Tuesday, June 29, 2010

red, white and bleu

Sweet Summertime in the South:
Full of inevitable shoulder freckle sprinklings; homemade frozen treats: fruit bars, popsicles & granitas galore; rainbows of produce plucked straight from the backyard garden; sumptuous grilled platters served with glazed meats & charred vegetables; ripe berries bursting in seasonal clafoutis, tarts and cobblers.

Especially during summer months, I love to concoct and keep simple, frozen treats on hand to keep cool in a flash:

Chic Cubes:
Freeze ice cubes with fresh raspberries, blackberries and thyme for entertaining at your fingertips.

Slushy-Soaked Melon:
Scrape together an easy watermelon vodka granita for an upscale alternative to the ole' vodka-soaked-melon pool fare.

Tropical-Spiced Sip:
Combine frozen tropical fruit with a teaspoon of peanut butter and a dash of cinnamon for a vitamin-rich breakfast to sip with a protein boost.

I fell into a self-inflicted sugar sludge after visiting the newest self-serve fro-yo mecca in Fort Worth: Yogurtland.
As soon as my foot was in the door, I was greeted with cheery gals eagerly waving sample spoons at me to taste.

I darted amongst flavors such as:

Lemonade Passionfruit
Chocolate Coconut Truffle
Madagascar Vanilla Bean
Matcha Green Tea

I was almost tempted by the Chocolate Twilight (no sugar) but settled on Nilla Wafer Vanilla. Next came the toppings-- fresh fruit, candy and other unusual treats to frivolously sprinkle!
My final concoction:

Nilla Wafer Yogurt + Fresh Kiwi + Chewy Japanese Mochi + Cinnamon Toast Crunch + Navy Blueberries + Frosted Animal Cookies

Quite a combination, indeed.

After a swift packing session, I toted my beloved burnt orange & baby blue Bric's Trolley off to DFW International for a swift ride ending just outside of Atlanta, Georgia for a Southern wedding at its' finest.

The gorgeous wedding was an impeccable whirlwind of:

White calla lilies with flecks of blue
just in time for an outdoor "I do."

Sparkling sweetheart dresses all around; paired with an antique, romantic bridal gown.

Gorgeous coiffed Southern do's;
A rustic, sun-drenched BBQ.

Easter egg blue hydrangeas, orchids and crystal-clear hurricanes;
Sleek vodka waters with an ole' classic: Jim Beam.
Crab bisque spooned atop sparkling plates--
Not a more perfect reason to celebrate.

On our final day we armed ourselves with plenty of painkillers, yogurt pretzels and flavored water for a plane ride nap-time blanketing us closer to home sweet home.

After a celebration of marriage, we celebrated our independence with backyard BBQ fare perfect for the 4th! I settled on making a classic, creamy side and retro dessert to contribute with a poolside spread, fireworks and mosquito-rampant camaraderie.

Red Potato Salad with Fresh Tarragon, Cornichons & Gorgonzola
The cornichons (French for gherkins) in this salad provide a perfect brininess to complement the anise-laced tarragon, pungent gorgonzola and creamy mayonnaise. Celery provides a crisp texture and emerald Italian parsley gives a burst of freshness.
Serves 8+

4 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed to remove dirt
4 stalks celery, minced
1/2 c cornichons, minced
2 T reserved cornichon liquid
1/2 c Italian parsley, minced
1/4 c fresh tarragon, minced
3 T Dijon
3 T coarse ground mustard
1 c fine mayonnaise
1/4 c gorgonzola
zest of 1 lemon and juice of 1/2 lemon
kosher salt, fresh-cracked pepper & rice wine vinegar to taste

Simmer potatoes approximately 45 minutes until fork-tender. Meanwhile, combine celery, cornichons, herbs, lemon, mustards and mayonnaise. Set aside to chill.

Drain and slice potatoes in fourths when cool enough to handle. Begin laying sliced potatoes in a large bowl, layering with liberal salt, fresh-cracked pepper and several splashes of rice wine vinegar for a total of 4 layers (this will evenly distribute and adhere seasoning to salt-thirsty potatoes).
Add mayonnaise mixture. Toss to combine and fold in gorgonzola. Refrigerate to chill and serve cold.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Candied Ginger

This recipe is a wonderful combination lightened with whipped egg whites. I added a spicy addition with candied ginger and Madagascar vanilla bean paste.

1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
1 c dark brown sugar
8 rings of canned pineapple
8 maraschino cherries
5 T reserved pineapple juice
1 c cake flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 eggs, separated
1 c granulated sugar
1 t vanilla bean paste
1 T candied ginger, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In 9 inch cake pan, swirl butter to coat the bottom and sides of pan and sprinkle brown sugar atop melted butter.

Drain and assemble pineapple slices in a decorative pattern on the bottom of the pan. Add cherries in the pineapple holes and sprinkle edges between pineapple rings with candied ginger. (shown in picture)

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks just to break them up and add sugar, vanilla and 5 Tablespoons of reserved pineapple juice. Mix well and stir in flour mixture until combined. Set aside.
Place egg whites in bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into mixed batter until fully combined. Pour batter into cake pan and bake approximately 35 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Cool pan on rack 2-3 minutes then very carefully invert onto another cooling rack-- caramelized sugar mixture will be stifling hot. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This cake is perfect for a backyard affair! Sweet, gooey and airy all wrapped into one confection! My cake was served with homemade vanilla ice cream but I would recommend fresh whipped cream with only a touch of sugar to balance the intense sweetness.


Unknown said...

Callie, I loved this post. My Dad's favorite cake is pineapple upside down cake. I will have to try your recipe.

Also, the plums at Central Market are incredible right now. Last night I made a roasted pork tenderloin with a plum and jicama slaw (plums, a little honey, lime zest, jicama, 1 serrano chile, red onion, lime juice). It was amazing. I love the summer months - fresh fruit and veggies!

Callie Salls said...


It seems like a common Dad favorite:) The recipe is a fast one especially if you have a stand or hand mixer for the egg whites. Make sure to be really careful when inverting the cake-- that hot sugar can get ya!

Your plum slaw sounds wonderful! I always forget about serranos but really love their heat and visually presence.