White Peach & Blueberry Buckle

White Peach & Blueberry Buckle

White Peach & Blueberry Buckle

It amazes me how something neither myself nor most of my friends had heard of could so quickly become a most requested recipe. Until a few weeks ago a buckle was known as something belonging on a belt or a cool pair of boots, certainly not something to eat, which was why the first time I announced I was going to make it the common response was “what’s a buckle?”

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It turns out a buckle is essentially a fruity coffee cake that gets its name because the top “buckles” as it bakes. But seriously, this buckle is so much better than any coffee cake I’d ever eaten. First of all, it’s extremely light and fluffy, not to mention moist. The crispy crumb topping adds a perfect touch of sugary goodness, and the peaches and blueberries throughout make you think you’re eating something healthy.

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In fact, as far as baked desserts go, this one is relatively healthy. The total amount of butter is just a bit more than one stick and I like to tell myself that the fruit cancels out all the sugar.

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As for feedback, this buckle was such a huge hit at the first dinner I brought it to that it was demanded for an overnight hiking trip just two weeks later where it was eaten as both dessert and breakfast. Sadly, I used up the last of my peaches on the second buckle so there won’t be another one this year, but the results were so worth it.

Here’s the recipe:

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Peach Almond Milk Faux Ice Cream

Peach Almond Milk Ice Cream sm

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: relax, there’s no soy in this faux ice cream!

I will never be able to figure out why whenever I mention “soy ice cream” people automatically make a disgusted face and say “ew.” Granted, some soy ice creams are pretty awful but many are really good, so good in fact that it’s near impossible to tell that they’re dairy-free. I also like coconut milk ice creams, although I do pass on anything made from rice milk, those really are gross.

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Peach Almond Milk Ice Cream0003 Peach Almond Milk Ice Cream0004

But what about a non-dairy ice cream made from almond milk? I’d never heard of it before but figured almond milk should work just like any other fake milk, essentially adding a creamy base to a fruity sorbet.

Well, it turns out I was a little off. The biggest problem in working with almond milk was that its lack of fat made it watery, causing it ti freeze like ice. It would be like using fat-free milk to make ice cream. Through a bit of trial and error I finally came up with a winning solution using both cornstarch and gelatin to thicken and add body to the batter, making for a smooth and creamy, albeit a bit cold, version of non-dairy ice cream.

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Despite the trials I was determined to make this work. Not only was I intrigued by the challenge itself, but I was smitten with the idea of almond milk and peaches, given that peaches and almonds are a classic flavor combination. Plus it was a good way to use up some of the peaches that were overflowing from my kitchen after my road trip to Michigan orchard country.

Here’s the recipe:

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Through My Lens: Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Through My Lens: Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Through My Lens: Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookies

This post is part of “Through My Lens: An Experiment in Interpretation,” hosted by Culinary Snapshot.

Back in the day, I was really into photography, specifically during high school and college. I took many classes, most of which were on black and white photography and was so enamored with the idea of telling a story through a single captured image that I even hoped to become a photojournalist.

However, the second semester of my senior year of college I enrolled in an advanced color photography class. It was interesting at first to learn about different types of light but I quickly grew bored and wound up dropping the class. Part of the reason was a strong case of senioritis, and the other part was that I missed working with my hands the same way I had in the darkroom when I’d processed my own film and developed the prints. Not to mention that the photo world was rapidly turning digital and I wasn’t sure I was on board with that.

As the years went by (wow, I’m sounding old) I continued to take pictures with a point-and-shoot digital camera but had lost the passion and exuberance I’d once had for photography. But at the same time I was getting more and more into cooking, eventually even quitting my job and attending culinary school.

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Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Cherry Mousse

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Cherry Mousse

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Cherry Mousse

Someone asked me recently what my cooking style is. While I can’t claim to be as specific as “Italian cuisine” or “healthy cooking,” I think my style is best described as working with ingredients and ideas that inspire me. Take this recipe for dark chocolate cheesecake with cherry mousse.

The process started after I bought sour cherries on a whim and was having a difficult time deciding how to use them. I’d already made a cherry crumble this summer and I just haven’t been feeling very pie-y. So I decided to think outside the box (sorry, term leftover from my PR days) and came up with cherry mousse.

Cherry Mousse: sour cherries in food processor Cherry Mousse: fold in whipped cream Cherry Mousse

The original idea was to fill white chocolate cupcakes with cherry mousse but I wasn’t thrilled with how the cupcakes turned out. They had great flavor but the texture was a bit off. And they weren’t real chocolate. I guess that’s what I get for breaking my self-imposed no-white-chocolate-because-it’s-not-really-chocolate rule.

Rather than attempt the cupcakes again, I decided to switch gears and go with real chocolate.  The question was should I make cupcakes again or try something different. After spending way too much time thinking about how to use the cherry mousse (we’re talking half a day of indecision here, SO not normal) I finally settled on dark chocolate cheesecake because The Flavor Bible okayed the combination of cherries, dark chocolate and cream cheese. And I do whatever The Flavor Bible says.

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake: chocolate wafer cookies crumbs Chopped bittersweet chocolate bar Cheesecake topped with cherry mousse

The result was incredible. I splurged on high-end chocolate (Scharffen Berger 70% bittersweet cocoa bar) which made for a rich and creamy cheesecake. Its smooth, light texture contrasted perfectly with the crispy chocolate wafer crust and the sweet, bright flavor of the cherry mousse balanced the richness of the cheesecake to create a perfect bite.

Dark chocolate cheesecake with cherry mousse equals optimum summer decadence. That, my friends, is my cooking style.

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Cherry Mousse

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Cherry Mousse

Here’s the recipe:

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal. Check. Yogurt. Check.

Sounds pretty healthy, right? There’s something about putting the word “oatmeal” in front of “cookie” that makes me think I’m getting a healthy treat. Sort of like how “apple pie” sounds healthier than “chocolate mousse pie.” While I won’t go so far as to call these oatmeal chocolate chip cookies healthy, they are darn tasty with a phenomenal texture and have less fat than traditional recipes.

The key is to use nonfat Greek yogurt in place of some of the butter. This tenderizes the cookies and adds a very subtle tang. But be sure to use Greek yogurt which is thicker than regular yogurt.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: cream butter and sugars Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: add eggs and yogurt Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: cookie batter

This recipe makes five dozen cookies that are best eaten the same day or frozen. In fact, I really like them just out of the freezer – cold, chewy and oddly refreshing.

The best part: you can eat oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for breakfast! Okay, maybe that’s just me but they are that good.

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