Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My "Secret" Recipe for Peach And Almond Crumble

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The local fruit this year continues to amaze me.  The cantaloupes have been out of this world and, so plentiful, they are selling two for $3 at the local market.  The peaches are the first I taste this year and they are also outstanding; although I have to admit these were from South Carolina and not Georgia. They were sweet and so juicy I had to eat them over the sink.

I was caught empty handed this weekend when I went to make a crumble and there was no oatmeal in the pantry.  Although I don't like the taste of oatmeal on crisps or crumbles, I do like the consistency it gives the topping, so a substitute had to be found.  Enter some sliced almonds AND a packet of Quaker Instant Maple And Brown Sugar Oatmeal  that I keep around for emergencies when my stomach is too sick to handle anything else. 

I have to confess I gave this a lot of thought.  Six luscious ripe peaches were not something you risk on a whim.  When all was said and done, this crumble was outstanding.  So much so, I will make it again exactly as I made it this time.  It will be my secret recipe for peach crumble. Seriously, in order to make it a secret recipe there has to be something unusual in it.  Like a pear in the pumpkin soup, right?  Well here it is a packet of instant oatmeal, but make sure it is the one I used.  I think it was the hint of maple sugar that gave it that "Je ne sais quoi:" taste.  Whatever it was, it was gobbled up in no time...need I say more?

I had planned to share half the recipe with my sick neighbor but when I opened the fridge the next morning, this is what was left.  My daughter and some friends came back after a party late that night and the crumble was history.

..and the moral of the story.  Don't hesitate to experiment in the kitchen.  It might turn out to be your next "secret" recipe."

Do you have a secret recipe? I would love to hear about it!

Peach And Almond Crumble

Serves 8


5 to 6 peaches (Georgia or South Carolina)
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cups plus 2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour,
pinch of salt
1/2 cup quick-cooking oatmeal*
1 stick unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup sliced almonds

1 cup whipping cream
2 tsps sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the inside of a square baking pan.

Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place them in cold water. Peel the peaches and slice them into thick wedges and place them into a large bowl together with the juice.  Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of flour. Toss well. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 5 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid, add 1 more tablespoon of flour. Pour the peaches into the baking dish and gently smooth the top.

Combine 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup crushed almonds, the oatmeal, salt and the diced butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix at low speed until the butter is pea size and the mixture is crumbly.

Sprinkle evenly on top of the peaches.

Cook at 350 for 1/2 hour.  Take out, sprinkle the rest of the almonds and continue cooking for another 1/2 hour.    Let it rest for 1/2 hour.


I highly recommend that you skip the ice cream and serve with freshly made whipped cream.  (Add 2 tsps of sugar)

This can be made ahead and reheated at  350 for about 20 minutes.  Cover with foil if the almonds begin to darken

This recipe can be doubled and cooked in a 9x13 Pyrex.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Poulet Roti Madame Mere...Broiled Chicken Thighs With Champagne And Tarragon

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This recipe was not intended for a post, but after Madame Mere declared it the best meal she's had since she arrived, I just had to share it with you.  I am still shocked that after all the meals I have prepared for her, this would be the one to elicit the most praise from her lips.

It all started with a cup of leftover Champagne.  You know how I hate to throw stuff away.  I had shared a bottle with my daughter in law on the occasion of my granddaughter's first birthday on Sunday and was salivating a risotto the next day; but the thought of another rich meal so soon after that was not terribly appealing.  Every recipe I looked into for this iconic dish had cream in it and that was not too enticing,  I wanted something simple.  I was still putting things away from the party the night before and frankly my stomach could not take another heavy meal.   So I decided to go on my own and try something new.  The result was an unexpected hit, especially with MM.  The best part, though, was that it was simple and quick and I had all the ingredients on hand.  Talk about a home run...

There are two ways you can approach this recipe.  You can wait until you have leftover Champagne OR, you can plan ahead.  If you can't wait, and it is an elegant and quick main course for entertaining during the week, buy a bottle of good French Champagne like Veuve Cliquot, open it an hour or two before your guests arrive, save what you need for the marinade and put the bottle back in the fridge. You can recork the bottle with a Champagne cork or, better yet, let it sit unopened. Champagne stays bubbly for quite awhile.  Serve it for cocktails or with this meal. That, my friends, would be over the top!

Whilst I highly recommend you use chicken thighs in this recipe, you can also use breasts and legs or a combination of all three. Adjust the recipe accordingly, but don't use skinless and boneless parts.  The skin helps keep the moisture in and you can always remove it after it is served on your plate.

I did not have fresh shallots, but I always keep a jar of dried ones in the pantry for emergencies like this.  The one thing that must be fresh, though, is the tarragon. Don't chop it up until right before you add it to the chicken.  That is when it releases it's aroma.

If you are wondering why I would use onion and garlic powder instead of the fresh ingredients, it was for aesthetic purposes only.  I wanted to end up with a browned chicken with sauce, no onions or garlic around it.

As I was planning a simple meal of broiled chicken, I prepared mashed potatoes and green beans.  If you want to dress it up, you can always place the chicken on top of wild rice and serve a simple vegetable like green beans or sauteed spinach,  If you must serve a salad, serve it afterwards, a la francaise.  You don't want the vinegar in the dressing to compete with the sauce.

Bon appetit!

Poulet Roti Madame Mere

Serves 3 or 4

4 chicken thighs
1/2 cup of Champagne (leftover will do)
1 orange (the juice of) or 1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup fresh or dried shallots
olive oil
Sea Salt

3 TB butter


1.  Get a bottle of Champagne and enjoy it with a friend. It doesn't have to be Veuve Cliquot, my one and only.  This recipe was tested with 2 day old Costco Champagne! I highly recommend it over any other cheap Champagne in the market ($20), and you know I know my wines.

2.  Don't be tempted to drink the whole thing.  Control yourself and save at least 1/2 cup.

3.  Marinade 4 chicken thighs in 1/2 cup of Champagne, the juice of one orange or1/4 cup of orange juice, 1 tsp. each garlic and onion powder (sprinkle over the chicken) 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh tarragon leaves, 1/2 cup chopped fresh or dried shallots and olive oil.  Cover and let sit for at least 1 hour.

4.  Take the chicken out of the marinade, carefully pat dry and slip some of the tarragon leaves from the marinade under the chicken skin.

5.  Place chicken in a long Pirex, add sea salt and pepper on top and place 1/2 TB butter on top of each thigh.  the other 1 TB of butter is halved and placed in the middle.  Set the oven to broil.

6.  Broil in the upper part (not the top) of the oven for 15 minutes.

7.  Remove chicken from the oven and add back the marinade

8.  Reduce oven temperature to 375  and continue cooking for 30 minutes or until done. Baste a couple of times.

This was accompanied with mashed potatoes and french cut green beans for a simple week night meal.

If you are en regime, you can omit the butter.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Quick And Easy Summer Meals...Fettuccine With Mushrooms And Asparagus

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I have fallen in love with asparagus this Spring.  Don't get me wrong. I have always adored them; but this year it's like falling in love all over again.  You know that feeling...the little smirk on your face, the twinkle in your eyes.  It must be a metabolic thing, just like the time I fell in love with tomatoes when I was pregnant with my first child. All I wanted were those big juicy tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and basil; and big glasses of tomato juice in mid morning with saltine crackers.

Even though I haven't posted an asparagus recipe this year (there are tons of them from the past) we have been having them at least twice a week.  We love them cold with olive oil and vinegar, sometimes with chopped eggs on top, and with Hollandaise Sauce once in awhile.  I think I am finally coming to the end of this love affair and I am now looking forward to the summer bounty.

Morels are in season now but I haven't found them at the local markets.  If you find them where you live, you must buy some; but don't fall in love with them, they are quite pricey and will break your heart (as well as your pocketbook).   Only entertain the idea for a fling or a one night stand.

Baby Bellas, on the other hand, are easy to find and  less pricey.  They are available at my local Costco but they come in a big box, So you have them with steak one night and use the rest for something like this.  They keep well in the produce compartment of the fridge.

*The main thing about this recipe is that it is cooked in the classic Italian fashion by adding the al dente pasta to the pan with the sauce and letting it finish cooking there. Instead of swelling with more salted water in the final minutes, it will absorb as mush flavor as possible from the essence of the sauteed mushrooms and the rest of the sauce.

You will enjoy this pasta.  It is substantial and filling enough to serve on its own with a glass of chilled French rose.  If you must serve dessert, make it a light one!

Fettuccine With Mushrooms And Asparagus

Serves 4


Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red onion cut into small dice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp cloth and thinly sliced (or Baby Bellas)
1/2 cup homemade vegetable (or chicken) stock or store-bought, low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1/2-1 pound thin or pencil asparagus, thinly sliced on the bias, tip end left about 1 1/2 inches long
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 pound dried fettuccine or pappardelle
2 tablespoons shredded basil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


1. Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat, then add 2 tablespoons salt.

2. While waiting for the water to boil, heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper flakes and sauté quickly to keep the ingredients from scorching. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the mushrooms darken slightly in color and are softened but still holding their shape, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and asparagus and cook, stirring gently, for 2 minutes. Stir in the cream, immediately reduce the heat to keep it from scorching, and cook for several minutes.

3. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a sauté pan over low heat, shaking the pan, just until they are warm and fragrant, about 2 minutes.

4. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, 7 to 9 minutes from the time the water returns to a boil (10 minutes if you are using pappardelle).

5. Add the basil, butter, pine nuts, and cheese to the pan with the mushrooms and toss well.

6. Reserve a cup or so of the pasta's cooking liquid, then drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the mushrooms, asparagus, and sauce. If the sauce seems too dry, stir in a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water. Toss, taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and more pepper flakes if necessary.

7. Present the pasta in a bowl and serve family style from the center of the table, or divide among individual plates.

A little Parmigiano on top is not a bad idea!

Adapted from Nightly Specials: 125 Recipes for Spontaneous, Creative Cooking at Home
All photos Lindaraxa
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