Grilled Cantaloupe with Goat Cheese, Maple Syrup, and Toasted Almonds

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My book, SOUPS & SIDES FOR EVERY SEASON, has a chapter with easy and quick dessert recipes and one of my favorites is Grilled Peaches or Figs with Cheese, Honey, Thyme, and Black Pepper. It’s on the blog, too.  While figs aren’t often available in Colorado–more’s the pity– our Palisades peaches are plentiful, juicy western slope wonders.  (Scroll down for more info about our peaches and see about attending the upcoming Peach festival. I’ll stay up here where it’s just a bit cooler, heat wuss that I am. In fact, I’m heading to Santa Fe where it’s both higher AND cooler. But you go on west.)

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38 Power Foods, Week 17 — Berries — Fresh Berry Cake

Just looking at this cake will tell you that it’s not difficult to make and it’s NOT.  A quick glance at the recipe, however, might put you off.  Don’t let it.  There may be a little reading involved, but the cooking and baking are fairly simple and don’t take long.  In fact, though it’s two layers, you only bake one cake.  After it’s cool, you cut it in half.

But listen, if you’re not a baker, this is just the cake for you… because you can get away without baking a cake at all!  Just buy a Sara Lee pound cake and cut it into layers–maybe three?–and do a loaf-shaped cake on a pretty rectangular tray.  Follow the rest of the directions for the berries and filling and there you are!   You could also bake a box cake into cupcakes, slice them, put half in a pretty coffee cup and decorate from there.  Whatever you do, this is a beautiful, tasty cake for Easter, Mother’s Day, or the Memorial Day picnic.  (Assemble this cake where you’re serving it.)  If you don’t have a special cake plate, don’t worry about it.  Whoever eats this will be happy no matter what.  Next time you run in Good Will, see a funky antique shop or a garage sale,  keep an eye our for great serving pieces.  No need to spend a fortune at the department stores. 

Another idea comes from my mother-in-law, who, when I was  a young wife, often made a similar cake using a homemade or store bought angel food cake.  To cut calories, she used Cool Whip, but I can’t go that far.   If I’m eating cake I want to eat cake.  Let them eat cake!  But if you really must cut the whipped cream for health or allergy reasons, try the Cool Whip version.
Cook’s Note:  While October isn’t prime berry time (there are still a few blueberries coming from upper Michigan and Canada), I made this earlier in the year and knew it would be perfect for the Power Foods Berry Post.  Save the recipe for next spring if you’d like to try it with all fresh berries.
I made this for Mother’s Day and took it to a friend’s.  We all had a tiny slice with a huge cup of coffee. 

 Easy Berry Butter Cake (Aida Mollenkamp–courtesy Food Network)

Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: 1 hr 5 mins, plus cooling time | Active Time: 25 mins | Makes:8 to 10 servings

  • For the cake:*

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for coating the pan

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon fine salt

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened, plus more for coating the pan

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

*Or use a purchased cake like Sara Lee Pound Cake

  • For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

    To assemble:

    • 1 1/2 pounds mixed berries*, washed (if you’re using *strawberries, they’ll also need to be hulled and quartered)  You might not need quite this many berries; mine didn’t fit on the cake. 
    •  
    INSTRUCTIONS
    For the cake:
    1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat an 8-inch round cake pan with butter and flour, tap out the excess flour, and set the pan aside. Combine measured flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until evenly combined; set aside.
    2. Place measured butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium high until light in color and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium high until white in color and the texture of wet sand, about 3 minutes more.
    3. Add eggs one at a time, letting each incorporate fully before adding the next. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer on low, add half of the flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated, then add milk and continue mixing until smooth. Add the rest of the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated, about 2 minutes more.
    1. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the cake and turn out onto the rack, right side up, to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the filling.
    For the filling:
    Place mascarpone in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add cream, sugar, and almond extract, increase speed to medium high, and whip until ingredients are combined and firm peaks form, about 15 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
    To assemble: *

    1. Slice cake in half horizontally using a serrated knife. Divide filling evenly between the cut side and the top of the cake. Divide berries evenly over the filling. Stack cakes on top of each other and serve.

     

    If using a purchased cake like frozen Sara Lee pound cake, you might want to slice it (into thirds, perhaps) while it’s still partially frozen.  (Recipe first posted in May of 2012)
     

    Note:  I’ll share with you that whenever I’ve made a recipe by Aida Mollenkamp, it’s been incredible.  I don’t see her on Food Network anymore; is she still on?  But she does have a lot of recipes.  One that immediately comes to mind is her lasagna. Can’t make that very often.
     

     I like berries because of all the things they can do for us…provide tons of vitamins, fiber, antioxidants,  memory ability boosters, and more…  But I also love them because they’re gorgeous, inexpensive (relatively),  taste incredibly good, and are low in calories.  Many of them are also easy to grow at home.  And while we’re out of berry season in most places in the country, I just got a couple of pints of Michigan blueberries much like the tiny wild Maine berries that are often lusciously sweet-tart and make such great pancakes and muffins.  For more on berries and why we should eat them, click here. 
      ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
     I blog with a great group of writers every Friday where we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients:    Read more about beautiful berries this week at these sites: 
    Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
    Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

    Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
    .
    Want to join us?  We’d like to have you as part of the group.  Get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com


    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Need some fall love?
    Try reading this week on my Dinner Place blog (Cooking for One):
    Sing a new song,
    Alyce
    P.S.  Fellow blogger @donteatalone.blogspot.com,  Milton Brasher-Cunningham, has just published a book you might be interested in:
    Check it out!

     

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with Blueberry-Lemon Sauce

 I’m not a big plain homemade vanilla ice cream fan; I like coffee ice cream.  But add some beautiful hot fudge or sliced fresh peaches and I’ll eat vanilla.  I’ll even make it.   And it does fill the bill for a crowd.   It pleases nearly everyone.

When it’s northwest blueberry time (warm days/cool nights make the best berries), I’m likely to make some fresh, quick blueberry jam for toast.  For years, I’ve filled freezer bags or containers full of these berries and kept them until blueberry season (not the Chilean season) begins again. (Store frozen and unwashed; rinse just before using them.)  I’m able to make great muffins, pancakes, or top my yogurt all year long without resorting to Fed Ex fruit.  Regular readers know my drill.  This year, I went for a beautiful blueberry topping (similar to the jam or conserve of other years) for that ice cream, but paired it with a bit of lemon to offset the sweetness of the blueberries.

A bloom bursting on beautiful blueberries!

This recipe is for a crowd; it makes a gallon and could be increased by 1/2 to make 1 1/2 gallons or the 6 qts in the White Mountain ice cream maker.  Bring it to a picnic and people will be if not swooning, at least very happy.  We took this sweet, cold dessert down to a neighbor’s the other night to serve after an al fresco supper on their back deck.  A hot day, it was also a fairly warm evening.  We were all glad of something frozen for dessert.  What else for summer?

Here’s how:

Make the custard.  Eggs must cook, of course.

Cool hot custard mixture in an ice water bath and chill in frig for a few hours or overnight.

 Place ice cream maker with custard mixture in tub to keep ice from flying around garage.

Add ice and freeze!  (This machine comes in a hand-crank version, too.)   In the meantime, make the sauce.

 

 vanilla ice cream and blueberry lemon sauce

Ice Cream :  makes 1 gallon approximately or 16  1/2-cup servings

Ice cream must chill for several hours before freezing; start early in the day needed (or night before)

*3 cups whole milk
*3 cups heavy cream
*2 cups 1/2 and 1/2
*1/4 t table salt
*1T vanilla extract (Use the best real vanilla extract you can find; I like Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla)
*1 1/2 cups sugar

*10 egg yolks, beaten in another bowl

1. In a 6-8 qt stockpot, heat  milk – sugar until steaming; do not boil.  Lower heat a bit.
2.  Starting with 1-2 T, whisk some of the hot milk mixture into the beaten egg yolks.  Add another 6-8 T, 2 T at a time, until eggs are tempered or warmed up enough so that they won’t cook when added to milk mixture.  Slowly pour the egg mixture, whisking all the while, into the milk mixture.
3. Cook over low heat until mixture barely thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir for a few minutes; the custard will continue to cook.
4.   Strain through a fine sieve into another pot sitting in a bowl of ice water.  When cool, place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.  Chill your freezer’s ice cream container before pouring the custard into it immediately before time to make the ice cream.
5.  Freeze in gallon ( 6qt ) ice cream freezer according to freezer directions.

Note:  I like fresh, made-that-day ice cream, but if you need to store it or want harder, firmer ice cream, store in a container without a lot of extra space.  Pack the ice cream in tightly and seal very closely before freezing.  According to David Lebovitz (The Perfect Scoop and davidlebovitz.com ), ice cream should be stored 2-4 months with the exception of custard, which does not keep long.  As this is custard (has eggs), invite the neighborhood and make sure it’s all eaten so there’s no worry.

Blueberry-Lemon Sauce
 Watch out!  Blueberries don’t just stain, they dye!

*2#  blueberries, cleaned and picked over, stems removed
*3/4 cup white  sugar                                             
*1/4 cup water
*1t grated lemon zest

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.    Reduce heat and simmer until berries are popping and mixture has thickened somewhat. Stir regularly.  Remove from the heat and let cool; mixture will continue to thicken.  Cover and refrigerate if not using within an hour or so.  You’ll have more than you need for the gallon of ice cream.  Use the remainder for pancakes or spread on toast with peanut butter.  Use within 3-4 days.

Sing a new song,
Alyce
~~~~~
right now on my Dinner Place Blog–a one-dish side or vegetarian lunch:

Green Beans, Mushrooms and Jasmine Rice with Tarragon and Mustard Vinaigrette

Fried Cheese-Snake Squash Salad or I’m Sure This Has a Better Name

 Last Friday night was a use-what’s-on-hand night:

  • The first of the Minnesota corn (very tiny kernels, but yummy)
  • One of the pork tenderloins I’d gotten on sale at Kowalski’s (froze 4 of them in April)
  • Salad makings that wouldn’t be good the next day. I sautéed the greens with garlic and lots of fresh herbs:
My own garden herbs:  marjoram, sage, chives, tarragon, basil, and thyme.

I added raisins and chopped cashews to the sautéed greens.

The first of our tomatoes went in at the end.

 Despite heat and humidity that all Minnesota is ready to get rid of, we ate outdoors under our big maple tree that reaches toward the house and garage, creating a canopy to cover the patio.  That soft, shady spot is often the coolest place anywhere and you can bet I’ve looked.  Along with everyone else on Wheeler Street.

Next night, a quick look-see in the frig assured me I had enough to throw together some sort of salad as I had a snake squash (can’t find right name) from my victory garden neighbor:

Tastes like a cross between a mild zucchini and yellow (summer) squash.

Some asparagus (now out of season, but still my favorite) was sagging in there and a little bit of the pork tenderloin called me.  What really appealed was the rest of my fresh cheese (blogged at Dinner Place), which I knew would fry.   Could there be anything bad about fried cheese?
 

Alyce’s 2-1 cheese

 What about a salad of greens, sautéed squash and asparagus, with avocado, blueberries, and thinly sliced pork tenderloin topped with fried cheese?  With a perky, ramped up orange vinaigrette?  I was sold.  Moral of story:  make up your salad as you go along.

I cooked the squash and asparagus in a bit of oil, salt and pepper, and set that aside.

Sliced up my avocado.  Creamy and fatty, it would be a good foil for my spicy greens.

Blueberries for color, texture, contrast of taste, and sweetness.

About 3-4 oz cooked pork tenderloin–or how much of whatever meat you have.

My homemade cheese fried in olive oil and black pepper.  Dave was so excited.

Et voila–

 Fried Cheese Snake Squash Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

MAKE YOUR VINAIGRETTE FIRST:

Place the following ingredients in a small jam jar, close tightly with lid, and shake well until emulsified. I like to do this to “America” from West Side Story:  Shake to this rhythm..123,123, 123. (Thanks, Leonard Bernstein.) Set aside while you make the salad.

  • 1T fresh orange juice
  • 1/4t kosher salt
  • 1/8 t freshly ground pepper
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 t honey
  • 1/2-1 t minced shallot (or garlic)
  • 2T extra virgin olive oil.

MAKE THE SALAD:

  •  2 T olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup each:  sliced zucchini (or snake or summer squash) and  chopped asparagus (or green beans)
  • Kernels from 1 ear of fresh cooked corn (you can cook it in unshucked in the microwave.)
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • 6-8 cups baby greens, your choice
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs of your choice, optional
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts chopped
  • 2-4 ounces sliced, cooked pork tenderloin, steak or chicken
  • 2T fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and Freshly ground pepper
  • 6-8 small pieces fresh cheese
  • Orange vinaigrette (above)
  1. In a large skillet, sauté squash and asparagus in oil over medium heat for five minutes.  Dust with salt and pepper.
  2. Remove veggies from pan and place in a large bowl.  (Keep pan out; you’ll use it for the cheese)
  3. To the squash and asparagus, add the corn, chopped avocado, blueberries, walnuts and pork, keeping the ingredients at the center of the bowl.
  4. Around the pile of veggies and meat, place the salad greens and fresh herbs.
  5. Set aside or in refrigerator.
  6. In the skillet, pour another tablespoon of olive oil and heat over medium heat once more. Grind some black pepper into the oil as the pan heats.  Place the cheese slices in the pan and cook a few minutes or until nicely browned.  Turn carefully with a spatula and let the other side brown.
  7. Take the salad and drizzle with the lemon juice.  Dust the whole thing with some salt and pepper.  
  8. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and top with the browned cheese. 
  9. Eat immediately.  Won’t keep.
  10. Take downstairs and watch movies.   
Wine:  The Wine Thief  (2 doors west of me on St. Clair)  has a lovely, palepalepale rosé called “Whispering Angel.  Drink it.
  

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood

Fern garden.
On the wall ladies’ room in restaurant The Angry Trout
In our south garden

Heavy, heavy hydrangeas after rain– next to drive

As my mom would say, “Morning, Glory.”
This incredible flower showed up in my corner garden yesterday.
My pharmacist’s assistant tells me this is a perennial hibiscus.

I’ve been making blueberry jam, actually blueberry-orange conserve.
Miss Gab

Tucky-Bucky

Hot and muggy.  Lots of storms and rain.  Tomatoes are coming. The first ones weren’t so good.  Wonder if it’s like pancakes–throw out the first ones?

Sing a new song; enjoy August,
Alyce