Peaches in the summer are to me what pumpkin is to others in the fall. They are, by far, my favourite summer fruit and I’ve been very lucky to live in two States that grow peaches. Getting a locally grown, red hued peach, ripe off the tree has been fairly easy for me. Continue reading
I may have disappeared again. In my defence, I tried really hard to not only get this post out earlier but to visit as many of you as I could. I didn’t get to post this last week and I missed many of you. It was just a very hectic week.
My daughter graduated on Saturday and it was a lovely ceremony and a bit bittersweet and emotional. This was my first graduation as far as my children go. My eldest didn’t walk and so robbed me of my proud mommy moment.
In England, we don’t have all this graduation business. We sit our exams, we enjoy our summer as much as we can, and in August nervously await with baited breath for the postal flap in our door to fly open and letters to drop on the floor, hoping one of the envelopes is from the Examination Board. Then we squeal with excitement or moan with regret, either way, that’s it, that’s our graduation pomp and circumstance.
I may not have all the hullabaloo at my “graduation”, however, it was still very nice to be a part of daughter’s big day. I tried to hold back the tears when we walked down to greet her after the ceremony. A few photos and then our moment was done. She waved to us as she disappeared into the sea of blue clad graduates to enjoy the day and the many parties. I anxiously hoped she remembered that we also had a party going on later that day and she needed to make an appearance!
Saturday was also my son’s 10th birthday. He was such a great brother and made way for his sister to own the day. He graciously took a back seat so she could be the star.
We had a lovely BBQ with many of our good friends. It has been raining here for a good two weeks with really cold temperatures and Saturday was no different! It poured down! Thankfully, we have a huge front covered porch and we do most our cookouts under the porch. We had two grills going, a gas and a charcoal. We grilled burgers, chicken kebabs and vegetables. I made a quinoa salad with fruit, a Caprese pasta salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, grilled vegetables with a Herbes De Provence vinaigrette, and tangy, South Indian lemon rice.
Chips, salsa, Feta dip and a spicy black bean dip with assorted olives and vegetables rounded out the savouries. Dessert was a blueberry cobbler, grilled nectarines and pineapples with pound cake and ice cream, and assorted fruit. A wonderful friend made a beautiful cheesecake. We had plenty of sweets! Sweet ice tea, Southern style, and lemonade quenched our thirst. I think everyone enjoyed themselves!
One thing about cookouts is they don’t really allow you to sit for too long with your guests. I was running constantly from the grill to the food tables. Once the food was done though, I had a chance to sit and converse.
In the U.S. it was Memorial Day weekend so my husband and I were off from work on Saturday, but what did I end up doing on my day off from cooking at the store? Cooking for an even bigger crowd. I’m a glutton for punishment.
Were any of you aware that last week was National Vegetarian Week? I stumbled upon it while I was reading some article but then decided to run with it! It’s the excuse I used to cook vegetarian all week long. My eldest loved it because for once, she could eat everything and wasn’t relegated to the sides!
I loved it too. Dinner was uncomplicated and easy to throw together. It took me only an hour each day to get dinner on the table. No dealing with cleaning meat or chicken, waiting for it to defrost, soften, and so on.
This Mac and Cheese was dinner one day along with sautéed baby broccoli and baked kale chips. I jazzed it up a bit by using Pepper Jack since I love Pepper Jack cheese. It added a little kick without too much heat.
I also didn’t use macaroni but pasta shape known as pipe, Whole Foods has an excellent organic one I like to use. I just think they look cool and I’m like a little kid when it comes to pasta shapes.
Serves: 8-10 servings
- 1 pound/ 455g macaroni or any short tube pasta
- 9 ounces/255g Pepper Jack cheese or other spicy cheese, shredded
- 3 ounces/85g white Cheddar cheese,shredded
- 4 tablespoons/55g butter, unsalted
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3½ cups/830ml milk
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon honey Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon turmeric, optional
- 2 slices bread ends
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- CHEESE SAUCE
- In a large saucepan melt the butter.
- Once the butter is melted add the flour and mix to make a roux.
- Cook a little to get the raw flour taste out.
- Add the nutmeg.
- Slowly add the milk and stir with a whisk to make sure it doesn't get lumpy.
- You can warm the milk so the sauce is lump free but I never do and I've never had a problem with a lumpy white sauce.
- Once the white sauce begins to bubble and thicken, pull off the heat and add your cheese.
- The heat from the white sauce should be enough to melt the cheese but you can put it back on the burner with the heat off.
- Mix the cheese until all is melted and homogenous.
- Add the honey Dijon mustard or your mustard of choice, and the turmeric if using.
- The cheese I buy is an organic, natural cheese from Whole Foods and it has no colouring.
- Pepper Jack by nature is a white cheese.
- So, to get the yellow colour of mac and cheese, I add a touch of turmeric.
- If you are using yellow cheddar, then you can omit the turmeric.
- Keep the sauce to the side as you boil the pasta.
- Follow the package directions to boil your pasta but boil it three minutes shy of the recommended time.
- You want a good bite when you pull it off the heat.
- The pasta will cook further in the sauce when it's baked so over cooking it now will give you a mushy mac and cheese.
- Keep a little of the pasta water to thin the cheese sauce if needed.
- Once the pasta is ¾ cooked, drain it and reserve some pasta water.
- Mix the pasta into the cheese sauce, coating evenly.
- Add a bit of pasta water if it seems too gloppy.
- Have a buttered baking dish ready and pour the mac and cheese into the prepared dish.
- If you'd like a crumb topping, take some bread ends or heels, I used the thick bread heels of a heavily seeded and grained bread, cut into small cubes and toss with olive oil.
- Scatter over the top.
- Preheat the oven to 375F/190C and place the mac and cheese on the centre rack.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the croutons are golden brown and crispy.
So, yeah, this isn’t a very original post because there are a million mac and cheese recipes out there! But hey, it’s a post and it really was quite tasty with the creamy, spicy cheese, the funky pasta and the crunchy croutons on top. But I am slowly getting there and back in the kitchen. The mind has been a bit slow churning and I finally figured out that it may have been the new meds I started. Well, my job revolves around cooking and so does this blog, if I can’t be creative and motivated then where will I be? So, I stopped taking the new meds. I hurt a bit more but my mind is my own now.
Did any of you cook vegetarian food last week? It’s been really fun to see all the fresh, spring flavours on the blogs and then the autumn flavours coming from the Southern Hemisphere. Y’all are definitely inspiring! Can’t wait to see more seasonal goodies!
Have a great week everyone!
London makes quite a few appearances in this blog purely because that’s where I grew up and have, not only my fondest memories, but the most vivid ones. I moved to London at a young age but since I was old enough to be aware and spent my school years there, I have wonderful memories.
Serves: 16 pies
- 2 cups/300g bread flour
- 2 cups/300g white whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons (or 1 package) yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ cups/355ml warm water
- 1lb/455g spinach, fresh or frozen
- 4 green onions, chopped fine
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- salt, to taste
- ½ cup Feta cheese
- In the bowl of a stand mixer mix the flours, salt, sugar and the yeast.
- Add the olive oil and the warm water, a little at time until a dough forms.
- You may need more or less water depending on the flour.
- Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Place the ball of dough in a greased bowl, cover and place in a warm area.
- Allow the dough to double in size, about 90 minutes (45 minutes if high altitude)
- While the dough is resting and rising, make the filling.
- If using fresh spinach, place the spinach in a microwaveable bowl and microwave for about 5 minutes until soft and wilted.
- Or, place in a pan with a drop of water and allow to steam and wilt.
- Drain the spinach and squeeze out all the water.
- You may need to wrap the spinach in a towel to get out all the excess water.
- Once the spinach is dry, chop it into small pieces.
- If using frozen, defrost and squeeze out all the water.
- Place the dry spinach in a bowl, add the green onions, feta cheese and lemon juice.
- Check to taste for salt and lemon juice.
- Don't make the filling too wet, it will be hard to seal the pies.
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C
- Once the dough has doubled in size. slowly punch down the dough.
- Place on a clean counter and knead gently.
- Cut the dough into 16 pieces.
- Roll out one piece of dough into a 5 inch/13 cm circle.
- Drop a rounded tablespoon of filling onto the centre of the dough.
- Pull up one side of the dough and seal.
- Pull up the other side and make a tri tip seal.
- I didn't need any water to seal but if you're having a problem getting the edges to seal, use a bit of water or flour paste to seal.
- Keep the pie aside.
- Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
- Place on a couple of cookie sheets and place in he oven
- Bake until golden brown and puffy, about 20 minutes.
- See warm or room temperature.
- They store really well in the fridge for a quick snack or packed lunches.
This dough makes great pita bread if you decide to make only a few fatayer and a few homemade pita bread.
Just bake the pita bread on a hot pizza stone or a heated cookie sheet.
It has perfect pita pockets!
I hope spring or fall is making an appearance in your part of the world. Colorado spring is very much like winter so we really see no difference! Lots and lots of snow signifies spring for us, so I guess spring might very well be here! I haven’t been able to see any new blossoms or buds yet though, but maybe the several inches of snow might possibly be covering them up.
Have a great week!
My dearest friends and readers, I have missed you. It seems like an eternity since I’ve been on my computer, on WordPress, typing away. First of all, I’d like to thank all those wonderful friends who have left comments on my Facebook, have chatted with me and sent me emails. I so, so, appreciate your love and thoughtfulness.
It has been a busy summer for me. I celebrated the end of Ramadan in Houston because I really needed to see my family and to feel the comfort, love and support only family and close friends can bring. It was a bit of a sad Ramadan for me and I really wanted to trade my tears for smiles again. If you know me, you’ll know that I’m never without a smile on my face. My thought on this matter is that I just don’t have time to be in a bad mood. It takes entirely too much energy to be grumpy.
We had a wonderful mini vacation to Houston, San Antonio and Dallas-Fort Worth. It was exhilarating to be with family again and laugh too much, eat too much and sleep not enough! I came back energised and ready to get cooking, baking, photographing and blogging.
At least that was the plan. Ever since I’ve been back, happy busyness has been keeping me otherwise occupied. The end of the summer events have been keeping me busy as far as cooking goes, I had a few dinner parties that went fabulously and I’ve also been working every Saturday as the Thermador cooking demo person.
In all this busyness though, I have missed one thing, my blogging friends, my lovely readers and I’ve missed the friendship that only a blogger knows. It was time to come back.
I, honestly, still don’t have time to cook and my family has been sorely neglected. I may be on the brink of a mutiny. But I manage to get food on the table; whether it is edible or not!
Since I cook every week on Saturdays for Thermador, I am going to start featuring those recipes until I can find a break to do my own blog cooking. I will tell you now, to excuse the bad photos because of the lighting in the showroom.
So, onto this Heirloom Tomato Pizza; it was supposed to be a tart. When I was heading off to the showroom for the demo, I left the tart shells in my freezer. Yep, big fail. However, I was also making a BBQ Chicken Pizza that day and had two rounds of pizza dough. I figured that a pizza was just as good as a tart, and you know what? It was pretty darn delicious.
Serves: 18-24 slices
- 3½ cups/500g all purpose/plain flour
- 2¼ teaspoon/1 sachet instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1-1½ cups warm water
- 1 15oz/425g container ricotta cheese
- 1 8oz/225g container mascarpone cheese
- 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
- ⅚ sprigs fresh thyme
- 4-5 large assorted Heirloom Tomatoes, sliced
- extra thyme for springing over top
- There are many ways to make pizza dough.
- I usually dump all my dry ingredients into the mixer and mix,
- Add the warm water, 1 cup first and then drizzle as necessary.
- Let the mixer do the work, knead and become nice and smooth.
- Place the dough ball in a greased bowl abc cover with a towel to rise.
- About an hour at sea level but about 30-40 minutes at altitude.
- However, when I do this, I know my yeast is fresh and will rise.
- If you are unsure of the quality of your yeast, then let it proof with the water and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Then add to the flour, olive oil and salt.
- While the dough is rising, work on the tomatoes and the cheese mixture.
- Slice the tomatoes in a ¼ inch slice.
- Mix the ricotta and mascarpone together, add the thyme, salt and pepper.
- Be generous with the salt, but taste to ensure you don't over salt!
- Preheat the oven to 500F/250C
- Once the dough has risen, spread out the dough into a large sheet pan, I used a half sheet size.
- You could also divide the dough into ¾ pieces and make individual pizzas.
- Smear the cheese filling all over the dough and arrange the tomatoes over the top.
- Sprinkle a few thyme leaves but reserve some to place on top after baking.
- Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.
- The tomatoes should be shrunk slightly and the crust and cheese lightly browned.
- Pull out of the oven and let cool a little before slicing.
I hope y’all have had a chance to try some heirloom tomatoes this season. They are so pretty and quite delicious.
Now, I’m dreading the impending…..pumpkin season. You know me and pumpkins. I guess we’ll see what I can muster up this pumpkin season to be a reputable blogger 🙂
I wish you all a very happy and productive week. I shall be by to visit you all very soon. Thank you for your patience, love and support!
How was everyone’s weekend? In the US, Sunday was Father’s Day and it was a beautiful day, a bit hot for my liking but nice nevertheless. What did you all do for the special fathers in your life?
We had a bit of a late and lazy start but eventually when everyone was ready, we headed out to one of the many State parks we have and walked/hiked around, well, I mainly hobbled but it was still really nice to get out in the open and enjoy nature. I have missed being outside.
We took a ride up to Golden Gate Canyon State park, about 40 minutes from where we live in Broomfield. It’s not very mountainous as such, but a beautiful canyon with a river carving through, lush green vales and hills and a few precarious rock formations.
We drove through to the open space and it was just perfect. We could see the plains of Denver on one side and rocks and hills on the other, and we were standing in the middle surrounded by an endless prairie. It was beyond beautiful and peaceful.
We didn’t do anything fancy for dinner; came home and slapped some burgers on the grill, chips on the side and warm brownies for dessert. I think it was perfect and the man of the hour thought so too.
Today’s post is nothing new but definitely an old favourite classic of many. This one particularly so, because it’s an adapted Julia Child recipe. You can’t get more classic than that. My first experience with soufflé probably wasn’t the greatest because it was the frozen, throw in the oven kind. It wasn’t bad and I rather enjoyed it. As time’s gone on, I have of course, made my own from scratch. Apart for the dessert kind, my favourite is the spinach soufflé.
Over the winter, the only thing that was available at the farm was the over wintered spinach. I wasn’t familiar with the term and come to find out it basically a hardy variety of spinach that can be grown, covered, in the winter time. It is SO good. So good that I went back many, many times to stock up on this sweet, sweet green. I made lots of Spinach and Potato curry, I made Spinach and Feta cheese borek, I sautéed it with garlic and I made soufflé.
Julia Child’s recipe is made in one big soufflé dish, but I wanted to make mine in individual ramekins as a side dish to serve with my kefta kebabs. My ramekins were a bit small and I recommend a 1 cup or 1½ cup ramekins, otherwise you may have batter leftover (which you can put in a dish and bake).
They were light, fluffy and delicious. Mine did rise nicely but deflated before I could photograph them.
Serves: 1 large dish or 8 ramekins
- 3½ tablespoons butter
- 4½ tablespoons flour
- 1½ cups/355ml milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- a pinch of nutmeg, ground
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 cup blanched and cooked spinach
- 2 tablespoons red onions, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 7 egg whites
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup Swiss cheese, grated
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheer, grated
- 1 8 cup soufflé mould or
- 8 1 cup ramekins
- Preheat the oven to 400F/200C
- Start by buttering and sprinkling cheese on the moulds.
- Put aside.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat
- Add the flour and mix until a thick paste forms.
- Drizzle in the milk and whisk out the lumps.
- Beat vigorously and add the seasonings.
- The sauce will be very thick.
- Add the egg yolks and mix until combined thoroughly.
- Cook the red onion sin the butter until softened.
- Add the cooked spinach and the salt and stir over moderately high heat to evaporate as much water as possible.
- Remove from the heat.
- Add the spinach to the egg yolk/white sauce soufflé base.
- Put to the side while preparing the egg whites.
- Beat the egg whites and salt until stiff, using a hand or stand mixer.
- Stir in ¼ of the whipped egg whites into the spinach mixture to lighten it .
- Stir in all but 2 tablespoons of cheese.
- Fold in the rest of the egg whites, gently but thoroughly.
- Pour the batter into the prepared mould or divide amongst the 8 ramekins.
- Fill the ramekins pretty full, almost to the top.
- They will sink when cool.
- You may have some batter left over.
- This can be baked off in a small dish also.
- Sprinkle with the remaining cheese over the top.
- Place in the middle rack of the oven and lower the heat to 375F/190C.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes without opening the oven door.
- If you like the centre creamy, remove it at this point.
- If you prefer a well cooked soufflé, cook for another 5 minutes.
- If you are using ramekins, they will be ready at 30 minutes.
I hope everyone’s had a good week. It’s been a bit hectic for me with cooking demos, and then the World Cup. It was disappointing to see England lose their first game but I am still hoping for the best. I had the best time watching the game with a bar full of other Englishmen and it was like being home 🙂 I had a blast.
Have a great week everybody!