July 17, 2011

Summer Picking: Peach Cobbler Pie

With peach season in full swing, it's hard to pass up the large, fresh peaches at the grocery store. And at $.99 per lb, it's even harder to not buy several.  While absolutely delicious on its own, my food blogs had an influx of peach desserts - from cooked peaches, peaches in cream to peach cobbler - and it was hard to resist making a sweet variation. Also, my folks were stopping by and I had an upcoming visit to my sister's so it was perfect timing to try a new recipe.

This recipe was a combination of a slew of cobbler recipes.  I made the filling based on what I thought would go well together.  Most variations I saw do not require you to cook the peaches on the stove - just toss together with the ingredients (juice, sugar, flour, etc.) - but since my peaches were incredibly firm, I needed to soften up the peaches before letting them bake in the oven.  If I had an orange, I would have added the juice and zest to the filling. 

The pie topping was courtesy of Liz, who providing her chuk apple crisp recipe. As for the melted butter on top of the butter, I omitted this and just sliced two slivers of butter and crumbled on top. My attempt to cut down on the butter...but really, what's another few slivers?

Peach Cobbler Pie
Makes 2 pies

2 pie crusts (I get from frozen section)
12-15 large peaches (firmer peaches are better)
1 tbsp flour
Juice from 2 lemons
Zest from 2 lemon
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg (fresh if possible)
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup heavy cream

Pie topping:
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a big dash of salt. Thoroughly wash the peaches. Add the peaches to the boiling water for approximately 1 minute. This will help you peel the skin off the peaches.
2. Drain the peaches immediately and put under the sink with cold water.  I briefly cover the peaches for a minute to help separate the skin. Then take off and let them cool enough to handle.  
3. Take a paring knife and start peeling the skin off the peaches. Cut the peaches into slices.
4. Zest and juice one lemon.  
5. In a pan large enough to hold the sliced peaches, melt the butter.  Once melted, add the flour. Mix well and then add in the sugar and brown sugar.  Don't worry, it will look dry and lumpy.
6. Add in the lemon juice, zest, salt and cream. 
7. Next, add in the peaches. Turn the heat to medium and mix well - making sure the peaches are covered in the sugar sauce. Let this cook down for a good 10 minutes on medium-medium low heat.
8. Add the cinnamon and the freshly grated nutmeg.  Take a quick taste and balance out the peaches if you need. More cinnamon, sugar, etc.  Turn off the heat and let it sit to cool just a bit.
9. While the peaches are simmering, make the pie topping. Combine the dry ingredients together.  Then crack an egg into the dry mixture and mix (chopsticks work well here) until crumbly.
10. Put the two pie crust onto a large baking sheet or on one each.  This will help ensure that no peach goodness seeps out of the pie and into the oven. Evenly distribute the peaches into two pie crusts. Top each of the pies with the dry mixture.  Take the melted butter and pour over the top.
11. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Check periodically to make sure the tops do not burn. You'll see that I made a mini cobbler in a ramekin as well - so that I could enjoy one immediately without having to destroy the entire pie for a taste. :)
12. Take out and let it cool.  If you are transferring and don't have a pie/cake container, a cardboard box does just fine. 

July 10, 2011

Restaurant Review: Seco Latin Restaurant

Seco was a nice and bright surprise. For those not aware of the restaurant, it can easily get lost to many as it's hidden right behind the Ben and Jerry's on Kirby in Rice Village.  It's a small little restaurant/house with just a handful of tables.  Call and get reservations if you can, otherwise, it may be hard to find a seat during prime dinner hours.  

I had the grilled redfish with chimichurrri sauce served with green beans and rice. It was a cooked well and the sauce was delicious. This dish also comes with a side salad with their offering of interesting dressings - jalapeno cilantro or a tarragon vinaigrette. The tarragon vinaigrette was a first for me, and wow, did I love it. I'm not usually a fan of tarragon and only know to use in in chicken salads, but this was light, refreshing and went perfectly with their simple salad.  They also had this great homemade salsa for the chips. I have a feeling they used powdered white pepper - which is oh-so-good with egg drop soup.  I think I consumed a good two baskets of chips for sake of not wasting the salsa. Right?  

Service was great. They were nice, prompt, filled our drinks, took our orders quickly and dishes came out fairly fast. I can't justify rating this place just yet since I've only been once. However, it was great for my first time and I'll be coming back to try some other dishes. They serve Sunday brunch so that just might be our next visit. Oh, and if you don't try their dessert, walk just a few steps away to Ben and Jerry's!  

Seco Latin Cuisine
2536 Nottingham
(713) 942-0001

July 07, 2011

Smile for Breakfast: Strawberry Nutella Tarts

Remember when I had several pounds of strawberries?  Well, here is another recipe to use up a few more strawberries you have laying around.  These don't take many berries - probably about 1.5 strawberries for each tart but are so simple and quick to make. What is great is that you can freeze each one if you don't want them right away. They are perfect for breakfast if you have 25 minutes for them to bake - or an afternoon snack!

Nutella is golden. I love love love nutella. Did I mention that I love nutella?  I have a few bananas in the freezer, and I think I'll be making some banana and nutella tarts soon.

Strawberry Nutella Tarts
(Makes 9 tarts) 

1 lb strawberries, sliced 
Nutella spread (however much you need)
2 puff pastry sheets (can be found in the frozen pastry section of the grocery store)
3 tbsp sugar

1. Thoroughly wash the strawberries. Cut the stem out and slice. 
2. Unroll the puff pastry sheet.  Cut into 9 equal squares/rectangles.  For half of the squares, spread a good serving of nutella leaving a clean edge. 
3. Stack a few slices of strawberries on top. You can sprinkle sugar on the strawberries if you like it super sweet, but for me, the nutella is sweet enough for the tart.
4.  Take the un-nutella squares and put on top of the strawberries. Using your finger, make sure that the edges are all sealed. I used a fork to create a fun edging around each tart. Sprinkle sugar on top of each one and using a toothpick, poke a few holes on the top of each tart.
5. I put these on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and tossed them in the freezer. Once frozen, I was able to easily bag several in one bag without the worry of them sticking to each other.  When you are ready to eat, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Put in a pan and cook for at least 25 minutes. As you can see below, I didn't do a very good job about sealing the edges and lost a little bit of nutella.

July 05, 2011

Summer Delight: Silky Lemon Semifreddo


Have I mentioned how HOT it is in Texas?  So hot that I've been having an ice cream sandwich or popsicle every day. Probably not the best diet to have.

My daily conversations with Liz always revolve around food - what we are currently eating, plan to cook or would love to be eating. She is a master hostess and made an amazing ice cream dessert for one of her dinner parties, which inspired me to make a semifreddo.  

In my research for the best recipe, I found that there are several many ways to make this dessert.  It doesn't have to be citrus based - some are based on berries, bananas or mangoes. Insight from Liz is that the flavor sometimes isn't as strong so in order to get that intense lemon flavor, I added more lemon and lime juice than the original recipe and also cut back on the sugar and buttered crust. You can also add in some lemon flavored liquor to give it a little more punch, but I can't justify buying a bottle of limoncello, for instance, just for one dessert. 

Just be prepared, you'll go through several bowls and mixers. Another downside? You have to wait eight hours until you can enjoy it, but that gives you plenty of time to do the dishes...

Lemon Semifreddo
(adapted from Giada)
20 amaretto cookies (can be found at Central Market)
1 cup heavy cream
Zest from 2 lemons
Zest from 1 lime
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (approximately 4-5 large lemons for me)
1/4 cup lime juice (approximately 4 limes) 
8 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup sugar 
Pinch of salt

1. Prepare everything first. Zest the lemons and lime first before squeeze the juice from them. Squeeze the rest of the lemons and limes, which I do directly into the measuring cup so I know exactly how many more lemons/limes I need. Get a large bowl, fill with water and ice and set aside.
2. Get a small saucepan with water, put on stove until it starts simmering. While that is happening, separate the egg yolks and whites. Save the whites for another meal/dish. Put the egg yolks directly into a large bowl that will fit on top of the pot of simmering water.  Add 1/3 cup sugar, lemon and lime juice, and the salt. 
3. Put it on top of the simmering water on the stove and using an electric mixer, mix until it almost triples in size and is fluffy, creamy/frothing and turns a pale yellow. This took about 7 minutes.
4. Once done, take the bowl and put into the ice bath so it completely cools down. Fold in the zest.
5. Next, whip the heavy cream and 1/4 cup sugar until it also triples in size and holds firm peaks when you stop.
6. Fold the heavy whipping cream into the lemon mixture.
7. Take a loaf pan and spray with cooking oil.  Take a plastic wrap that is enough to wrap around the pan and stick it to the bottom and sides of the pan.  Make sure you have enough plastic wrap hanging over both sides of the pan so that you can fold this over later. Take a few handfuls of the amaretto cookies and crumble them into the bottom of the loaf pan until you have a very very very thin layer of crumbles.  This was approximately 10-12 cookies.  If you wanted a firmer, richer crust, you can mix the crumbled cookies with melted butter before putting in the pan, but I think this is just fine without those few extra calories...
8. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan.  Fold over the plastic wrap so it covers the top and put this in the freezer for a least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
9. To serve, unfold the top two layers of plastic wrap and pull out. If you can't, put the sides of the loaf pan under hot water - careful not to get the semifreddo wet.  You should be able to easily take out.  Slice about 1 inch pieces for a serving and crumble two amaretto cookies on top for additional extra crunch.  

I dare you to have only one slice.

July 03, 2011

Better Get Grillin For The Fourth!

Happy Fourth of July!  Despite the horrendous heat in Texas, you still have to celebrate the with some grilled meat, veggies and even some ice cream.  We had steaks last night at Flemings so today was chicken and corn with some Korean marinated beef and pork. 
Ross' brother, Koby, grilled the chicken and corn while his dad grilled the bulgogi - a Korean marinated beef.  Hope everyone has a good Fourth!