Eat!

Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Peach Upside Down Cake



Peach Upside Down Cake
I know there aren’t many desserts on my blog. I don’t enjoy baking because there is very little space for mistakes. I am not, by nature, a precise person. If you aren’t either, just cheat and buy a boxed cake mix. It would work fine in this recipe.

But just because I don’t like to bake, doesn’t mean that I can’t. And so, in the interest of variety, I made this cake for you. My grandmother used to say, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can pull it off.” So, I’m not bragging to tell you this cake is good. If you want your cake to be good, there are some things you need to know. Use cake flour. It is finer than regular flour and will make your cake less dense. Sift the dry ingredients. It also makes for a lighter cake. You probably don’t have a sifter, I don’t. I do have a strainer with a handle. Just put all the ingredients in that and tap until everything sifts through. Also, put the butter out to soften rather than melting it in the microwave. It won’t cream properly and your cake will be heavy. This cake recipe can be used without the peaches and it makes an excellent yellow cake.

Peaches are in season. So, I tried to think of a way to turn them into a dessert. I was at a dinner and someone served pineapple upside down cake and an idea creeped into my head. Why not Peach Upside Down Cake? Actually, this is stone fruit upside cake, because I used plums and apricots, too. I thought it would be prettier and more interesting.

(Learn how to peel a peach here.)
 
Serves: This makes 2 single layer cakes-16 slices
Time:  Active time 20 minutes; Cook: 45 Minutes, cake in an hour
Hardware: Measuring spoons and cups, a sifter, 2 mixing bowls, mixer, rubber spatulas, sauce pan, whisk, 2-8-inch round cake pans, parchment paper, 2 large cake plates

Ingredients:
  • 6 fresh, peeled peaches, sliced very thin
  • 1 cup packed, dark brown sugar
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • ⅔ cup butter + ½ cup butter (this is 2 ⅓ sticks)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • Butter for the cake pans
It looks as good as it tastes
  1. Set ⅔ cup of the butter out to soften for at least an hour. Don’t melt it in the microwave. It doesn’t cream properly if you do.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter the bottom of the pans and line them with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Melt the rest of the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat. Whisk until everything is incorporated. Spread the brown sugar out over both pans. Use just enough to coat the bottoms. You may have some leftover. You can reheat it later and spoon it over the cake before serving. Carefully, line the pans with the peach slices.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  5. Cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.
  6. Add the eggs, vanilla and sour cream to the butter and beat until thoroughly mixed.
  7. Add ½ the flour and ½ the milk to the butter mixture and beat until just mixed. Add the rest of the flour and the milk and beat for about 1 ½ minutes. Don’t over mix or your cakes will be dense.
  8. Spread the batter evenly over the peaches. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes. Place a cake plate over the pan and carefully flip them over. Peel off the parchment paper. If some of the peaches stick, just place them back into place.
  9. You can serve this warm, at room temperature or cold. You can top the cake slices with the leftover brown sugar mixture and some vanilla ice cream.

Friday, July 21, 2017

How to Peel a Peach













Peaches are in season. Often to use a peach you will need to peel it. Have you ever tried to peel a peach with a knife? If you have you are going to love this entry. If you haven’t, save yourself some time and do this. This method will produce perfectly smooth, beautiful peaches with no nicks or blemishes.
Time:  10 minutes, which includes waiting for the water to boil
Hardware:  A paring knife, a pot of boiling water, a large bowl of ice water, a large slotted spoon or skimmer




Ingredients:
Ripe Peaches

1.       Put a large pot of water onto boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.


















2.       Cut a small ex in the end of the peach opposite the stem.


3.       Carefully lower the peaches into the boiling water. Allow them to boil for no more than 30 seconds. Using the slotted spoon remove the peaches from the boiling water and place them in the ice bath.
 
 



4.       Let them sit in the ice for 30 seconds.
5.       The skin will just peel off.



This method will work for all thin skinned fruits and tomatoes.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Authentic Style Shrimp Tacos



Authentic Style Shrimp Tacos
 We have recently been eating at a local taco place, Cilantro Tacos, for lunch. The owner is Mexican-American and is from Southern California. His tacos are nothing like “Taco Night.” Shredded cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream are not offered as toppings. No one asks, “Do you want hard or soft shells?’ Because these tacos are authentic. The shells are soft, corn tortillas that are small enough to be held in your hand. The only toppings are chopped onion and fresh cilantro. Then why eat them? Because they are delicious. What makes real tacos special is the variety of meats available. You can get everything, but ground beef. Braised beef, carnitas (stewed and then fried beef), tongue, grilled shrimp, fish, steak, chicken are all cooked with different spices and piled into freshly made tortillas. I am in love.

While not claiming that these are authentic, I did take inspiration from my new favorite lunch spot. If you don’t like cilantro then fresh, flat-leaf parsley is a good sub. You can shake the jalapeno strips in the flour to make them even crispier. For side dishes, I served red pintos cooked with bacon fat, onions, chopped jalapeño and a little oregano and of course white rice. Get at least 2 kinds of salsa. I used Frontera Tomatillo and Frontera Mexicana Medium. These are excellent with a good cold beer.

Serves: 10 handheld tacos (3-4 people probably)
Time:  Active time 30 minutes; Cook: 15 Minutes, tacos in 35 minutes
Hardware:  A cutting board and knives, measuring spoons and cups, a heavy skillet (for frying), a slotted metal spoon (or a spider/skimmer), an oil thermometer, 1-gallon plastic bag, a paper towel lined, oven safe bowl, a bowl of very cold water, paper towels, and food prep gloves

Ingredients:

  • 1-pound large shrimp (21-25 count) You can buy them cleaned without tails
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • 2 large jalapeño peppers
  • Small Spanish onion (6 ounces, 1 cup)
  • A bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 10 white corn, soft-shell 4-inch tortillas
  • 3 limes
  • Oil for frying
  • Your favorite salsa (not taco sauce)


1.      Chop the onion and place it in the cold bowl of water. This helps take the bite out of it. Wash and chop the cilantro and set aside. Slice the limes. Wearing the gloves, slice the jalapeños into long thin strips.
2.      Rinse and pat the shrimp dry. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons chili powder and a generous amount of salt on the shrimp.
3.      Place the flour and corn starch in the Ziploc with the remaining seasonings and a generous pinch of salt. Shake the bag. Add the shrimp to the Ziploc bag and shake like crazy. Set aside.
4.      Add enough oil to fill the heavy skillet up half way. Heat it on medium high. When the temperature reaches 375°, the pan is ready.
5.      Drop the jalapeño strips into the oil and allow them to crisp up. Remove and save to use as a topping.
6.      Shake as much flour as you can from the shrimp. Fry them for 3-5 minutes or until cooked through. Don’t crowd the shrimp. You may need to cook them in batches. Use the thermometer to keep the temperature between 370° and 375°. Using the slotted spoon, move them from the oil to the paper towel lined bowl. You can keep them warm by placing the bowl in the oven on the lowest setting.
7.      Drain the onion, completely.
8.      To prepare the tacos, heat the tortillas according to package directions. Fill each tortilla with some shrimp, onions and cilantro. Squeeze on lime and then top with French fried jalapeños. Offer your guests salsa.