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As you all know it’s peach season, and for me, peaches always meant fruit salad, tarts, pies, cakes and maybe even ice cream. But recently I realized I was limiting myself. I mean, I love adding sweet things to savory dishes. It gives more depth to the dish and provides a delicious flavor that’s usually a nice surprise. I’ve added peaches to chicken and a few weeks ago I smothered pork chops with a delicious peach barbecue sauce. But I’ve never combined savory and sweet in a salad.

When I think of salad, I think of either mixed greens with a tangy dressing or chopped fruit with a splash of something sweet. Then I thought about all those fruit salsas that combine onions and herbs with mangoes or peaches for a spicy yet sweet topping over fish or steaks. I figured if it works so well as a salsa, why couldn’t it work as a salad?

I was not alone in my thinking. When I started searching on peach salads, so many options popped up, I didn’t know where to look first. I finally settled on a simple choice from My Recipes that not only happened to work with what I had in the fridge, it also allowed me to try out my newest OXO product: the Little Salad Dressing Shaker.

This little dressing shaker is absolutely awesome. First off I love the color! It’s so bright and happy, it’ll never get lost in the back of the fridge. But better than the color is how easy it is to use. I mean, even my two-year-old can use it (and has). All you do is pour all the dressing ingredients into the jar, screw on the lid, shake like crazy for a minute or so and pour over your salad. And if there’s any dressing left over (which if you’re anything like me there always is) simply seal the pour spout and stick it in the fridge. It won’t take up much space and depending on how much dressing you’ve made, it should keep your salads dressed for at least a week.

Even though the shaker is one of the coolest kitchen tools I own, this post is really about the salad. I enjoy the flavors so much in fact, I’ve made it several times. But while the salad is absolutely delicious on its own, it’s even better when paired with your favorite protein. Needless to say, I’m sure this side will be gracing my dinner plate again, especially since there are still a couple months left to peach season.

Summer Peach and Tomato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound ripe peaches, pitted and cut into wedges
  • 1/4 pound of your favorite heirloom tomatoes, cut into thick wedges
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine first four ingredients (through the cheese) in a large salad bowl.
  2. Mix the vinegar, oil, honey, salt and pepper together in the dressing shaker. Cap and shake vigorously for about 1 minute.
  3. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Bee’s Knees

Posted by Jenn. Comment (0).

Looking back on my recent cocktail posts (excluding the specialized holiday ones), I was surprised to discover a lot of them were gin drinks. It seemed odd to me, especially since I’m a vodka girl. But when I thought about the fact that most of the recipes I post predate or are from the Prohibition, it made a little bit more sense. After all gin, especially the bathtub kind, was a lot easier to get (or make).

Gin is basically grain alcohol mixed with a variety of botanicals like juniper berries or liquorice. So the liquor tends to have a strong herbal flavor. Try to reproduce that flavor in your bathtub, you’ll probably end up with something that smells and tastes like turpentine, which in all likelihood is why so many of these cocktails are rather heavy handed when it comes to mixers. But enough of the genealogy of gin. All this preamble is to state that yes, I am in fact doing another gin cocktail.

Just like most of my gin beverages, today’s cocktail predates the Prohibition. While it’s true that the cocktail appears in William Boothby’s 1930 cocktail compendium, World Drinks and How to Mix Them, it is believed that he originally published this recipe in a much earlier version. One that dates all the way back to 1900. But just because he published the cocktail doesn’t necessarily mean he created it. No one’s sure where it came from other than it’s a riff on the gin sour, sweetened up to hide the gasoline-like flavor of the early bathtub gins.

The name comes from a popular saying of the time. If someone or something was the bee’s knees, it meant they were top notch. This cocktail is definitely that. And since one of its main ingredients is honey, I’d say the moniker suits this beverage perfectly.

Bee’s Knees

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously for 1 minute. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.

I love this time of year. Not only can I finally pull my tank tops and shorts out of their drawers, but with the beach just a few blocks away, swimming has become my family’s national pastime. But this warm weather also means more dinners are being prepared via grill. There’s nothing better than cooking outside with that cool ocean breeze blowing through your hair. It doesn’t matter if you’re having friends over or just cooking for the family. Cooking outdoors can be a blast. Especially when you have the right tools.

OXO was nice enough to send me a grilling care package that included a Silicone Basting Brush and a pair of 16″ Tongs. I already had OXO’s regular basting brush which I use constantly so I was thrilled when they sent me their large one. Now I finally had a brush I could use to baste my protein without burning my fingers. This little brush is 14 inches long and holds the liquid from the sauces quite well. Plus its angled head means I won’t get sauce all over my nice new countertops.

I also own OXO’s Nylon Tongs which I’m so in love with I’ve given them as gifts to friends. So again, you can imagine how happy I was to get an extra long set specifically for the grill. Up until I had these 16-inch tongs, I was using a fork to flip my steaks and burgers, which isn’t nearly as handy. I could never get a good grip with a fork and sometimes I’d lose a piece of burger between the grates. With the tongs that’s not a problem. I get a good grip every time, and like the basting brush, the extra length keep my hands far from that burning flame.

But the tongs aren’t just good for picking up chicken or chops, they can handle fruit as well. Yes, I grill fruit; quite frequently actually. The heat makes the fruit even sweeter than it already is, and depending on what kind of wood or charcoal you use there’s a smokiness that just can’t be achieved indoors. Afraid the juices from the fruit will make it slippery? If it does, the tongs don’t know it. They can grab that fruit and flip it no problem. They’re actually what I used to make this peach barbecue sauce since the first ingredient is grilled peaches.

This recipe was actually perfect for OXO’s care package. Since we’re right in the middle of peach season, I’m using and eating peaches every chance I get. And while most people (including me) tend to use peaches for desserts and snacks, I like adding them to savory dishes as well. They bring an unexpected sweetness that rounds out the entrée and delights the tastebuds. This barbecue sauce did all that and more. It wasn’t anything like that tomato and molasses sauce that’s so common this time of year. Instead it was smokey, sweet and delightfully fruity. It paired perfectly with the pork but would be just as yummy on fish or even chicken.

So, thanks OXO for sending me these great tools to improve my grilling experience. It was hard to keep me away from the grill before I had them (just ask Hubs). But now… well it’s possible that my beautiful new stove may have been replaced… at least for the next couple months.

Grilled Pork Chops with Peach Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coriander
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 3 large peaches, halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium purple onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat your grill to 350°F.
  2. Mix together the first 6 ingredients (through the brown sugar) in a bowl until well combined. Generously rub the spices onto all sides of the pork chop. Set chops aside while you make the barbecue sauce.
  3. Oil the grill and place the peaches, cut side down on the grill until browned, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the grill, chop into small pieces and set aside.
  4. Pour the oil into a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown about 10 minutes. Add the ginger and cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add the molasses, orange juice, sugar, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is reduced by half, 15- 20 minutes.
  6. Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor. Add the grilled peaches and puree until smooth. Pour 1/3 of a cup of the barbecue sauce into a bowl to baste the chops with, then pour the rest into a small serving bowl and set aside.
  7. Baste the chops, and place on the grill to cook, flipping once, until desired doneness, 10 – 15 minutes. During the last minute of cooking on each side, baste the chops again with the sauce. Serve the chops with the extra barbecue sauce.

Disclosure: OXO provided me with the Silicone Basting Brush and Tongs to use and review.  I was not compensated for this review. Any opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced in any way by the manufacturer/PR firm as I only review products that I have personally tested and endorse.

Fish House Punch

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I’m sure you’re wondering what Fish House Punch has to do with the 4th of July. Well, believe it or not our forefathers created and drank this punch in the 1730′s. The story goes that a group of men built a house on the banks of Schuylkill and created a club called the State in Schuylkill Fishing Corporation. Well, every corporation has to have their own cocktail, right? So one of these brilliant men mixed up a bunch of alcohol, served it up in little punch glasses and a new party drink was born. It is even believed that George Washington and Benjamin Franklin raised a glass of two of the delectable concoction and what could be more American than that?

Afraid this punch is too highbrow for your soiree? Fear not! It’s a punch, which means it can be served in glasses at a nice sit down dinner with the Boston Pops in the background or can be poured into big red plastic cups for your backyard barbecue. But better than it’s versatility, it’s also a nice change of pace from the more standard can of Coorsweiser Light you usually see.

While it’s true that buying a bunch of six packs is easier, this cocktail can be made by the gallon the night before, which means you have one less thing to think about on the day of your party. But beware, unlike those watered down beers this punch definitely packs a wallop as it’s almost all alcohol. No surprise though because if you think about when this concoction was created, the four million souls who started our good ol’ U.S. of A drank over eleven million gallons of hooch and definitely didn’t seem worse for the wear. So, if the humble men and women who started this country had no problem drinking this cocktail, I think it makes perfect sense that we carry on the tradition, don’t you? Happy 4th everyone!

Fish House Punch

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle of Jamaican rum
  • 1 (375 ml) bottle of cognac
  • 1/4 cup Peach brandy
  • club soda (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine the sugar and water in a small pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is completely dissolved, let cool for about 10 minutes. Pour sugar mixture (simple syrup) into pitcher or punch bowl.
  2. Add the rum, cognac, brandy and lemon juice and stir. Chill for at least three hours or overnight to let flavors blend.
  3. Serve in punch glasses over ice. If you want a little more pizzaz, add a splash or two of club soda.

Patriotic Cookie Pizza

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I love magazines. As you know there have been plenty of recipes I’ve posted that have come from the torn-out pages of many a cooking magazine. While my far and away favorite is  Fine Cooking, I’m also a huge fan of Better Homes and Gardens and Sunset. But today’s recipe, didn’t come from any of those. Today’s dessert came from a magazine I don’t think I’ve ever even opened before. It came from All You. And it couldn’t have appeared at a better time.

See, I was looking for a dessert for the 4th of July. I wanted something that was simple and sweet, something that was easy to make and would be perfect to take to a picnic or barbecue. And while the design makes it the ideal choice for this Friday’s holiday, it will wow friends and family all summer long.

What makes this pizza the perfect summer dessert? It’s not only beautiful to look at, it’s super easy to make. From start to finish this cookie only took me about 1 hour to prepare. The hardest part was the star design, which in all honesty was not that hard at all. I also love that it’s so versatile. Sure, I used raspberries, blueberries and mascarpone, but you could easily substitute strawberries or cherries for the raspberries and cream cheese or goat cheese for the mascarpone. But whichever fruit or cheese you choose, the end result will surely make you the hit of the party.

Patriotic Cookie Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 2 rolls Pillsbury Sugar Cookie dough
  • 1 (8 oz.) container mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 12″ pizza pan, set aside.
  2. Slice the cookie dough into 1/4″ slices and place around the pan in a spiral. Using floured fingers, press evenly around the pan to seal the dough together forming one giant sugar cookie crust. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely, at least 20 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl mix together the mascarpone and powdered sugar until smooth. Spread over the baked cookie crust.
  4. Arrange the raspberries in the shape of a star in the center of the cookie. Arrange the blueberries in the remaining space around the raspberries.
  5. Heat the marmalade in a small pan over low heat until melted. Brush the melted marmalade over the berries. Slice and serve immediately.