Saturday, July 24, 2010

I've got the blues

Where I'm from mid July means blueberry season is officially on, so I wasn't surprised when I came across a nice full basket of local blueberries at the organic market. I was really glad to see them. I haven't had a chance to go blueberry picking at my local U-pick farm yet this summer because I've been working a lot, but I'm definitely itching to go. My head is full of visions of canned blueberry syrup and blueberry pie. The farm where my mother and I pick blueberries also has apple and peach orchards so when we go up there its kind of like one stop local fruit shopping. It's a foodies paradise, and considering that all of the fruit is 75 cents a pound it isn't to bad on the pocket book either. So I encourage all of you to find your local U-pick farm and live it up. Your tummy will be well rewarded for all of your hard work. Plus a little sweat always makes the fruit taste better.

blueberry boy bait
recipe adapted from cook's country

For the Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup whole milk
½ cup blueberries
For the Topping:
½ cup blueberries
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. For the Cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13×9-inch baking pan.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. With a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until it just comes together. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of the flour mixture until just mixed; beat in half of the milk. Beat in half of the remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss the blueberries with remaining 1 teaspoon flour. Using a rubber spatula, fold in blueberries. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
4. For the Topping: Scatter the blueberries over top of the batter. Stir the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the cake. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter or storage container.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

how to beat the heat

It has been scorching hot here in the mid Atlantic all week. On top of that I work in a kitchen all day. We have no air conditioning and we run a griddle, a microwave, and a panini grill all day so its at least ten degrees hotter int he kitchen than it is outside. it's unpleasant. At the end of the day I'm in need of some serious relief. Sometimes I just want to curl up in the chest freezer, but doing so would be extreme and unsafe. So I usually just settle for the pool but ice cream has to be the best and tastiest form of relief. Home made ice cream is worth the work even on a hot day. It's so much better that anything that's going to come form a cardboard tub form the grocery store. This brown sugar ice cream is an especially worth the work.

Brown sugar ice cream
adapted from Bon appetit

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, divided
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 large egg yolks

In a large sauce pot combine heavy whipping cream, whole milk, and 1/2 cup sugar. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add bean. Bring cream mixture to simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Whisk yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until very thick.

Slowly whisk hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and heat over medium heat until custard thickens and thermometer reads 180°F. Strain custard through a sieve into large bowl. Cover and chill overnight.

Process the custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer ice cream to container. Serve immediately as soft serve or cover and freeze until firm.

Friday, July 9, 2010

a change of pace

So far all of my recipes have been sweet. I started thinking it might be time for something a little different. I got inspired by Diners Drive ins and Dives. The other night Guy Fiere was at a place that made the most amazing looking chicken a la king. I love chicken pot pie and to me chicken a la king is basically chicken pot pie with out all that pesky crust getting in the way. This recipe from Americas Test Kitchen was everything I wanted chicken a la king to be. It's creamy and rich and comforting.

Chicken A la king
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion , diced
8 ounces white mushroom , sliced thin
1 red bell pepper , diced
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh parsley , finely chopped

1. Whisk together cream, lemon juice, and in bowl. Combine chicken and cream mixture in large bag and refrigerate 30 minutes.
2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion until golden. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, salt, and pepper and cook until vegetables have softened. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits with wooden spoon, and cook until thickened. Add broth and remaining cream and cook until sauce is very thick and spatula leaves trail when dragged through sauce.
3. Stir in chicken mixture and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring frequently, until chicken is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in remaining lemon juice and parsley. Serve with toast or over biscuits.

Friday, July 2, 2010

regarding hobbits and tea cakes...

Before I left school in May I decided I was going to read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series while I was home for the summer. As I started reading I realized that hobbits are my kind of people. They eat six meals a day, they love to throw parties and give away presents. There's always a kettle on the fire and pantries full of food. As I read the description of the food that Bilbo served the dwarfs I started to get hungry. Visions of vintage tea pots and dessert trays full of little cakes were dancing in my head and so I did what any girl would do. I opened my cook books and double knotted my apron strings.
I used Dorie Greenspan's recipe for Swedish Visiting Cake but I baked it in muffin tins instead of a skilled and viola a tea time treat perfectly paired with a cup of Earl Gray. Now if only I had a fire place and a cushy chair to curl up in so that I can continue to enjoy The Lord of the Rings series. Oh well it is July so I suppose I don't really need a roaring fire.

- 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- About 1/4 cup sliced almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12 cup muffin tin or a 9-inch cake pan.

2. in a medium bowl blend the zest and sugar together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the eggs one at a time until well blended. Add in the salt and extracts. Use a rubber spatula to stir in the flour. Finally, fold in the melted butter.

3. use and ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup measure to evenly distribute the batter into each muffin cup, smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Scatter the sliced almonds over the top and sprinkle with a little coarse sugar.

4. Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they are golden and a little crisp on the outside. Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack.