Monday, August 21, 2017

Peach Upside-Down Cake

One of Baltimore's old-fashioned bakery specialties is a yeast-raised cake topped with sliced peaches. My Mom would buy slabs of peach cake often in the summer months; she and Grandma seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. I, on the other hand, was not a fan. The cake was too bread-like and the moist peaches created a slime-like ooze that coated the top of the bread. Bleh. But I had extra peaches and Mr Minx wasn't interested in peach pie. I briefly considered making a peach tart tatin when I recalled an image I had seen on Instagram earlier in the week. Peach upside-down cake.

I used a no-fuss recipe for pineapple upside-down cake that I had made a few times in the past, I just swapped peaches for the pineapples, skipped the maraschinos, and used brown sugar in place of the toffee chips. A little cinnamon sprinkled over the peaches added a little sweet spice.

It's terrific for dessert, or with coffee for breakfast or a snack.

Peach Upside-Down Cake (adapted from Tate's Bake Shop: Baking for Friends)

3 large or 4 medium peaches
1 1/2 sticks salted butter, 4 tablespoons sliced, 8 at room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup plain nonfat or low-fat Greek yogurt

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350°F.

Peel the peaches, cut in half, and remove the pit. Cut each half into thin slices and set aside.

Melt the 4 tablespoons of sliced butter and pour into in a 9" square pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter evenly. Overlap the peach slices in straight rows (three should fit nicely) and sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon. If there is any peach left over, chop it up and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and 8 tablespoons of room temperature butter with an electric mixer set to high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. One at a time, beat in the eggs, followed by the vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the yogurt in 2 equal additions, mixing until just smooth after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Do not overmix. Stir in the chopped peach, if there is any. Spread the batter evenly over the peaches in the pan.

Bake until the top is golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the inside of the skillet to loosen the cake. Place a serving plate over the skillet, and, using pot holders, invert the skillet and plate together to unmold the cake. Serve at room temperature.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Flashback Friday - Black Bean Ragout

flashback friday graphic
This post originally appeared on on March 21, 2013.
I cook most weekends and sometimes I just don't feel like dealing with meat. Especially if everything we have in that department is frozen into a giant block in the freezer. That's when I turn to canned beans, which we usually seem to have in great quantities. My favorite is black beans, which I find to be very versatile. I've used them to make hummus, veggie burgers, and even beans and franks. This time, I was feeling especially lazy and decided on a simple ragout of beans and tomatoes, flavored with chipotle.

We had a huge jar of pickled red bell peppers in the fridge; I had bought them by mistake, thinking they were an unusually-reasonably-priced jar of regular roasted peppers. The sweet vinegar tang of the peppers worked perfectly with the beans and tomatoes, and I didn't really need to use very much other seasoning, apart from salt and pepper and a bit of smoked paprika to reinforce the smokiness of the chipotle.

I topped the ragout with poached eggs made with Kenji's technique, as seen in this video I posted the other day. They were pretty gorgeous, as evidenced by the photo above.

Black Bean Ragout

1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 canned chipotle in adobo, seeded and minced
1 15oz can chopped tomatoes and their juices
2 15oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped pickled red bell pepper OR 1/4 cup chopped roasted red bell pepper OR 1/4 cup chopped fresh raw red bell pepper + 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar + 1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and pepper

In a 2 quart saucepan, cook onion in olive oil and a pinch of salt over medium heat until the onion is translucent and just beginning to brown, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic, chipotle, tomatoes, beans, red bell pepper, and smoked paprika. Stir, raise heat and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, cover pot, and simmer until beans are very tender, about 45 minutes. If there seems to be too much liquid left, turn the heat up for a few minutes to allow it to evaporate. Smash mixture with a potato masher until it's a very chunky puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Top each serving with a poached egg or two, or eat as a side dish. Makes a nice burrito filling, too.

Serves 4

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Farm to Chef 2017

If you've never attended a Farm to Chef competition, you're missing out on a good time. This year's event will be the 8th annual, and I can say from experience, the food gets better and better every time. Last year's contest was so dynamite, I had a hard time choosing a favorite dish.

Farm to Chef 2017 will be held on Monday, October 2, from 7:00pm - 9:30pm at the B & O Railroad Museum at 901 Pratt Street. Tickets can be purchased here. If you sign up by September 5, "early bird" tickets are $90.00 per person, after that, the cost goes up to $110.00. Attendees must be 21 years of age or older.

100% of funds raised by Farm to Chef goes to TasteWise Kids. TasteWise Kids, including their flagship program, Days of Taste, educates children about the relationship between food, farm, and the table, and the benefits of fresh foods. Last year's event had record attendance and raised well over $34,000!

If you need enticement, here are some images from 2016.

Chef's Expressions & One Straw Farm Pork Tortelloni filled with pork and ricotta topped with eggplant zalook and a frico chip  (WINNER Savory Dish Second Place AND People's Choice Best Dish First Place)

Copper Kitchen & Whistle Pig Hollow Toluca green chili chorizo, smoked egg, tomatillo salsa (WINNER Best Savory Dish First Place AND People's Choice Best Dish Second Place)

Elkridge Club & Prosperity Acres Smoked Goat Taco

Ida B's Table & Rettland Farm Pork Neck Osso Buco

Laurrapin & Third Way Farm Beet Dumpling

 Alma Cocina Latina & Three Springs Fruit Farm Watermelon Wagyu

Woodberry Kitchen & Grand View Farm Chicken Sausage Banh Mi

Alexandra's American Fusion & Prigel Family Creamery Sweet Pumpkin Lassi

The Charmery & Baltimore Orchard Project "Grow A Pear" - Brandy poached pear ice cream, pear bread pudding, pear-amel sauce (WINNER - Best Sweet Dish First Place AND Best Farm + Chef Pair)

The Corner Pantry & Cherry Glen Farm Banoffee Bar - goat cheese shortbread, banana cream, goat cheese caramel, caramelized banana, goat cheese tuile  (WINNER Best Sweet Dish - Second Place)

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Tomato Pie

I made the most beautiful tomato pie with bounty from our garden. So many tomatoes ripened at once, I had to do something that would use up more than one or two at a time. Pie seemed to be the answer.

I was prepared. I had refrigerated pie crusts, frozen puff pastry, and filo dough on hand. Using the refrigerated option seemed the easiest way to go, but that sort of crust would require blind baking, so the pie wouldn't turn out soggy. Invariably, when I blind bake a crust, it shrinks in the pan and is barely tall enough to hold the filling. I got clever this time and used a tart shell, which is already shorter than a standard pie pan. Rather than crimp the pastry or trim it while it was raw, I just let the excess dough overhang the top of the pan, which cut back on the shrinkage. I also don't have pie weights to prevent the crust bottom from puffing up. I had used rice for a while, but after several uses it started to smell bad so I threw it out. This time, I used a springform pan bottom wrapped in foil that fit perfectly within my pastry shell. It worked like a charm.

For the topping, I sliced my tomatoes and salted them and left them to drain on several thicknesses of paper towel. I also blotted them periodically to get off as much moisture as possible. While those were draining, I made a filling using various things I had on hand. Now, you won't be able to duplicate my filling exactly, but you can probably approximate it easily enough. I knew I wanted to use cheese, so I combined cream cheese and feta. I wanted a savory element, so I added a few spoonfuls of bacon jam (you can use finely crumbled cooked bacon and a bit of sauteed onion), and then for balance, some vinegar. But not actual vinegar. I have a bottle of Crafted Cocktails blackberry shrub in the fridge. It has a flavor somewhat like a very sweet balsamic vinegar, so I added a couple teaspoons to the filling for a touch of acidity. You can add balsamic, but start with a teaspoon and taste before adding more, as it's more tangy than the shrub.

Once the pie crust had cooked and cooled, I smeared it with the filling and topped it with the tomatoes. Into the oven it went for 35 minutes until the tomatoes had shriveled somewhat and the filling was bubbling. I let it cool completely before removing it from the tart pan and garnishing it with fresh basil.

It was delicious. And beautiful.

Tomato Pie

2 lbs tomatoes (I used a combination of Black Krim, Tie Dye, and Roma)
1 refrigerated pie crust
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese (or flavorful cheese of your choice)
2 heaping tablespoons bacon jam (or 1 tablespoon of crumbled bacon + 1 tablespoon caramelized onion)
2 teaspoons Crafted Cocktails Blackberry shrub (or 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar)
Freshly ground pepper
Fresh basil for garnish

Slice tomatoes about 1/4" thick and place in one layer on a double thickness of paper towels. Salt liberally. Allow to drain for at least half an hour, blotting occasionally with more towels.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Fit the pie crust into a 10" tart shell with 1" sides and a removable bottom. Do not trim the crust, just allow it to hang loosely over the top of the pan. Prick crust all over with a fork. Line the crust with aluminum foil and weigh down with raw rice or beans, or pie weights if you have them. If you don't have any of the above, take a 9" springform pan bottom, cover with foil, and place within the crust. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the crust starts to turn golden. Remove the pie weights or pan bottom and foil and bake an additional 5-8 minutes. Remove pie shell from oven and cool on a rack. Once cool, use a knife to trim the excess crust flush with the top of the pan.

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, feta, bacon jam, and shrub. Stir well to combine and add freshly ground pepper to taste. Smear onto cooled crust and top with drained tomatoes.

Bake for 30-35 minutes,  until filling is bubbly and the tomatoes have shrunken a bit. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan. Garnish with fresh basil, cut into wedges and serve.

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