Showing posts with label peaches. Show all posts
Showing posts with label peaches. Show all posts

Monday, August 19, 2013

Peach Blueberry Muffins #MuffinMonday

There is always a certain tone to his voice.  A little excited, a tad bit nervous even.  “Guess what?”  And I give him a long, penetrating look.  And I know.  And a shiver of anticipation runs up my own spine.  “Where to this time and what’s the timeframe?”  So much planning to do, starting with how and when to tell our daughters.  It’s the WE-have-been-transferred conversation.  Because when you are an expat family, it’s not just the worker that is being transferred, we are all moving on.  As with most things in life, there is bad and there is good.  Bad is leaving behind the home you know, the friends and family you love, the community you’ve become an integral part of, where people know you and love you and you can contribute.  Good is a fresh start with new places to explore, sometimes just within yourself.  Can I do this again?  Can I make a new place home, find new friends, fit in again, have fun exploring and be happy?

When my husband found out about our second to last move, the talk came as a phone call.  “Guess what?”  And I could hear the tone.  “Will I like it?” was my first question.  “I think so,” he responded, “It’s Cairo!”  And he was right.  “I’ve always wanted to go to Cairo,” I responded, “but not as a tourist.”  I just had the feeling that Egypt was the kind of place that wouldn’t let a mere tourist in.  Sure, you could see the sights and sites, but to get the deep down feeling for the place and people, it wouldn’t do to scratch the surface with a tour guide.

Truth is, I’m not a very good tourist.  I’m not crazy about tour guides and seeing all the hot spots.  I want to go to the local market and buy new ingredients and cook the food.  I want to sit in a corner café and watch the people go by and sip whatever the locals are drinking.  I want to immerse myself and make friends from all over.  I want to learn about the culture and the people.  I want greet the folks at my nearby grocery store and get to know them.  I want to become a familiar friendly face to them as well.

All of this is a very long way around telling you that Egypt became that home, despite our short time there.  In a little less than a year, I made friends.  I volunteered at the community center.  I visited orphanages and charity clinics.  In short, from my very first impressions, I fell in love with the people, Muslim and Christian alike, for their warm hearts and expansive giving natures.  Everything is done in wide-open gestures.  Normal conversations are often shouted, which I must admit I found alarming at first.  But I soon realized that the raised voices were normal in that culture and didn’t mean animosity or even anger.  Just enthusiasm.  Such was the elated optimism before the first-ever democratic election that I almost cannot bear to watch the news right now.  And all I can do is pray.  For peace, for reconciliation, for wisdom, for the leaders of Egypt and the world to find a quick resolution to the strife.  As lovely as Dubai is, a big part of me wishes I were still in Cairo, peacefully baking my muffins every Thursday, in readiness for the Muffin Monday post, and, as I always did, sending them home with my sweetheart housekeeper, Reda, and wishing her and her family a restful weekend.

If you haven’t met my fellow blogger and friend, Marilyn of Communicating Across Boundaries, she is in my blog roll of Favorite Blogs up there in the left column, but, since Egypt’s on my mind, I’d like to share her post from yesterday: Egypt – a Call to Prayer.  Marilyn grew up as an expat child, lived in Cairo as an adult and also has a heart for Egypt.  If you are the praying sort, they can use all the prayers they can get right now.   Or you could just bake muffins for someone you love.  Because this world could use more love in the form of muffins.

1 medium peach
3 oz or 1/2 cup or 85g blueberries
1 3/4 cups or 220g flour
3/4 cup or 170g sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup or 120ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup or 60ml canola oil

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin tin by greasing it or lining it with muffin papers.

Cut the peach in half and remove the pit.  Cut 12 thin slices out of one half, set them aside for garnish, and then chop the rest of the peach in small chunks.  Set aside 12 blueberries as well for garnish.

In a large mixing bowl, combine your flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.

In another smaller bowl, whisk together your eggs, milk, vanilla and oil.

Pour your wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until they are just combined.  There should be some dry flour still showing.  Don't worry about how dry this looks.  The juicy peaches will make up for that while baking.

Fold in the peach pieces and blueberries.

Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups.

Top each muffin with a peach slice and a blueberry.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the muffins are golden and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Remove the muffins from the pan and cool further on a wire rack.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Bellini Bundt Cake with Champagne Glaze for #BundtaMonth

On Tuesday morning, I woke up early to the terrible news that my grandmother had died.  If you’ve been reading along for a while, you’ve heard about Gram – here and here.  She was a spunky character with a wicked sense of humor and a warm heart.  She did not suffer fools lightly and she didn’t know how to say no to her grandchildren.  When we were little, she sewed our Easter dresses, threatening to put bricks on our heads to stop us growing between the time of first measurements and the finished outfits.  For Christmas she made the only fruitcake I would ever eat.  It was moist and full of pecans.  She fried her legendary chicken well into her eighties, despite assuring us all that she would quit when she reached that milestone because, and I’ll be honest, we begged.  It seems like just a few years ago, my cousin Simone and I coerced her into one more frying session, just so we could take notes and watch every step.  I don’t know about Simone, but I still cannot match that chicken.

It seems so normal today with our ubiquitous music from every device but Gram was the first person I remember ever listening to music on the radio as she worked in the kitchen.  I can’t hear the classic that starts, “Good morning, star shine” and continues something like “Dooby ooby walla, dooby abba dabba.  Early morning singing song,” without hearing her voice, singing along, stirring a roux or probably with chicken sizzling in the huge Magnalite roaster she used for frying.  Lid on, just barely cracked.  It occurs to me writing this that Gram, being born in 1913, was just a few years older than I am now, and listening to pop songs from the musical Hair.   No wonder she never seemed old to me, despite having natural white hair since she was in her thirties.  Even my other grandmother called her “the fun one” with just a little envy.

I went to visit her just a few weeks ago in the nursing home we had to call a rehab center because she refused to live in a nursing home.  She had fallen and broken her femur, endured surgery to repair the damage and was doing 100 minutes of physiotherapy a day, preparing to go home.  I walked in the second morning and she was in the physio room.  The therapist told her to show me what she could do and I’ll be doggone if my 99 1/2 year old grandmother didn’t bend right over and touch the ground!  My aunt was already busy organizing her 100th birthday party in December and, last I had heard, Gram was going to be released this Friday.  Then suddenly, she was gone.

In between looking for last minute seats on airplanes, I baked this cake the day I left Dubai for her funeral.  And since it calls for Champagne, we lifted a glass to Gram.  She was never a drinker but I think she would have appreciated the gesture.

We didn’t get to celebrate your 100th birthday, Gram, but I can assure you that we will celebrate your life, your love of family and the joy of good food cooked in a happy kitchen, leaning always on your good example.

For the cake
1 cup or 225g unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 cups or 450g sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups or 375g flour plus more for pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
2 yellow peaches about 200g after peeling and pitting
2 white peaches –about 200g after peeling and pitting
1/2 cup or 125g peach yogurt
1/2 cup or 120ml Champagne or Prosecco or other dry sparkling wine

For the glaze
1/2 cup or 70g powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons Champagne

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your Bundt pan by buttering it liberally and then shaking a couple of tablespoons of flour in it to coat.  Set aside.

Peel your peaches and dice two.  Puree the other two with a hand blender.  I chose to use white peaches for the puree since traditional bellinis were made with white peaches but, really, you can use all yellow, if that’s what you have.

Sift your flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream the butter and sugar until yellow and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at time, beating well in between.

Add half of the flour and mix again.

Now add half of the yogurt and half of the peach puree.   Mix again.

Add the rest of the flour and mix and then the rest of the yogurt and peach puree.  And, you guessed it, mix.

Fold in the diced peaches.

Finally, fold in the Champagne.

Pour the batter in your prepared pan and bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Meanwhile, mix the Champagne one teaspoon at a time into the powdered sugar, until it is of good drizzling consistency.  I ended up using three teaspoons.

When the Bundt is baked, let it cool for 15 or 20 minutes and then turn it out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Once the cake is cool, drizzle with the glaze.  I like to use a decorating bag with a tiny icing tip for prettier lines.

Serve with the rest of the bottle of the Champagne.


Craving more Bundt cakes with peaches?  Have a look at all of the other wonderful peachy Bundts the Bundt-a-month group has baked for you today.


Balsamic Peach Bundt Cake by Kate from Food Babbles

Bellini Bundt Cake with Champagne Glaze by Stacy from Food Lust People Love

Brown Sugar Peach Bundt Cake by Veronica from My Catholic Kitchen

Caramelized Peaches and Cinnamon Bundt Cake by Anuradha from Baker Street

Cream Cheese and Peach Bundt Cake by Kathya from Basic N Delicious

Frangipane Peach Bundt by Sandra from The Sweet Sensations

Momotaro Peach Boy Cake by Kim from Ninja Baking

Peaches and Cream Bundt Cake by Heather from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks

Peach Bundt with Raspberry Jam Swirl by Holly from A Baker's House

Peachy Buttermilk Bundt by Anita from Hungry Couple

Peach Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake by Lora from Cake Duchess

Peach Spice Bundt Cake by Renee from Magnolia Days

Peach Streusel Bundt Cake by Anne from From My Sweetheart

Vinho Verde Pound Cake with Peaches & Blueberries by Laura from The Spiced Life

Even more Bundt fun!  Follow Bundt-a-Month on Facebook where we feature all our gorgeous Bundt cakes. Or head over to our Pinterest board for inspiration and choose from hundreds of Bundt cake recipes.

Join us in the month of August by adding your peachy Bundt to the linky tool below.

London-Unattached Favourite Blogs

This is my August blog post choice for Fab First Fridays, hosted by Fiona of London-Unattached, where we share our favorite post from the previous month.  Head on over and share yours!