Foodie Fridays & Weekend Fare

It’s a double feature today. ūüôā I’m sharing a recipe and introducing Foodie Fridays – I hope many of you will join in and share your food experiences!

Peaches and blueberries are such a wonderful combination. I needed a dessert for company and found a recipe for individual Peach & Blueberry Crumbles which I adapted. Yum. They were absolutely delicious. I made them a few hours ahead and then put them back in the oven to re-warm them. I served them with fresh whipped cream (not pictured) flavored with a little vanilla extract and a hint of cinnamon. The only thing I would change is to add a bit less sugar to the crumble topping Рit was quite sweet. These were quick to put together and looked elegant served in the individual ramekins.

PEACH & BLUEBERRY CRUMBLES
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2 lbs. firm, ripe peaches, peeled & sliced or 4 c. frozen peaches
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 Tb. lemon juice
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. flour

Crumble: 
1 c. flour
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. (1 stick) cold  butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place peaches and blueberries in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Divide the mixture between six lightly greased ramekins or custard cups.

For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the cut butter in a medium mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut in butter until it is pea size. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 45 minutes or until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.

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FOODIE FRIDAYS!

We are so excited to give this feature a try. There is so much we can learn and share from one another! I find myself inspired by reading other blogs. We hope you will find this feature encouraging and inspiring.

Here are just a few guidelines for participating in Foodie Fridays:
1) Leave a link to your post with Mr. Linky.
2) Your entry can include a recipe, a kitchen success, an ingredient, a tradition, a book/magazine/restaurant review, a favorite (or not) tool or gadget, food photos, recipe website, a food memory, a cooking or eating experience or anything food related.
3) Please link back here in your participating post.

Hope you have fun, meet new people, learn a few things, feel encouraged, and find inspiration as you cook, bake, and entertain!

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Off The Shelf: August Magazines

It’s so fun browsing the various food magazines we receive in the mail and then deciding which ones will make the cut and what recipes we will try. It gives us a chance to try things maybe we wouldn’t and to enjoy our subscriptions. So here are our picks for this month!

Saveur (Alaina) – This magazine features Greek food which I love! I thoroughly enjoy this publication – it has interesting articles about travel, food, techniques and more. It perhaps does not have as many recipes as some of the more well-known cooking magazines but the recipes they feature are excellent. I like that they choose a theme (or a couple of themes) and include several recipes that tie into that theme.

It was tough choosing the recipe I wanted to try, so I made two.¬† The first I already mentioned a couple of weeks ago – a Greek Salad. The second was this Greek Lasagne. It was wonderful! I’m not generally a big casserole fan but I loved this – it was a little time consuming but so worth it. The flavors and textures worked so well together. It made alot – I served 4 adults and 3 kids and still had half a casserole left which we enjoyed as leftovers. This recipe would be excellent for the occasions that you take a meal to someone.


GREEK LASAGNE (PASTITSIO) – Saveur, August 2010
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FOR THE MEAT SAUCE:
1‚ĀĄ3¬†cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 green bell peppers, cored, seeded, and minced
2 medium yellow onions, minced
1 lb. ground beef, veal, or pork
3 oz. dry-cured chorizo, minced
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1‚ĀĄ3¬†cup red wine
1‚ĀĄ4¬†tsp. crushed red chile flakes
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 ¬†2″ cinnamon stick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper,  to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
FOR THE¬†B√ČCHAMEL AND PASTA:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cups  flour
4 cups milk
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs, separated
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1lb. No. 2 Greek macaroni, bucatini, or elbow macaroni
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1. Make the meat sauce: Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers and onions and cook, stirring often, until soft, 8‚Äď10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onion mixture to a plate and set aside. Add ground meat and chorizo to skillet and cook, breaking meat up into tiny pieces, until browned, 6‚Äď8 minutes. Add reserved onion mixture, along with tomatoes, wine, chile flakes, bay leaves, and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove sauce from heat, discard bay leaves and cinnamon, and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg; let cool.
2. Make the b√©chamel: Heat butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and slightly toasted, 1‚Äď2 minutes. Add milk; cook, whisking often, until sauce coats the back of a spoon, 8‚Äď10 minutes. Remove from heat, add 3‚ĀĄ4 cup cheese and egg yolks; season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir until smooth; set aside.
3. Heat oven to 350¬į. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add pasta and cook halfway through, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk egg whites in a large bowl until frothy. Stir in remaining cheese; drain pasta in a colander and then toss with egg white‚Äďcheese mixture to coat evenly. Set aside.
4. Grease a deep 9″ x 13″ baking dish with olive oil. Place half the pasta mixture on bottom of dish and cover evenly with meat sauce. Top with remaining pasta mixture. Pour b√©chamel over pasta, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 1 hour. Transfer to wire rack; cool 20 minutes before serving.
SERVES 10 ‚Äď 12

Bon Appetit
(Alaina) – Yum. That describes this entire issue. I was especially tempted by their many desserts – just look at the cover! Even my 2 year old was taken by this issue and¬†insisted on¬†looking at it several times¬†and pointing out the photos of delicious looking food while saying, “Mmm!”
This is an issue I will hang on to and hopefully make many more of the recipes. I chose to make the Sour Cream Pound Cake w/Lavendar Peaches. Cooking with lavendar is new to me and so I really wanted to give this a try. And¬†the verdict is – go.make.this.recipe. It was so summery and absolutely delicious. Halfway through the recipe as I was making the lavendar simple syrup and¬†I was a little nervous – it smelled so floral. But by the end, with the peaches infused into the syrup, the result was a perfect balance of fruit and floral. And let’s not forget the cake – with vanilla bean and sour cream, it was moist and flavorful.¬†I will definitely cook with lavendar again!

SOUR CREAM POUND CAKE w/LAVENDAR PEACHES – Bon Appetit, August 2010
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CAKE
3/4 c. plus 1 Tb. flour
1/4 c. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
3/4 c. sugar
10 Tb. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 lg. egg
1 lg. egg white
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. sour cream

Preheat oven to 325. Butter a metal loaf pan (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 3/4 inch). Dust pan with flour; tap out excess. Sift 3/4 c. plus 1 Tb. flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Combined sugar and butter in large bowl; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (reserve bean for lavender syrup). Using electric mixer, beat sugar mixture until fluffy. Add egg, egg white, and vanilla extract; beat until mixture is pale and thick, about 2 minutes. Beat in sour cream. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 56-58 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Turn cake out, then turn top side up. Cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in foil and store at room temperature.)

LAVENDER SYRUP & PEACHES
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 Tb. dried lavender blossoms
4 medium firm but ripe peaches, pitted, cut into 3/4-inch wedges
3 Tb. fresh lemon juice
1 c. chilled heavy whipping cream

Combine 2 1/4 c. water, sugar, lavender, and reserved vanilla bean in saucepan. Boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cover and let steep 10 minutes. Strain syrup into medium bowl; discard lavender. Pour 2 Tb. lavender syrup into small bowl; reserve for whipped cream. Cover and chill. Return remaining syrup to same saucepan; add peaches and lemon juice and bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer about 5 minutes. Transfer peaches to bowl. Boil syrup in pan until reduced to 1 c., 12-14 minutes (it took longer for me). Pour over peaches. Chill uncovered 2 hours.

Beat cream and 2 Tb. reserved syrup in medium bowl to soft peaks. Slice cake. Serve with peaches, syrup, and cream.
Cooking Light (Heather): The August edition is a thick, summer issue with plenty of good ideas. We tried the Sweet and Spicy Citrus Tilapia and it was so very good. I don’t cook a lot of fish, but this recipe makes me want to put it on our menu more often. It was easy and delicious and everyone had clean plates.
I also tried their recipe for Quick and Easy Pickles and a huge jar is sitting in my refrigerator right now. It was a great way to use garden surplus (it works for cucumbers and zucchini!).
Summer Squash and Corn Chowder is on my list of things to make — it looks so delicious in the magazine picture and would be a great way to use up extra corn and squash!
The issue is very festive with page after page of summer food. Many of the recipes are a bit more gourmet than I would make, but they are fun to look through and there are a handful of really good and useful recipes for the average cook.

SWEET AND SPICY CITRUS TILAPIA
(Cooking Light, August 2010)
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4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
cooking spray
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. lower sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp. paprika
Arrange fish in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Combine orange juice and next 9 ingredients (through garlic); pour over fish. Let stand 15 minutes.
Preheat broiler. Sprinkle fish with paprika; broil 15 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Drizzle sauce over fish. Serves 4.
NOTE: I didn’t have any orange juice in the house (and Alaina didn’t either!) so I had to improvise: I removed the brown sugar and put in about 3 Tbsp. of orange marmalade to replace the orange juice and brown sugar. It was perfect!
¬†¬†Martha Stewart Living (Heather): We don’t often include Martha Stewart magazine because it’s not exclusively a food magazine. However, this month it included the most amazing summer recipe that is also extremely easy — all it takes is time to boil the pasta and you are finished!

Tomato and Basil Pasta is the pasta version of Caprese Salad. If you love that salad, you will love this pasta. My kids loved it too. We’ve made it twice and it is on the menu for this week again. You could also add some Kalamata olives to dress it up a bit.

TOMATO AND BASIL PASTA
(Martha Stewart, August 2010)
Print this recipe
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cooked short pasta
4 medium tomatoes
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese
basil leaves

Combine olive oil, garlic cloves, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss in cooked and drained pasta. Tear tomatoes and mozzarella and scatter over pasta. Garnish with basil leaves and sprinkle with pepper. Serves 4.

Off The Shelf: Eating History


Eating History: 30 Turning points in the Making of American Cuisine, by Andrew F. Smith, is not a cookbook, but rather a book of essays showing how Americans’ diets have evolved throughout the history of our country to get to the point we are at now.

Some may find this book a bit dry. Others, who love both history and food, will find it fascinating as they discover things like the effect of the Erie Canal on the average diet, the role of religion in the development of modern cold cereal, how war opened the way for our present-day reliance on canned goods, and how the development of various diets has affected the food available in our grocery stores.

Other fascinating chapters include: Cyrus McCormick’s Reaper, Gail Borden’s Canned Milk, Fair Food, Wilbur O. Atwater’s Calorimeter, Fannie Farmer’s Cookbook, Jerome I. Rodale’s Organic Gardening, and Julia Child the French Chef.

One of the chapters is devoted to the start of Gourmet magazine in 1941. Started during World War II, the magazine surprisingly survived a difficult time in our American history and continued being published right up until last year. Since there are no recipes in Eating History, I decided to use one from Gourmet.

This cake is simple to make and perfect for a summer afternoon (combined with a cup of tea, of course).

NECTARINE GOLDEN CAKE
(Gourmet, September 2009)
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1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
rounded 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 1/2 Tbsp sugar, divided (I used 1/2 cup sugar)
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
2 nectarines, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges (I used peaches)
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F with rack in middle. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Beat butter and 3/4 cup sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in extracts. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined.

Spread batter evenly in pan, then scatter nectarines over top. Stir together nutmeg and remaining 1/2 Tbsp. sugar and sprinkle over top. Bake until cake is golden-brown and top is firm but tender when lightly touched (cake will rise over fruit), 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove side of pan and cool to warm.

Serve plain, or with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream.

Serves 8.

Baker’s Delight: Pear Tart

It’s getting towards the end of winter and I’m getting anxious for summer fruits! It’s the perfect time to finish using up your canned and frozen fruits which would be great in this recipe.¬†Today, I’m using fresh pears. This is absolutely one of our favorite desserts. I made this when we were first married and it’s continued to make a regular appearance. I usually make it with canned, fresh, or frozen peaches and that’s still my favorite way but this is really good!

PEAR TART
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3 Tb. butter, melted
3/4 c. plus 1 Tb. sugar, divided
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. finely chopped pecans
1 package (8 oz.) regular or reduced-fat cream cheese
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
1 large pear, cored and thinly sliced (you can peel if you want)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a tart pan with removable bottom (about an 8-9 inch tart pan). In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to combine melted butter, 1/2 c. of sugar, flour and nuts until crumbly. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of the fluted tart pan.

In another mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1/4 c. sugar, egg, vanilla, and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon; spread over the crust. Arrange pears over cream cheese mixture. Combine the remaining 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1 Tb. of sugar; sprinkle over pears.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10 min. Reduce heat to 350 degrees; bake 15-20 min. longer or until filling is set. Cool for 1 hr. on a wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 2 hrs. before serving. Remove sides of pan and slice. Yield: 8-10 servings.