Saturday, August 26, 2006

Greg and I were speeding along to the Union Fair the other day with thoughts of hot, fresh, fried dough in our minds when we happened by two adorable tykes at the end of their driveway with a sign I couldn't read held up above their heads. Greg looked at me and exclaimed that they were selling peaches and we should stop. Unlike my dad who usually says, "We'll stop on the way back" while trying to figure a new route back, I turned around and dropped him off to pick some peaches.
He returned to the car $2.00 bucks poorer with a huge plastic bag holding, count 'em, five anemic-looking, bruised peaches. I shook my head at Greg and asked why he didn't deal the tykes down to $1.50 or something. "But they were so cute" (the kids, not the fruit) said Greg.
We got home and I shoved em in the fridge with hopes that they wouldn't rot too fast.

I had a work-related meeting here the other day and my colleague brought a pint of fresh picked blackberries with her (can you see where this post is going?) and I shoved those in the fridge 'cause the fruit flies were salivating.

So yesterday, we were invited to dinner and I said I would bring dessert. I decided to make a crumble with all the fresh fruit that I stashed in the fridge in the past week. One recipe I found was a fruit tart in a oatmeal cookie crust, and I thought it would make a must better topping than a crust.

Ok, so into a large bowl I sliced the peaches and pitted them and tossed them with a pink of blackberries and two sliced plums. Throw into this 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1/3-1/2 a cup of granulated sugar to taste.
In another bowl I put 2/3rds cup flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 cup quick cooking oats, a dash of cinnamon, a dash of allspice, some ginger, and some nutmeg. Add to this a stick of melted butter and then mix until the topping resembles coarse meal.

Place the fruit in a baking dish and spread the topping evenly on top. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 1 hour or until golden.

Serve with vanilla ice cream


Monday, August 21, 2006

OK, I have to toot my own horn here. (so, what else is new?) I chefed for a private function tonight and was asked to sit at the dinner table. The minute I sat down, the woman next to me, who owns a restaurant in Belfast, said that she and her husband had ordered my clam chowder several years ago when I was cooking in Belfast. She said it was truly the best chowder she had ever tasted, "simply the best" were the words she used. She said they came down to the restaurant several times just for the chowder. To have a foodie restaurant owner to tell me that was really cool!

For dinner, I grilled two pork tenderloins that I had marinated in a confit of apples, garlic, rosemary and sage. I cooked the confit in a pot on the stove by boiling four chopped apples (skins on) in about a cup of water with a bit of sugar, about 1/4 cup chopped garlic, 4 tablespoons rosemary, some chopped sage left over from the aioli I made for the crab cakes, and salt and pepper to taste. After trimming the tenderloins, I poured the "applesauce" over top, covered and chilled for several hours. When I put the tenderloins onto grill, I placed the baking dish with the apple confit in the oven to bake.

I found that the secret to keeping the crab cakes from falling apart is to make them several hours ahead of time and then chilling them in the fridge. They work great this way.

I made enough food last night to feed a few extra people, so lunch today was crab cakes for Greg and tortolini with the asiago cheese sauce for me! Of course cheesecake was for dessert....and I was going to go to the gym today...perhaps a nap instead.

I am chefing tonight for a private party, just the first and second courses. So the crab cakes last night were an experiment for tonight, since I have never made them before. I was told to leave out the fresh tarragon, which I did, since it apparently overpowered the crab. Greg seems to think that they are really good, so I am encouraged for tonight.

Also making pork tenderloins with garlic and apples. Decided to make a garlic rosemary applesauce for marinade. We'll see how it does and I'll report back tomorrow.

This for Flatlander...Old Bay is mostly sodium, celery seed, and pepper flakes, our Maine crab is pretty salty, so adding more salt is right out for me. Use fresh instead. Panko is a must as it makes the cakes very light and crispy.

Greg's birthday is today and since we are busy with something else going on tonight, he decided that he wanted a few people over for dinner last night. Initially, this suprised me because usually, Greg doesn't just have a birthDAY, but rather a birthWEEK. Every day in the week he reminds me that its his birthWEEK and thus things need to be extra special. Much to my delight, this birthday seemed to quell that impulse to be a birthWEEK brat. He didn't even give me the list of too expensive presents that he just had to have and instead told me that he just wants an updated Gazettier for his car and then he informed me that he was throwing some chicken on the grill and had invited two friends for dinner.

I inquired whether he would find offense if I just jumped in and took over dinner from him, it was after all, his birthday. So my menu grew from chicken on the grill to:

crabcakes with sage aioli on a bed of baby arugula
chicken poached in lemon and white wine
tri-colored tortolini with an asiago cheese sauce
sauteed baby asparagus with roasted red peppers

His birthday cake was a New York cheesecake (extra crispy on the top) with fresh strawberries marinated in dark rum.

I made my crabcakes with fresh crab, scallions, celery, cayanne, powdered mustard, light mayo, egg as a binder and panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) sauteed in butter. I was told they were very good, though I cannot back that up since I can't taste them without having an allergic reaction.