Friday, August 29, 2014

Peach Butter and Bourbon Vanilla Bean Peach Jam

More peachy recipe reviews this evening:

Striving for simple and healthy, I made
several batches of peach butter.

I make a lot of home-made yogurt and am always
happy to have fruit ready to blend into it.
Pinterest gave me some great ideas for peach butter,
which is just like apple butter, by the way.

There is no real recipe here.
You can make it on the stove or in the crockpot 
(leaving the lid ajar as you want to reduce liquid)
and you can add spices (such as cinnamon or nutmeg)
and/or vanilla bean.
 (scrape out the beans into the "butter"; 
the pods go in as well but remove before canning)

For yogurt I prefer to leave the spices out and
just add the vanilla and some sugar to taste.  
Cook it down till it thickens and can. 
(water bath for 10 minutes, a little more if you're like me)
Everything I came across said it could be canned but
I was a little concerned so I added some lemon
juice for acidity just in case.

Bearing that in mind, I also put a big batch 
into the freezer as well.

Now, how about that bourbon-vanilla peach jam?
Wouldn't that make a good little gift for a guy?

I love me some vanilla bean!

I lost my recipe so I had to try out a couple new ones.
I like this one from Yummly best.
It calls for a whole 1/2 c of bourbon.
And I used the good stuff--worth it.
Just don't tell my hubs.

I have one more peach recipe to
share but I'll save that for next time.

Grilled Peaches

Have you ever tried grilled peaches?
What a treat!
And there's no recipe really--
just some quick instruction.

Whip up a small amount (1/3 c?) of fresh whipping cream, slowly adding sugar (1 T?), till stiff peaks form.  Set aside.

Halve and pit peaches.  Grill face-down over 
medium flame for about 4 to 5 minutes; turn about 
90 degrees and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. 
(This makes the cool cross-hatches and dubs you "Oh Great Grill Master"!)
You'll actually want them more charred than I have
them in the picture.  Charred = yummy.

While grilling, melt about 2 T butter and 2 T honey
in a small pan.  Don't measure--just guess.
Throw in about a 1/2 t cinnamon and a good 
pinch of nutmeg, stirring to combine well. 
(Nutmeg is my favorite spice--I just thought you might want to know that.)
Hey, Grill Master!
Don't forget to go rotate the peaches.

If you've got one of these hanging around in your kitchen,
pour the sauce into it. 
(I have a few on hand for making impressive food presentations.
Yes, cuz I'm that much of a foodie nerd.)
  If you don't [sigh], you can make do with a spoon.

The minute those peaches are done, place two halves
on each plate and drizzle sauce over everything.
Garnish with a mint leaf and, if you're like me, 
snap a picture fast because the peaches are hot
and that whipped cream is going to slide.  
This is good to know if you're serving to guests, too.  
Unless you don't mind handing them a lop-sided display, 
you may want to do the assembly right at the table.
Then again, if you're feeding some hungry men,
they won't care about your silly presentation...

Just fyi, using these estimated amounts,
I've been making three peaches/servings.

What a great, and simple, way to serve up
nature's freshness!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Perfectly Peachy

We've had so much produce from the garden
why not throw in some fruit from the orchard, too?

With the elements and pests around here, we
never quite know what the orchard will provide.  

Our one remaining peach tree 
surprised me greatly last week when
I discovered all of these!

Two big bushel baskets I picked
from that one little tree!

We're chemical-free in the orchard so I was 
even more surprised to find how beautifully they 
turned out!  Not one single sign of pests.

Perfect I'm telling you!
Is there no end to the blessings this year!?!
I even giggled out loud while I picked.
Well, till the wasps showed up.
I left that area for the hubs to reach.

So, of course I've been trying to come up with
creative ways to use them.  Anything besides jelly.
We already have enough jelly for an army.
Not joking.
(I'm looking for creative ways to cook with jelly, too.
Got any somewhat-healthy ideas?)
And then I made some jelly anyway.

(Actually, I think this might be the Italian Tomatoes.
It all kind of blends after a while!)

I've now made it through the majority of the peaches.
I'd like to freeze what's left for smoothies but at this
point in the season, freezer space is really limited.
And I still have peppers and pumpkins to go!

What a crazy year!
I joke that it would almost seem that my mom would 
have had a hand in all of this except that she would never 
wished all this work on me.  
She knew that I've always enjoyed it but she also knew
too well that I have a tendency to not know when 
it was time to say "enough!"

Stay tuned for the peach recipes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Best Tomato Tart Recipe

Of the tart recipes I've tried,
this one is, hands-down, the best.

Thank you, Pioneer Woman!

If you recall from yesterday, we've been
very blessed with tomatoes this summer.

When Ree posted this on 
Facebook the other day, I was all over it.
Like, by that evening.

My suggestion:
Make your own pie crust!!!
I totally rocked these, and I put them
in scalloped tart pans--the ones with
removable bases.  

I don't put myself up there
with the Pioneer Woman but, I have to say,
I kinda think these turned out prettier than 
her rectangular ones.  Just sayin'.
Don't hate me.

Basically, you have a layer of cheeses, topped
with caramelized onions--and let me stop there.
There are some cooking...uh...things (?) that I 
find very therapeutic.
1)  Making crepes
2)  Roasting and peeling peppers
3)  Caramelizing onions
4)  Making homemade pudding
Ok, I'll stop there.  I have more but, back to the tart.

top the caramelized onions with cherry tomatoes--
because from one cherry tomato plant comes
a million of the little orbs and you're needing
to avoid a compete take-over.

After you pop it into the oven, go pick some basil.
Actually, more than just some.  A lot.
See what I did there?  I spelled "a lot" correctly.
It's two separate words.
I'm a grammar nazi and I have issues.
We'll talk about how to say "caramel" 
another time, in another post that is
entirely directed toward, er, 
dedicated to Starbucks employees...

I'm really bummed that I didn't get a better picture but 
I really was so excited by how it turned out
that I had to have been shaking for joy, I tell you.
When you put an egg wash on pie crust,
something magical happens.

Maybe the aroma had something to do with it 
but sweet merciful heavens!
I just think it was the most beautiful flaky 
crust to ever come out of my oven.
And it tasted even better!
Good thing I made two of them!
And guess what?  It's not too bad as a left-over.

Trust me:  
homemade pie crust, home-grown
tomatoes and fresh herbs.
Those three = winner.

Pioneer Woman's

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

When Life Hands You Tomatoes, Make Tarts

My new foodie-love is the tart.

More specifically tomato tarts.
First up, is the Rustic Tomato Tart.

Here's the beauty of the crust on this tart:
First of all, it has an egg in it to hold it together.

Second, if you roll it out on a silicon mat, you
can keep it there.  You don't have to pick it up
and risk it tearing like you would with, say, a pie.
Automatic "plus" for this recipe.

(Sorry, forgot to rotate this pic before I uploaded it!)

The next plus is that you get to use up some of the
5 million tomatoes you have hanging around.
Oh, that just me?

(This is how my kitchen often looks during these 
months.  My family probably gets pretty sick of it.)

 And herbs.  It calls for dried herbs.  Why use 
dry when the herb gardens runneth over??

(About 1/30 of the herb population around here.)

Most of the year, we use only fresh herbs.
And in liberal quantities!

(For kicks, here's a typical summer scenario on my island.
Operation "Canning Italian-Style Tomatoes" is in progress.  
Oh, the smells in the kitchen that day!  But, I'm getting off-topic...)  

Another tip for this recipe is to make sure you use 
good quality mozzarella.  Because we make a lot
of Chicago-style pizza around here, I have some real 
issues with water-y mozzarella.  This wasn't 
too bad but I've found something better since.

I've discovered that my local grocery store
not only makes their own in the store, but they even
sell it in roll-out sheets--PERFECT for this tart.
Someday I'll make my own mozzarella but for now
this discovery has made me happy.

Check out the cheesy yumminess.
Another point I have to make on this recipe is that
I found the crust a little salty.  
And, though the crust was good, 
I was thinking it could be better.
What can I say?  I'm a picky crust person.
The recipe was so easy, however, that it's worth keeping.
It also seems very flexible
so I'm sure I'll be trying variations.
Maybe add a little Italian sausage?

Let's face it, 99% of the recipes floating around
out there have lost their origination.  I print this here
for your convenience but please know it is not mine
and can be found here...and this person didn't 
create it either.  Such is the way with recipes!

Can't wait to share the next tart recipe I found!
See ya tomorrow.

Rustic Tomato Tart 
1 1/2 c flour
4 T butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 t salt (I'd stick to 1/4 t or just use unsalted butter)
1 large egg
2-3 T cold water
3 T Dijon or whole-grain mustard
2-3 large fresh tomatoes 0r 5 Roma tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
2 t dried herbs (I used fresh basil, Italian parsley and oregano)
kosher salt
pinch of red pepper flakes 
8 oz good quality fresh mozzarella  

For crust: Mix salt and flour in medium bowl. With pastry cutter cut in chilled butter until mixture has a cornmeal consistency. (I did this part in a food processor--I don't have all day!)
In separate bowl, lightly beat egg; add 2 Tablespoons water.
Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour egg mixture in the well; mix until well incorporated and a non-sticky dough forms. If dough is still too dry, add third tablespoon of water.
Knead dough into a ball, transfer to parchment paper or a Silpat; roll out into a 14" circle. Transfer parchment paper or Silpat and dough to a rimmed baking sheet.
For Filling: Spread mustard over the unbaked crust until well covered, leaving about an 1 1/2-inch border.
Slice tomatoes and arrange in a single layer in the center of crust. Scatter freshly minced garlic over tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt, red pepper flakes and dried herbs.
Top with sliced mozzarella; sprinkle with a bit more salt, pepper flakes and basil.
Bring edges of crust up over the edges of tomato and cheese.
Bake in 425' oven for 30 minutes until crust is golden and cheese is brown and bubbly.
Allow to cool about 10 minutes, slice into wedges with a pizza cutter and enjoy!

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