Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Peach Melba


It's almost August and, here in WV,  it's PEACH SEASON.  One of our local orchards has a great little farmer's market, Orr's.  The peaches are piled in baskets, the counters are full of berries (I bought some red raspberries) and fresh veggies and flowers are everywhere.  You can cut or pick your own of some of their products.  We've been waiting for the first cling-free peaches to come in. These are Sunbrights. 

It's hard to put peaches this fresh and sweet in a dough.  After just eating them fresh for a couple days, I decided to go to an old recipe from the turn of the century that we used to make in the 70's--Peach Melba.  If you make this, PLEASE try it with the peaches warm before you put them in the fridge to serve later.  (Or reheat the peaches in the microwave before serving.)  The warm peach contrasted with the chilled ice cream perfectly and made the raspberry sauce taste bright and fresh.

PEACH MELBA
Red Raspberry Sauce:
2 cups fresh red raspberries (Save a few fresh berries to put on top)
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Process this mixture in a blender until pureed.  Pour into a fine-meshed strainer and press through to remove the seeds.  Cover the puree and refrigerate until needed.

Peaches:
3 large ripe peaches, peeled and split with seeds removed
2 cups sugar
2 cups water

To make the peaches easier to peel, you may immerse them in boiling water for about 30 seconds and then plunge into ice water to loosen the skin.

Bring the sugar and water to a boil and simmer about 5 minutes.  Add the clean peaches and boil gently about 7-8 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to a very warm temperature.

Vanilla Ice Cream:

Buy good quality vanilla ice cream or here's a good creamy version if you want to make your own.

Amaretti Cookies:

Crumble cookies to use as topping--one cookie per serving.

To put together the dessert, place one very warm peach in a dish.  Scoop vanilla ice cream over the peach.  Drizzle with fresh raspberry sauce and crumble an amaretti cookie on top.   Sprinkle with a couple fresh raspberries on top.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rice Flour Blueberry Financiers

I love flour!  I read a post recently that displayed flour pouring out of a grain mill.  Wouldn't it be awesome to grind your own flour fresh when you're ready to bake some crusty loaf of whole-grain-to-die-for bread???--like grinding coffee beans fresh every morning for a pot of hot coffee???  Well I don't expect to go that far, but I do love the feel and smell of different flours.  Someone who knows that gets me a different kind of flour regularly and I have the fun and challenge of baking something from it.  This time it's rice flour.  One of my favorite sites gave me the inspiration for how to use my rice flour. Tartelette posted a recipe for Financiers with rice flour substituted for wheat flour.  I did a little research on Financiers and here's my version:
Financiers are usually made with wheat and almond flour.  Fruit in the center is optional.  I tried some of each and prefer the fruit added.  I found when substituting rice flour for the wheat, about 7/8 cup of rice flour = 1 cup wheat flour.  The almond flour is toasted and the butter is browned before beginning this recipe.

Toasted almond flour:
  Turn oven to 350 deg. F.  Spread almond flour over cookie sheet and toast in oven 6-8 minutes until lightly browned. 

Browned butter - beurre noisette:
  Put 1/2 cup of butter in a small pan over medium heat.  Bring it to a boil, swirling pan occasionally.  A foam will form on the butter.  Continue to cook it until the butter looks clear and the milk solids have dropped to the bottom of the pan and have turned deep brown.  Immediately remove from heat and pour through a cheesecloth-lined strainer.  Allow to cool.  Only 1/3 cup is needed for this recipe.  Use the rest to butter the pans.
Blueberry Financiers with Rice Flour

1/2 cup toasted almond flour
1/4 cup rice flour
3/4 cup vanilla confectioner's sugar (made by storing a vanilla bean in a jar of confectioner's sugar a couple weeks)  or plain confectioner's sugar and 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
4 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/3 cup beurre noisette
Blueberry preserves

Preheat oven to 400 deg. F.  Place 12 Financier or tart molds on a cookie sheet and use a pastry brush to coat the inside of each one with some of the browned butter.  If you don't have those, you can use a mini-muffin pan. (I baked some using paper cupcake liners and some without--the ones without liners came right out of the molds nicely.  The paper was hard to remove from the others.)
In a large bowl whisk the flours, sugar and salt together.  Fold in the lightly-beaten egg whites and the 1/3 cup beurre noisette until well combined.  Scoop by spoonfuls into the molds.  Using the tip of a spoon place about a level teaspoon of blueberry preserves into the center of each little cake.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned and springy to the touch.  Remove from the molds and cool on a rack. 
These can be sprinkled lightly with confectioner's sugar when cool, but I love them just as they are with a pot of hot, sweet tea.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Corn, Beans and Avocado

I am learning to like cilantro.  I bought some for a dish and have quite a bit left over so I'm finding ways to use it.  Today I checked out the fridge and found several containers of cannellini beans that I had cooked from dried beans (I ran out of canned yesterday and had to raid my dry bean stash), I had 4 ears of leftover cooked corn and 2 avocados and 3 limes in a bowl on the counter.  My spice cabinet is always well-stocked so I knew I could do something here with my cilantro again.
I chopped up a head of romaine lettuce, added about a cup of my cannellini beans, cut the corn off two of the ears (they were small), cut up and added an avocado, sliced about 1/4 of an onion over it and sprinkled the salad with some chopped cilantro--about 3 Tblsp.  I tossed all that and sprinkled it with a dressing made of 2 Tblsp. olive oil, juice of 1/2 lime, 1/2 tsp. cumin, and salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste.  That made about 2 servings.  It was so easy, cool and good.  Perfect for a light summer meal on my breezy front porch.