Monday, July 23, 2012

Wild Berry Dutch Pancake

It brings me such peace and joy to spend the early hours of my weekend mornings, with my sweet darling and her four year old personality. She's the first one to rise out of bed every morning, and the first smiles of my day are plastered to her giggling face as she tries to pull me from my cherished sleep. She is so eager to jump into the day, and not wanting to stand in the way of such enthusiasm,  I muster up all that I've got and get to it. If the sun is shinning, then we head outside. We water the garden, walk down to the beach to skip rocks and dip our toes in the water, or pick wild berries that grow along the ridges surrounding our house. I forget about the attention span of a young child, and before long Addie is running through the sprinkler as I finish up the berry picking. I hardly mind. There is nothing that could disturb the moment. As I switch to drinking coffee in a lounge chair, my darling secretly eats wild berries which is evident by her blue fingerprints. She then reminds me that it's a pancake morning, and we get to it.

I'm always game for a new pancake recipe, and so when I stumbled upon a recipe in Bon Appetit, I was curious. The recipe is originally called Peach Dutch Baby Pancake with Cherry Compote. The name alone was a challenge for Addie. The objective of the recipe was to utilize seasonal peaches and cherries. We had wild berries. I skipped the compote part of the recipe. I wanted the berries in the pancake. This pancake is one that requires a preheated oven, a preheated skillet, and about 20 minutes of baking time- no flipping necessary. This recipe was easy to put together, and the finished cake reminded me of an eclair shell filled with berries and drizzled with maple syrup. Yum!

the Pancake:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a blender combine the following ingredients;
2 Tbls butter, melted
4 large eggs
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1 Tbls sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Blend batter until smooth, then set aside.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add;
2 Tbls butter
2 Tbls sugar
cook,  stirring constantly, until sugar starts to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Add about 1 1/2 cups wild berries to the skillet and turn off the heat. Pour in the prepared pancake batter evenly over the caramelized berries and transfer to the oven.

Bake the pancake until puffed and golden brown all over, 17-20 minutes (it will deflate as soon as it's removed from the oven). Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately, with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey. Belly up!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Spiced White Peach Jam

At the food co-operative where I work, we have an abundance of stone fruit right now. It is so ripe and ready, that you can't pass them up for another day! It happens sometimes though, that folks decide to buy peaches later in the week, and those peaches that are ready, just don't wait. So when my co-worker handed me a half of a case of bruised but perfectly ripe white peaches, I couldn't say no. It wasn't possible. The peaches wouldn't allow it. Besides, I had been thinking about peach jam. Opportunity just presented itself.

White peaches are similar in flavor to your everyday yellow peach, but with a bit of a mild honey, floral, and melon flavor. When eaten in their perfect ripeness the juice flows down to your elbow, and the flavor is exceptional! Since I was going to be working with white peaches, a touch more unusual than yellow peaches, I wanted a jam recipe that was a touch unusual as well. Peach jam is wonderful, but I wanted to add some other flavors that would highlight the white peaches. Brown sugar, ginger, and dark rum came to mind. With those flavors I kept thinking about the tropics and the spice trade, and so cardamon, cinnamon, and allspice made there way in as well. It all worked together very well, and I was happy with the end result!

Spiced White Peach Jam

4 cups white peaches, peeled, and chopped
6 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 tsp cardamon
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1-1 inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/4 cup dark spiced rum
1 Tbls butter (optional. it helps remove the foam)
1 package of liquid pectin

Prepare the fruit. In a large stock pot combine all of the above ingredients except the liquid pectin. Bring those ingredients to a rolling boil (a boil that keeps on boiling while you are stirring it). Add the liquid pectin, and continue to stir at a rolling boil for 1 minute. After 1 minute turn off the heat and ladle jam into prepared jars. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from the water bath, and allow to cool to room temperature. Share a jar with your neighbors and friends. Trade a jar for some freshly baked bread, and slather away! Belly up!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Grilled Turmeric & Lemongrass Chicken

With summer upon us, I find I spend more time outside than I do inside. It probably has to do with the idealistic climate in which I live. Beautiful mornings with a cool lake breeze, sunny afternoons with temperatures no higher than 80 degrees, and the evening fog that rolls in and cools us back down to our comfort zone. The thick blooded northerners are protesting the "summer heat" , but mid westerners have been flocking to the cold waters of Lake Superior for the instant cooling affect. Outdoor cooking is not only my favorite, but it symbolizes summer time for me. Grilling out on the patio, bonfire on the beach, and camping trips are all opportunities for me to test out new food ideas. I love the flavors that are created when fire meets food. The smokiness. The rustic- homey- earthy flavors. I can't get enough.

This week I thought I'd try a recipe I came across in my newest Bon Appetit magazine. There I found inspiration with an article on Malaysian cooking. The author had learned while in Malaysia, he could transform a marinade into a basting liquid, then reduce it and serve it as a dipping sauce. This method not only utilizes all of the marinade through the different stages of cooking, but it also ensures a depth of flavor with all of the layering going on. The marinade goes together easily in the blender, the chicken marinates overnight, and the next day there is minimal cooking required. The recipe calls for chicken wings, but I substituted chicken thighs. I'm thinking that this might be a great way to go about turkey legs in the future. Or pork. Or fish. Or tofu.

Grilled Turmeric and Lemongrass Chicken:

1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
3 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves
2 lemongrass stalks, (bottom third only, tough outer layers removed), finely chopped
2 jalapenios
1 1" piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp tamarind juice concentrate (not paste or pulp) or 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp tumeric

Combine all of the above ingredients in a blender with 1 cup of water, and puree until a smooth marinade forms.

Place 3lbs chicken wings or thighs in a large baking dish. Pour marinade over; turn chicken to coat evenly.  Cover chicken and chill overnight.

Remove chicken from marinade, shaking any excess marinade back into the dish. Transfer chicken to a large platter. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Transfer marinade to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until marinade thickens, 10-15 minutes. Pour half of marinade into a small bowl; set aside for basting chicken while it grills. Keep remaining marinade in saucepan, cover and keep warm until ready to serve the chicken.

Build a medium fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to medium- high heat. Oil grill grates to prevent sticking. Grill chicken, turning every 5 minutes or so and basting occasionally with marinade in samll bowl, until fat is rendered and skin is nicely charred in spots, 30-35 minutes. (The key here is to turn the chicken often so the skin doesn't burn.)

Continue cooking chicken without basting (so it will get crsip) until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes longer.

Transfer chicken to a large platter and let it rest for 5 minutes. Squeeze lime wedges over wings. Transfer marinade to a small bowl. Serve warm marinade alongside chicken as a dipping sauce.

P.S. I thought I'd share a pic of our dessert that followed. A handful of Saskatoon berries picked from the back yard, er, forest. Also called June berry, Pigeon berry, or Service berry, these berries are native in North America from Alaska across much of Western Canada. With a sweet nutty flavor the fruits have long been eaten by Canada's aboriginal people, and is a well known ingredient in pemmican. Saskatoon berries are becoming more known as a super fruit for its nutritional value and health benefits. I think they go well with dry bubbly wine! Belly up!!