Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Peaches, tarragon and buttermilk ice cream...

Farmer Splendid has done an amazing job with our orchard up in the islands. In particular, this year, I've been beyond thrilled with abundance of peaches. But, it's also been a little overwhelming because I can't stand to let a single morsel of the mellow, honey goodness of these fruits go to waste. Well, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and it didn't take long for me to find a uniquely, delicious way to preserve these beautiful orbs with ease so we can enjoy them all year long. 

My mother planted a fruit tree for each of us when we were born, a peach tree for me; a five~varietal apple tree for one of my sisters and for the other an apricot tree. We moved away from that property many years ago, but it was something special to grow up there, with our own personal birth~trees to sit beneath and watch grow, not to mention enjoying the fruit they provided. 

I'm not sure if that is why I like peaches so much, I don't think so. That mellow, golden goodness and the beautiful fuzzy skin is pretty universally irresistible, isn't it?

I first made this dessert for a lunch with friends one day, it was sort of an unusual combination of ingredients, peaches, Cointreau liquor, tarragon, salt and pepper, but it was a big hit.  

So, I decided to do it on a large scale and freeze them, it turned out to be a beautiful thing. 

I've printed the large scale recipe below, but you can make a smaller batch with ease, just add the ingredients to suit your taste.

First of all, I sat down at the picnic table on the deck and halved and peeled 50 peaches, cutting out any brown areas. After cutting them in half I was able to pull off the skin with ease just using a paring knife. If your find it hard to peel your peaches you can cut an "X" in the skin and plunge them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, after that they skins should slip off without a problem. 

Next, I added the juice of 7 lemons. Have you ever used these wooden citrus reamers? They make it easy to extract the juice of citrus fruits, also you can use the pointed end to bruise the skins and release the volatile oils in cocktails. 

Next, I poured 2 cups of Cointreau, an orange flavored liqueur into the bowl, and then I chopped up a cup of fresh tarragon leaves and sprinkled them in. The anise like flavor of the tarragon marries perfectly with the rich, mellow sweetness of the peaches. The Cointreau and lemon juice provide a nice, bright tang and help to preserve the peaches and maintain their color. Finally, a tablespoon of salt to bump up the flavor of all of those delicious ingredients. 

After gently stirring all of the ingredients together I spooned the peaches and sauce into 4 gallon sized freezer bags, sealed them

and double bagged them, and put them in the freezer.

For Farmer Splendid's birthday dinner a couple of weeks later, I pulled out a bag of the peaches and whipped up a batch of this amazing buttermilk ice cream recipe from Smitten Kitchen. 

When thawed, the flavors of all of those ingredients had melded together to create a succulent sort of a cold summer soup with nice hearty hunks of peaches. The ice cream offered a creamy, tangy swirl of goodness to each of the bowls and a sprig of fresh tarragon offered just the right amount of fresh greenery. I passed the peppermill for those how wanted to add one more element of flavor to this tasty combination. 

Splendid Peaches and Tarragon Recipe

50 peaches, peeled and halved, any brown spots removed
1 cup fresh Tarragon leaves, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon salt
2 cups Cointreau {or another orange liqueur}
Juice from 7 lemons

optional: fresh ground black pepper

Serve fresh or spoon the mix into zip lock freezer bags and freeze until ready to use. 
This recipe will probably serve 40 - 50 people depending on the service size.

island note pad
peaches, tarragon and buttermilk ice cream, a taste of summer

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pan Bagnet lusciousness, manger a trois fois....

A Pan Bagnet is a luscious way to serve a crowd this time of year. The word "sandwich" doesn't really do justice to the hearty, flavorful, fresh tasting dish.  In between these slabs of crusty bread is a symphony of flavors and textures that have had a chance to "bathe" together {the name translates into soaked or bathed bread} weighted down by a few bottles of chilled rosé to create a harmonious bite that will make your mouth sing.

This can be one of those great "what's in the refrigerator" dishes, you can make modifications based on your tastes and what you have on hand, but essentially, it is a Salade Nicoise on bread, lots of fresh vegetables and herbs, some tangy and marinated, hard boiled eggs, tuna and sometimes anchovies. The key thing to think about when making this meal is to build a complexity of flavors and textures. I've shared some of my prior Pan Bagnet creations before, click on the links below to see these other variations. 

But, here's the latest version. After the slicing the Essential Bakery Ciabatta loaf lengthwise I dug out part of the soft spongy bread {but saved it for snacking} from the top section. I laid the bottom half on a large piece of saran wrap to capture any delicious morsels that go astray and to make the wrapping process easier. 

I spread some mayonnaise on the bottom section and on it distributed a layer of sliced Persian Cucumbers drizzled with some Splendid Vinaigrette 

next, a layer of sliced ripe tomatoes, some ribbons of basil leaves and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

In my refrigerator I usually have some "pickled" red onions, really just red onions soaking in red wine vinegar. The vinegars softens the edge of the onion flavor, and also enhances it with a bright, tangy goodness.

So, the next layer was a nice tangy concoction of capers, sliced marinated artichoke hearts, slices of Manzanilla Olives and generous layer of the pickled red onions plus a few extra splashes of the red wine vinegar, to keep building the flavors. 

Next came the rich protein portion, slices of hard boiled eggs

with another slather of Splendid Vinaigrette  were the starter.

When it comes to tuna, I prefer to use Italian Tuna, or tuna packed in olive oil, but really any tuna will do. If you use tuna packed in water you may want to toss it in some olive oil or Splendid Vinaigrette, just to make it more moist and flavorful. 

I love the big meaty fillets that emerge from the jar, and the silky coating of olive oil. 

Next up, the fresh layer, torn leaves of red leaf lettuce, more of the chiffonade of basil leaves and a thick blanket of chopped fresh parsley. 

But let's not stop there, how about another layer of crunchy cucumbers drizzled with Splendid Vinaigrette for an extra punch of refreshing crispness? 

A smear of mayo in the crevices of the hallowed out top layer, and we are ready to close the deal.

This is where the magic comes in, here is about 8 inches of fresh, flavorful, crunchy, chewy, rich, tangy goodness 

that will be compressed to about 2 inches. 

The lid goes on

and then it is tightly wrapped in saran.

Then I put it in a basket with ice packs and a tea towel beneath the sandwich and bottles of chilled rosé on top of it, plus a cookbook or two. 

A couple of hours later, it is ready to be devoured. 

Here are some other versions to whet your appetite...

Pan Bagnet, perfect picnic fare

Pan Bagnet
Weighty options, Pan Bagnet

Bon Appetite! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Splendid Bouquets in 1~2~3...

If you've been reading Splendid Market for awhile, you know how much love flowers and arranging them using my simple 1~2~3 technique. There are so many blossoms in bloom right now I thought I'd do a little review to inspire you to bring some of that summer beauty into your abode with ease for the weekend. 

Over the years I've developed this three step process and it allows me to make an attractive, complex, full looking bouquet with ease every time, no matter the size or shape of the container. Today I thought I'd show you how I applied this technique to make 3 rustic arrangements for an informal gathering featuring the vibrant Dahlia's blooming in the garden right now. 

My vision was to create arrangements that look similar, but for each one to be somewhat unique. I'm was going for a natural, garden look, so I wanted to create a shape that is a little irregular... balanced, but not perfectly symmetrical.

The bouquet above is the largest of the 3, I made it for the round table that held appetizers and desserts.

Step 1: Greenery

In this oval shaped zinc bucket I used branches of Sage, Dusty Miller and some taller branches of Bay Laurel to fill the container and outline the shape of the bouquet. I find bouquets look best if you use at least 3 different varieties of greens. The different shades and textures add to the complexity of the arrangement. 

Step 2: Predominant Flowers

Next, I filled in the spaces between the greens with my core flowers, threading the stems between the greens for support. Here I am using a variety of pink dahlias, dahlia buds and sprigs of white roses. I am purposefully leaving some of the buds and blooms a little higher because I want this to look more natural and garden~like. Another nod to nature is keeping the sprigs of white roses together, as they would look in the garden. If I were going for a more formal, symmetrical look, I'd have the white roses more evenly distributed throughout the bouquet. 

Step 3: The Accent

Finally, I like to add something to the arrangement that pops out a little, something that is  unexpected perhaps {think of berries, fruit branches, moss covered branches, shapely sticks}. In this case I added clumps of lavender.

Keeping bunches together so they look as they do in nature. 

In this case, again, I'm deliberately creating somewhat of an irregular shaped garden bouquet. If I were creating a more formal, symmetrical bouquet I would space out the lavender stems so that they were evenly distributed between the larger blooms. 

Powder Room Bouquet

I love the rich green patina on this small metal scalloped container I brought home from France. Conveniently, it has a fitted plastic liner so I don't have to worry about leaks. It fits perfectly on the top shelf of the faux bamboo corner etagere that anchors our petite powder room. 

Step 1: Greenery

I grow a lot of herbs in my beds so I can have them both for cooking and for flower arrangements. Not only are they beautiful, but I love the scents they give off as I work with them. Here I used sprigs of sage and bay laurel and then filled in with stems of oregano that has gone to seed. 

Starting with greenery also creates support for the flowers. Here's an arial view of this container filled with greens. From here, it's easy to see the gaps between the greens where you can slide in stems and they will be well supported.

Step 2: Predominant Flowers

Here, again, I used a mix of pink dahlias and sprigs of garden roses {this time pink speckled} at varying heights to reflect how they might look in the garden. To determine the heights I stand the stem on the table surface outside of the vase to see how it will look before trimming the stem at an angle for better water absorption. 

Step 3: The Accent

As with the previous arrangement, I used a bunch of lavender for the accent, clumped together as they were in the garden. 

The final bouquet was on our lunch table, in a larger version of the scalloped metal vessel above, this one has a nice ring of rust around the base, that I kind of love. 

Step 1: Greenery

The greenery here is sage, bay laurel, oregano & basil that have gone to seed, so they offer some small, soft white blooms. 

Step 2: Predominant Flowers

The predominant flowers are all dahlias in this piece.

Step 3: The Accent

To break up all of those pink petals and add a little whimsy I brought in a chorus of Japanese Aneome. I love how the fresh greens buds and leaves bob above that bed of pink.

They also add nice height and broaden out the arrangement. 

Alright, so there's a review of my 1~2~3 splendid floral technique. I hope it inspires you to make a few fresh flower arrangements for your abode this weekend.

To see how I used this method to make this Fall bouquet, click on Bouquets made with ease and Autumn leaves 

Autumn arrangements

To see how I used this method for winter arrangements click on Winter Holiday Bouquet.

Lodge look holiday bouquet
To see a plethora of petal inspiration click on The Key to the Backroom where you'll find all of the past posts on flowers and botany on Splendid Market, including many living and seasonal displays. 

Now, don't get lost in there.