I’ve been remiss in writing I know. I chalk it up to summer and fun times with my family. And although I know it’s August, we’ve finally just finished celebrating our July birthdays. Having three July birthdays in the family means it’s never ending. We celebrate together as a family, then with friends and then usually with trips and visit from grandparents and extended family. We are lucky. But it makes me lazy too.
People celebrating me means talking me out for dinners (more on that later) and hosting my family, where I don’t have to bring a thing (yes, I still bring wine or flowers). For my actual birth day my husband made a lovely dinner of grilled salmon, asparagus, salad, couscous and bread. No birthday cake here. He was a grill master from start to finish and the dessert culmination has become his signature dish…(wait for it…) grilled peaches! Yep. These are yummy. He’s played a bit with the recipe, like any great home chef. At first he got a little too tricky with marinating the peaches in brown sugar, and soy sauce. He thought the salty soy would balance the sugar. The soy was a bit too smokey and overwhelming. He’s discovered after making them a few more times, that the trick is just to go sweet. Here are some instructions rather than recipe as there’s no measuring done, or really required.
First he cuts each peach in half, and removes stone. Then he drizzles maple sugar, and sprinkles brown sugar and cinnamon on the halved peaches to marinate for about an hour (long enough to eat your grilled dinner). Next he puts the peach halves on a hot grill (high temp) for about 2 minutes each side, until the juice and sugar carmelizes a bit and the peach becomes softer (but watch it, not too soft). Finally he puts each hot peach half over a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream. Voila! A yummy, healthy and seasonal summer dessert. Candles optional.
I received a lovely cookbook entitled Green Market Baking Book: 100 Delicious Recipes for Natural Sweet and Savory Treats and can’t stop looking at the illustrations. While some may miss real photos or mouth watering desserts I like that this is different with beautiful illustrations of fruits, vegetables and herbs that are part of the recipes. This book by Laura C. Martin highlights local, seasonal and healthful ingredients as an alternative to refined sugars and artificial sweeteners that are in most baking cookbooks.
I would buy this book for one single stand-out recipe – Honey Strawberry Shortcakes with Honey Sweetened Whipped Cream (photo below). Actually just the whipped cream would suffice. Yes, it is so simple, but is so fresh and can dress up anything from a shortcake or anglefood cake to a simple bowl of fresh berries.
Pros: lovely illustrations, good introduction chapter about substitutions, ingredients and stocking a baking pantry. Variety of both sweet and savory recipes.
Cons: pictures of actual creations (didn’t bother me, but might others), organization by season (not my favorite new trend, and not really for a baking book).
Honey Sweetened Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup mild flavored honey, such as orange blossom or wildflower
Make sure bowl and attachments of mixer are very cold. Pour the cream into the bowl and whip until soft peaks form.
Turn off the mixer and remove bowl. Carefully pour honey into cream and hand whisk into the cream. Return the bowl to the mixer and finish whipping the cream to desired consistency.
Note: If you pour honey into the mixing bowl while mixer is running the whisk blade will fling strings of honey around the bowl without getting it into the cream.
So funny, that when you write about food and recipes and cooking people from all over contact you to try their product (food, book, sandwich wrap). Most of these requests and things that people want to send me just don’t apply. There’s way too many offeres for alcohol related recipes and products – obviously not in touch that I write about kids and family foods. (or maybe they are and know parents sometimes need a drink). Anyways when I was offered a chance to review a Cooking Light cookbook, I was quite pleased.
Cooking Light, Cooking Through the Seasonsis really how I like to cook. Simple recipes with key ingredients and seasons in mind. Choosing what to prepare is easy as you go to your season, in this case spring and list your ingredients to be able to buy at the local farmer’s market. Not that I didn’t jump ahead and see some great summer and winter recipes too. The book may replace my Better Homes and Garden Cookbook as a true cookbook staple and my new go to guide for making fresh seasonal food. There’s easy steps of cooking methods for those unfamiliar (braising, blanching, etc). The book also highlights ingredients from the seasons that may or may not be familiar. Never being one to do much with rhubarb, I jumped right in, learned how to choose and made a refreshing sorbet. Fava beans are also something I don’t use very often, but embraced a wonderful warm salad. (And when I tired of peeling fava beans and didn’t buy enough, I substituted with spring peas.)
This book gives enough information and great photos for a novice cook, but also enough interesting ingredients, inspiration and delicious recipes for those more comfortable in the kitchen.