Skillet Graham Cake with Peaches & Blueberries

I have been looking for an excuse to make this skillet cake since last summer. Graham crackers… peaches and¬†blueberries… streusel topping… and baked in a cast iron skillet? Irresistible. I finally had to make it after having too many ripe peaches on the counter. ūüėČ What an excuse!

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Chicago chef Stephanie Izard. (I have loved her since she won Top Chef.) The cake is baked on the grill in the original recipe. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 10 to 12

For the Streusel:

Make the Streusel:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat all of the ingredients together at medium speed until crumbs form.
  2. Press together to form a large mass.
  3. Transfer to 
a bowl and break into clumps.
  4. Refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.
Prepare the Fruit:
  1. Preheat an oven to ¬†300¬į F, preferably on convection.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the peaches with the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch.
  3. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat.
  4. Scrape the fruit and any juices into the skillet.
Make the Cake:
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk both flours with the graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with both sugars and the honey at medium speed until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla.
  4. Scrape down the side of the bowl and beat in the dry ingredients until just smooth.
  5. Spread the batter in the skillet in an even layer.
  6. Scatter the streusel evenly on top.
  7. Place the skillet on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, until 
a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. (The cake is cooked off of the heat in a grill for the same amount of time in the original recipe.)
  8. Let the cake cool for 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream.

I’m bringing my special skillet cake to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #184, co-hosted by Jhuls @The Not so Creative Cook and Petra @ Food Eat Love. Enjoy!

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Creamy Buttermilk Dressing

This recipe uses a combination of full-fat cottage cheese pureed¬†with buttermilk to get its creaminess instead of using mayonnaise. It was fresh and tasty. This dressing would work well with one of my favorite quick and light summertime meals of grilled chicken sliced over a cold salad. I made it when I was receiving an exorbitant amount of lettuce varieties in my CSA share. ūüėČ

The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by chef Eli Dahlin of Dame in Portland, Oregon. I used fresh CSA parsley instead of tarragon. I also increased the amount of minced shallots.

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese (4% milk fat)
  • 2 tablespoons¬†red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoons¬†Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot‚Ä©, minced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon or parsley
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium head of red leaf lettuce, torn
  • 2 heads of Boston lettuce, torn (or any other combination of lettuce)
  • sliced or cut tomatoes, cucumber, red bell pepper, avocado, or other vegetables, for topping, as desired
  • crumbled feta cheese, for topping, optional
  1. In a blender, puree the buttermilk with the cottage cheese, vinegar, Dijon and 
shallot until smooth.
  2. Scrape the dressing into a small bowl or jar and stir (or shake) in the chopped herbs; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In a serving bowl, toss the lettuces with some of the dressing and assorted toppings.

Note: The dressing can be refrigerated overnight.

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Iceberg Wedge Salad with Green Goddess Ranch Dressing

This post is belated because I’m still recovering from my husband’s extravagant birthday feast. Recovering from preparing it… and from eating it (for many, many days!). ūüėČ I must say that it was well worth every minute AND every bite.

His special celebratory feast¬†usually involves fried chicken with biscuits and gravy, macaroni and cheese, and his favorite Vanilla Bean Birthday Cheesecake for dessert. I have made Caesar salad as our “vegetable” in the past, but this year he requested a wedge salad. Yay! I love a change.

This recipe was adapted from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn, via Martha Stewart Living. I used 4 tablespoons of buttermilk to adjust the consistency of the dressing. I also adapted the way the iceberg lettuce was sliced to modify the serving size and simplify the eating process. We all LOVED it!

For the Green Goddess Ranch Salad Dressing:

Yield: Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives and/or scallions, plus more for garnish, optional
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste or 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons mild vinegar, such as white-wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
  • buttermilk or milk (optional)
  1. In a large bowl or blender, whisk or blend all the ingredients except the buttermilk.
  2. Add just enough buttermilk to thin to the desired consistency, if needed. (I used 4 tablespoons.)
  3. Pour into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to combine. Shake well before using.

Note: Dressing will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To Complete the Salad:

Yield: 4 Servings

  • Green Goddess Ranch Dressing (recipe above)
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into thick slices or wedges
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy
  • English cucumber, cut into slices
  1. Prepare Green Goddess dressing and set aside.
  2. In a 9 x 13-inch pyrex baking dish, bake bacon at 350 degrees for 20 to 3o minutes, until crispy.
  3. Place 1 iceberg lettuce slice/wedge and 4 to 6 cucumber wedges on each plate.
  4. Pour some dressing over top with crumbled bacon and minced chives over each serving, as desired.

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Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Soda bread is an essential start of the celebration in our house.¬†ūüôā

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. I loved the muffin adaptation- and the coarse sugar topping. I weighed the dry ingredients, reduced the baking time, and used turbinado sugar for the topping. Yummy.

  • 6 1/4 oz (177 g, 1 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 oz (85 g, , 3/4 cup) white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup (2 5/8 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups currants (first choice) or raisins
  • 1/2 to 2 teaspoons caraway seeds, to taste
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (8 oz, 227 g) buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream
  • 6 tablespoons (3 oz, 85 g)¬†butter, melted; or 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • turbinado¬†sugar, for topping
  • butter and/or jam, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 400¬įF, preferably on convection. Lightly grease a standard muffin pan with cooking oil spray; or line with papers, and grease the papers.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, currants or raisins, and caraway seeds.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk (or equivalent) and melted butter (or equivalent).
  4. Quickly and gently combine the dry and wet ingredients; honestly, this won’t take more than a few stirs with a bowl scraper or large spoon. As soon as everything is evenly moistened, quit; further stirring will cause the muffins to be tough.
  5. Using a cookie scoop, distribute the batter into the prepared pan, filling the cups about 3/4 full; the stiff batter will look mounded in the cups.
  6. Top with turbinado sugar, if desired.
  7. Bake the muffins for 14-15 minutes on convection, or up to 20 minutes in a standard oven, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove them from the oven.
  8. Tip the muffins in the pan, so their bottoms don’t get soggy. Wait 5 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a rack to cool.
  9. Serve them plain, or with butter and/or jam.

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Southern Cornbread Dressing

Okay… back to my belated Thanksgiving feast posts…

I struggle selecting a “stuffing” for our Thanksgiving Menu. This version was simple and perfect. I loved that it was a traditional Southern recipe and that it incorporated an unsweetened cast iron skillet cornbread.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Kim Severson. I used medium grind cornmeal. The cornbread is made the night before so that it can harden slightly. I let the cubed white bread sit out overnight as well. We ate it without incorporating meat, but this base recipe could easily be modified to include sausage or even nuts and/or apples. The author suggested eating leftovers mixed with shredded leftover turkey as well.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Cornbread:

  • 4 tablespoons/56 grams butter or bacon drippings
  • 2 cups/340 grams yellow cornmeal, medium grind (use the freshest, best quality you can find)
  • 1 ¬Ĺ teaspoons coarse¬†salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups/473 milliliters buttermilk, preferably full fat (I used low-fat)

For the Dressing:

  • 3 cups soft white bread, crusts removed and torn or cut into 1-inch pieces (do not pack)
  • ¬Ĺ cup butter (1 stick), plus more for the pan
  • 2 cups chopped sweet onions
  • 1 ¬Ĺ cups chopped celery (4 or 5 stalks)
  • 1 ¬Ĺ teaspoons coarse¬†salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¬ľ tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • ¬ĺ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 cups rich chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade

Optional Additions:

  • 3/4 pound pork sausage (such as spicy Italian sausage, fresh andouille or spicy Southern-style sausage)
  • 2 1/2 cups of toasted pecans, chopped
  • chopped apples
  1. Make the cornbread: Heat oven to 450 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Put butter in an 11-inch skillet. Cast-iron is best here, but any ovenproof skillet will do. Heat butter in oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until butter has melted and is just starting to brown.
  3. While butter melts, whisk together cornmeal, salt and baking powder.
  4. In another small bowl, lightly beat eggs, then add buttermilk and stir until mixture is combined.
  5. Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and stir well.
  6. Remove hot pan from oven, pour butter into batter and stir until batter looks uniform.
  7. Pour batter back into the pan and bake for 20 minutes or until the top has begun to just brown.
  8. Remove cornbread and let it cool on a rack.
  9. Tear or cut it into large pieces and place in a large bowl. Let it sit out overnight to dry out slightly.
  10. Prepare the dressing: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cornbread and white bread in a large bowl, tossing to mix, and breaking cornbread into smaller pieces.
  11. Melt butter in a large skillet, and add onions, celery and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté until vegetables have softened, about 6 minutes.
  12. Add vegetables to bread mixture and combine.
  13. Lightly beat eggs and add to bowl.
  14. Sprinkle in herbs, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper and toss together.
  15. Add 4 cups broth and stir well.
  16. Using your hands, work the mixture to get a very lumpy, thick, batter-like consistency.
  17. Add another cup of stock if needed. The mixture should be very wet and pourable but without standing liquid.
  18. Butter a 2-quart ovenproof dish. (such as an 8-by-11-inch baking dish. A deeper vessel could take longer to bake; a more shallow dish less time.)
  19. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake until dressing puffs slightly and has browned well around the edges, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  20. If you have drippings from a roasted turkey, spoon some over the top about 30 minutes into the baking time.

Notes:

  • To Add Sausage: Brown 3/4 pound pork sausage in a pan, crumbling it into small pieces as it cooks. Add to the bread mixture along with the vegetables.
  • To Include Nuts: Add 2 1/2 cups of toasted pecans, chopped, to the vegetable and bread mixture.

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Oatmeal Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

It’s hard to beat a special summer breakfast loaded with fresh berries. Similar to¬†the muffins in my last post, the whole wheat flour and oats in the batter make this special treat a substantial meal¬†as well.

This recipe was adapted from New York Times, contributed by Martha Rose Schulman. I decreased the batter resting time and increased the amount of blueberries. Delicious!!

  • ¬Ĺ cup rolled oats
  • ¬Ĺ cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¬Ĺ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¬ľ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ¬Ĺ cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups¬†fresh or frozen blueberries
  1. Combine the milk and rolled oats in a bowl, and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the buttermilk and whisk together. Then whisk in the vanilla extract and the oil.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and quickly whisk together. Do not overbeat; a few lumps are okay. Fold in the oats and milk. Let sit for one hour, or refrigerate overnight. (I let it sit for 30 minutes without a problem.)
  5. If necessary, spray the hot griddle with pan spray. Drop by 3 to 4 tablespoons onto the hot griddle. Place six or seven blueberries on each pancake. Cook until bubbles begin to break through, two to three minutes. Turn and cook for about 30 seconds to a minute on the other side, or until nicely browned. Remove from the heat, and continue until all of the batter is used up.
  6. Serve hot with a small amount of butter and maple syrup.

Note: Keep these, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for a few days, or freeze for up to a few months.

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Extra-Crispy Birthday Fried Chicken with Biscuits & Milk Gravy

Every spring, along with my husband’s special (made to order!) birthday dinner, I like to share part of the springtime experience at my house. In the past, I’ve complained about the goose families (with their beautiful goslings…) and the ducks who’ve seemed to chase them away. The new development this year is that my son (and husband) have been chasing the geese away with a drone!

  IMG_4083  IMG_4078

The house finches returned but have moved their nest from our entrance column to the top of our propane gas tank! BUT… The extraordinary¬†event this year was that we have had frequent visits from a very special Night Heron. What fun!

IMG_4530

Well, onto the food. My husband has had little variation in his birthday dinner menu request for the past several years. Although I did repeat my caesar salad and vanilla bean cheesecake recipes (his true favorites), I spiced up the celebration by trying new fried chicken and biscuit recipes. This year, he asked for double fried chicken. After researching, I realized that this really means double battered fried chicken, not literally¬†double fried. It had the most amazing¬†crispy and thick crust with just the right amount of spice. The birthday boy loved it! We ate leftovers for days and never tired of it. Absolutely delicious. (He may even want it again for Father’s Day!)

The chicken recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz.¬†It did seem like a labor intensive recipe, and required planning in advance, but the chilling and resting times involved helped the breading adhere to the chicken meat. I doubled the recipe and pan-fried (instead of deep-frying) the chicken in Ukrainian sunflower oil. I also omitted the bourbon and used Sriracha instead of Frank’s hot sauce in the batter.

I served this indulgent meal with a side of creamy macaroni and cheese and with our new “Happy Birthday” fork! ūüôā

I’m bringing this special birthday meal to share with my friends at Fiesta Friday #123 this week co-hosted by Margy @ La Petite Casserole and Linda @ La Petite Paniere. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 8

For the Chicken:

  • 4 tsp¬†coarse salt
  • 2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp¬†baking powder
  • 10 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

For the Assembly:

  • 3¬†cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 T¬†garlic powder
  • 2 T¬†onion powder
  • 2 T¬†paprika
  • 4 tsp¬†cayenne pepper
  • 4 T¬†coarse salt, plus more
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 2¬†cups buttermilk
  • 4 T¬†bourbon (optional)(I omitted it)
  • 6 T¬†hot sauce (such as Sriracha or Frank‚Äôs); plus more for serving (optional)
  • 2-3 cups sunflower, peanut or other vegetable oil, for frying

Prepare the Chicken:

  1. Trim chicken and dry on paper towels.
  2. Mix salt, sugar, and baking powder in a small bowl. Season chicken all over with salt mixture (you may not need all of it).
  3. Chill uncovered on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. (I let it sit for about 12 hours.)

Assemble the Chicken:

  1. Whisk flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, and 4 T salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk egg, buttermilk, bourbon (if using), and 3 T hot sauce in another medium bowl.
  3. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken in flour mixture, turning to coat and packing into crevices. Shake to remove excess; return to rack.
  4. Pour 6 T buttermilk mixture into flour mixture and work in with your fingers.
  5. Dip chicken into remaining buttermilk mixture, allow excess to drip off, then pack moistened flour mixture firmly onto chicken. Gently shake off excess; return to rack. Chill at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.
  6. Pour oil into a 12-inch cast iron skillet, about 1/2-inch deep. Heat over medium-high until a deep fry thermometer registers 350¬į. (I was diligent about maintaining the temperature throughout the cooking process.)
  7. Working in batches, fry two chicken thighs at a time, turning often and adjusting heat to maintain temperature, until deep golden brown, about 6 minutes per batch.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack set over paper towels to drain.

For the Biscuits:

This simple biscuit recipe is unlike any other I’ve made in the past. The dough is prepared and then rests at room temperature for 30 minutes. The result was wonderful!¬†This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton.

Yield: Serves 8   Time: 1 hour

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 T¬†baking powder
  • 1 scant T sugar
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 5 T cold, unsalted butter, preferably European style
  • 1 cup whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Pulse flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor (or whisk to combine in a large bowl).
  3. Cut butter into pats and add to flour, then pulse 5 or 6 times until the mixture resembles rough crumbs. (Alternatively, cut butter into flour in the mixing bowl using a fork or a pastry cutter.)
  4. Return dough to bowl, add milk and stir with a fork until it forms a rough ball.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and pat it down into a rough rectangle, about an inch thick. Fold it over and gently pat it down again. Repeat.
  6. Cover the dough loosely with a kitchen towel and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Gently pat out the dough some more, so that the rectangle is roughly 10 inches by 6 inches.
  8. Cut dough into biscuits using a floured glass or biscuit cutter. Do not twist cutter when cutting; this crimps the edges of the biscuit and impedes its rise.
  9. Place biscuits on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

For the Milk Gravy (recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman):

  • 3 T fried chicken pan drippings
  • 2-3 T all-purpose flour
  • 1-2 cups milk (I used 1 percent)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, add pan drippings and flour. Whisk immediately. It should be smooth.
  2. Keep stirring until the mixture begins to brown, 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan.
  3. Whisk in 1 cup of milk. Cook until desired thickness is achieved- adding more milk if desired.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cut biscuits in half and pour gravy over the top to serve.

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