Friday, August 24, 2007

End the day on a peachy note

When the day just doesn't go well or things get a bit too crazy, I escape to my kitchen. The presentation I am working on for work is not coming along a well as I had hoped so its time for a break. The kids know where to find me as they return from school sport team tryouts or summer jobs. The office is just an email or IM away.

I decide to experiment with the new peeler. Nothing like concentrating on mastering a perfect peel to take your mind off other things. So for dinner yesterday, I peeled a few tomatoes straight from the garden, diced them and sauteed with garlic, olive oil, fresh basil, kalamata pitted olives. Let the sauce simmer while the water boiled for pasta. Cook pasta according to directions. While pasta is cooking, add fresh broccoli to tomato sauce. Once sauce has reduced to a nice consistency add drained pasta to the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste, add some grated Romano cheese and it is ready to serve.

Still obsessed with the serrated peeler, I made a a sour cream coffee cake with fresh peaches. Really nice to be able to peel peaches without blanching. Simply peel off the the light skin and fuzz then slice.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
1 2/3 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream (can substitute with plain yogurt)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Fresh fruit - 3 large peaches, peeled and sliced
(Depending on what is in season, can also be made with 3 cups blueberries or 3 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced)
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch round cake pan with removable bottom.

With an electric mixer (or in a food processor) mix together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Add the sour cream and vanilla, mixing again. Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix until just combined. Be sure not to over mix.

Pour half of the batter in to the cake pan. Arrange half of the peach slices over top. Cover with remainder of butter, top with remaining peach slices. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar.

Bake for an hour until top is lightly browned. Insert toothpick or knife, if it comes out clean the cake is done. Depending on how juicy the fruit is, you may need to bake a little bit longer. When done, remove from oven. Cool on rake for about 10 minutes until sides shrink. Unclasp side of pan and let cool completely before serving. My kids love to have this warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

The cake smells wonderful while cooking and puts everyone in a nice, mellow mood, forgetting the stress of the day. Even though dinner wasn't until 8:00 the kids lingered to talk about their day. Summer is winding down, school begins in a few weeks, high school diving team tryouts started and summer jobs end tomorrow...but for now, I'm just enjoying the fruit, forgetting the labor.

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