Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Sweetie was delighted with the fresh tomato soup. The color may have been like the Campbell's Cream of Tomato soup we remembered from childhood, but the flavor was much stronger, full of the tang of fresh tomatoes, basil and black pepper, smoothed out just a bit by the cream.
Makes 2 generous servings
1 large or two small yellow onions, peeled, ends trimmed, halved, and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 - 2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, skin removed, cored, diced, keeping juices
1 can chicken broth or 2 cups fresh chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
1/3 cup cream or 1/2 and 1/2
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, saute' the onions in the olive oil about 5 minutes, until translucent and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and saute another minute, stirring often.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the tomatoes, stirring to deglaze the pan. Add the chicken broth, salt and pepper and basil and simmer 5 minutes, uncovered.
With a stick blender, regular blender, food processor or food mill, process the soup to make it smoother. (I like mine a little chunky, so I didn't blend it totally smooth.) Return to pot (if necessary) and add the cream. Heat over low heat until heated through.
Serve in soup bowls. Garnish with a basil leaf or chopped basil, if desired.
Friday, August 21, 2009
For the crust, use your favorite pie crust recipe. You can use the ready make kind (I'm partial to the Pillsbury kind, especially now that they come in a roll instead of folded) or make the dough yourself. I have included my Mom's recipe for 2 Crust Pie Pastry if you'd like to try making your own.
These little tarts taste great with either peaches or nectarines. You could substitute blackberries for the blueberries, too. The crystal sugar sprinkled on the top of the pastry not only looks pretty, but adds a textural contrast that is a perfect complement to the soft, juice baked fruit.
2 Crust Pie Pastry
(Use half the amounts for one crust, or make two and save the second crust dough for your next single crust pie)
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
ice water - have ½ cup or more ready
¾ cup shortening
Sift flour and salt into a bowl. With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut shortening into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle water, a tablespoon at a time, over mixture, stirring gently with a fork until all flour is moistened (usually 6 – 8 tablespoons). Press dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill before rolling out. Divide dough into two pieces. (Some like to divide the dough and then wrap each in plastic wrap, flattening into discs before chilling.)
Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface until it is slightly larger than the pie tin.
Makes 1 2-crust pie or 2 pie shells.
Peach Blueberry Tarlettes
1 recipe for 2-Crust Pie Pastry
5 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 pint fresh blueberries, wash, picked over and drained
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons milk
2 - 3 tablespoons sanding sugar...larger crystal sugar if possible
Roll out the pastry and cut three discs from each crusts worth of pastry. I have a 5 inch in diameter cookie cutter ring, but you can also cut around a small plate's rim.
Place the 6 discs on a parchment or silicon baking mat lined baking sheet. Gather the remaining dough and use for another purpose. (We used to roll out again, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then cut into fingers and bake along with the pie, removing as soon as they were browned around the edges. Eating them made it easier to wait until after dinner for the pie.)
In a medium bowl, combine the peaches, blueberries, flour, sugar, and nutmeg. Spoon the filling into the center of each disc, making sure to leave an inch of dough uncovered all around the edge of each disc. Divide the filling among the discs as evenly as possible.
Have a small bowl of water nearby. Using clean hands, pull the edges of the pastry, on each disc in turn, toward the center, pleating as needed and moistening the dough surface as needed to have the pleats stick together.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the milk on the top of each pastry, then sprinkle with sanding sugar. (This step is optional, but makes a nice textural contrast and is pretty. I didn't have any sugar when I did these tartlettes, but I have used it in the past and recommend it.)
Bake tartlettes in preheated 400 degree F. oven for 15-20 minutes, or until pastry is browned and flaky.
Serve warm or cooled. Nice with whipped cream or ice cream garnish.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
8-9 ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 pint blackberries, washed and drained or patted dry
2 cups Bisquick (I used the low fat version)
1 cup low fat milk ( or more if needed...the batter should pour)
1 -2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9 inch cake pan or use a cast iron skillet.
In a large bowl, combine the peaches slices and the blackberries. Pour them into the prepared pan.
In a mixing bowl stir together the Bisquick and milk. Add the sugar and spices and mix just until combines. Batter should be thin enough to just pour.
Pour the batter over the fruit. Spread to cover the fruit.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
His niece, her husband and their lovely daughters were visiting from Tennessee. It was fun to catch up with them and what is happening in their lives, plus we took the opportunity to join them in exploring the new Natural History building, including the cute penguins and the living roof (covered with regional drought tolerant plants). We also had the treat of seeing Sarah, Straight Shooter Man, and Sweetie's sister and her charming husband (who makes a superb cup of coffee).
Since this was a triple birthday celebration I brought a cake. Since the cake had to sit in the trunk of the car for a while, buttercream and chocolate and such were not an option. It helped that I had a request for something light and orange flavored.
Marion Cunningham had the perfect recipe in her book The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. For years I didn't have a plain tube pan since I never make angel food cakes, but a few months ago I found one at a thrift store for $1. It even has a removable bottom and those cute little "feet" for cooling the cake upside down.
With a great recipe and the right pan, the rest is easy. Eggs are separated, orange zest shaved off the oranges with my trusty microplane grater, oranges juiced and the juice strained through a fine mesh strainer, flour measured and sifted twice with salt, some of the sugar put in a bowl and half the zest rubbed into the sugar ( a trick from Dorie Greenspan), and then the fun begins with the whites beaten with some of the the sugar until firm but still a bit droopy.
In another bowl the yolks get beaten until lemon colored, then the rest of the zest and the juice is added and sugar and zested sugar. I used a hand whisk to stir the sifted drifts of flour, a little at a time, into the yolks, then switched back to the machine whisk to add the first part of the beaten whites. The last part is folding in the rest of the whites with a spatula, down the center, to the bottom, up the side, then turn the bowl a bit, repeat, repeat, repeat just until the whites combine with the batter but are still full of air. The air helps it to rise...see below...it rose pretty well!
Fresh Orange Sponge Cake
The Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup egg whites (about 8)
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
2 tablespoons grated orange rind (orange part – zest only), divided
1/3 cup egg yolks (about 6)
1/3 cup strained freshly squeezed orange juice
Orange Glaze (recipe follows)
Have all ingredients at room temperature!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Take ¼ cup of the sugar and put into a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the zest and rub them together with your fingers until thoroughly combined.
Combine the flour and salt and sift them together twice; set aside. Put the egg whites into a large mixing bowl and beat until foamy. Gradually add ½ cup of the sugar and continue beating until the whites are stiff but moist, and stand in peaks that droop slightly when the beater is lifted.
In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until they have thickened slightly, then slowly add the remaining ½ cup sugar and the sugar-zest combo, and continue beating until the mixture is thick and lemon-colored. Add the remaining orange rind and the orange juice and blend well.
Sift the flour over the yolk mixture, and stir gently until smooth, with no drifts of flour visible. (I used a hand held whisk and sifted in some flour, whisked it gently, some more flour, whisked it gently, and so on instead of putting all the flour in at once.)
Gently stir one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter. (I used the whisk attachment and the stand mixer, only mixing until the whites were barely into the batter. Then I took the bowl away from the mixer and used a silicon spatula to finish folding in the whites.) Pour the remaining whites on top, and fold them into the yolk mixture, cutting down in the center with the spatula, taking it to the bottom and up the side of the bowl, then turning the bowl a bit and repeating until smooth and blended.
Spread the batter evenly in an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a straw inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and invert it. If it has little feet, invert onto those. If not, invert over a wine bottle or similar bottle with a thin neck.
Let cool completely before removing from the pan. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the Orange Glaze. Let glaze harden before serving. Marvelous with fresh berries.
1 1/3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange rind (orange part – zest only)
Put the sugar in a medium bowl. Add the orange juice and zest and stir briskly until smooth and well blended. Pour or spoon over the cake once it is cool. (I poured, using a spatula to spread the glaze over the top of the cake and letting it drip down the sides.)
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Heirloom Lemon Cucumber Salad with Tomatoes
2 – 4 lemon cucumbers
1 – 2 large tomatoes (heirlooms if you have them)
1 scallion (green onion), chopped, including the green parts
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Optional but good – chopped fresh basil
Cut the lemon cucumbers into bite sized pieces. Cut the tomatoes in bite sized pieces.
In a salad bowl, combine the lemon cucumbers, tomatoes, and scallions. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the two vinegars, then whisk the olive oil into the vinegar mixture in a thin stream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the vegetables and stir to mix well. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours to let the flavors combine.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
If you didn't know him, the images above might not make much sense. I'll talk a bit about each, starting at the left. It's a food...and this is a food blog (mostly).
He loved blackberries from an early age. Once we moved to our farm, he and his friends would make what he called feasts. They took grape leaves from the vines by the driveway
The next image is a saxophone. He played on in middle school, but switched to the trombone in high school because there were too many saxophone players. Music was a big part of his life...from zero period jazz band at 6 am to regular band classes and a love of all kinds of music which he played with an early MP3 player.
How Max looked at many ages. Unlikely as it might be, if you remember him from one of the photos, do leave a comment talking about it.
As you can see, baking has been part of family life for a long time. making Christmas cookies together, especially the decorated kind was a true tradition. Coloring Easter eggs was another, and picking out and then carving Halloween pumpkins was an annual family adventure.
Max had a very good sense of taste and enjoyed trying new foods. From the time he could walk he would take walks with his Dad in the neighborhood. At this time of year he would show up after the walk with a face smeared with blackberry juice and juice purpled fingers...and a big smile. After he learned a song at pre-school about artichokes, we had to have them, including different things to dip the cooked leaves in like melted butter and mayonnaise. He had a life long love of artichokes. Later, on a trip to Seattle, he tried snow crab and that became a special treat when we could find it. The same thing happened with lobster and blue crab...tried 'em on trips and would eat them as often as possible after that. When we went to Victoria, BC we tried a number of clam chowders, finally deciding that Pellikanos had the best one. Returning home we had to try local clam chowders to see if any were as good.
Strangely enough, since he enjoyed new foods, he also enjoyed food routines. I'm pretty sure he packed the exact same lunch each day during 4th and 5th grades, with no variations. He loved popcorn and that was a favorite after school snack, easily made in the microwave day after day after day. For fast food his favorite places were Burger King and Taco Bell. His favorite soda was Pepsi. We had lots of Burger King and Taco Bell meals while doing that club soccer thing.
More happy memories...and food memories can be really lasting because they usually include the associated fragrances...which are supposed to be very long lasting. Happy food memories to each of you dear readers. Hope these memories spark some of your own.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf or Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups chicken broth
4 boneless skiness chicken breasts, cut in large dice (bite sized pieces)
1 large or 2 medium Idaho type potatoes, cut in cubes about 1/2 inch across, peeled if you like
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fresh or frozen corn off the cob
1 cup fresh or frozen green beans, in bite sized pieces
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
enough flour and water in a slurry to thicken the broth, as desired
Saute' the onions, carrots and celery in the olive oil until the onions are transluscent, about 5 minutes, stirring every so often.
Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine
Tell her to make me a cambric shirt, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Without no seams nor needlework, then she'll be a true love of mine
Tell her to find me an acre of land, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Between the salt water and the sea strand, then she'll be a true love of mine
Tell her to reap it in a sickle of leather, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
And to gather it all in a bunch of heather, then she'll be a true love of mine
Are you goin to Scarborough fair? parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Monday, August 03, 2009
Sweetie sliced this yellow behemoth into two along the length of the squash, then removed the seeds from one of the halves. I sliced a bit off the bottom to let it sit a little flatter on the Silpat (silicon baking mat). You can also line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Some of the stuffing always seems to escape the squash, so lining the pan is just smart.
as long as it is cool enough to heat up the oven. I suspect that you might be able to duplicate this dish on the grill, but can't be sure until we try it. Although I didn't look at the recipe, this is reminiscent of the Zucanoes the Molly Katzen wrote about in the Moosewood Cookbook.
salt and pepper to taste
Sunday, August 02, 2009
The two keys to this recipe are diligent stirring and having a food processor. Check and check. It also helps to have the ingredients. A quick check of the pantry showed that I did have everything, but I forgot to check liquor cabinet (which is actually just a shelf in the corner of the living room amongst the many, many military books that Sweetie has collected). Turns out that the Scotch to make this butterscotch had been used up on the last grilled salmon he made.
It also turns out that Irish whiskey makes a great flavoring for this pudding. Somehow ButterIrish Pudding doesn't have the same ring. It does have a wonderful smoky flavor which reminded me pleasantly of the peat smoke in Cousin M's stove.
Allow enough time to make this gentle dessert and for it to cool for at least 4 hours in the fridge to reach a lovely, silken, mouth filling perfection. If you must gild the lily, a dollop of whipped cream and/or some candied nuts work well. Since I'm still at the soft food stage, I stuck with unadorned pudding. My camera skills also seem to be impaired...darn those drugs...but it was yummy pudding even if pics don't quite reflect that. A little thinner than I had hoped, but I added an extra egg yolk by mistake (can I blame that on the drugs, too?), so not too surprising.
Taken from Dorie Greenspan's book Baking: From My Home To Yours (page 386)
Dorie says, "Here's the real deal--butterscotch pudding made with real butter and real Scotch whisky. It is, as all good puddings must be, smooth, creamy and comforting, but it's also got a little kick, making it anything but a nursery sweet."
• 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
• 3 Tablespoons water
• 1 3/4 cups whole milk
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1/4 cup cornstarch
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 3 Tablespoons sugar
• 3 large egg yolks
• 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 2 Tablespoons Scotch whiskey (preferably a strong single malt)
Have six ramekins or pudding cups, each holding 4 to 6 ounces 1/2 to 3/4 cup), at hand.
Put the brown sugar and water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, put the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stirring and lowering the heat if necessary, boil for 2 minutes. Add 1 and a 1/2 cups of the milk and the cream and bring to a boil--don't worry if, as it's heating, the mixture curdles.
While the milk is heating, put the cornstarch and the salt in a food processor and whir to blend. Turn them out onto a piece of wax paper, put the sugar and egg yolks in the processor and blend for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the remaining 1/4 cup of milk and pulse just to mix, then add the dry ingredients and pulse a few times to blend.
With the machine running, very slowly pour in the hot liquid, process for a few seconds, then pour everything back into the saucepan. Whisk without stopping over medium heat--making sure to get into the edges of the pan--until the pudding thickens and a couple of bubbles burble up to the surface and pop (about 2 minutes). You don't want the pudding to boil, but you do want it to thicken, so lower the heat, if necessary.
Scrape the pudding back into the processor (if there's a scorched spot, avoid it as you scrape) and pulse a couple of times. Add the butter, vanilla and scotch and pulse until everything is evenly blended.
Pour the pudding into the ramekins. If you don't want a skin to form, place a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of each pudding to create an airtight seal. Refrigerate the pudding for at least 4 hours.
Makes 6 servings.