Blog - biscuits and such
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Grilled Peach Salad

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One of my favorite summer fruits are peaches.  And I know that I keep telling you that different summer fruits are my favorite summer fruit, and well… guilty as charged.  But I really do love peaches.  And I really do love hitting that point in the summer where you start to see peaches at the grocery store and farmers market because seriously guys, what experience is more SUMMER than sitting outside with peach juice running down your face?

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This salad is quick, easy, and delicious.  I decided to grill the peaches because grilling them brings out their flavor and creates a wonderful crust.  I also like the grillmarks.  In addition to grilled peaches, this salad has candied pecans, cinnamon-honey chicken, and a little cheese.  Because what salad doesn’t need just a little bit of cheese?  The flavors of all the different ingredients come together to make a salad that is really dynamic.  The sweet juicy peaches play well off the crunchy spicy nuts, and the chicken is both savory and sweet.  It’s a pretty perfect summer salad, if you ask me.

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Grilled Peach Salad

1 chicken breast

1 peach

1/4 cup candied pecans (recipe here)

4 cups mixed greens

3 tbsp honey

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Parmesan cheese

Mix together cayenne and cinnamon, and rub into chicken breast.  Cook over medium heat until cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking heat up your grill or grill pan.  Brush the grill with vegetable oil.  Slice your peach and brush each side with vegetable oil as well.  Grill over medium heat for 4 minutes on each side.

When the chicken has cooked, slice and return to pan.  Pour honey over the chicken and allow to simmer.

Build your salad with mixed greens, grated parmesan, candied nuts, peaches, and chicken slices.  Top with the dressing of your choice (we recommend raspberry vinaigrette)

Serves 2

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Mountain Pie

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Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, today is my birthday.  I may or may not have mentioned here before that I have a tendency to make a very big deal out of my birthday.  I think that it stems from having a lot of family spread over the east coast and a summer birthday.  I would start celebrating in May with my class and then keep celebrating as we visited people over the summer.  For most of my childhood my birthday spanned months instead of hours.  It may have spoiled me.

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When I was fifteen I got a job as a lifeguard, and then all of the sudden I had access to what became a private pool after 9pm.  In the six years that I worked at the pool, we threw some really excellent parties.  We also started a tradition called the beerbeque, a tradition that extended to my 21st birthday, an all day drinkfest in Baltimore.  That particular celebration of life ended with Dan buying me a whiskey shot in Fell’s Point, me throwing up out of a taxi’s open door, and having to go to work the next day even though my legs were covered in permanent marker.  Apparently my brother saw the opportunity to make my foray into legal drinking a little more memorable with a sharpie and his creative imagination.

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It’s safe to say, then, that I’ve had some pretty excellent birthday parties.  From the pool parties at my grandma’s house to the beerbeques of my teen years, I have always celebrated in style.  The one consistent in all of my birthday festivities is that I have always eaten mountain pie on my birthday.  Mountain pie is, in my opinion, the only dessert suitable for a July birthday.  They’re served with ice cream, they’re full of fresh, delicious fruit, and I grew up eating that way, so it’s tradition over everything else.

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Mountain pie is what Dan calls a “dump cobbler.”  Meaning you dump it all together and let the oven take care of the rest.  My grandmother always made it with either fresh peaches or blueberries, but I suppose you could use blackberries or even raspberries if you were feeling frisky.  I like both blueberry and peach, and this year I had one of each.  I made a blueberry pie for my family when we were in Morehead last week, and Dan and I enjoyed a peach pie this past weekend.  I made it with white and yellow peaches, and it was just divine.  I think my father summed it up best when he said “This is delicious.  No, it’s better than that.  This is DAMN GOOD.”

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Mountain Pie

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar*

3/4 cup milk

1 stick butter

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 cups fresh blueberries or peaches

Heat oven to 350.

In your dish, melt the butter.

While the butter is melting, mix together to flour, sugar, milk, baking powder, and salt.  If you are using peaches, peel and dice.

When the butter is melted, pour the flour mixture into it.  DO NOT MIX.  Add the fruit on top.  DO NOT MIX.

Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until golden brown.  Serve with ice cream.

Serves 6

*If your fruit is very ripe and therefore very sweet, cut down the amount of sugar.  For overripe peaches I would cut the sugar amount by half.

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Cayenne Candied Pecans

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One of the hardest foods for me to resist at fairs, carnivals, and outdoor concerts is candied nuts.  The smell of them lure me in and I can’t say no.  My favorite nut, the pecan, is also my favorite candied nut.  I like it when nuts are not just sweet when candied, but also spicy, so when I make them at home, I mix in a little cayenne to give it a kick.

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Candied pecans are a malleable food because they can be served alone as a snack or used as a topping in salads, on top of soups, or with a little vanilla ice cream.  They have a shelf life of a few weeks, so you can make a batch and then dole them out as needed, which is something I always appreciate.  They’re like the bacon bits of sweet toppings.

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Candying nuts is pretty easy.  You want to moisten the nuts so that the sugar and spice can stick, so you dip them in frothed egg whites first, and then in the dry mix.  For my dry mix I used brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, red pepper, and nutmeg.  My main flavor makers were cayenne and cinnamon, but I added the other flavors to make a complete taste.  After I baked them I tossed them again in more sugar and spice and then let them cool.  This makes sure that there is a crusty sugar layer on the outside.  The spice is subtle and the overall experience is wonderful- crunchy, chewy, sweet, and spicy.

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Cayenne Candied Pecans

2 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup pecans

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp cayenne

1 tbsp cinnamon

Dash of red pepper

Dash of nutmeg

Use a whisk, mixer, or immersion blender to froth your egg whites.  Add vanilla extract.  Add the pecans and coat entirely.

In a separate bowl, mix white sugar and spices.  Split in half and set one half inside.  To the other half add brown sugar.  Dip the pecans in the brown sugar mix and place on a wax paper covered baking sheet.

Bake your pecans in a 350 oven for 20 minutes.

When they’re done, toss them in the remaining sugar mix and place them on a rack to cool.

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