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July 2021

Easy Summer Peach Caprese Salad

20200805_154328 Fresh Peach Caprese Salad

A fresh twist on an old classic. This is one of the most popular summer dishes that I make. Everyone raves, but the key is not so much the recipe (which is simple and basic) but rather the availability of summer ripe peaches at their peak of freshness.

Download Easy Summer Peach Caprese Salad recipe

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1½ tablespoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper

1-pound ripe peaches, quartered and pitted, each quarter cut into 4 slices

12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, halved and sliced ¼ inch thick

6 large fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces, and a few basil sprigs for garnish

White balsamic vinegar (to drizzle, optional)

1. Whisk oil, lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Add peaches and gently toss to coat.

2. Shingle peaches and mozzarella on serving platter. Drizzle any remaining dressing from bowl over top. Sprinkle with basil and garnish platter with basil sprigs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, with optional balsamic drizzle.


Easy Fresh Summer Tomato Pasta Caprese

Fresh Summer Pasta Caprese

 I try to make this recipe (which I found years ago in a Cook’s Illustrated magazine) every summer when tomatoes are in peak season. Inspired by the classic caprese salad, this pasta uses just a few ingredients that depends on high quality ingredients – ripe tomatoes, great olive oil, and fresh buffalo mozzarella.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 - 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, more if needed depending on tomatoes

1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)

1 small shallot, minced fine (about 2 tablespoons)

Salt and ground black pepper

1 ½ pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice

12 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 pound penne pasta or other short tubular or curly pasta such as fusilli or campanelle

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon sugar, if needed, depending on the ripeness of the tomatoes

1. Whisk oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, garlic, shallot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Add tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella and gently toss to combine; set aside. Do not marinate for longer than 45 minutes.

2. While tomatoes are marinating, bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain well.

3. Add pasta to tomato and mozzarella mixture and gently toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in basil; adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice or sugar, if desired, and serve immediately.


Single Layer Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

20201205_163802 Banana Cake Torte

Sometimes a single layer cake is all you need for a small gathering, and they can look just as festive as a traditional layer cake. This cake is light, tender, and the banana flavor is enhanced with sour cream and lemon. I use cream cheese frosting on this cake, but if you are a fan of chocolate and banana, you could frost with a ganache or any favorite frosting.

Download Single Layer Banana Cake Cream Cheese Frosting

Cake Ingredients

2 large ripe bananas (1 cup/227 g/8 oz)

2 tablespoons (30g/1 ounce) sour cream you could use up to 1/2 cup (4 ½ oz/121g) it will make the cake extra moist

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons grated lemon or lime zest

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

2 cups sifted cake flour (7 oz/200 g)

¾ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar (6 oz/200g)

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons soft unsalted butter (5 oz/ 142 g)

Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows below)

Cake Instructions

1. Grease and flour a 9-inch (23-cm) by 2-inch (5-cm) round cake pan, after you line the bottom with parchment paper, and pre-heat the oven to 350ºF/176ºC

2. In a food processor, process the bananas and sour cream until smooth. Add the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla, and process until just blended.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and using hand mixer (or stand mixer) mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the soft butter and half the banana mixture and beat on low speed until the ingredients are moistened. Increase to high speed (medium on stand mixer) and beat for 1 ½ minutes. Scrape down the side of bowl and gradually add remaining banana mixture in 2 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Give batter a final stir with rubber spatula.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake come out clean, and the cake when pressed lightly in the middle springs back.

 

Frosting Ingredients

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners' sugar

4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces and softened

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting Instructions

1. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, 1 piece at a time, beating after each addition until fully incorporated. Add vanilla and mix until no lumps remain. Spread on cooled Banana cake.