Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Peach Fruit Leather

Definitely buy "freestone" peaches, otherwise it's too time-consuming and painful to process those little cheeks. You'll need a dryer (dehydrator), but for those of you nearby, I'd be more than happy to share mine.

10-20 peaches, ripe
sugar to taste

1. Wash peaches and remove pits. (You can remove the skin or leave on as desired.) Place in food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

2. Pour into large saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring. Add sugar according to taste. Continue boiling until temperature reaches 190 F. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

3. Cover drying racks with saran wrap or use fruit-leather sheets. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

4. Ladle puree onto sheets, spreading out middle so it's ~ 1/8" in the middle and ~ 1/4" on the edges (at least get it a little thicker on the edges as much as you can- my peach pure was still pretty runny).

5. Dry at 135 F or "fruit-leather" setting for ~6-8 hours. Leather will no longer be sticky to the touch when done.

6. While still warm, peel off the tray and roll into a tube. Keep in air-tight container away from direct sunlight (it'll leech the color).

Summer Pasta with Corn, Lime, and Cream

I love Catherine Newman's cooking blog. She's got loads of fun creative recipes, and the way she writes them up is fantastic. This is a summery recipe we've had several times recently (fast and delicious). You can check out all her recipes here.

(Disclaimer: I don't add pickled jalapenos, mint, or cilantro, and I've only used half-and-half.)

Summer Pasta with Corn, Lime, and Cream
Serves 4-6
Total time: 30 minutes
You could use all of one of the herbs here--cilantro or mint or basil--but the combination is truly intoxicating. And while the dish works better with heavy cream, you can swap in half and half need be: just be sure to reduce it a bit in the pan before adding the lime juice, or it will be inclined to curdle slightly (which is not a big deal, but still, it's nicer to look at if it doesn't). Final notes: whole wheat pasta makes this a more wholesome dish, and if you want to boost it's main-dish status, you could certainly add some shrimp (really? did the Spettro dish always have shrimp?) or some sliced grilled chicken.
Olive oil
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1 large clove of garlic, pressed or finely chopped
3 ears of corn, sliced off the cob (or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels)
1 cup of heavy cream (or half and half)
1 cup of chicken or vegetable broth (I like Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable Bouillon with Sea Salt)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon pickled jalapenos, finely chopped (optional)
The zest and juice of 1/2 a lime
12 ounces egg noodles or whole wheat pasta
1/2 cup (combined) mint, basil, and cilantro, finely chopped
In a wide skillet over medium-high heat, heat a large bloop of the olive oil (1-2 tablespoons) then add the zucchini and salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until it is starting to brown, around 3 minutes.
Add the garlic and corn and sauté for another 3 minutes, until the veggies are just starting to get tender, then stir in the cream, broth, sugar, jalapenos, and lime zest, and simmer until thickened, around (say it with me) 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in heavily salted water until just tender, then drain.
Add the lime juice to the skillet and taste for salt, then stir in the pasta and herbs and bring it all to a gentle simmer. Taste for seasoning (add more lime zest or juice or more salt if the pasta needs a lift) and serve.

Blueberry Muffins

This recipe is also delicious baked in a 9x13 pan and served as breakfast cake.  The lemon zest and glaze are optional, but really, why wouldn't you want lemon?

Blueberry Muffins
by Emilee Wells

2 cups flour (I usually use whole wheat)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil (canola, usually)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
Zest of one lemon
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix dry ingredients together, then add wet ingredients, plus the zest, and stir until combined.  (Don't use an electric mixer, or your muffins will be tough.)  Fold in the blueberries.  Fill muffin cups 2/3 full (or spread the whole batter into a 9x13 pan) and bake for 15-18 minutes (25-28 for 9x13), until top is golden brown and it springs back when you touch it.  Drizzle with Lemon Glaze immediately.

Lemon Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Juice of one lemon
Mix with a fork until well combined.

If I'm being extra fancy, I will sprinkle the cake lightly with sugar before baking it.  That way you get a nice crunchy top underneath the lemon glaze.