August 31, 2011

August 31

So today, after I wrote this morning's post about peach and lemon rolls I got to work.  And by work I mean Shane, being the wonderful man he is, came into the kitchen with his rain jacket and boots on.  I took a look and laughed!  I didn't want to pick blackberries in the rain, but he knows me all to well, I'd be kicking myself tomorrow if I didn't.  So I got out of my pajamas and picked berries in the rain.  An hour later I'd had my fill of thorns, unknown crevices and being pinned down by blackberry branches, so with our three bowls half full (don't crush the berries!) we left.

I got home and jumped back into my pajamas.  What? You don't?  I made blackberry lemon preserves and blackberry peach jam.  While that was going on I fired a buttermilk pie into the oven and cooked off a quick blackberry syrup.  Natasha came over as I finished washing every dish in my kitchen and we sat down for tea.  Shane made an AWESOME corn chowder from Cook's Illustrated and I went to the store for sugar.  I came home and cleaned up again as Shane tore off out the door leaving a trail of dirty dishes behind him.  The last thing to go into my oven today was a gluten and dairy free peach and blackberry cobbler.  Go me!
Because the weather cleared up and the sun came out I got outside and started pulling weeds.  I moved the compost into the new bin Shane built me and tied back the raspberries, unruly plants that they are.  I combed pintrest for ideas for the back door area (I'm thinking bench, rustic with room for boots and pots. Ideas?) and brought the landlord the rent check.  When I got home I made a quick fresh tomato pasta with the ready tomatoes from my garden.  How lucky am I??  Now I'll leave, we're going to the river where it hopefully doesn't smell to badly of fish for our last fire of the summer.

Somewhere in the day I also pinched my finger in the door and cut marshmallows.  I may or may not have spent an hour reading blogs and I'd say dishes totaled 45 minutes.  

Peach and Lemon Rolls

Life is about to change in our family. Not in a huge way, but in a significant way nonetheless.  Our family of 7 is loosing two members for a few months.  One on a far away trip for two months, and one to school ten hours away.  You've probably been here, where we are, moments away from change, hanging on with everything we've got try to savour our last days, hours, and minutes.  There is no one to miss right now. Everything I want to chat, reveal, or say can be said face to face. Soon this fantastic summer will be over and, like the leaves, the people most special to me will float from our comfortable place high in the trees to far away places on the breeze.  I hope for everyone's sake that they make a soft landing on the ground below and that we'll see them all again come Christmas.  Goodbye Natasha. Goodbye Steph. Goodbye Erin.
In effort to maxamize our time together we had a brunch for both Natasha and Stephlynne (there has also been bbqs, long movies and slow coffees).  At this brunch there was apple crumble courtesy of our mother which, when I bit into it, required me to restrain myself from running out the door, down the street back home to put up fall decorations and bake pumpkins pie and find something to kill all the trees in the yard so their leaves would turn colour immediately. Good job mom!  Shane made potato coins with thyme and rosemary (which knocked my socks off) and smoked salmon from the day before.  There was a joint effort on the eggs benedict (thanks for the hollandaise Shane).  My contribution was peach and lemon rolls.  Yup.  
Peach and lemon rolls are cinnamon rolls without the cinnamon...or cream cheese frosting.  They are a last hurrah for a fleeting summer, with the end of the season's peaches disappearing before my eyes, just like certain people.  I know I've talked about cinnamon rolls (sticky buns) before.  I normally go to Joanne Chang's Sticky Buns, but they are quite a lot of work and, as good as they may be, I wasn't up for that process.  Although the recipe I used took time and forethought, it seemed simpler and the results were fan-friggin'-tastic, I dare say I might have found MY 'go-to' rolls because there really is nothing to improve on.  They are perfect.  I don't even know where to start except...swoon!  The dough here is soft and tender and flakes off in pieces, so you can pull it apart until you reach the beloved middle bite.  The filling is softly peach-y, sweet, but not too sweet, and summery.  
Peach and Lemon Rolls

1 cup milk (whole)
125 g (2/3 cup) sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp active-dry yeast
120 g (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
2 eggs
zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp salt
510 g (4 1/4 cups) all purpose flour
5 peaches
66 g + 100g (1/3 cup + 1/2 cup) sugar
zest of one lemon
2 tsp cornstarch
60 g (1/4 cup) butter, melted, browned and cooled
300g (1 1/2 cup) icing sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp water

In a small saucepan heat the milk to 95 F (not hotter or you'll kill the yeast.)  In the bowl of a stand mixer place the yeast and sugar.  Add the warmed milk, mix and last sit for 5-7 minutes or until the yeast is bubbly and activated.  When it's ready add the butter, eggs, lemon zest and salt and mix with the paddle attachment.  Add the flour to the bowl and beat on low speed for 2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and switch to the dough hook.  (I had to add another 1/4 cup of flour to cut down on the wetness.)  Knead the batter with the dough hook for 10 minutes on medium speed.  

On a clean counter spread a little flour.  Dump the kneaded dough onto it and knead somemore with your hands.  Add 1/2 cup of flour on top and knead it in over two mintues.  The dough should not be too dry, you want soft and sticky.  

In a lightly oiled bowl place the dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean towel.  Leave to rise in a slightly warmed placed for 1 - 1 1/2 hours until doubled.  After this step I left for work.  Shane punched down the dough and put it in the fridge.  In the morning I took the bowl out and placed it in a very slightly warmed oven for about an hour.  Then I continued with the recipe.

To prepare the peaches, peel 4 of them briefly and slice into wedges.  I used a wand mixer and pureed them up until only a few chunks remained.  I placed this in a bowl and added the last peach, which I sliced into 1/2 inch wedges along with the 1/3 cup sugar, lemon zest and corn starch.  Mixed all together and it's done.

Brown the butter now by sticking the 1/4 cup in a small saucepan.  Over medium-low heat melt the butter and continue to watch it, swirling frequently until the bottom starts to brown.  Swirl and swirl more until the scent is nutty and the butter is browned.  Take it off the heat quickly.  Done.  You've browned butter.

Grease a 9x13 inch pan with butter. Set aside.

Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it onto a lightly floured surface.  With a rolling pin spread to a 10x20 inch rectangle.  Spread the butter over the dough.  Spread the peach filling over the dough.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup sugar over the dough.  

Quickly roll up the dough so you have a 20 inch long tube.  Cut into 12 pieces.  The whole thing will be a sloppy mess and the filling will drain out into the bottom, but that is okay!  Cover the buns with plastic wrap and a towel and set in a warm place to rise again.  This time only leave it for an hour, it will just puff.  

Preheat the oven to 400 F and bake for 20-25 minutes.  You want to pan to be golden and bubbling.  Leave it to cool for 30 minutes.  

Meanwhile make the glaze by combining the icing sugar, lemon juice and water.  Drizzle the glaze over the cooled rolls and serve immideatly if you can.  They will last three days if well wrapped but are obviously best if eaten right away.
Browned Butter

August 30, 2011

Peach Cake

It's a peach extravaganza!  The tree is calling my name and I'm all to happy to answer.  (Don't worry Gena I haven't taken that many!)  These perfectly ripe peaches are fast becoming my favourite treat, I don't exaggerate when I say I eat 3 or 4 a day.  This time I put them in cake, while we had my grandparents over for coffee.  I woke early and hustled over to the tree which was eagerly awaiting my arrival, I know this because the branches bowed, dipping low so I could reach every single one.

I saw this recipe in a recent Cooks Illustrated and figured I'd put in the extra effort and give it a shot to avoid a soggy-under flavoured-gummy mess..  Overall it was well worth it,  my only reservation was that this promised-non wet crumb didn't quite deliver, the center was still a little to moist for my tastes.  Maybe I need to bake it a little longer next time.  The cake was perfectly peach-y, not overly sweet and balanced with a bit of almond flavour.  All and all, it was well worth the extra mile I took to get there.

Peach Cake

2 1/2 lbs pounds peaches, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
5 Tbsp peach schnapps (I used cherry schnapps)
4 tsp lemon juice
75 g (6 Tbsp) + 66g (5 Tbsp) sugar
140 g (5oz or 1 cup) flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
100 g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
2 large eggs
120 g (8 Tbsp) butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup sour cream (I used yogurt)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs, crushed fine

Put the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease lightly with oil.  Gently combine 24 peach wedges with 2 Tbsp of schnapps, 2 tsp lemon juice and 1 Tbsp sugar in a medium sized bowl.  Set aside.

Cut the remaining peach wedges crosswise into three piece each.  Gently toss with the remaining 3 Tbsp schnapps, 2 tsp lemon juice and 2 Tbsp sugar.  Spread the peach chunks out in one layer on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the juices begin to thicken and caramelize at the edges of the pan.  Transfer to a rack and let cool until the peaches reach room temperature, about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile reduce the oven temperature to 350 F.

Oil a 9 inch springform pan with vegetable oil.  Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.  Whisk the brown sugar, 66 g (5 Tbsp, 1/3 cup) white sugar and eggs in a bowl until very well combined, about 45 seconds.  Slowly stir in the butter until combined.  Add the sour cream (or yogurt), vanilla and 1/4 tsp almond extract; whisk until just combined.  Add the flour mixture and whisk again until just combined.

Transfer half the batter to the bottom of the springform pan.  Using an offset spatula spread the batter evenly over the bottom to the edges for a smooth surface.  Sprinkle the crush panko crumbs over the roasted peaches and toss with your fingers to coat.  Arrange the peach chunks in a single layer over the batter, gently pressing in.  Spread the remaining batter on top and gently smooth.  Arrange the reserved macerated peaches in two rings around the top of the cake, placing the smaller wedges in the center.  Stir together the remaining 3 Tbsp sugar and 1/8 tsp almond extract in a bowl until the sugar is moistened.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the top.

Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes, until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack; cool for 5 minutes.  Run a pairing knife around the outside to loosen and take the ring off the cake.  Cool completely, 2-3 hours.

August 28, 2011

Happenin' Now

Time: 8:40am
In my mug: not so fresh coffee
On the stereo: The New Wailin Jennys - Bright Morning Stars
In my belly: amazingly thick yogurt I made last night and my favourite granola with a little ginger added
In the fridge: squash and eggs
Last thing on the laptop: organizing my pintrest links
On my wish list: A bank account full of money and an abundance of canning jars
Looking forward to: a busy few days full of visits and food
On the nightstand: Sing You home - Jodi Picoult
Recently satisfied: With how many delicious food posts I have on my blog.  Don't know where I'm going to find time to try new recipes since last year's were so good
On the go: Our blog into a book, weeding a massively overgrown garden (which is starting to take shape) and trying not to die of happiness every moment with all the sunshine streaming through my windows.

August 27, 2011

Summer lovin'

"I love summer" I said, sighing before I took another swig of wine.  We were sitting on a picnic blanket in the warm night after I'd gotten home from work.  Music playing live a kilometer down the street but totally distinguishable to our ears.

"I love summer" I said as I spotted the wooden barrels full of plums, the peaches sweetening the air.  Local ingredients are abundant from all over our town.

"I love summer," Shane tells the lady as she adds the corn to our bill "there is no better place to be when the corn comes."  And he's right Chilliwack corn really is the best, no questions asked.

Though summer is fleeting and the late nights are cool I still have stone fruit on the counter and my tomatoes are yet to ripen.  We're not ready fall, please be late.

August 26, 2011

Favourite Friday - Walking Barefoot

Walking barefoot, outside or in, without thinking. I open the door and step out, not with sandals, not with shoes in only barefeet.  What a freeing feeling.  I don't know about yours, but my feet like to breathe.  In our previous residence the airconditioning combined with tile floors meant that the slippers were always on.  In fact sweaters, pants and slippers were always on!

I spend my entire summers barefoot.  I love to step out onto the lawn and walk around with the soft grass between my toes and the dirt falling from my feet.  The ground is dry in the summer, which means the jog down the driveway into the garage 50 times a day doesn't involve shoes. Yes!  I grew up outdoors, running wild and barefoot around our property.  We learned were to and not to run (beneath the huge walnut trees only prickle weeds grew, running over one of those really hurt.)  The only time I regretted not wearing shoes was the time, at 5 years old, I stepped on a nail underneath our tree fort.

When you take off your shoes you relax.  Your at home, or at a friends and you are not going anywhere.  I've never understood houses where people don't take off their shoes.  It makes me feel like I'm not there to relax, but that I'll be leaving soon.  It also increases the amount of firt tracked in around the house and that really seems silly.

August 25, 2011

Caution: Photo Heavy

Yay! We've got camping pictures and I want you to see them!  (Thanks Glen!!!!)
Natasha's doing her hair...duh
Very important: flashlight, dish soap, off. Got it?
Black Raspberry
We read a lot while camping!
And eat whole bags of chips to ourself.

Camping Coffee!
Our dog lost his arms.
Grilled Barbeque Vegetable Pizza
A requisite camping ice cream cone
Homemade s'mores, marshmallow, graham cracker and all
Eager beaver in the morning!

And then we left.

Plum-Rosemary Fizz

It's plum-o-palooza here at Chez Alyssa, so here we go again!  This is totally cocktail number two for me this summer. (The first was my summer sangria.)  It might not be a big deal to you but it sure is for me!  Making cocktails is on a few different lists around the house including a 21 by 21 I've got happening.  This drink was a product of a few ripe plums and the inviting and slightly intriguing scent of rosemary as I brushed by.

Because Erin was coming over it felt like the perfect time to pull it out.  I got the recipe from another cool website and followed it to a T, though there isn't all that much variation to be had, since I don't have a clue what I'm doing.  I did go ahead and add a shot of rum to each, to live on the wild side (chuckle, chortle, cough.)  Santa Rosa plums were my choice again, they are after all my favourite.  They are very juicy and flavourful but by far the hardest plums to pit.  They kinda just smoosh around a bunch, but if you slice them over the glass the juice ends up in the drink.  This recipe makes about 5 drinks, depending how sweet you like your sip.

Plum-Rosemary Fizz

200 g (1 cup) sugar
1 cup water
4-5 rosemary sprigs
2 very ripe plums
Club Soda
rum to taste
crushed ice, optional

To make a rosemary syrup, crush the rosemary in your hand to get the oils going.  Drop into a small pot and add sugar and water.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar is dissolved.  Place in the fridge to cool.  Take the rosemary out once cooled.

To make the drinks:  Briefly peel the plum, this is so it doesn't stick together so well and slap up against your chin as you pull the glass from your mouth (this happened...a few times.)  Muddle about 1/4-1/3 of the peach in the bottom of each glass, to break it up.  Add one or two shots of rosemary syrup to the glass and as much rum as you like.  Top with club soda and (optionally) serve over ice.  Garnish with rosemary if you wish.  Enjoy!

August 24, 2011

August 24

I start every morning making lists.  To do lists, shopping lists, dream lists, recipe lists.  It keeps me organized, centered.  Without lists I can't keep my thoughts straight, even if I don't use them during the day, I need to know it's there if I forget.  Coffee, lists and plans.
The stock pot is waiting and it's 7:09 can you tell when I'm thinking?
I peek at my dahlias sitting on the front step, I love dahlias.
I stopped at T&G's to raid their peach tree.  The branches sank into the ground with the weight of the fruit.  I only took the ripe ones, I'll be back tree.
I went to Hofstede's for only a few things.  Then they got me.  $5 for 20 lbs of tomatoes, $10 for 14 pounds of cherries.  Did you know cherries were $4/lb this year?  The sale was $.71/lb!!!!  Of course this meant the fruit was past due.  Ripe-o-la.  Use. It. Fast. Lady.  So there went my day.  Gone.
I cut and froze two trays of local peppers.  I froze a dozen ears of corn.

I made sweet cucumber relish.
I pitted, by hand, 14 lbs of cherries.  Dried half and froze half.  I made one recipe of cherry-rhubarb jam.

I canned 20-500mL jars of crushed tomatoes and slowly oven dried three trays of tomatoes with thyme.
While at the market I surveyed the bins.  Four types of plums...two more than last time.  I was curious, so I bought a bag of each.  Santa Rosa's are still my favourite flavour but the Dinosaur plums (or plouts) are a close second.  I tried them at home and saved one of each kind for another plum cake.  I made Garlic Plum Sauce with the prune plums and a four plum jam with all the rest.
Then I had Erin over for dinner.  We had plum-rosemary fizz (with a little bit of rum! Shhh!) which was very very good.  I made a tomato tart which was infinitely better than it sounds.  In fact I can't wait to show you how to make it!  We ate it with a nice salad (from the garden!) and a toasted hazelnut and mustard dressing.  With plum cake for dessert and a nice cup of floral green tea the night was over.