Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Peach and Blackberry Crisp

Mercy, is this good. It is good out of the oven with vanilla ice cream puddling around it and, like so many things I love, it is good for breakfast the next day with a dollop of greek yogurt (or with more vanilla ice cream!).

The original recipe for this included raspberries, but blackberries were on sale and I was short a peach. So, I doubled the amount of blackberries and a complete success it turned out to be- the purple streaked berries mingled with the soft honey muskiness of the peaches. This of course is to say nothing of the buttery heaven crisp topping.

Please please try this. It makes enough to feed a crowd but less people also just means more leftovers.
This recipe from The Barefoot Contessa.

Peach and Blackberry Crisp

4 to 5 pounds firm ripe peaches (10 to 12 large peaches)
zest of 1 orange
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups plus 2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pint blackberries (here the recipe originally called for 1/2 pint raspberries)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the inside of a 10x15x2 1/2 inch oval baking dish

2) Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place them in cold water. Peel the peaches and slice them into thick wedges and place them in to a large bowl. Add the orange zest, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the raspberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid, add 1 more tablespoon of flour. Pour the peaches into the baking dish and gently smooth the top.

3) Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, and the cold, diced butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is crumbly.

4) Sprinkle the crisp mixture evenly on top of the peaches and raspberries (or blackberries). Bake for 1 hour until the top is browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator and reheat in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until warm.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Food

I love food's ability to build connections and establish moments.  One of my favorite things is asking people to describe their favorite meal. It is the most fun to see a person's eyes shine and watch how with animated gestures they describe their comfort dish -perfect bite- food memory.

In college, a friend from Missouri described this sandwich- tender shredded pork, swimming in a vinegary slightly sweet sauce and piled on a soft roll. I did not grow up with this kind of food and am not much of a meat eater, but her description of this sandwich made me crave it too.

I think this is a perfect summer meal with coleslaw and chips. Nothing too fussy, no pretention, just honest good food. The kind of food I like to serve friends.

Also, this is probably the only coleslaw I would serve friends. I may have coleslaw trauma from childhood (why pineapple? why raisins? and why leaving it in a car for four hours before the potluck?). This salad is straightforward- crisp cabbage, shredded carrot, vinegar spiked mayonaise dressing. It is a nice accompaniment to the pulled pork sandwich and is heaven when piled on top.

The pulled pork recipe is from Everyday Food magazine and the coleslaw is The Barefoot Contessa. 

Southern Pulled Pork Sandwich

1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
coarse salt and ground pepper
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 4 equal pieces
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 soft sandwich rolls, split
Store-bought barbeque sauce for serving (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in lower and upper positions. In a small bowl, combine sugar, cayenne, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. (I actually do not think I put that much salt in. If you are more comfortable with less than a tablespoon, feel free to reduce the amount as well.)

2) Place pork in a 5 quart dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot; rub with spice mixture.

3) In a medium bowl, combine vinegar, garlic, and 1/2 cup water; pour over pork. Cover pot, and place in oven on lower rack. Bake until pork is very tender and separates easily when pulled with a fork, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

4) Moisten shredded pork with the pan juices. When serving, may I recommend potato bread rolls? Their texture seems just right. Also, a varied selection of barbecue sauces along side for topping the sandwiches is fun.

Vegetable Coleslaw

1 pound white cabbage (1/2 small head)
3/4 pound red cabbage (1/2 small head)
5 carrots
2 cups good mayonaise
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

(The Barefoot Contessa recipe calls for shredding the vegetables in a food processor. As always, I include the original recipe instructions below. However, if you do not have a large food processor, please feel free to do what I do: finely slice the cabbage by knife and then shred the carrots on the large holes of a box grater.)

1) Fit a food processor with the thickest slicing blade. Cut the cabbages into small wedges and place horizontally into the feed tube. Process in batches. Next, fit the food processor with the grating blade. Cut the carrots in half and place in the feed tube so they are lying on their sides. Process in batches and mix in a bowl with the grated cabbages.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, vinegar, celery seeds, celery salt, salt and pepper.

3) Pour enough of the dressing over the grated vegetables to moisten them. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chocolate Ganache Cake

I would consider this my go to chocolate cake- the recipe never fails (thank you, Ina), it can be made in advance, and the ganache is to die for. I regularly make this cake for birthday's, including for 75 plus guests at my father's 60th birthday. Probably the height of my commitment to this cake was for my sisters bridal shower. I should preface this by saying that when I got married, my older sister hosted the loveliest most thoughtful bridal shower for me. Additionally, she is ridiculously smart, hardworking and continues to be my biggest cheerleader and most thoughtful friend. So, when she was engaged, I was determined to have a charming party for her. One small obstacle is that I live about a 3 hour plane ride away. I was scheduled to arrive 4 hours before the party and was fully resolved on not having some grocery/warehouse store crisco sugar frosted pink roses cake nightmare (I am just going to say it: I hate those things. I realize that someday when I have kids and they request a batman/spiderman/strawberry shortcake themed cake, I may feel differently, but I will revisit my prejudice then). I made two of these chocolate cakes the day before, wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap, and purchased a cake box from a local bakery to set on my lap during the flight. (It was an early morning flight, and several of my fellow passengers, while sipping cups of coffee, asked me if they could have some of whatever was in the bakery box. They were politely denied). I also made the ganache the day before and poured it into small tupperware containers and stowed them in my carry on suitcase. When I arrived for the party, I simply microwaved the ganache and poured it over the cakes. Totally worth it.
The recipe is from The Barefoot Contessa.

 Chocolate Ganache Cake

1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 16 oz. can Hershey's chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour

1) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 8-inch round cake pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper. (Yes, I know this is a bit tedious, but really fully worth the time investment to avoid that terrible moment when the cake does not come out of the pan.)

2) Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time.

3) Mix in the chocolate syrup and vanilla. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Don't overbeat, or the cake will be tough.

4) Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Don't overbake! Let cool thoroughly in the pan.

(This really is the best stuff ever. A spoonful of it straight from the fridge has been known to change the outlook of entire days.)

1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz good semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

1) Cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.

2) Place the cake upside down on a wire rack and pour the glaze evenly over the top, making sure to cover the entire cake and sides. You can tilt the rack to smooth the glaze.

3) I generally leave the cake undecorated. However, as you can see from the picture below, a small jumble of blackberries is rather pleasing against the sheen of the ganache. Ina Garten also recommends candied violets or gold leaf.

3) The frosted cake should not be refrigerated. However, unfrosted, the cake will keep well for up to a week when wrapped tightly in plastic and stowed in the fridge. I would not recommend making the ganache too far in advance, as small spooned out scoops tend to stealthily dwindle the amount of ganache in direct proportion to the length of time it is left in the fridge.