The pickle man

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Peach Blueberry Cobbler

Here it is - my favorite summer dessert. 

I've been meaning to post this one for a while, but I kept forgetting to take pictures at the right stages. 

And technically, it's probably more of a crisp than a cobbler - but to me, a cobbler should have a crispy top.  And so many cobbler recipes are just for a square pie.  This is crispy and sweet on the outside, and warm-fruit-gooey on the inside.  Sigh - cobbler heaven. 

I've eaten way too much of this in the past two months - but I can't resist the peaches. 

For this recipe, you'll need a lot of peaches.  Four pounds or so, which for me was 10 peaches.  I used a mix of white and yellow peaches. 

First, get the hairy skins off.
When I'm just eating a peach, the skin doesn't bother me at all.  But in a cobbler/ crisp... well, it needs to go.

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Drop in the peaches, a few at a time for about 1 minute.

Then dunk them in ice water.
Remove them and the skins will just slide off!
This trick amazes me every time.
Tada!  Naked peaches.
Halve them and take out the pits.
Then toss them in a bowl with some sugar and flour (amounts below).
Add the zest of 1/2 of an orange, and/ or a lemon.
Then add 1 pint of blueberries.
Toss to combine.  Let this sit and get juicy while you make the topping.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine butter, oatmeal, flour, sugar, and salt.  Sprinkle the mixture on top of the peach filling.
Cook for one to one and a half hours.  Everything will get bubbly and crunchy and delicious on the top.  

Serve with vanilla ice cream!

 Recipe, adapted from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook.

4 pounds peaches (about 10 large ones), peeled, pitted, and sliced into wedges
1 lemon zested (or an orange, or a mixture of the two)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups, plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pint blueberries (the original recipe called for raspberries instead - also great, but not so easy to find around here)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
2 sticks of butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Combine the peaches, citrus zest, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 3 tablespoons of flour.  Toss well.  Gently mix in the blueberries.
Pour into a large casserole dish. 

Combine 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, and butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment (or a food processor with a steel blade).  Mix until crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly on top of the peaches and blueberries.  Bake for 1 hour (I usually need closer to 1 1/2).  Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream!

You can assemble this earlier in the day and keep it in the refrigerator.  Just take it out before you cook it and allow it to come back to room temperature (or thereabouts).  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fig-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

I've been making a lot of fig preserves this summer... and this is my new favorite thing to do with them - a glaze for grilled pork tenderloin.

Of course, my first favorite thing to do with them was to spread them on buttered toast... 

and then my second favorite thing (which is definitely worthy of a  blog post) is to make a pizza: 
here's Pioneer Woman's version.  Mine will be coming as soon as I remember to buy arugula - because that little green does NOT appreciate 100 degree temperatures, so mine's dead. 

So, when I decided to take a break from pizza, I discovered a recipe in Cooking in High Cotton.  
With a few tweaks, we were grill ready!


It's delicious - and go ahead and make two.  The leftovers are incredible in sandwiches.

Here's the recipe, adapted from Cooking in High Cotton by the Monroe Junior League

1/2 cup fig preserves
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (can also use rice vinegar)
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

2 pork tenderloins, trimmed and rinsed.

Combine marinade ingredients in a zip top plastic bag.  Place the meat in the bag and seal.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.  Preheat the grill to medium high.  Grill, turning occasionally, until a meat thermometer measures 155 degrees for the center part of the meat.  Remove from the grill and cover loosely with foil.  Allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing. 

Brownies Without the Box

For someone who has always shied away from box cakes (I can make my mom's faster than I can go buy the box), I've always been deathly afraid to make brownies without a box.

I was scarred (not physically) very early in life by brownies.  One afternoon I was babysitting my younger sisters and brother and they asked for brownies.  Since we didn't have a box on the shelf, I decided to start from scratch.  I was 14 at the time and more than a little overconfident about my cooking abilities.  I mean, if I could make Kraft Mac and Cheese (this was before the kind in the cups), surely brownies were not beyond my reach.

I pulled out my mom's copy of Celebrations on the Bayou and decided to go for the ambitious sounding "Swamp Bottom Brownies."

To this day, I'm not quite sure where I went wrong.  Maybe I substituted baking soda for baking powder, or a tablespoon for a teaspoon.  Or maybe both.  Or maybe my mom had TNT powder stored on a shelf in her pantry.  Whatever the cause, my creation exploded in the oven.  Literally.  There was baked-on, exploded brownie on every square inch of surface in my mom's oven.

Needless to say, after 2 cans of Easy Off Oven Cleaner and almost an hour on my knees leaning in and scrubbing, I decided box brownies were all anyone every really needed.

That, and my oven was going to be at shoulder level - not down near the floor.

So why the change?  Well, we are approaching the one year anniversary of the start of this blog, and part of my goal was to challenge myself in the kitchen.  After all, this whole thing started because I had never made pickles before, either.  So I decided to tackle the beast - brownies.

Plus, there were some really cute boys around who spent an afternoon exhausting themselves - they needed some chocolate.
The afternoon started with an epic watergun battle...

Avery inspecting the weaponry

followed by swimming...

more fun with a giant ball

and a kiddie trampoline...  surely all this merits chocolate!

And no, I did not attempt "swamp bottom" ones.  These are fairly basic - they didn't even require the mixer. 

I was so busy snapping pictures of kids that I failed to get any of the brownies... except for this one.  I think Meredith should be a hand model :)
I adapted this from Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies by substituting brewed coffee for instant granules (which I didn't have), and by cutting the recipe in half.

2 sticks unsalted butter
12 ounces plus another 1/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons hot brewed coffee
3 extra large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter and flour (or Baker's Joy) a 12" casserole.
Melt butter and 12 ounces of chocolate chips over simmering water. Add the coffee.  Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl (not a mixer) stir together the eggs, vanilla, and sugar.  Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add the remaining chocolate chips and nuts (if using).  Pour into the casserole and bake at 350 for 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Do not over bake!

Bryce gave them a good review!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Snickerdoodles (and cooking with GIRLS!)

Can you believe it?  I got to cook with GIRLS today!  Dressed in pink and everything J 

My oldest son was at a reading camp for the morning (yes, I’m aware I am preparing him for a lifetime of nerd-hood), and a friend asked if I could watch her girls for the morning while she finished some last minute moving chores.   She promised to return the favor when I am in a similar situation in the future.

I jumped at the chance!  I mean, I love being a boy mom, but yea!  Girlie time! 

Of course, there is not one doll or little hair accessory in my house.  Sigh. 

So, first, we played in the dirt.

They discovered all of my son’s trucks, tractors, and trains (and loved them all).

And then, we baked cookies.

Snickerdoodles, to be exact, because it was the first recipe I came across that involved rolling the dough.

These made a crunchier, thinner cookie than I was looking for… but they were still tasty!

Recipe, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

To roll:
2 Tbs cinnamon
2-3 Tbs sugar

Preheat the oven to 400. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. 

In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until well combined.  Add the eggs and mix well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until just combined.

In a separate bowl (or 2, if you have 2 helpers), mix the sugar and cinnamon.

With an ice cream scooper, scoop out balls of dough.  Drop them into the cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Roll until coated on all sides.  Place on the cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until slightly brown on the outside edges.

Perfect for enjoying while watching Cinderella – or the girl movie of your choice!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Black Bean Corn Salsa

The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday.  Seriously, I like it better than Christmas.

For the past fifteen years, give or take, we've been lucky enough to be invited to celebrate with Mrs. Charlotte and Mr. Kent.

We get to swim in the bayou...

Drool over the adorable babies (all of whom seem to be male??  something in the bayou water)...

Cyrus and Parker - the two newest additions :) 

my sister Caroline and her sweet baby Thomas

William, enjoying his first experience with homemade ranch dressing

And the bigger boys get to fish!

(strictly a catch and release program)

I usually don't even try to bring anything.   Mrs. Charlotte is, quite literally, the best cook I know.  It's a little intimidating.   And Mr. Kent definitely knows his way around a charcoal pit.

But this year, I had a lot of jalapenos in the garden begging to be used.

I stuffed some (recipe to come, as soon as I make it again and photograph the finished product).

And with three or four of the others, I made this:

from one of my favorite cookbooks - the Houston Junior League's Stop and Smell the Rosemary.

A few reasons why this was perfect:
1. It used up a few more jalapenos.
2. It did not require refrigeration - in fact, it seemed to get better the longer it sat, and the avocados did not turn brown (maybe all the lime juice?)
3. It was fairly easy - a good bit of chopping, but not a lot of technical skill required.

Recipe (Adaptations in parentheses!):

2 (15 oz) cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
Kernels from 3 ears of corn, cooked (you could use 1 1/2 cups frozen, thawed corn, but I just threw the ears on the grill the night before and cut the kernels off)
3 medium firm tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced (I left the peels on - whoops)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced (the original recipe called for 1 cup, but I thought that was a bit much)
3 fresh jalapenos, seeded and diced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2 very juicy limes... but if your limes are kind of dry, you may need 3)
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 avocados, pitted, peeled, and diced

Combine all ingredients except avocados, tossing well.  Cover and chill.  Just before serving, cut and toss in the avocados.  Serve with blue corn tortilla chips (or really any tortilla chips - my kids ate it with a spoon!)

Happy Independence Day!