Is this really ad free?
Is this really ad free?
Fresh grapes are one of summer’s final gifts. Fruity and sweet, they carry the brightness of summer while also gently bringing the cold refreshing side of fall. Last summer on the final day of our farmer’s market I purchased a basket of concord grapes. The deep purple color and heady fragrance were irresistible. With far too many seeds to eat straight up, I knew that the grapes would require special treatment. In typical fashion we decided that dessert was in order and used the grapes to make a sorbet.
Grape Sorbet (Printable Recipe)
If you don’t have an ice cream maker I think this recipe could easily be adapted to make grape granitas instead of sorbet. (However if you stop by my site on a regular basis, you really should get an ice cream maker. There is no end in sight to our ice cream making!)
3 cups of Grapes, all stems removed
1 1/2 cups of Water
1/2 – 1 cup Sugar (adjust to taste since the sweetness of grapes will vary)
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
Rinse the grapes, and place them in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the water and 1/2 cup of sugar and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the mixture gently simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and see if the liquid needs additional sugar. If it does, add in the remaining sugar and stir until it is dissolved. Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a lid, and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes.
Next, strain the liquid through a fine sieve into a medium bowl, pressing on the solids with the back of a spatula to extract any leftover liquid. Discard the solids. Stir lemon juice into the liquid, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the fridge and chill for four hours or overnight. After the liquid is thoroughly chilled, freeze according to the ice cream manufacturer’s suggestions. (Mine takes about 20 minutes.) Transfer the sorbet to a freezer safe container and freeze it for 3-4 hours before serving (to firm up).
10-12 cups of water (enough to cover the contents in a large soup pot)Soup
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 serrano pepper, seeded and diced
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 green bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
1 cup of short grain white rice
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
Kosher salt, to taste (I used about 3 Tablespoons)
1 lime, cut into quarters
1 avocado, diced
1 tomato, diced
fresh cilantro, chopped
Mexican crema (or sour cream)
Crushed corn chips
Make the Soup
Place 1 cup of the stock in a blender along with the jalapenos, serrano pepper, and chipotle peppers. Blend the mixture until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Set aside.
Return the large stockpot to the stove, over medium heat. Add grapeseed oil to the pot, and then add in the onion and green bell peppers. Saute the vegetables until they are just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add in the rice and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Next, add the strained stock to the pot along with shredded chicken and the blended pepper mixture.
Cook the soup at a moderate simmer for 20-30 minutes until the rice is cooked. Add in the corn and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and taste the soup. Add in as much salt as desired, tasting as you go. (I added about 3 Tablespoons.)
Serve in individual bowls, topped with any combination of lime juice, avocado, tomato, cilantro, crema, and tortilla chips.
Now I’m all for just sticking a beer can up a chicken and calling it good, however the ingenious design of this roaster has a wide base allowing ample space for vegetables to hang out and soak up all of the delicious chicken juices- it was love at first sight. Once the roaster arrived I eagerly put it to use.*
With chipotle chilies leftover from our addictive peach salsa adventures, we both decided that a chipotle infused chicken should be on the menu. I was particularly thrilled with this idea because it gave me a chance to use my one of my all time favorite cooking beers, Rogue Chipotle Ale.
Placing the Rub Under the Chicken Skin
Ready to Roast
Chipotle Beer BBQ Chicken (Printable Recipe)
If you don’t have this fun roaster, you could easily substitute a sanitized tin can filled with the beer and grill the vegetables on the side. When you are finished cooking the chicken, save the juice in the can and pour it over the vegetables for added flavor.
1 (3-4 lbs) Whole Chicken
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 Tablespoon honey (I used a delicious Guajillo honey)
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 1/2 Tablespoons worth)
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Bottom of Roaster
4 small potatoes, cut into 1″ thick slices
6 small carrots, cut on a bias into 2″ long pieces
1 sweet onion, cut length wise into eighths
~ 1 cup Chipotle Ale (Rouge Brewery)
Pre-heat the grill to 450 degrees (medium-high). Mix all of the rub ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Gently place the rub underneath the chicken skin, spreading it around as much as possible. Pour 1 cup of the Chipotle ale into the roaster “well” and place the chicken on top. Scatter the vegetables around the chicken in the bottom of the roaster. Place chicken and vegetables on the grill, and cook at 400 degrees for about 1 hour 30 min. or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh reaches 165 degrees and the chicken juices run clear.
Remove the roaster from the grill and take the chicken off the vertical well. Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before carving. Save any leftover juice/beer in the well and serve it as a sauce on top of the meat and vegetables.
I was particularly mad at myself because I have a long history of cooking scars. (In fact almost all of my scars are from cooking. Hmmm…) It began when I was about 11 and burned my wrist on the oven element while baking muffins. Then it continued when I was 13 with my first (and last) attempt at homemade tortillas, leaving scars on my other forearm. And most recently I learned that browning meat in hot oil while in the buff, is a very bad idea. (Why hasn’t anyone invented a bathrobe that doubles as an apron?) You would think after all of that I would have the foresight to wear mitts when placing a tart in the oven. My father always loves to say, “Stupidity is self-curing.” I’m beginning to wonder…
At times like this I can be a bit of a drama queen, and I woefully moaned to Mr. B “If this leaves a big scar, I’m going to have to get a tattoo to cover it up.” He takes my drama in stride and replied, “Yeah, you could get one of those cool dragon tattoos all up your arm!” That shut me up. Good grief. What is it with men and dragon tattoos? (No Mom, I’m not considering it, put the phone down!)
So back to the wild plum tart. After the drama subsided and my arm was bandaged up we sat down to eat the tart. It was incredible. In fact Mr. B looked over at me and tentatively said, “This is so good, it was almost worth it.” Despite my bandaged state, I had to agree.
This tart begs to be served with vanilla ice cream. My plums were on the tart side and without ice cream to add a touch of sweetness the flavor would simply be incomplete!Pâte Sucrée (The tart shell)
1 stick quality butter, room temperature (I usedPlugra)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the dough from the fridge and let warm up for about 5-10 minutes until it is just barely pliable. (If the dough is too stiff to roll out and is just crumbling, let it sit for a few more minutes to warm up slightly.) Lightly flour both sides of the dough and place it between two pieces of parchment paper or two silpats. Use a rolling pin to gently roll the dough into a large 12 inch circle. Place the dough (still sandwiched between the parchment) in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up again.
Gently peel the top sheet of parchment off of the dough. Ready a 10″ tart pan, and then invert the dough into the pan. Remove the remaining sheet of parchment and gently press the dough down into the pan. Pinch off any dough that hangs over the edges of the tart pan, and use it to patch any tears. Next place the tart pan in the freezer for about 10 minutes to firm up again before baking. (If you don’t do this the dough will shrink in the pan and you will be sorry!)
Take the tart pan straight from the freezer and place it in the center of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tart shell is slightly golden. Check on the tart shell about halfway through baking and if you notice any bubbles, use the back of a spoon to press them down. Transfer the tart to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.Wild Plum Filling
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the plums in half, remove the pits, and slice into 1/2 inch wedges. As you cut the plums, arrange the wedges in concentric circles in the prebaked tart shell. This will help you determine exactly how many plums are needed to fill the tart.
Place a small saucepan over low heat. Add the stick of butter and let it melt and bubble. Keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t burn, continue to cook the butter, giving the pan an occasional swirl, until it has turned a toasty light brown color. Immediately take the pan off the heat and add in the lemon juice to stop the cooking. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar until it forms a mixture that drops thickly from the beaters (about 5 minutes of mixing). Add the browned butter, brandy, vanilla, flour, and cream into the bowl. Gently beat the mixture until it is just combined (about 1 minute).
Pour the batter over the top of the plums, jiggling the tart pan gently to evenly distribute the batter. Cover the edge of the tart crust with a pie crust shield or a ring of foil (careful I scorched myself adjusting the foil in the oven!). Place the tart in the top third of the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is a golden brown. Transfer the tart to a rack and remove the foil or pie shield. Let the tart cool for 15-30 minutes and then remove the outer tart ring (if the ring sticks in places, gently insert the tip of a knife between the ring and the crust to remove it). Serve the tart warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.
First, I made the sauce. A simmering mixture of garlic, onion, fresh tomatoes, a medley of spices, and coconut milk. The fragrance floating off the pan was intoxicating and I made a mental note to track down more Indian recipes very soon. Too often I lean toward Latin American flavors for inspiration and I think I’ve been missing out!
If you are interested in the recipe it is available in printable formhere.
You see, I was in a rather difficult place when I started this blog. My life lacked a creative outlet and I had few friends who shared my passion for fantastic food. This, when combined with other day to day details, was causing me to feel unproductive and generally depressed. I knew something had to be done but I felt trapped in routine and circumstance.
I enjoyed reading blogs and one morning it dawned on me that perhaps I could start a blog too. Now I did not have any grand visions of achieving fame or fortune (which is good because that still hasn’t happened!) but the thought of contributing something to the world, no matter how small, really appealed to me.
So I sat down and started to write. In the beginning I was all alone. No comments. No readers. I even waited a few months before telling my mother. And then, after quite a while, a comment appeared. Holy cow- someone was reading! A few days later, amazingly enough, they came back and read some more. As my interaction with other food bloggers and readers grew, I discovered the creative outlet and community I craved. My pursuits in the kitchen and love of fantastic food took on new meaning as all of a sudden, I had people to share it with!
As weeks flew by, the blog began to snowball and take on a life of its own. I pushed myself to continually improve the writing, the recipes, and the photographs- wanting to create something excellent. In the process I discovered that I truly love blogging about food. It has led to the best meals of my life, challenged my creative skills on a daily basis, and most of all introduced me to a wonderful group of people.
Thank you. Thank you for reading, thank you for commenting, and thank you for bringing me happiness every day.
I owe a special thanks to Kristin (Going Country), Allie (Screwed Up Texan), Catherine (Unconfidential Cook), Debby (A Feast for the Eyes), and Dana (TheKitchWitch). Your encouragement and comments since the very beginning have meant the world to me. ‘Thank you’ just isn’t enough.
Now I’ve tried just about every brand of peach salsa out there, because, as you may recall, the nearest Trader Joe’s is over 300 miles away. Sadly no other peach salsa has satisfied my craving, and I’ve resorted to begging my mother for regular shipments. If you work at a Trader Joe’s and wonder why that nice red haired woman is buying enough Triple Ginger cookies and Smoky Peach salsa to feed a small village, well now you know.
Mr. B shares my love for this peach salsa and whenever we open a jar it quickly turns into a feeding frenzy with each of us trying ensure we get our “half” of the salsa. On the rare occasion that I cannot wait for him to get home from work before popping one open, it takes every ounce of restraint to keep from eating the entire jar and hiding the evidence at the bottom of the trash can. I’ve only failed once or twice- sorry honey!
Smoky Peach Salsa (Printable Recipe)
Makes Approximately 6 cups (This is a lot of salsa and the recipe could be halved)
This recipe is very close to the Trader Joe’s version. It creates a sweet, mildly spicy salsa with a delicious tang. The next time we make it I may try adding a few jalapeno peppers or another chipotle pepper into the mix to give a bit more heat. Please feel free to play around with the recipe and tweak it to meet your personal salsa cravings!
11-12 peaches, peeled and pitted
3 1/4 cups water (from peeling peaches)
2 6-ounce cans of tomato paste
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/2 cup cilantro, leaves and stems
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil (or other neutral flavored oil)
1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
1 green bell pepper
1 1/2 lemons, juiced
2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
3 habanero peppers
1 lime, juiced
2 small tomatoes, finely diced (about 1 cup)
Place water and five pitted peaches into a blender. Add tomato paste, chipotle peppers, and cilantro. Blend until mixture is smooth.
In a large saucepan, saute onion and bell pepper until softened. Add in blended mixture. Add in lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, granulated garlic and salt. Cut a small slit into the habenero peppers and add them to the pot. Cook for 30-40 minutes on a very low simmer. Dice remaining peaches into 1/4 inch cubes, and add them to the pot along with the lime juice and tomatoes.
Almost four years ago, I said “I do” and married my favorite person- Mr. B. At the time I anticipated a lifetime of shared experiences and mutual affection. Yet years later what has surprised me about marriage, what I didn’t know to expect, is that when two people go through life as a team it is a beautiful thing. If you approach the world with a united front, encouraging and challenging each other to reach shared goals, suddenly it seems as if anything is possible. No matter what successes or failures appear on the horizon, together you can make it through to the other side.
Our partnership also carries through to the kitchen. Together we have fought battles with pasta, celebrated with cheesecake, and nearly fainted from happiness over a slow cooked BBQ pork shoulder. We have found a rhthym in our cooking that keeps both of us engaged and happy to cook another meal. Usually I do the shopping, chopping, and cooking while Mr. B tackles the beverage pairing, taste testing, and dishes. He likes to call himself the “Consulting Chef” (which makes me giggle since don’t chef’s usually know how to cook?) and takes an active role in helping me set the menu each week. Often this means a general discussion of what dish strikes our fancy, what produce is in season, or what item is sitting in the fridge threatening to spoil. After our discussions I’ll get rolling and then ask him to taste and offer tweaks along the way.
When I asked Mr. B for his thoughts about endives this week, I was quite surprised to get a very specific answer. He replied, “We should brush them with olive oil, grill them, then add sun dried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and chevre cheese.” Startled I looked at him, wondering how the heck a specific recipe had sprung forth so quickly. He looked over at my raised eyebrows and simply said, “I like endives.” Still quite surprised I decided to not mess with creative genius and made the salad as directed. And what do you know? It was absolutely delicious. Warm endives caused the chevre to melt slightly while pine nuts gave it a contrasting crunch. Sun dried tomatoes provided deep little bursts of flavor to round out the salad perfectly. I’m beginning to think there might be something behind this “Consulting Chef” title after all…
4 Belgian Endives, split in half lengthwise
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
Scant 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Scant 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
2 oz Chevre cheese, cut into small pieces
White balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
Pre-heat a grill to 400 degrees.
Rub endive halves with the olive oil until all sides are lightly coated. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the cut side of the endives. Place endives on the grill, and cook for about five minutes on each side, or until the endives are tender (but not limp).
Transfer endives to a platter (or individual plates), trim the tough end off of each endive, and distribute the pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, and chevre cheese evenly across the endives. Next lightly drizzle avocado oil and white balsamic vinegar across the endives. Finally finish the salad with a squeeze of lemon juice and serve.