Thursday, July 28, 2011

Peach Week: Peach Salsa

Salsas are such a great snack, especially during these hot summer months.  I love making different types and playing around with the ingredients.  Besides the standard tomato salsa, I really like salsas made with different types of fruit.  If you're like me and like that salty/sweet combo than using fruits such as mangoes, pineapples, and peaches make delicious and healthy salsas that are mainly savory but with just a slight hint of sweetness. I like to use fruit that is very firm and not quite ripe so for these recipes so you get that crunch (somehow overripe fruit sounds gross for this recipe, but I have texture issues :)).

I found this recipe for peach salsa on Two Peas & Their Pod and had to try it! I just love all of the glorious colors or red, orange, green, and purple from the peaches, jalapenos and onions-- its like summer in a bowl. This salsa is great for the summer months when peaches are readily available and at their peak.  Its zesty and full of those lovely flavors of lime, cilantro, and jalapeno.  The instructions below are just a guide-- I've measured the amounts to blend the salsa just the way I like it (heavy on the lime and cilantro) but definitely adjust this according to your preferences.  Also, I used organic peaches for this recipe and thought they had such great flavor (and added such rich color)-- more so than regular peaches.  We like this just as a snack with tortilla chips but it would be also great with tacos or grilled chicken, fish, or pork.

Peach Salsa

5 medium peaches (preferably organic), skin removed, diced and pitted
3 1/2 tbs. red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced and seeded
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Salt, to taste

1.  In a large bowl, add the peaches, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and fresh lime juice.  Stir well.

2.  Season with salt

3. Serve with tortilla chips or over grilled chicken or pork.  This would also be good over chicken or pork tacos.

Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Peach Week: Peach Blueberry Coffee Cake

This recipe was featured in Southern Living a couple of summers ago and I couldn't wait to try it out.  The original recipe is actually for a peach blackberry coffee cake but as I happened to have peaches and blueberries on hand at the time, I decided to adjust the recipe slightly.  I'm so glad I did because it became an instant favorite of mine.  Peaches and blueberries compliment each other so well and are delicious in this coffee cake especially, with the brown sugar cinnamon streusel topping.  I brought the cake into my office and it quickly disappeared.  I've ended up having co-workers request this again and ask for the recipe and to me, that is one of the best compliments you can pay me. :)

I do think Southern Living hit this one out of the park.  The cake is spongy and light.  There is enough fruit so that each piece has a generous amount without overwhelming the cake and the streusel topping is divine. Since peaches are so juicy, I've found that mixing them with a little sugar and allowing them to drain for about 30 minutes prior to baking keeps them from adding too much liquid to the cake.  I had one disastrous instance when making this where my cake overflowed and juicy peaches seemed to be the culprit.  Allowing them to macerate in some sugar while draining the juice seems to prevent this problem.

Peach Blueberry Coffee Cake

For the Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

Beat the butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add granulated sugar and brown sugar, beating well.  Add flour, cinnamon, and salt beat until just blended and set aside.

For the Cake:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/8 cup to mix with the fruit
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups peeled and sliced fresh firm, ripe peaches
1 cup fresh blueberries
powdered sugar

1.  Mix peaches and blueberries with 1/8 cup of sugar and place in a colander over a bowl.  Allow juices to drain for 20-30 minutes before use.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare streusel topping and set aside.

3. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add granulated sugar, beating well.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

4.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Beat at low speed until blended after each addition.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch springform pan; top with sliced peaches and blackberries.  Pinch off 1-inch pieces of streusel topping and drop over fruit.

5.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until center of cake is set (a wooden pick inserted in the center will not come out clean).  Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 1/2 hours) and remove from pan.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Garnish with peach slices and blueberries if desired.

Adapted from Southern Living

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Peach Week: Baked Breaded Pork Chops with Peach Cherry Chutney

Today's recipe for Peach Week is a chutney I first had at a friend's house for dinner several years ago.  It was so good I immediately asked her for the recipe and have been making it ever since.  I debated including this recipe this week of peach recipes because this actually calls for frozen peaches and while that makes this a great year-round recipe, I thought maybe it would be better shared at a time when plump ripe juicy peaches weren't in our midst.  But, I do love this chutney- as in, I could eat the entire potful-- love this recipe.  It's so versatile-- it's sweet and tangy due to some Dijon mustard and is such a nice side with pork or chicken.  I especially love it with these breaded pork chops-- the salty richness of pork goes so well with fruit dishes.  And, both of these dishes are so quickly prepared, you can easily make this for a weeknight dinner.

The pork chops are dipped in Dijon mustard and then covered in browned panko bread crumbs.  They are baked on a rack over a baking sheet so they get crispy on all sides.  The Dijon mustard marinates into the meat and keeps it moist while adding so much zest and flavor.  These are really a favorite at our house!

For the Breaded Pork Chops:

*Serves 4
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 tbs. vegetable oil
4 boneless pork loin chops, 6 to 8 ounces each
3 tbs. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss panko with oil.  Bake, tossing once until golden brown, about 4-6 minutes.  Be very careful that this doesn't burn.  I would check your crumbs at 4 minutes and add more time if necessary as I've burned mine in the past. :) Transfer crumbs to a medium bowl.  Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

2. Meanwhile, place chops between 2 large pieces of plastic wrap.  Using a meat mallet or the bottom of a small heavy pan, pound to make 1/4 inch thick cutlets.

3. Dividing evenly, coat pork with mustard; season with salt and pepper.  One at a time, dip cutlets into panko, pressing firmly to adhere.

4. Place a rack on a rimmed baking sheet; place pork on rack, and bake without turning, until opaque throughout, 10 to 15 minutes.

Adapted from  Everyday Food

For the Peach Cherry Chutney:
*Makes 2 cups
1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound frozen peaches (about 2 1/2 cups) thawed and roughly chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup dried cherries
2 tbs Dijon mustard
1/2- 1 tsp. honey

Melt the oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallot and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook until tender, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the peaches, brown sugar, cherries, honey, and mustard.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until peaches get nice and juicy and turn into a thick chunky compote, about 8 minutes.  Cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Adapted from

Monday, July 25, 2011

Its Peach Week! Fresh Peach Cobbler

As you may have noticed on my blog, I love me some peaches.  Nothing says summer more to me than that  sweet smell of a bowl of ripening peaches sitting on my kitchen counter.  To me it's bliss, and conjures up such feelings of nostalgia.  It reminds me of my mother's kitchen and my grandmother's kitchen who also had bowls of ripening peaches every summer.  It also reminds me of farm stands in south Georgia where my grandmother lives, where we would stop and buy a paper bag full of freshly picked peaches on our way to visit her and by the time we reached the house, the whole car smelled of them.  Ah, no wonder that smell means summer to me!

I've decided to dedicate a week's worth of recipes to this versatile summer fruit.  Some of these are family favorites, some of these are new favorites, some are sweet, some are savory.  I had a tough time narrowing my favorites down but these are some of my most loved recipes.

I, of course, had to start with that quintessential southern dessert-- peach cobbler.  This is my Mom's recipe and it is my favorite.  It is simple and straightforward and the best I've ever had.   There are no spices or extracts to mask the flavor of the fruit and it bakes in a fluffy biscuit-y type topping.  I know there are many types of cobbler and crisps out there and everyone has their favorite but this is definitely mine.  This is wonderful with fresh peaches but it is equally delicious with blueberries, blackberries, cherries, apples, or your other favorite fruits.  You can make this with frozen as well as fresh which makes this such a versatile dessert. I sometimes like to make this with a combination of peaches and blueberries when summer is in full swing.  The fruit cooks in the sugar and caramelizes which is one reason why I like this recipe so much so a shallow baking dish such as a 9x13 pan works best for this.

Peach Cobbler

For Fruit:
1/2 stick (4 tbs) of unsalted butter
4 cups of fresh peaches, peeled and sliced (or 4 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries, apples, peaches, blackberries, or cherries)
1 cup of sugar
Mix fruit and sugar together and let stand.  Melt butter in a 9x13 glass baking dish and set aside for later use.  Preheat oven for 350 degrees F.

For Batter:
2 cups sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups milk

Mix above ingredients together until lumps are gone. Pour the batter over the melted butter in the 9x13 dish.  Spoon Fruit on top of batter.  DO NOT STIR.  Bake in oven at 350 Degrees for 40-45 minutes or until top is brown.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blackberry Crumb Bars

Ok, so clearly I can't resist baking things with all of the fresh fruit that is out in abundance right now.  I go to the store and see the beautiful berries sitting there, gleaming like precious jewels and this overwhelming desire to bake with them comes over me.  Please rest assured (not that you really take the time to worry one way or the other) but we do eat plenty of fresh fruit at our house and don't just sacrifice them all into sugary baked goods.  I just know that this season is short and when its cold and snowing, I'll look longingly at recipes for blueberry pie or, say, these blackberry bars, just full of ripe fresh blackberries, and wish for a piece.  I'm enjoying indulging right now, for sure! And, hopefully, my neighbors and relatives are enjoying the fruits of my labors as well as we can't possibly eat all of these treats ourselves. :)

Blackberries were on sale recently and they were sweet and the size of quarters-- just asking to be baked into something special.  These blackberry crumb bars were just the thing. A generous helping of blackberries is sandwiched between a spongy coffee cake and a brown sugar crumb topping and baked.  Its perfect with a cup of coffee in the morning or wrapped up into squares and taken on a picnic.

Blackberry Crumb Bars

6 tbs. unsalted butter melted, and 1/2 cup (1 stick) room temperature
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 containers (5 ounces each) blackberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Grease and flour pan, tapping out excess.

2.  Make topping:  In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt; add 1 cup flour and mix with a fork until large moist crumbs form. Refrigerate topping until ready to use.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt; set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat room-temperature butter, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Reduce speed to low, mix in flour mixture. Spread batter evenly in pan; sprinkle with blackberries, then chilled topping.

4. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes.  Cool completely in pan.  Cut into squares.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spiced Peach Carrot Quick Bread

Do you love recipes for quick breads as much as I do? I feel like I say this about everything I make for my blog (which I guess is why I starting a food blog-- I like to bake :)) but quick breads are so versatile-- and a great way to use up the abundance of zucchini, bananas, apples, carrots, pumpkin, etc. you may have lying around and need to get rid of.  Also, there is no waiting for dough to rise like in their yeasted counterparts so there is no long-term planning involved here.  Quick breads make great gifts too or are good to make for breakfast when you have company staying with you.  Just let the house fill with the aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, pecans, and peaches like it will if you make this bread, and you will have everyone gravitating to the kitchen in no time!

When I saw this recipe in this month's Southern Living, I knew I had to make it.  Luckily we are in the thick of peach season here in Virginia and peaches are very cheap and plentiful right now.  I know this is a very brief time so I'm trying to take full advantage of it and make as many peach recipes as I can.  This bread definitely became a new favorite-- its very easy to make-- you don't even need a mixer.  I adapted the recipe slightly by reducing the amount of nutmeg and adding some vanilla and was very happy with the results.  If you like zucchini bread or carrot cake, you will love this.  It was sweet but not overly so, which is nice for the morning, and the little bites of toasted pecan and peach were wonderful.

Spiced Peach Carrot Bread
3/4 cup chopped pecans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped fresh, ripe peaches
3/4 cup freshly grated carrots
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.  Cool 15 minutes.

2. Stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl; add peaches, carrots, oil, milk, eggs, vanilla, and toasted pecans stirring until dry ingredients are just moistened. Spoon batter into a greased 9x15-inch loaf pan. I would suggest using Baker's Joy or Baking Pam to prevent sticking.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove from pan to wire rack and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Adapted from Southern Living

Monday, July 11, 2011

(Easy Peasy) Warm Leek and Goat Cheese Dip

I'm always on the look out for easy dip recipes to keep on hand for when I have guests over. Appetizers and dips are one of my favorite parts of the menu to prepare and you can tell from the dog-eared pages of the food magazines and cookbooks I have that my interest really goes to those types of recipes (and to desserts of course). :)

I found this recipe for warm leek and goat cheese dip and just loved it.  Leeks are a member of the garlic and onion family but they are very mild-- even more so than scallions.  They are sauteed in butter until soft and lightly browned and then the cream cheese and goat cheese is added in.  The cream cheese adds a bit of creaminess to the dip and keeps it from being to sharp and some salt and pepper is added for flavor.  And, that's it.  You don't have to bake it in the oven or anything-- its ready to serve.

One final note about the leeks.  Be sure to rinse them thoroughly because they are dirty little suckers and you don't want grit in your dip.  I sliced mine first and then gave them a good rinse in my colander, then patted them dry.

4 tbs. unsalted butter
8 small leeks (about 2 pounds), white and tender green parts only, cleaned well and cut into 1/3-inch rings
1 pound fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Optional garnish: 2 tbs snipped chives
Serve with: pita chips, crackers, french bread, raw vegetables

Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet.  Add the leeks and stir to coat with butter.  Cover and cook over high heat just until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.  Uncover and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until tender and lightly browned in spots, about 8 minutes longer.  Remove from heat.  Stir in goat cheese and cream cheese until melted and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a shallow dish and sprinkle with the chives if desired.  Serve with crackers or crusty bread.

Serves 12.

Make ahead: The dip can be refrigerated overnight and reheated in a 325 degree F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until hot.

Recipe from Food and Wine

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Blueberry Pie for the Fourth of July

For those of you in the United States, I hope you all are enjoying the holiday weekend! I know I am! Its great to be home with my husband for the long weekend. Unfortunately, hubby is recuperating from surgery for a torn Achilles tendon so we are basically taking it easy, but I'm trying to make the time more enjoyable for him by making him some of his favorite treats.

Nothing says "summer" and "Fourth of July" more to us than a homemade blueberry pie.  My husband is a nut about blueberries and could eat them by the bucketful-- and if I can snag some away from him I try to make several pies each summer.  One of the nice things about living in Virginia is that there are a lot of great "pick your own" places around and we try to hit as many types of fruit as we can when they come in season (strawberries, cherries, blueberries, peaches, and apples) from May until the fall.  I think my husband will be out of commission for awhile this year so that might not be possible for him but he can at least enjoy this pie!

For the crust, I again used my absolute favorite crust from America's Test Kitchen.  This recipe replaces some of the water with a little bit of vodka.  If you think that sounds strange, the reason is that the vodka steams out faster than the water would, resulting in an amazingly flaky crust (aren't those America's Test Kitchen folks brilliant???) Its colorless and tasteless so its really just there to preform a chemical reaction in your crust. Its the one recipe that always give me a consistently flaky delicious crust and I've tried many-- all butter, all shortening, part butter/part shortening, using the food processor, cutting by hand, you name it.  This is the recipe you need if you want a delicious flaky crust!

Blueberry Pie

For Foolproof Double-Crust Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
12 tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces and chilled
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces and chilled
1/4 cup vodka, chilled
1/4 cup ice water

In a food processor, process 1 1/2 cups of the flour, sugar, and salt together until combined.  Scatter the butter and shortening over the top and continue to process until incorporated and the mixture begins to form uneven clumps with no remaining floury bits, about 15 seconds.

Scrape down the workbowl and redistribute the dough evenly around the processor blade.  Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup flour over the dough and pulse until the mixture has broken up into pieces and is evenly distributed around the bowl, 4 to 6 pulses.

Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.  Sprinkle the vodka and ice water over the mixture.  Stir and press the dough together using a stiff rubber spatula, until the dough sticks together.

Divide the dough into 2 even pieces.  Turn each piece of dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a 4 inch disk.  Wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Before rolling the dough out, let sit on the counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes.

For Blueberry Filling:
4 cups blueberries
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup sugar
3 tbs. cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs. butter

Mix all of the above except the butter into a bowl.  Taste and adjust ingredients as necessary to suit your preference.  Set aside while you roll out the pie dough.  

For Assembling the Pie
Roll one of the disks of dough out to fit a 9-inch pie pan.  Pour blueberry filling on top.  Dot the filling with the tablespoon of butter.  Roll out the other disk of dough and cover the filling.  If you are completely covering the  pie, cut several slits in the top to allow steam to escape.  Use a pastry brush to paint the egg wash all over the top crust of the pie including the edges.  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Cover the edges with tin foil to avoid over browning.  Bake at 375 for about 50-60 minutes.  Remove tin foil from the edges for the last 10-15 minutes of baking so the edges can brown.

Crust from America's Test Kitchen.  Filling slightly adapted from Annie's Eats 

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