Friday, August 10, 2018

Peach Cobbler at Its Peak!

Nothing says summer like a quick and easy peach cobbler, smack dab in the middle of Peach season.  The intoxicating aroma wafting through the air is akin to that of living beside a bakery!  With this no fuss recipe, you will have your family members thinking you baked all day!  With the help of two store bought, roll out pie crusts, and maybe a pat of flour on your cheek, no one will be the wiser!  Don't get me wrong, If time permits, a homemade crust is awesome, a flaky and warming exhibition of your dedication to a dish.
 By all means, use your valuable time measuring and chilling dough, when it can be as easy as PIE, pun definitely intended.  Either way you slice it, this recipe is  worth a try, you''ll be glad you did!

7 large peaches, peeled, and sliced to about 1/4 inch to 1/2 slices, about 7 cups`1
2 9 inch pie crusts
1/2 c. brown sugar or to taste, depending on sweetness of peaches
1/4 c. corn starch
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
1 tsp. cinnamon
Fair Pinch of salt
juice of one lemon
1 egg, beaten
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
Sugar for sprinkling.
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Spray or grease baking vessel before pressing in crust 1.
Mix all dry ingredients together and toss with peaches.
Fold in/Stir in vanilla and lemon juice.
Pour Contents into vessel and add crust 2 and dot with half of butter.
Be sure to ventilate top crust!
Brush top crust with egg wash.
Sprinkle with sugar and a dusting of cinnamon.
Dot top with remaining butter.
Bake until crust is golden and cobbler is bubbly and fragrant, about 40 minutes.
Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
Serves Plenty.  Great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Grilled Pink Shrimp w/ Fresh Peaches, Dry Vermouth and Vacation Memoirs

Shrimp is best when fresh and infused with fresh and bright flavors.  These beautiful Wild Caught Argentine Pink Shrimp are large and ready to take on the marinade and grill smoke with fantastic vigor.  The peaches were part of our take home home haul from this wonderful and well stocked farm stand in Clarksville, Va.
 We were fortunate enough to be within 1 mile of this gem, Moore's Farm Stand, I believe it was called, while staying at a nearby hotel, Hotel Magnusson on the Lake on vacation.  They had the most amazing fresh cherries, we snacked on while making the trip back home.  The Purple Cherokee tomatoes were bright and juicy, tasting of summertime ripening in every bite.   The peaches were spectacular, full of fantastic flavor and fragrance.  They even had some Mountain Butter, which I picked up a pound of to bring home as well. 
This was the second part of our rejuvenating  5 day trip that started in Scottsburg at Staunton River State Park.  The  cabins there are so cozy and peaceful.
We cooked our gooses at the facility swimming pool with family visiting from Niagara, New York for the week.
After several days, we parted ways  and continued down to Buggs Island Lake.
The James River is just beyond the trees.

Our temporary home away from home.

There's a massive pool at this park, with full concessions and shop!

Our first guest/greeter at the cabin!

Moore's Farm Stand

Hotel Magnusson on the Lake

View of Buggs Island Lake

Clarksville, known for being Virginia's only lake town, and is home to where the world record for the largest  blue catfish caught was documented, around 5 feet long and 148 pounds, talk about one heck of a fish fry!
These shrimp did not win any accolades to my knowledge, until this recipe that is.  I received rave reviews from my family, which means the world to me.  The kids spare me no remorse when it comes to my recipe development and execution.  I admire that.  They know I am serious about my work and demand their openness and objectivity.
My youngest daughter Bronwyn will tell me "Mom, this is good, but not your best" or "Yeah, this roast chicken looks a bit dry, but it tastes good".  Kids. They are proud of their MasterChef tryouts Mom, and are my biggest fans. My family is ever supportive in my endeavors.  They love my books and smile when they recite some parts by heart.  They know they have high school/ after school job security at my bistro/cafe, even though it doesn't exist yet!  They have Faith, as do I.

1-2 lb.bag pink shrimp, 16/20 count
1 fresh peach, sliced, about 1/2 c.
1/2 c. extra dry White Vermouth
1/2 c. unsweetened pineapple juice
1 tbsp. Old Bay Garlic and Herb
1 sauce
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
pinch of red pepper flakes
zest and juice of half fresh lemon
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
Palm full of fresh herbs, like parsley, dill and mint, rough chopped
Place all ingredients in bag except shrimp, and shake to blend.
Add shrimp and marinate 30 minutes to 4 hours.
Don't worry, these large shrimp won't turn to mush in the marinade!
When ready, drain and discard marinade.
Grill Shrimp over hot charcoal and serve as appetizers for a small gathering, beside a nice grilled steak or alongside a fresh mixed green salad with sliced peaches and almond slivers or pecans! There's no wrong way to do delish!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Egg and Breadcrumb Fried Squash Blossoms

I made my first fried squash blossoms this summer and they were delicious.  I wanted to test my culinary mettle, so I set out to create this recipe without doing any research.  This was my second batch of fresh, ready-to-use blossoms, but the first ones perished before I had a chance to use them. Admittedly, I forgot them in the bottom of my grocery bag for 2 days, don't tell my sister! 
 My sister Bonnie plucked them fresh from her zucchini plants, one growing on the porch in a large flower pot, the leaves as big as an elephant's ear, figuratively of course, and the others in the garden plot, many, many yards away.
The flavor of the blossoms was uniquely of squash, and also, in my opinion, with hints of oyster.
I found the blossoms very delicate and sensitive to their environment once plucked, so it is advisable that you execute your recipe in a timely fashion.
I soaked them in warm water (just before cooking) to keep them plump and rid them of their little buddies, ants.  I then drained them on paper towels and within about 10 minutes, we were eating something old,but new, in a delicious and most satisfying way!
12 squash blossoms
1 large egg
1 tbsp. Italian breadcrumbs
2 tsp. heavy cream
oil for frying
After soaking the blossoms in warm water to rid of any critters, rinse gently and place on paper towels to dry.
Meanwhile, prepare the egg wash coating.
Combine the remaining ingredients and mix well with a fork or whisk.
Heat oil to 350*F.
Dredge blossoms well in egg wash and drop oil one at a time.
Remove when golden, about 2 minutes, draining on paper towels.
Serve immediately, but are also good at room temperature.
Makes 12.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Smoky Brisket Mayonnaise

For the 4th of July, I prepared a smoked brisket. I used a combination of open roasting in the oven, then charcoal, hickory and walnut on the grill, using indirect heat, for the better part of a day.   As a result, I had a great deal of rendered beef fat to either find a use for, or dispose of.  I like to keep some of the brisket fat to enhance the flavors of other proteins and dishes, it's smoky and beefy flavor, ever present.
I created this mayonnaise using a portion of the brisket oil.  With the right vessel and an immersion blender, you can literally make this recipe in as little as 20 seconds active time, gathering the ingredients will take another few, still less than 5 minutes.  Instead of lemon juice, I used lime and also swapped out regular cider vinegar, for organic raw vinegar. 
This recipe is great for dressing sandwiches and other places you want a rich and delicious tasting condiment!
1 c. canola oil or vegetable oil
1/4 c. rendered brisket fat, cooled and at room temperature*
This oil has been allowed to sit and settle into a slightly tinted clear state.
1 large egg
1 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. raw organic vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
Place all the ingredients from the egg down in a clear vessel with high sides, I used a plastic 2 cup capacity measuring cup.
Add the oils after the other ingredients.
Insert immersion blender to the bottom of the vessel and blend on high until mayonnaise is set, less than 30 seconds.
Transfer to a jar with lid or to a bowl, your mayonnaise is ready to use.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Turkey Bacon Ranch Burgers w/ Pepper Jack, Guac and Cheesy Tortilla Chips

It's burger time and the more, the merrier!  Burgers can be made from just about anything; beef, chicken, pork, garbanzo beans, black beans, the list goes on.  This recipe features ground turkey.
Turkey is an awesome alternative to the usuals, especially considering that summertime can consist of  a gaggle of burger meals and gatherings.
This recipe can be prepped the night before for a sensual marrying of flavors.  This is also great for making the ground turkey easier to handle.  If you don't have that kind of time, no worries, just place in the fridge or freezer for about 20 minutes.  You can also place the mixing bowl in the fridge or freezer earlier in the day and pull out when ready to use.
I  used the salad dressing packet for Ranch as one of the flavor components.  I also used cooked bacon for texture and to give the burgers smoky body.  The Pepper Jack cheese adds the wondrous meltiness, and that spicy kick.
Cool and refreshing homemade guacamole offers more healthy fats, fresh tanginess, flavor and creaminess, tying the cheesy tortilla chips in with it.  The crunch of the chips is a perfect counter what the guacamole lacks.
The family received the dish well, as did I.  Give your dinner guests something they can't wait to get home and serve to their future guests!  Just a kiss with some grill flame really sends these burgers over the top, Enjoy!
3 lb. ground turkey
3 oz. cooked and crumbled bacon
1 pkg. Ranch salad dressing seasoning
2 tsp. onion powder
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
Olive oil for drizzling (Extra Virgin)
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit your Taste)
Pepper Jack Cheese
Place ground turkey in a medium mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients.
Drizzle in a few turns of the bowl of olive oil, about 1 tbsp.
Carefully mix the ingredients together trying not to overwork, while evenly distributing spices.
Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.  If allowing flavors to marry for an extended time, cover tightly with plastic wrap.
When ready top use, Shape into patties, making them into sliders or desired size to fit buns.  I made them into 12 patties.
Spray surface or grill with non stick spray and evenly space burgers.
Cook until internal temperature reaches 165*F, about 4 minutes per side, depending on heat of grill pan or charcoal grill.

For Guacamole:
2 avocados, halved and placed in medium bowl
2 tbsp. diced red onion
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp.  Mexican Green Salsa seasoning
Juice of 2 limes

Use your favorite cheesy tortilla chips as the base of this delicious and satisfying burger!


Friday, June 29, 2018

Let's Go Nuts!!!

Just a picture I arranged and shot one day using my Saveur Magazine's latest edition as the backdrop. 
This magazine is a GEM by the way!  I've been a loyal subscriber for years!
I am very fond of this picture and wanted to share it with you.  Walnuts, Almonds, Pistachios, Peanuts and Hazelnuts nuts are represented in this photo.  Pecans come with the gang too, but I had eaten them all.:) They are a part of Planter's NUTrition mixed nut combinations.  They are rich in antioxidants and good fats, promoting heart and overall health. I just wanted to let you know.   Have a safe and pleasant holiday weekend and thanks for reading my thoughts.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Pizza Pasta Bake

Pasta bakes are one of my family's favorite meals.  When I am unsure about a dinner idea, ole trusty pasta bakes see me through.  I keep various types of pasta on hand, plus spaghetti and cream sauces stocked at all times.  Recently there was a sale on a Mozzarella cheese sauce, Alfredos, pastas and hearty spaghetti sauces.   This recipe is a result of that sale.
 In all fairness, I can make my own 'gravy' and cream sauces which I enjoy, but sometimes time is not on our side and speedier backups are in order.  The fact that some family came by was the other determinate in this menu as well.
I had some fresh packaged Mozzarella Ravioli on hand and thought it would be awesome to double down on the cheesiness and add them as the top layer of the pasta bake.  The bottom layer consists of a mushroom spiked, saucy and beefy combination.  The pepperoni on the top and the fennel seeds lend the pizza like effect and adds to the overall decidedly Italian ingredient call that is this recipe.
 I rounded the meal off with some toasted cheesy garlic bread and gourmet/mixed green salad.  Steamed broccoli came along for the ride.  The kids were happy, the guests were too.  That makes me happy.  I guess it's the little things that make the world go around and I enjoy making folks smile, one recipe at a time!

1 lb. pkg. mezze penne 
1 family sized pkg. fresh Ravioli with Mozzarella
1 23 oz. jar spaghetti sauce with mushrooms
1 16 oz. jar of Mozzarella Cheese sauce
2 lbs. ground beef
2 tsp. powdered beef base, optional
2 oz. sliced pepperoni
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 tsp. fennel seeds
sugar the taste, optional
Pinch of Herbs de Provence* (one of  my current obsessions)
Olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 375*F.
Cook the mezze penne according to package instructions in salted water, to just under al dente, about 6 minutes, remove from pasta water and reserve the pot of water to cook the ravioli.
Cook the ravioli and remove from water, drain and drizzle with olive oil.  Set aside.
Meanwhile, drizzle large saute pan with olive oil over medium high and add onions.
Cook until onions are translucent and fragrant, about 4 minutes and add the garlic.
Add ground beef and beef base and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Drain excess fat off beef and add spaghetti sauce and pinch of sugar and *HdP.
Reduce heat to medium, stirring often for several minutes.
Combine penne and meat sauce.
In a large oven safe baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and pour in penne with meat sauce.
Arrange ravioli over the penne, covering it completely, overlapping if necessary.
Pour Mozzarella sauce over the ravioli and spread evenly as possible from end to end.
Arrange pepperoni at intervals over top and cover tightly with foil.
Bake until bubbly and contents are heated through, about 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let stand before serving.
Serves Plenty with seconds or leftovers.