Thursday, September 27, 2007

Cupcakes - the obsession

OK -- I'm inspired. By a company who does a phenomenal job of making truly creative (and apparently tasty) cupcakes. Whiskie Bits Bakeshop.

Whiskie Bits is a one-woman dealio, if I'm not mistaken. So, her creations are truly impressive. Just check out her site and tell me you don't agree.... mochamisu cupcakes, anyone? And they're PRETTY too!

Some of you might know that Peef and Lo have been obsessed with cupcakes for quite a while now. And that we baked up a veritable FEAST of cupcakes for our niece's birthday just last year.

Now, it appears, we have more food for thought.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Stout Floats - Take TWO

Admittedly, our first try at stout floats was a bit disappointing. But, we're not the sort of people who give up easily. So, we decided to try them out again -- this time with a bit of improvisation. Basing this version on what we know about Irish "car bombs" -- as well as the taste memory of something we sampled recently in a local restaurant -- we came up with the following recipe.

Peef and Lo's Car Bombs

Slow Roasted Pork with Melted Apples

I had to share this fantastic recipe, which we made to share with friends over the weekend. It's a lovely, fall-apart roast, with an exceptionally flavorful marinade. I would cut down on the salt the next time I make this; but, otherwise, it's exceptional. And perfect for an autumn meal.

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Melted Apples

Monday, September 17, 2007

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup

What better idea for the hoards of heirlooms we harvested from the garden?

This is a LOVELY soup. Recommended by a friend, and one of the best I've tried in years.

Roasted Tomato Soup
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (mix of fresh heirlooms, cherry, vine and plum tomatoes)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 small yellow onions, sliced
Vine cherry tomatoes for garnish, optional
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I did use less oil here)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 quart chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, optional
3/4 cup heavy cream, optional

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Wash, core and cut the tomatoes into halves. Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves and onions onto a baking tray. If using vine cherry tomatoes for garnish, add them as well, leaving them whole and on the vine. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until caramelized.

Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot (set aside the roasted vine tomatoes for later). Add 3/4 of the chicken stock, bay leaves, and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.

Wash and dry basil leaves, if using, and add to the pot. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Return soup to low heat, add cream and adjust consistency with remaining chicken stock, if necessary. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish in bowl with 3 or 4 roasted vine cherry tomatoes and a splash of heavy cream.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tormented Eggplant

So, I thought I'd come back to share the beloved "tormented eggplant" recipe, since so many of you have commented to me that it sounds so good.

It definitely takes a bit of effort at the outset -- but it is SO worth it.
I love the recipe even more because it comes from a guy by the name of Biker Billy. Gotta love that, right?

Tormented Eggplant: A fiery recipe for your summer barbecue
Your riding buddies will be quite surprised by these barbecued devils. Sitting on your grill, they look like whole, plain eggplant, no thrills there. But when you remove them from the grill and slice 'em open, oh boy, it's party time! The sharp tang of the jalapeños blends wonderfully with the earthy tones of the sun-dried tomatoes. The process of slowly roasting on the grill allows the eggplant to become infused with all those great flavors.

Sliced crosswise, 1/2 to 1 inch thick, these Tormented Eggplants make the perfect centerpiece for a plate of grilled vegetables, or a welcome side dish with any pasta or Italian-style main course. I also enjoy making sandwiches with them. However, when you serve them, the only torment will be deciding who gets the last serving.

You can prepare them the day before you grill them.

2 medium-sized eggplants
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 medium-sized onion, diced
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, minced
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
5 to 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
Toothpicks for securing

Cut the blossom end (opposite to the stem end) off each eggplant. (It is best to cut inwards at an angle, so that the end, when it is removed, resembles a cone. This will help the open end seal better after the eggplant is stuffed.) Using a long, thin sharp knife, carve out most of the flesh from inside each eggplant. Be careful to leave the skins intact (and unpunctured), with a 1/2-inch-think layer of flesh still attached. These hollowed eggplants form "shells" that will be stuffed later. Set the shells aside and coarsely chop the scooped-out flesh.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the jalapeño peppers, onion, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook until the onion begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, black pepper, oregano, and the chopped eggplant and cook until the eggplant is tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. And the basil and mozzarella cheese and toss together.

Stuff each eggplant shell with the filling. Close the eggplants by replacing the ends, using the toothpicks to hold them in place. Place on a hot grill and adjust the distance from the fire to ensure slow roasting (turning often to expose all sides to the flame) until the eggplant is tender on all side, 30 minutes.

Cut the roasted eggplant crosswise into thick slices and serve them immediately, remembering to remove the toothpicks.

From Biker Billy's Freeway-a-Fire Cookbook

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Grill Fest 2007 In Pictures

Some images from Grill Fest 2007
Prepping for Tormented Eggplant

Tormented Eggplant - the final product

Perfectly Grilled Sweet Corn

Garlic Lime Shrimp with Dip

Happy, Satiated People (eating coconut-lime sours)

Grill Fest 2007

And now, what you've all been waiting for ... a glimpse of Grill Fest 2007. Grill Fest is one of our favorite summer traditions. Each Labor Day weekend (or thereabouts) we get together with friends and create an incredible season meal.

This year's grill fest was a veritable local feast (with a few obvious exceptions... can you say shrimp? and coconut?).

What was on the menu?
  1. "Damn hot" peppers
  2. Lime & garlic marinated shrimp with horseradish cilantro dip
  3. Goat cheese stuffed tomatoes
  4. Rustic grilled garlic toasts
  5. "Tormented" eggplant (eggplant stuffed with sundried tomatoes, garlic, jalapenos, and other goodies)
  6. Grilled corn on the cob with herbed compound butter
  7. coconut-lime sours

Aren't you just drooling already?

I'll be back with pictures in just a bit!