Tag Archives: dessert

Grilled Peaches with Honey

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Before I get to the amazingness that is this recipe, you should understand how it came to be, because it’s not as simple as “I wanted to make a fruit dessert and this sounded good.” Don’t get me wrong, that is kind of true, but there’s more to it than that.

This past weekend, I embarked on what my best friend Jackie and I call “BFF weekend”. She lives about an hour away in Metro Detroit and while you would think that’s not too far and we see each other all the time – we don’t. She and I have been friends since we started college (lived on the same floor our Freshman year) and though we had our ups and down, she’s my girl and we’ve always been the best of friends. So now instead of just hanging out for a few hours, we make a whole weekend out of it. And since the price of gas is ridiculous, I found an Amtrak ticket for $30 round trip and decided to use that as my way there and back. Best. idea. ever.

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Jackie, her hubby and I decided to have a day of culture in Detroit and be tourists in our own city. Detroit gets such a bad rep and while there are areas that aren’t the safest, any city can be like that. There are areas of Detroit I never feel unsafe or weird around, and if you really look, the architecture and culture is just beautiful. So we spent the day at the art museum (DIA) and then walked around. We ended the night at the MGM Casino, where I lost $12 once again proving my point that 1). I bring bad luck to all those around me in a casino 2). I suck at gambling and 3). It’s a good thing I don’t really like gambling because I suck at it. My wallet and I stay happy that way ;)

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The entire time we were at the museum, we kept saying, “We should make grilled peaches for dessert.” But then we basically ate our way through Detroit and by the time we got back to their house, we were too full to even think about dessert despite stopping at the store to pick up the ingredients for it. Fail on us.

The weekend came to an end and I was still thinking about grilled peaches, but the thought quickly vanished when I saw my boys who came to pick me up from the train station. I came home and saw a package had arrived from one of my other best friends – Allison in MS. She sent me a southern care package of all local items in and around Oxford, MS!!

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From top right to bottom right: Two jars of honey from their honey bees. Uh yeah, did I forget to mention Allison and her hubby harvest bees?! One honey was from kudzu blossoms and the other wildflowers. She also sent me grits, and how-to guides on growing herbs. And finally kudzu jelly and hot sauce. I was in heaven.

But what caught my attention was that honey, because almost instantly my mind went back to the idea of grilled peaches. And with grilled peaches came the rest which included the frozen vanilla Greek yogurt we had in the freezer, the ginger snap cookies in the cupboard and that glorious, beautiful honey that kept staring at me from the counter.

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So I made grilled peaches for dessert, and thought about all my friends and what they mean to me. I might have also been thinking, “Damn, why didn’t I grill up two peaches instead of one?” but that’s just an afterthought.

Grilled Peaches with Honey
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A dessert so perfect for summer, you will make it year round!
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: summer, peaches, honey
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 peach, halved
  • ½ tablespoon butter (optional)
  • ½ cup frozen vanilla Greek yogurt (or ice cream of your choosing)
  • ¼ crumbled cookie of your choice (I used ginger snaps, about 2-4 mini cookies)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (I used wildflower and kudzu blossom) to drizzle
Instructions
  1. Heat grill or stovetop grillpan over medium heat
  2. Add butter to melt (optional but it will help the peaches from sticking to the grill pan)
  3. Cut the peaches in half around the pit
  4. Place peaches cut side down on grill and grill for 5 minutes on one side
  5. Flip and grill on the peel side for another 5 minutes
  6. The peaches are done when you see those beautiful grill marks
  7. Place peaches in bowl or plate
  8. Top with frozen vanilla Greek yogurt and crumbled cookies
  9. Add drizzle of honey
  10. Enjoy!

Macarons with Cecilia

Friday night as the snow fell and the roads got really horrible, I spent three hours learning how to make macarons! I took a class with Cecilia Mercante, a French pastry chef famed in town for her delicious, light French macarons. If you remember, one of my Danbo pictures a few weeks ago featured Danbo standing next to three macarons. We bought them at a local cafe in town that sells them. And where do they get them from? Cecilia of course. And bless her heart for making them!

Cecilia Mercante is a certified pastry chef and owner of Cecilia’s Pastries. She has an industrial kitchen attached to her home here in Ann Arbor and she offers a lot of amateur classes as well as ones for professional chefs. Her kitchen is amazing!

Her classes are also really small, which is great for learning. There was just me, and then three other ladies: two sisters, Kelli and Karen, and then another woman, Preeti. People come from all over the state to take her classes, too!

Cecilia’s process is simple: Watch me. Then you try it. It worked great in my opinion. First we all gathered around, introduced ourselves and then watched as she demonstrated how to make the meringue cookie. She was VERY technical, but explained that in addition to being a pastry chef, she also studied chemistry. So she knew all the science behind why the cookie is the way it is, why the egg whites are beaten the way they are, why you leave egg whites out the day before, etc. It was fascinating. I learned so, so much.

Almond meal combined with powdered sugar, then processed in a food processor

I won’t lie. Making macarons is very complicated. We knew this going into the class. When REB and I wanted to make them, we found recipes online that just seemed so hard! You have to separate the eggs and keep the egg whites in the fridge over night, then take them out 1-2 hours before you’re going to work the next day. This helps spread out the protein bonds in the egg whites so the cookies become light like they’re supposed to. Yay science!

Stiff peaks are key!

So when it was our turn to make them, we were a little nervous and intimidated, but again, Cecilia was there watching us and making sure we were following the recipe properly (and that we had listened to her during class time ;-)..)

Kelli showing us her WICKED green egg whites - she was making pistachio flavored macarons

We all took turns with the different mixers and adding in our food coloring based on which kind of macaron we wanted to make. If you noticed up there, mine was bright pink as I was making raspberry.

After folding our egg whites in with the almond meal/powdered sugar mixture (and learning how to fold properly without overbeating the egg whites to make sure we don’t deflate them), we had to “macaron” the batter, or break it down even more, so that it wouldn’t have lumps. Next, we had to fill our pastry bags and then pipe out the cookies.

Let me tell you…it was not an easy process, but it was so, so fun! There is a whole process of knowing how to hold your pastry bag properly, how to fill it properly so not to overfill it, or stain your bag. There is a process of how to stand over your baking tray, squeeze and make the size of the cookie you want (all mine were on the bigger side – whoops!). But the end result was seeing some beautiful cookies ready to bake!

Like many pastries, you have to let them sit before you bake them. I already knew from reading about how to make macarons, that if it’s too humid when you make them, it could basically ruin the cookie. That’s true for a lot of delicate desserts, but for these guys especially – it could be a bad!

So while we waited for them to set, then bake, then cool, Cecilia showed us how to make the most perfect, sweet buttercream to fill them. She added the flavors we were all making, and then added more or less depending our tastes :)

After we learned the proper way to remove the macarons from the parchment paper, and refilled pastry bags, this time with the buttercream, we set to work on depressing our cookies a touch and filling them!

The end result left each of us with about 30-35 macarons to take home! Since all of us liked the flavors the other made, we decided to share and take home some of each! It was so nice of the girls to share. I ended up leaving with raspberry, coffee, nutella, pistachio and rose flavored maraons!

It was hands down one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. I can’t wait to go back and take more classes with Cecilia. It will have to wait a few weeks while she’s in France. But I can’t wait until she’s back to learn how to make more yummy treats and of course, buy more macarons.

All of us!

Thank you Cecilia for taking the time to teach us how to make these amazing, yummy cookies! You are truly a wonderful teacher and so patient. I know we all learned a lot that evening and took away a lot from the class. Hopefully we won’t be scared to try making these on our own soon! But if not, we know where to find you when we need to cure our macaron fix :)
A Bientot!

Have any of you taken a cooking or baking class before?
What did you learn to make or bake?

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Vanilla Poached Pears

International eating is what took place in our home tonight. It all started with REB and I wanting to do something with the leftover block of tofu we had. We hadn’t made any kind of Asian food in a while, so we decided to do our recipe of General’s Tofu. We used up some mushrooms we had which made it even more filling and delicious! The problem? No fresh ginger. I don’t dare use ginger powder – call me a snob if you want – when it comes to Asian or Indian cuisine. Fresh grated ginger is the way to go. Luckily we live across the street from a Whole Foods so he ran over there while I started cooking.

When he came back he did come back with a ginger root, but he also came back with two Anjou pears (we already had one Bosc pear sitting in our fruit bowl), vanilla bean and a bottle of Riesling. I gave him a questioning look and all he said was, “Poached pears.” Ah, but of course.

We talked about making poached pears the other night, but we didn’t have all the ingredients we needed. At least not for the recipe he wanted to use. So anyway, after our vegetarian, VERY spicy variation of General Tso’s chicken, we decided to make the pears.

We adapted the recipe from Mr. Alton Brown. Don’t freak out when you see the recipe – you aren’t reading incorrectly. It does in fact take two hours from start to finish. However, this was one of the easiest recipes even if it took that long to make. I don’t think we realized the time frame, but once we started we just had to finish!

It’s a good thing he and I enjoy hanging out with each other ;)

The wait was worth it. Our place still smells like the sweet syrup. The sweetness of the pears was absolutely decadent. Who says you need to fly to Paris to enjoy a really good dessert? I can enjoy something sweet with my sweets right here and just in time for Valentines day :)

Vanilla Poached Pears:
•3 pears (We used two Anjou and one Bosc. You can also use Bartlett)
•1 bottle white wine (Riesling or any sweet wine will work best)
•1 whole vanilla bean, scraped and save the pod
•3/4 cup vanilla sugar
•1 cup water

Start by making the vanilla sugar. It’s nothing scary! Just take 3/4 cup granulated sugar and add in 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and mix well. You could also take another vanilla bean, scrape it, add that and some granulated sugar into a food processor and get it really fine. But the former is the easiest way to go in my opinion.

Next, in a 4-quart saucepan add the water, sugar, vanilla, vanilla pod and bottle of wine and bring to a boil.

Prepare your pears: core the pears from the bottom. The easiest way to do that is to cut off a tiny bit from the bottom of the pear, take a vegetable peeler, poke in, turn and cut out the core.  Lower the heat, add the pears to the pot, cover and let the whole thing simmer – a gentle simmer – for 30 minutes or until the pears are tender, but not too mushy.  Remove the pears and place in a serving dish and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Increase the heat back to high and let the sauce boil and then reduce until approximately one cup is left – this will take about 20-25 minutes. Pour the syrup into a heat-resistant dish (we used our Pyrex measuring cup) and refrigerate for one hour.

Long process? Yes.
Worth it? Absolutely.
Place a pear on a dish, pour the syrup over it and enjoy!


Are there nights you decide to make dessert last minute?

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Mango burfi

Indian sweets are really sweet. I don’t care for a lot of them, but there are some I absolutely I can’t resist. I did a recipe earlier this year for kheer (Indian rice pudding), which is REB’s absolute favorite.

Yesterday, my awesome sister showed me how to make mango burfi. Burfi is basically a solid mixture of sugar, condensed milk and spices until it solidifies. It’s sweet and has a nice, soft texture. There are many variations: plain, pistachio, cashew, etc. What we made was mango, because face it, mangoes are delicious.

Here’s what you’ll need:
•2 cups ricotta cheese
•2 tablespoons butter
•3 cups dry milk powder
•1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
•2 cups mango pulp (Canned)
•1 pinch ground nutmeg

Start by toasting the ricotta cheese in a saucepan over medium heat for 10 minutes. You need to stir it the entire time.
Once it starts drying out, add the butter and the dry milk powder and stir.
Once that’s incorporated and starts drying out, add the mango pulp.

Stir for 15 minutes then add the cardamom and the nutmeg. Taste the mixture to see if you need to add more sugar. Mango pulp is relatively sweet, so you shouldn’t need a lot of added sugar.  However, as I said, Indian desserts are sickeningly sweet, so feel free to add sugar to taste! Stir and cook this mixture until it starts pulling away from the sides of the saucepan, or until it starts taking shape. Oh! Another note: you’re stirring this the entire time, so use a spoon that won’t cramp up your hands.

To test it, take a little bit of the mixture and drop it on a plate. If you can touch the mixture without it sticking to your fingers, it’s done. You don’t want it to be sticky.

Pour the mixture into a greased pie pan or sheet pan and spread into an even layer. Cover and put it in the fridge to harden for 2-3 hours.

Optional garnishes are slivered almonds, crushed pistachios or edible foil.
Cut into squares and serve.

White Chocolate Bark

Had a late night craving for some chocolate. Don’t you hate when that happens? Luckily, with a few ingredients from the pantry that needed to be used up, we were able to calm the craving and our sweet tooth. It’s probably the easiest thing to make too. We made two batches. One with slivered almonds and dried cranberries, and one with instant espresso and chocolate cookie wafers. Both were delicious!

What you’ll need:
•12 ounces white chocolate chips (I guess any brand would do. I don’t skimp on chocolate so I buy the good stuff)
•2 teaspoons vegetable oil (1 for each batch)
•2 tablespoons slivered almonds
•1/2 teaspoon dried cranberries (REB isn’t a fan of fruit in chocolate, so I only sprinkled this on top instead of stirring into the chocolate)
•4 chocolate wafer cookies, crushed up
•1 teaspoon instant espresso

Start by cooling a cookie sheet in the fridge (will help harden the chocolate faster)

In a double boiler, add half the chocolate chip and stir with a rubber spatula until it starts to melt. When it’s almost melted, add in 1 teaspoon vegetable oil to help smooth the process. White chocolate melts at a higher temperature. Add in the slivered almonds and stir. Spread onto the cookie sheet and add some more slivered almonds and the dried cranberries on top.

Return the bowl to the double boiler and add in the rest of the chocolate chips. Once almost melted, add in the other teaspoon of vegetable oil to help it become smooth and melted. Add in the crushed chocolate wafers and instant espresso and stir.

Spread onto the other side of the cookie sheet. You can add the remainder of the chocolate wafers on top for some added texture.
You can really add what ever toppings you want in this though. I just happen to love dried fruit and nuts with white chocolate. The possibilities could be endless!

Put the cookie sheet in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
Then break it up into chunks and serve!

Kheer [Indian Rice Pudding]


I made Kheer tonight, which is Indian rice pudding. I don’t eat a lot of Indian desserts because they can sometimes be too sweet, but kheer isn’t so bad. This Indian dessert happens to be REB’s favorite. It’s velvety and rich, and has a nutty bite to it. It’s also incredibly easy to make!

He started his new job today so to celebrate, I made my mom’s kheer recipe just for him.

What you’ll need:
•1/2 cup uncooked Basmati rice, washed and drained (Basmati rice is long-rain Indian rice. The typical rice used in Indian cooking)
•4 cups milk
•3 tablespoons sugar
•5-7 cardamom seeds (in pod)
•1/2 teaspoon slivered almonds
•1/2 teaspoon crushed pistachios

In a saucepan, add the rice, sugar and milk and let it come to a boil (will take about 15-20 minutes). Since I’ve never made it before, I kept stirring it the whole time. You don’t want the milk to burn or it basically ruins the whole dish. Plus, if you let it sit around for that amount of time, it’ll get that nasty skin on top (not a fan of that), so I kept it moving.

Once it has come to a boil, you want to let it simmer gently until the rice is cooked and the milk has thickened. You’ll see the rice plump up and you can taste it to make sure it’s cooked. This took about another 15-20 minutes.

Add in the almonds, pistachios and the cardamom (in the pod and all!) and stir. Some optional ingredients you could put in to add a rich flavor include: rose water, ghee (clarified butter – very big in Indian cooking) or golden raisins.

It’s best and typically served warm, but you could serve it cold. Garnish with pistachios, almonds, cardamom, mint and enjoy!