Monday, August 24, 2015

Summer's Best: Peach Cobbler

It's amazing to realize that we're a stone's throw from the end of Summer.  I love the Fall season and can't deny that I'm eagerly anticipating a respite from the heat and humidity that overhangs this time of the year.  However, there are some things about Summer that I will absolutely miss long after the air-conditioned days and al fresco nights are no more.  And the season's bounty is one of them.  In my (humble) opinion, one of the absolute best things about Summer is the vibrant, seasonal food that makes it's mark on our culinary landscapes.



Stone fruit fits squarely into that mix, and my undisputed favorites remain peaches, plums, and nectarines.  Whether grilled, roasted, fresh, or transformed into other-worldly ice cream, crumbles, tarts, cobblers, jams, pies, and more, they count as little jewels of which I rarely get enough.  And yesterday afternoon was another example of unabashed indulgence.

Perfectly crisp, yet ripe, fragrant peaches made their way from the market, into my kitchen, into my oven, and finally into my mouth and tummy, for one satisfyingly good peach cobbler.

I plan to relish every delicious moment of the remaining weeks of Summer and invite you to join me--starting with this scrumptious cobbler, of course.

Happy Eating!

Tell me: What are some of your favorite Summer things, foods, and experiences?  Leave a comment below to share!

Peach Cobbler
Ingredients:
6 large peaches, peeled and cut into thin wedges
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch

For the biscuit topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup boiling water

Method:
Cook peaches:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Toss peaches with sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch in a 2qt. non-reactive baking dish and bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes.

Making topping while peaches bake:

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Blend in butter with fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles course meal.  Stir in water until just combined.

Remove peaches from oven and drop spoonfuls of topping over them. Bake in the middle of oven until topping is golden, about 25 minutes.  (Topping will spread as it bakes.)  Enjoy!
Recipe courtesy of Epicurious
  
  



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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rustic Strawberry Jam Crostini

It felt really good to be back in the kitchen this past weekend.  On Sunday, I decided to spoil myself a bit and whip up a brunch bite to go along with my "in-house" cappuccinos that I've essentially become addicted to lately.  A mound of fresh strawberries-- turned rustic strawberry jam--and an exquisitely scrumptious honey compound butter made for one of the best crostini I've tasted.  And I do adore my crostini.

To describe how it came together, I'd borrow from that hit of yesteryear and say (or sing) that it was easy like Sunday morning.  Corny perhaps, but totally apropos. 



With an emphasis on rustic (rather than a classic gelatin base), the jam came together in about half an hour, and the honey-butter called for little more than a spoon twirl or two.  Not long after, warm, buttery toasted baguette slices, that could easily have stood on their very own as perfection, were toppled with the sweet, yet slightly complex and savory jam (I tossed in a teaspoon of fresh thyme), to form bite after bite of homemade satisfaction. When I finally finished savoring my delicacies, I got an even bigger rush from the fact that I had leftovers--and I could would do it all over again soon.



Still makes me want to sing.  Make it for yourself and we'll start a band.

Happy Eating!

Rustic Strawberry Jam Crostini


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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Postcard from New York City: Summertime Indulgence


 It recently dawned on me in a more obvious way that Summer usually finds me in New York City.  Although I didn't purposefully intend it this way,  it's become a staple in my Summer travels--and there's no denying that I relish every minute of it.  In fact, beyond a brisk Fall dalliance, I've never come close to encountering those notorious winter chills that NYC is known for.  I'm not opposed to braving it though--for the gorgeously adorned holiday windows, a twirl around Rockefeller Center's ice rink (maybe, maybe not), and the chance to bundle up to a degree I've rarely had to do living in the South.  Still, I'll resign that Summer in the city agrees with me.

It's no secret to most that I adore the place and never get enough of the essence that is New York City.   Pulse. Energy. Action. People. And more People. Food. Fashion. Art. Music. Culture. Diversity. And one day, I'm counting on a pied-a-terre of my very own. 

A mixture of discovering new things and places that drew me in and revisiting certain favorites during my latest jaunt made for another collection of memories that I'll cherish.  Travel remains one of the purest joys of my existence, and I can't imagine not having a big, beautiful (yet gritty), imperfectly perfect 'cocoon' of sorts that suits all my fancies to escape to and relish.  Summer in NYC is a love affair I never want to end.  Below are a few highlights from my getaway.

An Afternoon In Bryant Park


Just Hanging Around -- My Digs at the Royalton Hotel



















A Bit of Glitz and Glam at Baccarat Hotel


A Taste of Italy via New York Restaurant Week


Baking Birthday Cake at Milk Bar!


Good Eats from Bryant Park to Grand Central Station and Beyond


Taking It All In ~  Inside St. Patrick's Cathedral, The High Line, Jazz in Harlem, Art, Garden Concerts, and More, with Really Special People Intermixed


 Until Next Time...


Happy Travels!



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Monday, July 20, 2015

Atlanta Summer Festivals, Food and Fun

Summers in the 'ATL' can represent many things to many people.  Despite the characteristic heat and humidity that blankets the city this time of the year, life doesn't slow down in hopes of cooler weather, but thrives as actively as ever in spite of it.

I relish taking in as much of the food scene as possible during the season, and in case you're looking to do the same, here's a starter list to get you out, about, exploring and enjoying what this fabulous city has to offer.

Downtown Restaurant Week
Going on now through Sunday, July 26, 2015, Downtown Restaurant Week features several of Atlanta's premier restaurants located in and near the heart of downtown.  With prix fixe menus ranging from $15 for lunch to $25-$35 for dinner, it's a great way to enjoy premium dining for a literal fraction of the cost. 

Ice Cream Festival ~
With July being National Ice Cream Month, there's no better way to close it out than with an Ice Cream Festival! The fun happens on Saturday, July 25, 2015 at beautiful Piedmont Park and will feature ice cream for sale, vendors, entertainment and fitness events.  Entry is free.

Garden Chef Demos ~
Enjoy lively chef demos showcasing the season's bounty every weekend, now through September, amidst the gorgeous Atlanta Botanical Garden in the Edible Garden Outdoor Kitchen.  Free with Garden admission. 

Atlanta Bar-B-Q Festival ~
Music, competitions, and scrumptious food and drink, mark the scene at the Atlanta Bar-B-Q Festival at Atlantic Station.  Mark your calendars for August 14th and 15th and get ready to indulge!

Beyond this list of favorites, there's so much more to explore as Summer continues to unfold.  Eventbrite, a global marketplace for events, is one of my go-to sources for featuring--and discovering--all that's happening in my area around my interests. Be sure to check out it out for more foodie happenings, or to plan your own special soiree with their event management software, and make the remaining days of Summer the most deliciously fun yet!

Happy Eating!

Photo Credit: Atlanta Botanical Garden
 










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Friday, July 17, 2015

Toast With This!: 21 Mocktails For Your Sipping Pleasure


I know this statement may be greeted with a bit of a *side eye* by some, but it. is. possible. to enjoy a refreshing and wonderful non-alcoholic cocktail, affectionately known as a mocktail.  Whether you're looking to lighten up your usual sipping repertoire, or mocktails are your normal routine, here are 21 to indulge your sipping pleasure (courtesy of BuzzFeed).

And if you're still longing for more, check out the recipes page and my Sips board on Pinterest for more toast-worthy inspiration!

Happy Sipping!

Photo Credit: 40aprons.com
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Friday, July 3, 2015

Strawberry-Basil Sorbet

There has to be a special place in heaven for the person who discovered the incomparable sweet treat known as ice cream.  And let's not overlook  the genius who decided to dubb July as National Ice Cream Month.  Heroes/Heroines in my book, without question.

Now to say that I love frozen, icy, creamy (or not so creamy) treats doesn't do justice to my lifelong obsession.  Truly, if I could savor them everyday, without consequence, I absolutely would. (I've done it for spells, like while traveling in Italy.  The effects of my daily gelato fix remained with me--or should I say my waistline--as a not-so-welcome reminder of my indulgent ways.  There's something about 'holidays' that make you feel calories are a figment of the imagination--or you simply just don't care.) 

More than cake, cookies, brownies, pies, pastries, or any other sweet decadence, ice cream helms my sweet affections.  So adding a homemade sorbet (made with luscious strawberries and sweet, lemony basil, no less) to the menu for my Spring Pop-Up Cooking School was a no brainer.  My class raved over it, and now I'm sharing the easy, four ingredient recipe, so you can get in on the action and savor it, too!

Make it now--and thank me later.

Happy Eating!

Strawberry-Basil Sorbet
Ingredients:
1 lb.  fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
3/4 cup sugar
Juice of a small lemon
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
*Special Equipment: Ice Cream Maker

Method:
Combine berries and sugar in a bowl.  Stir to coat fruit, cover and allow berries to macerate for an hour. 

Add macerated berries and their liquid to a blender or food processor, along with lemon juice and basil.  Process until it becomes a puree.  Transfer mixture to a container and chill in the refrigerator for several hours or up to overnight. 

Pour chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to instructions.  Once frozen, place sorbet in the freezer for at least two hours to harden further.  Enjoy!
 
 
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Al Fresco

From rooftops, to terraces, to backyards, parks, poolsides and beyond, the allure of outdoor dining and entertaining (al fresco, to be exact) is never greater than during the longer, more relaxed, days and nights of Summer.

 
Whether you're hosting a special event, or simply relishing being under the open sky, al fresco affairs are their own kind of special.


 Now all that remains is to indulge.




Happy Eating and Living!

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
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