Thursday, July 9, 2009

pop quiz: rustic fruit desserts

i was expecting a free cookbook in the mail, since i was a finalist in a culinate blogging contest. but for some reason, i was suspicious when i saw a mystery package on my welcome mat. what on earth could ten speed press be sending me? after a few seconds, i figured it out and ripped open the package. yay...rustic fruit desserts!!! i did a little dance and thought about how this is the perfect cookbook for the beginning of summer - the recipes are even separated by season.

as i flipped through the pages, i found myself wondering what are rustic fruit desserts exactly? i thought i knew what crumbles, buckles and cobblers were, but what on earth are pandowdies? i found the descriptions in the introduction and quizzed myself. when i was at my mom's house a few days later, i quizzed her too. we both knew a lot, but we also learned a lot too.

what do you think? do you really know rustic fruit desserts? here's a little quiz to test your knowledge. these descriptions came directly from the introduction; i just changed the order.

i'm going to describe the recipes i tested - and give you a few hints. ;)

my friend candace made the stone fruit slump, with a little coaching from me. this was her first dessert! not bad, huh? she adjusted the recipe by adding a pinch of cardamom to the simmering white and yellow nectarines. then she covered the skillet and steamed the dumplings on top of the fruit. it was sweet, but not too sweet and the cardamom perfectly complemented the nectarines. the dumplings were fluffy and flavorful and a scoop of vanilla ice cream was the perfect topping. you can find the recipe here.
a few days later, i made an upside-down sweet cherry cake (not in the quiz, sorry). it was my first time making caramel, and this recipe seemed easier than others i've seen. i just boiled butter, sugar and lemon juice until the color changed from beige to amber. after pouring the caramel in the cake pan, i arranged pitted bing and rainer cherries on top. it was a standard orange butter cake, but soft egg whites were folded in just before baking. this cake was sweet and rich, but with a very light crumb. i didn't know that cherries and oranges complement each other so well.

to make the lemon blueberry buckle, i mixed the cake batter and sprinkled the crumb topping over the cake. then i drizzled lemon syrup all over, as soon as it came out of the oven. the sturdy texture reminded me of a muffin. it was wonderfully tart and a slice would be great for breakfast. you can find the recipe here.

so tell did you do on the pop quiz?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

mo' better food

i heard mo' better food returned to west oakland on june 13. when i went to the farmer's market the following weekend, there were only 2 booths, but don't worry. there was a large selection of fruits and vegetables.

scott family farm displayed baskets of onions, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, onions, green beans, potatoes, lemons, oranges, nectarines, peaches, red and green tomatoes. wow! i was surprised at the variety of fruits and vegetables.

my heartbeat raced as my hands hovered over the basket of fragrant nectarines. i picked up a nectarine and breathed in the floral perfume. the skin was almost silky and it felt heavy for it's size. without squeezing too hard, i pressed a finger into the nectarine, ever so gently. a grin appeared on my face as i realized these will be perfect for the recipe i read earlier that day: stone fruit slump.

as i inched to the other side of the table, i saw all of those beautiful vegetables. again, i felt flustered as my imagination went into overdrive. the possibilities are endless! i settled on some zucchini and squash for a side dish, tomatoes and lemons for a raw pasta sauce, and oranges and lemons for cookies. at $10, my first visit to mo' better foods was a bargain.

watch mr. scott's interview to see what he has to say about the industry and his farm. on top of the "chemical free" and "natural" fruits and vegetables, it's a business i feel good about supporting.