Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How do you spell relief

It being ice cream month, along with a gentle nudge from my friend Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations, who says she can easily 'scoop up gallons of ice cream' passed on a link heading me to Modern Day Ozzie and Harriet,and, the best darn peaches and cream ice cream recipe I've ever made! Now that's how I spell r-e-l-i-e-f!

Is there no end in sight for these dreadful muggies we are seeing? Well let me assure you--if you are sweltering in your neck of the woods give this absolutely cooling and scrumptious recipe a try. I've been assured you'll sweat off the calories after ingesting --lickety split! I just knew it was in the stars when I went to farmers market Saturday to pick up my tray of fresh peaches to make more peach jam. I made mention to my friends Ann & Howard that I'd just love to make some peach ice cream one of these days so they insisted I take home some slightly bruised peaches to give it a try.

When I arrived home--I started my prep work for the jam, when I recalled reading a post over at Louise's blog mentioning National Ice Cream month--so back I went to re-read her post. It was there that I hit the jackpot! A link to Marjie's blog with easy instructions, and even better, I had all the ingredients in the house. The only changes I made to her recipe was to substitute almond extract, for the vanilla, added a titch of cardamon powder and used heavy whipping cream for the 'cream'. I also cut back just a bit on the sugar amount called for and as my ice cream maker was chugging along we just couldn't stop ourselves from sampling spoonful after spoonful of this luscious blend. My ice cream maker makes two quarts and as luck would have it--so doesn't this recipe.

Peaches N' Cream Ice Cream

Slightly modified. Recipe by Marjie at Modern Day Ozzie and Harriet

6 large peaches--washed, pitted and cut into chunks (skin & all)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream)
a pinch of cardamon powder *opt

Place the peach chunks into the food processor and whirl via the pulse button until moderately chopped. I didn't want it to end up a pureee of peaches. It's one of the things I really enjoy about peach ice cream--finding those delicious pieces of fruit with every lick. I also liked the idea of leaving the skins on the cut fruits for that added extra fiber, as Marjie suggested. Once the peaches have been chopped, sprinkle on the 1/4 cup of sugar--give it a couple of whirls and allow fruit mixture to rest, about an hour.
After the time has elapsed, whisk in the remaining sugar into the milk,along with just a pinch of powdered cardamon. combining well. Then whisk in the almond or vanilla extract and heavy cream. Gently stir in the peach mixture and pour into your ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions. I processed mine 25 minutes. I packed it into two 1-quart containers knowing it won't last the week. :) Enjoy & stay cool!

Stuffed Pattypans

My refrigerator drawers are overflowing with squash! Summer squash, zucchini, crooknecks, cousa and those sweet pattypans. Thank goodness the delicata, hubbard and butternuts are still weeks away. My freezer is overflowing with frozen squash for winter baking. We had a little break in the humid weather this week so after bringing in the evening pick from the garden with even more squash I decided to try a Jamie Oliver recipe that's been sitting on my desk for a few weeks for a farro salad.

Part of the recipe called for roasting garden veggies--and that I had more than enough of around here! I roasted so much that I ended up with enough for two meals, and after all that roasting decided I didn't even want a large meal, so I set some aside and with the other half, stuffed my fave squash of the summer--the pattypan.
I know, how much stuffed squash can one possibly eat? LOL But we just enjoy them so.. and there was a method to my madness after all. Right around the corner all the tomatoes, cukes and peppers will be ready to harvest and I have no drawer space left.

You may use any vegetable that's currently being harvested in your garden--it's all great in my book. I used a combination of crumbled feta and grated fontina cheese because that's what I had on hand. Feel free to experiment on your own.

Stuffed Pattypan Squash

2 medium eggplants cut into chunks
2 summer squash, halved lengthwise and cut
2 pattypan squash, halved and quartered
2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut
2 cousa squash, halved lengthwise and cut
2 sweet red peppers,halved, deseeded and chopped
1 bulb of fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
2 shallots finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground lamb *optional
1 cup cooked jasmine rice
2 TBLS lemon rosemary olive oil
2 TBLS minced fresh parsley
½ tsp summer savory, minced
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
sea salt & ground pepper to taste
2 oz crumbed feta cheese
3 oz shredded fontina cheese
6 additional pattypan squash-washed & scooped out

Wash, pat dry and cut all the vegetables. No need to be fussy, as you will cut them all again once they've been roasted. Toss them all into a large bowl and drizzle olive oil over and toss very well, so that they all been coated in the olive. Place them onto your parchment lined sheet pans, sprinkle fresh herbs, seasonings and one last drizzle of olive oil. Try not to overlap the vegetables on your cooking sheet though, so that they will roast better this way. Roast in a 400 degree oven for approximately 30 - 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through and just crisping around the edges. Sprinkle a little white vinegar over the vegetables as soon as they come out of the oven and set aside to cool. Once the vegetables have cooled, dice them up into smaller, bite sized pieces.

As your vegetables are roasting, trim tops and with a spoon, scoop out pattypan pulp. Chop and reserve.

In a skillet saute the shallots, and ground lamb in a bit of olive oil. Add the chopped pattypan pulp last and cook for just a few minutes.

Add cheese mixture to the roasted vegetables, the jasmine rice and blend this with the lamb mixture and toss gently. Spoon mixture into reserved pattypan shells. Sprinkle with paprika. Place in an ungreased baking dish and pour water or vegetable stock into bottom of pan about 1/4 way up the side of the squash.
Cover and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until heated through. Uncover and bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is lightly browned. I like to spritz fresh lemon juice over these pattypans before serving. Enjoy!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pearls of pleasure--Blueberries

Think pearls. No, not the neck adornment, but instead hundreds of perfectly round orbs. Think blueberries. I know, I went a little blueberry crazy here. But, I mean, BLUEBERRIES! How can anyone not love those plump, sweet blue pearls of utter sweet and so healthy goodness? Yes, I went blueberry picking again, and in just a short time collected 20 pounds of fruit, enough to gorge ourselves and have plenty leftover to freeze for later holiday pies and winter desserts. And we musn't forget homemade blueberry ice cream. I’m so glad its summer.

Sure there are other delectable berries. Strawberries in late June and then the fragrant delicate raspberries (another personal favorite)and then the thorny, meaty blackberries of our late summer. But by far, my favorite berry of the season are blueberries! Crisps,grunts,scones,cheesecake, turnovers,cobblers, pies -- even Tuscan chicken--the list goes on and on in my kitchen when it comes to blueberries. But one thing I'd never tried is making a galette. I don't know why. I just love the rustic look and carefree assembly about them. Savory, or sweet. You get to decide what fillings will go into them.

For my first I wasn't going to pass up the chance to use up some of my fresh picked blueberries along with some fresh peaches our good friends Ann & Howard gave us, from their fruit farm along with her famous honey peach jam recipe. Thanks so much Ann for your generosity--your delicious peaches were the perfect addition to my first galette. And the jam turns out just awesome!

I ended up making two smaller galettes, about nine inch rounds and delivered the 2nd one to my good friend Lee who has a sweet tooth as large as my own. :)

Blueberry Peach Galette


2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 cup chilled and cubed butter
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold water

2 TBLS milk - to wash top of dough before baking
2 TBLS sugar - to sprinkle over crust

In a food processor, combine the flour, salt and 1 tsp sugar until well mixed. Add the butter using pulses until you no longer see chunks of butter in the dough. Use pulses to get everything to mix together correctly,and does a better job of breaking up the butter rather than letting the machine just run.

Slowly add the ice water a tablespoon at a time while pulsing the dough until it is evenly distributed and it begins to look like play-dough. If you need to add a bit more water--add it only a teaspoon at a time. You don't want your dough to be too wet-- but it should hold together nicely.

Remove the dough from the food processor and knead for a few minutes until it begins to smooth out. Don't overwork the dough, you just want it to come together and smooth out a little bit, it should really only take a couple of minutes. Divide the dough in half, flatten into discs, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour. At this point you can also freeze this dough for later use, up to a couple of months. Seldom does it last this long in my freezer during fruit season.

Preparing the filling

2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
2 1/2 cups sliced peaches
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
pinch of cardamon powder
2 1/2 TBLS tapioca powder (I found mine in an Asian grocer) or cornstarch
2 TBLS honey peach jam
3 amaretto cookies-crushed
1 egg & a bit of milk

While your dough is chilling, prepare the filling. Place the blueberries and peach slices in a bowl. Add the sugars, cinnamon, a pinch of cardamon powder,tapioca powder (or cornstarch) and stir gently. You want the fruits well covered.

Preheat the oven to 350ยบ.
Remove one of the discs of dough from the refrigerator and roll out into a circle to about an eleven inch round. Don't worry if your edges aren't smooth or perfect--galettes aren't meant to be perfect, but rather rustic looking.. as you can see from my first's pretty rustic :) You’re in good shape. Take a pastry scraper and transfer the dough round to a parchment paper lined sheet pan.

Now crumble up the amaretto cookies and place in the center of your rolled out pastry disc. (I like to add these crumbs to most of my fruit pies--they help to absorb much of the excess juice that will form while baking, so I figured I couldn't go wrong here.) Yup, pile the crumbs right in the middle. Give your bowl of fruits one last stir and layer right over the cookie crumbs and spread around leaving a two inch border of dough.

Roughly fanfold the 2 inch border of crust all around your galette every couple of inches or so and give each fold a gentle pinch to hold it in place. I have to admit, I needed to do my fanfolding twice to get it to look the way I had it envisioned in my mind--but there are no rights or wrongs to doing this step. Take two tablespoons of peach jam and spread it over the fruits. Beat egg with milk and brush over the galette dough and sprinkle with sugar. Pop it into the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the blueberries are bubbly. As the first galette is baking, prepare your second one or save the dough for another day of berry picking!

Here's where the hard part comes in. Remove from the oven and cool very well before slicing. As you can see from my photos, I moved one a little too early and my dough cracked. But did this stop me from having a second piece piled high with vanilla bean ice cream? Nope! :-) Simply too scrumptious to pass up! Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rosie Risotto & dear friends

I have a lot on my plate right now, but sometimes that can be a good thing. My dh has been undergoing oncology care again--this time with stem cell transplant, and with my being his sole caretaker, I haven't had a lot of time in the kitchen or garden for that matter. With it being the height of gardening season, it's so great to know we have the best garden friends in the world!

This group of dear friends took it upon themselves to do my harvesting for me temporarily. What a blessing they are. Peas, peppers, beets, chard, cousa, zucchini and squash squash squash. Well you know the drill. No matter how well you plan your gardens -- once that heat finally arrives -- and it surely has - it all seems to mature overnight. This past weekend they came with baskets filled with our veggies, and as it turns out, a strong day for my dear patient. We decided on a potluck dinner with everyone contributing dishes from their own harvest along with just caught fresh cod.

With pounds of fresh peas in my own basket, I made a roasted eggplant, peas and pepper risotto. Yes, it's always a favorite around here -- and well tolerated at times like this. Even better there's nothing magical about preparing it. What I love the most about making risotto is how versatile and forgiving this dish can be. Dress it up or dress it down. It's always delicious in my book. You can find my basic risotto along with many more risotto recipes here.

Before serving the risotto, I dressed her up a bit with parsley and fresh calendula blossom in her 'hair' and we all named her Rosie -- Rosie Risotto -- mostly because it was a good day, especially for dh. :)

When I said I had a lot on my plate, I wasn't joking.. I really made way too much! So with my leftover risotto I managed to make three more simple meals for us this week, my Nunie's arancine, stuffed beet leaf holubsti and fried risotto cakes. Amazing isn't it, how far a bowl of risotto will go!

Nunnie's Arancine filled with pecorino cheese and bits of meatballs

Fried Risotto Cakes rolled in a seasoned panko crumb

Stuffed Beet Leaf Holubsti with a scrumptious dilly sauce that I'll be posting up next week.

Rosie and dear friends have been such a big help to me this week. Thanks guys so very much! xoxo

I'll only be blogging weekly at best for the next few weeks friends. Thank you for the notes and prayers, understanding and for coming back!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Simple Summer Supper

Today in my harvest basket I had peas, potatoes, zucchini and onions from the garden. It's been an awesome season for peas this year. They're just so sweet right off the vine. I've been waiting so patiently for the potatoes to be ready to harvest. There is something I really love about reaching into the dirt to find these ruby red gems and knew I didn't want to make potato salad or roast these yummy spuds just yet.

We've been having splendid weather here this past week and the holiday weekend is going to be a beauty, but a hot one. With a lobster bake and cookout to go to this weekend, I just wanted a simple summer supper tonight. So we grilled some barbecued chicken, made a big garden salad along with some new potatoes, fresh peas, zucchini and just pulled onions. If you have an abundance of potatoes in your gardens, or frequent your local farmers market, give this simple recipe a try. It's easy to prepare and awfully good!

Peas, Potatoes & Zucchini

10 new potatoes, quartered
1 cup fresh peas, hulled
2 small zucchini, trimmed and sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 TBLS olive oil
2 TBLS unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, smashed
fresh thyme, summer savory, parsley--minced
ground black pepper
bacon crumbles to taste

Par boil the potatoes -- just until tender. Drain & cool. In a skillet sautee the garlic and onion in the olive oil and unsalted butter for just a few minutes. Add the fresh peas, zucchini, herbs and seasoning and continue to cook until the zucchini is just becoming soft. Toss in the cooked potatoes, gently mix all and cook for another 3-4 minutes. I had some leftover bacon from breakfast, so I added the crumbles just before serving. Enjoy, and I hope everyone has a fabulous 4th of July!