RECIPE: Macerated Honey and Mint White Peaches

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My father has battled the suburban squirrels for years. They're vicous and inconsiderate! They take one of Dad's prized peaches, take one bite, throw it on the ground and move to a new one. My father finally came up with a deterrant to keep them away. So low and behold, we had peaches this year, white and yellow!




Peaches are great any which way. But I threw together a dessert where the fresh flavors of the white peaches could come through. Serve them with a good quality vanilla ice cream. You'll have a light, refreshing Summer dessert.

Macerated Honey and Mint White Peaches

Ingredients:

3-4 cups peeled, pitted and sliced white peaches
1/8 cup chopped mint leaves
3 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. orange juice
1/2 cup triple sec
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/16 tsp. salt
Good quality vanilla ice cream

Direction:

Mix the liquid ingredients first until honey is dissolved. Pour over the peaches in a large bowl. Add mint, zest and salt, toss. Cover with saran wrap and let macerate for 3 hours in the refrigerator. Serve in a small bowls with a helping of ice cream.

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LIFESTYLE: Anatabloc Logs, wo/ Aug 6th-16th

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Hello!

I am all back from vacation, back on my routine, back to the crazy.

Things continue to go very well on the Anatabloc supplement. Even on my vacation, where I definitely cheated here and there on refined flour, starches and sugars- my system stayed the course. This bad eating usually throws me into a tailspin. Not this time!

The challenge was coming back, actually. Only because my Anatabloc supply was in my luggage and I kept forgetting to bring it to work with me! (you know how your luggage looks like it vomited your life all over the floor from vacation waiting for you to do laundry and get things back to reality? Yeah-that.)

So I had 2 1/2 days of very low dosage. I did have a slightly rough evening after the two days. But by the next day with a consistent dosage, I was back to a happy tummy. This brings to mind what one reader mentioned earlier. He said that if you ever want to get off the Anatabloc, to go down slowly so your immune system has time to adjust itself. It does make sense, as in most supplements and medications.

My observation with my disease, no mater what, is that stress coupled with refined flours and sugars are my triggers. I think everyone has different ones. Some say it's dairy.  Some say it's gluten. I can tell you how many doctors have told me what I eat makes no difference to my disease. I am still in disbelief on that one.

My current GI is a lot more open, that's why I like her. She says because so many people claim to have different triggers, it's so hard to pinpoint what causes Crohn's. She said do what makes me feel better. Eating healthy is a good thing regardless, so why not? Kind of silly for my past doctors to just say to me, "Well, it doesn't matter in regard to your disease." My point is, this supplement has really helped manage things better. It even lets me cheat a lot more. But, I do notice a slightly "under the weather" feeling when I really push my cheating to the limit. I may get a few stomach cramps, and an extra bathroom visit. But it is short lived while I am on this supplement. Things right themselves usually within 8 hours (as long as I didn't do anything like eat a whole box of Oreos or something-not that I ever have done that!)

Even though this supplement seems to work wonders, tread lightly with your body. You'll want to push things because you feel so great. Just don't push things too far! Like everything in life, moderation is key.

That's my log for now! Take Anatabloc and Carry On. (ooo, cool ad idea...ha ha)

Take care of yourselves-

UDD


RECIPE: Buttermilk French Toast with Apple Topping

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Buttermilk, buttermilk. What to do with the extra buttermilk?

I feel like I always have extra buttermilk in the fridge after using it in a baking recipe. The usual go-to is to make pancakes, but I was kind of bored with that solution. So I whipped up some buttermilk french toast. Then I made a great apple topping using some lonely apples in the bottom of the crisper drawer to go with it. The family was pretty happy... and full!

I used regular, sliced wheat bread, but you can use whatever bread you want. If you use thicker, heartier bread, have the bread soak on the baking sheet a little longer.

Buttermilk French Toast with Apple Topping

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 eggs
6-8 wheat bread slices
2-3 Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. Butter
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. maple extract
3 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 cup water

Directions:



Whisk first 6 ingredients. Dip each piece of bread into batter and lay on a rimmed baking sheet. Continue with all your bread. Pour rest of batter evenly over top of bread. Let sit and soak until all the liquid is absorbed.


Heat a non-stick skillet with 3 Tbsp. butter. After melted, saute apple slices until beginning to soften. Add cinnamon, maple extract, water and maple flavoring. Toss, cover. Simmer until apples tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in the sugar until melted and bubbly. Stir until thickened. Take off heat and keep warm.



In another skillet, melt 1 tbsp. butter per bread batch. Brown the slices over medium heat until golden brown on both sides. Keep warm in the oven. Serve with apple topping and extra maple syrup.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

RECIPE: Oven dried tomatoes, caramelized onions and olive cheese pie

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Summer is all about tomatoes. And there are so many ways to prepare them to get there full enjoyment. We wished to do just that a few weeks ago when my husband and I tried a complex tomato tart. We spent all day making the crust, grilling zuccini, prepping the filling. And sadly, when we finally tasted it, it was subpar. As we discussed how we could make it better, we talked about maybe oven drying the tomatoes next time, and making the filling cheesier. So a couple weeks later, I ran across an old Bon Appetit from 2005 with a whole section on tomato recipe. And wouldn't you know it? There was a tomato tart using homemade oven dried tomatoes. I added caramelized onions as a sweet, earthy touch. I also upped the herbs, added some different cheeses and lengthened the oven drying time. It ended up being delicious! The use of puff pastry makes the crust super easy to make. The one change I made to this recipe versus the photo is that I would roughly chop the tomatoes and olives before adding them next time versus keeping them whole. It makes the pie a lot easier to cut and eat.

Oven Dried Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions and Olive Cheese Pie

Ingredients

5-8 Tbsp. olive oil
6 medium plum or roma tomatoes, cut in half and seeded
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
2-3 small sprigs thyme per tomato
salt and pepper

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defosted at room temp
1 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. olive oil

1 cup grated whole milk Mozzarella
4 oz. fresh goat cheese, room temp
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup pitted oil-cured Kalmata olives
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan, plus 1 Tbsp. more for sprinkling on top
1 Tbsp. soft cream cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:



Preheat oven to 300˚. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush with olive oil. Cut tomatoes in half, core and seed them. Place them, cut side up, on the foil. Drizzle olive oil generously on each tomato half about 1/2 Tbsp. per half. Sprinkle garlic, salt and pepper evenly over the tomatoes. Place the Sprigs over each tomato, breaking them up as you go, about 2-3 sprigs per half. Roast the slowly in the oven for three hours. Let them sit out to cool. Roughly chop them once cooled and set aside.

Melt the butter in a small saute pan with the olive oil. Put the onions in the pan. Saute slowly for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are golden brown in color. Toss them a little as they cook. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix the mozzarella with the goat cheese with the back of a spatula. Add the cream cheese and mush some more. Using a fork or whisk, whip the eggs into the cheeses until creamy. Whisk in the cream, then the parmesan. Whisk in the chopped 1 Tbsp. thyme, ground pepper and salt. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready. Roughly chop your olives. Set aside


Preheat oven to 375˚. Roll the puff pastry between plastic wrap lightly dusted in flour. Roll until it can fit in a 9" pie pan with a 1" overhang. Place in the pan. Pierce the crust with the tines of a fork. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. When ready, cover the crust with the parchment and pour pie weights or beans in the middle. Bake pie for about 20 min. on the middle rack. Take the pie out to take the weights and parchment out. Pierce any puffs or bubbles gently with a fork. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until bottom crust is golden. Take out to cool for 10 min. Lower oven to 350˚.


Pour the cheese mixture into the crust. Sprinkle the caramelized onions on top, then sprinkle with basil. Chop roughly the tomatoes and lay them on top of the cheese. Place the olives in the cheese in between the tomatoes. Give the top one last sprinkle of cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Tent with foil with a steam hole if crust is browning too fast. Be sure to take it off the last 10 min. of cooking. Serve warm.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

COOKING: You say Dutch processed. I say regular cocoa. Do we call it off?

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I have been baking since I was old enough to hold my Nonna's wooden spoon. And I never bothered to find out...or care...about the difference between Dutch process cocoa and regular cocoa. But recently I bought a lovely box of Dutch process cocoa from one of my favorite specialty stores in Lincoln Square, Gene's (if ever in the area, you must drop in! Foodie heaven.) When I opened the box, I was surprised at how dark and fine the cocoa looked. I made the most delicious hot cocoa that evening. It was smooth and less bitter. That hot cocoa began my love affair with Dutch process cocoa.

I also started noticing some recipe reviewers online mentioning leavening changes on account of using Dutch process cocoa or not. This concerned me because I interchanged them often without thinking twice! Was there something to be done differently if you replace one with the other? So I did some digging, and I found out some things.

In all things baking, there is part creativity and part science. Much of what happens in baked goods has to do with chemical reactions, particularly with leavening. Some ingredients are more alkaline. Some ingredients are more acidic. How perfectly fluffy or lusciously dense something is depends on the perfect balance of these kinds of ingredients. Cocoa is slightly more acidic. When you taste cocoa, it has a slight bitterness. That's the acidity level talking to your taste buds.

Dutch process is a process developed specifically to take down bitterness of the cocoa. Once the cocoa beans get shelled, the inside "nibs" get soaked in an alkaline solution to make the chocolate less acidic before getting ground into a powder. The process makes cocoa that has a more alkaline make up (a 7 versus a usual 5 on the acid-meter) and a richer, deeper chocolate color. Cooks Illustrated did some tests, and voted that Dutch made a creamier, deeper chocolate flavor. The article is here.

But the leavening issue is where things get interesting. If the cocoa is less acidic, and your recipe only uses baking soda for your leavening, the school of thought is that the baking soda won't activate. So many cooks find the equivalent sub in baking powder. But after doing more research, most fellow bakers claim it usually makes no difference. There are many other acidic ingredients in your baking recipes that allow the baking soda to activate (eggs, for example). You don't need to rely only on the cocoa. Maybe it's why I never noticed anything different myself!

So the consensus is, if you want a deeper, less bitter flavor in your cocoa, go Dutch. Otherwise, use what you have and bake on! Everything should be fine.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

RECIPE: Lemon and Fresh Mint Semolina Cookies

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Well, it's Summer's last stand, isn't it? Rather than feeling sad a depressed about "back to school crazy" around the corner, I am going to try and enjoy every minute I have left. And that means baking and cooking what the farmer's market and my garden have to offer. If it's one thing I have plenty of, it's fresh mint. I try and try to get rid of it. It just keeps growing with a stubbornness I can respect. I got the idea today to use it in a lemon cookie...similar to mint in a fresh, iced lemonade. I whipped these up, adding semolina for a tender texture. They turned out light and airy with a crispy bottom. I had to stop myself from gorging myself while taking their picture. Easy. Fresh. Perfect for summer. They cook up quick, too. So your oven won't heat up your whole house.

Lemon and Fresh Mint Semolina Cookies
Makes 24-30 cookies

Ingredients
Dry:
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup semolina
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Dash of salt

Wet:
1 stick butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped
3/4 Tbsp. lemon zest

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350˚. If your oven runs hot, bake at a little lower, like 325˚ or even 300˚.

Mix dry ingredients with a fork. Set aside.




Cream butter, then whip the sugar with it until light.and creamy. Add egg and whip again. Add vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice and whip. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the mint leaves and combine.

Drop batter by tablespoonfuls on a foil-lined baking sheet, about 2" apart. Bake until golden, flipping sheets in between baking, about 8-10 minutes. Cool cookies on cooling rack. Enjoy with some lemon tea or lemonade.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

LIFESTYLE: Anatabloc Logs Week 4-5, July 29-Aug 5 2012

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Hello from Anatabloc land!

I had to merge the two weeks this week. When I finally had a minute to post how my progress has been, it was already this week! So I figured at that point, I would just merge it to 2 weeks.

Things continue to improve. My bathroom visits for my Crohn's are happy and normal still, and even getting on a routine schedule, just twice a day! No pain. No fevers or chills at night. Energy up. My gums are fine, by the way. They healed up. I don't know if it was the mix of my multivitamin with the Anatabloc which one reader mentioned might be the cause, but things seem back to normal.

I wish to point out that my daughter and I shared the biggest vat of popcorn when we went to the movie theater and watched BRAVE last week. I fully expected to pay for it that night. I am happy to report I was perfectly fine. I won't go on binges like that often, but it was a special night for us and I went for it. I was feeling so good. I can see how people can get carried away being on this supplement. I need to remind myself to still eat healthy and consume "naughty things" in moderation. I still have a chronic illness-even if this supplement is making me feel invincible!

A couple quick notes, then I am off to enjoy my Sunday with the family. My husband was telling me that our cat does not bother him any more. He doesn't sneeze, and he let her lick him the other day for a while on his arm. A large red rash should have developed, but it didn't. Moon, our cat, was so excited to lick him for once she kept doing it! She never is allowed to do so. So it seems it is supporting my husband's allergies as well.

Also, my coworker started taking it for her eczema, and her hands are looking better than I have seen them in a while. No cracking or bleeding. She is only taking one or two a day, too. Not even the recommended dose. We'll see how she does as she continues.

That's all for now. I'll keep plugging along. I will try to get back on a weekly post, even if it's short. Things have been a little unruly lately with work and things. All the more grateful I am for Anatabloc to help me feel better so I can keep up with it all. I don't have time to be sick! Who does?

Peace.

RECIPE: Upside Down Bay Leaf and Pear Polenta Cake

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I have been playing in the kitchen. After all, when the hubby is off catching fish-the kitchen is all mine!

No complaining of too many dishes while cooking. No sneak eating my ingredients. All. Mine.

Much of what I have been experimenting with is for the ebook I am writing, but I came up with this interesting mix of flavors while testing. It was so good, I thought I would share to give you all a sneak peek at what I am up to. Are you surprised to see bay leaves in a cake? You should be! It's not often done. But in Western Europe, Bay leaves were widely used in baking before vanilla was around. So in the spirit of European baking, I made this cake. It is very much like what my french Aunt made for us in the mountains of France when we visited– a buttery, egg-y, grainy cake with hints of spice.

Upside Down Bay Leaf and Pear Polenta Cake

Ingredients:

Pears:
3 red Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and halved
2 Tbsp. sherry
4-5 Tbsp. water plus additional 2-3 Tbsp water
1-2 bay leaves, broken up
1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup sugar

Cake:
1 cup fine polenta or corn meal
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs, room temp
3/4 cup milk
2 bay leaves
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray a 9"round cake pan with 2" sides with nonstick cooking spray. Cut a circle of parchment to size and lay on the bottom of pan. Spray again. Set aside.

In a small sauce pan, heat the milk with two bay leaves until near boil. Take off heat and cover. Steep for at least 30 minutes. The longer, the stronger the bay leaf infusion.

Meanwhile poach the pears. In a small saute add the 4-5 Tbsp. water, sherry and 2 broken bay leaves. Place pears on top of liquid, cut side down. Heat liquid until simmer and cover pan. Simmer for about 15 minutes. You should have about 1Tbsp. liquid and juice left in the pan. Remove pears and set aside to cool. Add another 2-3 Tbsp. water to pan juices and add 1/4 cup sugar. Stir until dissolved over medium heat. Boil sugar slowly for about 8 minutes, until amber color. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter quickly to create a caramel. Its up to you if you wish to keep the bay leaves in the caramel or discard them. I keep them for more flavor and visual interest at the table, discarding them as I serve the cake.

Pour caramel quickly into the parchment lined pan. Do your best to evenly cover the bottom, but it will seize up as it is cooling down. Don't worry. It will melt evenly as it cooks with the pears.

Speaking of the pears, slice them thinly and layer them over the caramel in concentric circles, overlapping them as needed. Set aside. Now mix together flour, baking powder, cornmeal and salt. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla and buttermilk. Take your infused milk and discard bay leaves. Alternating between flour mixture and milk, mix both until all is used and things are light a creamy.

Pour batter evenly over pears.

Bake for 45-60 minutes. Top should be lightly golden and toothpick in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 30 min. Then place serving platter upside down on top of pan. Carefully flip the cake and platter upside down, releasing cake onto the platter and from it's pan. Pears should be on the top. Peel off parchment and fix any pears that jumped ship-and voila! Serve warm or at room temp.



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