Sunday, September 19, 2010

Peaches and Cream Cheese French Toast

It's peach season!

I stopped by a local fruit stand and bought a bag. Oh man, are they ever good. Utah peaches may just be the best in the world. Before eating devouring the entire bag, I decided to use some baking. I put together two recipes, a peaches and cream cheese French toast and a peach pandowdy. Unfortunately, I made the pandowdy at night when the light isn't good for photographing. It didn't make it until morning and the aftermath wasn't so pretty. So for right now, I'm only posting the French toast. I'll try and do another pandowdy later.

This French toast recipe was a favorite from our bed & breakfast days. We loved the recipe because the ratio of "Ooohs!" and "Aaaahs!" to the amount of actual work that went into it was very good. It's really easy. And then one day, Katie discovered that our cinnamon cream syrup makes the French toast really divine. We've tried the recipe with other kinds of fruit, too. Blueberries are especially nice.

Give this a try. It's great for breakfast, lunch or dinner—not necessarily in the same day. (But hey, I could be tempted.)

Or, a late night snack!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Torte di Pere E Cioccollato (Cake with Pear and Chocolate)

To celebrate Labor Day, we did jobs around the house. While I thought it was most appropriate to labor in honor of Labor Day, the kids did not think I was at all funny. However, they performed their tasks admirably with only minor complaining. Chloe helped Katie paint the house, and the boys helped me with yard work. To reward them for a job well-done, I decided to bake something.

Our last order from the food co-op contained an abundance of fruit. I was able to use some of the plums in a tart, and Katie finished off the nectarines. However, we still had a bunch of pears on the verge of going bad. So, I googled "pear" and "dessert" and searched through a bunch of recipes. The recipe that sounded most intriguing was Torte di Pere E Cioccollato (pear cake with chocolate chunks) from the restaurant Al Di La in Brooklyn. If I ever make it again to New York, this restaurant is on the to-do list. There are a lot of people who rave about it online. Several websites that have posted the recipe, but I think it was the Smitten Kitchen that somehow got hold of it in the first place.

There were three things that convinced me I needed to make this cake. First, the name alone sounds exotic. I want to start learning Italian. Second, it contains chocolate. Need I say more? And finally, browned butter is added to the batter. My favorite cookies in the world have a browned butter frosting. I love the flavor the browned butter adds.

So, I began my Labor Day labor of love.

The cake was fairly easy to make, and I only modified the recipe slightly. Instead of using bittersweet chocolate, I substituted semisweet. It's what I had on hand, and I'm not the biggest fan of bittersweet.

The cake turned out pretty darn amazing, and it was completely gone in no time. It reminds me of the types of cakes I've had in Europe. This recipe is a definite keeper I will want to make again for friends and family or a birthday at the office.

Therefore, if you're like me and can't just pop over to Al Di La whenever the mood strikes, give this recipe a try. I'm sure it's the next best thing.

To me, simple yet beautiful.

Ready for snarfing! Nom, nom, nom.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Rustic Plum Tart

It must be plum season because we got a whole bunch of them this month in our food co-op order*.

Only one problem... No one in the family is a big plum fan. The kids won't touch them. Katie doesn't care for them, and I'll eat them if there's nothing else around. However, I didn't want them to go to waste, so I decided to try baking with them.

During my time living in Germany, I often had Pflaumkuchen and quite liked it. I even tried making it once when Katie and I were newlyweds. I didn't think it was that bad. However, Katie didn't care for it, and I haven't made it again in the twenty years since.

I needed to try something new. I decided to wing it and combine a few things I'd seen on TV and make a rustic tart. I love the idea of "rustic" because no matter how your crust turns out, you can always say it's supposed to be that way.

The tart was incredibly easy to throw together, and I was very pleased with the result. I loved the plums, but I must say that the crust with the almond paste was my favorite part. Katie even liked the tart and said it was one of the best fruit tarts she's had. The kids, however, showed no interest or expressed their disgust. But, that was OK, it just meant more for Mom and Dad. For a couple evenings in a row after the kids had gone to bed,  Katie and I each enjoyed a warm slice of tart served with scoop of vanilla ice cream while watching British comedies on PBS.

This tart has made us fans of the plum. If you're not already a fan, give this tart a try, and see if it doesn't win you over.

I also love the deep purple and shades of orange the plums
turned as they were baked.

*We also received a bunch of nectarines I thought would be good in a recipe. But, alas... Katie likes nectarines, and I didn't get to them quick enough.