Do you like flatbread? My son and I will quite often share one while dining out. It’s a nice appetizer to share with friends or if you’re not super hungry. Peaches are in season now and they pair nicely with prosciutto. It’s a nice light alternative when you don’t want to eat something too heavy. Now I know it might sound weird to be firing up the oven to 425 on a hot Summer day, but they bake rather quickly once you’ve assembled them. Alternatively you could throw them on the grill as well and enlist some friends to help assemble. Cut into wedges and serve with a nice crisp white wine while lazing around the pool.
Summer Peach and Prosciutto Flatbread
yield: serves four
4 store bought naan flatbreads (such as Stonefire brand)
6-8 slices prosciutto ham, sliced into 1/4 inch ribbons
7 oz. white cheddar cheese, sliced into thin slices (I used Kerrygold aged white cheddar)
fresh thyme leaves
2 fresh peaches, washed and dried and cut into thin slices
fresh ground pepper to taste
red onion sliced thin (optional)
approx. 2 Cups fresh baby spinach, sliced into 1/4 inch ribbons
Preheat oven to 425° F. Place flatbreads on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool for a few minutes, then spread a thin smear of apricot preserves over each flatbread. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, 5 slices of white cheddar broken into pieces, ribbons of prosciutto, and 5 slices of peaches. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. If you like, you could add some thin slices of red onion (I did not have any in the house, but I think it would be nice). Bake for 10 minutes until flatbreads are crisp and golden brown. Top with the lemon-olive oil dressed ribbons of spinach. Cut into wedges and enjoy.
Lemon-Olive Oil Dressing
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
pinch of each salt and pepper
In a medium bowl whisk together the ingredients and then toss the spinach gently to combine.
This simple ‘recipe’ is devoted to all the lovely ladies who are battling or have survived breast cancer. It is part of my annual posts for Breast Cancer Awareness
And a special shout out to my friend AK!
Pink Candied Popcorn
2 bags popped white microwave popcorn OR 1/2 Cup (kernals) white popcorn popped in air popper or kettle* See note
1 bag pink Wilton candy melts
mixture of white, pink, and dark pink m and m’s
kosher salt to taste
*Note: A quick and easy way to air pop in a microwave: Place popcorn kernals in a brown paper lunch sized bag and fold over the top twice- place in a microwave on high for about 3 minutes or less to pop. Stop microwave when you hear the kernals stop popping with about 3 seconds between pops. Each microwave is different, so error on the side of under popping as not to burn.
Sort through popped corn and remove any un-popped kernels. Place popcorn in a large bowl.
In a microwave safe bowl place Wilton candy melts and melt in a microwave stopping to stir, and check at 30 second intervals.
Pour melted candy over popcorn and stir with heat proof spatula until coated. Sprinkle in a hand full of m and m’s while stirring and stopping to sprinkle in pastel rainbow sprinkles. Pour coated corn onto a Silpat lined baking sheet or a parchment lined sheet. Sprinkle salt to taste. Allow corn to set; which will take 30 mins. or longer depending on how humid your weather is.
Several years ago I went on a Caribbean cruise with a stop in Jamaica. It was a quick stop and I really, really, really, wanted to go on this agricultural tour, so I signed up since I’m a total geek when it comes to things like that (I love anything that involves a working plantation where they show you how they harvest crops). I’m a sucker for it-I Love it. It did not disappoint. I was able to see trees of cocoa pods, allspice trees, and various other tropical fruits and plants. After our tour we were taken to another part of the island to have a catered lunch which had Jamaican meat patties as part of the spread. OMG, where had these little beauties been all my life. Well- duh- they were in Jamaica. I needed these in my life. Eventually of course I forgot about them until fast forward, years later when I came across an actual recipe for them by chef Lucinda Scala Quinn. You may know her by the show Mad Hungry. She apparently spent quite a bit of time in Jamaica in her day and her cookbook-which I checked out from the library has some amazing authentic recipes. I did tweak the recipe slightly by adding a pinch of cinnamon, a little more salt than her recipe, and ended up using empanada premade dough rounds found in a Hispanic market, but I’ve included her original recipe for her dough here.
Jamaican Meat Pies “Patties”
recipe: slightly adapted from Lucinda Scala’s Cookbook: “Lucinda’s Authentic Jamaican Kitchen”
Pastry: recipe from original recipe which I did not use*
*Full disclosure- I used store bought Goya empananda dough rounds-which I found in a Hispanic market in the frozen food section. They worked perfectly! They came 12 in a package- which ended up working to use exactly all of my filling. If you can find them it saves a lot of time, but here is the original recipe for the pastry.
2 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 Cup butter (1 stick)
3/4 Cup ice-cold water
(optional: 2 Tbsp. curry powder- I personally would omit this– it’s part of the original recipe) by Lucinda (I’m not a huge fan of curry and I thought the curry in the filling was suffice)
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and (optional curry) in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl. Working quickly; using fingertips, squeeze together the flour mixture and butter and toss together by scooping under the mixture with both hands. When mixture resembles a very coarse meal, add the water to the bowl. With floured hands, mix and squeeze the dough just until it forms a ball. Knead it once or twice to combine it fully (avoid too much kneading). Form the dough into 2 pieces, flattening each into a thick pancake shape. Wrap in plastic and set them in the fridge to chill for at least 15 minutes. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before using it.
Roll out each dough round on a lightly floured surface and cut 4 3/4 inch sized rounds. (This is the size of the Goya empanada rounds I found and thought the size was perfect).
Place a large spoonful of the cooled filling on one side of the dough round, and using a clean finger, paint water around the border. Fold over the opposite side of the dough; being careful to press out any air bubbles and press to crimp. Use the tines of a fork to crimp to seal. The patties may be frozen at this point and saved to bake off later. To bake: brush with egg wash, sprinkle with (optional) a little bit of kosher salt, and bake in a preheated oven at 400° F. for about 16-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Egg wash: one egg whisked together with 1 Tbsp. water.
1 lb. ground beef (I used 90 % lean)
1 small-medium onion, diced
3 scallions, chopped fine (white and green parts)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Habanero peppers, seeded, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. curry powder
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cinnamon
2 Cups water
1/2 Cup plain (dried) bread crumbs
1. In a large bowl mix the beef, onion, scallions, garlic, peppers and thyme. In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat and add the beef mixture. Fry until the meat is browned and the moisture is evaporated. Add the curry powder, salt, black pepper, and cinnamon, stirring constantly and allowing a crust to form somewhat on the bottom of the pan; scraping frequently to avoid burning. Add the water and stir the mixture, scraping the bottom to incorporate any browned crust. Add the bread crumbs and stir. Cover, and reduce heat to very low and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the meat mixture to a bowl and allow to cool, refrigerate if you plan to assemble the pies on a separate day.
I’m a huge fan of slice and bake. These little tasty crackers are the savory cousin to the sweet sable we all are familiar with, such as pecan sandies. Slice and bake is your friend when you need to bring something to a party since you can make the dough ahead of time and they take no time to slice and bake off. These sables taste even better the next day after baking-they intensify a bit in flavor. You can easily double the recipe and store extra logs in your freezer for an impromptu party snack- just make sure to wrap them well in parchment paper and label them and seal the ends well. You can increase the cayenne in these if you want a really spicy cracker, but the amount I’ve used below also packs a nice subtle after burn.
Romano Parmesan Cheese Sables
yield: ~ 4 1/2-5 dozen
13 Tbsp. (1/2 C + 5 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, room temp
1 Cup grated Romano cheese
3/4 Cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 Cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1. In a food processor combine the softened butter and cheeses to combine. Add the flour, salt, and pepper and pulse to combine. Divide dough in two halves and roll each half into a log about 1 1/4 inch in diameter. Wrap each log in parchment paper and chill for about 40 minutes.
2. Unwrap paper and slice logs into 1/4 inch slices. Place crackers at least 1 inch apart on a parchment lined or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake at 325° F for about 17-19 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Allow to cool over a wire rack. Store leftover crackers in an airtight container.
This recipe is great on a cold Winter day. I’m probably a week or so late though since the polar vortex in the Midwest and Eastern United States has past. For my peeps in the Midwest; keep this in mind for the next time it gets really cold or you need an activity to keep the kiddos busy. The pretzels are really fun to make, so it’s great to get the kids involved to have a go at shaping the pretzels. Chances are you have all the ingredients already on hand. You will need granulated (active dry) yeast though. An added bonus if it’s really cold is these bake at a pretty high temperature so the house gets nice and toasty. You could also shape these into little 1 inch bits (dip size) and make them for the “Big Game” or a fun party snack served with different types of mustard. The recipe is from Alton Brown and I added an extra step by brushing the pretzels once they come out of the oven with butter; just like the ones you get in the mall. If you like a sweet version, dip the pretzels in cinnamon sugar on both sides. Another alternative is you could sprinkle on some pizza type seasoning, or sprinkle with chopped jalapeno/chopped green chili and shredded cheddar cheese.
Salty Classic or Cinnamon/Sugar Soft Buttery Pretzels
salty version (with kosher salt)
Cinnamon-Sugar (my fave)
Shown: pretzels out of the soda bath and brushed with egg yolk mixture ready for the oven. Note: The pretzels puff up in the soda bath, (and in the oven), (next time I would make the rope a little longer than the recommended 24 ” so it is thinner-say 26 “) to define the shape a bit better
Soft Buttered Pretzels (sweet or salty)
- 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
- 2 ounces (1/4 Cup) unsalted butter, melted
- Vegetable oil, for pan
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Pretzel salt (or coarse sea salt or kosher salt would be fine)
- Optional: cinnamon sugar (mix 1/2 Cup sugar with generous 1/4 tsp. cinnamon in a shallow bowl)
1. Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.
2. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes (the dough should make a slapping noise as it hits the side of the bowl and you know it is ready).
3. Remove the dough from the bowl, (it will be sticky and that’s normal). Place it in an oiled large bowl and turn dough over so both sides are oiled. Cover with an oiled piece of plastic wrap or wax paper (I like wax paper) and put in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
5. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-26 inch rope. (The original recipe says 24 inches, but I think a bit longer would be better). Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and fold down the tails towards you to press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
6. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 at a time, for 30 seconds. (I find it easy to place the pretzel onto a very large spatula; like a pancake turner size and then place into the water- the pretzel will release on it’s own). Remove from the water. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt (omit the salt for cinnamon sugar version). Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving. Brush with softened butter while pretzels are still warm. (I find it handy to use the other half of a stick of butter; just peel off a bit of the paper and “brush” over the pretzel).
7. For cinnamon sugar version: omit the salt before baking and after resting for 5 minutes, brush pretzel with butter as above and dip both sides generously into a shallow bowl filled with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
For 1 inch pretzel bits: bake ~ 10 minutes
Sakura sugar is sugar blended with cherry blossom flowers. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing this sugar is. I know I needed to make something simple to let the sugar be the star. Simple baked donuts. Light, infused with cherry flavor and tossed in this amazing sugar. Now I know most of you will not be able to get your hands on this sweet sugar, so I included a version for cherry glaze that you can dip the tops of the donuts in. Enjoy~
cherry glazed version
Baked Cherry & Sakura-Sugar Donuts
recipe: adapted from Doughnuts by Lara Ferroni
3/4 Cup all purpose flour
1/4 Cup pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. dried cherry powder
1/3 Cup super fine sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 Cup whole milk, scalded
1/4 Cup plain yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, beaten
dried cherries, diced (optional)
Cherry Glaze Topping:
1 Cup confectioners sugar
~ 2-3 Tbsp. cherry juice
1. Prepare a mini donut pan by greasing lightly with oil. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Sift the flours and baking powder together into a large bowl or the bowl of a mixer. Whisk in the sugar, dried cherry powder, and salt. Add the butter and use your fingers to rub it into the dry ingredients as you would in making a pastry crust, until even distributed. Add milk, yogurt, vanilla and egg and stir until just combined. Fold in dried cherries (if desired). Do NOT overmix or your donuts will be rubbery.
3. Using a piping bag or small spoon, fill each doughnut well until about 3/4 full, making sure each center post is clear. Bake until light golden brown and donuts spring back when touched, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly before attempting to remove from pan.
4. For sugar coated: dip each donut into melted butter and roll in sakura sugar.
5. For cherry sugar glazed: mix the confectioners sugar and cherry juice until desired consistency (you are looking for thickness like heavy cream). Dip top of each donut into glaze and let set up over a wire rack. Sprinkle with decorative or sakura sugar.