August 31, 2009

Mmmmm.....something smells good

This was the comment I kept getting this afternoon as I was preparing a fruit crumble.  I have to say that even in hot weather there is nothing quite like the smell of something baking in the oven.  I had half a Costco-size box of nectarines and some raspberries that were getting to their use-by-date. I decided to head to the computer rather than my cookbooks to look for a recipe because of time constraints.  Wow, there are a lot of recipes out there for nectarine crumble on the internet.  I kept thinking that may have been quicker had I hit the books.  I looked through quite a few before I settled on one from Food Blogga that looked too good not to try.  I did make a few adjustments because I was out of a few ingredients and I decided to substitute some other ingredients so I am going to post my amended version of this recipe, but full credit goes to Food Blogga for developing this recipe.   I served this with some Edy's (Dryer's) Slow-Churned Frozen Tart Honey Yogurt - boy that was a mouthful - but it was the perfect foil for the sweet dessert.

Nectarine and Raspberry Crumble
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar 
1/4 cup Maui raw sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt

6 nectarines, sliced 
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup Maui raw sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups fresh (or unthawed frozen) raspberries
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9x13 dish with cooking spray.

To make the crumble - place the sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and coconut in a bowl. Add the butter and use your hands to rub it into the flour mixture.

To make the fruit filling - in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the nectarines and sugars. Cook until slightly tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the raspberries and dissolved cornstarch. Stir until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble up, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the fruit filling into the prepared pie dish, and sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the topping is golden and fruit filling is bubbling up around the edges. Allow to cool before serving. It's best served at room temperature or just slightly warm.
(Recipe created by Susan Russo of Food Blogga.

August 30, 2009

Friands on Sunday

It was a gorgeous day here.  Endless blue sky, light trade winds, and temps in the mid-eighties.  I woke up at 4:45 a.m. this morning to go an see my daughter compete in the Na Wahine Sprint Triathlon.  After she had finished we waited for the awards ceremony only to find out that everyone's times were incorrect as they had forgotten to push the start button for the timing chips.  Oh well, it was a great race.  For many people it was their first race so they were just happy to finish. Someone yelled out to me as they were doing the race that it was my turn next year but I think I have decided that I will stick to what I excel at - and that is cheering. My thanks to all the volunteers who make these races such a great success.

I decided to go ahead and try the recipe I had for Almond Friands but add some raspberries to them.  For those who have not heard of these delicious treats before they are like a muffin but are much lighter due to the fact that they are mostly almond meal, sugar, and egg whites. I used a recipe from the Australian Women's Weekly cookbook called Home Baked.  I picked up this book whilst I was visiting Australia late last year and it has a wonderful selection of recipes for muffins, cakes, etc.

Thanks to my sous chef Ashleigh I was able to get these made in record time.  We also made Alton Browns' Lemon Curd with the leftover egg yolks.  The hard part was remembering to take photos as I went.  Oh well, I am sure that I will get the hang of this blogging thing.
Raspberry Almond Friands

6 egg whites
185g butter, melted
125g (1 cup) ground almonds
240g (1 1/2 cups) powdered sugar
75g (1/2 cup) plain flour
approx 30 raspberries, pureed
extra icing sugar for dusting 

Preheat oven to 400F.  Grease a 12 x 1/2 cup muffin pan and place on a baking tray.
Place egg whites in a medium bowl.  Using a mixer on low speed whisk lightly until combined. Add butter, ground almonds, sugar, and flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
Spoon mixture into pans approximately half way in each hole.  Place a tablespoon of raspberry puree on top of each one, and then top with remaining mixture.  Use a skewer to swirl the mixture. 
Bake for about 25 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove to a plate and dust with powdered sugar.

Variations: Omit raspberry and -

Lime Coconut - Stir 2 teaspoons finely grated lime rind, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and 20g (1/4 cup) dessicated coconut into egg-white mixture, sprinkle unbaked friands with 15g (1/3 cup) flaked coconut.

Passionfruit - Use hazelnut or almond meal.  Drizzle the pulp of 2 medium passionfruit over unbaked friands.

Berry - Top unbaked friands with 100g fresh or frozen (unthawed to avoid "bleeding") mixed berries.

Citrus and Poppy Seed - Add 2 teaspoons grated lemon or orange rind and 1 tablespoon poppy seeds to egg-white mixture.

Chocolate and Hazelnut - Replace almond meal with hazelnut meal.  Stir 100g coursely chopped dark chocolate into egg-white mixture.  Sprinkle unbaked friands with 1/4 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts.

August 29, 2009

My Very First Post

It seems like everyone is doing it these days. Every time I turn around there is another person who admits to it. Some do it anonymously and others want the whole world to know about their escapades. Some do it every day, whilst others are more likely to try for once a week, or even once a month. For some it is all about the simple pleasures and for a few it is all about outrageous success. Some even go on to write a book or make a movie about it. So who am I to go against the popular trend of food blogging? I guess the easiest thing to do is to jump in test the water.

So, the easy part is done.  I have chosen the title of my blog and signed up, now what do I write about?  Most people say you should write what you know.  Of course this is easier said than done.  Should it really be this hard to get started?  And if it is, how am I going to get anywhere with this blog?

I am a mom of four who happens to love to cook.  Well, truthfully, I love to bake, but my family needs to eat every day so I cook.  Baking is what I find relaxing and rewarding.  There is something about seeing the look of bliss on someone's face after they have taken a bite of your banana bread, or scones, or brownies, or cheesecake, or........well you get the idea.  Even when the recipe does not work out exactly as I want I love that I still have a receptive audience in my family and friends who will happily eat my "mistakes".

I am hoping that this blog will give me a reason to open all of those cookbooks and food magazines that are sitting on my shelves gathering dust. Most have been lovingly read - I am guessing that I am not the only person in the world who reads cookbooks like they are novels - but I just haven't gotten around to actually cooking from many of them.  I also have a huge pile of "to try" recipes that I really should get around to actually trying.  Who knows what gems may be hidden in that pile of paper?

To be honest I don't really know how often I will be blogging.  Well, I do have an idea in my head but I don't want to jinx myself by saying (or blogging) it out loud and then not living up to my promise.  My hope is that I will blog about each new recipe I try and attach some photos.  I should tell you upfront that photography is not my forte but I will give it my best shot (no pun intended).  Seems easy enough doesn't it?

I am planning on trying my first new recipe tomorrow.  There is a friand recipe with my name on it.  Comments are welcome - especially encouraging ones.