Peach & Blackberry Galette

Yesterday my mom came to visit and brought us another bag of fresh peaches (and blackberries) from the valley. Nothing beats orchard fresh produce in the summer! Since I had another set of hands to care for G for the day, I decided to take advantage of the help and make dinner. I made basil chicken, a beet and orange salad with goat cheese, and a galette with peaches and blackberries. I think the galette might just be the best dessert I’ve ever made. Yum!

Crust (courtesy of First Class Cooking)

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick + 1 TB cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2-4 TB ice water

Mix the flour with the sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle water over the dough (start with 2 TB) and mix until everything is just moistened. Transfer the dough to a floured board and knead 2-3 times. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (Dough can be stored in the fridge for 3 days or frozen wrapped in foil for 1 month.)

Filling (courtesy of First Class Cooking)

  • 1.5 lbs peaches, sliced into wedges
  • 6 oz fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 TB sugar for crust (I used less)
  • pinch ginger
  • pinch salt
  • 1 TB milk, for glazing crust

In a large bowl, stir together all the filling ingredients (not the milk).

On a lightly floured surface or silicone mat, roll out the pastry dough to a 14-inch round (it does not need to be perfectly round). Transfer the entire silicone mat atop a baking sheet or the pastry round onto a parchment lined sheet.

Pour filling onto the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the dough over the fruit, pleating and overlapping to secure the filling. Distribute slivers of butter atop the filling. Brush the edges of the batter with the milk and sprinkle with remaining TB of sugar.

Bake until the crust is golden and the fruit filling is gently bubbling, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes on a baking sheet before transferring to a board. Slice into wedges and serve.


Recipe Testing Winner – Moroccan-Spiced Roast Chicken

I’ve been patiently waiting for this recipe to pop up on the Leite’s website. Today was the day! I first tested the recipe back in July and have since made it twice. It’s one of those dishes where even the skinniest person at the table will ask for seconds. And the leftovers make a fantastic chicken stock. In fact, I used it as the base in my Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup last week and in a Pasta Fagioli dish last night. Enjoy!

The recipe can be found here.

Greek Yogurt and Mascarpone Cheesecake

Have you ever tried to make a flourless, cheeseless, and creamless dessert? Preferably without chocolate? It’s tough. In the end I kind of cheated (though I was told it would be okay to use mascarpone.) Phew!

Since I was already making chocolate cupcakes, I wanted something totally different for “Kristin’s dessert”. Then I remembered a Tech Talk I attended back in my Google days by Babbo pastry chef, Gina DePalma. She raved about her crustless yogurt cheesecake which I had every intention of trying but completely forgot about. I found her cookbook, Dolce Italiano, while cleaning out the bookshelves in our office last weekend and found the dog-eared page with my comments about the recipe. Perfect for someone avoiding cream, cheese (well, most kinds), and flour!

I haven’t been so excited about a dessert since I discovered my favorite cookie recipe of all time. It was light and creamy thanks to the Greek yogurt and wasn’t at all too rich. If you’re a fan of yogurt and mascarpone cheese, you should definitely check this one out.

Original recipe is here.

Cooking spray
¾ cup sugar, plus more for dusting the pan
3 cups Greek yogurt
1 ½ cups mascarpone
3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
3 large eggs
6 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

1. The day before, make the cheesecake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bring a kettle of water to a boil. Grease a 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle with sugar, tapping out excess. Wrap foil around the outside of the pan so it comes up the sides (this prevents the water bath from seeping into the cake).

2. In an electric mixer, beat the yogurt, mascarpone, sugar and confectioner’s sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides. Beat in the salt and vanilla. Transfer to the springform and set it in a large roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with enough hot water to rise halfway up the springform. Cover the roasting pan with foil, tenting the foil so it does not touch the cheesecake. Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for 20 minutes more. Uncover and continue baking, until the cake is puffed but not cracked, jiggly but not liquid in the center, for about 25 minutes more.

3. Cool cake in the roasting pan until the water is lukewarm, then cool on a rack. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove sides from springform and slide onto a cake plate. I added some sliced figs for decoration.

The most difficult part of this recipe is trying to figure out how to slice it!

Blueberry Basil Jam

Another day, another jam. I needed something to do with all of my blueberries so I decided to make a small batch of Blueberry Basil Jam today. I found a good recipe on the Rustic Kitchen website and was done before I knew it. It was only supposed to make a cup of jam but I actually got 2 4-ounce jars and 1 6-ounce jar out of it as well as a nice pour on top of my yogurt. This is a tasty one that would go really well with soft cheese and some crackers or on a thick slice of warm bread.

  • 3 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pour blueberries into a large saucepan over high heat.  Mash with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon.  Once they begin to exude juice, stir in sugar.
Boil, stirring occasionally, until your candy thermometer reads 225 degrees.  Test with a cold spoon in the freezer to be sure it is done. Remove the jam from heat, stir in the basil and lemon juice, and transfer to sterile containers.  Store in the refrigerator or preserve as needed.

Warm Chicken Salad with Green Beans and Chard

One of the things I love about being a Leite’s recipe tester is that I’m starting to see what styles and tastes I have in common with other testers. While I didn’t choose to try the Warm Chicken with Green Beans and Chard in this last testing round, I could tell by who wrote the comments that I would love it. So, armed with a box of cherry tomatoes, rainbow chard, and green beans from my CSA box, I embarked on a very quick journey towards deliciousness. I would highly recommend this for an easy, healthy, and flavorful weeknight meal.

Recipe Testing – Moroccan Roast Chicken

I made what was probably my favorite evaluation recipe so far on Monday night. It was a heavily spiced roast chicken with cauliflower, butternut squash, and red onion. What I loved most about the recipe was that you don’t put the vegetables in with the chicken until it’s nearly done. This was a great tip for me because mine are almost always too soft by the time the chicken is cooked. I’m confident this one will make the Leite’s website so stay tuned for the recipe. In the meantime, enjoy the photos. My friend Marion is in town from France and she is never more than a few feet away from her camera. Other goodies we have made together this week: Beet Salad with Feta, Orange, and Mint, a slight twist on my favorite cookies, and homemade lemonade from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook. The kitchen has been messy but we’ve had a blast!

Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing

Tonight I made an old standby recipe, Giada’s Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing. I had a bunch of basil leftover in the freezer and was happy to use it all up with a summery dish (especially on a night that does NOT feel like summer). I’ve made this chicken so many times that I don’t follow the recipe anymore but just add everything to taste.

Adapted from Giada’s Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing (my version below serves 2)

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoons fennel or anise seeds, coarsely crushed
  • Salt
  • 1/2 tsp rainbow peppercorns
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • Grated lemon zest from 1 lemon (Reminder to zest before you juice!)

Dump 1/2 of the oil, 1/2 of the lemon juice, fennel seeds, some salt and ground pepper in a heavy-duty Ziploc bag. Add the chicken and seal the bag. Massage the marinade into the chicken. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day, turning the chicken occasionally.

Meanwhile, blend the basil, garlic, lemon zest, remaining lemon juice, salt, and peppercorns in a blender until smooth. Gradually blend in the remaining 1/3 cup oil. Season the basil sauce, to taste, with more salt and pepper. You will want a lot of sauce so don’t be afraid to keep adding basil, lemon juice, and oil.

Prepare the barbecue for medium-high heat or preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to plates. Drizzle the basil sauce over and serve.

Dessert? Honey lavender ice cream 🙂

Honey Lavender Ice Cream

A friend of mine gave me a tin of cooking lavender this week so I decided to take another stab at making honey lavender ice cream. I made it years ago but always remembered it being too sweet, unlike my all time favorite at Bi-Rite. I looked online for a few different recipes and compared them to my last attempt before deciding on the recipe below.

What resulted was definitely my best ice cream effort to date! Alex commented how the air bubbles were really small- ha! We were literally licking the bowl and mixing paddle so as not to waste any during the transfer from the ice cream maker to the freezer. YUM!

Adapted from Gourmet, 2003

  • 1.5 cups heavy cream
  • 1.5 cups half-and-half
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1.5 tablespoons dried edible lavender flowers
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Bring cream, half-and-half, honey, and lavender just to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, then remove pan from heat. Let steep for 15-20 minutes (start tasting it around 10 minutes).

Pour cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard lavender. Return mixture to cleaned saucepan and heat over moderate heat for a few minutes until hot.

Whisk together eggs and salt in a large bowl, then add 1 cup hot cream mixture in a slow stream, whisking. Pour into remaining hot cream mixture in saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thick enough to coat back of spoon and registers 170 to 175°F on thermometer, about 5 minutes (do not let boil).

Pour custard through sieve into cleaned bowl and cool completely, stirring occasionally. Chill, covered, for several hours or overnight.

Churn custard in an ice cream maker according to directions (mine churned for about 25 minutes). Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden for at least two hours before serving. Eat within a week though that shouldn’t be a problem.

Next up… lemon almond ice cream!

Strawberry Cake

Smitten Kitchen has done it again! This strawberry cake just looked too good to pass up. Especially since I had two pounds of strawberries left over in the freezer from last month. YUM!

  • 6 TB unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 3/4 cup APF and 3/4 cup barley flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1+ pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch pie pan or 9-inch deep-dish pie pan (what I used).

Whisk flour or flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving with lightly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.