Being a pastor has its perks. When I worked at the church in Texas we had a cooking camp every summer for kids. It was a. big. deal. 40 seven-year-olds were cooking over open flames. 30 five-year-olds were cutting with sharp knives. And thanks to the Holy Spirit's divine grace intervention no one got hurt. I was assigned to help with the "dessert room." I walked into the room having no idea what we were going to make and walked out with one of my favorite recipes ever: seared figs and white peaches with balsamic reduction. It's so easy and so delicious. I make it usually late summer/early fall when figs and peaches are in season. The crème fraiche is unbeatable and you can find it at Freddy's. Don't worry about adding the peppercorns--I stopped doing that years ago. Yum, yum, yum.
Seared Figs and White Peaches with Balsamic Reduction
from myrecipes.com https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/seared-figs-white-peaches-with-balsamic-reduction
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons butter, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
4 firm ripe white peaches (about 1 3/4 pounds), halved and pitted
8 firm ripe Black Mission figs, halved lengthwise (about 1 pound)
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
⅓ cup crème fraîche
⅛ teaspoon salt
Cook peppercorns in a small skillet over medium heat 6 minutes or until fragrant and toasted. Cool. Place peppercorns in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; seal. Crush peppercorns with a meat mallet or rolling pin; set aside.
Melt 1 teaspoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; stir in 1 teaspoon thyme. Add peaches, cut sides down, to pan. Cook 2 minutes or until browned. Remove from pan. Place 1 peach half, cut sides up, on each of 8 plates. Melt remaining 1 teaspoon butter in pan; stir in remaining 1 teaspoon thyme. Add figs, cut sides down, to pan; cook 2 minutes or until browned. Place two fig halves on each plate.
Add vinegar to pan; cook over medium-low heat until reduced to 3 tablespoons (about 3 minutes). Cool slightly. Spoon about 2 teaspoons crème fraîche into the center of each peach half; drizzle about 1 teaspoon vinegar mixture over each serving. Sprinkle each serving with about 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle evenly with salt.
This ultimate pasta dish came from a cooking camp I took at the Montessori School when I was in the 1st grade. I have baked it for many special occasions since then, and it is always a hit. Once you get the hang of making a béchamel, it is very easy.
It is best when made with fresh mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes!
Scuderi Fast, Fake-Baked Ziti
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 3 turns of the pan
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes (recommended: San Marzano)
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, (recommended: San Marzano)* If San Marzanos are not available, add a teaspoon sugar to your sauce, optional
A handful fresh basil leaves, torn
1 pound ziti rigate, with ridges
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
A generous grating nutmeg
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup sliced fresh mozzarella
Crusty bread, to pass at table
Put pasta water on to boil.
In a medium sauce pot over medium heat, saute garlic in extra-virgin olive oil. Chop whole tomatoes and add them to the pan. Add crushed tomatoes and salt and simmer 10 minutes, add basil and simmer over low heat 10 minutes more.
Add salt and pasta to boiling water and cook 6 minutes, leaving pasta a little chewy.
While pasta cooks, melt butter in a small pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour, then cook 1 minute, adding salt and pepper and nutmeg to flour. Add milk and bring sauce to a bubble. Reduce 5 minutes.
Drain pasta and transfer to a large flameproof casserole dish. Pour the tomato and basil sauce over the pasta and turn to coat the pasta. Pour the bechamel over the already coated pasta. Cover the top of the pasta with Asiago, Parmesan and mozzarella. Place the casserole under hot broiler and melt the 3 cheeses until brown and bubbly, 3 to 5 minutes.
Spring is on the way, my favorite time of the year! Our rhubarb is sticking its head above the soil and getting me excited to pull out a few of my favorite recipes. Rhubarb is a part of my DNA.
I was raised in Harrisonburg, VA on an old homestead 1750 era and my parents grew tons of rhubarb each spring to sell to local grocery stores, restaurants and to feed a family of twelve. My siblings and I pulled, cut the leaves off, cleaned and put it in bushel baskets! We all loved rhubarb in spite of the work.
My mother was known to our family and in the community as a wonderful cook. We ate rhubarb sauce on homemade bread and butter, lots of rhubarb pies and crunch.
My favorite is pure rhubarb pie! Yes, I’m a purest, no strawberries allowed in my rhubarb pie!
Potlucks at PMC in the spring were a great place to find rhubarb on the menu and gardeners brought their extra to share and it felt like love!
I’m sharing a recipe that’s nice to make if you have only a small amount of rhubarb in your garden and is a nice dessert for guests.
~ Bootsie Kenagy
Rhubarb Shortbread Tart
Crust and topping
1 cup soft unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste ( you can use extract )
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb*
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 Tab Clearjel thickener ( You can use cornstarch )
Preheat oven to 350 deg.
9 inch tart pan
Toss the rhubarb with the rest of filling ingredients in a bowl, mix well, and set aside.
Cream the soft butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Beat in vanilla paste and salt.
With mixer on low, slowly add the flour and mix till there is no dry flour left. Don’t over mix.
Take 2/3 of the dough and pat it into the bottom of tart pan.
Take the time to get the dough evenly distributed. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
With the remaining dough use your fingers to make coarse crumbles.
Arrange rhubarb mixture on top of bottom crust. Top evenly with crumbled dough.
Set the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or till top is starting to turn pale golden
I lay a sheet of foil loosely over the top for the second half of baking so it doesn't brown too much.
Let tart cool for 20 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
* if you're not a rhubarb purest you can add strawberries or blueberries