July 23, 2012

Brown Butter Glazed Pineapple with Vanilla Bean Icecream

Ahh, palm trees, ocean breezes, crabs, and snorkeling...you guessed it, I'm not in Georgia anymore! We are visiting relatives in sunny, steamy, south Florida. That's right -- at precisely the time of year when most people are fleeing the summer heat of the tropics, we're enjoying the quiet beaches and light traffic of Florida in the summertime. My kids are totally grooving on the screened in pool in the backyard, as well a diverse selection of Florida critters including lizards, snails, land crabs, cicadas and manatees. OK, it may not be everyone's idea of heaven, but we adore the beach in all types of conditions, and when you have a free place to stay that's (literally) right around the corner from the beach it makes us want to stay for a LONG time! And by offering to cook in exchange for a place to stay, I get the best of both worlds: wonderful food AND the beach!   

Since it's Secret Recipe Club time, I was hoping to find the perfect tropical desert. For our main menu, I made these fresh amazing chicken feta tacos (which I actually made into fish feta tacos this go round since we're, duh, at the ocean). I was hoping for something fresh & fruity, something light, something that tasted like.... well, Florida! And then, as I was searching through Cairns Manor, I came across the perfect dessert for the occasion:  Brown Butter and Rum Glazed Pineapple.

Fresh, fruity, tropical and delish -- what's not to love? Off we went to the store to get pineapple and few hundred other things I'll need on this trip. Along the way I made some adjustments to Jo's recipe, removing the rum and adding some extra spices, including salt and pepper because sweet and salty always go together. The end result was delicious with a great blend of tastes and textures and warm pineapple pairing nicely with ice cream.  

Before I get into this yummy recipe, a quick side note to introduce: Jo over at Cairns Manor: Jo is a Midwife, and people like her hold a special place in my heart because I could never do her job. I'm a real medical wimp and I stand in awe of those in the industry. My Mom was a Nurse  and actually is still involved in the medical field as a consultant. Jo and my Mom are heroes. I'm so glad God did not create us all alike, because wimps like me could never give anyone a shot!! Thank you Jo for all you do.

On Jo's blog, she made this pineapple dessert and served it with angel food cake. I decided on pound cake AND ice cream. Really good Breyer's Vanilla Bean ice cream. It was delicious. Everyone asked for seconds. The pineapple glaze ran over the cake. The heat of the pineapple melted the ice cream a little and they all mixed together for sweet, salty, tangy perfection. Go out and buy a pineapple, make this poundcake and serve this dessert tonight. If you don't want to heat up your kitchen, grill the pineapple. Ah-may-zing!

Brown Butter Glazed Pineapple
1 pineapple
1/2 c butter, unsalted
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Cut top and bottom off the pineapple. Following the curve of the pineapple and cut off the skin. Cut pineapple in half from top to bottom. Cut again in quarters. Now the core can easily be cut out by cutting off the point of the quartered pineapple. Cut into 1/2 inch slices and set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Once melted allow to continue to cook until it foams up, the foam subsides and the butter starts to brown, then let it cook to your desired browness. Just be very careful not to let it burn! Add in the brown sugar and spices. Cook until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Add the pineapple to the pan. Lower heat to medium low. Cook until deep golden, about 8 minutes. Transfer the pineapple to a bowl, leaving as much glaze as you can in the skillet.

Return the pan with glaze to medium-high heat. Simmer until again thickened, about 3-4 minutes.

Grilling option: melt butter in microwave. Mix butter, sugar and spices in a large bowl. Toss with pineapple to coat. Grill pineapple over med direct heat for 5 minutes until warm with lovely grill marks.

Serve immediately with ice cream and pound cake if you dare.


July 9, 2012

Fresh Chunky Guacamole: Only 7 Ingredients

I'm addicted.

I need this stuff at least once a week. I have been known to serve this to my family with veggies and chips and call it dinner. That can be dinner - right?? It's not wrong to wish you didn't have to feed your children is it? Especially when your air conditioning is NOT working. Ugghh. Hopefully it will be fixed today and then I'll feed my kids a real dinner...promise.

This recipe showcases the best in summer. Much like the Summer Fresh Peach-Tomato Salad (which you absolutely MUST make in July and August when the tomatoes and peaches are plentiful and just dripping with flavor.) Using what's in season makes everything better. If you haven't tried my new seasonal search categories, you need to check them out. Look down on bottom right side. Click on "summer" and you will find all kinds of delights perfectly in season right now.

I first tasted this version of guac at On the Border Mexican Restaurant. We went with my parents and my brother and sister-in-law to celebrate my Mom's birthday. I had never been there, mostly because I like Mexican food the way I make it and not out at restaurants. I have to say I LOVED the guacamole there. The kids and I were fighting over who could hold the dish!! In fact, I don't think my sister-in-law (who actually ordered the guac) got more than one chip's worth. Sorry Nadia :) The tricks on this recipe are no garlic and lots of fresh cilantro. Very yummy.

Fresh Chunky Guacamole

3 tbsp minced red onion
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 chopped tomato
1 tbsp minced jalapeno 
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 limes
4 ripe avocados

Put the minced onion in a medium bowl. (Hint: Mince the entire red onion and store the remainder in a baggie in the freezer for the next batch of guacamole.)
 Strip the cilantro from the stems and chop the leaves, add to bowl. Chop the tomato. I know many people tell you to discard the insides, but they taste the same and really, I'm just too lazy, so I chop the whole thing and add it to the bowl, just try to shake off some of the tomato juice, or blot it with a paper towel, so you won't have runny guac. Mince the jalapeno without the seeds. Wear gloves when you do this. I have a box of these kind that we use for spray painting, car engine work, and cutting fiery jalapenos. Put the 1/2 tbsp jalapeno in the bowl and if you have some left, bag that too and put in the freezer (I actually put mine in a canning jar and store in the freezer). Give the mix a little stir. If you want to take this to a party, just stop here and bring the avocados and lime with you to the party. Then continue with the steps below when you are ready to serve.

Cut the avocados in half, working your way around the big pit. Twist the avocado to separate the halves. Then cut straight down into the pit with your sharp knife and twist to remove it. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and dump into the bowl with the other ingredients. Squeeze the lime juice over the top of everything. Then mash with a fork. I like it chunky so I don't mash around very long. Serve immediately since the avocado will brown even with that lime juice. Ole!



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