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Summer Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Basil

5 Sep

 

I found this recipe in Bon Appetit magazine in June and immediately knew I would be making it with my summer cooking class students. Since we were in a classroom and not outside, we skipped the original instruction to char the corn on a charcoal grill and gave the corn a quick saute in a cast iron pan instead. This took a long time and since there was such a large amount of corn, it didn’t really brown unless cooked in very small batches. This recipe doesn’t feature anything revolutionary or complex, but we all loved it, many of us eating it by the spoonfuls. It’s just simple summer flavors coming together to create something refreshing, tart and sweet. I loved it so much I made it from every batch of farmers market corn I bought, but as summer laziness kicked in, I began slacking on the recipe steps. I began leaving out the thyme, which I didn’t grow in my garden this year, and just microwaved the corn in the husk for 5 minutes before shucking it. That was all the cooking it really needed, although it was equally delicious completely raw on days where there wasn’t even time for that. The key to this recipe for me is the lime rather than lemon, it makes for an interesting pairing with the basil. I know that I am posting this a day after labor day, the unofficial end to summer, but technically the summer solstice isn’t over until Sept 21st. As long as my garden keeps pumping out September tomatoes and basil and the farmer’s market continues to give me corn, this recipe will continue another month longer.

Summer Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Basil – barely adapted from Bon Appétit’s Charred Corn Salad| July 2012

  • 6 ears of corn
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup  fresh basil leaves, ripped into small pieces
  • 2-3 limes, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme – optional
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Microwave corn in the husk for 5 minutes and let cool. Remove husks and  silk and shuck corn from the cob. Place onion in a strainer and rinse with cold water to reduce it’s pungency; drain. Mix onions, oil, tomatoes, basil, lime juice, and thyme together with corn in a bowl. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lime juice, if desired. Serve room temperature.

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Lemonade and a Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer Review

25 Jun

With all the many things you can do with a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer, choosing a recipe as simple as lemonade to show off its capabilities may seem like an odd choice.  My Kitchen-Aid and all its attachments get used for pasta making, meat grinding, dough kneading and cake mixing all the time. Since these items are not necessarily the types of things most busy cooks do everyday, some people have a hard time justifying buying a Kitchen-Aid mixer for themselves. The thing is, when you do purchase one, it makes such an easy job of everything that you will start making more complicated items without hesitation. What used to be special occasion becomes simple everyday stuff. My students were lucky enough to have them this year for the first time and it has completely transformed the curriculum because of the things it can do and also the time it allows us to do things in. The important thing is keeping it out on your counter in an accessible spot so you will be able to use it for all types of tasks. Which brings me to today’s simple task, lemonade. Lemonade is as simple as hand squeezing lemons and whisking in sugar, right? Seems like it, but just like a ridiculous infomercial can prove, something as simple as lemonade can turn out to be a time-consuming sticky mess. If your Kitchen-Aid is out and ready to go, it’s as easy as screwing on the juicer attachment and juicing straight into the mixing bowl for easy and efficient whisking in of the sugar.  I’m not suggesting anyone purchase a Kitchen-Aid mixer just to make lemonade, if that were the only thing you were to use it for, it would be a sin. Once this kitchen must have item is in your possession you’ll find whipping up a batch of cookies on a Tuesday night is no big deal. Homemade fettuccine doesn’t need to be an all day Sunday affair and can be completed in less than a half hour. Pizza and bread dough will become a weekly occurrence . It can also save you some time mixing up something as simple as a quick summer drink.

Kitchen-Aid Lemonade

Mixing the sugar into the lemon juice with the whisk attachment eliminates the need for boiling sugar and water together to make a simple syrup on the stove top.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup lemon juice – about 10 large lemons
  • 5 -7 cups water

 Attach the juicer to the Kitchen-Aid stand mixer and place the mixing bowl underneath the juicer’s spout.  Turn the mixer on medium speed and extract the juice from the lemons into the bowl.

Detach the juicer and place the mixing bowl back into the base. Attach the whisk and begin beating on low-speed. Slowly add in the sugar. Raise the speed and add in 5 cups of water. Whisk for 3 minutes. Taste, and add water if too sweet or tart.

Pour lemonade into a pitcher and add the juiced lemon shells. Serve with ice and lemon wedges.

Home Canning – Fruit Preserves and Scones

24 Feb

At some point during the day, no matter how crazy the day is, I realize how lucky I am to be able to teach what I love.  Not only am I lucky enough to teach cooking at a school with a wonderfully supported program, I am also surrounded by equally food obsessed colleagues that are talented chefs in their own right. Besides the several food competitions for charity and amazing luncheons with homemade items that co-workers run, there are people who bake and cook for no reason, often for the whole staff. Last week, two very talented cooks provided scones and homemade jams for the staff to sample.  It was such a beautiful spread of colorful fruits, it was hard to pick just one. I ate mine like a tasting flight, a little of each on a plate with a bite of scone.

The scones were provided by Patti, one of the most amazing bakers I have ever met. Every pay day, in addition to every holiday or teacher appreciation day, the 100 plus mailboxes are filled with some sort of amazing treat, everything from homemade caramel corn to giant cookies. I’ve heard she’s got a double oven and a pretty nice counter set-up at home but I cannot understand how she pulls it off. I do this professionally and I still can’t understand how she whips up hundreds of biscotti, muffins, cupcakes or brownies every other week in a home kitchen, by herself. Not to mention the time, money and care that goes into it. Ellen, another talented co-worker, was responsible for the preserves. Since the second I saw them I’ve had extreme jam envy! This stuff is seriously delicious and the way she packages them is so adorable and clever, they were just screaming out for a photo shoot. 

 

Of the strawberry, raspberry, plum, peach, blueberry and orange marmalade varieties I tried, I couldn’t tell you which was my favorite. They were all equally delicious with different textures and tartness. I got to take home a special jar of pear, which I can’t wait to try. Although I’ve had all the jars and supplies for canning for years now, I use them all to freeze my garden goodies instead of really canning them. Seeing Ellen’s gorgeous jams has given me the caning bug again and this summer, I think I’m going to give it a try. Between my u-pick obsession and my backyard container garden, it’s going to be a busy Spring. Here’s a recipe from Ellen to get you started, I will be posting Patti’s scones next week. The preserves are the perfect excuse to eat 3-4 scones in one sitting!

Ellen recommends following any canning recipe exactly and to be very careful to keep your cooking equipment and area sterile to ensure safety.

SURE.JELL Peach Jam – Kraft Foods

http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/surejell-peach-jam-53003.aspx

4 cups prepared fruit (about 3 lb. fully ripe peaches)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. EVER-FRESH Fruit Protector (optional)
1 box SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine (optional)
5-1/2 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl (See tip below.)
 
BRING boiling-water canner, half-full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

PEEL and pit peaches. Finely chop fruit. Measure exactly 4 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-quart saucepot. Add lemon juice and fruit protector; stir until well blended. Stir in pectin. Add butter to reduce foaming, if desired. Bring to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.

STIR in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

Kraft Kitchens Tips

How to Measure Precisely
To get exact level cup measures of sugar, spoon sugar into dry metal or plastic measuring cups, then level by scraping excess sugar from top of cup with a straight-edged knife.
Altitude Chart
At altitudes above 1,000 feet, increase processing time as indicated: 1,001 to 3,000 feet – increase processing time by 5 minutes; 3,001 to 6,000 feet –
 

Creamy Corn Fettucine with Late Summer Tomatoes and Fresh Basil

30 Sep

The past couple of weekends in New York have been beautiful, the perfect mix of Autumn and late Summer, cool enough to wear jeans but warm enough for flip-flops. I gave up fighting to hold on to Summer and embraced the Fall by spending a few afternoons on the beautiful east end of Long Island, enjoying seasonal traditions of wine tasting and apple picking. Despite the deliciousness of some sweet dessert wines and the tart crunch of a freshly picked Macintosh, nothing beat the amazing roasted corn we had at the side of the road farmstands. At 3 bucks a pop you would think you are getting ripped off. Just the opposite, with one bite you realize you’d pay 10, it’s just that good. Picked before dawn and roasted all morning, the corn is at its absolute sweetest. In addition to the 35 pounds of apples ( we’ve discussed my u-pick addiction before)  and the bottles of wine we brought home, we were lucky enough to get our hands on a few ears of the amazing corn to pair with all the tomatoes that are still being churned out from our backyard garden. The sauce comes together quick and making the fettucine from scratch is really no big deal and so worth it. In my opinion nothing beats making fresh pasta on a crisp Sunday morning for an early dinner anyway.

Creamy Corn Fettucine with Late Summer Tomatoes and Fresh Basil – Inspired/Adapted from Cuisine at Home Magazine, Oct 2008

This is one of the best recipes I have tried in a long time, it is one of the rare things I make repeatedly, often only a week later because I crave it as soon as it’s all gone. The original recipe uses cream and adds the tomatoes and basil in at the end. off the heat. I slimmed it down with non-fat milk and added more tomatoes and basil. I have prepared it with the tomatoes and basil both cooked and raw and loved both, the cooked version has a deeper sweeter flavor and the raw version is fresh and tart.

See my post for Homemade Pasta recipe and directions

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 TBL butter

1 TBL olive oil

1 tsp sugar

2 cups cherry tomatoes

2 ears fresh corn, shucked ( save corn cob and boil them in the pasta water for extra flavor, remove before adding pasta)

1/4 cup milk

3 TBL parmesan cheese

1/2 cup basil

Saute onion and garlic and butter and olive oil until softened. Add corn, cherry tomatoes and sugar and cook until corn is tender and tomatoes are shriveled. Add in milk and simmer until reduced. Stir in parmesan and basil, season with salt and pepper. Toss with cooked pasta and thin with pasta water if needed.

Tomato and Cheddar Pie

17 Sep

 

I collapsed on the couch last night with a piece of this pie, turned on the TV and watched about 30 minutes of a dirt bike race in another language before I snapped out of it and realized what I was watching. It’s been that kind of crazy, head spinning, busy week. It was the type of week for lots of take-out.  Apparently, my garden had other plans for me.  All 38 tomato plants are spitting out pounds of fruit faster than I can eat them. When the freezer hit the point where it could not possibly hold another jar of tomato sauce, I pulled out a recipe I had seen from the beginning of the summer for this Tomato and Cheddar Pie. Even though I would have loved to have been cocooned under the covers, recovering from the day, I deliriously made pie dough while standing up, half asleep. It was well worth it and deliciously distracting enough to sit through a dirt bike competition without realizing it. 

So this pie… WOW. Where do I begin? This pie is a wonderful Southern creation. I’ve never had anything like it before or really seen any recipes for it. Here’s why I think this Southern staple is great, certainly not exactly health food, but great none the less. The best part of the recipe is the batch of biscuit dough which ingeniously serves as the pie crust.  The buttery biscuit crust is layered with fresh tomatoes and obscene amounts of cheddar cheese and then smothered in the most deliciously tangy mayonnaise sauce with fresh herbs you have ever tasted.

 Bake it. Eat it. FEEL NO GUILT. It is worth every single calorie.

Tomato and Cheddar Pie

Loosely adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine 

Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup milk soured with a splash of white vinegar

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups red cherry tomatoes
  • 2 large yellow ( or red ) tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 1/2 cups grated cheddar
  • 1 baby leek or scallion, washed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon chopped basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Crust

  • Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, rub in butter until a coarse meal forms. Some small chunks of butter should remain. Stir in buttermilk and gently knead with your hands briefly, until a soft dough forms. Wrap in plastic and chill for an hour.

Filling

  • Preheat oven to 425°. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to a round that will fit into a 9 inch ceramic or glass pie dish.  Remove top layer of plastic wrap and turn dough over into pie dish. Take-off remaining top layer of plastic wrap. Gently press dough into pan if some areas on the sides are thicker than the bottom.
  • Whisk scallion/leeks, mayonnaise, herbs, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Layer 1/3 of the cheese onto the pie crust and then top with cherry tomatoes. Spread half of mayonnaise mixture over tomatoes and another 1/3 of the cheese. 
  • Next layer the large sliced tomatoes. Spread remaining mayonnaise mixture on top of slices. Finish by sprinkling the remaining 1/3 of the cheese.
  •  Bake pie until crust is golden and cheese is golden brown, 35-40 minutes. Tent with foil if crusts is getting too dark. Let pie cool at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.

For original recipe see http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/08/tomato-and-cheddar-pie#ixzz1XyIpu5m2

Peach, Nectarine and Plum Cake

11 Sep

 

  

Back to school time… the start of exciting things but the end of summer. I will do anything I can to try to hold onto a few more weeks of sun. I naively thought to myself this week, “why can’t I still go to the beach after work? 3 o’clock is early!” That plan didn’t work out…not even close. Routine is back in full swing and there is no sight of  lazy, hazy days anywhere. Flip flops are in the back of the closet and in their place are the foot torture devices and band-aids of September.  

In a desperate attempt to keep summer around, I’ve been baking with the last delicious bits of peaches, nectarine, plums and berries I can get my hands on. I just can’t commit to apples and pumpkins yet. I’m glad to report that the mall does not have Christmas decorations up yet, although drug stores are pumping up Halloween like it’s nobody’s business. Why must they rush us??? 

Peach, Nectarine and Plum Cake – adapted from Martha Stewart’s Plum Cake

This cake lacked a little moisture at the bottom the first time I made it. I used dark brown sugar the second time and added a lot more fruit which helped extend the delcious top part of the cake more towards the center. I used yogurt in place of sour cream as well. Some times fruit is too perfect as is to bake with, but I can assure you there is something magical that happens to this fruit when it bakes. The flavor morphs into something totally new and wonderful.  

 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 3 plums, 2 nectarines and 2 peaches, halved, pitted, and cut into eighths

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Butter an  9-inch cake pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Then add vanilla and lemon zest. Beat in 1/2 the flour mixture and then the yogurt. Add remaining flour mixture and mix just until combined.
  5. Spread batter into pan and smooth top with a knife. Arrange the fruit over the batter in a decorative fashion, creating two layers, one on top of the other makes for a more moist cake.

6. Bake until cake is golden brown. After 30 minutes, loosely tent with foil and bake 30-35 more minutes until cake pulls away from side of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before removing from pan.

Raspberry Almond Crumb Tart

2 Sep

Things I miss most when summer ends:

  • The smell of rain on hot cement streets 
  • Fireflies
  • Daylight that lasts until 9pm
  • When cole slaw and baked beans become one on your paper plate
  • Sleeping with just a sheet
  • Peaches so juicy you have to eat them over the sink
  • Coconut scented sunscreen
  • The smell of burning charcoal at all hours of the day
  • A pocketbook full of sand
  • Reaching my head deep into a jungle of string bean plants to search for camouflaged beans
  • Tan lines
  • Corn on the cob
  • Cotton dresses
  • Chlorine bleached hair
  • Baskets of berries
  • Waking up to the sound of cicadas and going to sleep with the sound of crickets

There are 20 days of summer left. Soak them up. Eat and cook as much as you can.

The good news is this recipe is on the healthy side. The crust is made with almonds and the filling is pretty much pure raspberries in all their glory with just a touch of sugar. This recipe is not hard, but it has a few steps so read it carefully.

Raspberry-Almond Crumb Tart

Taken From EatingWell Magazine:  July/August 2007

  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, (skins on)
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly coat a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan with cooking spray.

  1. Combine almonds and sugar in a food processor; pulse until the almonds are finely ground and incorporated with the sugar. Set aside 1/2 cup of the mixture.
  2. Add 1 1/3 cups flour and salt to the remaining sugar mixture and pulse briefly to blend. With the motor running, add butter a few pieces at a time until well incorporated.
  3. Stir egg yolk, vanilla and almond extracts together in a small bowl until blended. With the motor running, add to the processor and pulse until the mixture begins to clump and form a dough, about 1 minute (the mixture will look like crumbly sand). Set aside 1/3 cup of the mixture for the topping.
  4. Transfer the remaining dough to the prepared tart pan; spread evenly and press firmly into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust.
  5. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons flour to the reserved almond mixture; stir to blend. Gently toss raspberries with 2 tablespoons of this mixture in a medium bowl until coated. Spread the berries evenly in the tart pan. Sprinkle the remaining almond mixture over the berries. Pinch the reserved dough into small clumps to make crumbs and sprinkle the crumbs on top of the berries.
  6. Bake the tart for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350° and bake until the crust and crumbs are golden brown, about 45 minutes more. Let cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Remove the pan sides; place confectioners’ sugar in a fine sieve and dust the tart just before serving.

Nutrition Per serving: 276 calories; 12 g fat ( 6 g sat , 2 g mono ); 48 mg cholesterol; 37 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 6 g fiber; 148 mg sodium; 168 mg potassium.