July 22, 2021

Fried Peach Hand Pies


My obsession with McDonald's fried apple pies is well known amongst family and friends.  You can be fairly certain that if I come across a franchise that has the fried pies on the menu I will definitely be buying them.  Unfortunately it's the baked variety that is commonly sold in the States so I have to get my fried pie fix when I'm out of the country (normally you can find them in Europe). 

I've got peaches on the brain lately because we're at the height of the season.  As I was looking up peach recipes on Cook's Illustrated I came across this recipe for Fried Peach Hand Pies.  What?  A fried pie made with peach filling?  Sold!

What I particularly love about this recipe is that you can use either fresh or frozen peaches, especially handy when it's not peak peach season.  The crust couldn't be simpler to make in the food processor and is easy to work with.  I tested the recipe using frozen peaches and, call me crazy, I actually think the peach flavor is more pronounced using frozen fruit.  Who would have known?  

The deep fat fryer I bought at the beginning of the pandemic made quick work of frying the pies in no time at all. Is there anything better than the sound of food frying?  Impatient to see how they tasted I had to have a taste of a fried pie while it was still hot.  One bite and I was not disappointed.  So delicious!  The golden brown crust was nice and flaky and the filling was bursting with peach flavor.  I gave some pies to my sister to taste and she said they were fantastic.   Now I want to try other fruit fillings to use with the dough.   Dare I attempt to replicate my beloved McDonald's fried apple pie?  We shall see....

July 18, 2021

Strawberry Coulis Yogurt Pops


After making the delicious buttermilk panna cotta I found myself with some leftover strawberry coulis.   What to make with the fruit-intense sauce?  Immediately I thought it would make a great base for a homemade popsicle.  All I needed was to mix in some Greek yogurt and pour it into silicone ice pop molds.  Voila...the best summer treat!

July 10, 2021

Blueberry Lemon Babka


Never had I heard of babka before until I watched that infamous Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine were desperately searching for a chocolate one to take to their friend's dinner party.  Unfortunately for them the bakery they went to only had cinnamon ones left.  Had they only known about Bluberry Lemon Babka they would have forgotten all about chocolate.

The recipe for this enriched dough beauty comes from blogger Cinnamon Shtick and it is an absolute winner.   Lemon is infused throughout the bread and the citrus flavor pairs beautifully with the homemade blueberry jam filling.   The addition of a struesel crumb topping takes this bread to the next level.  So good!
If you've never made bread with an enriched dough before, i.e., a yeasted dough with eggs and butter, then I highly recommend giving this recipe a try.  The dough is a dream to work with and is quite forgiving.     I don't think you can mess it up, but even if things go awry I'm sure it will still taste delicious.

July 5, 2021

Patriotic Picnic


Although I've lived in the city for twenty plus years I've never been to any of the free outdoor summer concerts at Stern Grove, mainly because I was normally abroad.   But this year was different since I wasn't going overseas for the summer...thanks COVID.  The San Francisco Symphony was performing at the festival this year on the 4th of July and luckily I was able to secure some tickets.  
Stern Grove is one of those venues where bringing a picnic is expected and encouraged and I was totally on board with that.  Lately I've been really into picnics and I love planning out the different kinds of food and drinks that can be enjoyed outdoors.  Food always seems to taste so much better al fresco, doesn't it?   While yummy food and drink is a requirement I also like to make sure the picnic is visually appealing by using nice serving ware.  As the saying goes, we always eat first with our eyes. 

Since the concert was on the 4th of July I wanted to create a Patriotic Picnic to celebrate the red, white and blue holiday.  [Full disclosure: the food wasn't necessarily red, white and blue, but the decor was!]  When assembling a picnic I like to bring a mix of homemade and store bought items and have a variety of offerings.  Tuna fish sandwiches and some of the desserts (buttermilk panna cotta, Mackles'mores  cookies) were made by yours truly and the rest of the foods (cheese, charcuterie, dip, fruit, crackers) were store bought. 
No picnic is complete without a cocktail and the one that epitomizes summer to me is a Pimm's Cup.  A British classic, it's one of my favorite summertime drinks and always reminds me of England and Wimbledon.  If you've never had it before it's made with Pimm's, a gin-based liquor, which is mixed with lemon-lime soda, fruits and ice.  I usually tell people it's like a British sangria because it's so light and refreshing.
The symphony concert and patriotic picnic were a great success (several guests sitting nearby even commented how impressed they were with the spread!).  If only the temperatures hadn't been in the low 60s and overcast, but that's a typical San Francisco summer for you!

Picnic Basket: Anthropologie
Picnic Blanket: Old Navy
EnamelWare: Cost Plus  

July 3, 2021

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis and Fresh Berries

This is the third post on my blog featuring panna cotta but I think it might be the best tasting one yet.  My friend Maria recently hosted a pre-4th of July bbq at her house and I volunteered to bring the dessert.  Knowing that the main lunch was going to be heavy on proteins, think steak and sausages, I wanted to end the meal with something that was delicious, light and refreshing.    Cue this Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis and Fresh Berries.
The recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated and couldn't be simpler to make with heavy cream, buttermilk and unflavored gelatin.  My favorite way to serve panna cotta is in mini Weck jars, a dessert presentation I first learned from Ad Hoc restaurant.   Sometimes panna cotta can have a rubber-y texture if there's too much gelatin used, but you won't have that issue with this version.  The cooked cream is silky smooth with just the right amount of firmness.   Delicioso!

The recommended way to finish off the dessert is to drizzle the top with honey before topping with fresh berries.   Since I had an abundance of San Joaquin Valley strawberries from my hometown on hand I decided to make a coulis instead.   The strawberry sauce tasted absolutely delicious with the panna cotta and berries.   I'm planning to bring the mini panna cotta to a 4th of July outdoor concert and picnic.  

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