I've been a bit lousy with posting of late, but I have a good excuse. It was my birthday! Yippee! For anyone who knows me, this meant I had another reason to celebrate. And that is exactly what I did this past week! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 2011 Awkward Adult Prom crew. I heart these guys, in a big way.
Yippee! Another foodie fest! Oh the joy in having friends gather together for an afternoon of good eats, tasty spirits, and one foodgasm after another.
Our very sweet hostess, Samba. My ongoing doggie crush. Ssh, don't tell her. It might inflate her adorable ego.
This time around we went with a Mediterranean theme, encouraging any recipe that may come from a Mediterranean country. The turnout of dishes was amazing! Homemade pesto, homemade hummus, cheese and fruit spread, tzatziki, beef gyros, kalamata olive poundcake, a roasted vegetable pie, falafel, dolmas, and many more recipes.
We even had a beer flyer with (some) beers from Mediterranean origins. Plus ouzo, of course. There is always room for ouzo!
One of the world's best pound cakes right here!
One of my offerings this foodie fest were pesto polenta bites. Easy as can be, flavorful to boot with the pesto, and open for a lot of variety in morphing the recipe. Next time you are at the store and see a tube of pre-made polenta, I encourage you to pick some up and try out a recipe. It may surprise you, enjoy!
Pesto Polenta Bites
About 1/4 cup purchased or homemade pesto
24 rounds purchased cooked polenta (sliced from tube works)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Place polenta rounds slightly apart on an oiled baking sheet. Spread pesto over the top of each polenta slice, sprinkle with cheese and herbs, and bake for 400 degrees F until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown (usually 10-13 minutes). Let the polenta rounds cool for a few minutes, then transfer with a spatula and serve!
With all of this in mind, I proposed a challenge for myself of late - to make a pear pie that departed from the norm. Sleeves rolled up, goal in mind, I researched a number of pear pies until I settled upon this one as my starting point.
The big changes included using my favorite pre-made vegan pie crust in place of something homemade (pandas have so little time these days), swapping out the sour cream for vanilla non-fat yogurt, adding almond extract, and beefing up the flavor of the topping by adding a combo of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
How many pieces of this beautiful pie do you think I consumed? If you aren't to at least five in your guess, keep trying. Five slices is when I stopped counting. Keeping my hands off of this delicious foodgasm was impossible! In the end I finally started handing out slices to anyone who would take them, just so that I wouldn't finish the pie in one sitting. I call it a pie crush, and this is my current one! Enjoy!
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Take pre-made pastry out of the freezer. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, sour cream, 1/4 cup flour, egg, vanilla, and salt in a bowl until blended. Fold in the pears. Pour the mixture into the pie plate and bake the pie for 15 minutes. While the pie is baking, prepare the topping: mix the 2/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup sugar, spices, melted butter, and rolled oats together in a bowl. Remove the pie from the oven and sprinkle with the crumble topping. Return the pie to the oven and bake until the filling is set and the crust is brown, about 20 minutes more. Allow to cool and set before serving.
When all else fails and life seems too complicated to face, head to the Farmer's Market. Or at least that is one of my life mottos. Honestly, it works. So far it hasn't let me down.
So why the Farmer's Market for a pick-me-up? Well, a lot of it has to do with the ebb and flow of the place. I enjoy people watching, local produce, and any reason to snap off a few shots. These reasons combined with the fresh aromas of whatever is freshly roasting/baking/being assembled are plenty enough for me to spend a few lazy hours wandering around the stalls.
The last time I was at my local Farmer's Market I discovered these beautiful pink pearl mushrooms. Delicious!
Prices are reasonable, if not cheaper than the local grocery store, plus the produce is typically straight from field to table (win!).
My goal is to stock up on everything while I can as our Farmer's Market only runs on a seasonal basis, harvest already upon us. For instance, these lovely melons.
If I'm lucky, I'll have a few moments to put in some fall starts to keep the garden going as long as possible. If nothing else, it'll give my feathered ladies another treat, little spoiled fatties!