A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. Pause, savor, remember.
I was looking for something to make that said summer but didn’t involve grilling. I also didn’t want to spend all afternoon making it. It was too darn hot.
So I started thumbing through my cookbooks and found what I wanted in Rachael Ray’s Look + Cook. (I reviewed it here if you want to more about it.) I had never made anything that combined fruit with chicken so I was intrigued. We grilled some green beans (okay, so we grilled one thing), and mixed them up with some diced shallots, olive oil and mustard. I’m here to say, it was a damn fine meal, I’m not going to lie.
Glazed Chicken and Peaches
with cheese and bacon biscuits
Jiffy biscuit mix. Yup a box of biscuit mix. You can certainly make them from scratch but these were just fine.
one cup of grated sharp cheddar
about 2 tablespoons bacon bits
Mix the biscuits according to the box, and then mix in the cheese and bacon.
Bake in oven following the box directions.
2 tablespoons butter
2-3 large peaches, halved or thickly sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1 shallot choppped
1 tablespoon dried ginger or 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3/4 cups chicken stock
a little more than 1/3 cup peach preserves
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Melt the butter with the lemon juice. Add the peaches to the skillet. Cook about 10 minutes until peaches are tender.
While peaches are cooking, put some EVOO in a pan and add the chicken. Cook about 10 minutes each side until tender. Take off the heat, put on a plate and cover.
In the pan that held the chicken, add a little more EVOO, chicken stock, peach preserves, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce. Cook until thickened. Put the chicken on a plate and cover with the glaze. Serve with biscuits and dig in.
Janet here: When I was a child, peach kuchen was one of my favorite desserts. It was a happy night when I walked into the kitchen and smelled this, still slightly warm. This recipe is a variation on my mother’s, which — sign of the times — called for canned peaches. Talk about sugar overkill! I can’t imagine making this with anything other than fresh fruit. Depending on the season, you could use blueberries, raspberries, some combination of whatever berries you love, and maybe even apples.
Rachel here: Ok, so first of all, this stuff is seriously good.
Rachel here: I have never made slump, though it seems like something I will make now that it’s on my radar. Who doesn’t love simplified cooking? Plus, it comes up in Little Women, one of my favorite books growing up (Oh! I just considered that M will read it someday and I got really excited…). I loved it for the reasons so many girls did, but also on two sentimental counts: my copy of the book was beautiful and a special gift from my dad and it was the movie I picked during the weekend G and S and I spent watching movies with our mom (one of the best. weekends. ever.). Anyway, it is most likely for these reasons that slump will appear on our table soon.
Janet here: I remember vividly our family watching Little Women, the one with Susan Sarandon and Winona Ryder before she went all crazy. Peter was away and I had decided we were all going to eat whatever we wanted for the weekend, watch as many videos as we wanted and stay in our pajamas all weekend if that’s what we wanted. I can’t remember the other movies Rachel, G and S picked, but I remember so well the festive feeling and feeling as if we were getting away with something. It was winter I believe and it so cozy in our home. We picnicked on the family room floor and ate ice cream and other silly food. It really is one of my favorite family memories, made even more special because Rachel began calling me Marmy after that. Whenever she’s written it in a note or email, I’ve always felt so loved.
But on to the slump. Some people call slump the lazy cook’s cobbler. I say it’s an easy way to have a fabulous fresh fruit dessert without turning on your oven in the heat of summer.
Plus I love the history of it. Slump, according to the Oxford Companion to Food, got its name because “the preparation has no recognizable form and slumps on the plate.” It originated in New England when clever early colonists didn’t have brick ovens so they made this in a pot over the fire. It apparently also goes by the name grunt because of the sound of the bubbling fruit. And, to tie this back to Little Women, it was immortalized by Louisa May Alcott, who called her home in Concord, Mass., Apple Slump and recorded a recipe for the dish.
Summer Fruit Slump
2-3 pounds fruit of your choice, cut into wedges. I used peaches but nectarines, apples, and berries would likely work
3/4 cup sugar
1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 heaping tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon each baking soda, salt, cinnamon
1 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup cold buttermilk
Slice the fruit over a bowl so the juice collects in it. Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt with the fruit. Coat well. Gently stir in the lemon juice. Pour fruit and juices into a 10-12-inch skillet with a tight lid. Let stand 15 minutes. Then heat the fruit on a low simmer, gently stirring occasionally to prevent the fruit from sticking to the pan. Simmer a few minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.
For the dumplings, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Add the butter and toss until evenly coated. Cut the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender until it’s the size of peas. Add the buttermillk and stire until the mixture just comes together and forms a wet dough.
Place the dough in 6 portions over the fruit, distributing the dumplings evenly. Heat to a low simmer. Cover and simer until the dumplings are puffy and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Remove cover and cool 15 minutes before serving
Janet here: I have drooled over the picture of the summer fruit crostata in The Barefoot Contessa at Home for years. For some reason, a crostata looks so sophisticated, so elegant, so European, that I assumed it was just something impossible to make. This past week I finally got up the courage to try it, and I am happy to report a success even though I will admit that I began fantasizing about how much easier this would likely be if I actually owned a food processor. (Yes, it’s true, I am a culinary Luddite when it comes to certain equipment, but that’s a story for another day.)
Anyway with fresh peaches and blueberries at just about every farmstand I pass these days, this is the perfect time to make this summery dessert. Serve it warm or room temperature, maybe with a little ice cream and voila! you’re transported to a little cafe in Paris.
Summer Fruit Crostata
for the pastry
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
6 tablespoons iced water
for the filling (makes 1 crostata)
1 pound firm, ripe peaches, peeled
1 pint blueberries
1 tablespoon flour plus 1/4 cup
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
for the pastry
Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and toss quickly with your fingers to coat each cube of butter with flour. (I don’t have a food processor so I just did this all by hand, dicing up the butter and then “pulsing” with my fingers. Not ideal I know but it worked.) Pulse 12-15 times until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the iced water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine but stop the machine just before the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board, roll into a ball, cut in half and form into 2 flat disks. Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour. If you only need one crostata, freeze the other one at this point.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper.
For the filling cut the peaches into wedges and place them in a bowl with the blueberries. Toss with 1 tablespoon of flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar, orange zest and orange juice. Place the mixed fruit on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border.
Combine the 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar and salt in the bowl of the food processor with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Pour into a bowl and rub with your fingers until it starts to hold together. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Gently fold the border of the pastry over the fruit, pleating it to make an edge.
Bake 20-25 minutes until the crust is golden and the fruit is tender. Let cool for five minutes and then use 2 large spatulas to transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Janet here: I don’t remember exactly when I personally fell in love with smoothies, but I remember clearly my Mom Moment when I realized I could get nutrition into my small children by pureeing stuff in a blender and serving it as if it was a milkshake. Hello!
Anytime my children said they didn’t want any fruit, I would casually ask if they would like a smoothie, and then smile behind their backs as they said an enthusiastic “Yes!” Mission accomplished. Added bonus? It’s a way to use up fruit that’s on the edge of going bad.
I know there are a ton of recipes out there for smoothies, but I see smoothies as the perfect place to experiment. I’ve put everything from blueberries and bananas to strawberries, nectarines, peaches and prunes into smoothies and have yet to make a bad one. Consider the recipe below a guideline for your own smoothie journey. What’s your favorite smoothie combination?
Strawberry Banana Smoothie
yields three tall glasses
1 cup vanilla yogurt (you can use plain too if you’re trying to avoid all sugar)
1/3-1/2 cup orange juice (this prevents it from being too thick; you can use any kind of juice from cranberry to apple and others)
4-5 ice cubes (these make the smoothie cold like a milkshake)
1 cup diced berries (in this case strawberries)
1 banana (helps to thicken; I add this to most smoothies for this reason)
dash of flaxseed if you want to add a little surprise fiber
Add them all to a blender and puree. You might have to stop it and stir things around and then puree again to make sure you get all the ingredients. Pour and enjoy!