Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I heart my neighbor's plum tree!

Sweet and Tart!
Yesterday afternoon my neighbor, Richard, came by with a huge bowl of super sweet italian plums. His tree is going off, and he has more plums than he and his family can handle. In between gorging myself on plums today, I decided to make a Caramelized Plum Up-side Down Cake. This spongy, fruity cake is great for both dessert and breakfast.
I made one cake with peaches and the other with plums. The one with plums only was a bit too tart for my tastes, but I think that I'd really like a mix of stone fruits better than any one fruit by itself.
I hope my friends enjoyed!

Caramelized Stone Fruit Up-Side Down Cake
enough plums, peaches, pluots, cherries, etc... to cover the bottom of your baking dish when
cut and fleshy parts are face-down.
1 1/2 c sugar
1/4 c butter (room temperature)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg (room temperature)

2/3 c milk (room temperature)
1 1/3 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 F (put on convection if you can). Liberally butter a pie dish.
2. Coat fruit with about 1/2 cup sugar (more or less depending on sweetness of the fruit). Heat oil in a hot skillet, add plums and cook 2-3 minutes to caramelize. Carefully remove fruit and add to pie dish, flesh side down. Try to make it pretty as this will become the top of the cake.
3. Cream 1 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup butter. In a separate bowl mix together vanilla, egg, and milk. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low speed alternately add the dry and wet ingredients, just until combined (start and end with dry ingredients). Finish mixing with a rubber spatula.
4. Pour batter over the fruit, pop into the oven, and let bake for 50 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean). Let cool 20 minutes and invert onto a platter. Note that if you wait too long to invert, the cake is more likely to stick to the pie dish.
5. Eat! *Tastes best warm or at room temperature, but is not bad cold.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thai chicken pasta=easy camping food

Jacob is going to the Phish show at the Gorge amphitheater this weekend. He begged me to go, but I just don't want to do it. In lieu of ditching him, I figure the very least I can do is send him off with some good noshables. I certainly don't want him to starve out there. Thai chicken pasta is a recipe from a friend's mother (Marla Leavitt), and was taught to me by another friend, Matt Paul, before our trip to Reggae on the River in northern CA. The recipe tastes best at room temperature, stores well in a cooler for several days, and is incredibly easy to make. This is now a go to camping salad for me. The only difficult part is finding the Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce, but I can generally find it in the "asian section" of most grocery stores. Here is how you make it.

Thai Chicken Pasta
1 split chicken breast (bone in, skin on)
1 lb short-shaped basta (pene, bowties, etc...)
1 cup basil pesto
about 5 Tbs Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce
about 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta cooking water

1. Season the chicken breast with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast the chicken in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. Let chicken rest and cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bone from the meat. Either shred or cube the meat into bite-sized pieces.
2. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water.
3. in a small bowl combine the pesto and sweet chili sauce (add chili sauce to taste).
4. In a large bowl combine the warm cooked pasta, chicken, and sauce, and any juice that may have run from the chicken. If needed, thin out the sauce with a little of the pasta cooking water.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Too many blueberries! how is that possible?

This may seem hard to believe, but somehow I found myself with 3 pints of blueberries that were way past their prime. Knowing that it would be sacrilegious to let the delectable little nuggets of pure ecstasy go to waste, I decided to fry up a batch of blueberry pancakes.
Half way though frying I realized that I was out of maple syrup. What to do? Make blueberry syrup of course!
Here are the recipes:

Blueberry pancakes:
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 cups milk

1 egg
3 Tbs melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract
2 cups flour
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 pint fresh blueberries (or huckleberries if you can get them)

1. mix together wet ingredients in bowl
2. sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl. make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and slowly stir in the wet ingredients. Do not over mix as it will make the pancakes tough.
3. pour batter into frying pan, and drop blueberries onto pancake batter circle.
4. you know the rest...

Blueberry Syrup:
2 pints of fresh blueberries
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs raspberry jam (or whatever you like)
4 Tbs butter

1. Simmer the blueberries and water over medium heat until the blueberries pop and the sauce begins to thicken.
2. Turn off the heat and whisk in the jam. You can pass the sauce through a mesh stainer at this point if you don't like seeds and skins, but I prefer to leave the sauce chunky and rustic.
3. Once the sauce cools down whisk in the butter one tablespoon at a time. This will make the sauce smooth, rich, and silky.