Friday, July 30, 2010

Summertime 2010 Favorite Recipes

It's Friday-- the end of a very long work week!   I so miss not having the time to cook for my family, during the week. On the weekends, I am spending time in the kitchen trying out new recipes.  However,  I am hesitating to share some of these with you, because they involve an oven-- or are served nice and hot.  I've been watching the weather, nationwide, and I see that so many of you are living in hot and humid conditions. Here I am, living on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula (California) where we are experiencing unusually cooler temps and lots of overcast skies.  So, I'll save those recipes for a few weeks down the road when the summer heat has cooled down.  Instead,   I thought I'd post some tried & true recipes that my family and I have enjoyed from last summer.  Just looking at these photos has inspired me to make these again.   So, without further adieu, here's a roundup of recipes that I hope you'll enjoy:

Figs,  Brie & Prosciutto on the grill-- such a simple and terrific appetizer.  I'm on the lookout for fresh figs at my local Whole Foods!

 Our garden tomatoes are just now turning bright red, and our basil is doing very well in our containers.  I could eat Bruschetta every day, and never grow tired of it.  This is one of my favorite snacks of all time!

Thawed puff pastry, cheese, fresh basil  are the perfect appetizer (or light meal) for summer tomatoes. This Tomato Tart & Three Cheese Tart recipe was adapted from Ina Garten.  So good!

Pineapple-Mango Salsa -- I love to serve this with grilled pork tenderloin or any kind of fish. 

Antipasto Pasta Salad (Cook's Illustrated) - I particularly love the quick marinated mushrooms that are tossed into this salad.  In fact, I could just eat a big bowl of these mushrooms! The creamy vinegar-based dressing, mixed with Italian cold cuts, cheese, roasted bell peppers and a few other pantry ingredients is perfect side dish or a summer meal on a hot day.

I have made this Raspberry Lemon Tart several times. The shortbread crust is the perfect vehicle for fresh summer raspberries.  There is just enough lemon balance to the simple egg custard, that bakes to a nice chewy creamy center.  You can use any kind of summer berries that you like.

Strawberry Cream Cake is a Cook's Illustrated success story.  The cake is very easy to make.  The frosting is a silky combination of real whipped cream and cream cheese.  I'll show you how to make this beautiful tower with fresh summer strawberries.

This weekend, I plan to make this Apricot Cream Cake (Rahm Kuchen).  This is an heirloom recipe from my Bavarian cousin.  Her crust is out of this world!  The topping has sour cream, heavy cream and a few other ingredients.  This is not diet food, but it's a summer treat that's one of our very favorites.

The Monterey Peninsula's true summer is just now saying "hello" with blue skies and warmer temperatures-- in the high 60's.  Tourists say it's way too cold here, but I tell them that the best time to visit our beautiful area is during the months of August through October.  Still, air conditioning is something that we California Central Coast residents don't have in our homes-- it isn't really necessary.  Our average temperatures tend to stay in the 70's.  Every so often, we hit higher temperatures.... once, in a blue moon, we might hit triple digits.  That makes headlines, because we are so spoiled with our coastal breezes!   Feel free to come visit the Central Coast of California, so that you can escape the hot temperatures.   However, since I live here, I work and can't play tourist very often.  This weekend, I plan to fire up the grill and to enjoy the fresh summer produce from my own backyard-- the Salinas Valley!
If you click on the links to each recipe, you will find how to make these and a printable recipe.

I hope that many of you will find cooler temperatures and that you are enjoying your summer. For me, I'm enjoying the weekend that is to come!

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Creamy Homemade Cole Slaw -- and an invitation to my Facebook Fan Page

Well, hello again!  I'm preparing to shut down from a relaxing weekend and I wanted to post the cole slaw recipe that I made last weekend, that went very well with our  Pulled Pork sandwiches

This cole slaw is one of my husband's favorite dishes that I make for him.   As a little girl, I used to love the cole slaw that was served at Kentucky Fried Chicken-- we're talking decades ago, when KFC served those wonderful buns (and not the biscuits they serve today).

At last, I can make a version that's as good-- actually better-- thanks to "Kittencal" at  Like many comfort foods, this is not low-fat.  This slaw is mayonnaise based, has buttermilk, sugar, and some seasonings that are right on the money!     Sometimes, you just have to enjoy these things, in moderation. I ate one serving of this, and my boys polished off the entire bowl.  We begin with REAL mayonnaise.  You need some half & half (yep, that's right). Start whisking....

Now, we add fresh lemon.  Whisk some more.  You need buttermilk...

I love buttermilk for baking or most any kind of's so rich and silky...
 Now we add fresh lemon juice and white wine vinegar -- whisk it together.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Pulled Pork Sandwiches & Homemade BBQ Sauce-- the whole works!

Strap yourself in!  This may turn out to be a long post, because I have a few recipes that are key components to make this very tasty summer meal.  Just editing the photos made me long to have one more taste of this meal that we enjoyed last weekend.  My work schedule has me so busy, that I have no choice but to become a "weekend blogger". At last, I can share what will be a very memorable learning experience and successful experiment!

I've made pulled pork a couple of times.  One version was made in a slow cooker, with bottled BBQ sauce, it was fast and simple (I might blog that one during the winter).   In 2004, I watched Emeril Lagasse make this very pulled pork recipe in the oven, with pretty good results--  still it was missing that wonderful smokiness that reminds my husband of his home state of Missouri.   I really like Emeril's barbecue sauce, and I've made it a few times for other cuts of grilled meats.  My husband loves pulled pork, and I wanted to make this recipe again, since it was tried & true. After weeks of overcast skies, and temperatures hovering in the mid-60's, we finally  had a sunny and warm weekend.  I decided that I would use the oven to make homemade sandwich buns, and I wondered if I was ready to attempt adapting this recipe for a Weber grill. I've read several articles on how to turn a Weber into a smoker, but I wasn't sure that I wanted to tend a Weber grill for several hours. It seemed so complicated!  

How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques 
I decided to see what Steven Raichlen had in this excellent cookbook that I bought a few years ago.  This book gives step-by-step photos on how to grill just about anything.  I asked Craig if he'd be willing to babysit the Weber grill, while I got busy making the cole slaw, barbecue sauce and rolls.  Craig is a bit insecure about cooking, but he sat down and read the instructions on making North Carolina Style Pulled Pork (which uses more of a vinegar-based mop sauce.  We prefer more of a tomato-based barbecue sauce, so I stuck with Emeril's recipe, but let this book show the two of us how to grill pulled pork.  The process took about 4 hours, and  I'm going to share with you how to prepare the grill, make the seasoning mix, the sauce and the end results.  First, you need to make the rub:

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Homemade Sandwich/Burger Buns - In One Hour. Yes, that's right!

This Saturday, I asked Craig if he would would venture into learning how to make Pulled Pork on our Weber Grill.  Since that process took almost five hours, and involve babysitting the fire and soaking chips-- there was no way I was going to buy store bought hamburger buns!  I remembered that Cathy, from Wives with Knives, had posted her version of Homemade Sandwich Buns.   Fine. Go and peek at her gorgeous photos. But, come back and I'll show you how easy they are to make.  Are you still me? Let's go!  I made mine with a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, but I'll also tell you how to make these with your own two hands.  You need instant yeast, to make these in under an hour.  I like to use SAF Instant Yeast.  You'll need whole milk, honey, water, butter, one egg, yeast and unbleached flour.  

I've added 4 cups of the unbleached flour and reserved 1/2 cup into the mixing bowl.  I've also added the instant yeast and the kosher salt.  Now, to see how the wet ingredients are doing, temperature-wise. A thermometer is very helpful, to make sure you don't add liquid to the flour and yeast that's too hot.  First you want to heat the liquids until it's at 120F.  As you can see, my thermapen accurately registers at 126F.  I waited a few more minutes...

The instructions say to add the egg to the hot liquid, which has cooled down to 120F.  I turned on the mixer on low speed and...Ooops... I added the egg. No worries, the warm milk mixture is coming next, and all is well.  Using my New Metro beater blade the ingredients are blended together... for 1-2 minutes.  Now, I switch to the dough hook. 
I let the machine do the work, for about 5 minutes.  I am so pleased that the dough comes together and it's no longer sticky. I only added a wee bit more flour. 

Mix 2 cups of the flour, yeast and salt. Mix into the milk mixture. Stir in the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Beat well after each addition.
When the dough pulls together, (it will form a soft ball) turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. This should take about 5 minutes.
Divide dough into 12 equal parts. A scale is a handy tool to use, to ensure equal sizes. Otherwise, eyeball it! Shape into smooth balls, flatten slightly, and place on a silicone mat, or parchment covered baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic film and allow to rise in 30-40 minutes.
TIP: I preheat my oven to WARM, and then turn it off. I place the dough to rise, and they were perfect in 35 minutes.

30 minutes later, I opened the oven door. Yessssssssss! They are ready to bake.

 I also have a "Bun Pan", so I used that. I wanted to compare which method I prefer as a baking tray.

These have risen perfectly.

Normally, I would brush an egg wash over the dough. I like how it makes the buns shiny. Only I ran out of eggs.  I have a Plan B.  The oven is preheated to 400F.  I bake them for 10 minutes, and decide 2-3 minutes more is a good idea.

Plan B:  Immediately brush melted butter, once I remove them from the oven. 

My oldest brother has arrived for dinner.  We have pulled pork we just took off the grill. The buns are cooling, the homemade BBQ sauce is ready.  The homemade slaw is ready and the beer is chilled.  I tell you this, because now my photography becomes rushed.  My finished rolls don't look as beautiful as Cathy's.   It's time to eat:

I grab a bun, and the bread knife easily slices through it. I love the texture! Now, to build a Pulled PorkSandwich. First, a pile of tender and juicy smoked pulled pork. Next, some homemade BBQ sauce...

Gotta add the slaw and now to add the top of the bun.

VERDICT:  While the bun looks rather "Plain Jane", it's The bun is a success. I love the texture and it's perfect.   These are so easy to make, that I doubt I'll ever buy store bought again.  The bun pan helps to shape the buns nicely. But, the baking sheet works fine, too.

Oh. The rest of the recipes?  Are you curious how I made them. It's coming! I decided to break down each dish as a separate post.  It was a lot of work, but I've missed not being able to cook for a week.  I took a lot of photos and I look forward to sharing the rest of this meal with all of you.  Cathy, thanks for sharing this easy recipe. It's my turn to share it with more people!  

A printable recipe is at the very bottom of this post.  

With love, from my oven to yours,


Homemade Burger or Sandwich Buns


What I love about this yeast bread recipe is that it’s so easy to make— even for a beginner.  If you own a Kitchen Aid Stand mixer (or any stand mixer with a dough hook) this can be ready from start to taking them out of the oven in one ...    

        See Homemade Burger or Sandwich Buns on Key Ingredient.    


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Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Berry Pavlova with a Raspberry Coulis Sauce

A few years ago, Ina Garten aired Barefoot Contessa episode that included a Triple Berry Pavlova.  I made a mental note to make it, but I never got around to it.  A few weeks ago, I spotted a recipe for a Pavlova on   I compared the two versions, which were quite similar. Ultimately,  I decided to make Joyofbaking's version.   The timing was perfect, because I've been on an Ice Cream Custard kick, which means that I end up with extra egg whites. If you've never had a Pavlova, or have even heard of it, here's a little history (from the
Pavlova (Pav) is a meringue cake that has a light and delicate crisp crust and a soft sweet marshmallow center. This lovely dessert is typically served with softly whipped cream and fresh fruit. There is a long standing debate about whether New Zealand or Australia invented this dessert, which has yet to be resolved. What we do know is that the name, Pavlova, was chosen in honor of the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who toured both New Zealand and Australia in 1926.
I have always loved baked meringue, so the urge to make this finally hit home. Would you believe I've never made it before? This was my very first attempt. I carefully read the reviews on Ina Garten's version, and people were quite harsh.  Many complained that the temperature was wrong, and that the meringue never baked.  I read the directions a few times and decided to dive in and give this a go.  As always, let me show you:

In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks.  TIP: You want your bowl and whisk beater to be very clean. I wipe the bowl with a paper towel and a little white wine vinegar.  That way, I'm pretty much guaranteed that my egg whites will turn out just right.

Test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your thumb and index finger. The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers...

  Sprinkle the vinegar and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with a rubber spatula, fold in...

Gently spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges.
Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. This step is very important! The parchment paper easily removes from the meringue-- don't forget to do that, too.

This was attempt #1. I wasn't happy with the shape...

(The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.)  At this point, the cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool dry place, in an airtight container, for a few days.  That's exactly what I did!
NOTE: This was my first attempt.  I thought it was a little challenging to form "edges".  The second time I made this, I ended up piping the meringue, which I found a bit easier.

Because there are gorgeous raspberries, in season, I made a raspberry coulis sauce.  If you'd like to see a tutorial on how I make a coulis sauce, please click here.

Just before serving gently place the meringue onto a serving plate. Whip the cream in your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, until soft peaks form. Sweeten with the sugar and vanilla (I add a Dr. Oetker product that helps the whipped cream to hold longer).  I used olallieberries, raspberries and fresh blueberries.

...and then mound the softly whipped cream into the center of the meringue.I don't know about you, but I'm drooling again. Whipped cream is one of my greatest weaknesses.  Help me!

Arrange the fruit randomly, or in a decorative pattern, on top of the cream..
(This is my second attempt. I was much happier with the shape)

 If desired, drizzle a raspberry coulis sauce over each serving. (Nods head, enthusiastically...)

It's time to cut the first slice...
Can you see that chewy, marshmallowy center? Oh my... 

VERDICT: Having followed the directions, implicitly, the meringue was a total success.  There are a lot of different textures going on here-- a slight crunch of the meringue crust... the chewy center... the silkiness of the whipped cream... the summer bursts of fresh berries.  For the final ta-da, the raspberry coulis sauce rounds off this impressive dessert perfectly.  This really is a heavy dessert.  The next time, I plan to make individual meringues by piping the fluffy egg white mixture.  That way I can fill each meringue with whipped cream.  I have visions of filling the meringue with my Lemon Curd Ice Cream Custard.   Keeper!

I need to buy more berries, before the season in my little part of California is over.   I hope that you give this a try.  It's sure to impress your guests-- or even yourself!

A printable recipe is at the bottom of the post. Please scroll down...


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