Friday, June 29, 2012

Last Call for Summer Peaches

  A basket of fresh Summer South Carolina peaches. 

The purchase cannot be resisted on a roadside stand off the highway.

A basket of peaches turns into cans of peaches that I can enjoy until next summer.

 The art of packing fruit tightly in the jar still evades me.

While in my canning mode, late one evening and with a little help from Google, I managed to properly freeze a stash of fresh sliced peaches too. My attempt at peach jelly? We won't go there. 

Peaches in an Extra-light Syrup 
Makes about 8 pint jars or four quarts
Recipe from Ball The Complete Book of Preserving

8-12 lbs. fresh peaches, peeled, halved, pitted, treated to prevent browning and drained

Note: To prevent browning treat peaches with a citric acid such as lemon juice-An easy recipe would be to submerge cut fruit in a mixture of 1/4 cup lemon juice and 4 cups water.

Recipe for 1 batch hot Extra-Light syrup

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
5-1/2 cups water

Yields: 6 cups 

In a stainless steel saucepan, combine sugar and water.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Reduce heat to low and keep warm until needed, taking care not to boil the syrup down.

Raw Pack Method
1.  Prepare canner, jars and lids.

2.  Pack peaches, cavity side down and overlapping layers, into hot jars to within a generous 1/2 inch (1 cm) of top of jar.  Ladle hot syrup into jar to cover peaches, leaving 1/2-inch (1 cm) of headspace.  remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot syrup.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

3.  Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process pint (500ml) jars for 25 minutes and quart (1 L)jars for 30 minutes.  remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photos submitted by Aunt B's Kitchen

Friday, June 22, 2012

Grilled Peach, Onion and Bacon Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Discovering and enjoying seasonal food is a journey that is bound to take you someplace new.   You learn that "Taste" really does matter. 

Summer peaches are in season.  They are plentiful, ripe and fabulously juicy.  A quick stop in South Carolina and my trunk was loaded with baskets of these fresh from the tree beauties.  Since I live just a few miles from the "Peach State" border of Georgia, looks like I may have another trunk full soon.

So what do you do with a bucket load of peaches...You start with discovering a new recipe.

Grilled Peach, Onion and Bacon Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
Serves 8
Recipe from Food and Wine

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound thick-sliced bacon
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 pounds Vidalia or other sweet onions, cut into 1-inch thick slabs
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
4 large ripe peaches, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the sour cream, buttermilk, mint, parsley, chives and vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate.

2.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Arrange the bacon slices on the sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with the brown sugar and cayenne.  Bake for about 25 minutes, until caramelized (the bacon will crisp as it cools).  Let cool, then cut the bacon into bite-sized pieces.

3.  Meanwhile, light a grill or preheat a grill pan.  Brush the onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until softened and browned, 10 minutes.  Separate the onions into rings.  Brush the peaches with olive oil and grill over moderately high-heat until tender, 2 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

4.  In a large bowl, toss the onions with the peaches and bacon.  Add the buttermilk dressing and toss to coat.  Serve right away.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

"The Tomato Waterer" Photo submitted by Maureen B. Johnson

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Spicy Grilled Corn Salad with Black beans and Queso Fresco

Bringing a little summer to your table......

Pack it up for easy travel to the nearest potluck or spread the cloth and invite your friends and family for a real taste of summer.

Spicy Grilled Corn Salad with Black Beans and Queso Fresco
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
Recipe from Fine Cooking

3 ears fresh corn, husked
1 medium red onion, cut into disks about 1/3-inch thick
1 large red bell pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small canned chipotle, seeded and minced, plus 1 Tbs. adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
2 Tbs. cider-vinegar
1-15-1/2 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
5-ounces queso-fresco or feta, crumbled (1cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano

Prepare a medium charcoal or gas grill fire.  Put the corn, onion, and pepper on a large rimmed baking sheet and brush with 2Tbs. of the oil.  Season with 1 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.  Grill the corn and onion, flipping occasionally, until beginning to brown(the onions should still be a little crunchy), 6 to 10 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting board to cool slightly.  Grill the pepper until charred on all sides, about 12 minutes.  Put the pepper in a bowl, cover and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the remaining 6 Tbs. oil, the chipotle and the adobo sauce, vinegar, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

Coarsely chop the onion and put it in a large bowl.  Cut the corn from the cobs and add to the bowl.  Skin, seed, and coarsely chop the pepper; add to the bowl, along with the beans, cheese, cilantro, and oregano.

Rewhisk the dressing, add it to the corn mixture, and toss well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. (The salad may be made up to 1 day ahead.  Refrigerate and return to room temperature, adding the fresh herbs just before serving).

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Alana at Black Valley Farms-Everett, Pennsylvania (KuneKune piglets)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dirt to Table Experience: Fresh Summer Blackberry Cobbler

Blueberries were a bust this season.  I still have hope that I can locate and score a few pounds for the freezer.

What do you do if life doesn't throw you summer blueberries? Change your game plan and find summer blackberries.  By the way, the blackberries are rocking.

Fresh Summer Blackberry Cobbler
Serves 6-8
Recipe from Food Network

2-1/2 cups blackberries
2/3 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream whipped, sweetened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Into a buttered shallow baking dish place blackberries.  Sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar.

In the bowl of a food processor combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Add butter and pulse to create a lumpy mixture.  Add cream and pulse until dough forms.  Dough will be soft.  Spoon dough over blackberries.

Melt 2 remaining tablespoons of butter and drizzle over mounds of dough.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup sugar.

Bake about 30-to 40 minutes or until dough and fruit are cooked through and dough is lightly browned.

Serve with whipped sweetened cream.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Elizabeth Akin Stelling "Chef E" 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dirt to Table Experience: Blueberry-Maple Spoon Fruit

Blueberry season has arrived here in North Florida.  Each year, I take that trip to a local blueberry farm just east of Tallahassee, and pick enough blueberries to last me until the following season.

Blueberries freeze very well. The idea is not to wash your blueberries before freezing them.  Also, you don't have to use a baking sheet to separate the berries before putting them in plastic freezer bags.   Honestly after a stint in the freezer there is no reason to wash them when you are ready to use them.

I am learning the art of canning.  My skill level is extreme novice but, I am gaining confidence.  Home canning allows me to preserve fresh, great tasting fruits and vegetables.  This is produce that you cannot find in a commercial store-it's not possible because it is fully ripened and it would not been able to stand up to the long-distance shipping.

More importantly,  I do it because it connects me to my food, and it allows me more empowerment in how I feed my family.

This spoon fruit is not a jam or jelly. It is whole cooked fruit that can be easily spooned over ice cream, pancakes, into your yogurt or as a filling for crepes, or like me....Just eat it by the spoonfuls right out of the jar.

Blueberries are vitamin packed, anti-oxidant rich you cannot get a more healthier version unless you simply ate them directly from the bush.

Blueberry- Maple Spoon Fruit
Makes Four-8 ounce jars
Recipe from Food Network

2 lemons
8 cups fresh blueberries (about 2-2/3 pounds), picked over
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (preferably grade A)
2 cups sugar

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemons in wide strips, leaving the bitter white pith behind.  Squeeze the lemon juice through a strainer into a large, wide saucepan.

Add 3-1/2 cups blueberries, the lemon zest, maple syrup and sugar and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, 6 to 7 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy or deep fry thermometer registers 220 degrees F, 30 to 40 minutes (reduce the heat if the mixture is sticking to the pan).  Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, sterilize four 8-ounce canning jars and lids.

Return the blueberry mixture to medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring then add to remaining 4-1/3 cups blueberries.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the berries are tender but still hold their shape, 7 to 10 minutes.

Fill the jars with the blueberry mixture, leaving 1/4 to 1/2-inch headspace, then seal and process.