In the house where I grew up in a Chicago suburb that was situated so far south that its streets ended exactly where the tall, green and golden midwestern cornfields began, the best treasures were often in the big freezer out in the utility room. Last summer’s fish from vacations in Minnesota or Wisconsin (cleaned by yours truly), stored in tubs of water, were frozen forever just as they were…or at least until the next weekend’s fish fry. Small cartons of peaches –the ones that came in after the canning was done–might be on the door for mid-winter dessert or for topping the homemade ice cream we all took turns cranking early the following summer. The thing you really had to search for, though, as they were well-hidden from my Dad, me, and all the grandkids (you know who you are), were ice cream sandwiches made from Mom’s leftover waffles. Now I don’t know how there were ever leftover waffles, but there were. And somehow my mom managed to press vanilla ice cream between a couple of them, wrap them tightly, and hide them well until they were badly needed. You get it, right? When your whole adolescent world was falling apart or the Chicago weather had turned frightening…Continue reading
Rhubarb pie — not to be confused with strawberry-rhubarb pie — is probably my husband’s favorite dessert. This isn’t to say he won’t eat every bit of a strawberry-rhubarb, or even a Blueberry-Rhubarb Crisp (see below), but just that plain rhubarb pie is it. There are years when due to a move or gardening delays, there is no rhubarb in our garden or yard. I’m then reduced to begging from friends, who immediately know why I’m calling come spring. I also haunt the local grocery produce section where rhubarb does indeed appear but also disappears mysteriously…and not always when you need it. “Oh, sorry! It’s all gone. You know we get produce in every single night. Try again in the morning!” Rats.Continue reading
For as long as I’ve had my own kitchen, I’ve been making scratch brownies out of the 1971 BETTY CROCKER COOKBOOK. People say things like this, “That’s the best brownie I’ve ever eaten in my whole life.” And you know why? It’s not because I’m the best brownie baker or Betty’s the top of the recipe developers, it’s because most folks are used to boxed mix brownies made with cocoa instead of luscious whole bars of melted chocolate. You know, brownies are nothing but fudge on steroids. Think of them as fudge with flour… and eggs… … and sometimes a little leavening. But unless you make scratch brownies, you don’t know that.Continue reading
Baking at Thanksgiving. It’s a big deal to some people and a late afternoon stop at the grocery for others. Perhaps because often folks are cooks OR they’re bakers and rarely both. The pumpkin pie may have all the memories the turkey never garnered and the homemade yeast rolls and butter just might be why your grandson shows up. On the other hand, it could be all about the dressing, gravy or even the ham at your house where no one looks twice at dessert. I once brought turkey and dressing to a summer potluck, where a close friend refused to eat a bite. When I asked why, she said, “You didn’t make gravy. I don’t eat dressing without gravy.” She truly had some serious food traditions and it’s not unusual. Listen to your friends and family talk about Thanksgiving and you’ll see.
I don’t know what you make for the 4th of July. It’s kind of a hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet type day…though in my opinion hot dogs are for ball games, apple pie isn’t often on the menu at a summer cook-out, and lots of us drive Subarus. I’m sure we typically have burgers. Potato salad. Brats. The occasional barbecue ribs or chicken. You?? I looked through the blog to see what I’ve written about over the years. The theme seems to be RED, WHITE, AND BLUE… I appear to be a somewhat hokey cook. Hmm. Who knew?
Last December, these good cooking friends came to take a short Italian class with me and liked it so well (ah, gee) they returned en masse to redeem the class gift certificate one gave to the rest for a Christmas gift–on the condition that we attempt a grilling class. Onward, upward. “Sure,” I said. I also said, “I’m not a big outdoor griller. I grill inside. A lot. I have at least 3 stovetop grills. Dave, however, grills outside. I eat.” (Why should I learn to grill outdoors?!) But I figured between Dave and I, we could come up with a full grill menu everyone would lust after. Or, rather, I’d come up with the menu, and Dave would light and “man” the behemoth gas grill we bought to try and keep up with all his grilling love.
Often, on the blog, you see Dave thus:
And while, to you, it might appear his typical pose, he actually works very hard at his daily job, practices trombone as much as possible, takes excellent care of me, and then, in good weather, looks like this at home:
Did I say he cleans the kitchen quite a bit? All right, he walks on water.
If you’re looking for an entire meal on the grill for Memorial Day or any other day, this one just might be it. It’ll feed 6-8 people generously and could provide a few leftovers at the end of the day. First are a long slew of happy pictures, beginning with an overview of the menu; the recipes follow. At the very end is a link to click so that you can view the recipes in a printable form. ENJOY YOUR GRILL!
(Basic grilling technique link here.)
Grilled Caesar Salad (Chardonnay)
Grilled Lemon Salmon and Tinfoil-Packet Vegetables with Avocado Mayonnaise (Oregon Pinot Noir or Chardonnay)
Grilled Pineapple with Ice Cream and Maple Syrup (Sparkling Rosé)
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.)
One day last week even our famous Colorado peaches weren’t terribly pretty–just temporarily, you see; the melon, however, was drop dead gorgeous. And if our peaches aren’t your favorite fruit, our Rocky Ford melons might be. I brought one home, scrubbed it up really well, and cut into it. We couldn’t eat it all for breakfast with yogurt and granola or for snacks, so, gee, I had to make dessert out of it as well. I took a page out of my own book, used melon instead peach, turned the original recipe a bit Maineish with the blueberries and maple syrup, and now can’t wait to make it again.
If it’s hot at your house and you’re grilling dinner, why not continue to grill for dessert? You needn’t even spell cantaloupe correctly, but it might help. I ended by looking it up to be sure.
GRILLED CANTALOUPE WITH GOAT CHEESE, MAPLE SYRUP, BLUEBERRIES, AND TOASTED ALMONDS
serves 4 very generously
- 1 small, ripe cantaloupe, scrubbed well*, cut in half, seeded, and sliced into 1-inch slices (Rocky Ford melon if you can get one)
- Olive oil
- 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled (I like Haystack Mountain Boulder Chèvre.)
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup
- 1/3 cup toasted, sliced almonds
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- Fresh herbs for garnish
Heat grill to high, brush cantaloupe slices with oil, and grill for about 2 minutes on each side, turning after deep, dark grill marks appear. Divide cantaloupe between serving bowls and drizzle with maple syrup. Sprinkle each serving with a few almonds and a tiny bit of pepper. Add 1/4 cup blueberries to each bowl and garnish with herbs. I used chives as I had them, but you might like basil or thyme better.
*Store cut cantaloupe in a refrigerator with a temperature under 40 degrees Fahrenheit for safety.
Melon safety tips from the CDC:
Safety tips for eating melons
Get specific safety information about the Listeria outbreak in cantaloupes here.
FOLLOW THIS GENERAL FDA ADVICE FOR MELON SAFETY:
- Consumers and food preparers should wash their hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling any whole melon, such as cantaloupe, watermelon, or honeydew.
- Scrub the surface of melons, such as cantaloupes, with a clean produce brush under running water and dry them with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting. Be sure that your scrub brush is sanitized after each use, to avoid transferring bacteria between melons.
- Promptly consume cut melon or refrigerate promptly. Keep your cut melon refrigerated at, or less than 40 degrees F (32-34 degrees F is best), for no more than 7 days.
- Discard cut melons left at room temperature for more than 4 hours.
WINE: I’d drink a little Moscato d’Asti if I were looking in the sweet direction. If not, a prosecco or cava would be lovely on the porch with this dessert. Best glasses, please, just to show off your dessert!
Sing a new song; grill some cantaloupe,
About those peaches!
It’s a hot part of the west this time of year out at the place where Colorado meets Utah, but if you’re up for it, you might want to visit for the yearly Peach Festival next week and see what the excitement is all about…and eat some peaches while you’re there. Bring home a few more.
One of the most popular events is the Feast in the Field Dinners. Local chefs create five-course, farm-to-table meals celebrating Palisade’s delicious peaches and pair courses with locally grown wines. The finishing touch is that the meals are hosted out in orchards for an added layer of ambiance. For 2015, there are two opportunities — on Friday, August 15, and Saturday, August 16 — with food prepared by Chef David Fitzpatrick of Berna B’s and with different local winery pairings each night. Tickets are $105/person for the Feast in the Fields Dinners and are available on eventbrite.com or by calling the Palisade Chamber of Commerce at 970-464-7458.
For more information about the Palisade Peach Festival, visit www.palisadepeachfest.com
– See more at: http://www.visitgrandjunction.com/palisade-preps-peachy-time-august#sthash.wkGQMQ2T.dpuf
If you’ve looked at the dessert section in my cookbook, you’ll know I’m really fond of very fast and simple sweets. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake; I’m my mother’s daughter. But there’s something fine and easy about a really good tiny after-dinner something or other that doesn’t take a couple of hours to concoct. To say nothing of being able to pawn off the dessert “chore” to children or the beauty of keeping the heat out of the kitchen on warm days. Peach pie always sounds so wonderful until the peaches are ripe, filling the bushel basket in the mudroom with dripping goodness, and it’s 90-frigging degrees outside. Who’s turning on that oven? Not me. Heat is not Alyce’s friend. On the other hand, I have a hub who adores a dessert and I like to make this guy happy. I make a big cheesecake for him every third of July at 0’dark early for his birthday and he doles it out for himself a bit at a time to make it last a long week or more. I have one small piece and that’s about it.
But what about the rest of the time? The days when there isn’t a three-hour time frame for mixing, baking, and cooling? Or for folks who are never going to make that big cake no matter what? Or for sweet addicts who really would eat the whole cake if there weren’t individual portions? Enter these tiny bites of fruit-topped goodness that are done before you can say, “What’s for dessert?” Mixed very quickly with a hand-held or standing electric mixer or food processor (my preference), the cakes come together easily, cook for a minute in the microwave, and cool in just a few minutes as they’re so small. Who doesn’t like individual desserts? Easy to serve or transport; there’s no cutting or plates. It’s just you and your fork or spoon. Try this: Continue reading
EASY FRENCH 3-COURSE MEAL FOR VALENTINE’S DAY AT HOME: 2-HOUR COOKING CLASS @ SHOUSE APPLIANCE THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5: 5-7PM. INTRODUCTORY OFFER 2 FOR 1. $50.00 for two students–includes food, recipes and ideas for wine pairing. Email me or leave me a message. Can’t wait to cook with you! Ok, now on to the pie…
I make this apple pie for special people. Special times. I make it when I have a little extra time to think and bake. It’s not simple. I can never remember exactly how to make it. I have two recipes and I never use either one. I use a combination of the two with my own little caveats including a crust I’ve come up with over the years. I think I might have actually documented it now. Make it and let me know. Continue reading
By the time Christmas or New Year’s comes you might not have the energy for a dessert just for the holiday dinner. This especially if you’ve entertained or baked throughout the season and simply feel all the cookies and goodies you’ve gotten through the kitchen must certainly be enough. If that’s the case, and you’ve frozen a few of each of your favorites, pull them out and arrange them in loving fashion on your favorite platter and call it quits. If, however, you haven’t worn your dear baking self out by now, make my gorgeous cranberry compote cheesecake. Even if you’re not a baker at heart, this is a fairly easy endeavor as long as you have a 9-inch springform pan and said ingredients.
There’s no special skill needed to make a cheesecake. The filling can be made with a hand-held electric mixer, a standing mixer, or with my favorite machine, the food processor. If you’ve strong arms or can borrow some, and have your cream cheese truly at close to warm room temperature, you can make this with no machines at all. Imagine. (I went without an electric mixer for many years of my baking life, so I know wherein I speak.) You can crush the graham crackers in a bag with a rolling pin or a hammer. If you’ve any sauce pan at all, you can make the cranberry topping. So go ahead. Start now; it’s better really well-chilled and keeps for days and days. Baking blessings, friend.