The Incredible Summer Market

I could give you a million excuses for why I’ve only posted – what – twice in July?

But who wants to hear that. It’s July. I’ve been working on awesome, awesome things. I’ve been building projects and baking my butt off.  I’ve been planning and viewing and researching and (always) eating.  I’ve been documenting it all and sharing what I can when I have a second to come up for air and send a picture through vscocam or something of the sorts. And today, I actually had a second to sit down and look through all of the pictures in my July 2014 Photostream.

You just really have to see what’s happening at the market right now.  It is glorious.

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I can’t even explain how happy it makes me that it is tomato season again.  I literally just had tomatoes (and a hard boiled egg) for breakfast.IMG_6672IMG_6573IMG_6413 IMG_6410And the melons! Is there anything that tastes more like summer than melons?  I’m over the moon happy with my summer fruit!
IMG_6412IMG_6661 IMG_6837 IMG_6574 Ok, one more tomato shot. I actually started a #kelslovestomatoes hashtag so I could document all the beautiful tomatoes in my life – before they quickly disappear into my stomach’s life.IMG_6833 IMG_6834 IMG_6665I’m always glad I brought my cart…
IMG_6847I hope you are all enjoying your summer, and that it has been just as bountiful as ours has been!  Happy summer market to all!

xoxo

 

 

I hope you are all I hope you 

Strawberry Chocolate Banana Bread

My fridge is stuffed right now.

Not because we have a crazy amount of food.  I mean, we always have sort of a crazy amount of food in our house, but this time it’s just because it’s summer.

Summer stuffs our fridge for two reasons.  The first is that everything delicious is in season.  Cherries and apricots are on their way out, peaches are at their peak, and tomatoes are just about ready.  We’ve had to start bringing the cart to the market with us because It’s kind of impossible to carry around three Weiser Farm’s melons, a bag of peaches and a flat of tomatoes.  For three hours.

Talk about a food blogger workout.

The second reason our fridge is stuffed is because we don’t have air conditioning.  So if we left those tomatoes I’m in love with out on the counter for more than twelve hours, we would not only have tomato mush, but we would also have a swarm of fruit flies.

No bueno.

Somehow recently, a few bananas got left out in the fruit bowl in the summer heat.  And I kept telling myself they’d be ok or that I’d finish them in the morning. But then I was having breakfast and I realized I could smell the bananas on the shelf next to me.  It wasn’t a bad smell, just a “use me now or I’ll turn into a big blob of gross” smell.

One of the bananas even looked like this, so I was almost sure I’d just be throwing the whole bunch away.

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Except when I peeled it, just to make sure, the banana inside looked just right…

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Which, of course, meant banana bread!

I started looking up recipes.  I also discovered I had a pint of strawberries that were on their last days.  (Strawberries and bananas take a back seat to stone fruit in this house, I guess.)  I figured I’d throw them in the mix.  I started making a grocery list.  I almost headed out the door.

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But before I did, I just happened to stumble across a recipe for chocolate banana bread.  Chocolate. Banana. Bread.  I had an epiphany where I realized that the combination of chocolate and banana in bread was even better than banana and walnuts.  And sounded so much more like dessert than breakfast…

Plus, I was still going to add in strawberries.

Yep. I was making Strawberry Chocolate Banana Bread.

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Banana bread is one of those comfort foods that just makes me happy.  It’s fluffy and light and crunchy and is kind of like a cake, but can definitely be categorized as breakfast.

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This banana bread was even better.  Even more decedent.  Even more tempting to just cut yourself off a piece every time you happened to be near the kitchen.

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I truly had to give away half of this loaf because it was so rich and delicious and amazing.  But mostly because I’m supposed to be on a post-vacation detox, and I just couldn’t stop eating it.

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No one I gave it to seemed to mind too much.  It was almost like a giant strawberry brownie.  And topped with vanilla ice-cream on a hot summer day?  Oh. My. Gosh.

Give it a try.  I promise you’ll be tempted to always leave your bananas out a little too long when the temperature goes up…

xoxo

Strawberry Chocolate Banana Bread

ever so slightly adapted from smitten kitchen’s Double Chocolate Banana Bread

3 medium very ripe bananas
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup Strawberries, chopped
3-4 Strawberries, sliced length-wise for topping

Heat your oven to 350°F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in melted butter, then brown sugar, egg, & vanilla. Use as sifter to sift baking soda, salt, cinnamon (if using), flour and cocoa powder over wet ingredients. Stir dry and wet ingredients with a spoon until just combined. Stir in chopped strawberries.

Pour into prepared pan, top in whichever design you’d like with the remaining strawberry slices, and bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

The Star of the Show: Artichoke Flowers

I bought a ridiculous amount of produce at the market this week.

I can’t help it.  Stone fruit is in season.  There were bags of apricots, bags of peaches, nectarines, and a handful of something called a plum cot (those were gone within 3 minutes, easily).  There were thoughts of pies and jams and other delicious pastries in my near future.

I could barely carry my bags by the time we got back to the car.  Maybe it should have been a cart kind of day.  You know it’s almost summer when I have to break out the cart.  Oh man, I just thought about tomato season…

Don’t even get me started on tomato season.  I have to start saving my money now.

But this week there was a particular item that everyone was talking about.  They were poking out of everyone’s bags, and people who hadn’t discovered them kept asking me where I found mine.

Artichoke flowers.

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Gorgeous and kind of exotic, these are simply artichokes that have grown past the edible stage.  The artichokes that we eat are the flower bud before it blooms.

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Once the artichoke has reached this stage, the fruit becomes super coarse and basically inedible, but it is still quite a conversation starter.  The flower almost reminded me of sea anemone and they were super soft.  Brad really, really liked them, so we picked up a giant one for him to walk around with.

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Everyone wanted to touch our artichoke flower.

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Before we left the market, we were gifted a couple other, smaller artichoke flowers, and I threw them all together at home in a funky artichoke flower arrangement.

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Apparently I just can’t get enough of produce as decoration.

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xoxo

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Lavender (or Rosemary!) Shortbread Cookies

I bought all of that lavender.  I dried it all and picked all of the buds.  I made a delicious cocktail with it.

But this is what I was planning on the whole time.

lavendar shortbread cookies

I have this semi-vivid memory of being at a restaurant a long time ago and being served dessert.  And whatever the dessert itself was, I remember that it was served with this amazing little rosemary shortbread cookie.

I say semi-vivid because I can still taste that cookie.  I crave that cookie.  But I can’t really figure out where that memory came from… I sort of remember it being a chocolate dessert.  I think it was at a great restaurant in New York.

I think it was with dessert…?

All that’s important is that tiny little cookie.

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After making those caramel shortbread cookies a few weeks back, I kind of got on a shortbread kick.  I was noticing it everywhere.  I loved it’s buttery flavor.  I was fascinated with seeing bloggers garnish their versions of the caramels with lavender instead of seasalt.  I had never thought to garnish something with dried flowers before.

Plus, I kept trying to place where the heck I experienced this rosemary shortbread cookie.

No use.  The details of that memory are gone.  I’m trying to just be thankful for the bits and pieces I have locked away to replay over and over…

Mother’s Day was coming up, and I decided that I wanted to send something sweet and little home to all the mothers that are so special in my life back on the east coast.  My mother and extended mothers are always so supportive of what I do here on the blog. They are constantly commenting on the drool my recipes inspire from across the country, so I wanted to give them a little taste of what I am always working on.

I decided on toying around with that cookie obsession a little and used those gorgeous little purple buds I’d so diligently picked to make a Mother’s Day treat.

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I was kind of afraid the cookies would come out tasting like soap or some other body ointment from a lotion store at the mall.  Or that the buds would be dry and crunchy and weird.  But if I wasn’t going to send actual flowers to all the moms, I thought cookies with flowers in them had to be just as good.

Right?  Moms?

I also decided that I had to try my hand at the rosemary version since I couldn’t get it off my mind.

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Once the dough was made, I split it into two parts and added lavender to one half and rosemary to the other.  Even the doughs were gorgeous.

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It’s not often I think how beautiful my dough is… I usually just want to eat it immediately.  This one also had that effect, but not until after I had taken a billion pictures.

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And after they were rolled out, cut out and baked, it was hard to decide which one was better.

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I ended up sending a mix of both flavors to all of the moms back east.  I’m not sure they made it there un-crumbled, but based on the couple that I saved for myself, they would have been just as amazing in tiny, little crumbly pieces.

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The lemon flavor was perfect with the herbs (and flowers).  And the icing was perfect and simple and sweet.

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Although it wasn’t the exact flavor I remembered from that tiny shortbread cookie all those years ago, I’m happy to keep experimenting until I figure it out.

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I am also curious about using thyme…  But I’m sure there will be a next time very, very soon.

xoxo

Lavender Shortbread Cookies

adapted from here and here

COOKIES
1 c unsalted butter – room temperature
3/4 c confectioner’s sugar (or more, depending on the consistency after you add the lemon juice)
2 tbsp lemon juice (or 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract)
1.5 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest (about 2 large lemons, preferably Meyer)
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 c cornstarch
2.5 c all purpose flour
1 tbsp dried lavender

Cream together the butter and confectioner’s sugar until smooth, and then mix in lemon juice and zest. In a separate bowl, sift together the salt, cornstarch and flour. Add this to the butter mixture and stir until the flour coats the butter but isn’t completely worked in. Add in lavender flowers.  Using your hands, lightly rub the ingredients together until the mixture is no longer dry. You will know it’s done when it forms easily into a dough ball.  Flatten the dough out into a disc and wrap with plastic warp. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or up to three days).

Preheat the oven to 325° F.  Take the fully–chilled dough and place it on top of a piece of parchment. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/3 inch. Cut with cookie cutters. Remove the scraps from between each cookie and re–form into a flat disc. (If dough has become too soft or warm, re–refrigerate it for a few minutes before attempting to roll it out.)  Transfer parchment paper to a cookie sheet and bake in the top third of the oven for 15 minutes or until the edges are just golden brown. Allow to cool on cookie racks before icing.

ICING
1 c confectioner’s sugar
2-3 tbsp lemon juice

Whisk together confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice until smooth.  Set your cookies on a baking rack on top of a cookie sheet to catch excess icing.  Drizzle icing lightly over cookies and garnish with a lavender bud before while the icing is still liquid.  Allow icing to set and harden for about an hour before moving or stacking cookies.

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Blood Orange Sorbet (without an icecream maker!)

Blood Orange SorbetWhen it gets too hot for turning on the oven, you have to resort to your Pinterest board dedicated to frozen treats.

For me, this lemon sorbet looked tantalizing.  It was just what I needed to cool down.  I could even maybe pour some bubbly over it and make myself a refreshing little cocktail!

But then I realized that, in the heat, my lemons had become fuzzy with mold.

Gross.

Never to fear!  There was other citrus that would be equally as delicious when frozen and covered with champagne!  Blood oranges!

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I loved the juicy flavor that was barely tart and simply sweet.

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I have an ice-cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid, but this was way easier.

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And it looks so cute in those tiny bowls… I might have eaten the whole bowl before thinking about how I wanted to pour champagne on it…

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Don’t make the same mistake.  Put yours in a coupe glass and have it for happy hour.  The heat makes me do crazy things – like forget about champagne.

It’s unacceptable, really.

xoxo

Blood Orange Sorbet

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 tbsp grated blood orange zest

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water and simmer until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Once cooled, stir in the juice and zest.  Pour the mixture into a metal baking pan and freeze until firm (2-3 hours), stirring with a fork every hour.  Transfer to an airtight container to store.

Bring Your Produce Back To Life!

Brad has all kinds of fun kitchen tricks.

Maybe one of my favorites is when there is a bunch of basil – or a bag of spinach, or some carrots or herbs or whatever – that looks limp and sad.  Maybe it wasn’t in the crisper in the refrigerator.  Maybe we went to lunch after the market and left them in the car a little too long.  Maybe I took something out of a bag that it would have been better off left in…

Whatever happened, the produce looks withered and faded.

(hopefully this is not how you feel after that glorious memorial day weekend.  if it is, then use this same trick on yourself.  plus maybe a pastry or two.  i guarantee the holiday weekend hangover will be over in no time.  and – cheer up!  it’s “officially” summer!)

Just looking at those sad, limp, green leaves, you think you should probably just throw them away.

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Like this kale, for example.  I have no excuse, I just didn’t get to it fast enough and it sat in the bottom of the crisper out of a bag just a little too long.

But wait!!

I tried Brad’s magic trick.

limp kale key of kels I stuck the kale in a jar with a good amount of water.  I set it in a sunny spot, but not one that got direct sunlight.

And I – once again – forgot about it.
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Seems this week I’m just really not good at kale.

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But a few hours later, I happened to walk by the arrangement, and I noticed that the leaves were no longer touching the tabletop I’d set them on.

kind of limp kale key of kels kind of limp kale key of kelsThe leaves felt a little stronger to the touch.  A little more rigid and tough. kind of limp kale key of kels kind of limp kale key of kelsSo I left them a little while longer.  Just to see what would happen.kind of limp kale key of kels

24 hours later, the kale was pretty much 100% back to it’s natural kale-like state.

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I was really amazed at how it had transformed from being limp, soft, and inedible right back to being tough, thick, crunchy kale.back to life kale with the key of kels back to life kale with the key of kels back to life kale with the key of kels

I will admit, it looked so pretty in the jar that I kept it on my desk for a day next to the gorgeous protea flowers I picked up at the farmer’s market.

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Now I’ve had both kale and artichokes as floral arrangements.  This is either multitasking or a giant waste of food.

Kale arrangement with proteaAnd I just keep thinking of what I can do with all this kale…

So, I’m off to make lunch.

xoxo