Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Peach and Blueberry "Cobbler"

I went on a canning binge this weekend.  Jams, pickles, you name it.  (More to come on that later...)

But I was left with several gorgeous peaches.  What to do, what to do?

How about THIS?

It was a BIG hit when I brought into our weekly staff meeting at work this morning.  Although it was a great coffee cake, it would be just as wonderful at dessert time with a big scoop of Blue Bell homemade vanilla on top. 

(Point of order: Is this a cobbler, cake or "buckle"?  You decide.)

    Peach and Blueberry Cobbler
    From Real Simple magazine.
    1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 cup packed light brown sugar
    1 large egg, at room temperature
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1/2 cup sour cream
    4 peaches, each cut into 8 wedges (about 4 cups)
    1 pint blueberries
    1/3 cup sliced almonds

    Heat oven to 350° F. 
    Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
    In a separate bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
    Reduce mixer speed to low. Add half the flour mixture, then the sour cream, and then the remaining flour mixture, mixing well between additions. Fold in the peaches and blueberries. (Don’t worry if there seems to be too much fruit in proportion to batter. The batter will rise around it while baking.)
    Transfer the batter to an 8-by-8-inch or other 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the almonds. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (aim for the batter, not the fruit), 1½ hours to 1 hour, 45 minutes. (If it's browning too much, loosely cover with foil.
     Let cool slightly. Dust with the confectioners’ sugar and serve warm.

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013

    Summer Squash with Almonds and Parmesan

    Toasted almonds and grated parmesan kick up the flavor of plain old summer squash in this yummy side dish.

    Summer Squash with Almonds and Parmesan
    Makes 4 servings.

    2 pounds summer squash and/or zucchini, cut into matchsticks
    1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
    1/4 cup sliced almonds
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 garlic cloves, sliced
    1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
    Freshly ground black pepper

    Place squash in a colander set in the sink or over a large bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon salt. Let squash stand 10 minutes, then squeeze well to remove as much excess moisture as possible (do not rinse).
    Meanwhile, toast almonds in a large dry skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate; let cool.
    Heat oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add squash and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisptender, about 5 minutes. Fold in Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Fold in almonds.

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    Tomato and Almond Pesto

    I am a big fan of ye olde "traditional" pesto...frech basil blended with pine nuts, garlic, parmesan and olive oil.  As a matter of fact, I made a batch last night from my backyard basil bounty and enjoyed it with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella.

    But there are many variations on that great theme.  I have seen plenty of recipes using othyer green herbs like parsley and even cilantro.  And you could use pecans or walnuts.  You get the idea.

    This fresh and delicious recipe adds tomatoes into the mix and goes for almonds as its nut choice.  It's yummy.  Perfect with some pan-roasted cod as pictured above.  But would also be good on sauteed vegetables, grilled chicken or even just a piece of toasted baguette.

    Try it...it's likely to become one of your summer go-to condiments.

    Tomato and Almond Pesto
    From Food & Wine magazine.
    Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
    1 cup cherry tomatoes
    2 large garlic cloves, minced
    1 packed cup basil leaves
    1/4 cup water
    Freshly ground black pepper
    In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the almonds and toast over high heat, shaking the pan, until lightly browned, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until the skins just brown, 2 minutes. Let cool, then transfer to a food processor. Add the garlic, basil and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil; pulse until the almonds are chopped. Add the water and process to a chunky puree. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    It's National Hot Dog Day!

    You can celebrate with a ballpark dog (The enormity above is what they serve at Texas Rangers games), a chili dog, or one topped with kraut, but, for my money, ain't nothing better than a good old-fashioned Chicago dog.  Here's how to construct yours.

    The Chicago Hot Dog
    This makes one...multiply to your heart's content.

    Brush the outside of a hot dog bun with a bit of melted unsalted butter. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake split sides down at 350°about 5 minutes until warm.

    Warm a hot dog (all-beef please) in boiling water for 5 minutes and place in your bun.

    Place a dill pickle spear on one side of the hot dog and two tomato wedges on the other.

    Zig-zag with yellow mustard and top with a dollop of sweet pickle relish.

    Sprinkle a little chopped onion on top.

    Final touch? Two, actually. A sport pepper. (A peperoncino makes a good substitute. And then a generous sprinkling of celery salt. (NO. You may not omit the celery salt.)

    Monday, July 08, 2013

    Pattypan Squash Casserole

    It's that time of year in Texas where our produce shares, farmers markets and gardens are overflowing with summer squash.  Here's one of the most basic (and delicious) ways to fix it. The recipe calls for pattypan squash, but you can make it just as easily with zucchini or yellow squash...or a mix of all three.  You can gild the lily by adding a little grated cheese to the squash mixture or some Parmesan to the breadcrumb topping, but it doesn't really need it.

    Pattypan Squash Casserole
    Makes 6-8 servings.

    2 pounds pattypan squash, cleaned and  cut into chunks
    2 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons chopped onion 
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper 
    1 cup milk 
    1 cup soft breadcrumbs
    2 tablespoons butter, melted

    Cook squash, covered, in boiling salted water 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash. Drain again, if necessary. (You don't want too much liquid in the mixture.)

    Combine squash, 2 tablespoons butter, onion, flour, salt, pepper, and milk; stir well. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 1-quart casserole.

    Combine breadcrumbs and melted butter; spoon over squash mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

    Sunday, July 07, 2013

    Quinoa, Corn and Poblano Stuffed Peppers

    Here's something for a great healthy summer dinner.  This recipe was inspired by a Cooking Light recipe for baked tomatoes.  I changed the filling around a bit and stuffed red bell peppers instead.  Feel free to make your own variations...

    Quinoa, Corn and Poblano Stuffed Peppers
    Makes four servings.

    2 poblano chiles
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 cup chopped onion
    2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano, Mexican preferably)
    1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
    3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    4 red (or green) bell peppers
    1 cup uncooked quinoa
    1 1/2 cups cup chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
    4 ounces colby-Jack cheese, shredded (about 1 cup packed)

    Preheat broiler to high.

    Cut the chiles in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place chile halves, skin side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 8 minutes or until blackened. Place in a paper bag; close tightly. Let stand 10 minutes. 

    Peel chiles. Coarsely chop chiles; place in a bowl.

    In a saute pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add the corn and saute until just slightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.  Remove from the pan and add to the bowl with the poblanos.  Stir in the oregano, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper.

    Place quinoa in a fine sieve, and place sieve in a large bowl. Cover quinoa with water. Using your hands, rub the grains together for 30 seconds; rinse and drain. Repeat the procedure twice. Drain well. Combine quinoa and stock or water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork. Add quinoa mixture to corn mixture; toss well.

    Preheat oven to 350°.

    Spoon about 3/4 cup corn mixture into each pepper. Divide cheese evenly among peppers. Place peppers in a baking dish and bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Preheat broiler. Broil the peppers 1 1/2 minutes or until cheese melts. 

    Friday, July 05, 2013

    It's National Fried Chicken Day!

    So get out your cast pans, your deep fryer, your skillet....

    Or take the easy way out and cook this oven recipe.


    Whatever you choose, enjoy!

    Evernote has changed my life....

    That elephant above?  He's my hero....

    I have been ripping pages out of cooking magazines for years.  My antiquated storage system involved sorting them into a variety of labeled folders...braised chicken, summer squash, or fancy canapes for example.  Theoretically, it meant I had what I needed at my fingertips.

    Two problems though: 1) I haven't sorted in a couple of years meaning there are hundreds of recipes out there in limbo...and they are the more recent ones.  2) There is no way to place a recipe in multiple folders.  Having a recipe in the short ribs folder doesn't help when I specifically want a dish with Asian or Mexican flair.

    Never fear, Evernote steps in to save the day.  With the web clipper tool, I can look at a magazine page and search for the recipe online.  Then, all I have to do is click a button on my tool bar and it goes into my Evernote folder. And I can apply multiple tags to it: ingredient, technique, or even possible occasion to use.

    If the recipe isn't online, you can scan it in and tag the PDF.  I'm even thinking about creating notes on cookbook recipes.  The note could include tags and then Evernote serves as a master index to the hundred or more cookbooks on the shelf.

    The possibilities are endless.  Try it for yourself.  In the meantime, I'm going back to work.  1200 recipes digitized so far...and counting.

    Thursday, July 04, 2013

    Happy Fourth of July!

    Here's something easy and edible to add to your Independence Day spread.  Using twelve wooden skewers and the photo above as a guide, layer blueberries, raspberries and mini marshmallows to create this Fourth of July fruity flag.

    Enjoy the fireworks!