Caramelized Peaches

by Anne Maxfield on June 30, 2016

Accidental Locavore Caramelized PeachesDo you have recipes that you’ve used a lot in the past and then somehow they get lost in the shuffle?

For the Accidental Locavore, it’s often a combo of the thrill of the new along with some old favorites that push the good-but-not-part-of-the-repertoire aside. This is one of them and serves 4:

  • 4 large peaches, unpeeled
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • Water as needed
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Cut the peaches in half and pit them, set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed pan, add sugar, corn syrup and just enough water to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Cook until sugar caramelizes and becomes a deep amber color. Keep an eye on it as it can go from good to burnt in an instant.

Add the chilled butter, a few small pieces at a time, whisking constantly until all the butter is emulsified into the caramel.

Place the peaches, cut side down, in one layer in the pot with the caramel. Cover pot with foil and roast for 20 minutes.

Remove foil and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 5-10 minutes. Serve with your favorite ice cream and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Peaches in CaramelMy verdict: I’d forgotten how good this was! As much as the Accidental Locavore loves biting into a perfect peach, there’s something about cooking them that’s equally wonderful.

While this is a great go-to recipe for less-than-perfect peaches, it works even better with ripe ones, and if you can get freestone peaches, it’s a huge help.

I did this as my version of peach shortcake with buttermilk biscuits and vanilla ice cream (homemade) but you really don’t need the biscuits, it’s wonderful just with ice cream.

I have an idea about putting the pot on the side of a hot grill instead of in the oven…for that touch of smoke and so I’m not heating up the kitchen, but haven’t tried it yet. What do you think?

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Is This the Most Useless Kitchen Utensil Ever?

by Anne Maxfield on June 27, 2016

Accidental Locavore Banana CutterIn the process of writing the story of the endless banana dessert, the Accidental Locavore found and ordered a banana slicer. Now this is something I normally would have scoffed at, but since I was writing about slicing bananas, it seemed like it might be something useful and amusing for the story.

Wrong.

I couldn’t find a way to work it into the text, so I thought some photos of it in action would add to the story.

Wrong again.

However, I learned some interesting facts about banana slicers.

It’s curved, theoretically to fit the shape of a banana. Maybe you’re supposed to bring it with you to make sure the bananas are bent the same way as the slicer. Maybe bananas in China are shaped differently.

My banana wasn’t the same shape as the slicer. This led to some strategic thinking. Do I want the apex of the banana to match the apex of the device? Or, do I want the ends to be perfectly sliced?

Accidental Locavore Banana ShapeTime suck.

Finally going with the curve, I bore down on the slicer.

Applying weight did cut the banana. It also left mushed banana on the bottom of my cutting board and the fruit in question.

Since there was crushed banana on the bottom of the “slicer”, it had to be flipped over and the pieces had to be pushed through individually. Not a pretty sight.

I was finally left with not-very-clean slices of banana (and for the record, this was a fairly firm banana) and a banana slicer that had lots of little sections to be cleaned.

Accidental Locavore Banana SlicerSince you can almost slice a banana with a bread knife, it stands to reason that any sharp knife will make quick work of a banana, not need alignment, make better slices and be a quicker clean up.

I went out and bought a couple more bananas and did a time trial. All times start with peeled bananas, and include slicing and cleaning of utensils.

Accidental Locavore Banana ContendersBanana slicer total time: 54 seconds (plus another 5 or so to reclean a couple of stray pieces). Disclosure: I allotted the straighter banana to the slicer.

Knife total time: 40 seconds (and I wasn’t speed-cutting a la Jacques Pepin).

Accidental Locavore Knife Sliced BananaMy verdict: Of all the ridiculous single-use kitchen items, this has got to be the most useless thing ever to hit my kitchen! Luckily, it wasn’t a splurge. From some Internet site, shipping included, it was less than $5. If, for some reason, you’d like to try it for yourself, let me know in the comments. I’m happy to send it to a good home. And if you think you have a more worthless kitchen utensil, please let everyone know!

 

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Bacon Jam

by Anne Maxfield on June 23, 2016

Accidental Locavore Bacon JamWhile we all know that everything * is better with bacon, some things just make you beg for more – bacon jam is one of those things. The Accidental Locavore isn’t sure where she first had it, but it was really, really good.

And versatile.

And easy to make.

And I had a whole bunch of lardons from recent batches of bacon.

This, from Ottolenghi, makes about a pint jar. You’ll run everything through a blender or food processor so don’t worry about being too neat with the pieces.

  • 10 ounces bacon, cut into 1/2” strips
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (if needed)
  • 2 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ cup bourbon (or scotch)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon wholegrain mustard
  • 1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Accidental Locavore Bacon Jam PrepCook the bacon in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, until golden brown and starting to crisp, about 12 minutes.

Transfer to a small bowl, keeping a tablespoon of fat in the pan (if there’s not enough fat, add some olive oil). Fry the shallots, garlic and spices for a minute, then add the bourbon, maple syrup and mustard.

Leave to reduce for a minute, turn the heat to low and add the vinegar, sugar and bacon. Cook, stirring for a minute, until the liquid is thick and coating the bacon.

Put all the contents of the pan into a small food processor or blender (better) and process to a rough paste. Store in a glass jar in the fridge or serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Bacon Jam ProcessedMy verdict: What’s not to like? Try it on a grilled cheese sandwich, hamburger, scrambled eggs, crackers with goat cheese, etc.

Comment and let me know what you use it on.

 

*except for bacon swizzle sticks plunged into cold Bloody Marys and bacon/chocolate bars.

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Have You Ever Had a Restaurant Experience Go Bananas?

by Anne Maxfield on June 20, 2016

 

What could be funny about having a banana for dessert? Read on – it’s probably not what you think.

A long time ago, we’d been traveling through Europe shopping and eating (for work, believe it or not). At that time, the food in London was pretty unexceptional so it was more of a detox place after binging in Milan and Paris.

Late and hungry, we hit the hotel restaurant for what we hoped would be a casual dinner.

No such luck.

White linen tablecloths, silver domes choreographed to reveal carefully prepared dishes – you know the drill. At the end of the meal, the Accidental Locavore just wanted a little something sweet – maybe a piece of fruit, maybe a banana because being American, it could just be picked up, peeled and eaten.

Wrong!

The banana came on a linen-draped mahogany serving cart, under yet another silver dome.

“How would Madame like her banana served?”

Huh?

“Just peel it and I’ll eat it.”

Accidental Locavore Banana on TrayThe waiter carefully started to perform delicate surgery to remove the peel. After a few struggles with a recalcitrant victim he declared it uncooperative and left to find a better victim.

Finally, he liberated it from its skin.

“How would Madame like her banana sliced?”

Seriously?

“Slice it into coins”

“How thick?”

“About the size of a quarter (forgetting for a moment where I was)”.

After being sliced to order and artfully arranged on a plate, I was delighted at the prospect of finally getting my damn banana – not to be.

“What sauce would Madame like with her banana?”

“Sauce?”

“Yes, Chef has prepared two sauces for Madame.”

Not wishing to disappoint the chef and realizing it was just easier to play along, I chose both sauces.

Sadly, I couldn’t tell you what they were, maybe a chocolate sauce and something fruity, because by this time my dinner partner and I were choking, trying so hard not to laugh! We both knew that if either of us started to laugh we were never going to stop!

Instead, I finished my banana, signed the bill and we ran out of the restaurant barely making it to the elevator where we were doubled over with laughter all the way to our rooms!

 

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