Thursday, August 21, 2014

Raspberry-Chocolate Sauce

My everbearing raspberries have been slowly starting to produce. Here's one tasty way I like to use them.


Raspberry-Chocolate Sauce

Source: The New York Times
Yield: 2 1/2 cups

12 oz raspberries, fresh or frozen and defrosted
3/4 c Dutch processed cocoa
3/4 c heavy cream
4 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c sugar
1/3 c light corn syrup

Puree the raspberries in a food processor and pass them through a fine strainer or food mill to remove seeds. Set aside.

In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, gradually whisk the cocoa into the cream, stirring until smooth. Add the butter, sugar, corn syrup, and raspberries and stir until well blended. Place the pan over medium heat and slowly bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat to medium-low and let the mixture continue to boil slowly for 8 minutes without stirring. Remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool for 15 minutes if serving hot. Poor sauce into a container, let cool, cover and refrigerate until needed. It will last for at least  month. It may be reheated slowly on the stovetop or in a microwave.

Note: I have found that the cocoa doesn't completely dissolve in this sauce which is purely an aesthetic issue. It bothers me a little so I use a stick blender to more completely whisk the ingredients together before heating.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Peachy Pancakes

My favorite time of year is here with its abundance of fruits and vegetables. I've come to really appreciate a juicy, naturally ripened peach since supermarket suppliers refrigerate green peaches and they rarely ripen properly, instead turning mealy and dry. Here is one method to capitalize on the short, but luscious peach season.

This is a whole slice (off one side of the pit) rather than the called for half slices.


Peachy Pancakes

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
Makes 8-10 pancakes

1 large egg
1 c sour cream
1/4 teas vanilla
2 T sugar
1/4 teas salt
1/4 teas cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
3/4 c flour (can be all white, or substitute part with whole-wheat, oat, or rye flour)
1 teas baking powder
1/2 teas baking soda
Butter for the pan
1 peach, halved, pitted, and very thinly sliced (about 1/8 inch slices)

Begin to heat your skillet or griddle on medium-low. If you wish to serve all pancakes at once, heat your oven to 250F to keep the first pancakes warm while you cook the others. Whisk the egg, sour cream, vanilla, and sugar in a large bowl. In another bowl, blend together the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Fold dry ingredients into well, mixing until just combined and still a bit lumpy.

Note: This makes a relatively thick batter and a thick pancake. I like mine thinner, so I added a third cup of milk to the yogurt. This increases the yield somewhat.

Melt a pat of butter in a skillet or on the griddle. Ladle 1/4 c batter, leaving 2 inches between each pancake. Arrange two sliced peach halves on each pancake (don't worry if they are larger than the pancake which will spread). After about 4 minutes, watch for edges that are drying and for bubbles forming in the middle of the peach slices. Carefully use a spatula to get all the way under the pancake and flip it in one quick motion. If a peach slice slips out, you can nudge it back in. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or so until the peaches are caramelized.  Be generous with butter which will help with caramelization and with flipping. If peaches brown too quickly and the pancakes aren't done, turn down the heat. Placing finished pancakes in the warm oven will ensure they cook through.

Serve with maple syrup or ginger syrup which you can purchase or make: Ginger Syrup

Friday, August 15, 2014

Spaghetti with Zucchini and Basil

Zucchini pairs beautifully with pasta. See here for a similar option, with eggs. This simple recipe comes together quickly, and it's easy to deconstruct the meal for picky eaters. (Or just serve the picky eaters plain spaghetti, like we do in our house.)


Spaghetti with Zucchini and Basil

Source: Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 lbs small or medium zucchini (don't use a large squash here; they are not as tender and flavorful as the smaller squash)
1/3 c-1/2 c olive oil to taste
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 c half and half or whole milk
1 lb spaghetti
1/2 c mixed freshly grated Parmesan and Romano (or just Parmesan, if that's what you have)
Handful basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Heat a large pot of water for the pasta. Quarter the zucchini lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch chunks. Warm the oil with the garlic in a wide skillet. Add the zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Cook gently over medium heat, stirring every so often until the squash is soft and browned in places, about 20 minutes. Add the half and half and cook for 10 minutes more.

Meanwhile, add salt to the boiling water and cook the pasta. Drain and toss it with the zucchini, cheese, and basil. Taste for salt and season with pepper.

Help: Bumper Crop of Green Peppers!

Harvest season is on, in my neck of the woods. Here's what a typical picking of my garden (every other day) looks like, except that this was over a week ago and now I have more beans and tomatoes:

What this doesn't show, however, is my bumper crop of these beauties:

My fridge is filling up with green peppers, and I don't know what to do with them. I have chopped some up and frozen them, but I think I've only got one recipe that calls for them. Friends, I need your help. What should I do with my green peppers? What do you do with green peppers?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Peach Ice Cream

Betsy and I are doing a test of peach ice cream somewhat complicated by the fact that neither of us can taste the product created by the other. (Oh, well.) This recipe cooks the peaches slightly before mixing them with the cream. To tell the truth it doesn't taste really "cooked" but it doesn't have quite the bright flavor of a fresh peach. Maybe next time I'll try adding a little more of the lemon juice.


Peach Ice Cream

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
Yields more than one quart

1 1/3 pds ripe peaches (about 4 large peaches)
1/2 c water
2/3 c sugar (the original recipe calls for 3/4)
1/2 c sour cream
1 c heavy cream
1/4 teas vanilla extract (or almond)
a few drops freshly squeezed lemon juice

Halve the peaches, peel, and remove the pits. Cut the peaches into chunks and cook them with the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, covered, stirring once or twice, until soft and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir in the sugar, then cool to room temperature.

Puree the cooked peaches and any liquid in a blender or food processor with the sour cream, heavy cream, vanilla, and lemon juice until almost smooth but slightly chunky.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (at least six hours), then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Note: I wish I had used a hint from Cook's Illustrated and done the following:

In your freezer, place about 1/4 of the mixture in a shallow container. When it is time to churn the ice cream cut the frozen mix into chunks and stir into the chilled mix. This will lower the temperature of the mix which will give it a creamier texture and reduce ice crystals.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

These are so easy to make, I'm ashamed I don't make them more often. They receive favorable ratings from nearly everyone I've made them for.


Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Source:  Baking Illustrated: The Practical Kitchen Companion for the Home Baker from Cook's Illustrated
Makes about 40

1 c cream of coconut (NOT coconut milk, but rather the sweetened, thickened juice sometimes used in cocktails--can be found in cans or in plastic bottles
2 T light corn syrup
4 large egg whites
1 teas vanilla extract
1/2 teas salt
3 c unsweetened shredded coconut (you can use dessicated coconut, although results can be a bit crumbly)
3 c sweetened flaked or shredded coconut

Set two oven racks to the upper and low-middle positions and heat the oven to 375F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Whisk together the cream of coconut, corn syrup, egg whites, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Combine the two kinds of coconut in a large bowl. Break up any large clumps of coconut with your fingertips. Pour the liquid ingredients into the coconut and mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until evenly moistened.

Drop heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto the baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Form the cookies into loos haystacks with your fingertips. If you get too sticky, moisten your fingers with water and keep forming. Bake until the cookies are light golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating the sheets front to back and from rack to rack at the midway point.

Cool the cookies on the baking sheets until slightly set, about 2 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

To dip in chocolate:

Chop 10 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate and melt 8 oz. in a microwaveable bowl on medium power for a minute or two. Stir the chocolate and, if needed, microwave for another 30 seconds, also at medium power. Stir to ensure it is all melted. Add the additional 2 oz. chocolate and stir until smooth.

Hold the macaroons by their pointed top and dip into the chocolate, up the base about a quarter inch. (Because mine were a bit crumbly last time, I used a skewer to help me hang on to them.) You may scrape some of the excess chocolate with your finger, if you wish (I didn't do this step much since I like plenty of chocolate with my macaroon). Refrigerate the macaroons to help the chocolate harden. They don't need to be stored in the fridge unless room temperatures are high.

Note: The last time I made these, I decided to try out a couple of variations. I salted a few of them by sprinkling coarse salt over the chocolate right after dipping (the salt was on the bottom of the cookie and although it melded with the chocolate, it didn't entirely dissolve). All my tasters wished I'd done more of these. On a few I also tucked a toasted whole almond into the macaroon before baking. I think I will make some with toasted, slivered almonds next time because the flavor was good but the big hunk of almond made for an odd texture and it would be nice to have the almond flavor throughout.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Two Zucchini Soups

My father-in-law paid me the nicest compliment the other day, after enjoying Grandma Betty's Zucchini Bread and a side dish of shredded zucchini with herbs (separately, not together!). He said, "You're a magician with zucchini." I'll add that to my list of job titles: zucchini magician!

Here are two zucchini soups. The first is from a neighbor, who told her kids she was serving green monster soup for dinner. The name was enough to entice her kids to eat it, but unfortunately it didn't work on mine. In fact Gabe said "I'm scared of monsters!" and then refused to have anything to do with it. The second, a bisque, is from a restaurant that used to be in St. George, Utah called the Gable House. My great-grandmother Melba enjoyed the soup there. Green monster soup is creamy and of course the bacon garnish is tasty. The bisque is lighter, with nutmeg a flavorful addition. Take your pick and enjoy; I like to accompany these soups with grilled cheese sandwiches.

green monster soup


Green Monster Soup

Source: a neighbor, via an LDS ward zucchini cookbook

1 c onion, chopped
2 T butter
3 c zucchini, sliced
2 c chicken broth
3/4 teas salt
1/8 teas pepper
1/2 c half and half
1 c cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 c sour cream
4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until tender. Add sliced zucchini and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Cool slightly. Puree in blender, in batches if necessary. Return to pan and stir in half and half.

Reheat but do not boil. Stir in grated cheddar cheese and sour cream. Garnish with crumbled bacon at the table.


Melba's Zucchini Bisque

Source: my great-grandmother Melba Tew Hayes

2 medium onions (~1/2 lb), finely chopped
2 T butter
1 1/2 lbs zucchini, sliced
3 c chicken broth
1/4 teas black pepper
1/8 teas nutmeg, freshly ground
1/8 teas salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 c half and half
optional garnishes: grated cheddar cheese, croutons

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until tender. Add sliced zucchini and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add seasonings. Puree in a blender, in batches if necessary. Return to pan and stir in half and half. Reheat, but do not boil. Garnish with cheese and croutons, if desired.