Oh the joy of a homegrown summer peach! You know the kind—the ones that smell like a peach and taste like a peach. A “drip down your arm as you bite into it” peach—the kind that are so hard to find in the grocery store these days. Luckily I have my friend Chris Parker, owner of the Courtwood Inn, here in Murphys. She recently brought me a bag full of gorgeous peaches from the trees in her yard. "What can you make with these that I can serve to my Inn guests for breakfast?" she asked. I think this recipe is just the thing. Creamy without using cream, spicy with cinnamon and nutmeg and peaches that pop with the color of a 'sunny side up' egg. Serve with the sauce and whipped cream for a great dessert or with tangy yogurt for a tasty summer breakfast. Add a side of salty bacon or sausage for the perfect brunch.
Just Peachy Bread Pudding
6 T butter
8 cups day-old French bread with the crust on, cut or torn into bite sized pieces
3 cups whole milk
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
6 large peaches, *peeled and sliced lengthwise into 1/4" slices
6 large eggs
1 T vanilla
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 t kosher salt
3 - 4 T brandy
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 10" x 14" baking dish. Put the bread pieces in the baking dish and pour the milk over them, stirring to coat all the pieces. Let soak for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, melt the butter with 3/4 cup of sugar in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the sliced peaches and cook 1-2 minutes until they release their juices. Strain into a bowl and reserve. Whisk the eggs, 1 cup of sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Pour over bread and stir to combine. Fold in peaches. Put the baking dish in a large roasting pan, put in the oven and fill with very hot water to come halfway up the side. Bake until the pudding is browned, puffy and firm when pressed, about 1 hour.
Simmer the reserved juices until steaming. Whisk in the brandy. Serve the pudding with the sauce and whipped cream.
*the peaches I used were easy to peel by just pulling the skin away from the flesh. I usually have to get some boiling water going, cut an 'X' in the bottom of the peach and then submerge in the boiling water for about a minute until the skin peels off easily, just like you would do a tomato.
I lived for a time in Munich when I was in my early twenties and I have a very fond memory of a walk in the Austrian Alps, stopping in a small farmhouse and eating a dish called Kaisersmarrn. Named for the Emperor Franz Joseph, "Kaiserschmarnn" translates to "King's mess". It may look like a mess but the taste is divine. I have thought of this tasty treat so often that I finally decided to see if I could possibly duplicate that food memory...I think i did it! This turned out better than expected when I decided to whip the egg whites separately rather than incorporating them right out of the shell. Wolfgang Puck did a version of this dish on an episode of The Barefoot Contessa but it was a much fancier version than I remembered so I kept looking for a good recipe until I found one that felt authentic. This recipe is about as close as I can remember, crunchy with caramelized sugar, sweet with raisins and fluffy like an egg-y pancake. I just can't wait for you to try it.
Kaiserschmarren - "Emperor's Mess"
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 cup half and half or milk
2 T sugar, divided
1 t Myers rum or Grand Marnier
3 T flour
3 T butter, divided
1/4 cups raisins, if you have time, let them soak in the rum for a bit to plump
powdered sugar for serving
applesauce or plum jam (or compote) for serving
Separate the eggs by placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk the yolks with the vanilla, the half and half, about 1/2 T of the sugar, the rum, flour and salt, set aside. Beat the egg whites with 1/2 T sugar until soft peaks form (alternately, whisk by hand with a balloon whisk or use a hand mixer). Add the egg whites into the yolk mixture a little bit at a time, folding in lightly so you don't lose the volume of air, you want this to be fluffy like a soufflé with a bit of a pancake element. Melt 2T butter in a 12" non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and cook over low heat, covered, until lightly browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the raisins, add a bit of butter to the sides of the pan and sprinkle with a bit of sugar, then flip over by cutting the pancake down the middle and flipping each half over separately. Brown on this side, abut 2 minutes more and then while still in the pan, tear into pieces with two forks (making a 'mess') sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve hot with a side of applesauce or plum jam. Serves 1 for breakfast or 2 for dessert.
I love the month of May! The signs of spring are all around us and the weather is warm, but not too hot yet. Among my family and friends, May has a lot of birthday and anniversary celebrations—and then there is, of course, Mother's Day! I am fortunate to still have my mother in my life. She lives a couple of hours away and I try to spend a few nights with her each month. My mother is a wonderful woman but she has a weakness—she has a scary sweet tooth. She and her roommate Pearl are devout cookie, candy, cake, brownie and ice cream aficionados...it's everywhere in their house! Candy dishes in the living room, baskets of deliciousness on the kitchen counter and always ice cream in the freezer. Every time I stay with her I have to be on my guard.
I am making this scrumptious lemon cake to take to my mother this weekend because she loves desserts and because lemon is her favorite flavor. Although this desert travels well, I imagine it won't last long—none of the sweets in their house ever do. Happy Mother's Day!
Lemon Buttermilk Cake*
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 c grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t kosher salt
3/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3/4 c buttermilk, at room temperature
1 t pure vanilla extract
For the glaze:
2 c confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 1/2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, then add the lemon zest.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Pour the batter into the pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes then remove the cakes from the pan and set them on a rack set over a sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.
Note: I did not do the final glaze on the cake pictured above because I served it with my lemon curd. If you get my blog in your email or follow me on FB, you will see the cake with the glaze there.
Once upon a time, I worked as a pantry chef at a wonderful restaurant in the old section of Oakland called the Gulf Coast Oyster Bar and Specialty Company. It was during the heyday of new restaurants in the 1980's when people like Alice Waters and Jeremiah Tower were just starting to influence the food scene. My boss Dan, architect turned restauranteur, hailed from Louisiana and everything about his restaurant vision had to be authentic NOLA and very fresh. He had his poor mother fly in red fish, shrimp and oysters straight from the gulf on a daily basis! I remember the cast iron skillet being on the stove non-stop, ever ready for that spiced, red fish to hit the pan. Boy, we could hardly breathe when the spices started to 'blacken'. This bread pudding hails from that time in my life. It has been on every café menu of mine ever since (Lily's, Alchemy, Wren Café). It is a fond memory of many of my beloved customers so I thought it was about time to share.
Laissez le bon temps roule!
Croissant Bread & Butter Pudding
1 ¾ c heavy cream, extra for whipped cream on top (if desired)
2/3 cup sugar
1 t vanilla
½ t cinnamon
½ c unsalted butter, melted
4 -5 croissants, torn into random pieces (or 4 cups day old bread, cut in to 1” cubes)
¼ cup golden raisins soaked in bourbon until plump (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the croissants in a 9 x 9 square cake pan. Scatter raisins over the top, if using. Whisk together the first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Melt butter on stove top or microwave and add slowly to cream mixture whisking constantly. Pour over bread cubes and allow them to sit for a few minutes to soak up the cream mixture a little bit. There should be enough bread to cover the bottom of the pan and a scant second layer. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until the custard is set and the pudding is puffed and brown. Cut in to 6 - 8 portions and serve warm or chilled with whipped cream. Raspberries, strawberries and peaches are delicious on top. Feel free to substitute any kind of leftover cake, bread or muffin for the bread cubes. Some of my favorite’s are banana bread, ginger bread, apple-spice cake, cinnamon rolls and brownies! You get the idea!
I usually make fruit crisps for an easy summer dessert (June 2016) because they are inexpensive and go together quickly, but a cobbler strikes me at my Texas roots with its biscuit-like topping and homey appearance. The topping is "cobbled" rather than smooth; and is generally dropped or spooned on in small clumps over the fruit, allowing bits of the filling to show through. A great ending for a late summer bbq. Just add some homemade ice cream or whipped cream and you're all set! Priscilla, this recipe's for you.
Texas Hill Country Nectarine Cobbler
8 nectarines, pitted and sliced
4 T sugar
3/4 t cornstarch
juice & zest of one lemon
1 t vanilla
pinch of kosher salt
1 1/2 c flour
2 T sugar
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 t baking powder
1 c buttermilk
6 T unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 400°F and set rack to middle position. In a large bowl, combine nectarines with sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice/zest, vanilla and salt. Stir well to combine. Scrape peaches and any juices into an 8- by 8-inch baking dish and set on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake on middle rack for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine all dry ingredients for cobbler crust in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers, to make the texture like coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and stir to form a soft dough, don't over mix. Drop spoonfuls of biscuit dough all over nectarines, smoothing slightly to avoid any overly thick sections and mostly covering the fruit, return cobbler to oven and cook for 25 minutes more until the biscuit topping is browned and a knife comes out clean when inserted through the top. Let rest at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream on the side.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"