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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Heirloom Tomato Tart


Summer is starting to come to a close as first marked by my kiddos going back to school (yeah!) and the upcoming Labor Day weekend.  It is going to be sultry hot this holiday weekend (in the 100s).  I'm really starting to look forward to the change of seasons to enjoy some cooler weather.   

One of my favorite things about summer is the tomatoes at the farmer's market.  We used to grow tomatoes in our backyard when our daughters were little.  Then my husband started planting trees - lots of trees.  He has 14 or 17 fruit trees in our backyard: pomegranate, loquat, kumquat, quince, fig and a variety of others.  That's some high density agriculture in a backyard that is the size of a postage stamp.  Needless to say, we don't have any sun for growing tomatoes anymore.  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Savory Pie Crust


Making pie crust from scratch has been a tradition in my family for generations.  I vividly recall my great-grandmother (my mother's grandmother) cutting excess pie dough from the circumference of the pie tin, placing the dough bits on a cookie sheet and letting me sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on them before baking them into delicious little cookies would burn our mouths because we couldn't wait for them to cool before devouring them.  My grandmother made her own pie crust and so did my mom.

Recently, I tried a savory crust which included some chopped chives. I was quite pleased with the result. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Blueberry Cream Scones


This past Saturday I had the good intention of making a lemon tart. I have loads of Meyer lemon juice in my freezer from a friend's bumper crop last winter.  I took a break from prepping my 7th Grader's room to paint next weekend to prepare a crust.  My 7th Grader wanted to help.  I couldn't say no.  Let's just say there was a little extra mixing and the crust didn't turn out flakey and tender.  Because I didn't want to use a subpar crust with Meyer Lemon deliciousness, I opted to fill the tart shell with a prepared lemon flavored instant pudding mix that was in the pantry.  

The tart didn't look too bad, but comments from around the table were less than kind.

"This is wretched and disgusting and disgraceful to humankind," was the statement from my High School Sophomore after taking one bite and overdramatizing how it was so difficult to swallow. 

"It's worse than store-bought!" exclaimed my husband while trying to control his laughter.

"I love you, Mama," was the reaction from my sweet, tender-hearted 7th Grader.  She doesn't want to see anyone get their feelings hurt (she didn't eat much of her tart, either).  She is the only caring and compassionate person in our house.   

The tart ended up in the trash with a thud.  I'll be the first to admit that most lemon-flavored foods taste the way furniture polish or floor cleaner smells.  

On Sunday morning, I asked my husband to stop by the grocery store on our way home from our weekly early morning trip to the farmer's market so I could pick up a couple of things to make blueberry scones.  I needed to redeem myself from my lemon tart fiasco and scones had been on the ask list for a few weeks.  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Berry Trifle


England gets a bad rap for their contribution to world cuisine.  For those of you who have been fortunate enough to visit (or even live in) the storybook country, you may or may not agree with the stereotype.  I have been to England several times (for work and hope to return soon as a tourist) and I've had some really good food during my stays.    

One of the great desserts that England has given the world: Trifle.  Trifle is layers of custard and cake (often soaked in sherry).  Trifles are super simple to put together and can be made in a variety of flavor combinations.  My favorite, especially in the summer, is Berry Trifle.  


Monday, August 21, 2017

Classic Panzanella (Bread Salad)


Panzanella is a Tuscan salad that makes used of stale bread by combining with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and basil and a dressing of olive oil and vinegar.  Classic Panzanella makes great use of tomatoes in the peak of the season.  


We have just 'discovered' panzanella this summer.  Our family likes it as a side for grilled meat.  We have also made a more hearty Mediterranean Panzanella that we like as a main course salad.  


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Pesto, Tomato and Mozzarella Pizzas




Experimenting with different pizza toppings is a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen.  My recent experiment with Fig, Gorgonzola & Caramelized Onion Pizza had my 12-year-old somewhat troubled.  While not generally a picky eater, she must have sensitive taste buds.  She is hyper sensitive to strong flavors.  As soon as she could talk she would yell, "Spicy, spicy, spicy!" whenever we would brush her teeth with traditional mint flavored toothpaste.  Thank goodness there are bubble gum and fruity flavored toothpastes marketed to kids!

We have a tradition of making our own pizzas to our liking, so my daughter opted to build half of the eight doughs into Pesto, Tomato and Mozzarella Pizzas.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Individual Fig, Gorgonzola & Caramelized Onion Pizzas


Fig season is upon us, which may be an odd statement depending on where in the world you may be located.  I have mentioned previously that I grew up in Kansas and the only thing fig I had ever been exposed to was Fig Newtons.  After relocating to California (more years ago than I care to admit), I tasted my first fresh fig and I was hooked!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Basic Pizza Dough

I grew up eating more homemade pizza than delivery pizza - mostly due to logistics.  While traditional delivery pizza is OK on occasion, homemade pizza is one of my comfort foods. 

My college beau (who later became my husband) and I would order pizza on occasion and I would mention that I could make pizza.  

His response was a polite, "Don't worry about it, we can just order it." 

Finally I went ahead and made pizza using frozen bread dough as the crust.  "We'll never order pizza again!"  Was the comment from my beau.  I had shot myself in the foot.  What was I thinking?!?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Super Simple Slow Cooker Mexican-Style Chicken


Living in California, I have been fortunate to know many people either from Mexico or of Mexican descent.  Traditional Mexican food is delicious as I have learned from first hand experience through pot-luck lunches at work.

What I grew up thinking was Mexican food is good as well, but certainly not authentic.  Thus the 'Mexican-Style' name in today's post.  I will be the first to admit that any food remotely Mexican prepared in my kitchen is not authentic.  Anytime 'style' is a descriptor in nomenclature, 'faux' or 'fake' should be substituted so you know what you are really getting.  Style sounds so much better than fake! 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Roasted Pepper, Marinated Artichoke and Barley Salad


Summer is quickly coming to a close as marked by my tootie frooties starting back to school tomorrow.  Class schedules were picked up yesterday and both of my scholars, a seventh grader and a high school sophomore, are very happy with their upcoming class agenda.  My daughters have had a great (although very sloth-like) summer.  

Before the hot weather completely disappears, I highly recommend making this salad to serve alongside grilled meat or a sandwich.  Grain salads aren't ubiquitous like potato salads, but they certainly should be.  The chewy texture of barley (similar to steel cut oats) in this salad combined with roasted bell peppers, marinated artichokes and red onions are a perfect combination.   

Friday, August 4, 2017

Spiced Peach No-Churn Ice Cream


We are nearing the end of the peaches we were so fortunate to receive from friends last weekend. It has been great eating...fresh peaches, Peach Cobbler, Peach Loaf Cake, Peach Freezer Jam and now my favorite for the week: Spiced Peach No-Churn Ice Cream.  

There are numerous 'No-Churn' Ice Cream recipes floating around and I have finally given it a try. Being a major ice cream connoisseur, I have been skeptical to accept the rave reviews from numerous food bloggers.  I come from a line of ice cream loving women.  When we first met in college, my husband found my craze for ice cream a bit odd.  Then he visited my parents house, which had a freezer full of various ice cream flavors (stocked by my mother).  Once he saw my grandmother's freezer, he accepted my assertion: ice cream is a genetic addition. 

You can understand why I would be reluctant to try ice cream that is simply mixed and popped in the freezer.  After giving in to all the peer pressure from the blogosphere, I am now a 'No-Churn' believer!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Peach Freezer Jam



The gift of peaches we received over the weekend keeps on giving...it's been five days and we still have peaches on our counter. We have been eating them fresh every day and using them as a star ingredient in various recipes. What a treat it has been!

Peach Freezer Jam is a great way to preserve peaches for savoring into the winter months.  Freezer Jam is not cooked as much as traditional and the result is (in my view) far superior to traditionally cooked jam. 

As you can see from the photo, my Peach Freezer Jam had a case of 'fruit float.'  Peaches were diced fine as per the recipe.  Next time, I will likely dice the fruit fine and then mash with a potato masher.  There has to be a reason why I keep that bulky masher in my kitchen...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Peach Loaf Cake




We are still working through the peaches we were fortunate enough to procure over the weekend.  Peach Cobbler was a great treat.  My next thought was to make Peach Bread. I was pleased with the result (for the most part). The product was more like a pound cake.  This really wasn't a surprise since the method to prepare the batter was similar to a scratch cake. A name change was required and voilĂ  - Peach Loaf Cake was born!

Buttermilk is one of my favorite baking ingredients so I wanted to incorporate it into this recipe. The finely chopped peaches seemed to dissolve into the cake for just the right amount of peachy flavor. This recipe is not too sweet, which is an added bonus. Hopefully you will be able to find some almost overripe peaches and give this a try!