There should be some limits.
I shouldn’t be able to buy anything I can’t lift at the grocery store.
Technically, I could lift the crate of tomatoes. Into the shopping cart, into the car, and into the house. And then onto the scale to see how many tomatoes I got for $10!
53 lbs of tomato goodness
It is a lot more tomatoes than you think
For this recipe, I used 5 cups of tomatoes. That seems like a lot on any normal day in my kitchen. It didn’t even make a dent.
I ended up roasting, dehydrating and cooking up half of the tomatoes last weekend. Round two starts tomorrow! Please share with me your favourite recipes. Bonus for any water-cannable recipes…. my freezer is becoming uber full.
Back to this recipe at hand, which combines seemingly polarized end of summer produce: tomatoes and peaches. Both become sweet through roasting in the oven, which is augmented with Ancho chili powder, and then tamed by balsamic vinegar. Fresh tarragon and cinnamon confer a lovely, unexpected depth to the sauce. Hot, sweet, sour… we’ve got you covered. Chickpeas are added for protein and this was delicious served overtop zucchini spaghetti.
Who says vegans can’t have fun at a barbecue?
It isn’t all about the balsamic grilled portobellos.. although they are delicious.
Please don’t turn off your barbecue too early. Let me tell you that it should involve dessert, too.
At my latest barbecue gathering, I experimented with grilling fruit. No stranger to roasting fruit (remember the roasted strawberry balsamic dressing?), grilling them also brings out their natural sweetness.
With the first Ontario peaches rolling off the trees, I was excited to try these grilled peaches with a sweet raspberry sauce. Super simple. Mash some raspberries and mix with some lemon juice and a touch of sweetener. Let the peaches marinade for a bit, then grill. Top with more fresh raspberries and drizzle with the remainder of the sauce. Easy,
peasypeachy and so much more than the sum of its parts. Granted, local summer fruit is already pretty spectacular but this definitely brings it up a notch.
I was drawn to this recipe mainly because of the fresh fruit but when my Mom ate it, she said it was similar to Peach Melba. Not sure what Peach Melba was all about, I had to look it up. Named after Nellie Melba, an opera singer, the dessert was invented in 1892. An ice sculpture of a swan sat overtop vanilla ice cream and carried caramelized peaches and spun sugar. A later version in 1900 included a raspberry puree. I am not making any dessert to look like a swan, thank you very much!
A typical peach melba recipe has one boil peaches in a sugar syrup to accentuate its sweetness. I say forget those 3.5 cups of white sugar and resort to grilling instead! Peaches already possess all the sweetness you need: you just have to gently coax it out of them. Next time, I definitely plan on eating this overtop some banana soft-serve ice cream!
This is my submission to Ricki and Amie’s Backyard Barbecue Event, to this week’s Wellness Weekend, to this month’s One Ingredient challenge for peaches, to this week’s Potluck Party, and to Cookbooks Sundays.
When Rob’s parents came over for the barbecue, they helped out by bringing some marinaded meat for the grill. They also gifted us with some fresh, sweet corn on the cob for lunch and peaches for the smoothies. And as a bonus, mini cucumbers from their garden, new potatoes, apples and kohlrabi! And broccolini! These days, there is nothing better than fresh Ontario corn and peaches. The peaches were delectable as I have been snacking on them for breakfast all week.
I also made this stovetop simmered peach and blueberry dish with cardamom, courtesy of My New Roots. It reminded me of the baked rhubarb and apple dish I made with earl Grey tea, cardamom and orange last year, which was one of my favourite desserts. Instead of turning on your oven, though, you simmer peaches and blueberries with cardamom, vanilla and cloves for a warm, almost sultry combination. The level of sweetness will depend on your peaches, so add the maple syrup to taste.
To contrast with the warmness of the fruit, it is nice to pair with something cool. Pick your favourite – yogurt, ice cream, or in my case: banana soft-serve ice cream.
I still marvel at the simplicity of banana soft-serve ice cream and figure I should share the recipe/method for those who have yet to be introduced. Basically, you take a few just-ripe bananas, slice them and freeze them in a single layer. When you want your ice cream, take them out of the freezer, plop them into your food processor and whiz away. Your bananas will go from hard to a thick cream and if you keep going for a few minutes, eventually you get silky smooth ice cream with a hint of banana flavour. This trick also works with other frozen fruit – I’ve done mango and papaya, but banana remains my favourite. I only caution you not to let your fruit thaw first because then it won’t work!
I love desserts that can double as breakfasts. The fruits also worked well overtop my morning oatmeal. I have been going through Bob’s Red Mill steel-cut oats, and found they made much more firmer oatmeal than I was used to. Ricki’s idea to pan-fry the oatmeal sounded ideal. I took leftover oatmeal, cut in large slabs, and fried them with a touch of oil in a non-stick frypan. The outsides were nicely seared with a warm, oozy interior.
Thankfully, my pantry-substitute, Better Bulk, has steel cut oats that give me silky smooth morning oats.
Peach season is here!
So is nectarine season!
They are so similar, both so sweet and juicy when ripe, that I wondered how different they really are…
It turns out that the only genetic difference is a single recessive gene that removes the fuzz of a peach, giving nectarines a smooth shiny skin. So basically, they are the same with a different exterior. Fuzz vs no fuzz.
Regardless, I love both nectarines and peaches. Substitute between the two for any recipe. My only gripe about these stone fruits is that they are highly perishable when ripe. You need to eat them pronto!
My Peachy Keen Vanilla Smoothie is a delicious way to treat yourself to wonderful peach bliss, and I have also used them to make other desserts like blueberry-peach brown butter muffins, blueberry-peach-raspberry crumbles, and an utterly delicious peach tea cake. Peach is also wonderful in a salsa, and I have paired it with a maple-chili grilled tofu previously.
Here, I wanted to go savoury with the nectarine. I was immediately drawn to PPK’s Portland Porch Lettuce Wraps, which featured pan-seared asparagus, nectarine and white beans with pesto in a lettuce wrap. I had been distracted from the asparagus, but vowed to get some more to make this. I wasn’t disappointed.
I modified Isa’s recipe slightly as I ran out of shallots, and I substituted with a mix of white and red onion. I chose baby lima beans as my white bean of choice. She provided a recipe for an edamame pesto, but I opted to use some pesto that I had made earlier and froze in some cute heart-shaped ice cube trays. How cute are they??
So, this dish was a wonderful merriment of sweet, succulent and juicy nectarines with crisp asparagus and creamy white beans with a nice backdrop of caramelized onions. This is delicious, as is, with a side of lettuce, or even something like brown rice or quinoa.
The pesto is not mandatory, as this is great without it, but it is nice with it as well. Basically, don’t hesitate to make this if you are without pesto.
Rob laughs at me because one of my guilty pleasures is ordering fresh juices and smoothies from restaurants. Nothing beats a fresh blend of ripe vegetables, or a creamy smoothie packed with fruits. Feeling guilty about eating something so healthy seems so odd, but when they cost over $5 a pop, that’s when I feel bad. I mean, I could make something similar at home… on the smoothie aspect, that is. Unfortunately my old food processor can’t make fresh juice.
But now that I have a high-speed Vitamix blender (wahoo!), even my smoothies taste better! An immersion blender keeps things a bit on the chunky side, a food processor is better and now I know how the professionals get that secret creamy consistency without the cream (although they could also be adding cream, too, without me knowing). It’s the blender.
I know the Vitamix is not just for smoothie and drinks, but that’s all I’ve made so far (in the 2 days I’ve had it unpacked!). Even the lowly smoothie has been brought to the next level with the Vitamix. I mean, it better. I can buy a lot of drinks at restos for $500.
My latest smoothie craze has been devouring local Ontario peaches. Throw in a fresh, ripe, pitted peach, half a frozen banana, vanilla, chia seeds and some soy milk. Blend to reach creamy peachy bliss. Sip and enjoy!
I am fighting it.
I know it is now mid-September. The kids have gone back to school. My century ride last weekend was called “Summer’s End Century Tour” and yes, I have started to wear a jacket while cycling to work. I will have to abandon my cycling shorts, too, because it is pretty frigid with the wind in the mornings and evenings. I even close my balcony door at night, which has been on perma-open since May.
I think fall is here.
But that doesn’t mean I am jumping for the butternut squashes just yet (in due time!*). I am still lingering in summer’s bounty of fresh local fruit and vegetables, including fruit for these tasty crumbles: local peaches, blueberries and raspberries.**
*Bestwin has butternut squash on sale for 17 cents/lb this week. I may be stocking up afterall!
**Frozen fruit would work well if baking this out of season.
I know everyone already has a favourite crumble, crisp or cobbler recipe – usually the one that Mom made. But when I spotted this on Joy the Baker, I was intrigued by the combination of fruit and spice. Peaches and blueberries work well together, but how would it work with raspberries? (And why would I even consider baking with fresh, juicy, light raspberries?? I must be mad!) But Joy paired them with cinnamon, nutmeg and maple syrup, which was a match in heaven. The raspberries were a nice sweet/tart addition to the fruit trio and I enjoyed how they all worked well with the nutmeg and maple.
At first, I enjoyed this warm from the oven as dessert, but throughout the week, the leftovers made their way into breakfast. The crumble topping was reminiscent of granola and with the baked fruit, it was great with yogurt. A perfectly healthy dessert and breakfast. Got to love the transition!
Some fruit just don’t last long once ripe. OK, perhaps many of them. Peaches especially, though. You might buy them a bit on the firm side, and within 2 days on your counter, your basket of peaches are bursting with flavour. In another half a day, they may be overripe and start to go bad. So what’s a girl got to do with ripe peaches? Bake with them!
Last year, I made one of my favourite cakes, a few times actually – especially when underbaked just slightly – Stone Fruit Tea Cake, with its heavy vanilla presence. I didn’t have enough peaches to bake that cake, as I have been pretty good about restraining myself from buying 3L baskets of peaches. However, I had 2 peaches and some blueberries to throw together these lovely muffins.
I was intrigued by these muffins when I originally spotted them on Very Culinary, who found them originally at Joy the Baker. She used raspberries and blueberries but I knew I wanted to use up some peaches. Peaches and blueberries are a wonderful combination, which I learned after making peach and blueberry salsa earlier this month. But what’s with this browned butter? I’ve never used it before but it sounded divine. Butter makes everything taste better and this seemed like a way to incorporate even more flavour into the batter. With a vanilla crumb topping that I had extra from Cranberry Buckle with Vanilla Crumb, these looked to be a very texture-tickling and flavourful dessert.
The muffins were delicious. I really liked the pieces of peaches and blueberries with the vanilla topping. These muffins were definitely more dense cake-like, and despite the fruit definitely not healthy. It didn’t stop me from gobbling them down with each meal.
During the summer, grocery stores overflow with local ripe fruit and vegetables. It would be a shame not to catch some fresh Niagara peaches, fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, or cash in on cheap, overflowing zucchini during their seasonal peak. There is nothing better than fresh produce.
Right now, peaches from Niagara are tricking into stores. They arrived earlier than previous years due to the hot weather, and I am embracing their early arrival. Sweet, juicy peaches are incredible but sadly don’t last very long. Last summer, I made a succulent peach tea cake, when I bought a few 3L containers of peaches. I have restrained myself so far, and only bought a handful of peaches. But I did buy a big clamshell of blueberries, so expect to see a few more blueberry dishes here.
I spotted a lovely summer savoury dish on Fat Free Vegan, with maple-chili grilled tofu steaks with a blueberry-peach salsa. I adapted the recipe to suit my own tastes, substituting Aleppo chili flakes for the heat, increasing the peach to blueberry ratio, and swapping lime juice for the lemon juice (I am slowing going through the 18 limes I picked up for $1 at Bestwin). I also don’t like parsley so I used mint instead, which was a great choice.
The salsa was the highlight of the dish: peaches and blueberries work surprisingly well together, especially when mixed in a slightly spicy and sweet-tart dressing. The maple-chili tofu was good, too, but can’t compete with the perfect allspice-marinated tofu in my tofu in a zesty rhubarb sauce. I don’t think the salsa would mix well though with that tofu, unfortunately, so this is the next best thing.
This is a wonderful way to play with the flavours of the summer. Enjoy!
I debated posting this dessert now. I mean, it is in the middle of winter, and there are no stone fruits to be seen. To be fair, I made this cake in August, but I saw Think Spice was featuring vanilla this month. Vanilla is one of my favourite spices.. but which recipe to post? I had already previously posted about the Cranberry Buckle with a heavenly vanilla crumb, so that was out… but I remembered my fantastic peach tea cake from the same cookbook, Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. And it contains a whole tablespoon of vanilla! With the fresh peaches dancing in the middle, this was one of my best cakes ever. The batter was dense, heavily but wonderfully filled with vanilla essence, but moist, too, especially if you err more on the side of baking just until it is done – do not overbake!
Please save the recipe until the summer, when fresh peaches are overabundant… or if you are from the Southern hemisphere, you can enjoy it now.