Monday, August 27, 2012

Fresh Peach Greek Yogurt Cake

So, last we talked, I had about seven pounds of peeled and pitted peach chunks in the fridge that were too ragged and juicy to freeze.

When I checked on them the next morning, they were also rapidly browning and starting to look pretty unappealing. I used most of them to make another quart of peach jam (this time with brandy), but diverted a few into a peach breakfast cake.

The recipe is based on Boulder Locavore's Fresh Peach Sour Cream Coffee Cake, except that I used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, omitted the streusel/nut topping, substituted lemon extract for almond (would have used vanilla, but it all went into the jam), and chopped up my unlovely peaches to put inside instead of on top.

It was excellent fuel for a day of putting things in boxes and socializing with friends and strangers who dropped by for our book swap.

Fresh Peach Greek Yogurt Cake

Cream 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Add 1 egg and mix. Add 1/2 cup Greek yogurt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or your extract/flavoring of choice.

Add 1/2 teaspoon each baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon (and/or other spices of choice). Add 1 1/2 cups flour and mix until well combined. Fold in a couple big handfuls of chopped peaches, drained of any juice.

Pour batter into a 9-inch square pan or something similarly sized. (I used a 10.5 x 7-inch Le Crueset baking dish.) Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean.

Eat topped with additional Greek yogurt, fresh peaches, or peach jam.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Peach Jam and Peaches in Syrup

Sara brought me twenty-three pounds of peaches from a couple untended trees at her school. (That's nowhere near keeping up with the amazing League of Urban Canners, but it's our humble contribution to harvesting otherwise unwanted fruit.)

We launched a large-scale blanch, pit, and peel operation this morning (yes, after unsuccessfully searching the Internet for "no peel peach jam"), and quickly learned that we had two varieties of peaches (one clingstone and one freestone). To heap insult upon insult, the clingstones also refused to peel neatly.

I used ten pounds of the peaches to make twelve half-pints of jam. I like Punk Domestics for unusual peach recipes (peach vanilla prosecco jelly, spicy peach jalapeno jam), but I went with a pretty straight-up peach-vanilla-ginger recipe (variant of this one) today, hoping for a simple classic to rival last summer's Concord grape jam. Yum!

I was thinking I'd freeze the rest of the peaches for another day, but they were less-neat-wedges and more-soupy-mess and would have frozen into a solid block of peach popsicle.

So thinking of pies and crisps and crumbles, I stumbled on this discussion ("Too many peaches"), and was inspired back into canning action. I canned three quarts of the pieces, covering them with hot simple syrup, tucking in sprigs of fresh rosemary and basil, and boiling ten minutes to seal. Hoping that the fruit and syrup will seem like an inspired dessert served over pound cake this winter.

P.S. Some people use their peach pits and peels to make things like peach pit jelly and peach butter. I got as far as chopping up all the peels in the food processor and cooking the slurry down to butter-like consistency, but I didn't like the texture and didn't feel like cooking them for two more days to see if it improved. Ended up straining the results for a couple cups of spiced peach syrup.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bread and Butter Pickles

Hello, all! It's been a busy summer here (we got engaged, woo!), which means there hasn't been a lot of blogging, and, much worse, no canning. No pickles, no blueberry jam. No dilly beans. No applesauce.

I opened the last jar of last summer's bread and butter pickles (recipe) a week ago, and was pretty sure that I'd missed my chance to make another batch this year. So when I saw pickling cukes for $1/pound at the Davis Flea today, it wasn't a hard decision to acquire ten pounds and a project for the afternoon.

Fortunately, we had a handful of fresh lids leftover from last year, an endless supply of canning salt (that's just regular salt, right?), a giant jug of vinegar (we've been painting the cabinets to keep down the grain moths), and a recipe-blind willfulness that makes substituting red pepper flakes for mustard seed seem reasonable.

Five pints and five quarts later (and ignoring the fact that we'll have to move 'em all in three weeks), I am happy to report that we are back in the canning swing of things.