Avocado Toast

Avocado ToastToast of the Town
Sometimes food trends make me laugh. Recently I have been rather amused by the phenomenon known as Avocado Toast.

Why is this a thing? It’s tasty to be sure, but avocado toast is not a totally new discovery. To my knowledge, people have been spreading avocado on toast for quite some time. Is it a spoiled Californian thing? I mean we do take our immediate access to tasty avocados for granted but, really?

To be fair, what I am seeing on menus and online is not just a smear of avocado on some sourdough. There are plenty of twists and creative combinations and sprinkled with exotic herbs and spices—even some with carefully poached eggs—now that sounds super good.

No matter where you stand on the craze, avocado toast is a great option for breakfast or brunch or any time, really. So, next time you grab your favorite loaf and a ripe Haas, congratulate yourself for being a culinary visionary. And, enjoy….

Now, one might argue that you don’t need a recipe to make avocado toast, and that’s a good point! However, the basic recipe is a showcase for ingredients, so you want the best available.

Those hipster joints that sell avocado toast for $4 a slice are really selling you amazing homemade bread and great avocados. If your ambitions lie in baking your own loaf, we recommend this Hearty White Sandwich Bread or this Vermont Whole Wheat Oatmeal Honey Bread. If not, pick up a big loaf of crusty bread, perhaps from Acme Bread Company.

Avocado Toast
Here is our recipe for a basic Avocado Toast. There are countless variations, and here we  recommend a few of our favorites. Be creative! Read more…

Cracker Jack Ice Cream Cake

Cracker Jack Ice Cream CakeTake Me Out To The Ball Game
I recently came across a photo of a Cracker Jack Ice Cream Cake when I was looking through a magazine about great American cakes. And, it blew my mind. It combines a number of things that I love all in one: cake, ice cream, and baseball.

If you have been reading this blog with any regularity you will know of my love for baseball—and nothing says baseball more than Cracker Jacks…well, maybe hot dogs and beer. But, you get the idea.

Full disclosure, I am a fan of peanuts in my ice cream as well as caramel but I have never even considered putting cracker jacks on my ice cream. Mind blown.

This Cracker Jack Ice Cream Cake is fairly easy to make, especially if you use a springform pan, But, it does require freeze time. So, be sure to plan ahead if you are making this for a special occasion…but who really needs a special occasion?

Cracker Jack Ice Cream Cake
Yields 8-10 servings Read more…

Amy’s Fresh Corn Salad

Amy’s Fresh Corn SaladYellow Gold
The season of corn is upon us and that makes me very happy. We just got our local Brentwood corn in the store which means it is now officially summer.

I will admit that I am a corn snob. I only eat it during the “corn months” (June-August/September or so) which means for 8-9 months out of the year you will not see corn in my house. Sure, I will occasionally use frozen corn in recipes when it is called for. But, eating straight-up frozen or canned corn? Nope. Can’t do it. Please understand there is nothing wrong with frozen or canned corn. I’m just a corn snob.

With this in mind I have a tendency to go kinda corn crazy because the window of opportunity is short. Fresh steamed corn on the cob is by far and away my favorite way to consume this warm weather treat. You just can’t top the flavor of super-sweet fresh corn with melted butter. Doesn’t mean that’s the only way I will eat it, though. There are so many other ways to enjoy it.

This Ina recipe for Confetti Corn is great for a backyard BBQ or Potluck. And, for something totally different there’s this Corn Pie. Every summer, I try to find a new way to enjoy corn. So, I developed this recipe for Amy’s Fresh Corn Salad.

Bonus: It’s also a good way to eat your ripe garden tomatoes….

Amy’s Fresh Corn Salad
This salad is a perfect dinner side for a hot night and also good as lunch the next day.
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…

Cherry Clafoutis

Cherry ClafoutisCherries Jubilee
Over the Memorial Day weekend, we found ourselves driving through Brentwood on the way to a tournament in Stockton. And, it was all I could do not to blow off baseball and spend time in the cherry orchards. The signs were everywhere announcing that the orchards were open for picking. It was killing me not to stop.

The good news is that the boys played well. The bad news is we came home too late to do some pickin’. Some of our friends from other teams got to stop…and I am so jealous. And, they now are the proud owners of buckets of cherries that they can use to make tasty treats like this Cherry Clafoutis that is relatively simple to make.

Alas, our schedule is booked yet again for this coming weekend. Otherwise, I’d be heading out there, bucket in hand. So, if you find yourselves with nothing to do this weekend, consider enjoying some fantastic weather and a little taste of heaven from the trees.

And, you can get directions and other information here to help you find your perfect Brentwood cherry picking spot…

Cherry Clafoutis
Adapted from Julia Child
Yields: 6 to 8 servings for dessert, or 4 for breakfast.
We like to make our Cherry Clafoutis in a blender—it is incredibly easy!

Read more…

Berry Trifle Recipe and Memorial Day Menu Ideas

Berry TrifleRemembering
Memorial Day weekend is coming. We can slow down and remember those who paid the ultimate price in service to our country. It is a time to celebrate those brave men and women—but it is also a time to celebrate the freedom that their sacrifices ensured.

Chances are your Memorial Day celebration will include a BBQ, either at your place or with friends and family. It’s just how we do it in the good ‘ole U. S. of A. Of course, what constitutes a BBQ is different for everyone. For some, it’s burgers and dogs. For others is slow-cooked ribs or juicy chicken. Perhaps it’s your favorite sausage. And don’t forget the rib-eyes…

To help you choose your BBQ, we have compiled a list of some of our favorite BBQ recipes for you to look over while preparing for the big day. Remember there are no hard and fast rules as to what should and should not be at your Memorial Day BBQ. You want to throw some shrimp on the barbie? More power to you!

I have just one request. Don’t forget Dessert.

Dessert for a crowd can be difficult. I have always been a fan of the Berry Trifle at outdoor gatherings. It’s pretty. It’s tasty and you make it as big or little as you want. I like Tyler Florence’s recipe a lot. Feel free to substitute some good vanilla pudding for the lemon curd or, heck, use both!

Here’s our list of recipes
Mains
Cherry Cola Ribs
Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip Marinade
Spicy Beer Marinated Flank Steak
Grilled Chicken Thighs with Peaches, Mint & Almonds

Sides
Tri-Colored Orzo Salad
New Potato Salad
Gam’s Bacon Potato Salad
Green Chili Rice Casserole
Jumbo Pico Salad
Amy’s Spicy Slaw

Desserts
Peach Cobbler
Lemon Meringue Pie
Texas Sheet Cake
Overstuffed Nutters

Berry Trifle
Adapted from Tyler Florence
Yields 4 servings
You can adjust it up or down depending on how many you are feeding. It is also lovely when assembled in individual serving glasses. Read more…