A day about food

Holy cow, I can’t believe it’s been a whole week since I posted – in the interim there have been 2 cakes, a tart, 2 pies, a delicious curry, canned peaches and more made and photographed in our humble abode so expect backlogged posting starting now:

Last weekend was spent canning just about the last of our peaches, shopping for fresh veggies at the farmer’s market and eating our hearts out in the International District (Seattle’s Chinatown).   Can’t say there are really any insightful recipes to share (except maybe canned peaches). But pictures abound – all those fresh veggies are awfully inspiring…

Peach halves

Canned Peach Halves

Soup and shortribs

Peppers

Torpedo Onions

Carrots

Market

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Challah

Here we go, I’m about to talk religion on a food blog…just briefly,  I would like to mention that it is High Holiday season in the Jewish year, and I am a mutt when it comes to religion so consequently some of my favorite holidays are coming up/have just gone by.  Rosh Hashanah was on Saturday filled with promises of a sweet new year: secured by honey, apples, challah and other sweet delicious treats.  Yom Kippur is coming up on Monday with a day of fasting and reflection followed usually by a potluck feast with friends.   I haven’t made plans for Yom Kippur yet – although I do generally fast – but Rosh Hashanah was delicious and here’s why:

Challah

*Recipe coming soon!*

Happy Yeast

Eggs and oil

Before 1st Rise

After 1st Rise

Punched down

Braiding Challah

Challah knot pre-baking




Round Challah

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Mama Dip’s Pound Cake

Mama Dip is a celebrity where I grew up in Chapel Hill, NC. She is a no nonsense woman who makes soul food to die for…which is something I miss sometimes up here in the health conscious Northwest…so imagine my delight when I stumbled upon her cookbook at a local Barnes and Noble! I bought it and the first thing I made was this delicious sour cream pound cake…

Sour Cream Pound Cake

adapted from Mama Dip’s Family Cookbook

*Warning, Mama Dip’s recipes are some of those rarities that actually make MORE (not less) than they claim, this for example is supposed to bake in 1 10″ tube pan and I found that it easily filled that plus a regular bread pan*

2 sticks softened butter                             1/4 t. baking soda

2 3/4 cups sugar                                           1/2 t salt

5 eggs                                                                 1 cup sour cream, divided

1 t. lemon juice

1/2 t. vanilla extract

3 c. all purpose flour

– preheat oven to 325°

-In a large bowl (or your Kitchen Aid if you’re lucky) beat butter until fluffy. Add sugar gradually, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl often.  Add one egg at a time, beating each until well blended.  Add lemon juice.

– Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Add flour mixture one cup at a time along with half the sour cream.  Mix the last cup of flour with the remaining sour cream and add.  Stir in the Vanilla.

– Pour into a greased and floured tube pan

(or two) and bake for about 1 hour.

– Drizzle with a glaze of your choosing, I prefer a lemon glaze:

lemon juice

powdered sugar

-mix about a teaspoon of lemon juice into about 3/4c. of powdered sugar. Add more lemon juice gradually until the consistency is pourable.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter (oh mah gawd) Cake.

On my way home from work on Thursday the call of the baking muses just kept getting stronger so I caved. gave in. gave up. relented. I bought peanut butter, sour cream, cream cheese and milk. and then I made this absurd, amazing, delicious thing – which is hopefully just the first in a long line of birthday cakes for no reason (although we did throw a fake-surprise fake-birthday party for my dear unsuspecting beau as he was the last one home, not to mention he loves chocolate and peanut butter):

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CAKE.
lightly adapted from Deb at Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes (which, for some dumb reason, I haven’t purchased yet)

Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake

**note: Mine is a 9″ double layer cake with enough batter leftover for 6 cupcakes that completely didn’t work because I couldn’t get them out of the pans, if you want to make cupcakes out of this recipe – use cupcake papers/foils!**

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 c. melted buter

1/2 c. oil (such as canola or other neutral tasting vegetable oil)
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle (for topping at the very last minute)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend (here your batter will look like a grainy, thick mess). Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. And WATCH OUT these cakes are so so tender it can be very difficult to remove them from the pans especially if a. you are impatient and b. you failed to listen to the parchment paper recommendation. After removing them you will find it much easier to frost them if you freeze them for 20-30 minutes (thanks smittenkitchen for the tip!)

Now, while they’re freezing, you can make the frosting:

– 10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
– 1 stick (1/2 c.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (if, like me, you are too lazy to do this step, you will find yourself whisking until your arm is numb to smooth the frosting – if you have a kitchenaid then I probably wouldn’t bother sifting as it will do the extra work for you)
– 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably the most bad for you standard JIF/Peter Pan/Whatever is cheapest you can find because it’s creamiest (oil separation is NOT your friend here)

1. Beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat until light and fluffy.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Ok, time to put this thing together:

1. Place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.

2. Put the whole shebang in the fridge (or freezer if you like) while you make the chocolate glaze. This will allow the cake to firm up before it has hot liquid poured all over it.

So, without further ado, let’s make that chocolate glaze:

8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter (I skipped this)
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half (and used sour cream instead of this – you already have sour cream from the cake batter and why buy more ingredients than you need to? If you already have half and half, go for it; the sour cream will give it a distinct taste which I kind of liked with the cake, and you may not)

1. combine the chocolate, corn syrup and peanut butter if you’re using it in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between rounds, until smooth and melty. (you can also do this in a double boiler if you like doing dishes more than I do)

2. Take out of the microwave and stir in sour cream/half and half until consistency is like a thick pancake batter.

annd finally, the finishing touches:

1. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving (or as long as you can stand, I had some straight out of the fridge for breakfast this morning and it was fudgy and delicious).

2. Sprinkle chopped Peanut Brittle on top.

//

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Peach Upside Down Cake

Peach Cake

There are now 2 cases of peaches on my kitchen floor, once I am down to one they will fit in the fridge and I will be able to slow down the preservation process but for now it’s in full swing.  Regardless of the fact that I made a pie last night and there is still a bit less than half of it sitting on the counter I stubbornly decided to make yet another baked good this morning. One of my favorite fruit desserts to make, a thousand times easier and easily as impressive as pie is the upside down cake. This cake is generally made with apples – in fact, I had never tried it with anything but – but the peaches were calling and I figured I’d try it.  The main concerns I have after making the switch are sweetness and structure.  The peaches are much sweeter and mushier than apples so some of the steps have been modified a bit.  I can’t wait to share my very favorite apple cake a bit later on this fall!

Peach Upside Down Cake:

3 large peaches

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 stick (1/4c. ) unsalted butter

1 t. cinnamon

2/3 c. water

– Preheat the oven to 350°F.

– Butter and sugar a 9″ cake pan.

– Place sliced peaches (no need to skin if you don’t want to) in a decorative pattern in the bottom, you should have two layers of peach slices.

A happy sight

-Melt the butter in a pan then stir in sugar, cinnamon, and water.  Cook down into a caramel sauce (soft ball stage, or, when it looks good and if relatively thick).

– Pour sauce evenly over peaches in cake pan.

Caramel and peaches

For the batter:

1 c. flour

1 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

2 whole eggs

3 egg yolks

1 c. sugar

1 stick (1/2 c.) melted butter

– whisk dry ingredients together in a small bowl

– whisk eggs, yolks and sugar together, gradually mix in dry ingredients.

– Gently stir melted butter into batter and mix together well.Batter

– pour batter over peaches in pan and bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes but check often as I have found cooking time can really vary with this cake.

Pouring the batter

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Feminism in the kitchen

Image courtesy of www.mediabistro.com

Image courtesy of http://www.mediabistro.com

This article by Michael Pollan is what really got me thinking and led to this blog.  The article, in New York Magazine is entitled “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch” and is full of disturbing factoids about the kitchen habits (or lack thereof) of the average American since the success of feminism.   The article got all sorts of press, mainly outrage from the feminist ranks, but I for one think the man’s got a point.

It absolutely does not need to be the woman, but someone should ‘slave’ away in the kitchen for at least 30 minutes to an hour to prepare dinner each night.  Imagine the things that would improve, families who eat dinner together are going to stay together longer, know more about their kids, be thinner (no more McDonalds), and just happier on the whole (disclaimer: these are musings, not facts.  They are also, however, common sense).   Pollan suggests that despite protestations of having no time to cook, the average person actually spends more time watching others cook on television than doing it themselves:

“Today the average American spends a mere 27 minutes a day on food   preparation (another four minutes cleaning up); that’s less than half the time that we spent cooking and cleaning up when Julia arrived on our television screens. It’s also less than half the time it takes to watch a single episode of “Top Chef” or “Chopped” or “The Next Food Network Star.” What this suggests is that a great many Americans are spending considerably more time watching images of cooking on television than they are cooking themselves — an increasingly archaic activity they will tell you they no longer have the time for.”

Perhaps this problem could be solved if feminism and never-cooking were extricated. If a woman gets home early and has an extra hour, she should make dinner. If a woman enjoys cooking, likewise. Although women and men should be equal, we need not be the exact same and I for one, will be thrilled to cook the roast while my beau mows the lawn.

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Just Peachy

We begin this blogging adventure with three cases (a case is about 2x3x1!) of fresh beautiful peaches adorning the kitchen floor (credit where credit is due, this abundance is courtesy of my fabulous handsome and sweet beau who took a job at the farmers market to satisfy my inevitable summer fruit cravings) and so without further ado, let’s get going!

peaches

Peach Pie

makes 1 pie with either a double or lattice top crust

for the crust:

2 1/2 c. flour

2 sticks (1 c.) unsalted butter

pinch of salt

2 T sugar

1 c. ice water

for the innards:

5 large peaches

1/2 – 1 c. sugar

1/4 c. flour

pinch cinnamon/nutmeg

To make the crust, combine flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl with a whisk or if you prefer (I do) your fingers.  Cube very cold butter and work into the flour mixture with a fork, pastry cutter or food processor until all of your butter pieces are about the size of large peas.  Any smaller and you will not only have a more aesthetically pleasing dough, you will have tough and not flaky crust.

cubed butter

***warning (or, why your grandmas pie crust is better than yours)if you use a food processor to work your butter into your flour it is very easy to overdo it, resulting in not-very-flaky and possibly even tough crust. Yuck.  If you use a food processor, go not quite to the pea-stage before adding water so that after you do you don’t then take your dough way past pea-stage.

Now, drizzle approximately half of your ice water over the dough and use a spatula or wooden spoon to start to stick it all together.  Keep adding water a spoonful at a time until it almost looks like real dough, then get your fingers involved (again).

dough

Once your dough is a cohesive blob, divide it in two and wrap each half in plastic wrap (yes, yes, I am advocating the wasteful use of plastic wrap here, haven’t found anything else that does the job)

wrapped dough

Refrigerate for at least an hour. (I’m chronically impatient on this step  and consequently chronically dealing with warm, sticky pie dough and ugly – though still delicious – results.  Hold your horses, you’ll be glad you did).

Meanwhile…

You can make the filling!

Firstly, you’ll need to blanch the peaches, so, get a pot of water big enough to hold them all boiling.  Drop the peaches into the water and leave them until they look swollen and tender, or until you can very easily pull the skin off of them with the spoon, your hand, whatever (recommend taking them out of the water to test this).  Usually this takes no more that a couple minutes.

discarded skins

Let them cool off a bit and then, peel the peaches.  Once they’re peeled, cut them into slices and toss with the flour, sugar and a bit of cinnamon and/or nutmeg if you are so inclined (I always am, because it makes everything better…just not too much!)

sliced peachestossing peaches with flour

Let that sit and make a delicious syrup while your dough continues to chill.  Relax, read a book, talk to a neighbor, or even maybe update your blog (ahem).

syrupy peaches

now would be a good time to preheat the oven to 400°F

After at least an hour has elapsed, roll out one dough ball and place it in the pie tin.   Fill with peach mixture. Roll out the second ball and place on top of the peaches.  Pinch off excess dough and press edges of the top and bottom crusts together. Make a pretty pattern while you are doing this either with your fingers or a fork (I prefer fingers, yet again).  Cut a hole in the top of the top crust, decorative or not, it is there to let out excess steam.

filling in the crust

top crust on

thumbprints

Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F and bake until golden brown and delicious looking (probably 25-30 more minutes)

Now, sit back, relax and enjoy exclamations of your domestic goddess status (that is, if you choose to share)

peach pie

peach pie from the side

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