Mixed Plum and Apple Chutney

For the last month I have been preserving our garden produce along with local fruit. I have pickled peppers, frozen pepper spreads, and made chili peach jam and pesto. I feel a bit melancholy as the days get cooler and the abundance of summer quiets down into the fall harvest. Our garden has begun to look tired and somewhat dry. This past weekend I purchased the last of the local Italian plums and pluots from the farmers market. I let them  ripen on my kitchen counter until they were soft enough to make this chutney that includes pluots, mostly the Dapple Dandy variety, along with a few Flavor Grenades, Italian purple plums, and Jonagold apples. It is a lovely combination. If you cannot get pluots, red plums are still in season. I prefer chutney to be somewhat loose rather than thick. Cook longer if you like it more dense. This chutney is nice with cheese, bread, and meat. You may want to set aside a jar for Thanksgiving. The recipe is adapted from one on Food52.

Mixed Plum and Apple Chutney
3 c. chopped pluots (10-12 pluots depending on their size)
3 c. peeled and chopped apples (4 medium apples)
2 c. chopped Italian purple plums (10-12 plums)
1 c. golden raisins
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger
2 c. light brown sugar
1-1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
zest and juice of half a medium orange
1 tsp. black mustard seeds
3 whole allspice berries
2 whole cloves
1 (2 inch) cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Aleppo pepper

Begin by filling a waterbath canner full of water and bring to a boil. Combine all ingredients for the chutney in a 5-quart stockpot. Mix well. Turn heat to medium high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower heat to medium and cook, stirring often until mixture thickens and the apples are fork tender. It should resemble a loose jam. It will take 25-30 minutes to reach this consistency. While the chutney is cooking boil lids and rims in a saucepan filled with water. Sterilize 7 half-pint jars. Fill jars with hot chutney, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe rims with a damp paper towel and screw on lids. Waterbath 10 minutes at sea level or 15 minutes at high altitude. Makes 7 half-pint jars.


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Red Pepper and Pecan Dip

My husband has an Egyptian colleague who makes the most delicious Muhammara (red pepper and walnut dip) I’ve ever tasted. I have a family member who loves this dip but has recently developed a walnut allergy, so I have adapted Shereen’s recipe for Muhammara using pecans in place of the walnuts with very nice results. 

Red Pepper and Pecan Dip (A Variation on Muhammara)
3 large red bell peppers
1-1/2 c. toasted pecans  (toast @350 degrees 8-10 minutes)
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. pomegranate molasses
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. ancho chili powder
1/4-1/2 tsp. Aleppo pepper
1/2 tsp. kosher salt or more to taste
1/2-1 tsp. granulated sugar

Place whole red bell peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil the peppers for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally until charred and soft. Remove from oven and let cool. Stem, peel and seed the peppers. Place roasted peppers in a food processor along with toasted nuts, olive oil and garlic. Pulse to blend ingredients. Add lemon juice, molasses, spices, salt and sugar. Pulse until you have a chunky dip. Taste and adjust salt and spices to your liking. Continue pulsing if you want a more smooth purée. Makes 3 cups. Serve with pita bread or Romaine lettuce.

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Stuffed Eggplant 

We have had a nice supply of eggplant from the garden this year. We cook them in a variety of ways, but lately I have enjoyed stuffing them. There are recipes for stuffing eggplant with lamb, ground beef or sausage, rice, or bulgar. You can add nuts, tomatoes, peppers, cheese, olives, capers. The variations seem endless, but I keep my recipe fairly simple using breadcrumbs and cheese. Feel free to experiment, adding tomato sauce if you prefer. I use the Ichiban eggplant variety for this recipe because they are very sweet.

Stuffed Eggplant
4 medium Ichiban eggplants, unpeeled
Olive oil

Stuffing Mixture
2 c. chopped raw eggplant (from 4 ichiban eggplants)
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. Italian-style breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese or more to taste
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle a bit of olive oil onto a half sheet pan so the eggplants will not stick. Rinse all of the eggplants, slice off stems then cut lengthwise in half. Spoon out the raw flesh from each eggplant half and place on a cutting board, leave enough flesh attached to the peel to create a shell. Lay the eight eggplant shells, cut side up onto the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil onto each eggplant shell and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Rough chop the spooned out eggplant flesh then place into a large bowl to make the stuffing mixture. In a frying pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add chopped onions and garlic. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally to soften vegetables but not brown them. Pour cooked onion mixture into the bowl with raw chopped eggplant. Add breadcrumbs, cheese and basil to the eggplant mixture. Stir to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil. Stuff each eggplant half with a heaping portion of the stuffing mixture. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes until the eggplants are soft when pierced with a fork. Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes to brown the stuffing mixture. Remove from the oven and serve. Serves 4-6.


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Chocolate Pizzelle

Pizzelle, crisp Italian waffle cookies are often part of our cookie assortment during the holidays, but they are also particularly nice during the warm weather months because you do not require an oven to bake them. You will need a pizzelle iron. My iron is electric and non-stick, but I still spray it before using so the batter does not stick and create a huge mess. Follow the instructions for whichever pizzelle iron you have because each may bake differently. You can let the cookies cool flat and eat them plain or sandwiched with a filling. Pizzelle can also be rolled into a log or cone shape while still hot. Once they are cooled you can fill with ice cream, cannoli cream, caramel, chocolate, custard and fruit or whipped cream. The recipe is adapted from the Villaware recipe booklet that came with my iron.

Chocolate Pizzelle
1 c. sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of kosher salt
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder (I use Callebaut brand)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Begin by preheating the pizzelle iron. When iron is hot, spray with cooking spray. In a mixing bowl beat together sugar and eggs until light and creamy. Add butter and vanilla. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa and cinnamon. Gradually mix dry ingredients into the sugar and egg mixture until incorporated. The batter should be fairly thick. Drop a little more than a teaspoon of batter onto the center of each pizzelle pattern. Close the lid and lock it for about 30 seconds. I use a pointed wooden chopstick to remove the pizzelle. The first two pizzelle might be a bit greasy, if so just toss them. Then repeat until all the batter is used up. Cool cookies on rack or form into logs or cones then cool. Makes about 36 pizzelle.


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Garlic Shrimp

Labor Day is just around the corner and if you are having a get-together this recipe for garlic shrimp is fast and easy and good for large groups. I recently made it for a dinner party and everyone enjoyed it. It is a nice alternative to plain cooked shrimp with cocktail sauce. I plan on 5 large shrimp per person alongside other dishes.

Garlic Shrimp
5 lbs. large cooked and peeled shrimp
zest of half a lemon
1 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. white wine
8 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 c. chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

Place cooked shrimp in a large bowl. Sprinkle lemon zest over and toss. In a 1-quart saucepan combine olive oil, wine, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 5-7 minutes until garlic is soft but not brown. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and let sit 5-10 minutes to cool a bit. Pour oil mixture over shrimp and toss. Garnish with parsley. Chill for an hour or two. Toss before serving. Serves 25.


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Peach Tiramisu (Updated Version)

Several years ago I posted a peach tiramisu recipe which called for an almond syrup and a modest amount of mascarpone cream. I recently changed that recipe by eliminating the almond syrup and doubling the mascarpone cream. I prefer this updated version, which received rave reviews when I took it to a picnic recently, so I thought I would share it. It takes a bit of time to make, but is well worth the effort. I like to make it in individual cups rather than one pan. I used 9 oz. cups for the sample in the photo, which yields 12 servings. If you use smaller cups you will get 14-15 individual servings. Make it the day before you intend to serve it so the flavors have time to mature. Be sure to use ripe peaches and the best quality mascarpone cheese available to you. Feel free to substitute other fruit, such as strawberries or raspberries.

Peach Tiramisu
24 savoiardi or ladyfingers
6 large ripe peaches, peeled and chopped
1/2 c. sugar
1-2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Mascarpone Cream
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
2/3 c. sugar
1 lb. mascarpone cheese, softened
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
ground cinnamon to garnish

Begin by lining up 12 (9 oz.) serving cups on the counter. Crush 2 savoiardi into each cup. In a large bowl combine chopped peaches with 1/2 c. sugar and lemon juice. Mix well. Spoon about 1/3-1/2 c. peach mixture on top of the crushed savoiardi in each cup. Be sure to spoon the accumulated syrup in as well. Set aside while you make the mascarpone cream. In the top of a double boiler whisk together egg yolks with 2/3 c. sugar. Bring water in the bottom portion of the double boiler to a boil over medium high heat. Whisking often, cook mixture for about 10-12 minutes until it looks like lemon custard and an instant read thermometer measures 160 degrees. Remove from heat and let yolk mixture cool for 10 minutes. Whisk occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on the yolk mixture. In a mixing bowl combine mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, and 1/2 cup sugar. Using the wire whip attachment, beat for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles cottage cheese. Then add cooled egg yolk mixture and vanilla. Beat on medium high speed for 1-2 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and holds soft peaks. (Don’t overwhip or the mascarpone may break up.) Spoon 1/3-1/2 cup mascarpone cream over peaches in each individual cup. Use all the mascarpone cream. Garnish with a pinch of cinnamon on top of the mascarpone cream. Cover with plastic wrap and chill 6 hours or overnight. Makes 12 servings.


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Summer Cinnamon Peach Cake

Each summer I try a new recipe for peach cake. Most of the time the results are mediocre, but I recently came across this recipe on the blog Italian Food Forever, and modified it to suit my taste. It is wonderful. It is so moist and flavorful, using yogurt in place of milk or sour cream. You can also take the basic cake and substitute other fruit such as apricots, raspberries, blueberries, plums, apples or pears. I think it tastes best the day after you make it because the flavors have time to mature. Make this now while peach season is at its peak. 

Summer Cinnamon Peach Cake
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 c. sugar
3 large eggs
1 c. whole milk Greek yogurt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract or emulsion
2-1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 c. peeled and roughly chopped peaches (use 3-4 peaches)

1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 metal baking pan. Line pan with parchment. In a mixing bowl beat butter and 2 cups of sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, scrape the bowl so the batter is evenly mixed. Add yogurt and extracts. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Mix dry ingredients into the wet then fold in chopped peaches. Pour batter into prepared pan. Use a spatula to smooth the batter to the edges. Mix together for the topping, 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it over the top of the cake. Bake for 40-45 minutes, rotating the pan half way through baking, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool on rack. Serves 10-12.


Posted in Cakes, Desserts, Fruit | 2 Comments

Grilled Okra and Eggplant Salad

We now have quite a bit of okra and eggplant coming on in the garden. Every few days my husband harvests enough for our family, plus some to share with friends. I only recently discovered how nicely the two pair together with some tomato and green onions. It is both delicious and colorful, with a lovely combination of textures and flavors that is very satisfying. It makes a great side, or a perfect summer lunch with some crusty bread.

Grilled Okra and Eggplant Salad
12 fresh okra pods, stemmed but left whole
1 medium eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 green onions, sliced

Place 1/3 cup olive oil and a little salt and pepper into a gallon ziplock bag. Salt the eggplant slices and place them in the bag. Shake bag to coat eggplant with oil. Add okra and shake again. Place eggplant and okra on preheated medium-high grill. Grill eggplant for 8-10 minutes, turning once or twice until lightly browned and tender but not mushy. Grill okra, rotating until all sides are evenly browned. Remove vegetables from grill and let rest 5 minutes. Rough chop the eggplant and okra and place in a serving bowl. Add chopped tomato that has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Add green onion. Check for salt and pepper. Add 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, or more to taste, then toss. Serves 4 as a side dish.


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Sour Cherry Jam

We are fortunate to live in a place where we have access to delicious, locally grown sour cherries. When we restock our supply we set some aside to make this cherry jam. I prefer jam that is not too stiff, so I use a bit less pectin than a full packet. This jam is not only good on toasted bread, but a great filling for tarts, pastries, and cookies. I also love it paired with cheese.

Sour Cherry Jam
4 c. sour cherries with juice
4 c. sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
3/4 packet liquid pectin

Begin by bringing a waterbath canner filled with water to a boil. Sterilize 5 half-pint jars in the dishwasher or boiling water and prepare lids and rings by boiling. Place cherries and juice in a food processor and pulse a few times to make a chunky purée. Pour into a heavy bottom pot. Add sugar and bring to a hard rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add almond extract. Stir. Add pectin and stir to dissolve. Pour into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top. Wipe rims with a damp paper towel and screw on lids. Waterbath for 10 minutes at sea level, 15 minutes at high altitude. Makes 5 half-pint jars.


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Niçoise-style Potato, Egg, Olive, and Green Bean Salad

This is one of my favorite summer salads. It is in the style of the French Provençal salade niçoise except that I exclude the tuna and tomatoes. It is made with garden fresh potatoes, green beans, eggs, and olives. You can add some salad greens or red bell peppers if you prefer. It is great on its own for lunch or a light supper. I enjoy this accompanied by a fresh tomato salad with a loaf of crusty bread. 

Niçoise-style Potato, Egg, Olive, and Green Bean Salad
8 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
8 large eggs
1/2 lb. fresh thin green beans, trimmed
12 Kalamata or Nicoise olives
2 Tbsp. chopped red onion
2 Tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1-1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
generous pinch of sugar
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

Scrub the potatoes but leave the skins on. Place them in a 5-quart pot and fill it with cold water and add 1 tsp. kosher salt. Cover and bring to a boil on medium high heat, then remove cover and continue cooking for about 20 minutes until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife. Drain and set aside. While potatoes are cooking bring a 2-quart pot full of water to the boil. Add eggs and cook for two minutes. Remove from heat and let eggs sit in boiled water for about 20 minutes, then drain, peel, and cut eggs in half. Sprinkle eggs with a little salt and pepper and set aside. Bring another 2-quart pot full of water to the boil. Add a bit of salt and then beans. Cook for 7 minutes, then drain. Assemble the salad by whisking together the vinaigrette ingredients in order. Peel cooked potatoes and cut into quarters or sixths. Set them in the middle of serving platter and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Drizzle potatoes with a couple of Tablespoons of vinaigrette and toss. Place eggs around potatoes and drizzle eggs with a teaspoon or so of vinaigrette. Sprinkle potatoes and eggs with half of the parsley. Toss the cooked green beans with a little vinaigrette, then place on top of potatoes. Sprinkle olives and red onion over beans. Drizzle a bit more vinaigrette on top but save about 1/4 cup for individual portions. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve. Serves 4-6.


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