Thursday, June 25, 2009

dining alfresco

we had the speiers and the mchales over for swimming and some alfresco dining while the weather is still so lovely. allie made her amazing marinated eggplant and bruschetta. we made spiedini (basically this is fontina cheese wrapped in prosciutto, skewered and grilled, then served warm over arugula tossed with olive oil and pepper - so, so good...) and grilled pizzas (these deserve their own post, but i didn't take any pictures... maybe next time). for dessert we made nutella and banana calzones with vanilla ice cream. try this. it won't disappoint. decadent? yes. worth it? absolutely.

almond-plum buckle

christine made this at her house one day and it was so delicious i just had to try it for my family. while mine was still good, christine's was amazing. you can even tell how very different they look... oh, well. i will just have to beg christine to make it at her house again...

and whipped cream is a must (especially if it is homemade). just look at how amazing christine's looks...


  • 1/2 cup whole almonds (about 2 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

  • 1 1/4 pounds plums (about 8 medium), halved, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spray 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper round.

Finely grind almonds in processor. Transfer to medium bowl; whisk in flour, baking powder, and salt. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add 1 cup sugar; beat until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and almond extract, then flour mixture just until incorporated.

Transfer batter to prepared pan; spread evenly and smooth top with spatula. Gently press plum slices, flesh side down, into batter in spoke pattern around outer rim and center of cake, placing close together. Mix cinnamon and 4 teaspoons sugar in small bowl. Sprinkle over plums.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 20 minutes. Run small knife between cake and pan sides to loosen. Invert cake onto platter; remove parchment paper. Place another platter atop cake. Using both hands, hold both platters firmly together and invert cake, plum side up. Cool cake completely. Cut into wedges.

i have also seen this made with apples or strawberries instead of plums and i think basically any fruit would be delicious. i will have to try the apple version since i have apples coming out of my ears...

fun little snack...

at least my kids thought it was very exciting...

you could use a melon baller to scoop out the watermelon if you want, but i actually used the watermelon to make watermelon lemonade and then just filled the inside with a random assortment of fruit. my kids (jack especially) found it thrilling.

and these little fingers devoured it quite quickly...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Vacherin with whipped cream and berries

I got this recipe from the Martha Stewart Living: A Taste of Summer magazine we got with Luke's useless frequent flyer was delicious....perfect for summer. Here's the link:
The version of the recipe in the magazine did not have the raspberry sauce, and I thought it was perfect without it...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Buttermilk Baked Chicken

This is from Everyday Food, and although it bakes in the oven and thus is not ideal for you Arizona folks, we are having it tonight as we enjoy 70 degree weather. It's like fried chicken, only baked, and it's num. In my E.F. cookbook, they say to eat it with Carrot Cumin Slaw, which is also great - a twist on your run of the mill coleslaw. You could definitely make that in AZ!!
Serves 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes

Served with slaw or potato salad, this chicken dinner will feel like an indoor picnic. Any leftover chicken will make a great school lunch.

Vegetable oil, for baking sheet
8 slices white bread
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (2 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 pounds chicken parts (preferably legs, thighs, and wings), rinsed and patted dry

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously rub a baking sheet with oil. In a food processor, pulse the bread until it turns into coarse crumbs.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the buttermilk, hot-pepper sauce, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a separate bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, thyme, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

3. Place the chicken in the buttermilk mixture, turning to coat evenly. Working with one piece at a time, remove chicken from liquid, letting excess drip back into bowl; dredge in the breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat evenly. Place coated chicken pieces on prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake until chicken is golden brown, about 35 minutes.

Crisping the Chicken: Leave enough space between the chicken pieces so that they crisp evenly all the way around.

Carrot Cumin Slaw
* 1/4 to 1/2 green cabbage, cored and shredded (3 cups)
* 3 carrots, coarsely grated (1 3/4 cups)
* 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
* 1/4 cup canola oil
* 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
* 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1. In a large bowl, combine cabbage, carrots, and jalapeno. Drizzle with oil and lime juice. Add cilantro and cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 hours to allow flavors to develop.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Marinated Vegetables

This recipe reminds me of one of my favorite eateries in Italy. The Castelli Romani has this glorious form of fast food known as Porchetta stands. Porchetta itself is roasted pig, but the side dishes at these places are what I find myself dreaming of when the weather gets warm but not too warm for al fresco suppers on our patio. The stands always had those fist sized portions of mozzarella di bufala, fresh crusty bread, and a smorgasbord of delicious marinated vegetables: peppers, baby artichokes, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, olives, you name it. Jon, I am sure you remember some great meals off paper plates from "Da Agnese"...after one such meal I actually found a strand of prosciutto hiding in the fat roll of Lili's (then 9 months old) neck. Anyway, sorry for the long intro, but this recipe for marinated eggplant from "The Silver Spoon" really reminds me of those veggies, (I add some white wine vinegar because I think it needs some acidity to be perfect. It is a great dish to make ahead and stick in your fridge because it just gets better after a couple of days. When I make it with eggplant, I serve it on top of a bed of arugula with some feta sprinkled on top and bruschetta toasts, which makes an easy and attractive party dish. I'm roasting some peppers and zucchini to marinate right now. The view from our back yard patio (dominated by our block wall fence and our neighbor's clunking roof-mounted AC unit) may not be as picturesque as Lake Albano, but I'm looking forward to the meal nonetheless...

Here's the recipe for the marinade...I think it works well with both roasted and grilled vegetables:

3/4C olive oil

1 fresh chile, seeded and chopped (I've used crushed red pepper too)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped

10 fresh mint leaves, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

white wine vinegar, to taste

Monday, June 8, 2009

pan-seared tuna with mango and avocado salsa

this is one of my absolute favorite meals. it is so very tasty. and in the summertime... well, you just can't go wrong...
for the salsa:
- mango
- avocado
- red onion
- cilantro
- a little garlic
- lime juice.
chop it all up, mix it all together and season it with salt and pepper.

coat the tuna with sesame seeds and seasoning. heat up some oil in a pan over medium-high and add the tuna, cooking for a couple minutes on each side, depending on how rare you like it in the middle. pete and i both like it rare, but not still cold and i usually end up cooking it for about 4 minutes per side, depending on thickness. then slice the tuna into strips and put the salsa and tuna over a bed of mixed greens and serve. enjoy.

stuffed squash

so, we had this big squash from our garden...

and in my attempt to find something tasty to do with it, i asked christine. she had the wonderful suggestion to make some sort of sausage stuffed squash. i searched a few different recipes and basically just made up my own with ingredients i had on hand. i have to say, it was mighty tasty...

first, i cut the squash in half lengthwise, then drizzled a little olive oil over it and baked it in the oven at 350 until soft (about 20 minutes). meanwhile i cooked italian sausage, onions, red bell peppers, leeks and garlic on the stove and added some salt, pepper and seasoning. when it was done i took it off the stove (i poured the oil off) and mixed it with bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and pine nuts. then i took the squash and scooped out the seeds and filled them with the sausage mixture. i sprinkled a little more parmesan cheese on top and baked them for about 15-20 minutes more.

apple cake

preheat oven to 350 and grease and flour a bunt pan.
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 tblsp. vanilla
blend in bowl of electric mixer.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and then slowly blend into electric mixer.
remove from mixer and fold in:
- 3-4 apples, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
bake 60 minutes (i feel like mine is usually done closer to 45 or 50, so keep an eye on it the first time you make it). let cool. remove from bundt pan and (1) sprinkle with powdered sugar, (2) sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, (3) drizzle with a powdered sugar glaze OR (4) simply eat as is.