August16

Summertime Sweetness :: Fresh Cherry Granita with Mint and Elderflower

To follow up yesterday's post (the first annual pulled pork + crab fest), I figured a few of you out there might have a hankering for the fresh cherry granita recipe that was mentioned - nothing like ice cold ice to beat out the final hazy, humid days of August.  If you've got a pile of cherries lying around, this is a great way to make use of them and it's an easy, quick and deceptively chic-looking dessert...with just a hint of sugar involved.  If cherries aren't to your liking, strawberries or blueberries or even peaches could make a tasty substitution.   

Cherry Granita with Mint and Elderflower

Serves :: 8 to 10

Ingredients

2 or so pounds fresh or frozen cherries, pitted

3 1/2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup water

2 tablespoons fresh mint

3 tablespoons St. Germain elderflower liqueur 

Directions

In a small sauce pan simmer sugar and water until sugar is completely dissolved, allow to cool.  

In a blender, puree cherries and mint.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve using the back of a spoon or a spatula to extract juice.  Pour juice in a wide metal bowl or pan.  Stir in simple syrup and St. Germain.  Freeze for at least 4 hours or until completely frozen, forking ice every 1-2 hours to achieve an icy, crushed consistency.

TAGS: dessert, summer, mint

posted: 08.16.12

August15

Summer Remix :: Pulled Pork and Crab Fest

Summers in the city can drag a bit...ridiculous heat and small apartments don't help too much.  This past weekend a few friends and I decided to take matters into our own hands and bring our fondest summertime memories due north (or to my building's rooftop to be exact).  Bring on the first annual pulled pork and crab Sunday dinner extravagnza.  Pulled pork shipped straight from North Carolina with a vinegar-based bbq sauce so good you might lick the bottle dry + blue crabs swimming in Old Bay seasoning shipped straight from Maryland's Chesapeake Bay.  Pair them both with this summer's highlight (heirloom tomatoes are insanely good this year) and you've got an automatic party on a rooftop.  And as a nutritional side note, pulled pork and crab are both lean sources of protein (the pork is a lean shoulder cut) and the tomatoes, peaches and cabbage are racked with antioxidants.

Here's the full menu for your summer entertaining pleasure: 

Pulled pork (East Carolina style)
Maryland blue crabs (steamed)
Heirloom tomato and grilled peach salad with tarragon, blue cheese and white balsamic vinaigrette
Homemade slaw
Corn on the cob with salt, pepper and fresh lime
Pickled okra
Aperol spritz cocktails
Beer (an obvious choice for pulled pork and crab)
Fresh cherry granita with mint and elderflower

Heirloom Tomato and Grilled Peach Salad with Tarragon, Blue Cheese and White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Serves :: 8-10

Ingredients

5-6 heirloom tomatoes of various sizes, sliced

4 peaches, halved 

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

3 to 4 sprigs of tarragon

1/3 cup of blue cheese, crumbled

4 pieces of sourdough bread

Vinaigrette

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

11/2  tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons chives, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

salt and cracked pepper to taste

*2 to 3 teaspoons of extra crumbled blue cheese to whisk into dressing (if desired)

Directions

Brush the peaches and sourdough bread slices with olive oil and lightly grill for 3 minutes on each side, or until peaches are soft and grill marks appear on bread.  Allow to cool and slice peaches into quarters, cut bread slices into 1 1/2 inch cubes. 

On a serving platter, arrange tomato slices on bottom, followed by grilled peaches.  Sprinkle red onion, tarragon and blue cheese over top. And top with sourdough croutons. 

Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients until well-blended.  Lightly drizzle over salad and serve. 

Photos via Nourish & Allison Beale

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TAGS: entertaining, summer, tomatoes

posted: 08.15.12

July16

Plum and Blackberry Kuchen with Rosewater

The fact that I voluntarily turned on my oven yesterday - even with the A/C blasting - should tell you how much I've been wanting to test this recipe out.  A friend's BBQ made it an easy, albeit warm, excuse.  My grandma Bebe's recipe for apple kuchen (German apple cake) is without question one of my favorite desserts with its heavy focus on fruit and a sweet, crunchy coconut-infused crust.  Here I've swapped out the apple for seasonal summer fruit, made the crust fully from scratch and worked some rosewater into the equation for a little flowerly/herbal note...it's pretty incredible when paired with plums

Given that there wasn't a crumb of dessert remaining last night, I think it's safe to say it's a winner.  A great balance of tart and sweet and nice way to use up extra summer fruit.  

Plum and Blackberry Kuchen with Rosewater

Serves :: 12

Ingredients

Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fruit
1 1/2  - 2 cups sugar plums or black/red plums, halved or sliced
1 pint blackberries
1/3 - 1/2 cup sugar 
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon rosewater

Topping
1 cup low-fat sour cream
2 egg yolks
 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Whisk all dry ingredients together, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Gently mix in butter, coconut and vanilla extract and form a crust.  Spread crust evenly in a tart dish or 8x8 baking dish. Bake for 12 minutes. 

Mix fruit, sugar, vanilla and rosewater in a medium bowl.  Arrange fruit atop crust.  

In a separate bowl, mix egg yolks and sour cream. Drizzle lightly over fruit. *Note: you likely will only need to use half of the egg-sour cream mixture. 

Bake kuchen at 350 for 30 minutes or until topping has set. 

TAGS: dessert, summer, plums

posted: 07.16.12

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