Saturday, August 20, 2022

ChezCindy: Classic Iceberg Wedge Salad


Iceberg lettuce may have fallen out of favor with so many lettuces taking top marketing for nutritional value and taste.  But none of the kale, spinach or arugula mixes can stand in for the classic wedge salad.  Only iceberg can take center stage for this steakhouse favorite.  

This salad is simple and quick to put together, great to serve on a hot summer day.  The lettuce is crisp, juicy and deliciously chilled, served with just a few ingredients.  Key to success is a creamy dressing drizzled in abundance.  Optional additions are cherry tomatoes, bacon, and chopped fresh herbs.  Most are served with blue cheese, but feta could stand in as a substitute if blue cheese is not preferred or skip the cheese altogether.  

As far as nutrition goes, iceberg lettuce can hang in with the other lettuces.  It is loaded with vitamins K and A and has high water content to keep us hydrated on these hot summer days.  Dig in and enjoy!

Classic Iceberg Wedge Salad
1 head of iceberg lettuce
1 cup cherry tomatoes, each sliced in half
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
4 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
flakey sea salt for serving

Creamy Salad Dressing 
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons plain full fat yogurt

In a small bowl, add the Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper; whisk to combine.  Add the vinegar; whisk to combine.  Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking vigorously while doing so.  Whisk in the mayonnaise and yogurt. 

Putting it all together:  Make the dressing, then keep chilled until ready to serve the salad.  

Using a large knife, cut the head of iceberg lettuce into 4 equal wedges, cutting through the core.  Place each wedge onto a large dinner plate.  Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of dressing over each wedge.  Scatter a generous portion of halved cherry tomatoes, a sprinkling of chopped chives, 1 tablespoon of blue cheese, and a shower of flaked sea salt over each wedge.  Serve chilled within 30 minutes of dressing the salad.  

Friday, August 12, 2022

ChezCindy: OMG Giant Peach Muffins


These giant peach muffins were inspired by the abundance of peaches I had from my annual peach picking with my BFFEach year we head out for our adventure to pick peaches.  The peaches are always gorgeous, and I come home with a full peck, which is a lot of peaches.  Peaches don't hold for a long time like apples.  They ripen quickly and need to be eaten, used for baking and cooking, or frozen within a short time period.  I've been baking, and sharing, many of my favorite recipes, like peach bars and this new recipe for peach muffins.

This recipe for Giant Peach Muffins was inspired by a new cookbook by Jessie Sheehan, Snackable Bakes.  Ms. Sheehan's book is full of fabulous recipes that come together quickly with limited equipment, usually just a large bowl, whisk and rubber spatula, and go from idea to eating in short time.  I like that!  Not always do I want a baking project that takes a full day or multiple days.  Simple.  

The original recipe called for cherries, another favorite fruit, but I really needed to use the peaches.  The recipes in this book offer suggestions for swap-out variations.  It seemed logical if I could swap out cherries for raspberries or strawberries, I could do the same with peaches.  Lucky for me, it worked beautifully.  

A few notes about the recipe.  By itself without fruit the recipe is delicious.  Full of vanilla, deeply golden brown and a great texture.  If you choose to use fruit, use a soft fruit like peaches, raspberries, or cherries, measuring to 2 cups of chopped fruit.  A firm fruit such as apples might not cook fully.  The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract.  That is not an error as you might think teaspoons is meant.  The vanilla is delicious in the muffins and your house will smell wonderful as the muffins are baking.  If you don't have turbinado sugar in your pantry, it is a good addition to have on hand.  You will use it often to add a sprinkle of shine and crispy tops to many pies, cookies and muffins.  I highly recommend it.  The recipe calls for starting the bake at a high temperature, 400 degrees.  This will yield a high puff and a quick brown of the muffin.  The temperature is reduced 15 minutes into the baking time to 350 degrees.  Make note of this reduction otherwise the muffins will be over baked.  Below is my adaptation of Ms. Sheehan's muffin recipe.  

Giant Peach Muffins
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2/3 cups full-fat yogurt or sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped peaches, raspberries or cherries

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease the wells of a large 6-well muffin tin (not standard size) with cooking spray oil to coat thoroughly.  Set aside.

Working with a large mixing bowl, add in the oil, sugar and vanilla whisking to combine for 30 seconds.  Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then add in the yogurt whisking to combine.  One at a time, whisk in the baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt whisking well after each addition.

Fold in the flour and the peaches, (or other fruit if using) using a rubber spatula just until combined, not over mixing.  Divide the batter among the prepared muffin wells.  The 6 wells will be very full.  You may have batter leftover.  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of turbinado sugar over the top of each muffin.

Place the muffin tin into the preheated oven at 400 degrees, baking at this temperature for 15 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, baking for an additional 20-25 minutes until deeply brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean with just a few crumbs. A total of 35-40 minutes baking time.  

Remove from the oven, allowing the muffins to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  Using a butter knife gently loosen the muffins from the tin, transferring to a wire rack to cool.  Keep the muffins on the counter until they are gone, up to 2 days.