Sunday, September 30, 2007

on vacation

We're taking a much needed vacation so I won't be posting until sometime during the first week of Octber.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Peach Galette

This is my first time to join the In the Bag challenge. How fun, especially when the ingredient in the bag is any type of fruit. The possibilities are endless....

I made this simple peach galette for my sister and brother-in-law while they were here for a visit. Well actually, I made it for my sister and me, because my brother-in-law doesn't like cooked fruit. What?? How can that be??? He's still a wonderful guy despite his cooked fruit aversion:)

Anyway, I had this large bag of ripe peaches just dying to be made into something delicious. I had seen this recipe for peach galette from Amiee on her blog underthehighchair and decided to make it for dessert. It was very simple and only took a few minutes to put together...or should have if I hadn't been talking and had read the directions that clearly stated to melt brown sugar with butter...Oops, used regular sugar and made a burnt caramel mess that had to be soaked from the bottom of the pan! Anyway after discarding first attempt, I made a very lovely galette. So when I saw the in the bag round up for this month was any fruit, I knew I had it in the bag..ooh sorry that was really bad:)

Rustic Peach Galette

½ lb Puff Pastry

7 ripe peaches

¼ cup butter

2/3 cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 egg, beaten
Roll out puff pastry in to about a 14 inch round. Refrigerate until chilled.
Half peaches and slice in to ½ inch wide wedges. In a heavy sauce pan on medium heat, melt butter and add sugar. Let sugar dissolve and bubble for a minute or so, then add peaches and stir to coat with butter mixture. Cook gently for a few minutes until the peaches soften slightly and release some juice.
Combine cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice together and add to peach mixture. Stir gently as the cornstarch thickens and coats the peaches. Simmer for a few minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 375F

Remove puff from fridge and arrange peach filling in the middle, leaving a good 2 inches around the edge. Fold up sides of puff party into the peaches, overlapping slightly until peaches are enclosed within a circle of puff. Brush pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake until pastry is golden, about 25 minutes.

*my peaches were really large so I used 5 and still had a little leftover.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pancetta-studded Spinach and Feta Frittata

A frittata is decribed by wikipedia as "A type of Italian omelette that frequently features fillings such as meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Like a normal omelette, a frittata is prepared in a skillet. However, whereas a normal omelette is cooked on a stovetop and served folded, a frittata is first partially cooked on a stovetop but then finished under the grill (broiler) and served open-faced."
Frittata's are quick, easy and the filling combinations are endless. Almost anything in the fridge that needs to be used can be thrown into a frittata. In 10 -15 minutes you've got a beautiful meal any time of day! I love to make frittata served with a salad of mixed greens for a light dinner.


6 large eggs whipped together in a mixing bowl with a splash of milk (or water). It makes the eggs a little more fluffy.

4 oz Pancetta diced

1TBS olive oil

4-5 0z. fresh baby spinach. (I usually throw in four or five handfuls)

5 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped

3 oz. feta cheese diced or crumbled

salt and pepper to taste


Turn on broiler in oven. Raise the oven rack to about 4 inches below the broiler.

Heat olive oil in a heavy non-stick oven safe skillet over med-high heat. Toss in pancetta and cook until slightly browned, add spinach. Saute spinach until wilted about 3 minutes. Add the whipped eggs to the pan and sprinkle the cheese and feta over the eggs. Let the eggs start to set up 2-3 min. Then lift the edges a little and tilt your pan to allow some of the egg to flow under. Cook the eggs until they are set but still runny in the center. Place the skillet in the oven directly under the boiler and cook until the eggs puff and turn lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and run a knife around the edge. Place a plate that's slightly larger than the skillet on top of the skillet. Carefully invert the pan. The fritatta should release easily. Serve warm or at room temp. I've found that this frittata is much more flavorful at room temperature.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Souper Saturday

Today for the first time, I could feel it! It wasn't a drastic difference from the day before but it was there! The first hint of Fall. The humidity that had hung in the air like a warm, wet coat seemed to have melted away overnight. The temperature has dropped a few degrees and summer is quickly giving way to fall. Summer we will miss you but, I always look forward to that crisp fall air, football, and all the foods and spices that signify fall. Pumpkins, pecans, apple pie, cinnamon, and the return of SOUP! During summer here in the southeast, soup is not the most appealing meal. The last thing I want to eat in mid July is a pipping hot bowl of soup. I know that there are many wonderful cold soups; gazpacho made from fresh ripe tomatoes and veggies or a soup of ripe juicy melon, Yum!
However, when that hint of fall is in the air, I crave a pot of simmering soup on the stove top that fills the house with smell of warm comfort.

Drawing from my Pennsylvania Dutch roots, I made a variation of my grandmother's Chicken Corn Soup. Grammy, being a good Mennonite lady with a large family, would poach at least two chickens in water onions, carrots and celery. Then let the chickens cool and clean the meat from the bones, put it all back in the broth and finish the soup. My mom always made her soup this way as well, and as a child, I loved helping take the meat off the chicken. The helper could steal a few pieces of chicken!

Today I really wanted chicken corn soup and not having the time or a whole chicken to cook, I grabbed some chicken stock and a couple of chicken breast and made soup. I added some new potatoes to my soup and I don't think that my grandmother put any potatoes in hers. That's the great thing about making soup, there are endless variations and it's a great way to clean out the leftovers in the fridge. So throw in whatever you've got on hand. Soup is great dish for beginning cooks because it's almost impossible to ruin!

serves 6-8

10 cups chicken stock (I used homemade but any good stock will do)

2-3 chicken breasts

2 stalks of celery chopped

1 small yellow onion chopped

1 carrot sliced thinly

1 lb of new potatoes cut into small pieces

1tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 cup of fresh corn or frozen corn kernels

2 hard boiled eggs chopped

1 1/2 TBS fresh flat leaf parsley chopped

Put the stock, chicken breasts, celery, onions, carrots, potatoes, salt and pepper, in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 30-45 min. until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken breast and shred with two forks. Skim any fat from the top of the soup and return the chicken to the soup. Add the corn and cook for 10 min. Add hard boiled eggs and parsley. Adjust seasoning(I like lots of pepper) and serve.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

My favorite question

It was a "what are we going to have for dinner?" kind of night. I had a busy day and hadn't given any thought what so ever to what to have for dinner. I scanned the fridge and freezer trying to come up with an idea before hubby's call on the way home from work. The call usually goes something like this:

Hubby- "Hi, I'm on my way home."

Me- "Okay..."

"What's going on?"

"Nothing much, the usual." (pause... wait... for the inevitable question)

"Oh, well what's for dinner?" (voice full of hope)

I usually do have some sort of plan before he calls, but occasionally I have no idea. This response is met with a deflated sounding"Oh well, we'll figure it out."

Nothing for him to look forward to for the remainder of the 20 min. drive home, which is why, I think, he calls in the first place.
On days when he's not working, he may ask "what's for dinner?" shortly after lunch. "How can you possibly be thinking about dinner!" I ask in wonder.
"I'm only asking because I know how much you love that question!" he'll say. It's a good thing I love him.
I was having one of those no clue days and I knew the phone would be ringing soon. As I pillaged though the refrigerator, I found a mango that really needed to be used. "Mango salsa!" I thought. I love mango salsa with a little jalapeno, red onion and avocado with fish or chicken, but I had pork tenderloin. I remembered a dish from Epicurious for a pork with mango salsa and a blackberry gastrique. This mango salsa is made with red onion, lime, and mint.

It pairs wonderfully with the raspberry gastrique. This recipe looks like it would be difficult, gastrique and all, but it's quite easy and comes together in about 30 min.

A little while later when I got "the call" I had an answer for the all important question!

Pork Tournedos with Blackberry Gastrique and Mango Salsa
Mango Salsa
1 firm-ripe mango, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
In a bowl stir together salsa ingredients with salt to taste and let stand, covered, at room temperature. Salsa may be made 2 hours ahead and kept at room temperature, covered.
Makes about 1 cup.
Pork Tournedos and blackberry gastric
3/4 cup red-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons seedless blackberry preserves
1/4 teaspoon salt
six 1 1/2-inch-thick center-cut boneless pork loin chops (also called tournedos, about 6 ounces each)
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Make gastrique:
In a small saucepan simmer vinegar until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 3 minutes. Whisk in preserves and salt, whisking until smooth, and keep warm, covered.
Season pork with pepper and salt. In a 12-inch heavy skillet melt butter over moderately high heat until foam subsides and sauté pork until golden, about 3 minutes on each side. Cook pork, covered, over moderate heat until just cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
Divide gastrique among 6 plates and top with pork and salsa.
Serves 6.
I used a pork tenderloin, cut into about 2" rounds. I flattened the pieces slightly with my hand, into relatively all the same shape and cooked as above.
I served it with wilted spinach and roasted sweet potato.