Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cherry Mango Smoothie

Cherries and mango are a dynamic duo in this delicious smoothie.

Cherry Mango Smoothie
1 cup fresh cherries, washed and pitted
1 mango, sliced
1 banana
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup apricot nectar

Process in blender and enjoy.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ginger Peach Smoothie

I am still drinking a smoothie every day. If you have not started on your smoothie regimen, now is the perfect time to begin, with all the luscious, juicy, colorful, healthful, ripe summer fruits flooding the markets at amazing prices. Also, if you get carried away, like I often do, and buy too much fruit at once, smoothies are a fantastic way to use overly ripe fruit.

Your smoothie can be a light and refreshing summer meal as long as you add a source of protein, such as yogurt, cottage cheese, any kind of milk, and/or protein powder.

I have used a generous amount of  fresh ginger in this smoothie because I love ginger, especially with peaches. I love its health-giving qualities, its taste, and I love the heat, especially combined with cooling ingredients. After drinking this smoothie, my tummy felt warm and my lips felt tingly. Yet, it didn't make me feel hot or sweaty like some hot spices can. It was a lovely feeling.

Ginger Peach Smoothie
1 peach, washed and cut into chunks
1 banana
1 heaping teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup apricot nectar
1 serving protein powder (optional)
A few ice cubes (if desired)

Add all ingredients to an ordinary blender and whirl away, stirring once or twice if necessary.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Trip to the Farmers Market

Pritchard Parker and I went to the Farmers Market but first we stopped to eat breakfast at The Moose Cafe which is located at the market.

The Moose Cafe is not an elegant restaurant nor does it serve dainty portions of "chef inspired" creations. The Moose serves hearty portions of the freshest, made from scratch, home style Southern cooking. Go there hungry. Go very hungry. 

At your table, you will be greeted with a plate of delicious "cat's head" biscuits and apple butter.

Delicious Biscuit with Apple Butter

We both ordered "The Biltmore" (Big House; Big Breakfast). While I have eaten at The Moose Cafe a number of times before, I had never ordered their Moose Cake. We ordered them with blueberries and my eyes about popped out when I saw the size of that pancake. It was the size of a plate. And not a small plate; a dinner plate. That cake was 8 or 9 inches across!

On another plate were the eggs, bacon, grits, and another huge biscuit. We both had 2 (two) platefuls of food set before us. This breakfast also included a bowl of gravy which neither of us touched. Couldn't. I have to say we did this meal justice. We took our second biscuits home and enjoyed them with dinner.
It was a good thing we were about to do a lot of walking!
Vidalia onions, New Potatoes, Pickling Cucumbers


Colorful Bell Peppers

Yellow Zucchini

Half Runner Green Beans


I also bought strawberries, blueberries, and peaches. I can't wait to get cooking.
One of the vendors promised to call me in about 2 weeks--she is expecting an excellent crop of  elusive figs this summer. !!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Catalina Carrots

 There is a very old recipe which has cycled in and out of popularity over the years called Copper Pennies. It is a salad made with thinly sliced carrots (pennies) along with onion and bell pepper and dressed with a sweet and tangy tomatoey dressing.

Most recipes I have seen for Copper Pennies use canned tomato soup along with a LOT of sugar and the carrots are literally swimming in dressing.

This recipe is reminiscent of that but I have taken a slight curve from the original. I used carrots only and dressed them lightly in a homemade Catalina dressing. I loved Catalina dressing as a kid and recently discovered after not eating it for years that I still love it.

Pritchard Parker came home from one of his thrift shop adventures with a small crinkle cutter so I decided to try it out. I cut a few slices before I thought to myself, "Since you are going to steam these carrots anyway, wouldn't be easier to cut them afterwards?" 

I put 4 large carrots in the microwave for 4 minutes only and they were as tender as I wanted them. And yes indeed, they were much easier to slice with the rather dull cutter. After they are steamed and sliced, dress them lightly in Catalina dressing.  If you have time, chill before serving.

Catalina Dressing
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup catsup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1 small onion, grated

Combine all ingredients in a jar. Shake until well blended.

This dressing is good on all lettuce salads and also delicious on a turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cherries in Apricot Sauce

I was visiting Alice and her long time friend, Jane. Jane graduated from culinary school several years ago and is a Pastry Chef in a very elegant restaurant. Conversations inevitably turn to food when we are together.

Jane just told me that I was the one who inspired her to go to culinary school! I was so surprised by that and I felt so honored and flattered. It was honestly one of the sweetest things anyone has ever told me. I inspired someone. How cool.

She told me "those cherries" I made when she visited once were so different and so delicious and really started making her think about and want to learn about cooking different dishes than she had known before. She said whatever spice was in the cherries was so intriguing.

Even though it has been many years, I knew exactly what cherries she was talking about. That was the only time I ever made them. Of course, she inspired me to want to make them again. 

This is one of those deceptively simple recipes that become so much more than the ingredient list conveys.

Cherries in Apricot Sauce
(The Book of Whole Meals by Annemarie Colbin)
1 1/2 pounds fresh cherries
1 cup apricot juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 Tbsp. kuzu*
1/2 cup water
Zest on 1 lemon

Pit the cherries and place in a heavy saucepan; add the juice and cinnamon stick. Place over medium, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Dissolve the kuzu (or other starch) in water; stir in the lemon zest and pour into the cherries, stirring constantly over medium heat until clear and thick. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

*Kuzu is a root starch highly prized for thousands of years in China and Japan for its medicinal qualities. You may substitute another starch such as cornstarch, potato or rice starch, arrowroot or tapioca.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fresh Blueberry Muffins with Easy Blueberry Jam and a Tangerine Sugar Topping

 During a recent visit with my Parents, one of their neighbors came over with a pail of organic blueberries she had just picked. They were so plump and sweet and couldn't have been any fresher.

My Mother, who is an amazing cook, said she had a recipe for the best blueberry muffins, but that they were a pain to make. I quickly told her I would make them for her.

The recipe was from a magazine and she was right, they were complicated to make, and they were super delicious. After the fact, I realized that the recipe was unnecessarily fussy and poorly written and organized. The recipe was entirely too wordy without giving a clear idea of where it was taking you.

Here, I have simplified the directions without changing the ingredients at all, by breaking down the steps into 3 different recipes. First make the 2 ingredient sugar topping. Second, make the 2 ingredient blueberry jam. Finally make the batter using the simple muffin concept of mixing wet ingredients in one bowl, dry in another and combining them. Lastly stir in blueberries.  The original recipe directions were all over the place and took too much jumping back and forth to follow.  I found that I kept reading the same lines over and over again, to find my place.  It was a pain.

Fresh Blueberry Muffins with Easy Blueberry Jam and a Tangerine Sugar Topping
Sugar, divided as follows: 1/3 cup for the topping, 1 tsp. for the jam,
   1 1/4 cup for the muffins
2 tsp. freshly grated tangerine zest (or use lemon zest)
2 cups fresh blueberries, divided

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Stir together the 1/3 cup of sugar with the tangerine zest. Set aside.

Combine 1 cup blueberries with 1 tsp. sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring and mashing with a spoon, until the berries are broken down and the mixture is thickened. Cook for about 6 minutes until jam is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and position oven rack into the upper-middle position. Coat a standard size, 12 muffin pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the lightly beaten eggs, 1 1/4 cups sugar, melted butter, vegetable oil, buttermilk, and vanilla, until evenly mixed.

Gently stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture just until moistened. Batter will be lumpy; do not over mix. Stir in 1 cup blueberries.

Divide batter evenly into the prepared muffin pan, filling the cups or slightly mounding. Top each muffin with about a teaspoon of the blueberry jam, pushing it into the muffin. Sprinkle with the tangerine sugar topping.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until the tops are golden and just firm, rotating the pan halfway through baking time. Let cool, in pan, for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack for cool another few minutes before serving warm.