Peach and Blueberry Galette-Get ‘em While You Can

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Oh, peaches, how I’ll miss you until next year. Parting is truly such sweet sorrow, but we’ll have another week or two together until we have to say “see you later”.

Aside from eating peaches out of hand and feeling the juices drip down my chin, I adore baking with them. This galette is so darn easy, with a crust that comes together in a minute, with very few ingredients. After chilling in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, it rolls out easily to make a very rustic cradle to hold your favorite fruit. You can fill this galette with your favorite berries and stone fruits. Top with honey and sugar, and it bakes up to a gorgeous golden brown.

 

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I topped this galette with fresh whipped cream laced with ground cardamom and crystalized ginger. What a taste sensation!

 

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Does this look good to you? You can find the recipe from Diana’s Desserts. Thank you Diana-this is a winner!

WaPo Wednesday- Grilled Chicken and Corn Chowder

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This week’s WaPo Wednesday recipe comes at the perfect time of year. Summer’s produce is still going strong, and this soup highlights corn, peppers and onions by enhancing their flavors on the grill. Basil infuses into the soup, and serves as a fresh garnish. But, for now, a bit of a chill has crept into the air. It’s cloudy and occasionally raining, and that always puts me in the mood for soup.

My soup, adapted from this recipe from The Washington Post, gets a boost of homey comfort by adding shredded cheese. Feel free to leave the cheese out if you like, as the soup is plenty hearty without it.

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Grilled Chicken and Corn Chowder

serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2-3 ears corn
  • 1 large onion, red or yellow, peeled and sliced into 3/4 inch thick slices.
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 8 cups good chicken stock, low-sodium preferably
  • 3 medium potatoes, yukon gold or russet, peeled and diced into 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces*
  • large handful fresh basil leaves (about 1 cup loosely packed), chiffonaded
  • olive oil or vegetable oil to coat vegetables and chicken
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme (you can substitute 2 teaspoons fresh thyme)
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded cheese, such as cheddar or Monterey Jack
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    Directions

    Coat chicken, corn, onions and peppers with about 2 tablespoon2 of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle thyme over chicken. Grill chicken to cook thoroughly. Great grill marks are a plus for taste and presentation. Grill vegetables on all sides to develop grill marks and a bit of a char, cooking all the way through. Try to keep onions intact when flipping. For the peppers, find the hottest spot on your grill and char until the skin is blackened all the way around. 

    Place the peppers in a sealable bag to that they may steam for 8-10 minutes. This will allow you to easily peel off the skin.

    While the peppers steam, heat chicken stock and potatoes until they come to a gentle boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes.

    Dice chicken, remove kernels from corn cob, dice onions and dice skinned peppers. Place chicken, corn, peppers and onions in pot. Add half of the fresh basil.

    Simmer with lid slightly cracked open for another 10 minutes.

    Add cream and continue to simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Do not bring to a boil after adding cream. This could “break” the soup.

    Add cheese and stir until melted through.

    Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Server garnished with fresh basil. 

    *you can dice the potatoes ahead of time-up to 4 hours. Place diced potatoes in water and cover. This prevents them from browning.

    The Wrap-Up

    This recipe takes a bit of time and effort due to grilling, but the resulting depth of flavor is well worth the effort. I liked the combination of flavors and textures, with the crunchy corn, and velvety potatoes. Now, if you don’t have an outdoor grill, you can char the peppers in the oven under the broiler, and use a grill pan to get grill marks and develop flavor.

    I think what I’ll enjoy most about this soup is taking it out of the freezer in the winter, and tasting summer’s goodness.

    Sources- I must admit (hides head in shame) that this week I did not get to any farmers markets (calms shaky hands) so all of my ingredients came from the (gasp) grocery store. And actually, t’was not bad, I have to admit!

    WaPo Wednesdays- Lemon-Herb Chicken Satay

     

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    I’m back on track with WaPo Wednesdays, and boy, Lemon-Herb Chicken Satay is a great summer dish! What you do is combine herbs with lemon, a bit of olive oil, sugar and vinegar and marinate chicken strips with it. That’s all! I, of course, used this recipe as a guideline and riffed on it with what I had at home. Instead of parsely, I used oregano because it’s growing like crazy in my garden (and parsley is not). I also omitted chives because I didn’t have any-and why spend another couple of bucks at the store if I don’t really need to? I also marinated my sliced chicken strips in a plastic baggie (in the refrigerator for about an hour) prior to skewering them on water-soaked wooden skewers-it seemed to me that the chicken would gather the flavors better that way.

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    So, what you’ll find below is the WaPo recipe with 2 alterations for how I put the marinade together. The end result was absolutely delicious, and very summer-like. The flavors were verdant and bright.  I served this chicken “satay” with Greek-style potatoes and feta.

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    MAKE AHEAD: You’ll need 16 to 20 small skewers, preferably soaked in water for 30 minutes. The satays need to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.Makes 16 to 20 skewers (4 or 5 skewers per serving)Ingredients:

    • 12 large basil leaves
    • 0.250 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves (I substituted fresh oregano)
    • Small handful of chives, chopped (I omitted)
    • 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, smashed
    • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons juice and 1 or 2 teaspoons zest)
    • 0.250 cup olive oil
    • 4 to 6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    • 0.125 teaspoon sugar
    • 0.250 teaspoon salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 0.250 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into strips 1 inch wide, 5 to 6 inches long and 1/4-inch thick

    Directions:Combine the basil, parsley, chives, garlic, lemon zest and juice, oil, 4 tablespoons of the vinegar, the sugar, salt and pepper to taste in a blender. Puree until smooth, adding vinegar as needed to make a thick yet pourable marinade.Thread the chicken strips onto the skewer. Ideally, each skewer will have one strip of chicken, but smaller pieces may be threaded together if necessary. Use a silicone pastry brush to coat each skewer with the marinade, then carefully place the coated skewers in a large resealable plastic food storage bag (with the pointed ends facing in the same direction). Place the bag on a tray and seal; refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.Prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 4 or 5 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Lightly coat the grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.When the grill is hot, arrange the marinated chicken satays on the grill, keeping the uncovered part of the skewers away from direct heat if possible. Close the lid and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until the chicken starts to brown and the edges look done.Use tongs to turn the skewers over. Close the lid and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Serve warm or at room temperature.Recipe Source:From Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick..The Wrap-up-I would made this again in a heartbeat. I highly recommend that you invite your friends over to try it!  What I really liked was that the marinade called for relatively little olive oil. Not that olive oil is a bad thing-it does add calories, however,  and by using vinegar and sugar, you get a different dimension in the taste, and more volume to the marinade. Sources- I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts from Costco. The herbs, however, came from my garden.

     

    At The Del Ray, Old Town & West End Markets August 29 & 30, 2009

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     Once again, I may just have bought way too much at the markets this weekend. I’m trying to be better-I know my addiction/obsession always leaves me yearning for more, and the urge is so very hard to deny when summer is coming to an end, and food looks this damn good.

    Hoarding. That’s what it must be. I know that soon I’ll be staring down tubers and brassicas, thinking of braises and soups. So, now I’m trying to squeeze in all the summer produce that I can before it disappears for another year, during which time I yearn for fresh corn on the cob, yet succumb to shoe peg kernels in a bag from the frozen section.

    Some highlights from this weekend’s sojourn into locavore world were:

    Vera’s Bakery at the Del Ray market has delicious sweets, and now also offers tamales too.

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    Figs from a farm near Reva, VA. Boxes of figs sold for $4 and yielded well over a dozen-quite a good buy at Del Ray.

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    Toigo, also at the Del Ray market finally had corn-mirai corn, I believe. This corn yields densely-packed cobs full of plump, juicy yellow kernels that are not overwhelmed with sugar-rather, the corn tastes like, well, corn. And their peaches-I think that Toigo’s are among the best around. The time to strike for this and more is right now.

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     At the Old Town market, I always look to Big Riggs for excellent produce at good prices. For $3.50, you can pick from a veritable mound of multi-colored mini bell peppers and fill a box for yourself.

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    The Alexandria West End market has some of the best prices around. Here, you’ll find tomatoes for $2 a pound, which can be half (or more than half) of the cost at other markets. Look at these beauties!

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    If you haven’t been to the West End market, do make a visit if you’re in the area. This market is in its third year, I believe. I like how it seems to be evolving into one of the most divers, interesting, affordable and relaxed markets in the area. This weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to see Satay Sarinah had a booth set up. This Indonesian restaurant is located only minutes away, and offered quick “street foods”, such as chicken satay. Delicious chicken satay at that.

    Other finds in this quaint market include On the Gourmet, musical performers, yarn spinners, coffees, teas, pastries, breads, local produce, local chocolates and flowers. Bring your dog, and go hungry. Chances are, you’ll both find something tasty!

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    Until the next At The Market, eat and buy local when you can.

     

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    Tomato And Peach Jam – WaPo Wednesdays

    While the folks in Kansas live in Tornado Alley, I believe here in the Mid Atlantic region, we live in Tomato Alley (Jersey tomatoes, anyone?). That’s right- in this region ( within 125 miles of D. C. where produce comes to our farmers markets), we have access to some of the best tasting tomatoes that summer has to offer.In last week’s tomato-centric WaPo Food section,  writer Jane Black took a gutsy stand in an article entitle Snob Appeal, and called out “heirloom tomatoes” as being, well, not all their cracked up to be sometimes. With glorious names (and let’s just say it, a “face for radio”), these much-hyped fruits at times do not deliver on taste, or texture. I’d gladly look past the lumps, knots and crevices for the sake of preserving the seed’s heritage if only the taste transcended the ubiquitous Early Girls and Big Boys (which can be terrific, by the way). After all- organic, biodiversity, and independent farmer’s sweat equity are quite sexy these days.

    I grew up eating great tomatoes. Each summer, my family planted a garden where tomatoes would fill our salad bowls and dinner plates long into the fall. During the summer months, we’d pluck the tomatoes as they ripened, and at the end of the season, when the aging vines yielded to the weight of still-green tomatoes, we’d relieve them of their burden, thank them for the bounty that they provided, and marched laundry baskets full of fruit into our basement to wrap in newspaper-stowed away until by some miracle, under the shade of newsprint, they blushed.

    Even as I write this, I know that in a small patch of soil on the side of my house, a few tomato plants are growing. One is a plucky, hearty sort, that finally in the throws of August heat is giving me many tiny cherry tomatoes. Whoopee! Two more plants-heirloom varieties, the names which I can not recall now-have inglorious red-tinged lumps here and there. Hanging, hardly growing, just waiting to succumb to rot, they torture and taunt me with their imminent failure.

     

    Honestly, I don’t think we’ll enjoy one damn tomato from those vines.  Which leaves me in the predicament of having to buy tomatoes from farmers markets. And, having to pay a pretty price for them.  Or not.  Here’s a tip-go to several farmers markets to scout out the best prices, and the best product.   Sometimes, if your lucky, you get both.  I purchased tomatoes for this recipe from Toigo Orchards at the Del Ray Farmers Market.  Lately, they’ve been keeping a box of “seconds” tomatoes on the ground.  You’d probably walk right by it if you weren’t looking for it.  My tomatoes cost $.99 a pound-that’s about a third of regular cost, more or less.   And, if you don’t find a “seconds” box of tomatoes, ask your farmer if they sell them. This comes in handy if you are buying bulk for canning or freezing in quantity.  The funny part of this story is this- in my bunch of tomatoes, I had one large red fruit, and several red and green-striped  tomatoes.  Quite interested to find out what variety they were (because lately I’ve become a bit obsessed with the provenance of my food) I held them up and asked, “What type of tomatoes are these?”"Field Tomatoes.”  Go figure.

    That brings me to this week’s recipe from the Washington Post Food section.  Each week, I look forward to this section of the paper, where I find at least one recipe to try out and post on  The Houndstooth Gourmet.  As a home cook with a bit of experience under my apron strings, sometimes I use what I have on hand, or make substitutions when necessary.  Joan Summers of Arlington submitted a recipe for Agave Tomato Jam.  This recipe made her a finalist in the Top Tomato 2009 recipe contest and got her condiment featured in the Washington Post. Now you might be thinking “what the heck is agave?”, and “do I have any agave”.  For me the answers were “not a clue” and “no”.  So, I did what any respectable home cook would do- I googled it.  Agave is a plant that is widely cultivated in Mexico.  It’s nectar, when fermented, produces Tequilla (OK-now this is ringing a bell).  The nectar is also 90% fructose, and has a low glycemic index level compared to table sugar. It’s often used as a substitute for sugar by diabetics, people who are insulin resistant, and for those watching their carbohydrate intake.  Since I did not have agave nectar, I decided to see what else I could use.  Common substitutions are honey, maple syrup, simple syrup and sugar.

    Further investigation lead me to a recipe for Tomato Jam from the New York Times, which interestingly, is remarkably similar to Ms. Summers’ submission.  So, with my field tomatoes in hand, I decided to go with the ingredients I had in my kitchen, and riff on the NYT recipe. In the end, the taste was as promised-spicy and sweet.  Oh, the peaches?  Now, don’t be scared of the peaches! I was able to decrease the amount of sugar used in the original NYT recipe by 50%, just by adding one large peach (which also added to the texture of the jam in the end). Out of season-skip the peach and increase the sugar to 3/4 cup.

    Tomato and Peach Jam

    Adapted from the New York Times recipe for Tomato Jam

    Serve as a condiment with bread and cheese

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 pounds good ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
    • 1 tablespoon fresh grated or minced ginger
    • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1 teaspoon salt1 jalapeño or other peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced, or red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste. I used a nice big pinch.

    Directions

    1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan, Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.
    2. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes.
    3. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate until ready to use; this will keep at least a week.
    4. Yield: About 1 pint.

    Store covered in the refrigerator for up to one week. You can also make this in bulk and can in jars using proper technique.

    The Wrap Up

    Although I had some trepidation using peaches with tomatoes, this combination really worked. It brought the refined sugar content down significantly, which I felt was in the spirit of Ms. Summers’ Washington Post recipe which uses agave nectar. As far as taste, the smoky cumin and red pepper flakes balanced the sweetness imparted by the sugar, ground cloves and cinnamon. This is a surprisingly refreshing and unique way to use summer tomatoes. And, if you can, you can enjoy this year round.

    This condiment would be a terrific addition to any cheese plate; I think it would pair nicely with soft or hard cheeses.

    Difficulty- easy

    Sources- tomatoes and peaches came from Toigo Orchards.