I really can't get enough of planning menus for showers-- especially when one is celebrating the upcoming nuptials of a good girlfriend of mine.
While on vacation in Austin, I cooked for my friend Reagan's shower held at another high school girlfriend parents' house. Lucky for my, this hostess is also a fabulous new photographer and my last minute food preparations turned into an impromptu photo shoot.
My social media peeps also went crazy when I posted a picture of this decadent sweet contribution to the shower: Banana Cream Cheese Muffins with Peanut Butter Frosting and Toffee Peanuts-- I couldn't get the recipe posted fast enough...
First on the shower menu: Stone Fruit Salad with Rosemary Syrup and Toasted Hazelnuts
I began with a cooled rosemary simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water simmered with fresh rosemary from the garden until reduced by half), and soaked it with sliced Texas peaches, white nectarines, plums and cherries in the refrigerator overnight.
Next, I toasted a handful of buttery hazelnuts at 400 degrees on a sheet pan until toasted and fragrant, approximately 5 minutes.
Serve toasted hazelnuts atop chilled, soaked fruit with a sprig of rosemary. Refreshing and so summery! Remind guests to mind their cherry pits.
Next on the menu is an oh-so-simple side from my "non recipe" in the summer issue of Fort Worth Foodie Magazine: Tomato Carpaccio.
I also made a syrupy balsamic reduction to serve alongside the gorgeous tomatoes. Guests can gracefully spoon (or slather) the increments of their liking atop the juicy tomatoes.
I like to cluster the tomatoes by size in a monochromatic fashion to add eye appeal. Make sure to bring the tomatoes to room temperature if they aren't already to truly taste the wonderfulness of this summer staple.
Finish tomatoes with fleur de sel, fresh-cracked pepper and fresh thyme leaves. Delicious!
Next on the menu: Salmon Phyllo Tarts perfect for breakfast, lunch or brunch.
I began by making a salmon salad with flaked, cooked salmon, dijon, mayonnaise, fresh rosemary, fresh tarragon, capers and liberal salt and pepper. Next, I began an assembly line with melted butter, the salmon salad and delicate phyllo sheets. After I filled and folded the tarts, they went to chill on sheet pans until ready to bake.
Brush tops of tarts with melted butter or olive oil then bake at 400 degrees approximately 8 minutes until they reach a gorgeous golden brown.
I served salmon tarts with a simple aioli made with mayonnaise, capers, lemon juice and zest, fresh tarragon, salt and freshly-cracked pepper.
Finally, the moment you've all been waiting for...
Banana Cream Cheese Muffins
with Peanut Butter Frosting & Toffee Peanuts
These "muffins" are creamy, luscious and the perfect guilty pleasure with a morning (or evening) cup of coffee.
Yields 36 muffins
Adapted from Artisan Baking Company's Seasonal Fruit Muffin Recipe
3½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound cream cheese, softened
½ pound unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 cups ripe bananas, mashed (about 4 bananas)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat muffin pan or pans with nonstick baking spray or place paper liners in each cup and lightly coat papers with nonstick baking spray, so that the paper liners slip off muffins easily.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Beat cream cheese, butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add dry ingredients in two parts, alternating with milk, vanilla and almond extract. Fold in mashed bananas. Batter will be thick.
Portion into prepared muffin pans with an ice cream scoop. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Rotate pan in oven (for even baking), and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center of a muffin has only a few or no crumbs clinging to it.
Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Remove muffins from tin and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Peanut butter frosting:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 T unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
4 T whole milk
Cream together peanut butter and butter in a stand mixer with the whip attachment until fluffy, approximately 3 minutes. Scrape down sides. On medium high speed, slowly add 1 cup of powdered sugar, then whole milk. Add remaining powdered sugar then beat 5 minutes until smooth and fluffy.
Pipe or spread atop cooled banana muffins. Top with salted peanuts, candied peanuts or toffee peanuts.
Foodgasm, for real. Enjoy, folks!