Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Summer Peach Cake

When we first started this blog, I said I wasn't into making complicated desserts. I was just a mix and bake kind of a girl. This dessert is making a big fat liar out of me.

Perhaps having a cooking blog has pushed me to try a little harder in the dessert department. Or maybe I just wanted to use my new springform pan. Or maybe I just wanted to make something awesome with summer peaches while they're still here. The thing is, this dessert required way more effort than I'd normally want to expend for one little cake. It's a Cook's Illustrated recipe, so naturally, it has a thousand steps, yet it is also super-delicious. Trade-off.

It's probably not as complicated as making a peach pie, though. If you see me making double-crust pies on here, then you'll know I've officially lost my mind. You have to draw the line somewhere.

We had a little BBQ at our house over Labor Day weekend with John's family (hi Fred!), and this cake followed a pretty serious pulled pork dinner. A slice of this cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream was the perfect way to end the meal, and bid a fond farewell to summer.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sherried Pineapple Pork Tenderloin

My main motivation for making this recipe was that it would use up one of the 5 little cans of pineapple juice that have been taking up space in my pantry since we lived in our old apartment. I can't even remember what I originally bought it for. I had no idea that this would become a favorite in our house... I made it two weeks in a row, which is something I almost never do.  And I might even make it next week, since I still have three cans of pineapple juice left. The sauce is so good that John convinced me that we needed to save the remaining two tablespoons of it, because surely we'd find something to dip in it. Oh, and did I mention that it's quick and easy to make?

The original recipe says that it serves four, but that's just silly. My portion was what you see above, so I'm going to say it serves two. If you've got more people to feed, this could easily be doubled. We ate ours with some delicious pear, walnut, and feta salad.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Blueberry Scones

I'm sure I will forever think of these as "hurricane scones." John and I were enjoying a few days at the Jersey Shore this week, and had to end our stay early due to the evacuations. The night before we left, we discussed what we wanted to eat while we were holed up during Irene, and scones seemed like good comfort food. We passed through Hammonton, NJ on our way home, which happens to be the blueberry capital of the world (or so it claims). So, we picked up some fresh blueberries at a farm stand and were ready for some stormy-weather baking.

If you've ever had a true British scone, these are not the same. They are also not the crumbly, dry American version you might pick up at Starbuck's. They are a bit crispy and sweet on the outside, and moist and tender on the inside. I thought they might be nice served with some lemon curd, but I didn't think it was worth going to the grocery store and fighting my way through the pre-storm crowds just to pick up a jar. You should have these with a cup of tea (preferably with milk, if you're going to be all British about it).

One somewhat unusual step in this recipe is to grate the butter. Make sure yours is good and frozen or this won't work so well. The rest of the process is kind of similar to making biscuits: you have to roll and shape the dough without over-working it. You'll definitely need a bench scraper if you're going to attempt this recipe. These are best eaten warm out of the oven, but you can freeze the dough once you've prepared it and heat them up when you're ready to eat them (further directions are below).   

If you subscribe to Cook's Illustrated, you can check out a helpful video of how to make these scones on their website.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fresh Corn Salad with Black Beans and Tomatoes

Here's another recipe made during our stay at the Cook's Country house in Vermont. If you're looking for a great side dish to bring to a BBQ or picnic, look no further: this salad is healthy, full of ingredients that you can buy right now at your local farm stand, and it's easy to make. I made it extra-summery by grilling the corn rather than boiling it as the original recipe called for. I also added avocado, because it just seemed to make sense with the other ingredients. Fresh corn and tomatoes are the stars here, so please don't use the canned kind. The leftovers make a great filling for quesadillas and omlettes!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer Tomato Pie

I can't take credit for making this delicious creation: my friend Kate made it while we were on our Vermont vacation (I can only take credit for eating it). I never get tired of fresh tomatoes (especially when they're layered with cheese), so I plan to make this myself before the summer is over. Served at room temperature, a slice of this pie with a fresh green salad makes an excellent dinner on a steamy August evening.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Vacation Photos

John and I are back from our food-themed trip to the Cook's Country farmhouse in Rupert, VT. We cooked some pretty amazing meals in the set kitchen (not the best photo, but you can see the studio lights on the ceiling). Can't you just picture Bridget and Chris cooking right here?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Barbecued Chicken Kebabs

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know that John and I are huge fans of Cook's Illustrated. This recipe is a perfect example of why we adore them: in order to keep the chicken pieces moist while grilling, the recipe tells you to coat them with pureed bacon. Weird, yet brilliant.

Although pureeing bacon might have been the nastiest thing I've ever done with my food processor, the resulting kebabs were phenomenal. We used chicken thighs, as the recipe recommends, but you can use breasts if that's your thing (just don't use breasts and thighs on the same skewer since they cook at different rates). I totally dig the homemade barbecue sauce from this recipe, but you could easily sub your favorite bottled brand if you want to save some time. Just don't skip the bacon paste!

We cooked ours on our charcoal grill, but I'm including instructions for a gas grill as well. Tomorrow we're heading to Vermont to stay at the Cook's Country house (see the previous post for more info), so stay tuned for lots of fabulous photos and recipes from our stay.