Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Peach Streusel Coffee Cake

I am loving the peach season this year. I am a little sad I will miss the peak of the peach season (and most of the freestone season). However, I am making the most of it while I can. Little I is my peach lover this year (well, M is, too). I can hand him a peach and he will somehow suck the thing to the stone. I think he's my little peach vampire.

A week ago, we got some small, not very ripe freestones at the Farmer's Market. We were slow in eating them because they took a while to ripen. I decided to make the last three into a recipe. Since they were small, I probably should have used 4 or 5, but I only had three. I sliced the peaches pretty thinly (1/4" thick at the most) to make it stretch over the whole cake. I used a 9" springform pan, but a regular 9" square baking pan would work too.

We loved this! Curtis has yet to taste it, but I shared it with our neighbors for an impromptu coffee break. It was fabulous! I'll make this again if I can wrangle up more peaches this afternoon at the Farmer's Market.

Peach Streusel Coffee Cake
from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

3/4 c flour
1/3 c brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
6 T cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 c flour
3/4 c sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 egg
4 T butter, melted
1/2 c milk
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 t almond extract
1 lb peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced 1" thick

For the streusel: In a small bowl, stir together flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Add the butter and mix using your fingers or pastry blender until coarse crumbs form. Set aside.

For the cake: In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, beat with an electric mixer or by hand with a whisk the eggs, melted butter, milk, vanilla, and almond until creamy, about 1 minute (My mixture never completely became creamy--the butter separate because of the other cool ingredients, but it all worked out fine). Add the flour mixture and beat until just evenly moistened. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 9" springform or square baking pan. Spread it evenly with a rubber spatula. Arrange the peach slices attractively over top (concentric circles or rows, depending on pan). Gently press peach slices into batter. Sprinkle evenly with streusel.

Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven (325 degrees if using a glass baking dish) for 40 - 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 - 20 minutes. Remove the sides of the springform pan and serve, warm or at room temperature.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sesame Green Beans

Curtis and I loved these. The kids didn't. I didn't expect them to. I was just fine with that too.

Sesame Green Beans
adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cooking from the Farmer's Market

1 1/2 T sesame seeds, toasted
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 - 2" lengths
1 1/2 T canola oil
2 T ginger, peeled and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 serrano chile, minced (optional)
1 t sesame oil
1/3 c fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Cook the green beans in a large pan of boiling water for 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside. In large frying pan over medium high heat, heat oil. Add ginger, garlic, and serrano (if using) and saute for 30 seconds. Add the bean and salt to taste, toss to coat, and cook until heated through. Stir in toasted sesame seeds. Remove from heat and add sesame oil and cilantro. Serve.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Savory Leek and Gruyere Souffle

Sigh. When I think of this dinner, I sigh a little. The souffle was fabulous. It rose perfectly, it didn't fall and it tasted divine. However, while the recipe said it would take 25 minutes to cook, my souffle took closer to an hour (thanks to a deep souffle dish). It worked out just fine--I knew the kids wouldn't eat it anyway so they enjoyed a dinner of cooked beets, sweet potato biscuits, and cucumber and tomato slices. I held out for the souffle and it was worth the wait!

May I just mention again my achilles' heel of cooking---biscuits. I managed to make a perfect souffle without deflating egg whites or having the souffle fall. The simple biscuits however just barely rose. The taste was wonderful, they were flaky enough, and the texture was great. They just didn't rise. I just don't understand it. Someday maybe I will figure out the secret. Until then, I guess I'll just be content with flat biscuits and perfect souffles. This recipe serves 4 - 6 as a main and 6 - 8 as a side.

Savory Leek and Gruyere Souffle
tweaked slightly from Williams-Sonoma Cooking from the Farmer's Market

2 T olive oil
4 leeks (about 1 1/2 lbs), dark green parts trimmed, washed well, and chopped
1 t fresh thyme, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
5 T cold butter
5 T flour
2 1/2 c half-and-half, warmed
6 large eggs, separated
2 c (approx 8 oz) Gruyere cheese, grated

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the leeks and thyme until leeks are tender, about 12 minutes. Season with salt. Set aside to cool. While leeks cool, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute, until combined. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half. Cook, whisking, until sauce is smooth and thick. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in 1 1/2 c Gruyere and cooled leeks. Season with salt and pepper (even though the Gruyere tastes salty, it needs more salt).

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold in 1/4 of whites into leek mixture with a rubber spatula. Quickly, but gently, fold in the remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain. Prepare a large (14-inch) gratin dish or large souffle dish. Butter gratin dish or souffle dish well and sprinkle with 1/2 c of the cheese. Pour leek and egg mixture into prepared dish. Bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven until top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center is not wet (a little moist is ok). Depending on depth of dish, it will take 25 - 60 minutes. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pasta with Easy Summer Sauce

This is another of my tried and true Moosewood recipes. Thanks to green beans in our CSA box a couple of weeks ago, this recipe was resurrected. I then remembered it is also a very good recipe, even if you omit the green beans.

We all enjoyed this. M had to put the ingredients all into separate piles to eat, but she did eat two big servings.

Pasta with Easy Summer Sauce
from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

1 c quartered grape or cherry tomatoes
2 T fresh parsley, minced
1 T fresh basil, minced
1/4 c red onions, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 T black olives, sliced or chopped
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 t balsamic vinegar
1/2 lb farfalle or other chunky pasta
1 c green beans, cut into 2" pieces
1/4 c feta cheese, crumbled (or more, to taste)

Bring a large pot of slated water to boil. When the water boils, stir in the pasta, cover, and cook for 2 - 3 minutes. When the water returns to a boil, add the green beans and cook for 8 - 10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente and the beans are just tender. Drain well.

While the pasta and green beans cook, combine the tomatoes, parsley, basil, onions, garlic, black olives, olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Add the tomato mixture to the cooked pasta and green beans. Gently combine. Top with feta cheese. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Best Peach Pie Ever

Ok, I know there's a bit of superlative going on with the title, but it's true. There is no picture, because the pie didn't last long enough to survive for a picture.

Peaches are back in Central Texas, and boy, are they wonderful this year. After having 3 years with very few peaches, the peaches are everywhere. When I go to the Farmers' Market on Saturday, I have lots of peach choices. (However, for me, the choice is a no-brainer. I like Rocky Hill Orchard's at the Barton Creek Farmer's Market peaches best--partly due to a very convoluted family connection. Plus I just like how their peaches taste).

It's early in the peach season though, which means the peaches are cling. That means, you can't just slice the peach in half and easily remove the stone (pit). It took a little for me to come up with a method for slicing peaches, but I figured it out. I cut the peach in half (as if the stone will pop out for me). Then I slice it vertically in slices, so the first cut is in the middle of each slice. I do this around the outside of the peach, cutting as far as possible (until reaching the stone). The stones I save for the kids to suck the last remaining peach off of. This is rather messy, but it works great for giving slices for a pie.

Fresh Peach Pie
from the Shenk Cookbook

9" unbaked pie crust
3 c fresh peaches, sliced (peeling is optional--up to your preferences)
1 egg, beaten
1/3 c butter, melted
1 c sugar
1/3 c flour
1/2 - 1 t cinnamon (we always use the full teaspoon)

Spread peaches in prepared pie crust. Mix together remaining ingredients. Spread over peaches in crust. Bake in preheated 350 degrees oven for 45 min- 1 hour, or until top of pie has cooked through (it will be a little crusty).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Trenette al Pesto

After looking for new recipes for quite a while now, I am finding myself going back to some tried and true recipes that I discovered years ago. Many of these are from Moosewood Restaurant's New Classics. This is one of these.

This recipe is a little funny because it has not just one, but two starches in it. I consider it a complete meal, with maybe just some sliced tomatoes (and fresh mozzarella) as a side.

All but M enjoyed this. For some reason, M is in her, "foods can't be mixed" stage again. Little I loved it. Even with just 1/2 lb of pasta, this still easily serves 4 - 6 people.

Trennete al Pesto
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant's New Classics

1 clove garlic
1 c packed fresh basil
2 T pine nuts, toasted
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1/4 t salt, or to taste
3 - 4 T extra virgin olive oil

2 medium potatoes, peeled, cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced 1/4" thick (about 2 c)
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 2" lengths (about 4 c)
1/2 lb pasta (trenette or linguini)

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the potatoes and pasta. Stir well and cover. After about 2 minutes, add the green beans, stir and cover. When the pasta is al dente (after 5 more minutes), drain, reserving 1 c of cooking liquid.

While pasta cooks, make pesto. Combine all pesto ingredients in a food processor and puree until it is a rough paste, scraping down sides as necessary. (This makes about 1/2 c).

In a large bowl toss the pasta mixture with the pesto and 1/2 c reserved cooking water. Add more cooking water as necessary to coat the pasta with a moist sauce. Serve immediately

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dandelion Greens Gratin

Yet another way to enjoy dandelion greens (I am rather impressed that I have found two ways!). I actually heard about this recipe from a fellow JBG CSA member who I took a cooking class from. We liked this--as Curtis said, how can you go wrong with cheese? Serves 4.

Dandelion Greens Gratin
adapted from Fine Cooking

1/2 t butter
kosher salt
1lb dandelion greens, lower stems trimmed, and well rinsed
1 c coarse breadcrumbs
3 T plus 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 1/3 c heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t lemon zest
pepper to taste
1 1/2 oz goat cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the dandelion greens until tender, 3 - 5 minutes. Drain and spread on a dishtowel to steam and release moisture, 10 - 15 minutes. Use the dishtowel to gently wring the greens and get rid of any moisture.

While dandelion greens cook and cool, bring the cream and garlic to boil, about 5 minutes. As soon as the cream comes to a vigorous boil, remove from heat and let sit for 5 - 10 minutes. Add the lemon zest and season with 1/4 t salt and a little pepper. Stir well.

In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs and 3 T Parmesan. Set aside.

Coarsely chop the greens. Combine with 1/4 c Parmesan and goat cheese. Mix well. Pour cream over top and lightly stir. Spread in a butter 5 - 6 cup gratin dish. Season with salt and pepper. Top evenly with breadcrumbs.

Bake in preheated 375 degrees oven for 30 minutes, until the liquid is reduced. Serve warm.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dal with Chard (or Spinach)

I finally broke done and did it. After being without a slow cooker for the last 7 or so years, I caved last week and bought a crock-pot. This past month has been nuts cooking supper. M has swim practice every weekday afternoon smack dab in the middle of prime supper cooking time. Once we get home, I basically have 30 minutes to get supper on the table without my kids mutinying. I decided to attempt owning a slow cooker once again (I don't like how much space they take up to store) with visions of meals made in the morning or afternoon and ready for supper and the ability to have a roast in the middle of a Texas August without having to heat up the whole house.

After owning the thing a week, I finally took the final plunge and busted the thing out of it's box yesterday. On the menu? Dal with Chard. Now these aren't the lentils your frugal mom my have attempted making back in the late 70's/early 80's (which your dad probably complained about not liking---oh wait, I think I am projecting again). These are no honey baked/sweet and sour/loaded with bacon lentils. No, we're talking about good, flavorful somewhat Indian lentils.

Curtis, Little I and I loved the lentils. M and J decided not to touch then and instead survived on white rice and Naan. (There is a wonderful Indian restaurant right by our house. We've found picking up some Naan and aloo paratha--vegetable stuffed flat bread--on compliments my homemade psuedo-Indian meals perfectly.) Have I told you why I love my husband lately? He walked in the house yesterday, looked in the afore mentioned crock pot and said, "Mmm. Lentils." He was thrilled!

This was a simple recipe and tasted wonderful. It would easily serve 6 adults. I'm including both slow cooker and stove top instructions. Again optional ingredients are ones I omitted because I didn't have them.

Dal with Chard
adapted from Sundays at Moosewood
1 1/2 c red or brown lentils
4 c water
2 dried chiles, whole (optional)
1/4 t turmeric (optional)
1/2 t salt
2 T olive oil or ghee (ghee is preferable, but do you want to make any bets about me having it?)
1/2 t cumin seeds or 1/4 t ground cumin
1 c onion, chopped
1 t fresh ginger, peeled and grated
approx 4 c (one small bunch) chard or spinach, stems removed and coarsely chopped
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t garam masala
salt to taste

Slow cooker version (I used a 6 qt): Dump lentils, water, chiles, turmeric, and 1/2 t salt in slow cooker. Turn to high and cook 3 - 5 hours (mine took just 3 hours) or until lentils are soft.
Stovetop version: Put lentils in a medium pot and cover with water. Add the chiles, turmeric, and 1/2 t salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, until very tender, about 30 minutes. Add more water if necessary to prevent sticking.

Then (both versions): About 15 minutes before serving, heat the oil or ghee in a skillet. Add the cumin seeds (if using) and cook 10 - 15 seconds. Stir in the onions and ginger (and dried cumin, if using), and cook until the onions 5 minutes. Add chard or spinach and cook 5 more minutes, until chard has wilted and onions are softened. Remove the chiles from the lentils and stir in the onion mixture, lemon juice, garam masala, and salt to taste. Serve over rice, ideally with a side of Naan or aloo paratha and a nice cold mango lassi.