by that, I mean I was flipping through cookbooks and looking at the photos. I haven’t properly read a book since college and I don’t intend to start, even if coronavirus is going around. One of my favorite cookbooks is Everything I Want to Eat by chef Jessica Koslow, from Sqirl restaurant here in Los Angeles. Sqirl is one of my favorite restaurants, serving food that is essentially upscale casual, organic, and seasonal. I say upscale casual because it is a casual setting, but still was rewarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand(which is the more casual counterpart to a star), yet the food is top notch and has a lot of thought, nostalgia, and technique put behind it. I was also taken aback by the photos of their pies. Between that and having some leftover pistachio pate sucre, I wanted to do a pistachio-orange blossom take on a peach pie. Unfortunately, peaches weren’t available in my grocery store(damn you, peach hoarders/Mother Nature), so I made due with the only stone fruit I was able to find, being white nectarines.

For the pie, we have a pistachio pastry with a nectarine-orange blossom filling, and whipped quark(German cheese that is similar to yogurt). I wanted to go more Middle Eastern/Mediterranean with the flavors, just because that is more along the line of my specialty/cooking style. The filling, I used pomegranate molasses and honey to sweeten it, and tahini to thicken it. I highly recommend using yellow peaches or nectarines if you can find them, as the color of the filling would be a lot more appealing and more typical of a peach/stone fruit pie/cobbler situation. For the quark, I was originally going to do quenelles of whipped labneh, but I was running a little short on that, so I folded the rest of my labneh with quark, which I had found in my local grocery store. Quark is yogurt-like in flavor and similar in texture, but it is more cheese-like than labneh. Soft cheeses and stone fruit are a no-brainer together, and with nuts and spices, you essentially have a cheese plate, but in a pie form. I can guarantee you that this recipe will satisfy almost all fruit pie-related cravings, and it’s a ton of fun to make!

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For the pistachio pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour + more for rolling
1/2 cup ground pistachios
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter + more for lining
1/3 cup granulated sugar + more for baking
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
filling
egg wash
powdered sugar

Blitz together your ingredients to form a dough. Chill down for 30 minutes. Dust a surface with flour and roll out to about 1/8th inch in thickness. Brush the insides of a springform pie tin with butter. Dust the dough with flour and place the dough, flour side down, into the tin, pressing it into every nook and cranny. Refrigerate both the tart tin and the spare dough. Place your cooled down filling into the dough-lined tin, distributing it as evenly as possible, and roll out the rest of your spare dough to form the top crust. Press that onto the tin. Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle on with sugar. Score the dough. If you have any spare dough, roll out into shapes. Brush with egg wash and sugar as well and place on top of the top crust. Bake the pie at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes, rotating halfway through to guarantee even baking and browning. Cool completely before attempting to remove. Finish with quark and powdered sugar.

For the filling:
4 nectarines, pits removed and cut into large dice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon coriander
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon tahini
juice and zest from 1 orange
a pinch of salt

Whisk together the cornstarch with honey, molasses, orange juice, zest, and salt. Melt down the butter with your spices and saute the nectarines in the butter. Pour in the orange juice mixture and stir with a rubber spatula on medium heat until the entire mixture has thickened. Finish with folding in the orange blossom water and tahini. Pour onto a sheet tray and throw in your freezer for 10-15 minutes, or until cooled down completely. You do not want to pour a hot filling into the pastry or else you risk it melting and falling apart.

For the egg wash:
1 egg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk
a pinch of salt

Whisk together.

For the whipped quark:
1 cup quark
2 tablespoons labneh
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water

Whip together ingredients. Use warm spoons to quenelle the quark.

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