Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Poem of the Week

i had no one to watch the meteor shower with
not with whom
but with
as in you are or not “coming with”.
putting a preposition last,
the same as placing
in this foreign land,
where collared shirts are tucked
mothers and fathers are addressed as Mr. and Mrs. So and so.
if I wanted to cheer for my country while watching the television
then perhaps I would have someone to watch something with

by Cristina Paul

Monday, August 18, 2008

Upside Down Peach Cake With Cornmeal and Lavender

Serves 8

5 1/2 ounces (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup light or dark brown sugar
4 medium ripe peaches (about 1 1/2 pounds), skins on, pitted, and cut into ¾ inch wedges
1 cup medium ground yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons chopped fresh lavender, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried lavender
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
¾ cup baker’s sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, using a pastry brush to coat sides with butter as it melts. Sprinkle 1/4 cup brown sugar evenly over the bottom of skillet and cook until sugar starts to bubble and turn golden brown, about 3 minutes. Arrange peaches in a circle at the edge of skillet, on top of the sugar. Arrange the remaining wedges in the center to fill. Reduce heat to low, and cook until juices are bubbling and peaches begin to soften, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder, lavender, and salt in a medium bowl.
Cream remaining stick of butter and 3/4 cup baker’s sugar with a mixer on high speed, until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of the bowl. Mix in vanilla and cream. Reduce speed to low, and beat in cornmeal mixture in 2 additions.
3. Spoon batter over the peaches and spread evenly using an offset spatula. Bake until golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer skillet to a wire rack and let stand for 10 minutes. Run a knife or spatula around edge of cake. Place your serving dish on top of the skillet. Quickly and carefully flip both skillet and serving dish to invert cake onto your dish. You may need to tap the bottom of skillet to release all of the peach slices. Reposition peach slices on top of cake, if necessary. Cool slightly before serving. Hand whipped cream or crème fraiche are nice accompaniments to this recipe. The cake is also quite nice for breakfast if there are leftovers the next day.

*** Peach season is from June to September. Ripe peaches will feel heavier than they look, give slightly to a firm touch, and have a perfumed scent. To speed up the ripening process, place peaches in a brown bag on the counter, alone or with an apple in the bag.
**Peaches contain lactones - fatty aroma notes also found in molecules contained in coconut and cream.
** Lavender is a flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae.
* Lavender is thought to have many medicinal qualities. Lavendar oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, but beware if you are a prepubescent male. Recently, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine ascribed abnormal breast tissue growth in a small number of prepubescent to the use of products containing lavender oil. It seems that the oils can mimic estrogens (yes, the steroid hormone). This actually may bode well for the unfortunately endowed lady who favors lavender bath products...

Recipe adapted and perfected by Cristina Paul

Blah-Blah-Blahg: Food For Nought

Various pensioner's groups in London call this street sign insulting and ask that it be replaced. Age Concern and Help the Aged said that the hunched figures do not represent the elderly as they are today. I think the sign's awesome. I can only hope to be the kind of octogenarian that can still tap ass like the little old lady above. In fact, the sign is truly forward-thinking. That lady is totally rockin' the women's lib, I-don't-need-no stinking'-cane-'tude.