Harvest + Honey

An open-ended love letter, culinarily inspired.


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Classic Eclairs

Classic eclairsClassic eclairsClassic eclairsClassic eclairs

“I have a terrible tendency to lick my fingers when I cook. So much so that I got a telling off from my pastry teacher years ago, who said it would hinder my prospects.” – Yotam Ottolenghi

 

RECIPE

 Adapted from Sweet Dreams

 

Filling:

2 cups whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

6 egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

 

Pastry:

1 cup water

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 eggs, plus 1 extra, if needed

 

Egg Wash:

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons water

 

Chocolate Glaze:

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

 

 

Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the saucepan. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.

 

Pastry: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, immediately take the pan off the heat. Stirring with a wooden spoon, add all the flour at once and stir hard until all the flour is incorporated, 30 to 60 seconds. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Scrape the mixture into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer). Mix at medium speed. With the mixer running, add 3 eggs, 1 egg at a time. Stop mixing after each addition to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy and the eggs are completely incorporated. The dough should be thick, but should fall slowly and steadily from the beaters when you lift them out of the bowl. If the dough is still clinging to the beaters, add the remaining 1 egg and mix until incorporated.

 

Now, you could use a pastry bag, fitted with a large plain tip, to pipe fat lengths of dough (about the size and shape of a jumbo hot dog) onto the lined baking sheet (leaving 2 inches of space between them). OR you could simply spoon the dough into a gallon-sized zip-top bag and snip off one corner, creating your very own pastry bag of sorts. The size of your éclairs depends upon the size of the hole you create in the corner of the bag. I chose to make small, fingerling éclairs because, well, they’re adorable.

 

Egg Wash: In a bowl, whisk the egg and water together. Brush the surface of each eclair with the egg wash. Use your fingers to smooth out any bumps of points of dough that remain on the surface. Bake 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 3 75 degrees and bake until puffed up and light golden brown, about 25 minutes more. Try not to open the oven door too often during the baking. Let cool on the baking sheet. Fit a medium-size plain pastry tip over your index finger and use it to make a hole in the end of each eclair (or just use your fingertip). Using a pastry bag fitted with a medium-size plain tip, gently pipe the custard into the eclairs, using only just enough to fill the inside (don’t stuff them full).

 

Glaze: In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat just until it boils. Immediately turn off the heat. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Set aside and keep warm. The glaze can be made up to 48 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, and rewarm in a microwave or over hot water when ready to use.

 

Dip the tops of the eclairs in the warm chocolate glaze and set on a sheet pan. Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour to set the glaze. Serve chilled.


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Roasted Peach, Candied Bacon + Vidalia Onion Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Roasted peach salad with candied bacon, vidalia onions and buttermilk dressingRoasted peach salad with candied bacon, vidalia onions and buttermilk dressingRoasted peach salad with candied bacon, vidalia onions and buttermilk dressingRoasted peach salad with candied bacon, vidalia onions and buttermilk dressing

“We don’t need a melting pot in this country, folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables – the lettuce, the cucumbers, the onions, the green peppers – to maintain their identity. You appreciate differences.” – Jane Elliott

I’m all for going green, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes, when it comes to salads, I find that I tend to prefer the arranged variety that has nary a green in sight. No lettuce, no kale, and no watercress. No arugula, no spinach. Nada. Zilch. When in the salad department, I think it’s okay to go greens-free sometimes, and step outside of the box for a change. It isn’t that I have anything against a good green salad, it’s just that I like to play around with what a salad can be. In any given meal, the salad “course” is just another opportunity to add more interest and flavor to your table and to your dining experience as a whole. As such, the salad that is the subject of this post has interest and flavor in spades.

Sweet, roasty peaches. Crunchy Vidalia onions. Juicy tomatoes. Addictive candied bacon. Tangy, simple buttermilk dressing. This salad was the result of my effort to make something that appeals to all of your senses – a weighty task for the lowly salad, one might say. But I think it accomplishes that. Okay fine … it may also have been the result of me trying to use up the stuff I had in my fridge. Not only is it awfully purdy to look at, it’s got a bunch of different textures going on that change with every bite. You also don’t have to follow the script exactly here either, and as is the case with most of my recipes, I absolutely encourage any and all improvisational tweaks that you may want to make. Want to swap in apricots, plums or nectarines for the peaches? Go for it. Want to switch to country ham for a salty Southern twist? Do it. Just stick with what is fresh, seasonal, and knocking your socks off at the market (farmer’s or otherwise). Quite the charismatic little conglomeration, this recipe is a total celebration of summer and all of the bold, bright freshness that it entails. As Fall rapidly approaches, I’d suggest giving it a go as quickly as possible, while the gettin’s still good …

Watch out though, it might just upstage everything else on the table …

 

RECIPE

3 ripe peaches, sliced (I don’t bother to peel them here)

Extra virgin olive oil

2 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced into wedges

1/2 Vidalia onion, sliced

6 slices of bacon

1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)

Crumbled goat cheese, to finish

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely minced

1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the peach slices on a baking sheet and toss with just enough olive oil to coat lightly. Roast in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until they soften and brown slightly. Keep an eye on them!

Meanwhile, place a baking rack over an aluminum foil-lined baking tray. (If you don’t have a baking rack, just roast the bacon right on the foil. Make sure to spray with non-stick cooking spray though). Coat each of the bacon slices in brown sugar and place on the baking rack, side by side. Roast for 10 – 12 minutes or until browned and crisped. Cut or rip into thirds.

For the dressing: Combine the mayo, buttermilk, chives, and parsley in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To assemble the salad: arrange the roasted peach slices, the tomatoes, Vidalia onion slices, and bacon pieces on a serving platter. Top with your desired amount of dressing (or serve on the side), and sprinkle liberally with crumbled goat cheese. Season with extra fresh cracked black pepper, if desired.

 


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Fresh Peach + Coconut Cake with Vanilla-Basil Buttercream

Fresh peach and coconut cake with basil buttercreamFresh peach and coconut cake with basil buttercreamFresh peach and coconut cake with basil buttercreamFresh peach and coconut cake with basil buttercreamFresh peach and coconut cake with basil buttercreamFresh peach and coconut cake with basil buttercream

 

RECIPE

Peach filling adapted from Epicurious

 

INGREDIENTS

 

For the cake:

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup sour cream

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

1 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (Psst! Look in the liquor section of your store)

4 large eggs, separated

2 teaspoons coconut extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional, I’m just obsessed)

1.5 cups flaked coconut, chopped lightly

 

For the filling:

1/2 cup peach preserves

5 fresh, ripe peaches, peeled, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

 

For the frosting:

2.5 sticks butter, room temperature

2.5 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup cream of coconut

2 frozen basil cubes, thawed (such as Dorot brand)*

½ teaspoon salt

 

For garnish: fresh basil, a few reserved peaches from the filling, flaked coconut, (lightly toasted, if you like)

 

DIRECTIONS

For the cake:

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Whisk buttermilk and sour cream in small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar. Beat in cream of coconut, egg yolks, coconut extract, almond extract, and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk mixture in 2 additions. Fold in chopped coconut. Beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff. Fold into batter.

Divide the batter between your prepared pans. Bake for about 45 minutes or until cake tester (or knife) comes out clean. Cool cakes in their pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Turn cakes out and cool completely.

 

For the filling:

Add the ingredients to a small saucepan over medium-low heat and cook for 15 minutes until the peaches are softened and the preserves are melted and luscious (should be a small bubble/simmer going on in the pan, nothing crazy). Set aside to cool to room temperature.

 

For the frosting:

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the vanilla, cream of coconut, basil puree (add this to taste if you like), and salt and mix until everything is incorporated. Add more basil if you like!

If you can’t find the basil cubes (try Trader Joe’s), try adding 1 cup of fresh basil leaves to a blender with 2 teaspoons – 1 tablespoon of water and blending until you get a smooth puree. Add about a teaspoon or two of this to your buttercream and you should be good to go.

 

To assemble:

Drain the peach filling of its extra juices. Place 1 cake layer on platter. Top with the peaches, cover the peaches with frosting, and then continue to frost as you normally would a 2-layer cake. Garnish as you like and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day.


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Blueberry + Brown Sugar Corn Cakes

Blueberry and brown sugar corn cakesBlueberry and brown sugar corn cakesBlueberry and brown sugar corn cakesBlueberry and brown sugar corn cakes

“I realized something else tonight. Something about pancakes.”

“What about them?”

“We both got so obsessed about that first pancake being thrown away that we forgot something really important,” Max explained. “That first pancake tastes just as good as all the other ones. It’s not its fault that it was first in line and the pan wasn’t hot enough so it got a bit lumpy and misshapen.”

“And when you’re really famished that first pancake tastes better than all the ones that come after it.”  – You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me

 

RECIPE

¾ cup flour

1 cup yellow corn meal (or blue)

¼ cup dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 ¼ cups whole milk

½ stick butter, melted

2 eggs

1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

Garnishes: toasted pecans, extra blueberries, lime zest

 

Whisk the flour, corn meal, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla together until well combined. Whisk the liquid mixture into the dry mixture just until it comes together.

Spoon (about) 1/4 cupfuls onto a buttered skillet or griddle over medium heat, and cook until you see bubbles. Flip and cook until golden brown on both sides.

 


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Spiced Chocolate-Almond Overnight Oats

Chocolate Overnight OatsChocolate Overnight OatsChocolate Overnight OatsChocolate Overnight OatsChocolate Overnight Oats

RECIPE

1 cup rolled oats
1 tblsp bulgar wheat
1 tblsp quinoa
1 tblsp chia seeds
1 tblsp extra dark cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tblsp almond butter
1 tablespoon (or more) honey
1 cup chocolate almond milk, just shy of boiling, plus more (cold) for serving
Garnishes: extra cold almond milk, chopped almonds, coconut, dried fruit, sliced banana, cinnamon or carob chips

 

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium – large bowl, stir to combine, and seal (plastic wrap or lid). Refrigerate overnight.

To serve, heat the oats in a saucepan over medium heat or spoon them into microwave-safe serving bowls and heat through. Garnish as you like! I pour a little extra cold chocolate almond milk over top and garnish with flaked sweetened coconut, chopped toasted almonds, cinnamon chips, even sliced banana or dried fruit.


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Lemon + Earl Grey Scented Tea Cakes

Lemon and Earl Gray Scented Tea Cakes Lemon and Earl Gray Scented Tea Cakes Lemon and Earl Gray Scented Tea Cakes Lemon and Earl Gray Scented Tea Cakes Lemon and Earl Gray Scented Tea Cakes

“As an adult, I have often known that peculiar legacy time brings to the traveler; the longing to seek out a place a second time, to find deliberately what we stumbled on once before, to recapture the feeling of discovery … ” – Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian  

Many moons ago, I lived in England. Oxford, England, to be exact, and it was one of the most interesting, exciting, and enriching times of my life. During college, I spent an unforgettable term at Oxford that was filled to the brim with exploring, studying, meeting, greeting, adventuring, gallivanting, studying, learning, growing, journeying, studying, and also eating. Now, jolly ole’ England isn’t necessarily renown for its culinary offerings, but I had the best time trying out the typically English fare that I’d heard all about my whole life, but frankly, had never really given much thought to trying. From bangers and mash, crumpets, and chicken tikka masala (considered to be one of the country’s national dishes), to super cozy roasts, sticky toffee pudding, banoffee pie, and tons and tons of tea – there were plenty of epicurean options to keep me thoroughly satisfied, interested, and FULL throughout the entirety of my stay.

Some of what I enjoyed most during my time in Oxford were all of the lovely tea cakes and tea time confections in which I indulged on a more-frequently-than-I-should-have basis. I just figured with all of that studying and hard work should come a sweet reward (every day, apparently). On a daily basis, I would venture from my little flat, umbrella in hand, and make my way to one of several charming coffee or tea houses where I would claim a table and sprawl all of my things out in what was probably an obnoxiously overdramatic and conspicuous fashion as if to say, “I’m here! This is my seat! Look at all of the LEARNING that is about to commence over here!” (I was excited to be there, what can I say?).

Following this aforementioned sprawling, I would saunter up to the counter and order some sort of tea. I remember very clearly thinking that I needed to be drinking tea because that just seemed like the right thing to do. I wasn’t even a “tea person” to be honest, never had been, instead preferring to take my caffeine in the coffee form, but during this time across the pond, I thought it fitting to give tea a real go. I have since gone back to coffee-drinking, but I still love the ceremony and delicate nature of a real British “high tea.” Recently, probably because the 10-year anniversary of my time there is next week, I’ve been pondering ways to incorporate some of those flavors into my own kitchen and travel right back to the little neighborhood tea shops and cafes that provided such a comfy and pleasant backdrop to my experience there.

These tea cakes are very un-British in composition, and are actually something you would find all over the American South. I just happen to prefer this style of tea cake to the more classically British one. So I thought I would take the Southern-style tea cake and incorporate some of the flavors that you’d find at tea time … a mash-up, if you will. These little poofy, pillowy, and cake-like cookies will satisfy your sweet tooth without giving you a toothache. Just sweet enough, with a hint of lemon, honey, and an Earl Grey tea glaze, they are quick to put together, simple to pull off, and would probably taste just as good with a cup of coffee, if that’s your poison.

 

RECIPE

1 cup room temperature butter

1 3/4 cups white sugar

2 eggs

The zest of 1 lemon (or 2 if you like things extra citrusy)

1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon honey

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

Cream together the butter and sugar until very smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and add the lemon zest, honey and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add this into the creamed mixture and stir/knead to form a solid, smooth dough.

Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into circles with round cookie cutters (the size of your choosing). Place the cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.

Bake the tea cakes for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow them to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


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Individual Poblano Corn Puddings

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RECIPE

Serves 8. If you’d prefer to make one large casserole of corn pudding, just butter a 9 X 13 baking dish, pour in the corn pudding mixture, and bake for 40 – 45 minutes.  

 

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ small onion, diced

3 poblano peppers, medium diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cans (15.25 ounce) sweet corn, drained and divided

1.5 cups heavy cream

½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

5 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons sugar

5 eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper

 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter 8 ramekins.

Combine the first four ingredients in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Cook the onions, pepper, and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes (stirring as you go!). Transfer to a small bowl when they’re done and set aside.

Using the same pan, add 1 can of corn, the cream, and the nutmeg. Cook over medium high heat, simmering gently, for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon of each should do it). Process this mixture in a blender or food processor until broken up and clumpy (technical term). This should take just a few seconds with a blender and about 8 – 10 pulses with a food processor. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add the poblano mixture to the creamed corn mixture in the large bowl. Whisk in the sugar and cornstarch, being careful to break up any lumps. Now’s the time to test for seasoning! Check to see that there is enough salt, and add accordingly.

Lastly, whisk in the beaten eggs. Divide the mixture up among the 8 buttered ramekins and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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