Five Things And A Basket Of Peaches – Part One



It’s peach season and baskets of these delicious, fuzzy juice spheres are everywhere. They’re beautiful and so many peaches for next to nothing, it’s practically produce robbery!
Or worse, they have slices out at the Farmer’s Market. Golden orange fuzz, as far as the eye can see…. just a little taste, then I’ll leave, or so you think. The next thing you know you have a basket at home and you’ve eaten only 3, then they are all suddenly ripe. If you don’t get to them faster they won’t look as vibrant in your kitchen as they did in the warm, morning peach like summer sun. How does this happen, that they are all ripe and they have to get eaten right now?

Since we’re right, smack in the middle of peach season, I’ve decided to devote the week to the juicy beauties. Why? Well tomatoes and zucchini just don’t lose the same luster as a perfect peach – quite as quickly, and so far, I haven’t tried a toasted peach sandwich. But then again, it is only Monday.

INDIVIDUAL PEACH PIES

1 Round of Pastry Dough (Pate Frisée), enough to roll one crust.
5 – 6 Peaches, peeled & sliced, about 2 1/2 Cups
3 Tablespoons Unbleached Flour
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
4 Ramekins

Prepare the pastry dough, or thaw and leave wrapped pastry round in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the peaches.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Other than being slippery, it’s especially easy to slice and peel peaches when they are freestone, firm and ripe.
I just halve, then quarter the peach, cutting along the stone.
With a slight twist, or a turn of the knife, the stone will either be freed completely or stay in just one of the quarters.
With a sharp, paring knife, catch and drag the skin between your thumb and the knife. The skin will more than likely peel off all together or in two attempts.
Cut the quarters into 1/4″ thick slices and reserve in a large bowl until all of the peaches have been pitted and peeled.
Sprinkle over the sugar, flour and cinnamon, if using; tossing to coat.
Allow the peaches to rest while you roll your dough.
Lightly dust a board with flour and roll your dough to a 1/8″ thickness.
Using either a small bowl or a 2 cup measure as a guide, trim the dough to four 6″ circles; repeating rolling as necessary.
Fit a circle of dough into each of the four ramekins; patting to fit.
Using a fork, dot the bottom and sides and bake for about 10 minutes.
While the crusts are baking, roll out the remaining dough and cut into 1/2″ strips.
Fill the crusts with the peaches and interlace a basket weave top crust by interlocking the strips of remaining dough into a lattice pattern.
Place the pies on a baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes or until the crust is golden.

Cool, Minty Green For A Hot August Week


I normally steer clear of mint in food – drinks maybe, as I had found it’s a better staple for candy canes and toothpaste. Until you combine it into a classic Indian condiment that we ironically call “Green Heat”.

With green peppers a plenty, I usually have only one thing to make with them, as they are about the only vegetable I do NOT like, but blend it with a sweet onion, a small, green chili and a good handful of fresh mint and you’ve got a spicy cool that goes great with so many things. Keeping it classic, I thought I’d do up a little Onion Bhaji to dip into it for appetizers – and how perfect for the Happy Sorceress’s Minty Blog Party.

All I have to do now is grab a cocktail, strap on my heels and make my way to the do.
Or how about the cocktail as an after dinner, party picker upper?

MINT GINGER FIZZ

1 Tablespoon Ginger Syrup*
1 Candied Ginger Slice
5 – 6 Fresh Mint Leaves
1 oz Vodka
3 oz Seltzer Water
Handful of Ice

Add everything to a cocktail shaker; shake.
Strain into a chilled glass.
Add a squeeze of citrus, if you’re feeling zesty.
Garnish with extra mint, if desired.

For a virgin version, absolutely omit the Absolute and up the soda.

*GINGER SYRUP

1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Fresh Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

Scrape the ginger with a spoon to remove the peel.
Thinly slice the ginger lengthwise and set aside.
In a large saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water, add the ginger and bring to a slow boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes or until the syrup has thickened slightly.
Strain the ginger slices.
Shake the ginger lightly in sugar and dry in a low oven for about 1 hour.

ONION BHAJI

1/2 Cup Chick Pea Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Coriander Seeds
1 Dried Red Chili
1/2 Cup Filtered Water
1 White Onion
Vegetable Oil, for deep frying

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder.
Crush the coriander seeds and chili well with a mortar and pestle; add to the flour mixture.
Stir in the water to create a pancake batter-like consistency.
Peel and slice the onion 1/8″ thick.
Heat the oil. Test by dropping a small drip of batter. It should immediately begin to bubble and cook.
Drop the onion batter by tablespoonfuls, turning once to lightly brown evenly.
Remove bhaji with a slotted spoon or tongs to a papered plate to remove any excess oil.

GREEN HEAT SAUCE

1 Sweet White Onion
1 Green Bell Pepper
2 Green Onions (scallions)
1 Green Chili, stem removed
1/2 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves, packed
Juice of 1/2 Lemon

Place everything in the bowl of a food processor; purée until smooth.
Squeeze over the lemon juice, stirring to combine.

Eggplant Caviar




EGGPLANT CAVIAR

1 Eggplant, halved and roasted
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
1 Head Garlic, roasted
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 Tablespoon Parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
Black Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Halve the eggplant and lightly salt each side.
Lay cut side down in a roasting pan.
Cut the top stem from the head of garlic.
Drizzle over a small amount of olive oil and wrap tightly in foil.
Bake the eggplant and garlic for 30 minutes or until both are tender.
Once cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the eggplant and add the pulp to a food processor.
Squeeze the garlic from it’s skin and add it and the lemon juice to the eggplant.
Pulse to combine.
Add the parsley, salt and pepper, mixing to incorporate.
Adjust seasoning to taste, adding more salt, if necessary.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Mushroom Paté


MUSHROOM PATÉ

2 Portabella Mushrooms, finely chopped
10 Shitake Mushrooms, 3/4 Cup trimmed and sliced
1 Leek, white and light green parts only, well rinsed and finely chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon Dried Rosemary, ground
1/3 Cup Red Bell Pepper, finely minced
3 Tablespoons Brandy
2 teaspoons Parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Chives, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Arrowroot Powder or Cornstarch

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and add the garlic and leeks.
Once the leeks are soft, add the mushrooms, salt, pepper and rosemary.
Sauté over a medium high setting until the mushrooms are tender and have begun to dry.
Add the peppers and brandy continuing to sauté for 2 minutes more.
Toss in 1 teaspoon of the parsley and remove from heat.
Cool then add to the food processor pulsing to chop.
Firmly press mixture into ramekins.

To make the chive gelée for the topping, add 1/3 cup of water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
Add the chopped chives and remaining parsley.
Dissolve the arrowroot powder in 1/4 cup cold water and add, stirring to thicken.
Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Spoon an even layer over the prepared mushroom paté and refrigerate until set and ready to serve.

Aunt Martha’s Bean Salad


So she’s not my aunt, but she is someone’s. Growing up I would never even dare taste a bean salad let alone make one. However, starving while out at the beach one day, I was cornered with this, my only sustenance and can I say that since that moment I was not only a convert but a Beano stock holder.

I adapted that version and have since made it one of my signature BBQ/Potluck/quick in a pinch wow ’em salads.

DRESSING

3/4 Cup Red or Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Extra Fine Fruit Sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper to Taste

Method

Combine ingredients in an air tight container and shake well to dissolve the sugar.
Allow to stand for about and hour or at least the time to prepare the salad ingredients, if you are in a hurry.

SALAD

3 Cans of Beans (garbanzo, turtle, romano etc.)
1 Cup Fresh Green Beans (Trimmed and sliced to 1″ inch lengths) ** – measure to get correct number
1 Red Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
2 Carrots
2 Celery Stalks
1 Red Onion (Small)
2 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley (optional, if you’re feeling decorative)

Method

Rinse the canned beans well and set aside in a large bowl.
Peel and mince the garlic.
Trim and slice green beans to 1″ inch lengths. Clean and trim the remaining vegetables and chop each into about a 1/2″ dice.
Add everything to the beans, including the dressing and toss well to coat.
This salad can be served immediately or made ahead to marinate up to a day ahead for a more thorough flavor.