Category: Fruit

Mango-Avocado Salad with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil

Mango-Avocado Salad with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil

It’s a blissful day when what appears to be languishing on the counter or in the fridge comes together into a sumptuous, healthy, fun meal that easily solves the question, “What’s to eat?” on an oh-so-hot afternoon. Here’s today’s tale:

For Christmas, my in-laws generously ordered Dave and me a year’s subscription to Harry & David’s paired fruit and cheese. Each month a new treat arrives and we never know what the box will hold. Sometimes there’re apples and Cheddar or perhaps pears with Manchego; this last time there were tiny yellow-gold mangos plus a citrus-ginger BellaVitano. Instead of pairing the most recent delivery as we were meant to do, we sliced up the some of the fruit for our morning yogurt/granola...

Continue reading “Mango-Avocado Salad with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil”

Trading Granola for Eggs – My Urban Barter Tale

Trading Granola for Eggs – My Urban Barter Tale

I was on the road a couple of weeks ago and checking my computer when my I-Spy Radar saw an email with a subject line that had something to do with too many fresh eggs and trading cookies for them.  I try and stay off email a lot when I’m away seeing my kids or on vacation, but I couldn’t NOT look at this one.  Backyard eggs just hook me right in.  And, of course, cookies fall right out of my oven.

My siblings and I grew up with fresh eggs; my dad either traded produce for them or shelled out a little cash to his Swedish farmer friend Munson.  When our  parents retired and took it (ha!) easy on a little “hobby” farm,  they had their own chickens and, hence, their own eggs, to say nothing of a garden that produced tomatoes the likes of which I’ve never again tasted.  When Dave and I visited as newlyweds, we had fresh eggs (fried in bacon or sausage grease) every morning early.  Why would you want anything else?  And why not at 6am?  There, of course, were also biscuits.  With sour cream and honey or molasses.  Unending pots of coffee.

To say that  mass-produced eggs pale in comparison is an apt description.  Don’t you love the looks of this egg produced by one of Cathy’s ladies?

(Read my post about this salsa here.)

So, anyway,  I missed great eggs for years.  I really missed them because I just love eggs.  I go through phrases where sure that the SB diet will take off my well-fed excess, I eat them daily.  Then I begin to worry about the cholesterol and switch back to egg whites.  Whichever, I always eat vegetables for breakfast, too.  (Alternately, I’ll eat yogurt and fresh fruit for weeks on end–with my homemade low-fat granola.)  But back to the email:  as soon as I could arrange it,  I was ready to start trading whatever I had for those eggs

In St. Paul, you can now raise chickens in your own back yard.  Right in the city.  Now I don’t have much space, and I’m only fond of eggs, not chickens, so I’m not putting up a coop back there in place of my postage stamp patio.  But I’m happy to oblige my friend Cathy and her family, who are the ones suffering from the overage.  Her “ladies” live in the yard, eat well, exercise daily, and are nearly pets who produce things like this:

 Here’s a closer up pic so maybe you can see the beautiful colors.  The whites are nearly blue:

One week, I traded some oatmeal chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies:

This week I made granola for Dave, so just made a bigger batch and traded that.

It’s lovely with milk, better with plain Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey, and best with homemade ricotta and fresh fruit. Naturally, you can scoop up a little and eat it out of hand.  (I do recommend leaving a scoop or spoon in the jar as you’re keeping this granola awhile.)  Your choice.   Whatever you do, I hope you find someone with whom to trade it so that you can eat eggs like I’m eating!  Thanks, ladies.

alyce’s low-fat granola with apricots, currants, and cherries
based on David Lebovitz’  recipe, which he says was based on Nigella Lawson’s!

  • 5 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2t cinnamon
  • 2t ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
  • 1t kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups each: chopped walnuts and almonds
  • 1/2 cup each: pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and plain sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup each: chopped dried apricots, cherries, and currants or raisins
  • 1/3 cup each: real maple syrup and honey  (can use all honey)
  • 3/4 c applesauce 
  • 2T olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl or soup pot.  (oats through seeds)  Meantime, heat liquid ingredients over low heat, stirring, in a small sauce pan until just warm and well-combined. (syrup, honey, applesauce, and oil).  Pour liquid ingredients over dry and mix well for a few minutes.  Pour onto two or three large, rimmed baking sheets and bake 50-60 minutes until dry, golden, and crispy, stirring 3-4 times during the baking time.  Store in a tightly-sealed container for up to a month.  (This granola will not keep well in a plastic bag.)

Cook’s Notes:

1.  I thought I’d share the differences between my granola and David Lebovitz’–his included 3/4 cup brown sugar (I skipped that) and had no fruit at all (I like fruit).  I also added ground cloves, which are optional.  But I definitely borrowed the idea of applesauce in place of the large amount oil usually used in granola and part of the reason it’s so caloric.  This is very low fat, crispy, tasty, and…  well, you’ll like it.

If you’ve never visited the magical David Lebovitz blog,  please do yourself a favor and make the trip today.  David is an American pastry chef living in Paris who always has a great story to tell—  The food’s lovely, too, but it’s the stories that bring me back again and again.  FYI–David also does things like Paris Chocolate Tours if you ever get to the City of Light.  If you want more info, check the blog or ask David yourself in the comment section of his blog.

2.  Changing it up:  The number of additions (and the size of their amounts), to the oats is rather flexible., as are the spices.   If you only have a few nuts and some raisins, for instance, you can still make this granola.  Or if you have only apricots and almonds…you can still make this granola.  Only have cinnamon?  Use 3 teaspoon cinnamon then.  See?   Do keep the main ingredients and proportions intact:  oats, honey, maple syrup, applesauce, and oil.

two-dog kitchen and a bit of travel

Mother Gabriela

Our lilacs through the piano window.  Two views–above and below.

Above: Tasting Sean’s brews in Colorado.  Our son’s on his way to becoming a master brewer.  Woo hoo!

Above:  In Princeton–a facade saved, ready for its new building to be built behind.  Meantime, you can see the sky!

My Easter cake…will blog soon.  Great for spring!

Dogwood blossom in Princeton

 With Dave and Emily eating lunch in the sunshine in the West Village

                                                  At The Spotted Pig in NYC,  April Bloomfield’s restaurant.
                                                        Couldn’t get in.  🙁

Dappled light –West Village/NYC (above)

Gorgeous window boxes in downtown Princeton (above)

Princeton spring–Dogwoods (above)

“Yes, we did,”  said Gab and Tuck

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Peaches and Cream (and Cake) Two Ways or Have Your Cake and Eat it Two

Peaches and Cream (and Cake) Two Ways or Have Your Cake and Eat it Two

 I don’t want to live in a world without peaches.  Really.  And I only like canned peaches pureed into Bellini Soup (is there such a thing?) or on top of cottage cheese for lunch in the winter if I’m just desperate and out of time and am feeling tres fat.  And while, “Sorry don’t get it done, Dude,” is one of the more famous John Wayne quotes, I often remember him in front of a campfire, “Open me up a can of those peaches.”  Poor cowboys.  They didn’t have fresh peaches.  Just cooked, peeled, old canned things.

In St. Paul, we’ve had peaches from several places for a few weeks.  And some of them have been glorious.  We’re still waiting for Colorado western-slope, but that’s as it should be.  Having lived in Colorado for years, I’m not addicted to those peaches.  In fact, I like peaches from other states better.  (These are fighting words, I know.  Sorry, Colorado.)  There’s just not enough rain in Colorado for fruit trees.  Around Penrose,  (south of Colorado Springs) there are some apple orchards that nearly bite the dust every few years despite large-scale irrigation.

Here are some of my favorite ways with peaches:

Unadorned and sweetly loved

Into a salsa for fish or pork or chicken or as a salad all alone with avocado .

 Here’s the link for the salsa recipe here at More Time at the Table.

Grilled with a little fresh cheese, thyme and a squiggle of honey

Here’s the salsa served with a grilled pork chop and my mustard tarragon green bean salad.

 This year, I’ve been baking in the wee, small hours of the morning. (Don’t you love that song?)  It’s the only way to get something in and out of the oven without adding to the heat index.  I tried Peaches, Cream, and Cake in two varieties, taking each to friends’ houses for dinner.  I can always be counted on to bring dessert.  Besides, it transports easily.

First off was Peach Shortcake and I recommend it highly if only because the shortcakes bake quickly and you could even do them in a counter top oven should you be blessed enough to have one.  I am not.  Second was Elvis Presley’s Favorite Cake with Peaches and (homemade) Ginger Ice Cream.  For some reason (not wanting to appear the forever blogger at dinner)–I only have a pic of the cake.  But you’ll get the idea.

Peach-Ginger Shortcake with Vanilla Ice Cream

First make the shortcakes, which are much like biscuits, but a tad sweeter:

Use a light hand with the dough.  Don’t pat or reform too much.

I like to bake them in a glass pie dish so you can see the bottoms.  You want them barely done.

Slice them in half and layer with the peaches.

 Fluffy Shortcakes from THE FANNY FARMER BAKING BOOK by Marion Cunningham
(Don’t bother to reinvent Marion Cunningham’s wheel.–That book is out of print, I think, but you might find a used one.  There is nothing like it.  It’s a veritable, perfect baking bible without any froofroo. BTW, her biscuit recipe is love in a bite and comes from years of testing/working with James Beard.)

2 cups cake flour (I’ve used all-purpose flour for years..just noticed she said “cake”)
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3T sugar
8T (1 stick or 1/2 cup) butter
1 egg, well beaten
1/3 milk or cream, plus droplets more if needed

1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Get out two 8 or 9″ cake pans or a large baking sheet, but do not grease.  (I like glass pie pans for these and for biscuits, too.)
2.  Combine the cake flour, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar, and sugar in a mixing bowl, and stir and toss them together with a fork or wire whisk.  Cut the butter into bits and add it to the dry ingredients.  Then, using two knives or a pastry blender, or your fingertips (Dorie Greenspan would approve), work the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a mixture of fine, irregular crumbs that resemble fresh bread crumbs.  (I do this all in the food processor and have for years.)
3.  Add the beaten egg and the milk all at once, and stir with a fork just until the dough holds together.
4.  Turn out (it will probably be very sticky) onto a smooth, well-floured surface, and knead 12-14 times.  Pat into a rectangle (I do a circle) 1/2″ thick Cut the dough into squares or rectangles (I do circles), using a knife or into rounds with a 2″ cookie cutter. (Like I said.)  Place the biscuits, touching each other in the pans or on the baking sheet.
4.  Bake 15-20 minutes, or until very lightly browned.  (Do not overbake.)   makes 16

Minced fresh ginger mm

  For the peaches and ginger (1 peach per serving)

Peel and slice about one ripe, but firm peach per person.  To easily peel peaches, gently drop them in boiling water for 30 seconds, retrieve using a slotted spoon, cool a bit and the peel will slide right off when coaxed with a sharp knife.  If not, put the peach back in the water for another 10 seconds or so.  You could use an ice bath to cool the peaches, but I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary.

Add about 1tsp freshly minced ginger for each 4 peaches.  Stir together.
Squeeze the juice from half a lemon over all and stir again.  Set aside until needed or refrigerate if not using within an hour or so.  (The lemon will keep the peaches from turning brown so quickly.) 

To assemble:
  For each serving:  Slice a shortcake in half.  Place bottom half in a small bowl and top with  gingered peaches.   Add the top half and spoon the rest of the peaches on top. You’ll use  about 3/4-1 c of peaches (1 large peach) per person.  If you’re flush with peaches, slice and use more!

Scoop up some great vanilla ice cream (I like Haagen Dazs 5 or make your own) and nestle it to the side or on top of the peaches and shortcake.  Whipped cream would be nice if you had some.  Not needed, though, unless you skip the ice cream.

 
Elvis Presley’s Favorite Pound Cake with Peaches and Ginger Ice Cream
 1.  Make the cake up to 2 days ahead…. Does this look like something you’d call someone’s favorite (pound) cake?  I don’t think it does, but it is.  The recipe is NOT an urban legend, but is on epicurious.com and is so fattening and so tender and so scrumptious that you should even make it at Thanksgiving and top it with a cranberry conserve and gingered whipped cream!
Cool thing:  this serves about 12 so it’s a great thing to take to a picnic.  I won’t put the recipe in this blog, but you can just click here for it. It also is a good deal for camping, etc. as it keeps at room temperature for several days.  I loved making this great big buttery cake with its tender crumb. 
2.  Make homemade ice cream the day you’re serving this dessert.  I used this recipe for homemade ginger ice cream from an old (1998) GOURMET, but it’s on epicurious.com now and you can click here for it.  You can make whatever kind of ice cream you like, but this was yum.  In a pinch, buy some best-quality ice cream.  Don’t scrimp here.
3.  Slice up a dozen peeled peaches and squeeze the juice of a lemon over all; stir.  (See directions above for peeling peaches.)
4.  To assemble, slice cake into 12 pieces and place each piece in a serving bowl.  Top with a big spoonful of peaches and a scoop of ginger ice cream.  
5.  Say, “AH, summer; I love thee!”
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Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
We’ve been up on Devil Track Lake (just west of Grand Marais, MN and Lake Superior) cooking and grinning this last week.

Grilled lake trout filet salad at The Angry Trout

   We made simple things like bacon and leek pasta, grilled chops and steaks, and of course blueberry pancakes and eggs in the hole.  We ate a few restaurant meals, but not many.  Didn’t even have cell service.  For restaurants, I’d recommend The Angry Trout (sit outside) and Chez Jude right on the main drag of Grand Marais.  Of course you’d better visit:
P.S.  As a Blogger Against Hunger, I receive a lot of information about starving people.  The situation in Somalia is so critical, I ask you to take a look at sending just a small amount of money to the World Food Programme to help.  One woman walked for days looking for food; three of her children died as she searched.  Meantime, I’m writing about peaches and cream.  Read about it?
Sing a new song and live summer!
Alyce
Bacon for Breakfast; Bacon for Lunch

Bacon for Breakfast; Bacon for Lunch

My sweet husband adores bacon.  God love him.
I like bacon.  Why not?  It’s great with eggs and it’s an incredible UP when you need a taste boost for the start of a soup, chicken salad, tomato sandwiches, et al.  And, oh, the scent of it.
But I don’t adore it.    I adore chocolate.  I adore Pinot.  (Oregon Pinot Noir)  I am a Pinot girl, in fact. 
At 57, I enjoy being able to say that.  I have a couple of girlfriends who feel the same way.  I have guy friends who certainly feel that way. 
But back to bacon.  I only have to SAY, “Bacon.”  I don’t even have to cook it.  And Dave is entranced.  Hanging around.  If I actually start cooking the stuff, he is in the room and doesn’t leave.  So, there you go.  If you want to attract someone to the nth, fry bacon.  No one ever told you? Ach.

I think this is common.  I posted a note on fb last Friday that I was cooking a pork tenderloin with bacon twisted around it, fixed with toothpicks.  I had more interest in that than anything I’ve cooked in months.  Loved ones, think about making this.  Soon.  Simple?  Pretty much so.  Fragrant?  Ahhhh.  Earthy?  Mmm hmm.  Easy to harmonize?  I thought so.  A couple of Granny Smith apples, a bulb of fennel (go ahead and get one–ask the produce guy) and a big onion.  Some green beans on the side.  A light Pinot; you don’t need a great big heavy one, I don’t think.  Maybe a little bread.  I did some pears poached in port for dessert; you can do what you want.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Apples, Fennel and Onions

1 pork tenderloin
Kosher salt; freshly-ground pepper
3-4 slices thick bacon

2T olive oil

1 fennel bulb, fronds removed, end cut, sliced into half-moons about 1/3″ thick
2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, sliced
1 large onion sliced

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Salt and pepper well the pork tenderloin and wrap it with the bacon pieces, securing ends with toothpicks.

  Meanwhile, heat a large, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat; add olive oil.  Place bacon-wrapped pork in the center of the pan and surround with the fennel, apples and onion.  Salt and pepper well the vegetables and apples.  When the meat is very-well browned, turn and let brown on the other side.   Stir the vegetables and apples.  When that side is looking crispy, move the pan to the oven to finish cooking.  It may take another 10-15 minutes or so.  Using an instant-read thermometer, remove the skillet from the oven when the meat registers 150F.  (Others will tell you 155; I like it a bit rare; it will continue cooking)  Cover with aluminum foil for about 10 minutes before carving and serving.  Slice meat in 1/2″ p ieces.  Place cut meat at the center of a large platter and surround with fennel, apples and onions.  Serve with green beans or whatever vegetable you like.

Poached Pears in Port  (from FINE COOKING)

In a 4 qt skillet, pour 1 cup port wine.  Add 1 cinnamon stick and a few peels each of lemon rind and orange rind.  Peel four ripe, but firm Barlett or Bosc (or your choice) pears and slice off a tiny bit off one cheek to make a flat side.  Place the pears in the wine mixture and heat over medium-high heat.  Cover and reduce to a simmer, cooking for an hour or so until pears are tender when pierced with a knife.  Eat warm, at room temperature or cold with a little of the thickened port sauce spooned over.  You can add a little heavy cream if you like.

Sweet      

 Did you wonder about an appetizer?  Of course I had one.  And I was testing it out for my Cooking with Music class, which was the very next day!  Here it is: 

This is a Ricotta Pine nut dogoodie that is served with crostini (grilled bread).  I’ll blog it with the cooking class, but if you have to make it soon…..

Mix one cup ricotta with 3-4 T torn fresh mint and season well with kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper.  Lottsa pepper.  Heat over medium heat a small saucepan with  1/2 c honey and 1/4 c pine nuts.  (Amounts negotiable.)  When quite warm and gooey, pour over the cheese mixture and serve with crostini or crackers.  (I heard Tyler Florence talk about this once and committed it to memory.  Yummy.)

Ok, folks…there ya go.  Make it and tell me about it.  I have to know!

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood, Including Fitness


It’s been a busy week, but the pups have been happy as clams; Dad was home for three days in a row!

Tucky-Bucky letting it all hang out one morning.


Why God gets me up early.
The light on my backyard when the dogs go out for the first time.
First dusting of snow…early in the light.

Why I have dogs: I need tennis balls in the dishwasher, of course.

 Fitness update:  This last week, I skipped the gym all but one time.  Life got crazy.  Did I let it all go, though?  Nope.  I did Denise Austin on the DVD.  I hiked the ‘hood with Gabby.  I lifted weights at home.  I did my stretching routine.  I watched what I ate–mostly.  Or ate what I wanted, but not too much.  Teaching an Italian cooking class could have done me in (and the crostata almost did), but we made the ricotta starter, a roasted vegetable soup, pizza margherita, and a veal stew as well.   Took all afternoon Saturday and the students stayed for dinner to eat and see what wines fit where….  (Another blog.)  But I was sensible and remembered how strong I long to be.  That’s the crux.

Meantime, I’m applying for  new jobs as my job winds down at The Church at Woodmoor.  We are getting ready for Thanksgiving in St. Paul, as well.  Good thing I have a dog sitter; an SUV ran into my old vet/kennel today!  At the same time  THAT was happening, I was driving up to a staff meeting at work in Monument,  where there was a 40-car pile-up on I-25.  I saw zip.  Thank you, God.

Lemon-Scented Pear Almond Crostata or It’s Finally Fall in Colorado

Lemon-Scented Pear Almond Crostata or It’s Finally Fall in Colorado

Baby, it’s cold outside…  Well, not toooooooooo.  But the wind is swaying the trees and the tall flowers in the front berm are bent all the way over, kissing the ground with nearly-dry blooms.   The potted herbs made their way in from the front deck and are now fighting for space in the south dining room window, knowing that they’ll need to stand up tall and throw themselves south for sun in the morning.  It’s a bit sad to watch them come in, but it’s also gratifying to know I tended them lovingly all summer long so that I’d have them to bring in now.  I just never figured on it being the tenth of October.
There’s a bit of snow on the Peak.
Yesterday’s AF-CSU game brought home all that’s best about fall sports, which for me is usually great marching bands.
Look at that sky!
Go CSU Band!
Of course, as an AF wife, I was delighted to see AF beat CSU…but I’ve known a bunch of kids that played in that CSU band after having either sung or played with Dave or me.  It’s a thing of beauty.
A lot of the fun of the usually broiling or freezing AF games is in the tailgating.  Is there anything better than a picnic in perfect weather with the Front Range in the background?  We went with old college friends, which makes for a really easy day of being with people who knew you before you could cook and when you looked a whole lot better.    We had a rather Texan food theme with chicken enchiladas, a new salad of beans, rice and lots of vegetables with a lime-cilantro vinaigrette ( I promised to blog this later), and totally out of character, crostatas for dessert.  Oh, and of course we had sangria and margaritas.  It was, after all past 10 in the morning. 
But, back to the crostatas.  I have to make them in the fall, and this time, they’re coming up in a fall Italian cooking class I’ll teach October 30.  I thought it best to run through the recipe ahead of time.  So….
I made them for book club on Thursday…just a trial.  One apple with orange peel for perk and the other pear with lemon and almonds.  Just to see.  Took a vote and it was split.  By the time Saturday came, and it was time for another test, I had only one ripe pear and so made two combination apple-pear, one orange-scented and the other lemon.  Vote was split again.  Still.  It was fall; it was pie time.  And I guess I’m ready for the pastry portion of the Italian class.  I hope.

Option a (below) for moving pastry from board/counter to the baking sheet.

Option b (below) for moving pastry from board/counter to baking sheet:

Here is the apple at left and the pear at right.



My own winner was the pear with lemon and almond.



The pastry recipe for this comes from Ina Garten, who, I am pretty sure got it from  Joanne Killeen and George Germon in CUCINA SIMPATICA; ROBUST TRATTORIA COOKING.  Just a little detective work of mine.  Despite the provenance, it’s a tasty tidbit for fall when the fall fruit is divine (You can pick apples at Happy Apple Farm in Penrose if they’re not all gone.)  As neither one of them made pear, I feel I’ve contributed to the development of the recipe and hopefully to the happiness of your tummies.  This is tres easy, and if you’re afraid of pastry, this is a great start.  There’s no form-fitting into pie pans or making a crust look “P” for perfect.  This is a free-form, rustic pie baked on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  If it spills over or runs through, it’s just crusty-gooey and even better.  Don’t hesitate.  Pretty for Thanksgiving, too.  Oh, in France, this is a galette.  Here’s how I did it:
LEMON-SCENTED PEAR ALMOND CROSTATA
4 large or 6 regular servings for each crostata
Parchment paper needed for baking
pastry:  (makes 2-freeze one for later)
  • 2 c white, unbleached flour
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2# (2 sticks) very cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 c ice water
In the food processor, fitted with the knife blade, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt.  Add the cold butter and pulse until mixture is the size of peas.  Slowly add iced water through the feed tube until dough begins to come together.  Remove carefully from processor and divide in half.  Press each into a disc.  Wrap one in foil and freeze it.  Refrigerate the other for an hour is best, but you can roll it right away if you must.  Dust the counter very well indeed with flour and roll the disc, using a rolling pin, into an 11″ circle.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet until you have the fruit ready.  (Check out the pics above where I give you two options for getting the pastry from the counter to the pans.)  You can  a. fold it up gently and  quick like a bunny pick it up, and centering it over the baking sheet, place it carefully down and unfold it or, b. loosely roll the dough back onto the rolling pin and move the rolling pin over above the baking sheet, lowering it and loosening the pastry down flat onto the pan.   This is not easy to describe; I apologize for lack of prowess as a technical writer! 
Filling
  • 1-11/4# pears (Seckel or Bosc or a mixture), peeled, cored and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1-2t grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 c sliced almonds
  • 1/4 c ea flour and sugar
  • 1/4 t kosher salt
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 4T unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 450 and place rack at center.
In a large bowl, mix cut-up pears with lemon rind and most of the almonds, reserving 1T or so for the top of the crostata.  In the food processor, make a crumb topping for the crostata by pulsing together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter until crumbly.  Remove the blade from the processor bowl, and, using fingers, pinch together the crumbs until they hold together. 
Place pear-lemon mixture onto the pastry, leaving 1 1/2 inches around the edges.  Crumble topping on the pears evenly and sprinkle with the last of the almonds.  Fold the edges of the pastry up and over the fruit, gently pleating the dough at the corners.  You’ll be leaving most of the fruit covered by only the crumbly topping; the pastry just comes up around the edges of this pie.
Place baking sheet in oven and bake 25-30 minutes (use the longer time above 5,000 feet) until golden brown and crispy.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before sliding pie off the paper onto wire rack to cool completely.  Will hold at room temperature a day or so and in the refrigerator for several days, though it is best fresh.
Note:  If you’d like to make an apple crostata with the other crust, it’s made almost like the above pie, but you’ll need 1 1/2 # (3-4 large Granny Smith) apples, 1 t orange peel and no nuts unless you choose to add some one your own.  If you do, toasted walnuts might be best.
Sing a new song; bake a new pie– It’s fall, isn’t it?  (FINALLY),
Alyce
If you have a heart for prayer, please pray for Rowan Carr, three-year old niece of our neighbors, who has recently been diagnosed with leukemia.
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2-Dog Kitchen has been off the air for a couple of posts.

Here are a few updates.  Skippy Jon Jones, share cat, has been here about two months and just returned “home.”  Seems a bit quiet without him around.

Peaches, cream, and more

Peaches, cream, and more

If its August.  If it’s Colorado.  I’m eating peaches.  Any day. Every day.  For at least two weeks.  By themselves.  On Greek Yogurt with Colorado honey and slivered toasted almonds.  Or granola.   On top of vanilla frozen yogurt.  In a salsa on pork chops.  Etcetera.

Here are a few of the yummy things I’ve done.  Of course the best?  Above.

Grilled peaches:

Preheat clean grill to medium-high heat.  Cut peaches in half and remove pits.  Brush each half with a little bit of canola oil and place cut-side down on grill.  Let cook about 3 or 4 minutes and turn over when grill marks are well-established, but not blackened.  Cook another 2 or 3 minutes until tops of cut-side are somewhat visibly drying.  Remove and cool briefly.  Enjoy as is or try another good idea…

Grilled Peaches with Goat’s Cheese, Honey and Thyme
God had to have been in on this creation.  Of course.  Here’s how:
Grill peaches as above.  Top each with 1-2 T plain goat’s cheese (softened a bit).  Drizzle with your favorite honey and sprinkle with a few leaves of fresh thyme.   (recipe copyright Alyce Morgan, 2010)
Grilled Peach Salsa
Lovely on BBQ Pork Chops (Really),
Salmon
Shrimp Tacos
Grilled Fish
Tortilla Chips?  Of course.  Here’s how:

2-6 t very finely minced jalapeno (to your taste–start with 2t and more if you’d like)
1/3 c finely minced onion
2 large peaches (Colorado preferred), cut in half and grilled*, peeled after grilling, and chopped into 1/2″  pieces
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 ea medium red sweet pepper and green sweet pepper, diced
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Dash of kosher salt and a couple of grates of fresh ground pepper

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients gently but thoroughly. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary. (Add more jalapeno, etc) Serve on with grilled pork chops, shrimp or salmon or on seafood or fish tacos. (recipe copyright Alyce Morgan 2010)


Wine? If you make the bbq pork chops or salmon, try a little inexpensive Beaujolais. Other reds or bigger wines, will overwhelm this meal. It’s summer and something lighter and refreshing will turn on these peaches. If you make the shrimp or fish tacos, a cold Spanish Albarino (lovely white) or even an Oregon Pinot Gris could do the trick.

(If you’d like to make the green bean salad, here’s the blogpost for it, though I dressed it differently here.  Rather than a mustard vinaigrette, I mixed a bit of top-quality light Ranch with some roasted salsa for a dressing.)

Lovely frozen yogurt from David Levovitz’ book THE PERFECT SCOOP. (Click for the recipe.)  Of course, we then had it like this:
 

                 Vanilla Yogurt with Sliced Colorado Peaches
 
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
 

Our tomatoes are ripe.  Salads are every day now.
 

Skippy Jon Jones and Tucker saying, “Hi!”
 

Emily’s home for a week or so.  Here she helps beat melted chocolate, a little cream, and sugar for a frozen chocolate yogurt testing that looked like this when done:

 
I’m still working on this…want to try it with toasted almonds, etc.  I’ll admit it was tres tres tres like it was… made with Valhrona Chocolate.  Definitely.  Oh my.  Ask for it if you’re coming to dinner.

Speaking of coming to dinner:  I have one space left in Cooking with Music for September 18 at 12:30.  It’s an Italian class with pizza appetizer, two main-course soups, and an apple crostada (free form apple pie) for $50.  Includes dinner (you also get to invite a friend) and wine.  Email me if you’re interested.

Right now, the sun is shining so brightly.  But on the windows I hear the tip, tap, tip of rain.  Opening the shades (closed to keep the sunroom cooler), I see it’s definitely raining.   Sun, Rain=Rainbow!  I’ll be watching out east for it.

It’s time for a little music, a candle or two, cell phones on off, and watches stored.  Friday.  A bit of dinner together.  Breathing how blessed I feel to have almost my whole family in my house.
Alyce

Cooking with Music-French-Session II

Cooking with Music-French-Session II

If you haven’t been here before, I occasionally teach cooking classes at home.  Each class teaches a whole menu and each menu is focused upon a culture, country or culinary form.  This is the second session of Cooking with Music-French and there were two students–mom and four-year-old daughter. 

While August isn’t, perhaps, the very best time to learn how to bake quiche, it IS the very best time to learn how to make a great salad.  And is anytime a bad time to learn how to make a pie crust?  And, hey,  the quiche tastes wonderfully for lunch.  Chocolate mousse?  Whenever.  Here’s today’s bunch:

Chocolate Mousse = First, of course
Life is short
This is a no-egg chocolate mousse as eggs are bad boys right now:
Just melt 3/4 c chocolate chips with 3T butter and let that cool.
Whip up 1 cup of whipping cream and add 1T sugar at the end.
Fold a tiny bit of whipping cream into the chocolate to lighten it up a bit and
then fold into the chocolate the rest of the cream in three or four batches.  Spoon into pretty glasses or ramekins and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to a few hours.
Garnish with a dollop of whipping cream, some berries or grated chocolate
Et voila!  Mousse au chocolat!
Moving on from mousse to pate brisee, the super easy crust for the quiche.
“Hey, I can make a pie crust; who knew?”

Getting dirty…but eating fresh!  Like two minutes old.
Talk about organic food.  Making Jamie Olivers’s chopped salad. (click here to see the video)
Pixie dusting the salad with kosher salt and the pepper she ground.
FINALLY getting to eat dessert.  Took long enough.
We did it.
We not only cooked, we cooked together.
What a day.
We can now make–for ANYONE!!–the following menu:
Menu
Salade Printemps (spring salad w/ fresh herbs)
Quiche avec jambon et fromage (Ham and Cheese quiche)
Mousse au chocolat  (Chocolate mousse)
Fromages (cheese)
Baguette (long, thin loaf of bread) avec buerre (with butter)
Vin: (wine)
Bourgogne (blanc) (2007)-Laboure-Roi, Meursault, Cote d’Or, France
Beaujolais (2008)- Pierre Chermette, Saint Verand, France
Next Cooking with Music is
ITALIAN
Pizza as an appetizer
Two main course soups (one vegetarian)
Apple crostada (free form pie)
Offered Saturday, September 18, 2010
12:30-?
We’ll cook and eat together.
Students may invite one guest for dinner each- approximately 5:30pm
Includes wine
Cost:  $50 per student
I have one opening for this class at present, but am happy to repeat it if I have requests.
This is a meal wonderful to learn for a dinner party because everything but the pizza (and it’s nearly ready) can be done in advance so that you can be…
NOT NERVOUS
HAVE TIME TO BATHE AND DRESS
ENJOY YOUR OWN PARTY
————————————————————————–
 
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood or Kitchen:
Grilling Colorado peaches for a peach salsa or dessert…a blog to come!
There’s the grilled peach salsa–perfect for bbq grilled pork chops, shrimp tacos or salmon.
Skippy Jon Jones–visiting Aunt Alyce and Uncle Dave again
And they called it “puppy love.”
A few things you might do around the kitchen this week:
Buy a bunch of green beans, trim them and blanch them (2-3 min in boiling water) and throw them in freezer bags into the freezer for the winter.  I got mine for 88cents a pound.
Ditto zucchini or summer squash.
Ditto corn on the cob.  Cook it, let it cool, cut it off the cob and put it in freezer bags.
Buy a dozen red, green, yellow peppers and cut them up and freeze them in small quantities.
Go to the nursery or wherever and buy some herbs to pot and take indoors for the fall.
Stake out your apple-picking spot.  Plan a picking date.
Clean out your freezer and defrost it while it’s still warm so you’ll be ready to cook, bake and freeze this fall.
There’s still time to make peach freezer jam while the peaches are very inexpensive.  I saw some Colorado peaches for 99 cents a pound at King Soopers’.
Eat lots of salad with lots of fresh herbs and great tomatoes.
Try a home-made Cobb or a Greek Salad with grilled chicken.
Make gazpacho.
Make caprese salad.
Consider making and freezing tomato sauce.
Blueberries from Canada are still available if you want to freeze some.  Just throw them in the bag unwashed.  (Rinse them when you use them.)
Sing a new song,
Alyce
Figs, Figs, Figs or Bring me some figgy what?

Figs, Figs, Figs or Bring me some figgy what?

  Bring me some figgy…. oh, just bring me some grilled figs.  With blue cheese and thyme.
                                           

I missed you, blog.  Travel.  Work.  Kitten-sitting.  Cooking for folks.  Uh, writing for other websites (sorry.)

But I’m back.  And I’m back with figs.  If you haven’t grabbed fresh figs yet this season, the season is, my friends, waning.  (If it were early in fig season, would we say the season was waxing?)  Cheap?  OH NO.  Guess not.  So you better make the most of every biteful and not let one single one get too mushy to eat.

My little pint made it through two courses and I’ll share them with you.  After I tell you that I ate figs at Tyler Florence’s new restaurant, Wayfare Tavern, in San Francisco last Friday at lunch.  (Along with halibut and berry pound cake served with cabernet sorbet.) Of course, figs are a bit more available in California (just a tad) and Tyler had featured them as a starter with burrata cheese, onions and honey.  Were they good? Yes.  But why not save that buck (a little more than a buck to get to SF) and do something sweet at home?

Did we see Tyler? Yes!!!  Really.  What a day.  (Other spots we ate and loved in SF:  Scala Bistro-dinner and breakfast-wow; Cliff House –lunch at the bistro; dinner in the dr-best view in town!–a whole local sole-so fresh and perfectly fileted by the waiter at table; Tea House at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park; AT&T Park–what beats a beer and a dog?)

Anyway, back to our (your) figs.  I grew up eating fig preserves or stewed figs my mom put up in the summer.  I can’t figure out where she got figs, but get them she did.  And how did we eat them?  In a little bowl to the side of a nice, big breakfast or right on top of a big plate of buttered biscuits that often were piled high with…sour cream. 

Nowadays, I often have dried figs with cheese in the winter.  Or I poach them in a little wine and serve them with honey and goat’s cheese or mascarpone or…blue cheese.  I have a youza youza recipe with puff pastry, reconstituted figs and blue cheese that is a slamdunk dessert with port in the winter.  But today.  This weekend.  It’s fresh figs in Colorado.  Get yours today.  Eat them plain.   Split them with a little knife and take off the stem or just eat them whole while holding the stem.  Or, you can do what I did:

Recipe 1:  Figs on the Grill   2 servings

1/2 pint fresh figs
2 ounces blue cheese (I like Maytag for this, but any blue would be fine.)  cut into pieces 1/4×1″ or so

2-3 T honey
2t fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2t freshly ground black pepper
Heat grill, indoors or out, to medium-high temperature.  Slice figs in half and place cut side down on grill.  Let cook about 2-3 minutes until golden and sizzling with grill marks. 
 Turn over and let cook about 1 minute.  Place a tiny piece of blue cheese on each fig half right in the middle of the fig, pressing down a little to make sure the cheese stays put. 
 Cook until cheese is softened and just barely getting gooey.  Remove figs from grill, using tongs,  and divide between two plates.  Drizzle with honey and dust with thyme and a little black pepper on each.

Drink?  Ruby port. 

Fig “recipe” #2  Oatmeal with Fresh Figs and Almonds

Make your favorite oatmeal exactly as you like it.  While it cooks, slice some fresh figs into 1/4″ slices and toast 1/4 c sliced almonds.  When the oatmeal is done, sprinkle each serving with Vietnamese cinnamon and about 1T brown sugar.   Add some sliced figs on top and shower with toasted almonds.  Add about 1/3 c hot milk and chow down your goodferya breakfast.  Ahhhhhhh…perfect.

Drink?  Coffee, I’d guess.

Two-Dog Kitchen + 1 Kitten… and Around the Hood

Skippy Jon Jones is visiting Aunt Alyce and Uncle Dave for a few days while Mom goes to the mountains.
A few bloody clawmarks.
A little cat litter eating by the dogs.
A little catfood eating by the dogs.
Much general merriment.
Love. 
Mostly.
We’re thinking Skippito.

The fam in San Fran
Check out all the pics on my fb page

Rhyan brings dad for a hamburger and rootbeer float lunch on Saturday.
We still have to watch “The Incredibles”
Grandma never tires of it.  Well, not too much.
Sing a new song; eat a new fig,
Alyce
Ribs or Turkey Thighs—Happy Birthday, Dave and Jean!

Ribs or Turkey Thighs—Happy Birthday, Dave and Jean!

Summer ‘cueing is one of Dave’s favorite things, I’d guess.  Perhaps it’s one of mine, too.  I  escape some of the main dish cooking (I don’t know from grill-), though I have to come with menus.  I’m sure some husbands will come up with words like,

“I would really like ________________for dinner,”

but not my husband.  He exercises his right to choose in restaurants and not even always there.  Often, I’ll be torn between one entree and another.  To make sure I get to taste both, he’ll order one of them and let me order the other.  I know.  He’s quite a guy.

He can be sure of getting all the beer, though, because I don’t drink beer.  It never fails, however, that if there’s a new beer (stout is his favorite, but ales are up there), he’ll want me to taste it.  A Bud tastes like a Taddy Porter to me, so it’s just wasted.  To be nice, I keep taking a sip, and often say, “Not bad!”  But you probably won’t see me order beer any time soon.  Though I often look at the new 55 calorie can and think, “Why can’t I like that?”
In the last couple of weeks, Dave has grilled ribs (for hours and hours and hours) and turkey thighs (for hours and hours and hours) and I don’t know which I liked better. 
I’d like to get him to write this, but he’s a little busy most days.
 
Making sure I have my dinner.
Or my breakfast.
I like  pancakes cooked outside.
So, in honor of the Fourth of July and Dave’s birthday ( which is the Third) and my sister Jean’s birthday (the first), I give you Dave’s latest ribs or turkey thighs and, because this is, after all, my blog, my French-Vegetable potato salad.  It goes wonderfully with either and is all you need.  That and a nice jammy (ok,ok) California zin.  Maybe some homemade ice cream.

                                                                Eat this, not that.

Dave and His Ribs and Thighs  serves 6-8  or 4 really hungry folks

2 racks of pork spareribs and  4 turkey thighs
Rub is Memphis Shake from Food Network Kitchens GET GRILLING–we doubled it
  1/2 paprika
   6 T brown sugar
   4 T dried oregano
   4T granulated garlic
   2T ancho (we used chipotle) chili powder
   4t kosher salt
   2t celery salt

Leave rib racks whole and rub all ribs and turkey thighs well with rub.  Refrigerate 2 hours.

Light grill and heat to medium-low (about 250 F).  Lay out ribs , evenly spaced, and cover.  Cook for about  1.5 hours hours, turning occasionally. Meantime, make sauce  and French potato salad (below).  Add  thighs to grill and continue grillin for another 1.5 hours or so until thighs register 170 F on instant-read themometer.  Apply sauce over ribs and thighs with a brush the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.

Sauce:  (GET GRILLING, PAGE 218)
  makes 2 quarts
4 T canola oil
12 cloves garlic, smashed
4T tomato paste
2T chili powder
2 T paprika (we used smoked)
2t crushed red pepper
1/2 t allspice -ground
Double pinch ground cloves
4 c ketchup
4 c water
1 c cider vinegar
1/2 c molasses
1/2 c brown sugar
2T kosher salt
2T soy sauce
2T worcestershire
1T plus 1t dried mustard (like Coleman’s
2t freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves

Heat oil in a large saucepan.Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, paprika, red pepper, allspice, cloves and cook for 3 min until paste is dark and thick.  Add the ketchup, water, vinegar, molasses, brown sugar, soy, Worcestershire, mustard, black pepper, and bay leaf.  Adjust heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the flavors come together, about 30 min.  Remove and discard bay leaves before using.

French Potato and Vegetable Salad with Mustard-Tarragon Dressing

1/2# (24 oz or 9-10 medium) red potatoes–cut larger ones into halves or fourths

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, sprig of tarragon (to flavor water)

1/2# fresh asparagus, chopped

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-1″ pieces (could use yellow squash)

1/2 ea medium sweet yellow and red peppers (any color combination fine)

1 c broccoli florets, cut into 1/2″-1″ pieces

1/2 small red onion, chopped finely (4-5 tablespoons)

5 spring onions (white and green fine) sliced thinly

Dressing (see below–make while potatoes cook)

In a 4 or 6 qt small stockpot, place potatoes and just cover with water. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper and a sprig of tarragon (or 1/2 t dried). Bring to a boil, lower heat a bit to keep from boiling over, and cook for about 12-15 minutes, until almost, but not quite, tender. (Make dressing. and set aside.) Add asparagus, zucchini and broccoli for the last few minutes. When potatoes are done, pour all into a colander in the sink and immediately pour back into pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour 1/2-3/4 of the dressing over the hot vegetables. Add the chopped fresh sweet peppers, reserving 2T for garnish. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle with chopped spring onions and garnish with the reserved chopped yellow and orange peppers and a sprig of tarragon. Serve warm, at room temp, or cold.

Mustard-Tarragon Dressing

1 clove of garlic, crushed and minced or grated

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

3T white wine vinegar (I like Chardonnay, but any will do.)

9T extra-virgin olive oil (the best you have for this salad)

1/2 t kosher salt and 1/4 t fresh ground pepper

2 drops hot sauce, such as Tabasco

1T chopped fresh tarragon (plus 2 extra sprigs, one for potato water and one for garnish) or 1 t dried

In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, mustard and vinegar. Slowly add olive oil, whisking with all the time or after every addition. Season with salt, pepper, hot sauce and tarragon. Whisk until well-emulsified. Store in a covered jar so you can shake the dressing right before each use.

      Sisters–Helen/left and Jean/right   Happy Birthday, Jean!

Two-Dog Kitchen and the ‘Hood

 

Start of the herb garden
Porch Tarragon–Will bring it in for fall
Wine group last week
Cherries almost ready!
Cantaloupe Salad

Cantaloupe Salad

It’s not quite cantaloupe time here in Colorado, but we do finally have some good FexEx cantaloupe available at the store.  I tend to buy a half.  I then wonder why I didn’t buy a whole after I cut some up.  So last time, I bought a whole, and then had to figure out what to do with it.  Here’s what happened:

Cantaloupe Salad 
serves 2

2 pieces cantaloupe, each about 1/4 of a smallish cantelope, sliced to eat, but left on rind
1 cup baby arugula or other spring greens
1/2 lemon
Kosher salt; fresh ground pepper
2 strawberries
2 blackberries or blueberries
1/8 cup parmesan (or other sharp, shreddable cheese), shredded (2 tablespoons)

Arrange on each of two salad plates 1/2 c fresh arugula.  Top each portion with a piece of cantelope and add a couple each of the strawberries and blackberries.  Squeeze lemon over all and dust with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette (below.)

Balsamic Vinaigrette (or use your own recipe or a store-bought bottle)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon shallots or garlic, minced
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients in jar and shake well. Store in refrigerator up to one week.

{printable recipe}


 

Sing a new song; make a new salad,
Alyce