Archive for August, 2013

Nectarine Shortbread

August 29, 2013

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I have been going to the farmers market a lot in the past week.  Yes, of course it’s partly because I know summer is ending and I’m just sad.  But also it’s because I waited too long this year.  Oh sure, I picked up some fruit here and there.  But I waited and waited for the best plums to come in, the sweetest peaches, the ripest pluots.  I just kept thinking that better ones will come in later in the summer and I should wait to buy them.  Well, later became July, then August, and here we are, literally days away from September, and what did I find out?  I waited too long, my friends.  Because the last time I went to the farmer’s market, I think I saw a pumpkin.  I looked away very quickly so I can’t confirm, but it was big and orange, and who am I kidding, it was a pumpkin.

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I panicked.  I would have to make up for a whole summer full of fruit in the week of summer that is left!  Well, friends, I did.  And my kitchen is full of all kinds of stone fruit!  And while I was at it, I picked up some berries.  And watermelon!  (And some tomatoes, corn and zucchini!)  A whole summer harvest is in my kitchen!

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Well, as you may know, fruit does go bad after a few days.  And as you may or may not know, I am unable to eat 7 pounds of fruit a day.  Solution?  Nectarine shortbread!

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Seriously, it’s actually brilliant because these keep!  Because it’s a cookie!  Stick them in the refrigerator and you’ll have summer goodness for a good 10 days!  Just learn to time things better than me.

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Nectarine Shortbread (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 cup (200 grams) white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (360 grams)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) browned butter, directions follow
1 large egg
4 nectarines, pitted and sliced about 1/4 inch thick

Brown your butter: Melt butter in a small pot over medium-low heat.  The butter will first melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty, with little brown bits on the bottom.  Stir often, scraping the bottom of the pot.  The brown bits will indicate that the butter is browned.  Take it off the heat, pour it into a heat proof bowl, and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes, or until chilled thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, baking powder, flour, salt and cinnamon.  Whisk in the egg into the chilled butter.  Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and gently stir together with a rubber spatula until it comes together.  Remove 1/3 cup of the dough and reserve.  Press the rest of the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing firmly.  Line the nectarine slices in a single layer over the pressed dough.  Juice the 1/2 lemon over the nectarine slices.  Scatter remaining 1/3 cup crumbs evenly over nectarines and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until top is slightly brown and you can see a little color around the edges. Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares.

 

Triple Chocolate Cookies

August 22, 2013

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Sometimes you just need a little chocolate…

Triple Chocolate Cookies (recipe from Pioneer Woman)

  • 2-1/2 sticks softened butter
  • scant 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together all of the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, scraping the sides – about 2-3 minutes.

Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Beat in vanilla extract.

Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches to the bowl, mixing until just combined after each addition.

Fold in the chocolate and 1 3/4 cups white chocolate chips.

Scoop out tablespoon portions on baking sheet.  With the remaining 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips, dot the top of each cookie with 3 chips.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are barely done but still soft and chewy.  Let sit on baking sheet for about 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

 

Plum Sauce

August 16, 2013

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I don’t think I knew how to make a proper sundae at home until, at least, I was in middle school.  I lived off of McDonald’s hot fudge sundaes, of course, but never really believed that this could be made at home.  This was all until my sister went to a birthday party one year where, instead of a cake, they only had a sundae bar.  We immediately recreated it at home with ice cream, chocolate and caramel store-bought sauces, crushed cookies, sprinkles, whipped cream, and nuts (the kind that are stored in syrup – we do it right).  It was brilliant – filled with so much goodness!  I loved every single bite.

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The reason I say this is because the one “topping” we ever had with our ice cream in the summer was plum sauce.  This, I may argue, is even more brilliant than any sundae bar.  But the reason I never equated this to any ice cream treat is because, my friends, we called this plum juice at home.  Oh yeah, it was as thick as a sauce.  And we definitely only had it with vanilla ice cream.  But, in our house, this was a juice.  And as a result, not an official ice cream topping to turn into a sundae.

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And why not, I say.  It’s made with fresh summer fruit.  And, well, that’s where the similarities end.  But good thing.  My mom’s flavorful sauce is tangy from the plums, flavored with sweet and salty, and finished with smoky Indian spices, that can only be cooled off with smooth vanilla ice cream.  I mean, this is some good stuff.  It basically needs no other toppings.  I’ll just have them with my hot fudge sundaes instead.

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Plum Sauce

8-9 ripe, but still firm, black plums

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. jiralu powder, note follows

Half and pit all of the plums.  Boil with just 1/2 – 3/4 cup water until fork tender and they are falling apart.  Blend the plums, with the water, until completely pureed.  Strain to discard the skins.

Place the juice in a pot, and place over medium heat.  Add more water if it seems too thick.  Stir in sugar, salt and spices, and let the juice come to a rolling boil.  Let boil for about a minute, turn the heat to low and adjust all of the spices.  Take pot off heat, and let cool to room temperature.  Place in the refrigerator until cold, and serve over vanilla ice cream.

Jiralu Powder

Jiralu is a combination of salt, cumin, dry ginger, chili powder and turmeric.  It is very commonly available at any Indian grocery store (and has so many other uses!), but if you don’t want to make this investment, I would suggest adding 1 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. all spice, 1/2 tsp. ginger, and another 1/2 tsp. salt.  But you can also just flavor it however you please.  I think some cinnamon would be delicious in here.  And maybe a pinch of cardamom?  And adjust as you see fit.

Zucchini Butter

August 8, 2013

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Having this blog has completely changed my view of zucchini.  I started with a real disdain,  you may remember, as the default vegetable used for any token vegetarian dish at a restaurant.  I thought of it as bland, flavorless, pointless, even.  Poor zucchini, I was really hard on it.

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But man, you cook it right once, find a great recipe, and you realize that zucchini is wondrous!  It can be paired with lemon!  And with smoked cheese!  And with blander cheese!  And with basil!  And with mint!  And with basil and mint!  With nutmeg, even!  It will never be bland again!

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But this, my friends, is zucchini shining through in its truest form –  it literally melts in your mouth.  The squash is cooked down until it turns into a spreadable consistency, and let me tell you, friends, that is just brilliant.  Zucchini has impressed me yet again.

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Zucchini Butter (slightly adapted from Food52)

For this flatbread, I spread zucchini butter on the bottom of the flatbread as the sauce.  Then I layered baby spinach leaves on top, dolloped the whole thing with fresh ricotta, and then sprinkled with shredded mozzarella.  De-lish.

2 lbs. zucchini, or a mix of zucchini and summer squash, grated

1 onion, minced finely

2 large, or 3 medium cloves of garlic, minced finely

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper, to taste

In a deep pan, heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and sauté, stirring constantly, until translucent and well cooked.  This will take about 7 minutes.  Add garlic, and let it cook for a minute.  Salt and pepper the onion mixture.

Add zucchini to the pan, and stir to combine.  There will be a lot of water, and the goal will be to get rid of all of that water.  Salt, pepper and keep cooking, stirring occasionally.  If some of the zucchini gets charred, be happy, because that will add more flavor!  Keep stirring to release the moisture – this whole process will take about 30 – 35 minutes.

When most of the moisture has evaporated, and the mixture has reduced in size by half. add the juice of the lemon.  Stir and taste and adjust salt as necessary.  Use this as a sauce, a base for a pizza, on toast, on a spoon, however you want.