A few weeks ago, my friend Jeanne’s niece, Julianne and her family, came to visit Colorado from Florida. Why didn’t we come for a cookout? wondered Jeanne. We have a long-standing tradition of eating my cheesecake sometime around husband Dave’s birthday and the 4th of July, so it only made sense to offer to bring it. Jeanne was thrilled, but allowed that as Julianne followed a gluten-free diet, would I make some GF cookies, too? Of course I would.Continue reading
It came without warning. All of a sudden it was the end of June. It was nearly the 4th of July. Dave and I were both off by about a week and had no idea why. This man’s birthday is July 3 and yesterday he said to me, when I asked about a birthday dinner reservation, “What? Is my birthday this weekend??” Why, yes it is!
In the meantime, I’d been working on a risotto post for the blog. Having a fun old time making the risotto, finding the dishes, taking the photos, writing the text and recipe and so on. Except I had nothing for the immediate holiday. Necessity is the mother of disaster sometimes, but hopefully not here. (Watch this space for the risotto love coming up next week or maybe even the week after.)Continue reading
If you live in Colorado, the weather is often the topic of conversation. Like now. The rest of the country is looking forward to a warm Labor Day holiday weekend and, while we in Colorado are sort of doing the same, we also have our eyes stuck on the forecast for Monday night and Tuesday:Continue reading
If you live in Colorado, you know from peaches, which are grown way out west on the western slope–almost in Utah if you check the map. Every year about this time, your friends in other states begin to mention, “Hey, I bought Colorado peaches in the store the other day!” You look in your store and you find California peaches and begin to think we’re exporting all our best produce. It happens. (I’ll give you that there are also great peaches from Georgia, Washington state, Michigan, and even California. I just live in Colorado.)Jump to Recipe Continue reading
My good friend, next-door neighbor, and sometime cooking student, Mike (below), knows that if you really don’t want to make pie dough, it’s fine with me that you use purchased refrigerator case pie dough (not frozen). I’d love for you to bake pie however it happens. Hopefully next time –or sometime–you’ll try to make dough; practice definitely improves the product. Take it from me.
Cobblers are often thought to take the place of pies--if you don’t know how or don’t want to bake a pie. I beg to differ. Cobblers, along with crisps, buckles, fools, and pandowdies, etc., are their very own lovely desserts…or breakfasts. True, they’re a bit quicker or easier to both make and bake as they have only one layer of some sort of crust, but they differ in many other ways. (Fools have no crust at all!) For me, the filling of a cobbler, in particular, isn’t nearly as sweet and surely isn’t as caloric as that of a pie with two crusts. Instead of pie pastry or pâte brisée, there is–for cobbler– a soft, billowy-pillowy biscuit topping with a crunchy edge that merely sets off the great big bite of fruit. And, while others might disagree, I’d typically only make a cobbler when the fruit was at its peak. Mid-winter apple cobbler might be the exception. Yes, it’s hot to bake right now and yes, it’s perfectly luscious, too.
As the bittersweet arrival of the last of the northwest blueberries coincides with the happy coming of the first glorious Colorado peaches, the two together feel exactly like a match made in heaven in my kitchen on a beautiful cool morning. With just a smidge over 5 cups of beginning-to-pucker and wilt Oregon blueberries in the fridge, I had not quite enough for a 9-inch pie. A case of peaches sat wafting their keen aroma from the mudroom, so I followed my nose out there and snagged a couple of not-too-ripe beauties to peel and slice for the bottom of the pie, filling that empty extra inch of space. The buttery sweetness from the berry mixture on top would provide plenty of juicy goodness for the still somewhat tangy peaches. Making something with peaches that aren’t quite ripe or up-to-snuff? Add a pinch of ground mace to increase their flavor.
The Colorado growing season is short, but mighty. We make up for the reduced length with the best and sweetest Olathe (pronounced: o-LAY-tha) sweet corn and toothsome, sticky-dripping Western Slope Palisade peaches. (Visit Colorado wine country, too, if you go to pick peaches.) Somewhere in there the Rocky Ford cantaloupes also ripen, the Pueblo green chiles are roasted on street corners–going into myriad pots of pork green chile or into the freezer for scrambled eggs at Christmas and Super Bowl snacks. (We eat a lot of New Mexican Hatch chiles, too, which come in somewhat milder versions.) If you’re really lucky, you even know someone who fly fishes and will bring back trout we smoke to last all winter long. (More on those last three another post.)
By the way, the Olathe Corn growers and the Palisade Peach producers each sponsor local festivals every summer and they’re coming right up:
My larder at any time of the year includes a good number of fruits and vegetables in a basket or on the counter to the right of my range. (As one cooking friend admits, “I’ll forget about them if they’re not out there in plain sight.”) An embarrassment of riches sometimes produces a meal I hadn’t expected or thought of before –especially in the summer — and that’s exactly how we ended up with this eye-candy salad. My original thought was a sort of bastard caprese as I had beaucoup fresh mozzarella as well as a big bag of avocados and a box of ripe peaches. I’m a rich girl. But somehow in the making of the dish — I was racing Dave, who was grilling meat — I just forgot the cheese. Add it if you have some or covet protein or calcium. I’m sure it would be great, but this is a stunning plateful without any additions. While I’m a committed carnivore, the meat was nearly superfluous. Try this:
PEACH-AVOCADO SALAD WITH BASIL
makes 2 generous servings
If you’d rather have this for dessert, try a drizzle of local honey in place of the olive oil.
- 2 handfuls of fresh greens–I used spinach
- 1 large ripe peach (Of course I prefer Colorado western slope peaches!), pitted and sliced
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
- 12 large fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (or to taste)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Handful of fresh grapes
Line a small serving platter or dinner plate with the greens and alternate all of the slices of peach and avocado. Add a leaf of fresh basil every other pairing or so. Drizzle with orange juice and olive oil; sprinkle with pepper. Garnish with grapes. Serve immediately.