Saturday, July 27, 2013

Grilled Peach and Basil Preserves - Summer In A Jar

Ever wish you could put summer into a jar?
We were grilling on the back patio and I "taste-tested" one of the peaches we were grilling.  I make these sacrifices regularly (and the scales would say a little too regularly.) 
Of course, the way my brain works I immediately started thinking of flavor combos and other dishes I could add that smokey peach experience to and preserve it.  Preserve it. Doh!
The next day I set out to enhance, tinker, tweak and jar what turned out to be one of my all time favorite recipes.  It has the approval of at least one Los Angeles Fire Department Station (and that's a lot of hard working hungry people.)  I sent in a giant jar with my son to work.  I saw him later that day and he said it was almost gone.  I had worried that it would go to waste on some forgotten refrigerator shelf, but I don't think it made it past lunchtime the same day.  I call that success. Yay!
Since the first batch, I've made several and it has become one of my go-to additions to fish, pork, lamb chops and salad dressings.
It made some of the best Fruit Crumble Bars ever.
Tomorrow I think I'll add in minced jalapeno for topping a burger.

I'd love to hear how it works for you and let me know any ideas you come up with, too. Thanks for stopping by.
Recipe:  Grilled Peach and Basil Preserves
(makes about 5-6 6oz jars)

3 lb. Peaches (cut into quarters)
1 Tablespoon Honey
1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Lb. Sugar
6-12 Large Fresh Basil Leaves
1) In a small bowl, whisk 1 Tbls. honey with 1 Tbls. lemon juice.  Brush this on each piece of peach.
2) Place the peach quarters onto a well oiled and med/high heated grill or indoor grill-pan.
3) Cook and turn for about 3 minutes each side. Remove and cut into small pieces.
4) In a large pot, add the peaches, 1/4 Cup lemon juice, and the sugar.  Cook and stir often on low heat until the sugar has dissolved (about 10 minutes.)
5) Increase the heat to Low/Med and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.  The mixture should rise to a low simmer.
6) Add the Basil leaves (whole) to the pot and continue cooking for about 20 more minutes or when the liquid in the pot falls from a wooden spoon in a large slow drop.
7) Remove the Basil leaves and pour the Peach Preserves into clean jars, close and refrigerate.  **the sugar is reduced and no pectin is being added so this is a refrigerator jam only as written.

**Here's another way to use those Grilled Peaches in a quick Summer Treat:  See the directions on this ShowFoodChef Facebook Page. :D
Wine Brushed Grilled Peaches 
with Basil and Truffle Cacio on a Stick

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Avocado Choco-Chip Scones - Vegan with Flavor

I had a dream about Avocados.  Obviously I'm a food nerd, or I have very disturbing Jungian Dream Symbol dysfunction.

Actually I do a lot of my idea forming during late night quiet in my head.  Here's how this one unfolded:

* If avocado can be used instead of butter in a lot of baking, maybe I could use it in scones (even though the "flaky" in scones is vital and butter plays a major role.)

* But, maybe the avocado would get too mushy, it can't be rubbed into the flour like cold butter's cubed, and so cold it's hard enough to be rubbed into flour.  (FREEZE THE CUBES FIRST.)
* I'd have to work fast, but maybe if it holds-up the avocado chunks would melt in the heat of cooking, the way the pieces of butter fat do, forming steam pockets. That is what creates the flakiness in pastry.

* Folks who don't want to use butter, but hate butter substitutes would really love that, plus the added healthiness of California Avocado - wow, this could be great.  

* Who needs good pastry without butter? Vegans.  It's hard to find good Vegan pastries with flavor and moisture and not too much sugar.
But, that means no eggs either (FLAX MEAL is a great substitute AND - there's another healthy addition to use.) Oh wait, Vegan also means no cream, or milk or yogurt. COCONUT MILK - I love it, and it works so easily not to mention the taste.

* Hmmm, I'm hungry - wish I had a leftover Choco-Chip cookie - (LIGHTBULB - make the scones CHOCO-CHIP!)  It's true, I would almost eat anything with Chocolate Chips in it, but even I couldn't eat it for breakfast if it didn't taste worthy.

The next morning - I cubed, and froze and scooped and scored myself a batch of the flakiest healthy scones ever made in my kitchen (and I make a lot of them: Nutella, Olive Oil Cranberry, Banana Oatmeal Ricotta.)  
Then came the test - my teen son.  I woke him out of a Summertime late sleep with a small plate that held 2 "hot from the oven" Avocado Choco-Chip scones and a few Melon wedges.  I waited.  I heard him on the phone with a buddy.  I wondered if he nibbled the scone and dismissed it.  That seemed impossible as I had already eaten two myself (hey, they're small.)

When he emerged from the cave he calls his room, the plate was empty (cue the Angels choir.)  Maybe you think a teen boy will eat just about anything, but you're wrong.  It's quite unbelievable sometimes the weird stuff they eat, but they are also bizarrely picky. The topper came when he asked me if there were more.  

Oh yeah, there were more. Then I told him they were VEGAN.  He paused, and only remarked, "Oh, yeah?  I'll take one to Jileanne, she'll love it."  

Success - Dreams DO come true - if you bake them. 

Don't be afraid of these, if you don't eat Vegan.  There's nothing but tons of flavor and easy fixing in this recipe.  I thought about calling these: The Avocado Choco-Chip "Don't hate me because I taste so good without butter, cream or eggs" Scones, but it was hard to fit on a picture.  

Recipe:  Flaky Avocado Choco-Chip Scones 
          (with no butter, eggs or cream)
-makes 12-  

1 Large Avocado - (peel,cube small,then place cubes in Freezer for 20 minutes)
2 cups Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Flax Seed Meal (I use Bob's Red Mill)
pinch Salt
1/2 cup Chilled Coconut Milk
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips

1)  While Avocado cubes are chilling, whisk together in a bowl, the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and Flax Seed Meal.
2) Working quickly, rub the chilled Avocado cubes into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the pieces are small pea size, generally.
3) Pour in the chilled Coconut Milk and toss together with a fork.
4) Add the chocolate chips and continue to fold in with a fork until the dough holds together.  Empty it onto a flour covered work board or parchment covered counter.
5)  Divide the dough into 2 halves and pat each one into a circle about 6 inch diameter.  Cut each one in half, then each half in thirds (creating 12 small triangles.)
6)  Place on a parchment covered baking sheet, brush with extra Coconut milk and optionally sprinkle with sugar. Cook in Preheated 400F oven for about 18 minutes. ** You could also Freeze these before baking, and bake later (up to 3 weeks.)

Sweet food dreams~

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Avocado & Turkey in Onion Fire Balls

Here's a new take on a classic campfire meal, and perfect for the Summer grill.  The secret ingredient is California Avocados.  Okay, so avocados aren't so secret.  In fact, this July 4th more than 96 million pounds of avocados will be consumed in the United States. I'll be doing my part, that's for sure.
Combining the avocado with ground turkey and seasonings is the big whamo, the secret ammo in these Onion Fire Balls.  The velvety avocado chunks replace any need for more processed ways of adding moisture to ground turkey.  There's no need for mayonnaise or oils.  Adding fresh tarragon, kosher salt and cracked pepper and a dash of soy sauce (or Worcestershire) and the optional minced peppers give the turkey meat robust flavor.  Then, if that's not enough, it gets hugged together by an onion layer and grilled inside a foil wrapper that holds in all the smokey juices.  Wowza - that's just good! It's
also naturally Gluten Free, Grain free and low in the bad fats.