Thursday, August 26, 2010

market chard in a dish

I've been testing new recipes this week - with mixed results. It is mainly operator error - yesterday's zucchini feta bake suffered from a type of zucchini with a very thick skin which I didn't peel off and which resulted in a chewy supper and a mound of zucchini peels on the sides of our plates last night. Tonight's trial was more successful. I adapted a recipe for stuffed swiss chard gratin from Homemaker magazine.

Here is how I made it - Swiss Chard Gratin w leek and pancetta

2 bunches of swiss chard
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 medium leeks, sliced into half moons
4 slices of pancetta, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
3 large baking potatoes, boiled and mashed
dash of cayenne
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2/3 c parmesan crumbles

1/4 c butter
1/4 c flour
2 1/4 c milk
grated fresh nutmeg
1/3 c parmesan crumbles

1/3 c grated gruyere cheese

Cut the stalks off the chard at the bottom of the leaves. In a pot of salted water, boil the stems for 8 minutes and remove with tongs and drain. Into the same water, cook the chard leaves for 2 minutes and then take off the heat and drain. Meantime heat the oil in a saute pan, add the onion, leek and pancetta and cook until soft. Add the chopped cooked stems and the mashed potatoes, pepper, cayenne, mustard and parmesan and mix well.
Make the bechamel sauce by adding the butter, flour and milk to a saucepan. Whisk together and heat until boiling. Turn the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Add the nutmeg, pepper and parmesan.
Grease a 9x13 casserole and lay 1/2 the chard leaves on the bottom to cover the dish. Spread the potato mixture over the chard leaves evenly and cover with the rest of the chard leaves. Pour the sauce evenly over the top and sprinkle the grated gruyere over the top. Bake at 400 deg F for 40-45 minutes until bubbly and browned. Enjoy! We both found this delicious and it smells wonderful while baking (baking cheese always smells delicious!)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

peach jam

I love peaches at their peak. So I loved this post from Tea and Cookies. So I unearthed the very old family canning pot from the garage, bought some peaches and some jam jars and waded in to making a batch of peach jam. I used 2 lbs of peaches (5),

1 lb of sugar (enthusiastically measured by T) and the juice of 1 lemon. I diced the peaches, added the sugar and lemon juice and left the mixture to sit while T and I went to the market.

An aside - it was Teddy Bear's picnic today at the market, so T brought along his zebra - he was 1 of 2 children brave enough to march in the parade around the market with their stuffie (although he hung onto me via my bag the whole time). After the parade, the kids got cookies and juice and there was a storytime session and then they could prowl for stuffies in the vendor stands - if they found a stuffie they got to keep it. T found lots - a pink whale, a small beanie giraffe, a panda, a bird, a hello kitty cat, a bear and a blue hedgehog. It has to be said that the vendors he plays peek-a-boo with every week did help him find some of the toys.

When we got home, T went to make a jungle for his stuffies and I turned my attention to the jam. I poured the peach mix into a large pot on low heat and stirred. I washed jars and put them in a low oven to sterilize and I tried to get some of the rust off the canning pot rack...without much success, so I'm going to rest the jars on caps. I found this post by tigress in a jam which helped. Tea's recipe said the stirring could take up to 4 hours, so I brought a chair in from outside and had my book and my tea while occasionally stirring the jam mixture. It smelt so divine. After about an hour and a half it was looking fairly jammy

and sure enough, when I tested it, it was jammy enough. I poured it into jars and ended up with 2 - 250 ml jars and 1 - 125 ml jar with a smidge left over which D inhaled as soon as he came in from work! I did the 2 250 ml jars in the canning bath for 10 minutes just to practise as based on D's reaction to the jam, they aren't going to last very long.

So back to the fruit stand tomorrow for me to buy more peaches.

roasted tomato and fresh mozarella pasta

I bought the latest Martha Stewart Living Magazine because on the cover it had a section for recipes for corn, zucchini and tomatoes.  And it had a recipe for fresh tomato and mozarella pasta.

But as I prefer roasted tomatoes I made my pasta with roasted tomatoes.

 To the cooked pasta I added some olive oil, torn up roasted tomatoes, torn up fresh mozarella and torn up fresh basil, with lots of pepper.  

D and I ageed that we like our pasta on the saucier side and thought it would be better for use to use a basil pesto base mixed with mashed roasted tomatoes and melted mozarella. Or maybe try Luisa's roasted tomato pasta.

goat cheese and roasted corn - two recipes

This year the corn has been so great - so the other week we seemed to eat it every night. With a lot of goat cheese. A delicious combination.

First came goat cheese and roasted corn quesadillas that was inspired by this corn related post.

Here is how I made them:
6 large flour tortillas (I ended up with a combination of sun-dried tomato, spinach and cheese ones)
130 g goat cheese
kernels cut from 2 ears of corn
1 c salsa verde

Saute the corn in a pan for 2-3 minutes until toasty. Combine the corn with the goat cheese and mix. Spread the bottom of three tortillas with this mix. Sprinkle a couple of large spoonfuls of salsa over each one and top with another tortilla. Heat the tortillas in a saute pan until slightly brown. Cut into quarters and serve with sour cream and salsa.

Those were so yummy I moved on to roasted corn and goat cheese pasta. It was slightly inspired by a recipe in last month's Martha Stewart Living magazine which used a corn pesto. For my pasta I made a loose basil pesto using just basil, garlic, pepper and olive oil. I cooked some scooby doo pasta (that is it's name here) and while that was cooking, I sauted the kernels from 2 ears of corn and some thinly sliced red onion. Just before adding the pasta I added some sliced goat cheese (it was half a round). I added in the cooked pasta and the pesto and then tossed in a couple of handfuls of roasted cashew nuts.

Friday, August 20, 2010

wildlife adventures

We had a couple of wildlife encounters here this week. First came the grasshopper. We found him clinging to the wall, halfway up the stairs last weekend. T expressed a desire to keep it so we found a container and D trapped him. We gave him some leaves to eat and some water and he/it seemed content to hang out as T's pal. The following day, another grasshopper appeared in the doorway to T's room. Initially I thought the original grasshopper had escaped from the container, but this was not the case. The second grasshopper moved in with the first and all was well for a couple of days. Yesterday, there was a big puddle of brown water at the bottom of the grasshopper habitat and no grasshoppers. T came to me with the container and I told him to go to D. So down he went. I heard D telling T - grasshoppers don't live very long - these ones have died so we'll go put this in the garden. T came back upstairs and reported to me "Daddy couldn't fix them". Oh dear.

Then the other night I woke up to a strange scraping noise coming from the back yard - with the heat all the windows have been wide open. I lay there in the darkness trying to identify the noise. Finally it came to me - racoons in the yard playing with T's water toys - scraping the plastic along the patio bricks. D realized it at the same time. Then we heard the squeak of the racoons getting in and out of the wading pool so we got up and went outside and shooed them away - 3 racoons peeking out at us from behind the wading pool at 3:46 AM. Back we went to bed. About 15 minutes later, they were back. Squeaking and splashing so D went down and shooed them off with a broom this time - this time they stayed away. I can live without middle of the night racoon pool parties...

blackberries abound...

T has been collecting blackberries in the lane at daycare, bringing home the odd couple of berries to have with his supper. So last Saturday, a very hot day, by our standards, we trooped off to our favorite blackberry hunting ground - a local walking trail along a former railway line - lined with blackberry thickets. So we mooched along the trail, picking high (D) and low (T) - but not too low. Apart from T dropping his nearly full bucket of berries while looking at an airplane, all went well. We even met an old Lab who loves blackberries and T followed him for a bit, trying to feed him berries from his bucket. Hot and sweaty and prickled, we came home with our haul - a large white tub full of berries.

I managed to stash a couple of bags away in the freezer for future blackberry and apple galette and turned the rest of the stash into blackberry syrup - I whizzed the blackberries through my old food mill

- leaving behind the hard bits and seeds, leaving a dark purple black juice.

I made a blackberry ice using this as inspiration.

Blackberry Ice
1 1/2 c blackberry syrup/juice
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c water
1 c sparkling wine (I used pink champagne)

Pour the blackberry juice into a food processor. Heat the water until boiling, take off the heat and add the sugar, stirring together until the sugar melts. Pour the sugar syrup into the blackberries while the processor whizzes. Add the sparkling wine and pulse for about 10 seconds. Pour the mixture into a glass dish and freeze.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

tomato and zucchini tart - the winner!

This summer, it has been my goal, to create a winner tart using zucchini and tomatoes. My start off point has been this tart from last summer from Willi at digginfood. I loved it all last summer. But this summer, with my newfound pastry recipes in hand, I wanted a more grown up tart bursting with flavour. Along the way, I have written about my trials and shared some pictures. And tonight I came up with the winner.

D announced it to be "damn tasty" which is pretty high praise indeed!

First off, I bought a tart pan with a removable bottom. Works like a dream and seems to make the sides of the tart more proportional with the rest of it - what can I say, I was obsessed.

Then I made the pastry - from Kate's French Tomato Tart from David Lebovitz.

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter (cubed)
Put these three ingredients into a food processor and pulse until it resembles fine crumbs.
Mix 1 large egg with 2 tbsp cold water and add to the processor. Pulse. If the dough doesn't come together add another tbsp cold water. Once a dough forms, remove the dough to a piece of parchment paper on the counter and roll out a circle to fit your pie/tart pan. Roll off the excess dough using the rolling pin.

Indent the bottom of the tart dough by pushing your fingers into it (like foccacia bread!). Spread 1 tbsp dijon mustard evenly over the tart.

2 small - medium zucchini, halved and cut into ~ 1/4" moons
3-4 thickly sliced roma tomatoes or equivalent (I used about 6 campari tomatoes)
~ 100 g goat cheese, crumbled or sliced
parmesan shavings
pistachio olive tapenade (~ 1/2 c)

In a non-stick saute pan, over medium heat, saute the zucchini moons until tender and brown on both sides. Layer the moons into one thick layer over the mustard in the tart. Top with the goat cheese. Layer the tomatoes into a thick layer over the goat cheese. Dab the tapenade over the tomatoes as evenly as possible and then sprinkle some parmesan over the top.

Bake at 400 deg F for 30-35 minutes until the pastry has browned and the parmesan is melted and golden brown. Eat.

Pistachio Olive Tapenade - from Deb at Smitten Kitchen
1/2 c shelled, roasted pistachio nuts
1 c green, pitted olives
5 heaping tsp capers
1 very large garlic clove
olive oil

Put the nuts, olives, caper, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Grind a good amount of pepper over top. Turn the machine on and slowly pour olive oil into the bowl until the mixture is still somewhat textured but moves around the bowl. Taste and correct seasonings.

I got the idea for using tapenade as a topping to the tart from this post by Molly at Orangette. So I have to say I'm grateful for all the wonderful recipes and ideas out there from all the wonderful people blogging about food because this is delicious - even if I do say so myself.

Monday, August 9, 2010

a crowd pleasing blueberry cake

People love this cake and it gets eaten quickly. So if you have lots of blueberries (and butter) around make this cake and be a hero. (But not necessarily the winner of any cake competition). And it's easy - really, what else do you need from a cake?

Oh - and it has a cute name - Blueberry Boy Bait - and I found it last year here. Here is how I made it a couple of days ago.

Blueberry Boy Bait - adapted from Smitten Kitchen
2 c. flour
1 tbsp baking powder
7/8 tsp salt
2 sticks butter (softened), 16 tbsp
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
3 large eggs
1 c milk
1 c blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F and grease a 9x13 baking pan. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugars together on medium high speed until fluffy, ~ 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until mixed in. Reduce the mixing speed and add the flour and milk alternately until blended.

Mix the blueberries with 1 tsp flour and fold into the batter.

3/4 c blueberries
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Scatter the blueberries over the batter. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle evenly over the cake top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes. Cool on a rack.


it seemed like a good idea

I read this lyrical description of a tangerine almond cake over here. So I bookmarked it and made it a couple of months ago. First I had to go find the tangerines, almonds and eggs. And one day, I made it. I don't think I baked it long enough as it was a very soggy cake - D and T both loved it as they thought it tasted like an orange creamsicle in cake form. It didn't keep very well so eat it up fast if you make it and make sure you bake it until done. And I think I need more experimenting with flourless cakes, because I am interested in gluten free baking. (And I know there are flour alternatives that you can use for gluten free baking - I'm always amazed by the wonderful ideas here).

Tangerine Almond Cake - from seven spoons from Nigella Lawson

4 medium tangerines
9 oz raw almonds
6 eggs
8 oz sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

Place tangerines in a saucepan and cover with cold water (just), bring to a boil and simmer for about 2 hours (until the fruit is tender). Drain the fruit and cool. Over a bowl to catch the juice, pull apart each tangerine to remove the seeds. Discard the seeds and keep all the rest of the fruit and juice.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Lightly grease an 8" cake pan (with a removeable bottom), line with parchment paper and sides with a collar extending past the top of the pan.

In a food processor, grind the almonds to a fine meal. Add the tangerines and blend to a thick puree.

In a large bowl, add the tangerine juice and eggs and beat until blended. Stir in the sugar, vanilla, baking powder and salt. Fold in the fruit nut mixture.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 1 hour (until the sides of the cake is pulling away from the sides of the pan and a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven to a rack to cool.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

tomato onion gratin

One night a few weeks ago, I was reading some posts from Orangette and came across this. I'm always looking for cheap and cheerful supper recipes and this one fit the bill, - eggs, tomato, onion and cheese and fairly simple - sounds terrific to me.

Egg and Tomato Gratin - from Orangette

6 eggs, hard boiled
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced (I cut the onions in half and do onion moons)
4 tsp garlic, minced
3/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 420 mL can of peeled tomatoes, with juice reserved
2/3 c of grated gruyere cheese

Cut each of the eggs into quarters. Arrange the quarters in the bottom of a baking dish. Preheat the oven to 400 deg F. Saute the onion in the oil for 2 minutes over medium high heat, then add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and juice, bring to a boil and then simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the tomato onion mixture over the eggs and sprinkle the cheese across the top. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, til brown and bubbly. 4 servings. The leftovers from my supper made delicious lunches when served with toast.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

toasted sandwiches

I've been reading a few posts about toast - odes to simple toast lyrically written by Luisa (the wednesday chef) and Molly (orangette) and both made me run to my toaster and make toast. I'm particulary smitten with Luisa's mustard-mayo avocado on toast. Yummy.

Since I started making my own bread a few months ago, my new lunch time staple has been toasted sandwiches - slices of my bread, toasted to a golden brown, slathered with mayo and various things piled on - some of my favorite combinations are avocado and cheese, cheese and tomato, cucumber and cheese, bacon and tomato

and inspired by Martha Stewart Living Magazine, a quick supper sandwich is toasted tomato, avocado and bacon.

My bread recipe is adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook - basic bread recipe
Oatmeal Spelt Bread
3 c flour
1 c spelt flour
1 c oats + 1 c water cooked and cooled
2 1/4 tsp bread yeast
2 tsp salt
1 c. milk
3 tbsp butter, melted
3 tbsp brown rice syrup

In a stand mixer, mix the flours, oatmeal, yeast and salt together until blended. Warm the milk and combine with the butter and brown rice syrup and pour into the flour mix. With a dough hook, knead for 10 minutes, adding more flour if required ( this amount of flour usually works for me but add in 1/4 c increments if your dough is too loose - it should be fairly sticky). Let rise for about an hour until doubled in size (I do this in the mixer) and then turn out onto a lightly floured counter. Pat into a rectangle about the length of your loaf pan. Roll the rectangle into a loaf, seaming the edges together. Place in your loaf pan and let rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Preheat your oven to 350 deg F. Once the bread is risen, pop the pan into the oven, and alongside place another pan filled halfway with boiling water. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the bread is golden and makes a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a rack.

Friday, August 6, 2010

oven ribs

So here's the thing. I can't really call the ribs I make BBQ ribs because I don't own a BBQ. So the only barbeque anything is the sauce. Last year I think, someone told me that you can do ribs in your slow cooker - in coca cola. Then I read Nigella's recipe for ham cooked in ginger ale. And that yielded a moist, gingery ham so I thought why not try it with ribs. See slow cooking the ribs makes them really tender and then you finish them in the oven - baste them in BBQ sauce and wrap them in foil and bake for ~ 40-45 minutes. So that is how I do them - usually.

A few weeks ago, I took some ribs out of the freezer and planned to make my oven ribs as usual. But I had no ginger ale so I improvised. I had some pink lemonade left over from another recipe, I added garlic, soy sauce and then for the ginger punch, some ginger marmelade. Wierd, yes. But I poured the concoction over the defrosted ribs in the slow cooker and hoped it would all work out. I will admit that I added extra BBQ sauce when it came time to bake them in the oven. But they worked out and I was the only one who guessed at the wierd cooking solution - D didn't guess. I made them again a week later, but with ginger ale as per usual.

So here's the real recipe. Put ribs in a slow cooker, cover with ginger ale and slow cook for 2 + hours on low heat - cook longer if you can - as much as 5 hours on low or warm depending on how hot your slow cooker gets. About 50 minutes prior to when you want to eat, take the ribs out of the slow cooker, shake, place in foil and cover with your favorite BBQ sauce. Cover with foil and bake at 350 deg F for 40 - 45 minutes.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

boy's baking with mummy

A couple of Saturday's ago, T wanted to bake cookies with me. Right away. I had been preparing to make some bread but I stopped and asked T what kind of cookie he wanted to make. "Gingerbread". Ok - mid-summer, hot and sunny and he wants to make gingerbread. I got out the big bag of cookie cutters for him to choose his shapes with and I dug out my America's Test Kitchen Cookbook and turned to gingerbread.

T got kitted out in his cooking gear and put all his cooking tools out (mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons and his piggy whisk).

T added all the ingredients to the mixer bowl and I monitored his finger placement everytime I turned the mixer on - quite nerve racking for me as he is fascinated by the turning blade but he loves putting on the cover and pouring shield so that works for me.

The dough was very soft in the heat and I misread the recipe - placing the dough in the fridge after it had been rolled out and cut into shapes instead of after rolling but before cutting. Nevermind. We mixed the dough, cut it in half and rolled out the dough. We cut out a moose, gingerbread boy, a whale, a sheep, a penquin, a plane, a car, a train, a bear, a cow, a duck, a lion, a rabbit, etc. I put the dough in the fridge and then we baked them up. T was so excited to try them that he touched a pan coming out of the oven and burnt his finger. So I soaked his finger in cold water until the heat was gone from his finger and by then the cookies were cool enough to eat. T started with the moose and kept on going. If I hadn't put some of the cookies away, they all would have been eating by tea time.

 We still have half of the dough in the freezer, to be made into cookies some other time.

quick lunchtime salad

As with many new things, inspiration comes from a variety of sources and so it was with this.

Two things inspired this - a view of Jacques Pepin's site for fast food and his recipe for baby mozarella salad and a conversation with a market vendor on what to do with herbed feta cheese. In the end I used boccancini as the base for the salad and added , diced red onion, sundried tomatoes, oven dried tomatoes with thyme (from my freezer), capers, olives, campari tomatoes with some torn basil, a splash of balsamic vinegar and a splash of olive oil with a bit of salt and pepper. It made a lovely lunch, served with some dip and taco chips out on the patio.

peach blueberry galette

I'm behind with posting all the things I've been making in the last little while - so bear with me while I catch up. When we got the first peaches a couple of weeks ago, I bought a bunch home but they went soft very quickly. So with my new found pastry recipe I made a peach blueberry galette, partly to use up the peaches and I added the blueberries for a few reasons - the peaches didn't fill the galette quite as much as I wanted it to be filled, and I had just read this and I had a big box of fresh blueberries sitting on the counter when I was making the pastry.

I've found my pastry recipe on the web so I will pass it along to you - sweet galette dough from Laura Calder
1 c plus 2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 c butter, diced
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp cold water

Put flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is incorporated and looks grainy. Add the vanilla and the water and pulse until the dough forms into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Roll out between parchment sheets to a round of the size you want.

6 peaches, stoned and sliced into eighths
1 c blueberries
1/2 c sugar
4 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp cinnamon

Cut the peaches (skin them if they are very fuzzy), add them to a bowl. Add the sugar, corn starch and cinnamon and stir until blended. Add the blueberries. Add the fruit on top of the pastry round, mounded in the middle. Fold the edges over the fruit, pleating the dough as required. Cut up 2 tbsp butter and dot over the fruit. Bake at 375 deg F for 45 - 50 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly.

summer hash with sausage version 2

It was muggy and hot today. We spent the afternoon in front of the aquatic center - T and his pal ran around and in the fountain for hours - racing cars in the water and splashing each other and generally having a wet blast.

I've been feeling hot and itchy and out of sorts all day - I don't do heat well. So what did I do for supper? Turned the oven on - crazy I know. I had eggplant, tomatoes and peppers in the fridge so I made another saute.

a handful of new potatoes quartered
3 peppers, orange and red, cut into a largish dice
2 shallots, quartered
1 very large garlic clove, sliced
2 eggplant, diced
6 campari tomatoes, diced
2 mild italian sausages, diced (casings removed)
3 tbsp olive oil

Put the whole pile of vegetables and sausage into a 9x13 baking dish and sprinkle the oil over the top. Mix and pop into a hot (400 deg F) oven for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Stir in 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese and 1/2 c slivered basil. Serve.

The one was just as delicious as the first. I served it with a large green salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, olives and feta. With cherries for dessert. So I'm still hot, but full of lovely food.

rhubarb syrup

I saw this idea last year and for some reason, it stuck in my head and popped up a few weeks ago. I bought some rhubarb from the fruit stand and whipped up a batch of syrup, using the recipe here. Cut up the rhubarb - I used 4 stalks so it was a bit more than 1 1/2 cups and I put it into a saucepan with 1 1/2 c of water and slightly less than 1 c of sugar. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Cool and then strain. I keep the syrup in a jar in the fridge so I can use it for a drink anytime. I've mixed it with plain water and sparkling lemonade (delicious).

The fruit leftover can be folded into a cup of cream that has been whipped to soft peaks - rhubarb fool.

corn pancakes

I was pretty sure I wrote about these last year but cannot find the post so I'll write about them again. These little pancakes (or not so little) come in handy when you have a hole to fill on your plate and no inspiration is happening - at least for me. They work well with frozen corn but right now, with fresh corn available at the fruit stand, it's fresh all the way. I haven't eaten a lot of fresh corn in recent years but this recipe changed that - now I have many recipes using corn kernels cut off the cobs. This is how I made them last night -

Spicy Corn Pancakes (adapted from eat make read)
2 c of corn - kernels cut off 3 ears of corn
1 diced, roasted red pepper (optional)
1 c milk (I ran out of milk so I used half milk, half plain yogurt)
4 tbsp butter
1/8 tsp very hot chili powder
2 large eggs
1 1/4 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 c grated sharp cheddar cheese

In a saucepan over medium heat, mix the corn, milk, chili, red pepper, pepper and butter. Heat and stir until the butter melts. Take off the heat.
In a bowl, whisk the 2 eggs together and add the corn mixture. Mix the dry ingredients together and add to the egg/ corn mixture. Add in the cheese. Let stand for 5 minutes to rest.
In a pan over medium heat, put tbsp of batter (for the size of pancake you want) and heat until set about halfway up the sides. Flip over and brown the second side. Serve warm.

scalloped tomatoes

I think it is pretty much heresy but here goes. I'm not that crazy about raw tomatoes. I love the little cherry ones - especially dipped into blue cheese dressing but the others - not so much. I like them in a greek salad this time of year, with fresh cukes, red onion, red pepper, olives and loads of feta over the crisp, peppery microgreens from the market. But I love tomatoes roasted or oven dried. So when I read this at smittenkitchen I knew I had to make it. Field tomatoes are still a rarity here - tomatoes are really slow this year thanks to the months of rain we had prior to July - so I've been making it with campari tomatoes from the market or fruit stand - 2 1/2 lbs is about 23 tomatoes....

I made it for myself one night when D was working and kept the leftovers for my lunches - I loved it that much. So I made it again, except I was out of bread so used olive bread crumbs I had lurking in my freezer, but also forgot to add the basil - so that batch was just ok. The bread and the basil really are key to this recipe - just so you know.

Last night I made it again -
2 c diced, crust removed bread (I used a loaf of somewhat stale rosemary potato bread)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 lbs diced tomatoes
2 tbsp sugar
1 heaping tsp garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c thinly sliced basil
1 c parmesan cheese, grated

Toast the bread cubes in the olive oil until golden brown. (Trickier than it looks - just keep shaking the pan until the bread is toasty and not black...) In the meantime prepare the tomatoes, and mix them with the garlic, sugar (trust me on the sugar - just do it), salt and pepper. Once the bread is brown all over (ish), dump the tomatoes into the saute pan and cook for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and add the basil. Then pour the mixture (it should be thickish now) into a baking pan (I've used 7x10 and 8x11 pans and both work), sprinkle the parmesan over the top and pop into a 350 deg F oven for 35 minutes or until the cheese is toasty and the edges of the casserole are bubbly.

Dig in - careful, it's hot. It's magic - the tomatoes and bread and basil and cheese and garlic all melded together into deliciousness. We had big scoops last night with spicy corn pancakes

 - yum.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

hands on art

Sunday was catch up day around the house. T and I visited the market and then the art festival on across the street. I did a quick tour around the artist booths and then we found the hand on arts and crafts tent. So I punked down $6 and T got to paint and decorate and create to his heart's content with anything and everything at the tables - cardboard tubes, flower pots, paint, feathers, glue, fabric scraps, tape and all kinds of fun things. His first creation was a large lighthouse - once it was painted with the light and roof on top we had to let it dry before we could apply the stripes so we had a hot dog and ice cream break by the beach. After finishing the lighthouse,

T made a drum.

Lots of fun.

And last night, T had to paint. Seems the artist has been awoken. So he did a series of family portraits - mummy and daddy,





 and a piano - the piano started off as Uncle M but morphed into a piano....

a child's tent

One of my projects this summer was to build a teepee for my boy. I've been thinking about it ever since I read this post from one of my favorite blogs - Kelly's She's doing a summer days series all summer long, full of recipes and crafts and lovely summer ideas - so fun.

A couple of weeks ago, I googled child's tent and found this post with instructions on how to make a tent with 6' bamboo poles from the garden center - which I had already bought with the tent in mind! I used an old queen size duvet cover as the fabric (recycling) which I had to cut down.

Our boy loved it - although he tried to add a basement to the tent using dining room chairs!

Monday, August 2, 2010

plums, more plums and a cake

About a week and a half ago, I was given a huge bag of plums by a coworker. A huge bag.

They were delicious but I knew D couldn't eat his way through them before they went soft and mushy. So, that night, after T was in bed, I sat outside in the waning light and quartered and stoned a pile of fruit.

 And now I have bags and bags of plums in my freezer to bring us summer in the fall and winter.

But I had a couple of cups of quartered plums left that wouldn't fit in the freezer (a situation that needs to be remedied as I soon (fingers crossed) have many more goodies to fit into the freezer for the winter), so I made a cake. I came across a plum skillet cake recipe in Martha Stewart Living Magazine and it looked delicious but only used 2 plums but it gave me the inspiration to make a plum buttermilk cake based on this recipe.

Plum Buttermilk Cake - based on strawberry rhubarb buttermilk pudding cake from sassy radish

3 c. quartered plums
1/3 c sugar
1 c. flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 c buttermilk (I used 1% milk plus 1 1/2 tsp vinegar)
1 stick (8 tbsp) butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Place ~ 1 cup of the plums in the bottom of a buttered, 7x11 glass dish.

Make the cake batter - whisk flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl whisk egg, buttermilk, butter and vanilla together. Fold in the flour mixture until just mixed. Pour over the plums. Spread the batter as evenly as possible in the dish. Press the remaining plums into the batter. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle this mix over the cake.

Bake at 400 deg F for 25-30 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

 D loved this cake - he ate it like a sandwich at the beach - saran wrapped cake in one hand, book in the other.