Thursday, September 11, 2008

Two new loves in the vegetarian cookbook world

My family isn't vegetarian, but we're pretty darn close. I have bunches of meat-based recipes that we make, most of them long time favorites, but finding new vegetarian fare that we love is sometimes hard to do. Luckily, the local library has many choices. Here are two that I've checked out so many times that I've decided I should just buy:

Mediterranian Harvest, by Martha Rose Shulman: I have another of her books, The Vegetarian Feast, which has several recipes in it that are now favorites 'round here. The new book is a winner, too; try the Baba Ganouj and the Greens and Sweet Onion pie.

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison: James Beard Award winner. Julia Child Cookbook of the Year. IACP Best General Cookbook. Get it and you'll find out why. If you need a basic vegetarian all-around cookbook, a Fannie Farmer for the veg set, this is it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Peach and Almond Coffee Cake

The Recipe

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 cups AP flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
2 peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced thinly
1/3 cup whole almonds (see notes)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
a few more drips of almond extract

(Need to know how to peel and pit peaches?)

Spray a Bundt pan with oil; preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter in mixer until light, at least one minute. Add sugar and continue to beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, thoroughly incorporating each egg and scraping down sides as needed. Mix in 1/2 tsp almond extract and cinnamon.

In separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Alternate beating dry ingredients and buttermilk into butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour (1/3 flour mix, 1/2 buttermilk, 1/3 flour mix, rest of buttermilk, rest of flour mix.) Batter will be smooth. Make sure the sides have been scraped and all is nicely mixed.

Pour 1/2 of batter into pan; smooth top. Top with 1 Tbsp. of brown sugar, then layer on the peach slices evenly. Top with remaining brown sugar, then pour on remaining batter; smooth top. Bake cake until tester comes out dry, about 35 minutes.

-When the cake comes out of the oven, maintain oven temp. Roast almonds in small pan for about 15 minutes, shaking pan every 5 min or so so they cook evenly. Let cool then chop coarsely.-

Let cake cool in pan about 15 minutes, then turn out onto serving plate. Must let cool for at least 10 more minutes before adding glaze. Yes, I know how good it smells, you really should wait or the glaze will melt down the sides into puddles. As AB says, your patience will be rewarded.

Mix powdered sugar, milk and a few drops of almond extract in small bowl. Drizzle decoratively over cooled cake and top with chopped almonds.

The Story

If you have slivered almonds or sliced almonds in the fridge, go ahead and use them instead, but shorten the roasting time severly or they'll burn. (Remember, if you can smell the nuts while roasting, it's too late- they've burned.)

The glaze might be a little thin; I like it this way, but if you don't, use 2 tsp of milk instead.

If the cake is put under a cake dome to keep it fresh (if you serve it later or you don't finish it), the glaze will become soft and puddle down the sides. It doesn't look all that great but it tastes just fine.

I love peach season in New Jersey, I do.