Thursday, July 28, 2011

blueberry and coconut pound cake minis

 After last week's Blueberry Granita post I have been using blueberries mercilessly.
I throw them in pancakes.
I toss them in waffles.
I annihilate them in smoothies.

Sometimes I am successful.
and sometimes I'm not.

But I find myself buying more and more little green compostable cartons of them.
and not allowing them to rot in my fridge.

In fact, just today as I opened my refrigerator door I encountered four pints of fun loving blueberries crashing to the floor not quite missing my feet.
Only hours earlier they resided happily on the middle shelf, tucked safely between the stately eggs and the trustworthy yogurt.

But somehow they jumped to the front of the shelf and kamikazeed their way to freedom.
I bet it was that mephistophelean chocolate syrup that pushed them.
Those nostalgically shaped bottles sporting the name Hershey's, with dark brown oozing from the spout, just can't be trusted.

Blueberry and Coconut Pound Cake Minis
*Gourmet 2000

2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
4 large eggs (room temp)
10 tablespoons heavy cream
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus extra (for sprinkling on top) shredded coconut
1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream together butter, sugar and zest until light and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one.
Mix in cream.
Add flour & salt until just combined (this will make a lighter cake. Overmix and you'll make a brick). Fold in 1 cup coconut and 1 cup blueberries.
Spoon into prepared molds.
Sprinkle coconut on top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My quest to love the blueberry::Blueberry Granita with Ginger

I have a confession to make.
I don't love eating blueberries.
There. I said it.

Sure they are cute and round full of lots of good things.
A superfood I've been told.
But I have yet to pop some in my mouth and think Yeah, baby...this is what it's all about!
Frankly, I find them unpredictable.
The first ones may be wonderful.
But then the following 20 are eh.
And the squishy ones?
No thank you.

And then there are my children.
Though they claim to l.o.v.e them, these maniacal mites morph into mini MacGyvers who manage to magically manipulate the most mundane materials into the most miraculous medieval machinery using a merely a mango and a masher.
Before I know it, blueberries are flying everywhere.

Then what happens?
Someone innocently enough steps on one and drags the pulp and juices through the entire house.
One blueberry can cover approximately 1000 square feet.
Imagine what forty can do.

But I want to love them.
Mostly because they are fun to photograph.

And so I am on a quest to transform this fickle little superhero...
sometimes sweet,
other times squishy...
this wonder of nature...
this deceivingly mobile little fruit
into something I want to invite into my home and enjoy.

My quest has led me to this blueberry and ginger granita.
It's sweet and refreshing with a little kick on the back end from the ginger to balance it out.

For now I'm keeping this to myself.
Sorry MacGyvers.
I just don't feel like cleaning granita off the ceiling fan.

Blueberry Granita with Ginger
*adapted from Gourmet
(I use a turbo charged blender, but I'm sure a food processor will work just fine)
3 tablespoons peeled & chopped fresh ginger
1/4 cup sugar
1 lb blueberries
1 cup water
juice from 1 lemon

Blend together the ginger and sugar until uniform.
Add the blueberries and mix until uniform.
Place a strainer over a bowl and pass mixture through...until uniform.
Discard (uniform) solids.
Pour into an 8x8 baking dish and spread evenly until uniform.
Freeze until uniformly solid.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Belle Chevre Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Recently I was asked to be part of a joint venture by chef Marvin Woods and Tasia Malakasis of Belle Chevre in promoting healthy eating by reviewing one of their recipes in their new FREE e-book.
And it is not, 'this tastes like cardboard, but eat it anyway because it's good for you' healthy eating.
This is real food healthy eating.
Count me in!

They came up with a hearty portobello mushroom recipe that will make even the most steadfast carnivore ask for seconds.
Which is good, because I have a lot of carnivores living under my roof.

I made this as a side dish, along with steak fajitas (carnivores, remember?) but it can easily be the main event.

In fact, one of my little ones, hidden under his trusty blanket, affectionately referred to as his nana (pronounced nah-nah) surreptitiously grabbed the bowl and plopped onto the couch to devour it in solitude.

Well,  in as much solitude as you can get in a house of seven.

He was quickly discovered and forced encouraged to fork some over.
"I guess he's a vegetarian" A, my 7 yr old, declared.

Vegetarian or not, we loved these grilled portobello mushrooms, and have lovingly welcomed them into our home and onto our plates.
I think this may be the start of a beautiful relationship.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Belle Chevre Goat Cheese & Sun Dried Tomatoes
*recipe by Trailblazing Productions, LLC

6 Portobello mushrooms, stems trimmed to the cap
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon curry powder
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes
4 ounces Belle Chevre goat cheese
Kosher saIt and ground black pepper

Tip-Portobello mushrooms have a beard underneath that can bring a stronger flavor to the mushroom.  It also stains the plate.  To remove it, just take a spoon and scrape the beard gently to flake it away. 

Preheat grill medium to high heat. Place mushrooms in a large bowl. Add half of the oil, and all of the vinegar to the mushroom. Coat mushrooms with oil and vinegar on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Place mushrooms on the grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on both sides.

Tip-Start the mushrooms cap side down and cook until the cap is lightly browned, allowing the water to be released and settle into the mushroom. Turn the mushroom once to finish cooking.

While mushrooms are cooking, add the rest of the oil, thyme and curry powder to the bowl. Remove mushrooms from the grill and place in a bowl. Make sure there is enough marinade to allow mushrooms to be coated or covered in the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap for 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove mushrooms and place on serving plate. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper, if needed.

Sprinkle mushrooms with goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Peaches and Pop Culture- Peach Ice Cream

As I am standing in line at the farmer's market holding a weighty basket of freshly picked peaches in one hand, and a sweaty cranky child in the other, I decide I'm going to make ice cream.

Having recently discovered David Lebovitz's recipe for vanilla ice cream, I knew I had a winner.
A cure for the sweats and the cranks.

I hand the grower some damp wadded up bills that have been quietly residing in my back pocket and I find myself unable to shake the Peaches song by the Presidents of the USA from my sizzling brain. Although I'm certain they are singing of something quite different than fruity ice cream.

It gets me thinking about other iconic peach related references in pop culture.

Remember that Seinfeld episode where George professes his love of Mackinaw peaches, then gets completely grossed out when his girlfriend takes his discarded pit and savors it herself?
I never understood how he dated so many beautiful women.
Meanwhile, the gorgeous Elaine always seemed to get the men with...Ummmm... great personalities.
Perhaps George negotiated his contract better.

And of course the infamous Peach Pit, located in the zip code everyone around the world knows by heart.
Oh, that Dylan was so dreamy.
I begged my parents to move out West, but they opted instead for an all girls Catholic School.

And for those of us who treat The Simpson's as religion, there is : The Peach Song.
I have found that a Simpsons reference can be inserted into any conversation.
Seriously, any conversation.

Let's not forget Peach from Finding Nemo, and Mario's love Princess Peach.
Both lovely and enchanting to the G-rated crowd.
And their taxi drivers.

Roald Dahl must have loved them as well, for he immortalized a rather large one in James and the Giant Peach.
A childhood favorite that I eagerly read to my own children.
Although somewhat creepy when experienced through more seasoned eyes.

Peach Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half & half
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1lb peaches- peeled & sliced (keep the peels & pits)
1 vanilla bean
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan over low heat warm 1 cup heavy cream, half & half, sugar and salt.  Add the scraped the seeds from the vanilla bean and the bean itself as well as the peaches, skins and pits and keep on heat until peaches are warmed through. (thin slices will heat faster). Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 30-60 minutes.

Remove peaches and puree.

whisk the egg yolks and slowly add the warmed saucepan contents into it, whisking the whole time. Return contents to saucepan, pour in the patiently waiting pureed peaches and stir over medium heat until the sauce thickens. Once it coats the back of a spoon so that you can run your finger through it and leave a trail behind, it is done.
You have just created a custard.
Pour remaining 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl, place a fine mesh strainer on top, and set on top of an ice bath.
Strain the custard into the large bowl.
Add the vanilla bean and vanilla extract.
Cover and chill in fridge.
Remove the vanilla bean when ready to make the ice cream in your ice cram maker.
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