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Archive for June, 2010

Scene:  My kitchen, Sunday, 8:12 AM.  Germany kicking the snot out of England plays in the background.

I’m rummaging through the fridge, noting we’re down on just about anything worth eating on a Sunday morning… a few pieces of bacon, only two eggs, no potatoes…

“Choo, I have an idea for breakfast.”

“Yes?”

“How about bacon waffles?”

Choo’s eyes light up like I just announced I discovered the secret to life itself as he nods, reverently.

Crispy bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, cornmeal, and just a bit of brown sugar to add a hint of sweetness:  this created one heck of a waffle.  You know how I know it was good?  Kiddo ate three of them.

A few notes:  I list melted butter as an ingredient, but, you know, if you wanted to use some of the bacon fat leftover from cooking, I promise I’m not going to say a word.  I’ll just say it was worth the substitution.  Also, if you’d prefer to use buttermilk rather than the yogurt/milk combination that I used (which only came about by my not having any buttermilk in the house and having yogurt that needed to be consumed), you would have my approval.  Not like you need it, but I’m sure you feel better by having it.

The Bacon, Cheddar & Cornmeal Waffle

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter (or bacon fat)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups lowfat milk
  • 6 pieces cooked bacon, crispy and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together melted butter, eggs, yogurt and milk; add to dry ingredients and stir until ingredients are blended, with no dry streaks.
  3. Fold in bacon and cheese, and let batter rest for 15 minutes before cooking.
  4. Cook in waffle iron as per manufacturer’s instructions.

This made 13 4 x 4 waffles, and the great thing is that waffles freeze well, so don’t fret about leftovers–make your Monday morning a little brighter by having some of these for breakfast!

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The strawberries are out in full force at the farmer’s markets right now; the bounty coming in from Ventura and Oxnard brings that heady, sweet perfume of fresh berries that wanders along the stalls, enticing you to stop and get a sample of one of those juicy little sugarbombs.  I picked up a 3-pack of some gorgeous, small, deep-red berries that packed a real punch of flavor for their size.

Now, when I have plans for a strawberry dessert, I usually either go with a pie or strawberry shortcake, but I was ready for something new.  I remembered a cake I had made years ago, with layers of meringue, strawberries and whipped cream, and I knew that’s what I wanted to make.

A dacquoise is a type of cake made with layers of nut meringue;  often, it is filled with ganache, mousse, and/or buttercream–Marjolaine is the perfect example of a dacquoise.  I decided to go with a deconstructed version, using freshly made lemon curd as a bright and tart replacement for ganache, sliced strawberries, lightly sweetened whipped cream, and crunchy-chewy almond meringues.

After baking, let the meringue layers cool completely.   This is a dessert, once assembled, that should be served within an hour or two, as the meringue softens after being in contact with the fillings.  However, the meringues can be made the night before, and left to cool in the oven overnight.  The lemon curd can also be made well in advance and stored in an airtight container.

Sure, it’s a little messy, but for this dessert, the point of it is being simple and casual–capturing the essence of early summer, like strawberries in season at the market, sitting outside drinking lemonade, and having a fun dinner with friends out on the patio.

Strawberry & Lemon Dacquoise

Meringue Layers

  • 1 1/4 cups whole almonds
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 275°.  Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Trace one 8″ diameter circle on to each sheet and turn paper over.
  2. Pulse almonds in food processor with cornstarch and 2 tablespoons sugar until finely ground.
  3. Beat egg whites at medium speed with an electric mixer until foamy, and add cream of tartar and a pinch of salt, then gradually beat in remaining sugar and vanilla.  Increase speed to high and beat until the egg whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks.
  4. Fold ground almonds gently into meringue.  Pipe or spread meringue evenly into the traced circles on parchment.
  5. Bake for approximately 1 hour until firm and golden.   Slide meringues onto a cooling rack while still on parchment.  When ready to assemble meringues, gently peel parchment off.

Lemon Curd (from marthastewart.com)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, zest and egg yolks then whisk in lemon juice and salt.
  2. Add butter and place pan over medium-high heat.  Cook, whisking constantly until butter has melted, mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and small bubble form around the edge of the pan, about 5 minutes (do not boil).
  3. Remove pan from heat while continuing to whisk.  Pour curd while still hot through a fine mesh sieve into a glass bowl.  Press plastic wrap against the surface of curd and refrigerate until cool.

Note:  this recipe makes approximately 2 cups; I found this to be pretty generous for the recipe, and had about 1/2 cup leftover.  Then again, I really don’t see a problem with having some extra lemon curd hanging around the house.

Filling and Assembly

  • 4 cups sliced fresh strawberries, plus 10-12 whole strawberries for decoration
  • 2 cups cold whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Whip cream with sugar and vanilla extract until it holds a soft peak.
  2. Place first meringue on a plate and spread about a 3/4 cup of lemon curd across the surface of meringue.
  3. Place half of the sliced strawberries on top of lemon curd.
  4. Spoon 1/3 of whipped cream on top of strawberries, and spread to cover.
  5. Place 2nd meringue layer atop whipped cream and repeat with lemon curd, berries, and 1/3 of the whipped cream.
  6. Top with final layer of meringue, spread remaining whipped cream on top, and decorate with whole berries.
  7. Best served within 2 hours of assembly.

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Sometimes, I wonder who on the Peach Board got the ear of the nation when it came to their fruit.  Let’s face it, Americans love peaches, and even the word peach is a part of our lexicon;  we’ll call someone a peach when we think they’re a nice, sweet person.  But… what about the other stone fruits?  Plums do get some recognition, but it seems like nectarines and apricots are a bit like the red-headed stepchildren of the stone fruit world.

The funny thing is, nectarines are essentially peaches, as they’re of the same species; they’re peaches that have a recessive gene that creates the nectarine’s smooth skin as opposed to the notable fuzzy skin of the peach.

You know what that means, right?  Anything you could make out of peaches can be made of nectarines.

Stone fruits are perfect for cobblers.  Juicy summer fruit topped with a buttermilk biscuit dough and baked?  Why, yes, please.  I love the addition of blueberries–they work so nicely with nectarines and peaches, and they’re so good for you.

Besides, it’s healthy because it’s fruit, right?  There’s something after a summer dinner of grilled meats that a bowlful of warm fruit, buttery biscuit and a ginormous scoop of ice cream that is just So. Right.

Nectarine Blueberry Cobbler

  • 5 cups fresh nectarines, sliced
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries (frozen can be used in a pinch, I promise, I won’t tell)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (check the sweetness of your fruit)
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons Tapioca*
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • appx. 3/4 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. In a large bowl, toss nectarines, blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and tapioca and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.
  4. Add butter to dry mixture, and cut with a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) until butter pieces are about pea-sized or smaller.
  5. Pour in buttermilk and stir until liquid is absorbed–don’t overwork–dough should be lumpy and on the wet side, like a drop biscuit.
  6. Butter a 9 x 13 pan and add fruit; spoon biscuit dough on top of fruit, spreading slightly to even out.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes–top should be well-browned and the fruit will be bubbling through the cracks in the topping.
  8. Let cool about 15 minutes before serving with ice cream or whipped cream.

*Dry tapioca can be found where you would find pudding mixes at your local market.

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I just signed up for twitter under braiseboilbake.

I will enter the 21st Century kicking and screaming!

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