My mother-in-law is my hero. There, I've said it. I have been wanting to say it for a while. She can't speak or read English. Maybe a kind relative in Italy who does will show her my blog and translate this post for her. She deserves to see this. How many daughters-in-law make the above claim? I know, it's highly unusual. You may even say it is rare to hear someone declare: My mother-in-law is my hero. Most women I know would like to strangle their mother-in-laws. I was one of those women (please don't show her this part, nice Italian relative). But then I decided to be less close minded and to embrace my pushy Italian mother-in-law. Here comes the part where I gush. She is amazing. Truly amazing. She has been cooking in a kitchen that is the size of most people's bathroom closet for the last 15 years. She has been cooking the most delicious, mouth watering recipes in a place I can't even enter to make toast. When we stay with them in the summer she cooks daily (twice daily) for about 7-17 people in this tiny space. She dashes in that magical space. She works at lightning speed. I swear she must have assistants hidden in there with her or she gets up in the middle of the night to prep. She spends the bare minimum on her products, but they are not lacking in quality and taste. She just knows how to look for deals and how to bargain and buy the best (an easy task in Italy). The fruit and vegetable guy drives by on Tuesdays and Saturdays and she buys cases of eggplant. Cases of tomatoes. Cherries. Peaches. For the best price ever. Vegetable guy can't ever say no to Teresa.
I came across this recipe a few years ago and it was instantly a hit (minus the mangos)! I brought it to every party. I made it here for the kids every couple weeks. Everyone loved it. And then sadly, the little Upside-Down Plum Cake recipe was tossed aside like a pair of dirty socks in a corner.
It is possible I may have been Mexican in another lifetime. I am not kidding. Here is maybe why I could have been Mexican:
1) Hablo español.
2) I have been told I speak Spanish with a Mexican accent by other Spanish speakers.
3) I was addicted to Mexican soap operas in the 90's.
4) I was asked last year to be the Spanish Language Liason (volunteer)at my daughter's school for meet and greet events.
4) I was asked last year to be the Spanish Language Liason (volunteer)at my daughter's school for meet and greet events.
5) I make really good tacos and salsa.
Due to the preceding reasons, I believe I was Mexican in another lifetime. Now let's talk salsa. Summer is almost over. I feel it even here in the land of no seasons. The humidity seems a little less thick. If you look quick enough, you could see the leaves have slight movement. My mango tree has been so good to us this summer. I know, I'm always talking about these silly mangos. But seriously! The best mangos grow in my backyard. I wish I could send you each a mango to test it for yourselves.
Organic Mango Salsa
2 diced plum tomatoes
1/2 diced red bell pepper
2 cups of diced mangos (organic or conventional)
juice of one lime
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 diced scallions (I used 2 organic scallions)
Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Serve immediately with tacos or just some good chips. If you are not a good sharer, hide the bowl from your guests and give them the boring jarred salsa.
Here are all the mangos we cleaned yesterday. Now we will can them for the fall.
There has been an overabundance of caramel here in the Duchess' kitchen. I'm not complaining. I learned how to make my own caramel the other day with Chef (my hubby). I talked about it a little bit in my last post on pancakes. We made four cans and I couldn't let them go to waste. This past Sunday we were invited to a pizza party. An Italian pizza party with people from Italy that make really amazing pizza. I'm the designated dessert volunteer. I chose to try a new recipe with my caramel and my organic apples I had on hand. I also made an apple/mango ciambella (Romagnola style). The hostess requested it. And for my kids, I made a banana bread to keep here at the house. It is truly a miracle that we have good genes and are not all weeble wobbles. Or maybe it is this intense summer heat and we are all sweating off all the sweets every time we go outside?
I have been making an upside down plum cake for the last few years. I tweaked the recipe a little bit and was not sure how it would turn out. I had backup desserts to bring to the party in case it was a flop. It wasn't. The Upside-Down Dulce de Leche Organic Apple Cake was so moist. It has a stick of butter in the batter, but it was not heavy. This cake has probably a million calories. Per slice. If you are on a diet, like most of the women were at the dinner party the other night, you will forget about your diet for a few minutes and indulge in a slice of this rich, caramel, apple delight.
Upside-Down Dulce de Leche Organic Apple Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1 mango finely chopped
1/2 apple finely chopped
2 apples (peeled, cored, and sliced to 1/4 inch thickness)
1 can of caramel
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Prior to making the batter, saute' the mango and apple on the stove until tender. You will not need to add any liquid to this mixture if the mango is ripe because the mango will emit a large amount of moisture. When it is tender, mash the mango/apple mixture with a potato masher so it is nicely combined.
Add the flour, baking powder and salt to a small bowl and mix together the ingredients. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until well blended. Add in the eggs and vanilla; beat until blended. Next, beat in the flour mixture. Mix in the sour cream and then stir in the mango/apple puree'.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet or 10 inch non-stick ovenproof skillet. Add the apple slices to the skillet and cook until they are golden brown. Add the can of caramel to the skillet. Arrange the apples in the skillet in a nice pattern. *I added a whole can of caramel so you could not see the apples on the bottom of cake when I flipped the skillet over when it was ready. But it doesn't matter, because it was off the hook good! You could add less caramel so you could see the pattern you make with your apples. I wasn't interested preserving the artistic integrity of this cake. It was all about the caramel.
This is how my cake looked when it was ready to be put in the oven. Notice how there is no pretty pattern to my apples. They are floating happily in a caramel/butter mixture.
This is how it looked when I took out of the oven.
And this is the baking lineup for the Italian pizza party. The banana bread stayed safe at home.
Here is another look at the cake in all it's rich, caramel glory.
I make pancakes almost every day here. My hubby (The Chef) showed me yesterday how to make dulce de leche right in the can. A can of condensed milk boiled right on top of the stove turns into ooey, gooey, scrumptiously delicious: caramel. Darling Chef boiled the four cans covered completely in water for about 2 1/2 hours. Make sure your cans are not dented. The cans will be under pressure and you shouldn't take any chances. I let the can cool until the next morning. I wouldn't open it before as you do not want a caramel explosion in your kitchen. That morning we opened the first can and it was caramel paradise!
The second part of the recipe is the organic apples sauteed with butter and cinammon. You could use conventional apples if you prefer. It will still be very tasty. Apples, cinammon, and caramel first thing in the morning with a nice caffe' latte. Could it get better than that?
Pancakes with Dulce de Leche and Organic Apples
Cut two organic apples into thin chunks and sautee' over medium heat in a small skillet in two tablespoons of butter. *(While the apples are cooking, you could prepare the pancake batter).The apples will soak up the butter immediately. Keep adding water to the skillet a tablespoon at a time until the apples are nice and tender. Sprinkle on some cinammon and add another pat of butter.
Now onto the pancakes:
Easy Homemade Pancake Recipe:
1 cup of all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tbsp of sugar
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
approx 3/4 cup of milk (add more or less depending on how thick or thin you like your flapjacks!)
Whisk all the dry ingredients first. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and then stir in the wet ingredients.
For these pancakes, I added a little bit of the sauteed apples to the batter.
Let the batter sit for about ten minutes. Add a dab of butter to a pan that is on medium-low heat (you may need it on medium, depending on your stove). Once the dab of butter has melted, ladle out the pancakes onto the pan. You have to watch your pancakes. When you see the pancakes bubbling a little, it's time to flip them. If it is too soon, it will stick to your spatula. You don't want to rush them. Let the other side of the pancake cook for about 2 minutes. They should be a perfect, golden color.
While the pancakes are being made, open a can of the condensed milk that you boiled the night before. Refrain from eating the entire can.
Now plate up your gorgeous, fancy breakfast! Drizzle a little of the dulce de leche on top. A spoonful or two of the apples on the side. If you have an overactive sweet tooth, go ahead! Drizzle a little bit of maple syrup on top too!
In celebration of today being National S'mores Day...I have to post something with chocolate. I have been baking my buns off this summer. Due to certain circumstances, (busy with the kids, some vacations, house guests, broken computer)I have gotten a little behind.
It is hot all across the USA. It is scorching hot here in Palm Beach. The ocean breeze is a gift and a blessing. Today the kids and I met my dad on the beach for a little swim and to play in the sand. The water was gorgeous and it looked like the Bahamas.
This is the Lake Worth Pier. It got destroyed with the hurricanes about four years ago. They recently repaired it.
My mango tree is gorgeous. It suffered greatly four years ago when we had four hurricanes pass through this area of Florida. I thought there would never be another juicy mango for us to enjoy. This year there are hundreds of them and they are so big! When they fall at night on the roof it makes me jump in my seat. I must pick about ten pounds of them off the ground every morning. We have been making many smoothies.
The bottom of our mango tree.
I love picking them up off the ground in the morning with the kids. It's like an easter egg hunt.
They hang off the tree like fruity gems.
This is how many we picked up today. And there is my dad's pineapple. My dad is Sicilian and he has a green thumb. He can grow any fruit or vegetable in his yard.
I mentioned in last post I had some recipes to catch up on here for you all. Since the battery on this ancient laptop has a few more minutes on it, I will give you one more recipe for today to try. We have been buying way too many blueberries. I say it is way too many because instead of tossing them on top of unsweetened Greek yogurt or eating them in their simple, delicious state...we have been baking with them and baking with butter and sour cream! Oh, Madonna! This has been a fun and fatty summer! This recipe had been a staple for a few years back and then I lost this treasured recipe. I came across it again in my recipe pile and here it is.
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of light brown sugar (you can use less-I did 3/4 cup this time)
1/2 cup of milk
6 tablespoons melted, cooled butter
1 dollop of sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour your muffin pan (or you could use Pam Baking Spray which is better for muffin pans). Add the flour and baking powder to a bowl and whisk together. In a separate bowl mix the cooled butter, milk, egg, and brown sugar. Add the flour to the wet ingredients. Mix in the dollop of sour cream. Fold in the blueberries. This recipe makes 6 large muffins. Add the batter to the muffin pan and bake for about 30 minutes. They should be a nice golden brown.
Look how good these are! They were perfect for an afternoon snack!
They were even better with a mango smoothie the next day at breakfast.
My mom keeps reminding me how many days it's been since I've posted. Yes, I've neglected you, my cute blog. My computer is getting repaired and may be ready this Saturday. I am using a laptop from circa '98 and dang (my kid reads this blog so it has to be G-rated)is it SLOW! My darling hubby swore he would clean it up and it would be fine. He didn't believe our computer guy when he said "It's time to get another laptop. These Dells last 3-5 yrs tops." He is one stubborn Italian. Computer guy was right (gasp). I cracked and finally downloaded some photos to this dinosaur so you guys could get busy baking something new and yummy! Because we have been busy baking. I have to do some catching up. First on the list is this Blueberry Buckle that I saw on http://www.smithbites.com/. I follow @smithbites on Twitter and saw her tweet about this Buckle. Maybe it was her mouth watering photos and maybe it was because I had a fresh jumbo container of blueberries from Costco...but we had to make that Buckle FAST. And you will too. Don't hesitate. My daughter worked on mixing the butter with the sugar and made the crumble topping. She also did the main photo above. I love all the delicious time we have spent baking together this summer. Precious baking moments.
Blueberry Buckle recipe courtesy of http://www.smithbites.com/
1/4 cup of butter softened
3/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of milk
zest of lemon
2 cups of flour
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of blueberries
1/3 cup of butter, softened
1/2 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter and flour 9 inch square or round pan. In a small bowl, add the flour, zest, baking powder and salt and whisk the ingredients. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the milk and egg; mix well. Add the flour, lemon zest, baking powder, salt; mix well. Fold the blueberries in by hand. Mix topping ingredients until crumbly. Spread cake batter in cake pan, sprinkle topping over batter and bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
This is all that was left as of 7:45 PM. Maybe we'll save a slice for Chef. :)