Saturday, July 30, 2011

Peach Dessert

It's late July and fresh peaches are in season.  I picked up some real beauties at the Durham farmer's market and used them to make my familiy's all time favorite dessert.  Something we just call "Peach Dessert".

How do I begin to describe this dish?  It's the kind of thing you would expect to see at good church potluck dinner.  It's not a pie, it's not a cake, it's not a torte or a trifle or a pudding.  I think the closest thing to categorizing this is to call it an ice box cake.

This recipe comes from Joyce Dekker and the 1983 congregation cookbook from Bethany Reformed Church in Sheboygan Wisconsin.  The dessert consists of crushed Oreo cookies, a rich buttercream icing, loads of fresh peaches and Cool Whip.  It may sound like a strange combination of flavors, but trust me , this is absolutely crave-able and will call you in the middle of the night for just one more tiny spoonful.
Bethany Reformed Church, Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Now, a word about Cool Whip.  If you know anything about Mama Ozzy, it's that I love real whipped cream.  I have never been a fan of Cool Whip, but in this particular dish, there's nothing that can compare.  I have made this in the past and used real whipped cream, and it wasn't nearly as good.  I think it's because this dessert must chill overnight before serving, and definitely gets better and better the longer it sits in the refrigerator.  Real whipped cream gets runny and funky sitting this long, Cool Whip on the other hand remains stable and fluffy.  Go with the Cool Whip, just do it.

Peach Dessert
serves 8

4-6 large peaches, peeled and pitted.
1/2 lb. crushed Oreo cookies
1 1/2 sticks salted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
8 oz. Cool Whip

Peel and pit the peaches.  To peel peaches simply drop them in a pot of boiling water for 15 -30 seconds.  Run them under cold water and then the skins will easily just slip off.

Crush Oreo cookies in food prcessor until fine.   In a 9x9 square pan or a 7 x 11 rectangular pan, place a layer of the crushed cookies (reserving 1/2 cup for topping).
Line the bottom of the dish with crushed cookies

Combine butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl and beat until sugar is incorporated and mixture is fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and continue beating until very light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and mix in.  Drop large spoonfuls of buttercream on top of Crushed cookies in pan, and then carefully spread mixture to the sides.
Place large dollops of buttercream on top of the cookie layer...

...then gently spread to corners with a spoon.

Top with sliced peaches, then cover with Cool Whip and sprinkle with reserved crushed cookies.  Cover and chill overnight before serving.  (This dessert must be kept refrigerated because it contains raw eggs.)
Cover buttercream with sliced peaches...

...then cover with Cool Whip and crushed cookies.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Butternut Squash and Sweet Corn Risotto with Saffron and Lemon Thyme

Happy Birthday to Mama Ozzy's Table!  It's hard to believe, but one year ago today this blog was born with the post Turkey Meatball subs.  Here's to a year of good eating!  In that time over 11,000 people have visited my table.  Bring on year two!

My daughter Rachel has been visiting in Durham for the last week, which meant it was time for me to cook up a storm.  Since Rachel likes to only eat meat on special occasions we decided it would be fun to do an all vegetarian weekend.  So, on Saturday morning, in 100 degree weather, we went to the Durham farmer's market to look for inspiration for the weekend's menu.

I am a big fan of the Durham farmer's market.  Everything is grown and produced locally and everything is organic.  There are no "super vendors" with enormous stalls that look more like the produce section at the grocery store than an organic mom and pop farm.  Most stalls at the Durham market are one or two tables and the vegetables and fruits are absolutely fresh and beautiful.  We bought sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes, basil, tiny potatoes, a growler of sweet potato lager from Fullsteam brewery, cantaloupe, and so much more.

When we got everything home and unpacked we had to decide what to make with our treasures and settled on making a squash and sweet corn risotto with herbs from the garden.  This dish was really delicious and the flavors of the squash and fresh sweet corn were amazing together in the saffron infused rice.  We garnished the dish with fresh lemon thyme, but I think even dried thyme would have been excellent!

Butternut Squash and Sweet Corn Risotto with Saffron and Lemon Thyme
serves 6-8

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small (1/2-inch) cubes
3 ears of sweet corn (I used silver queen), kernels removed with a large knife
1 shallot minced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups vegetable stock, heated to a simmer
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of saffron
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp fresh lemon thyme leaves.

Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet.  Add shallots and saute 20 seconds.  Add rice to pan and stir to coat rice until covered with oil.  Fry rice over medium high heat until it begins to turn opaque (about 5 minutes).

Add Squash, salt, saffron, cinnamon, garlic and white wine.  Cook until liquid is absorbed almost completely.

Begin adding hot stock to rice one ladle at a time, stirring constantly until the mixture is nearly dry before adding another ladle of stock and continue this process until all the stock has been used (about 30 minutes) stirring constantly.

When all  but the last ladle of stock has been added, add corn kernels to pan and stir in with last ladle of stock.  Stir until almost dry.  Add butter and stir in.  Add parmesan cheese and stir in.  Garnish with lemon thyme leaves and serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sweet Corn Pancakes

July means fresh sweet corn, even for breakfast!

While Rachel was here last week, we decided to have an all vegetarian weekend.  Having an enormous pile of beautiful silver queen corn from the Durham farmer's market, I decided that fresh corn pancakes might be a delicious breakfast item.

These were great!  They were super easy to make and packed a wollop of sweet crunchy corn flavor.  We served them with honey and maple syrup and a side of bacon (I know, bacon isn't a vegetable, but we used it as a condiment).  In the future I think crumbling the bacon into the pancake batter would be excellent!

Sweet Corn Pancakes
makes about 16  4-inch pancakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 ears of sweet corn (I used silver queen), kernels removed with a large knife
1 1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

In a large bowl combine flour, corn meal, sugar, baking power and salt, whisk to combine.  Add corn kernels and mix to thoroughly coat corn with flour mixture.  In a large measuring cup, combine milk, oil and egg and mix with a fork to combine.  Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until everythng is just combined and no dry patches remain. DO NOT OVERMIX.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-medium high heat.  Add 1/4 cup batter to make three pancakes.  When bubbles appear on the surface and the edges appear dry, flip pancakes.  Repeat until all batter has been used.  Finished pancakes can be placed on a baking sheet, covered with foil and kept warm in a 200 F oven.  Serve with lots of butter, honey and maple syrup.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Raspberry and Blackberry Cobbler

Back in the day when I was in graduate school, one of my fellow grad students Melissa taught me to make this cobbler.  Melissa was from Mount Holly North Carolina and was a country girl through and through.  This recipe was her late mother's recipe and I was so honored when she agreed to give it to me.  I have been making it ever since and I always raise a spoon to the memories of berry picking in the Tenessee summer and coming home to make this dish.

This is hands down the easiest cobbler I have ever made and it is also the most delicious.  It is one of those 6-ingredient wonders that tastes like so much more than the sum of it's ingredients.

It can be made with virtually any fruit, blackberries, cherries, peaches, strawberries and rhubarb, plums, blueberries etc.  The batter is scraped into a baking dish and the fruit dumped on top.  During the baking process, the fruit sinks to the bottom of the dish and the batter froms a crisp, dense cake-like cobbler topping that is completely addictive.  Serve with ice cream and you have the ultimate in summer desserts!

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!  Cobbler goodness...

Raspberry and Blackberry Cobbler
serves 6-8

1 cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk
2.5 - 3 cups raspberries and blackberries mixed
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) salted butter

Preheat oven to 400F.  Place butter in a 9 x 13 baking dish and melt butter in dish in oven.  Remove baking dish from oven.  Mix dry ingredients in a bowl until well combined.  Add milk and mix to form a batter.  Pour batter into prepared baking dish, spreading to corners.  Top with fruit.  Bake 35 minutes until puffed and bubbling and golden.  Serve hot or warm with vanilla ice cream.

Blueberry Chutney

A couple weeks ago my friend Al sent me a link to a contest for food bloggers which was sponsored by the Blueberry Council.  I was really excited but between having a terrible summer-time cold (they're the worst) and work I missed the deadline and never entered the contest. 

But that left me with a list of blueberry ideas I had come up with, and some of the ideas were just too intriguing to me that I simply have to make them.  So here is the first idea on the list, blueberry chutney.

I love the combination of flavors in this chutney, sweet, fragrant with ginger, orange and cinnamon, and spicy from jalapeno pepper.  I had intended to make this as a condiment to be used in other recipes for the contest, which I will also blog, but I am presenting the chutney here as a stand alone recipe.  I am very happy with the result of this funky spicy blueberry jam.  I intend to use it to make goat cheese and blueberry chutney springrolls as well as a condiment on a blueberry banh mi (vietnamese roast pork sandwich).  I also think this could make a lovely last minute glaze for chicken or pork roasted in the oven.

This is not a difficult recipe, but it does require a rather hefty time commitment since it must cook slowly over low heat in order to thicken the chutney without burning it.  Your reward, aside from 2 cups of amazing chutney, is that as it slowly simmers on the stove top, it will infuse the air with the scent of ginger, blueberries and cinnamon.  Your entire house will smell amazing!

Blueberry Chutney
makes about 2 cups

1/2 onion diced
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno (not seeded)
1 walnut-sized piece of fresh ginger
peel of 1 large orange, removed with a vegetable peeler
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

In a food processor combine onion, garlic, jalapeno, ginger, and orange peel.  Process until finely minced.  Transfer mixture to a saucepan and heat over high heat until ginger and garlic begin to sweat.  Add remaining ingredients and cook until mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered for 2- 2.5 hours, stirring every 15 minutes until mixture is very thick like jam.  Transfer to airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep one month if refrigerated.

Friday, July 15, 2011


The weather has been outrageously hot the last couple days with temperatures reaching 100.  When it's this hot the last thing I want to do is cook a hot meal.  That's where recipes like this come in handy.  A hearty, cold salad packed with flavor.  This salad is very easy to make and is a real crowd pleaser.

I love panzanella, a rustic Italian bread salad with tomatoes and cheese and herbs.  This dish is great with any kind of grilled meat or just on its own. Since the bread is the star of this salad, be sure to use a really good artisanal bread.

serves 8-12

1 loaf good artisanal bread cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

6-8 large ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 red onion sliced thinly (I use a mandolin)
1/3 cup capers
1 cup fresh basil leaves roughly torn into pieces
1 cup coarsely chopped buffalo mozzarella (or feta cheese)
1/4 grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 250 F.  Place bread cubes on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1/2 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Toss to combine and evenly coat the bread with the oil.  Bake for one hour until bread is lightly golden and crisp.

While bread is toasting, combine tomatoes, onion, capers, and basil in a large bowl.  in a separate bowl whisk together vinegar, olive oil and sugar, then drizzle over tomatoes.  When bread is finished, toss hot bread cubes with tomatoes and dressing.  Add cheeses and toss to combine.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pot Sticker Salad

Happy July 4th!  It is hotter than Hades here in Durham on our nation's birthday, and I heard on NPR this morning that our government is forgoing their usual July 4th recess in order to work on America's impending financial crisis.  Should we raise the debt ceiling and become indentured servants to China?  Don't ask me.  But it seems like an inevitability that China is quickly becoming America's American Express.  Hopefully we'll be able to make the monthly minimum payments!

So as a nod to our new financial overlords, we have decided to prepare an all Chinese fourth of July feast.  Nothing goes with hot weather than icy cold cocktails and cool chinese cuisine, and fireworks (chinese again!).

Mama Ozzy's Sino-American Fourth of July Menu:
Shiitake Teryaki grilled Salmon
Cold Potsticker Salad
Cold Stir-fried green vegetable and rice salad
Marco Polo summer fruit tiramisu (raspberries and blackberries on pound cake with mascarpone cream (I know, not Chinese, but Marco Polo went to China, so I am thinking outside the box)

This is Mama Ozzy's variation on the traditional chinese cold noodle salad.  The recipe comes from the late great chinese chef Barbara Tropp, whose legendary China Moon Cafe in San Francisco was one of my very favorite restaurants.  The recipe is incredibly easy, and the addition of potstickers (my daughter Emma's genius idea!) gives it that over the top indulgence that has gotten our nation in the financial shape it's in!  So Eat up!  It would be un-American not to!

祝你)生日快乐  名 美洲

Potsticker Salad 
Serves 8

1 lb dried egg noodles
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp sugar
1 bunch scallions, cut into thin rings
2 dozen frozen potstickers prepared according to package directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare egg noodles according to package directions.  While noodles are coking, combine soy, balsamic, sesame oil and sugar in a large bowl.  Once noodles are done, strain and add hot noodles to dressing in bowl, toss to combine.  Add scallions and potstickers and toss to combine.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.

Of course this salad can be made without pot stickers and is equally as good, just not as much fun!

Cold and Spicy Thai Noodle Salad
Add 1 tsp Fish sauce, 3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter, and 1 -2 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce to the soy sauce dressing.  Add 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro to the salad with the chopped scallions.  Garnish with dry roasted cashews or peanuts.