Monday, July 28, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Summer Fruit Galette

This week's TWD challenge, Summer Fruit Galette, was selected by Michelle, of Michelle in Colorado Springs. I almost didn't make this, even though all the stars were in alignment for me to make this dish. My 10 month old daughter was sitting peacefully in her swing, watching me in the kitchen, and my peaches, nectarines, and plums had been ripening in a brown paper bag for the last few days. My college roommate, Whitney, taught me to ripen fruit in a brown paper bag. Her mother would bring her crates of peaches and plums and we would ripen them until they nearly burst; we would devour this fruit, often in lieu of actual meals, while standing over the kitchen sink, juice dripping off of our elbows, neither of us saying a word, as we would revel in our contentedness. This is one of my fondest memories of my old roommate and whenever I eat stone fruits, I think back to those summers.

Now that I've painted a picture of my idyllic youth, surrounded by fresh fruits and good friends, imagine my horror last summer when I was pregnant and suddenly developed some kind of strange allergy to stone fruit. And only stone fruit. My ears and throat would itch, and my throat felt like it was swollen upon consumption of even a single cherry. It became painful to eat cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, and nectarines. I tried to soldier on and just deal with the symptoms, but my reaction seemed to be getting progressively worse, the more pregnant I got. My doctor just told me it was an unlucky coincidence; it wasn't the baby's fault, and I would have just developed this allergy pregnant or not. I didn't believe my obstetrician one bit. I knew this had to do with being pregnant, and as much as the low energy, swollen feet, and shortness of breath bothered me, nothing made me more upset than my new inability to enjoy summer stone fruits. Anyhow, flash forward to this summer. I'm not pregnant any longer, and I can eat stone fruits again, without consequence! Apparently, my allergy to stone fruits was brought on by being pregnant! My doctor still thinks I'm a bit crazy, but those symptoms were real, I tell you. So, I gleefully made this galette, and was so happy with the results. Ms. Greenspan's galette recipe has a custard which you pour over the fruit for the last 15 minutes of baking. I cut the sugar from 1/3 of a cup to 1/5 of a cup, as I felt my fruit was sweet enough. I think this was perfect and her crust perfectly showcases lusciously ripe stone fruits. Please visit Michelle's blog for the full recipe and don't forget to check out what the other TWD'ers baked up this week! Thanks!

Read more!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Corn and Tomato Salad with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette

Another great week at the farmer's market. Corn was in abundance and there was an array of tomato varieties to choose from. I came home with a bunch of beautiful orange tomatoes and a few Cherokee Purple ones. This year I am growing Cherokee Purples in my garden but they aren't ready yet. So, I decided to a buy a few to learn what I have to look forward too next week when mine have ripened.

This is a quick corn and tomato salad that highlights the best of summer. The picture is a little dark but is was almost dusk before I got around to making the salad. The tomatoes had this beautiful purplish hue (Eddie says the tomatoes actually look like raw tuna in the pictures) and were divine. I can't wait until mine ripen.

The leftovers were great the next day for lunch!

Corn and Tomato Salad
Serves 3

3 ears of corn
1 tomato, diced (preferably an heirloom variety)
2 tbs. chopped chives

1 1/2 teas. honey
1 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. fresh lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Bring a pot of water to boil.
2. Cook corn cobs in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove and let cool.
3. Cut kernels of the cob.
4. Combine corn kernels, diced tomato and chives
5. Whisk together honey, olive oil, and lime juice. Pour over corn and tomato mixture.
6. Season with salt and pepper.

Read more!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

TWD: Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

I wasn't sure what to make of this week's TWD challenge. Rhubarb is something I've never tried before, let alone purchased, prepped, and baked with. I was eager for the challenge, as my blogging partner, Erin, loves rhubarb. Every summer, I see this mysterious pale pink stalk-like vegetable, in bins next to the celery and eggplant and wonder if I can load up a dessert with enough sugar to tame the sour that rhubarb brings to the party. I say this because one of my favorite patients (I'm a physical therapist, I don't think I've mentioned that, yet) told me her husband only had eyes for her rhubarb pie, and her secret was a full 2 cups of sugar! Luckily, Ms. Greenspan's recipe cleverly uses the sweetness of cherries to its full advantage. I was ready to try this. I bought the rhubarb, brought it home, scrubbed it clean, trimmed it, and peeled a layer of it off, like celery, as instructed by Dorie. I pitted my cherries, using a paper clip contraption because I have yet to purchase a cherry pitter. One of these cherries was determined to cling to its pit and even after digging around in the bowl, I couldn't seem to locate this rogue cherry pit. So, I chalked it up to my imagination playing tricks on me and figured the pit never actually made it into my bowl of pitted cherries. I really should have been more careful, because I was serving this dish to 5 other people, 4 of whom are lawyers. Luckily my husband ended up with the cherry pit and luckily, he didn't break a tooth. Unfortunately, I have a birthday coming up and needless to say, he's told me that all I'm getting this year is a stupid cherry pitter.
I'm so glad I tried this recipe. I enjoyed the dichotomy of sour and sweet which melded together beautifully after 45 minutes in the oven. The topping is really unique, as it uses whole wheat flour and ginger as well. I tweaked it a little by adding 1/2 cup of cornmeal ala David Lebovitz who made a jam tart last week with cornmeal and whole wheat flour. I loved the texture and pleasant grit the cornmeal gave to the topping. And thank you, Steph, from A Whisk and a Spoon, and Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes for your advice on rhubarb. I was ready to give up, so thank you for responding on the TWD help board! For the full recipe, please visit Amanda, our hostess for this week's challenge, at Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake. And do check out what all the other TWD bloggers have created by visiting TWD and clicking on each blogger. Thanks!

Read more!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

TWD - Chocolate Pudding

Could it really be better then the boxed instant stuff? That's the first question that popped into my mind when I saw that this week's TWD recipe was chocolate pudding. When I was a little kid my mom used to make me chocolate pudding for dessert. Now she didn't use the complete instant stuff - she at least went for the cook and serve pudding. To me, it was great... only thing that needed to be measured was the milk and if you are like me and prefer pudding warm it could be ready in 5 minutes.

But, I promised Shirlie that I would be be in charge of the TWD blog this week and I was open to the notion that perhaps making pudding from scratch is worth the effort. Here's what I can report back ........ totally worth the effort! And it really didn't take that much effort. The pudding was so decadent. I used super high quality chocolate and it made such a difference. Instead of 5 minutes this may have taken me 15 minutes. The only change I made was to use a stand mixer instead of the food processor. I'm at the beach this week and while I brought many kitchen appliances (including my stand mixer), I somehow forgot the food processor. Still, it worked like a charm.

If you want the recipe, this week's host Melissa from Its Melissa's Kitchen has it posted. Please check out how the rest of my fellow TWD Bakers did here.

Read more!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Balsamic-Marinated Red Onions

Hello from Hilton Head! I am on vacation this week with my husband's family and in true "Erin style" I packed our car full of kitchen stuff to bring down here. That is the great thing about driving to a vacation destination... you can fill the car with all kinds of stuff that for some reason you need, but if you were flying you somehow wouldn't need it.

So, this week I loaded that car up with cake pans, my Kitchenaid mixer, bamboo steamer, spices, cookbooks and other random kitchen items that I deemed necessary. The night before we left Eddie said "sure, take whatever you want." Then, when he decided at 3:00 in morning on Saturday that he couldn't sleep anymore and we should go ahead and leave for the beach that I was crazy for bringing all this stuff. That's right... my husband got me up at 3:00 a.m. to drive to Hilton Head. Since I run a little slower at 3:00 a.m. he had to pack the car and then all of a sudden I was "packing everything but the kitchen sink." So, now my goal is to use every item I brought just to prove that they were necessary.

But I digress...

My first new recipe of the week is Balsamic-Marinated Red Onions. This came out of The Summer House Cookbook by Debra Ponzek and Geralyn Delaney Graham. We gilled up some steaks and fish for dinner last night and this was the perfect accompaniment. The balsamic viniger and orange juice marinade cuts the bite of the onions and the orange juice really shines through. Total prep time was about 5 minutes, I let them marinate for about 5 hours, then tossed them on the grill with the meat. Delish!

View recipe after the jump.

Balsamic-Marinated Red Onions
Adapted from The Summer House Cookbook by
Debra Ponzek and Geralyn Delaney Graham
Serves 4

2 red onions, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbs. sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange
Salt and Pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. (I used a flat pan so that the slices could lay flat.)

2. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

3. On a medium-hot grill, cook onions for 5 minutes on each side, or until they are tender but still hold their shape.

4. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

*** These could also be a great appitizer: Cut them up and serve on toasted bread with a little bit of goat cheese.

Read more!

Friday, July 11, 2008

TWD Blueberry Pie - Erin's take

I know, I know. I am completely late in posting about the blueberry pie this week that was the Tuesday's with Dorie recipe. Normally I would have just left the Smell the Basil take completely to my on-time partner Shirlie who posted on Tuesday. But, I think the picture I took looked so good I just had to share.

Funny thing about this challenge was that I made the pie a week before the challenge, not even knowing that the recipe for the week was going to be Blueberry Pie. I just stopped by a farm stand on my way home one day and the blueberries looked so good that I couldn't pass them up. So, pie it was!

I kind of combined Dorie's recipe for the blueberry filling, and a Martha Stewart recipe for pie dough that I use all the time. (Unlike Shirlie who has an aversion to fruit desserts, I would take a fruit pie over chocolate any day of the week, so I end up making a lot of pies in the summer.)

My secret to making pie dough is to replace 1 tablespoon of water with 1 tablesoon of apple cider vinegar. I can't even remember who told me to do this, or even the chemisty behind it... but it makes a great flaky pie dough every time. One day I will post my "official" pie dough recipe, but I leave for the beach in the morning so I need to pack.

Anyways, the blueberry pie was great. Problem was... Eddie doesn't like fruit desserts. He didn't even eat a bit of this pie! Oh well, more for me... And the friends and neighbors I ended up giving some to so that I wouldn't have to throw it away.

Read more!

Monday, July 7, 2008

TWD: Double Crusted Blueberry Pie

Double Crusted Blueberry Pie was this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection, chosen by Amy of South in Your Mouth. I know I've recently told you that I'm not partial to fruit desserts, so when I heard this week's recipe was a fruit pie, I was fully determined to sit this one out. Didn't we just make a fruit cobbler, I thought? So, I let most of the week go by without much thought about pie. Towards the end of the week, I received the current edition of Cooking Light Magazine, which was lovingly gifted to me by my dear friend, S., and lo and behold, you'll never guess what was on the cover! It was the most beautiful lattice topped cherry pie I've ever seen, with step by step instructions for mastering this intricate maze of pastry dough. Lattice topped pies have forever intimidated me; I mean, pie crust alone is scary, let alone trying to piece together fragile strips of dough on top of your pie. I decided to own up to my insecurities and overcome my fear of lattice topped fruit pies.
And how did my endeavors go, you might be wondering? Well, let's just say that I have a new respect for those who can lattice top a pie. It took me forever; so long that I had to re-refrigerate my dough at least 4 times. I would cut a few strips and lay it out, then, try to get another strip of dough up from the wax paper, only to find it tearing into remnants because the dough had softened too much. I had to reshape it and re-cut strips and re-refrigerate it and attempt all over again. It was demoralizing, but I finally did it. And as you are my witness, I fully recant my earlier declarations that fruit desserts were not for me. I misspoke. I had yet to try Dorie's double crusted blueberry pie. I suppose trying this pie at the height of blueberry season also helped. I used 3 cups of sweet cherries and 2 cups of blueberries in this pie. It was unbelievable. And now that I've made a lattice topped pie, I don't think I'll ever go back to merely topping a pie with just a plain slab of dough.
If you have put off trying to top your pies with a lattice design, I urge you to give it a shot. I swear it might make the pie taste even better! So, to re-cap, not only was the lattice top conquered, but I also came to the realization that some fruit desserts can be freaking amazing. I'll definitely make this pie again; perhaps with a different berry combination, although cherries and blueberries were sublime. Please visit the other TWD bloggers to see everyone's lovely creations. For the recipe, check out Amy's blog, South in Your Mouth, or get your hands on Baking: From My Home To Yours. You won't regret this purchase!

Read more!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Farmer's Market Succotash

It is a great time of year for local produce. At the farmer’s market this morning there was plenty of corn, fava beans, green beans, blueberries, cherries, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, and I started to see the first of summer eggplant, peppers and more tomatoes than last week. (Have I mentioned that I am a die-hard farmer’s market shopper?)

This is a veggie side dish that I love to make this time of year. It is so fresh and incorporates the best that summer has to offer. I usually serve it with grilled fish, but would be equally delicious with any grilled meat. In this recipe I use fresh fava beans, but later in the summer fresh lima or butter beans would make a great substitute.

Here are a few tips if you have never worked with fava beans and get them still in the pod. You must remove the fava’s from the pod like any other bean. However, the bean is also surrounded by a thick shell that should be removed before cooking. I just make a small slit in the shell with a paring knife and then pull it back. Inside will be the bean. Fava’s should be cooked first in boiling water for 3-4 minutes before being added to any dish.

Hope this makes an appearance at your dinner table!

Recipe after the jump.

Farmer’s Market Succotash

1 ½ tbs. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
4 ears corns, kernel cut off. (Save the cob to make broth)
1 ½ cups fava beans, parboiled
½ cup diced red pepper
Salt and Pepper
¼ c. chopped basil

1. Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat.
2. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute.
3. Add corn kernals, fava beans and red pepper. Cook 5-6 minutes until corn is cooked.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Toss in basil and serve.

Serves 4

Read more!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Daring Bakers: Danish Braid with Apple Spice Filling

I know, I'm late for Daring Bakers! I am sorry for the delay. We've had a lot going on. Big news: We're moving to New Jersey! We're leaving San Antonio in about 6 weeks or so. We're both really excited to get back to the East Coast because this central time zone thing is still something I can't get used to. I mean, who can remember to watch "How I Met Your Mother" at 7 pm? It's a great show, by the way, in case you've never caught it. Anyhow, we've been busy with planning and trying to sell off stuff (thank you, Craigslist) before our move. So, I hope you'll understand about my tardiness. I'll keep this short, since by now, you've probably seen more Danish Braids than you can handle. You should already know that this month's Daring Bakers Challenge was wisely chosen by Kelly of Sass and Veracity and Ben, of What's Cooking. The dough for these Danish braids is "laminated" which means layered, which was new to me. I was truly terrified when I looked at this recipe and all its many steps. Luckily, I read other Daring Bakers' comments stating this recipe, by Sherry Yard, could be stretched out over a few days. Which is exactly what I did and was rewarded 2 days later with an impossibly fragrant scent of vanilla, cardamom and orange filling my house. It's similar to puff pastry, in that it has numerous, light layers, but the dough creates more of a bread-like texture. This dough is rolled into thirds and refrigerated a total of 4 times, or "turns", as it's called. I don't know much about doughs and yeast, but I gathered that these "turns" are what makes the layers possible. Therefore, I completed 6 turns to ensure that I would have actual layers. As novice a baker as I am, I had no problems with this recipe and was gleefully counting layers in my finished braid. Although time consuming, the results are worth it. This was the sort of pastry that I thought could only be made in fancy bakeries by professionals. Thank you, Daring Bakers, for inspiring me to bake something I would normally have been frightened of! Please visit the other Daring Bakers to see their lovely creations! Erin, my wonderful blogging partner, has already posted the full recipe, please see her post here for detailed directions.

Read more!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

TWD: Apple Cheddar Scones

This week's TWD, Apple Cheddar Scones, was selected by Karina, of The Floured Apron. This was a quick and painless recipe which produced a crumbly, yet still moist scone. I thought the combination of apples and cheddar seemed interesting; I'd heard of people eating apple pie with slices of cheddar on top, so I was determined to give this recipe a try. As soon as they came out of the oven, I tried a bit of one and was surprised at how good it was. The taste of apple was subtle, and the savory component of cheddar delivered an unexpected twist. My husband kept saying he didn't taste the bacon. I kept telling him that these were Apple Cheddar Scones, not Bacon Cheddar Scones. He seemed vaguely disappointed that Ms. Greenspan left out bacon in her Apple Cheddar Scones. I told him the book was written by Dorie Greenspan, and not Bob Evans! Please visit the TWD bloggers to view their creations. The full recipe can be found at The Floured Apron, or in Dorie Greenspan's book, "From My Home to Yours".

Read more!