Friday, July 31, 2009

Nectarine Clafouti - Delicious

I love summer, especially the delicious fruit. There is just something so delicious about eating fruits in season, and not the nasty ones you get in the middle of winter. So, I'm fully enjoying the bounty of our supermarkets - especially nectarines. I love dicing one and sprinkling it over greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream, and now thanks to Barefoot Contessa, I love them baked in a custard!

This is the easiest dessert that I've made in a while. It's adapted from Ina's Barefoot in Paris recipe for a pear clafouti. I had about four nectarines that would spoil before I could eat them, so I wanted to use them. It's basically a custard/pancake batter poured over the fruit and then baked. The sweet/tart nectarines and the creamy custard with a little cinnamon are delicious. (Belle, I saw the plum tart tatin and can't wait to try it - but I was too greedy and ate all the plums on hand first :)

Pear Clafouti (adapted with nectarines)

1 TBS unsalted butter, soft
1/3 cup plus 1 TBS granulated sugar
3 extra large eggs at room temperature
6 TBS all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp grated lemon zest (I omitted this because these nectarines were pretty tart)
1/4 tsp kosher salt (I used regular table salt)
2 TBS pear brandy (Poire William) (I also omitted this since my nectarines are pretty juicy)
(ADDITION - 2 tsp cinnamon)
4 very ripe nectarines (if using pears - 2-3 firm but ripe Bartlett pears)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 10" round baking dish and sprinkle bottom with granulated sugar (I used a 9" square pan with a delicious result - if slightly less pretty :)

2. Beat eggs and 1/3 cup sugar in electric mixer on medium high speed until light and fluffy - 3 minutes (mine never got "fluffy" but I beat for 3 minutes and the recipe worked). On low speed, mix in flour, cream, vanilla, cinnamon (if using), lemon zest (if using), salt and pear brandy (if using). Set aside for 10 minutes.

3. (If using pears, peel quarter and slice them). I kept the peel on the nectarines because I like the color, and simply sliced them in little quadrants (it's very hard to cut wedges of nectarine). Arrange the slices in a single layer (neatly if possible) on the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the batter over the fruit and bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm - about 35-40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. It's very good with vanilla ice cream, and I bet it would be delicious the next day as well with a cup of coffee.
4. A note on seasoning. I like cinnamon, so if you aren't a big fan, maybe reduce it to 1 tsp. I bet this recipe would work really well with plums, or the more traditional cherries. You could also try adding some grated fresh ginger, orange zest, nutmeg - whatever.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Plum Upside-Down Cake

Ok, this was fantastic! And completely easy to make. I made it during nap time, and managed not to mess it up despite a pretty serious interruption from Baby K. I posted a photo of it in my post yesterday. The recipe comes from the August issue of Real Simple. I've just started trying their recipes, and I'm really impressed with the balance of speed, nutrition and taste!

Plum Upside-Down Cake

1/2 cup plus 1 TBS unsalted butter
4 firm, ripe plums, each cut into about 7-8 wedges. I think you could substitute nectarines or peaches, but you might want to add a little lemon juice since they aren't as tart as plums?
1/4 cup plus 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
2/3 cup sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment. (Normally I skip lining pans, but I think you have to here, otherwise the fruit would stick!)

2. Melt 1 TBS butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Add the plums and 1/4 cup sugar, tossing until sugar dissolves and plums get all nice and syrupy - about 3-4 minutes. Arrange the plums in a pretty pattern in the bottom of the pan (or, if your baby starts screaming, simply dump the plums and juice into the bottom where they make a pretty, abstract pattern of their own).

3. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4. In a large bowl or mixer, beat together the remaining 1/2 cup butter and 2/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Mix in the egg and sour cream, then add the vanilla. Gradually add the flour until it is just incorporated. (I think this could get tough if you over mix the flour).

5. Pour the batter over the plums and bake until toothpick/tester inserted in the middle comes out clean - about 50-55 minutes. Cool in the pan for 1 hour, then invert onto serving plate and peel off parchment from the bottom. A couple of plums may stick to the parchment, but I was able to place them on top of the cake.

This is a really pretty jewel colored cake, and really easy to make. I served it with vanilla ice cream when the cake was slightly warm. It's also very good the next day. I bet this would work really well with whipped cream or slightly sweetened mascarpone cheese?

P.S. Amy, thanks for your comment. If you are still allowing new blog readers, I'd love an invitation. My email is proseccoandpeaches at gmail dot com Thanks!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Summertime and the blogger is lazy

So, it's been almost a month - but what a month. We've celebrated an anniversary, gone to the beach, and taken a very brief and wonderful trip to La Jolla. I'm back! I need to update lots of recipes that I've been trying, as well as post the birth announcements and the baptismal gown...but here's my start. I hope you are all having a FANTASTIC summer!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Best Marinade In The World (I am not joking about this)

I found this recipe in a Glamour magazine (don't laugh). It is hands down one of the easiest and most delicious ways to spice up chicken breasts, and if you marinate a flank steak, I guarantee you'll have a main course fancy enough for company!

Marinade Ingredients

4 cloves minced garlic
1 TBS minced ginger - if I don't have a ginger root - I throw in a little powdered ginger
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. sugar
2 TBS freshly squeezed lime juice (I tend to use a little more - about two whole limes squeezed)
1 TBS roasted sesame oil (I substitute regular olive oil if I'm out)
4 grinds fresh pepper
(Lately I've been adding a pinch of red pepper flakes for a little extra heat too)

1 flank steak (approximately 1 lb to serve four)

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and then add steak/chicken. If you're using a steak, I'd opt to marinate overnight for maximum flavor and then grill to your liking (we tend to go medium rare). If you're using chicken, I like to use the breasts with the skin and the ribs for grilling, and you can make this marinade the day you're going to cook.

I've served this so many different times and everyone always loves it. I like it with a big green salad with goat cheese, pecans and cranberries with vinagrette (aka my "pregnancy salad") and with mashed potatoes in the winter or rice in the summer. It's really delicious with a pinot noir or a syrah - but it is also good with rose/pink champagne.