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Monday, September 30, 2013

Polenta, Two Ways

It's hard for me to believe I didn't discover polenta until 10 years ago. I never saw it on a menu at an Italian restaurant and certainly never heard it mentioned. I adore polenta and am glad to have come across it, even later in my life. I think some cooks have avoided it because old recipes instructed cooks to stir for 45 minutes or so. That isn't necessary, although it should be cooked slowly at a very low temperature to let the flavors develop (except for the microwave method, also included below). Apparently it is a traditional peasant food; versatile, rather inexpensive, and fairly quick to prepare.



Corn ground for polenta. For more info see this: http://food52.com/blog/3698-cornmeal-vs-grits-vs-polenta-vs-masa


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Stove-top Polenta


Adapted from What We Eat When We Eat Alone by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin
Serves 4-6, in spite of coming from a book about single dining

1 cup uncooked polenta, not instant
1 teas salt
4 c water
butter
grated cheese

Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Gradually stir in the polenta in a slow steady stream, then add the salt. Lower the heat to medium if you are cooking over gas or to low if you are cooking on an electric stove. Stir until the polenta has absorbed enough water to make an even mass, more or less. Lower the heat even more, to the lowest setting. At this point you can leave it alone, stirring just now and then to make certain it isn't sticking. It should be cooked for at least 30 minutes to have the best texture and flavor. The longer it cooks after that, the better. (I find it usually takes me 30-45 minutes to prepare a topping so if I start the polenta first, everything is ready at the same time.) Once done, add 1 T salt and 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese. Other cheeses, especially left over odds and ends may be used. According to Madison, fontina and mozzarella are good as are Gorgonzola or other blue cheeses. Taste to check the salt; stir in more, if needed.

At this point, spoon polenta on your plate and top with a meat sauce, braised greens, sauteed mushrooms or serve with chicken or pork. There are plenty of suggestions on the internet. Also see the note accompanying Italian Braised Green Beans. 

See notes below.

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Microwave Polenta  


Adapted from cooksillustrated.com
Yields 3 1/2 cups

1 c medium grind cornmeal or polenta 
3 1/2 c water 
1 teas table salt 
pepper to taste

In a 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup, covered with plastic wrap, microwave cornmeal, water, and salt at 100% power for 6 minutes. Uncover and stir thoroughly, then continue to microwave at 100% power until polenta is creamy and fully cooked, 5 to 6 minutes longer. Stir in pepper.

Stir in 1-2 T butter and 1/2-3/4 c parmesan cheese. Check for seasonings and serve. 

Notes:

If you leave out the cheese, polenta can be a tasty breakfast with fruit and a bit of cream. (I suppose it wouldn't be bad if the cheese is left in. You choose.)
 
When polenta cools, it becomes rather solid. You may use it as left overs in the solid form. Cut into pieces and heat in olive oil (this has a tendency to pop, a little like popcorn, but it is tasty). 




Greens Beans in Yogurt-Dill Sauce

Although it is rather early for the middle Rio Grande Valley, we've experienced a couple of light freezes this past weekend. I'm disappointed because we should get a couple more weeks of growing temperatures, at least. However, I won't be sorry to see the last of the mosquitoes (for this season). I feel sad these beans are among the last I will pick this year.

I've posted two green bean recipes back to back. I'm launching a one-woman assault on green bean casserole for Thanksgiving, which is just around the corner. This recipe features something that is fresher, simpler, and tastier than that traditional recipe. Another of its advantages for a holiday dish is it should be served at room temperature and can be prepared ahead of time.


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Greens Beans in Yogurt-Dill Sauce


Adapted from Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop

1 pound green beans, ends snapped off
1/2 c plain yogurt, either reduced fat, or full-fat, but not non-fat (which is full of weird chemicals)
1 medium garlic clove, minced
2 teas minced fresh dill leaves
1/8 teas cayenne pepper, or to taste

Bring several quarts of water to a boil in large saucepan. Add the beans and about 1 teas salt.Cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, shake as much water off as you can, and then spread out over a clean towel so they dry quickly. Let the beans cool for several minutes.

While the beans are cooling, mix the yogurt, garlic, dill, cayenne, and salt to taste in a small bowl (I don't add extra because I salt the water). Place the beans in a large serving bowl. Spoon the yogurt sauce over the beans, toss, taste for seasoning, and serve immediately.

Notes:

If you can't find fresh dill in November or December, coarsely crush some dill seed in a mortar and pestle and mix it with the yogurt mixture. Start with half a teaspoon; if you need more, add it.

You may cook the beans and make the yogurt mixture ahead (as much as a day) and refrigerate them until 20-30 minutes before serving. At that point stir the yogurt mixture into the beans and serve. Doesn't that sound nice for a day with lots of cooking?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Italian Braised Green Beans

Before the growing season is over I must share one more method for using those older, tougher green beans that have hidden from the harvester until they are too big to miss. Those who don't garden may not run into these beans, although sometimes supermarket produce departments offer beans that look considerably past their prime. This recipe may be useful to us all. Let me point out that the beans will resemble canned beans in color but will be superior in flavor and texture. Don't be afraid to try something that isn't "crisp-tender."

My well-used copy of the book, Vegetables Everyday by Jack Bishop, is the source for this recipe, correctly titled "Braised Green Beans with Tomatoes, Olives, Capers, and Basil." I must admit I feel annoyed with recipe titles that list every ingredient. So I changed the title; rather too broadly, I fear. Bishop himself muses that it should be called "Green Beans Puttanesca."


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Italian Braised Green Beans


Adapted from Jack Bishop's Vegetables Everyday
Serves 4 as a side dish

1 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 pound green beans, ends removed
4 tomatoes, canned or fresh, chopped, and juice from the can to equal 1 c or 1/2 c water
12 large Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1 teas drained capers
1 T minced fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a sauce pan or a saute pan. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the beans and stir them well with the oil and garlic. Add the tomatoes, olives, and capers and bring the liquid to a boil. Add some salt (approximately 1/2 teas) and pepper; if you use fresh tomatoes you'll have to add more salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the beans are quite tender but not mushy. Stir a few times while the beans simmer.

For a side dish, remove the cover from the pan and cook to evaporate the remaining tomato liquid. Stir in the basil and check seasonings; serve immediately.

Note:

The other night, I used this as a topping for polenta and was pleased with the results. However, I advise doubling the tomatoes for use as a sauce and skip the evaporating step.  

If you want to make this more puttanesca-like, add a pinch of red pepper flakes for more heat.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fresh Peach Pie

I'm in mourning because it's the last week or so of fresh peaches in Utah. I still have a quarter bushel of Hales to enjoy, but then we're back to canned peaches.

This pie recipe is supposed to solve the common problem of soupy peach pies. My first attempt was still a little soupy; I'm not sure if it's altitude or if I had too much juice in the mashed peach mixture. But the flavor is amazing. It tastes so strongly of peaches--just peaches--that I preferred the pie on its own, without ice cream. I also enjoyed that the filling was not too sweet. The pie dough is easy to work with, and the "mock" lattice top is a nice substitute for weaving. Sadly, though, it didn't produce any leftover dough for pie crust cookies! This will definitely be on the list of peach desserts for next year's peach season.


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Pie Dough for Lattice-Top Pie


Source: Cook's Illustrated

3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and frozen for 30 minutes
10 - 12 tablespoons ice water

Process flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until combined, about 5 seconds. Scatter shortening over top and process until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter over top and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses. Transfer to bowl.

Sprinkle 5 tablespoons ice water over flour mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to evenly combine water and flour mixture. Sprinkle 5 tablespoons ice water over mixture and continue using folding motion to combine until small portion of dough holds together when squeezed in palm of your hand, adding up to 2 tablespoons remaining ice water if necessary. (Dough should feel quite moist.) Turn out dough onto clean, dry counter and gently press together into cohesive ball. Divide dough into 2 even pieces and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

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Fresh Peach Pie


Source: Cook's Illustrated

3 lbs peaches, peeled, quartered, and pitted, each quarter cut into thirds
1/2 c (3 1/2 oz) plus 3 T sugar
1 teas grated lemon zest plus 1 T juice
1/8 teas salt
2 T low- or no-sugar-needed fruit pectin (Cook's Illustrated recommends Sure-Jell for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes and Ball RealFruit Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin)
1/4 teas ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 recipe Pie Dough for Lattice-Top Pie (see above)
1 T cornstarch

Toss peaches, ½ cup sugar, lemon zest and juice, and salt in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Combine pectin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons sugar in small bowl and set aside.

Remove dough from refrigerator. Before rolling out dough, let it sit on counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes. Roll 1 disk of dough into 12-inch circle on lightly floured counter. Transfer to parchment paper–lined baking sheet. With pizza wheel, fluted pastry wheel, or paring knife, cut round into ten 1¼-inch-wide strips. Freeze strips on sheet until firm, about 30 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Roll other disk of dough into 12-inch circle on lightly floured counter. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and gently unroll it onto 9-inch pie plate, letting excess dough hang over edge. Ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with your hand while pressing into plate bottom with your other hand. Leave any dough that overhangs plate in place. Wrap dough-lined pie plate loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, transfer 1 cup peach mixture (try to get only peaches, not any juice) to small bowl and mash with fork until coarse paste forms. Drain remaining peach mixture through colander set in large bowl. Transfer peach juice to liquid measuring cup (you should have about ½ cup liquid; if liquid measures more than ½ cup, discard remainder). Return peach pieces to bowl and toss with cornstarch. Transfer peach juice to 12-inch skillet, add pectin mixture, and whisk until combined. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and pectin is dissolved (liquid should become less cloudy), 3 to 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, add peach pieces and peach paste, and toss to combine.

Transfer peach mixture to dough-lined pie plate. Remove dough strips from freezer; if too stiff to be workable, let stand at room temperature until malleable and softened slightly but still very cold. Lay 2 longest strips across center of pie perpendicular to each other. Using 4 shortest strips, lay 2 strips across pie parallel to 1 center strip and 2 strips parallel to other center strip, near edges of pie; you should have 6 strips in place. Using remaining 4 strips, lay each one across pie parallel and equidistant from center and edge strips. If dough becomes too soft to work with, refrigerate pie and dough strips until dough firms up.

Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Press edges of bottom crust and lattice strips together and fold under. Folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Crimp dough evenly around edge of pie using your fingers. Using spray bottle, evenly mist lattice with water and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is set and begins to brown, about 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees; continue to bake until crust is deep golden brown and filling is bubbly at center, 30 to 40 minutes longer. Let cool on wire rack for 3 hours before serving.

Roasted Green Beans with Garlic and Ginger

We have a couple of rows of beans in the garden. Despite regular attention, we often end up with beans that should have been picked a day or two before. This recipe is a tasty way to cook these bigger beans, or beans that are past their prime. Adjust the recipe so you prepare enough for one meal only--they don't work well as leftovers.


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Roasted Green Beans with Garlic and Ginger


Source: Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop
Serves 4

2 T olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 T minced fresh ginger
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 lb green beans, ends snapped off

Preheat oven to 450F. Combine oil, garlic, ginger, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Place the green beans on a shallow rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the oil mixture over the beans and toss with your hands to coat them. Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast, turning the beans once, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Corn Chowder

I've made this delicious chowder the past three summers when fresh corn is available. It is such a hearty soup it is good in the winter, too. It is one of the fussier of Cook's Illustrated recipes, but, as usual, I recommend taking the fussy steps; they are worth it.

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Corn Chowder


Source: cooksillustrated.com
Serves 6-8

8 ears corn, husks and silk removed 
3 T unsalted butter 
1 onion, chopped fine 
4 slices bacon, halved lengthwise then cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 teas minced fresh thyme (or 1/2 teas dried thyme)
salt and pepper
1/4 c flour
5 c water 
3/4 pound red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 
1 c half-and-half 
Sugar 
3 T chopped fresh basil, optional

Using chef’s knife, cut kernels from corn; transfer to bowl and set aside (you should have 5 to 6 cups kernels). Holding cobs over second bowl, use back of butter knife to firmly scrape any remaining pulp on cobs into bowl (you should have 2 to 2 1/2 cups pulp). Transfer pulp to center of clean kitchen towel set in medium bowl. Wrap towel tightly around pulp and squeeze tightly until dry. Discard pulp in towel and set corn juice aside (you should have about 2/3 cup juice).

Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion, bacon, thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened and edges are beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add water and bring to boil. Add corn kernels and potatoes. Return to simmer; reduce heat to medium-low and cook until potatoes have softened, 15 to 18 minutes.

Process 2 cups chowder in blender until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Return puree to chowder; add half-and-half and return to simmer. Remove pot from heat and stir in reserved corn juice. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and up to 1 tablespoon sugar. Serve, sprinkling with basil.

Note:

If you don't come up with 2/3 c corn milk, use what you have. I only had 1/2 c last time I made this. I wonder if I cut the corn too close to the cob.

In the winter, I use frozen corn. I either skip extracting the corn milk or I run 1 1/2 c corn in the food processor to break it down and squeeze the corn milk from the chopped corn.
 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September 15 Bouquet

We had a late freeze in the spring, so our peach crop was much smaller than last year's, at least in number.


We had four of these big beauties, with about 10 smaller peaches. And the smaller fruits have teeny pits, not much bigger than a dime.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Zucchini Relish, Peaches, and Applesauce

We have been busy this week.

54 quarts of peaches

16 1/2 quarts of applesauce

8 half-pints of zucchini relish

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pasta with Tomato and Almond Pesto (Pesto Alla Trapanese)

This recipe is a fabulous use of home grown cherry tomatoes, although it's still quite good with cherry and grape tomatoes from the grocery store year round. I find that these little varieties are the best option for off-season tomatoes.The original recipe called for a stemmed, seeded, and minced  small pepperoncini instead of the red wine vinegar, but the red pepper flakes are spicy enough for me.



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Pasta with Tomato and Almond Pesto (Pesto Alla Trapanese)


Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1/4 c slivered almonds
12 oz cherry or grape tomatoes (about 2 1/2 c)
1/2 c packed fresh basil leaves
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/2 teas red wine vinegar
salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/3 c olive oil
1 lb pasta, preferably linguine or spaghetti
1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 c), plus extra for serving

Toast almonds in a small skilled over medium heat, stirring frequently, until pale golden and fragrant, 2-4 minutes. Cool almonds to room temperature.

Process cooled almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic, vinegar, 1 teas salt, and red pepper flakes in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, slowly drizzle in oil, about 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 T salt and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 c cooking water, drain pasta, and transfer back to cooking pot.

Add pesto and 1/2 c Parmesan to cooked pasta, adjusting consistency with reserved pasta cooking water so that pesto coats pasta. Serve immediately, passing Parmesan separately. 


Friday, September 6, 2013

Zucchini Cornbread

The first time I made this, I left out the sugar, and the lack was obvious. Include the sugar, and oh my: a crispy crust and moist bread inside. It's a new favorite! Note that the zucchini slices on top are a beautiful garnish, but if they are thick they do result in a soggy half inch or so underneath. I'm going to try for paper-thin slices next time, or just skip them altogether.



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Zucchini Cornbread


Slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Yields one loaf

1 medium zucchini (about 10 oz or 2 c shredded)
3/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c whole wheat flour (or 1 1/2 c total flour)
3/4 c cornmeal
1/2 c sugar
1 teas baking powder
1/2 teas baking soda
3/4 teas salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1/2 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a loaf pan (original recipe called for 9x5; I used 8x4 and it worked well).

If you'd like the garnish, thinly slice 3-5 rounds from one end of the zucchini. Shred the remaining zucchini, toss with 1 T sugar, and place in a colander. Allow to drain for 30 minutes, then squeeze in paper towels to dry.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, and buttermilk. Gently stir the zucchini into the butter mixture. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and use a rubber spatula to gently fold together until no traces of flour remain. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and top with the reserved zucchini slices.

Bake until the bread is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55-65 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Silver Lining Salad

I've been wanting to post this "recipe" all summer but have been hung up on naming it. I figure I'd better get it done before summer is over.

Years ago, when the kids were 3, 7, and 9, I traveled from Bahrain to the United States and was caught in space-available hell. Anyone who is military and has tried to travel on space-A may understand what I mean. It was easy to get out of Bahrain but impossible to get back (something I didn't know when I embarked on the trip). After several weeks of waiting to get a flight back to Bahrain, I reluctantly bought tickets for the four of us to return home (extremely expensive, let me tell you). The flight was to leave Philadelphia late one afternoon in August. When I ventured out of my hotel room that day, I  predicted that thunderstorms were going to be a problem and they certainly were. The kids and I spent nearly 12 hours in the airport (how bored do you think they were?) and finally at nearly midnight the flight was cancelled and rescheduled for the following day. In those days airlines would provide lodging and give you vouchers for meals if flights were interrupted, even by weather, so we were bused to close-by New Jersey, put up in a nice hotel, and given vouchers for breakfast the next day. This salad is what I ordered and it hit the spot. I wonder if one of the reasons it appeals to me is because a part of me remembers the relief it was to be out of the airport. In spite of its simplicity, I love the combination, although one key is finding excellent cottage cheese.



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Silver Lining Salad


assorted fruits according to season: melons, berries, stone fruits, bananas, etc., cut into bite size pieces
cottage cheese, I think full fat is best, but low-fat works, too

Arrange the fruit on your plate in a pattern that pleases your eye (or mix in a bowl and plate up). Place a generous serving spoonful of cottage cheese in the center. Dig in.

Note:

I am sure this could successfully be amended with some chopped mint, or a drizzle of flavored simple syrup, but in this case I have never been tempted to gild the lily.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet

Sometimes sorbets, though they taste refreshing and bright, can lack that smooth mouth feel that makes ice cream so attractive. The stewed rhubarb in this recipe gives substance to the sorbet that feels almost creamy. In addition, this is a classic flavor combination in a summertime form.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet


Source:  The Perfect Scoop  by David Lebovitz 
Yield: about a quart


12 ounces rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (2 1/4 c)
2/3 c water
3/4 c sugar
10 ounces fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced (2 1/4c)
1/2 teas freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place the rhubarb, water, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the rhubarb is tender and cooked through. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Puree strawberries, cooled rhubarb, and lemon juice in the food processor (I think you can skip slicing the strawberries if you have a good processor).

Chill mixture thoroughly (at least 6 hours) and freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

Notes:

I've never done it, but I see no reason you couldn't use frozen rhubarb.

For the prettiest sorbet use pink rhubarb although it makes little difference in flavor. Strawberries will keep the sorbet pink, though, if you can find only green rhubarb.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Ginger Mascarpone Icebox Cake with Peaches

Here is another ginger and peach combo. The recipe comes from the final cookbook in a series that was published for seven years or so; they were titled The Best American Recipes of..... (whatever year) . Annually test cooks gathered what they thought were the best recipes from all the cookbooks published that year. In 2006 they published the book The 150 Best American Recipes which the editors considered the best of the best. The following recipe made the cut, although I added the peaches. I'm sure the cake could be served with any fruit that tastes good with ginger such as mangos or poached pears.



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Ginger Mascarpone Icebox Cake with Peaches


Serves 12

Make a day ahead.

2 c gingersnap crumbs from about 36 Nabisco gingersnaps, most easily done in a food processor
5 T unsalted butter, melted
1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 c plain low-fat yogurt (I used full-fat yogurt because that is what I had on hand)
2/3 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 c minced crystallized ginger
1 pound mascarpone (found in the deli cheese case in most grocery stores)
1/3 c heavy cream

Peaches
ginger simple syrup (below)

Spray a 9-inch spring form pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter it lightly. Dust the pan with a little sugar and shake out any excess.

In a medium bowl, combine the gingersnap crumbs and butter, rubbing them together with your fingertips to combine thoroughly. If you run the gingersnaps through the food processor, just pour the butter in and pulse a few times. Sprinkle half of the crumbs over the bottom of the pan and pat down evenly; reserve the rest.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, whip together the cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and ginger until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the mascarpone and cream and whip until the mixture is thoroughly combined and just holds peaks. Don't over whip, or the mixture may separate. Carefully spoon  the mixture over the crust, spreading it evenly to the edge of the pan, smoothing the top as best you can. Let the cake sit covered in the refrigerator overnight. About an hour before serving, top with the remaining crumbs, pressing gently down on them to make them somewhat cohesive. Serve cold with gingered sauced peaches (optional).

Ginger Sauced Peaches

This is my own addition, and I've never served this to 12 diners at one sitting. I make the simple syrup, let it infuse the fresh ginger, and cut enough peaches for the number of guests I'm serving, about 1/2 large peach each.

For the sauce:

1 c sugar
1/2 c water

Bring to a boil and stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved, then remove from heat. Peel and slice an inch piece of fresh ginger and place in the hot liquid. Leave the lid on and let it infuse for 30 minutes. Remove ginger slices. When completely cool, peel and slice peaches and drizzle 2 T syrup per peach over the fruit in a bowl and allow to macerate for at least 30 minutes.

Slice the cake and place on a serving plate and add a large spoonful of peach slices on the side, spooning a little of the sauce over the fruit.

Note:

Mascarpone is fairly expensive and may be hard to find. I haven't tested it, but I think you could substitute cream cheese (using a total of three 8 oz. packages), but you might need to add an addition 1 or 2 T sugar since cream cheese is more tangy. I don't think it would change the texture much.