Thursday, July 23, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers bake Peach (Nectarine & Vanilla Wine Syrup) and Blueberry Crumbles ~

Aggies with Aggie's Kitchen has the perfect title: So Many recipes, not enough time. I am soooo there! Barefoot Bloggers are together again to re-create Ina's recipe for Peach and Blueberry Crumbles. The recipe can be found in her cookbook: Barefoot Contessa at Home or listed below and at the Barefoot Bloggers website. I have the cutest little pie dishes (in 3 different sizes to boot), rarely used. The recipe for individual miniature desserts was perfect for the porcelain pie dishes.

Peach are beautiful to look at in the fruit and vegetable section of the grocery store but hard as little boulders. Not the picture perfect images of juice dribbling down your chin as you sink your teeth into the first bite. These peaches would be more like chipping a tooth. Adding slightly warmed vanilla ice cream over the top and letting the ice cream continue to melt just enough to mingle with the juice from the fruit was drool worthy. The recipe is a keeper for anyone's box of family favorites! To see the rest of Barefoot Blogger's crumbles, go to the Barefoot Blogger Baker lists and take a gander.

I chose to use my canned nectarines in a vanilla wine syrup. The syrup's aroma is sweet with strong hints of vanilla in a light, dry Riesling wine syrup. The nectarine fruit is a duplicate in flavors. Delicious!!! I am listing my recipe below.

Nectarines in Vanilla Wine Syrup Recipe
One quart jar is enough to make a pie in the winter when fresh nectarines are just a thought. I made a note for myself to error on the side of making extra for the syrup to make sure I had enough. If there is leftover syrup, then it can be reduced and used as a sauce for something else. : )

10 c. dry white wine (I use a dry Riesling.)
9 c. sugar
2 vanilla beans
20 large nectarines, pitted and halved
1) To prepare for canning: Wash 4 quart jars, their new lids and bands in hot, soapy water; rinse well. Dry the bands and set aside. Sterilize the jars by boiling for 10 minutes. Heat the lids and bands in a saucepan of hot water, keeping them hot until ready to use. Do not boil the lids.
Fill the canner half-way with water. Preheat the water on medium.

2) For the nectarines: Combine the wine and sugar in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Split the vanilla beans lengthwise, scrape the seeds from them and add them to the saucepan, along with the scraped beans. Bring the syrup to a boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the nectarines to the syrup and turn off the heat.

3) Fill each sterilized, still hot, quart-sized jar with the fruit, syrup and a vanilla bean half, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. The syrup should cover the solids completely. Use a spatula or chopstick to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims and necks of the jars with a clean, damp cloth. Set a heated lid on each of the jars and screw the bands on. Load the filled jars into the canner and cover canner with lid. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Add hot water as needed to keep water level at least 1 inch above the jars. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain a gentle boil.
When the processing is complete, transfer the jars on a clean dish towel to cool; do not retighten the bands. Let the jars cool on the towel for 12 to 24 hours.

4) When the jars are cool, test for a good seal by pressing the center of each lid. If the lid does not flex up and down, it is sealed. Label and store the jars in a cool place. Refrigerate after opening.

Ina's recipe for the Peach and Blueberry Crumbles is as follows:

For the fruit:
2 lbs firm, ripe peaches (6-8 peaches)
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)

For the Crumble
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or custard cups.

For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and back for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature. If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles int he refrigerator and bake before dinner. Serves 5 to 6.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

TWD: Raspberry (Strawberry) Blanc - Manger

I am not sure if anyone can see a theme building with the photos but Strawberries are my "in" food for summer right now. Raspberry just felt a little to seedy for me. I absolutely love the flavor and smooth texture of the Coulis. The whole dessert was just fun, fun, fun to make.

I have experienced issues with gelatin in the past but Dorie Greenspan made the whole gelatin experience a breeze. Now if I can just remember how this is done for the future...?

Tuesday with Dorie has created a niche of enjoyment in my life. I love doing my own thing but I find myself looking forward to the next week's dessert and thinking how I want to make the dessert my own.

I loved the light, airy feel of the dessert and I can see the versatility of options available for the future. I absolutely can "not" wait to try the Blanc-Mange with a 1-inch thick round of white cake beneath and an apple jelly glaze over all. A definite dinner party dessert!

For July 21st, Susan of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy selected Raspberry Blanc-Manger on pages 398-399 of Dorie Greenspans's cookbook, Baking From My Home to Yours. To see how everyone else in TWD did, just click on the TWD link and enjoy!

Don't the ingredients look totally simple? They are! Chilling the hot mixture in a bowl of ice water is as hard as the whole recipe gets....and the presentation has so many avenues.

Charcoal Grill Dinner with Salad

I graduated college this last weekend in Phoenix, Arizona. The whole experience was amazing and a relief, finalizing 3 1/2 years of working, writing papers, taking finals, taking care of the home, and basically being stressed out 24/7. Any personal time usually meant guilt. Now, I get to find out what life feels like without daily deadlines. I'm not there may take a few months of reckless abandon with some casual cooking/baking thrown in here and there. I have to have something to nibble on during my reckless abandon...
One of the best parts of my last weekend was experiencing the whole event with my Mom and Dad. I haven't seen them in so long and I feel teary eyed just thinking about the little time we did have together. I promised to go back in a couple of months, planning to spend a whole week... I can't wait!
Dad was the one that convinced me to start college back up. Now he is here to watch me walk down the aisle in my gown. The emotions were running high inside.
Mom was great! She had her foot operated on earlier and was still sore. Poor Mom had to climb up and down stairs to find seats and take pictures with me. I couldn't imagine being here without them.
Graduation is over and everyone was able to relax. Believe it or not, we had just experienced a monsoon earlier that day. Wind, sand, and debree everywhere! The police shut freeways down during the storms and I could see why. You can't see a thing when the sand starts getting caught up in 60 m.p.h. winds. My daughter, Ashley, is sitting next to me and looks so grown up. Great, I 'm getting teary eyed again.
Mom took me to a tea store and bought me the current issue of Tea Time, the Tea Time cookbook, and I found myself a gift...this beautiful porcelain teacup.
My first dinner back is mostly made on the charcoal grill. The chicken breasts take about 45 minutes total and the salad was assembled while grilling the chicken. The basil pesto is not over powering under the chicken skin and if you make the recipe, do not forget to salt and pepper the outside of the chicken breast really well. The seasoning gives the skin a great crust.
The dressing for the salad uses low fat, plain yogurt, Hellman's mayonnaise, blue cheese crumbled, red wine vinegar, and a little freshly minced garlic. Not fattening but packed with flavor!
I still have so much unpacking to do so this post will be a little shorter then my usual.
Grilled Pesto-Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Individual Ham Cobb Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
Pesto -Parmesan Crusted Chicken
(adapted from Pillsbury's new Grilling cooking magazine)
1 T. olive oil
1 t. finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup basil pesto
3 T. grated Parmesan cheese
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 8 1/2 ounces each)
1/4 t. salt and 1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
Heat gas or charcoal grill. In 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook garlic in oil about 30 minutes, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Add bread crumbs. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until toasted. Remove crumb mixture to small bowl. Stir pesto and Parmesan cheese into bowl with crumbs.
Loosen skin on chicken to form a pocket, without detaching skin completely. Fill each pocket with pesto mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place chicken on grill, skin side down, over medium-low heat. Cover grill; cook 10 minutes, moving occasionally as needed to avoid burning the skin. Turn chicken; spoon any remaining pesto over chicken. Cook 10 to 15 minutes longer or until juice of chicken is clear when thickest part is cut to the bone (170 degrees F.)

Ham Cobb Salads with Blue Cheese Dressing
(adapted from Pillsbury Grilling Magazine)

1/3 cup Hellman's mayonnaise
3 T. plain low-fat yogurt
3 T. red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (buy a chunk of blue cheese and crumble it yourself...much cheaper)

8 cups mixed baby salad greens
2 packages (5 oz. each) honey ham slices, chopped
4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
1 medium ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup bacon bits (I grilled 3 slices of bacon on the grill with the chicken and cut into pieces)

In small bowl, beat mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar and garlic with wire whisk. Stir in blue cheese. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Just before serving, arrange greens on 4 salad plates. Top with remaining salad ingredients. Drizzle dressing over salad.

If you choose, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday with Dorie: Brioche Plum Tart...Kind of

TWD was hosted by Denise of Chez Us. What an amazing and talented lady! Her picture of the Brioche Plum Tart is to Die For! as well as the rest of her recipes and photos. Just beautiful!

I started making this last night and just finished baking the tart this evening. Since I graduate college in 3 days, life seems especially hectic. I did not have the ability to get plums at this moment so I went with home canned peach butter for the jam, crushed walnuts as the recipe called for, my canned peaches and fresh blueberries. The colors speak summer! The brioche dough is beyond easy because the mixer does all the muscle work. I did add a minimal amount of olive oil to the bowl before the dough was set into said bowl. I did not want to have to worry about peeling sticky dough out later.

I really enjoyed baking the dessert but I have not cut into the light chocolate brown crust and soft, warm fruit to find out what the tart will taste like. Dorie says the best way to enjoy the Brioche tart is to let the tart come to room temperature, if a person can possibly wait that long.

To get the list of ingredients for the recipe, either purchase the Dorie Greenspan "Baking From My Home to Yours" cookbook or you can go to Denise's blog and retrieve the recipe. The cookbook is so worth purchasing! My own Mom just bought herself a copy. Such a proud mother/daughter moment.

After kneading the dough in the mixer for 10 minutes, I was ready to put the dough into an oiled bowl to rise. Then the dough was put into the refrigerator to rest over night.

The next day (today), after work, I pushed the Brioche dough into the porcelain tart dish and refrigerated for another 30 minutes. While refrigerated, the ingredients for the filling were started.

Walnuts were chopped, about 1/3 cup, and the jars were opened, with the peaches getting drained of the light sweet syrup they were resting in.

Peach butter was opened and slathered on the crust, with peaches, blueberries and crushed walnuts being added on top.

The Brioche tart is ready to rest for another 30 minutes.

The tart was set on a silicon mat to compensate for a slightly messy baking period. I can not wait to sink my fork into the brioche, fruit and walnuts to get the full flavor effect! Thank you Denise for picking such a wonderful dessert experience =).

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day late for Sweet Melissa Sunday: Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake with Cornmeal Crumble Crust

Eliana of A Chica Bakes chose July 12th's Sweet Melissa Sunday's baking selection: Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake with Cornmeal Crumble Crust. The recipe can be found in The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy on page 189 - 190.

The crust is made with a coarse yellow corn meal and gives a cookie crust, type of texture, but with crunch. The coarse corn meal adds to the cheesecake's overall texture and flavor. The blueberry sauce, studded with whole berries, combined with the distinct lemon flavor of the cream cheesecake made for happy tastebuds and great flavor!

Coarse cornmeal is a big adjustment if a person is not used to it. The first bite was not expected and I have to admit, I was not taken with it. Next time, I will either process the cornmeal down more or use a different crust because the overall cheesecake and sauce was fantastic!

The cheesecake has such a creamy texture and wonderful lemon aroma and flavor. I loved that there was no sour cream in the recipe. Fresh ingredients always takes a recipe over the top and this recipe was no exception.

My cheesecake ended up with zero cracks, thanks to the water bath. A beautiful golden brown on top edges.

A great unmolding~!

The color combination is just beautiful! Great for presenting to guests.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pit BBQ Ribs with Lip Smakin BBQ Sauce

Start Your Chimneys! What makes great BBQ?? Practice, Practice, Practice! Smoking pork spareribs is not hard to do if a person follows a few steps. Following the steps of legendary pitmasters never hurts! BBQ food blogs, magazine and newspaper summaries, BBQ grillmaster books, friends, and family have helpful hints, tips, experience and knowledge ready to be tapped for the novice wanting to become expert. Personally, I did not have any family in love with BBQ'ing nor did I grow up around friends that enjoyed in-depth BBQ. I started because I LOVE BBQ everything! and I want to make the BBQ myself. What is truly in a league all it's own is the different aspects of BBQ. The marinades, dry rubs, sauces, types of wood for smoking, flavors wanting to be achieved, how long to smoke meat, how long to grill without smoke, direct grilling, indirect grilling, temperature regulation for briquette grills (which is my grill of choice), and the list continues. When a person states he or she is a BBQ'er, generally this person specializes in an area of BBQ, such as easy dinner, direct heat, grilling or in-depth smoking meats using in-direct heat. I am a late bloomer in the grilling work and I like the ease of weekend indirect heat grilling, having the luxury of picking the right meat, deciding on the right dry rub, and whether I will be using a homemade BBQ sauce or one of my favorite prepared BBQ sauces on the store shelf. There is something to be said about homemade everything and I think personal pride has a lot to do with the decision.

I loved redipping the ribs in the Lip Smakin BBQ sauce because the flavor takes on new depths.
The rib and sauce recipe below is all about taking the extra steps to get a Southern BBQ pitmaster flavor...maybe not legendary "yet" but practice, desire, and a love for great BBQ may put me in the ranking some day!

The sauce has citrus and peach flavors with undertones of seasonings and smoke that takes BBQ to another level. Try not to be too sidetracked with the list of ingredients because, combined, the sauce works amazing with the flavor of the dry rub and pork spareribs. You just have to dip a juicy, tender rib, still slightly hot, in the sauce....even though you know you already have the BBQ sauce on the ribs. There is a noticeable difference with dipping. You will get a sweet peach undertone flavor not achieved with just brushing the ribs and caramelizing the sauce on the meat at the end. Trust me and give the Lip Smakin rib sauce an extra swipe!

Dave Anderson has a grilling book out called "Back Roads and Side Streets". I found an outline of a great southern pork spare rib recipe that I changed to fit my own flavor along with the BBQ sauce mentioned above, but again, changed to fit what I like. By the way, I am still learning what the heck I like!

Trying for Legendary Pit BBQ Ribs
(adapted from Dave Anderson)
Rib Rub (makes 6 cups worth but you only need 1 cup for the recipe)

2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup kosher salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup granulated garlic
1/3 cup chili powder
1/4 cup lemon pepper
1/4 cup onion salt
1/4 cup celery salt
2 Tablespoons coarse ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons whole celery seeds
1 teaspoon crushed cloves
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup Mrs. Dash original blend

2 (4- to 5-pounds) racks spareribs
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup minced dried onion
1 cup Rib Rub
Lip Smakin BBQ Sauce (recipe below)

First Prepare rib rub by thoroughly mixing all ingredients. Store in airtight container.

The night before smoking, trim your ribs of all excess fat. Place them in a large plastic bag and pour in Italian dressing to coat. Seal bag well. Refrigerate for 4 hours, turning occasionally. Remove and wipe off dressing. Sprinkle each rib with pepper then 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup of the onion flakes. Wrap each rib in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning remove from wrap and wipe sludge off ribs. Generously coat front and back of ribs with Rib Rub and using your hands, rub seasoning into meat and set aside. The smoking process will take 6 hours. Using a chimney charcoal starter get about 15 briquettes red hot. Place coals on one end of grill and place 1 pound of green hickory or mesquite around coals. Use water-soaked hickory or mesquite chunks if you can't get fresh-cut wood. I used some soaked apple wood chunks between hours 2 and 3 of the grilling process.

Keep internal temperature of the grill at 200 to 225 degrees. Add more charcoal and hickory or mesquite chunks every hour as needed. Place ribs bone side down but not directly over hot coals. After 3 hours, remove ribs from grill and wrap in aluminium foil. Hold in covered grill at 180 to 200 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until fork tender.

Next build a real hot bed of coals over the entire bottom of grill. Be careful because this step goes quickly. Place ribs back on grill to add char flavor. When meat becomes bubbly it is done. Make sure to char off bone side membrane until it becomes papery and disintegrates. Slather with BBQ sauce. Let heat caramelize sauce.

Lip Smakin BBQ Sauce
(adapted from Dave Anderson)

2 thick strips hickory-smoked bacon
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup peach schnapps
1 large jalapeno, finely diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup chopped sweet apple
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup frozen pineapple juice concentrate
3 Tablespoons molasses
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 1/4 cups dark corn syrup
1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons prepared mustard
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon Maggi seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Kahlua
1 teaspoon liquid hickory or Mesquite smoke

Fry bacon in a large saucepan until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon of the drippings. Eat the bacon. Fry onion in the reserved drippings over medium-high heat until caramelized or dark golden brown; do not burn. Reduce heat to medium. Deglaze pan with the water. Stir in peach schnapps, jalapeno and garlic. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the mixture is of a syrupy consistency, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and place the mixture in a blender with the balsamic vinegar, apple, orange juice concentrate, pineapple juice concentrate, molasses, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and lime juice. Process until pureed and return to saucepan.

Add corn syrup, tomato paste, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, chili powder, Maggi Seasoning, salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper and cayenne and mix well. Bring to a low boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat. Stir in Kahlua and liquid smoke. Store, covered, in refrigerator. Makes about 4 cups.

Pork spareribs are meaty and filling. You might even have leftovers for the next day!