Thursday, July 6, 2023

Georgia Peach Poundcake


Greetings, dear CT readers!

I hope your summer is swell so far! 

It’s that time of year again where I start to obsess over the best of the season - Georgia peaches, Jersey corn and tomatoes. In my book, there’s nothing better, especially when paired with fresh mozzarella, homegrown basil, and all washed down with a lovely Chenin Blanc. For me, it’s the perfect summer lunch or dinner. There’s really no recipe needed for this - use the best produce you can find and create your own delicious summer-on-a-plate.

Peach Poundcake

But this post is all about poundcake, specifically, peach poundcake. Each year when I get my shipment of peaches from The Peach Truck, I think long and hard about the how to get the most out of my 13 peaches. Of course, I love just eating them out of hand, standing over the kitchen sink, sweet peach juice running down my chin, or sliced over morning cereal, or in the dish above. But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t also use them in a baked item. A few years ago, I made this fabulous Peach Coffee Cake with Pecan Streusel - wow, definitely a winner! 

This year, I wanted something a bit simpler and found this terrific poundcake from NY Times Cooking. What makes this even more special is the peach glaze drizzled over the top while the cake is still warm. The whole cake just works perfectly - it’s not too sweet, but has all the elements you’d expect from a poundcake - a moist, buttery texture perfect with a cup of coffee. It really doesn’t need it, but if you are so inclined, cut a thick slice, toast it, and spread a bit of salted butter over it - heaven! Or gild the lily, hit it with a dollop of whipped cream and serve for dessert after a summer dinner. Anyway you look at it, you cannot go wrong.

Hope the rest of your summer is happy!

Peach Poundcake

(NYT Cooking)


1 C unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted and cooled to room temp, plus more for greasing the pan.

2-1/2 C AP flour, plus more for dusting the pan.

3 medium, ripe, red-hued peaches (about 1 pound), pitted 

1 TB fresh lemon juice

3 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk, beaten

1-1/2 t vanilla extract

1 C unsifted confectioners’ sugar, plus more as needed

1-1/2 C granulated sugar

2-1/2 t baking powder

3/4 t Kosher salt


  1. Heat oven to 325°F. Lightly butter and flour a 9x5” loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Dice 1 peach into 1/3” pieces. Pat the pieces dry with a paper towel and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining 2 peaches and the lemon juice to a food processor or blender, and blend on high until completed puréed. Measure out 1 leveled cup of the purée and transfer to a mixing bowl along with the melted butter, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  4. Completely scrape down the sides of the food processor, and make the icing using the small amount of puréed peaches still remaining. Add 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar to the remaining peach purée in the food processor and blend on high until combined. The icing should be thick but thin enough to drizzle. Add more confectioners’ sugar to thicken or a splash of water to thin, as needed. Cover and set aside until it’s time to ice the cake.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt, and whisk to combine. Pour the peach mixture into the flour mixture, and whisk well until the batter is thoroughly combined, then fold in the diced peaches. Transfer the batter to the loaf pan, spread evenly to the edges, and bake until crusty and golden brown on the top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 75-80 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
  6. Stir the icing a final time and spread on top of the warm cake, allowing the extra icing to drip down the sides. Cool the cake to room temp. Slice and serve, or wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store on the counter for up to 3 days.

TIP: use the boldest-colored peaches you can find, as their skins will lend blush to the glaze. However, you can also peel the peaches, if you mind the specks of skin.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

A Duo of Date Recipes

Whole-Wheat Date Bread
Growing up, my mom often made a date-nut bread that she served with soft cream cheese. We ate this in a variety of settings — as a mid-morning snack, an after-school treat, or sometimes as a simple dessert after dinner. The way I enjoyed it most was as a sandwich - two small slices of the bread smeared with the cream cheese (always Philadelphia!). 

Somehow I forgot about this bread, that is perfect for any occasion. It is made with dates, nuts, and other healthy ingredients, and it is sure to become a favorite among your friends and family. The recipe I used recently is from the NY Times Cooking site and developed by Melissa Clark. It’s made with whole wheat and all-purpose flours, yogurt or buttermilk (I used buttermilk), and EVOO. I added chopped walnuts because I love crunch, and a bit of grated orange zest to brighten it up.

Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

On the other end of the date spectrum, is a terrific, little energy ball from Virginia Willis. This couldn’t be easier and is a wonderful addition to your healthy routine. Virginia’s original recipe calls for the addition of 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips, but as I am not a chocolaholic, I left them out of the second batch. Most people will probably want to keep the chocolate chips in the recipe. And for anyone following a Weight Watchers plan, these tasty little treats are only three points. I keep them in the fridge so they are nice and chill. These would be great to bring along on a hike or a picnic, or add them to a lunch box. You can’t go wrong with these!

From Medical News Today, here are some of the benefits of dates:

In addition to tasting great, dates contain protein, vitamins, and minerals. They are also:

  1. High in polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidant compounds that can protect the body from inflammation. Dates contain more polyphenols than most other fruits and vegetables.
  2. Alternative to empty-calorie sweets. Dates can satisfy a person’s sweet tooth while also providing essential nutrients, such as vitamin B-6 and iron.
  3. High in fiber. Just ¼ of a cup of dates provides 12 percent of a person’s daily fiber requirement. Fiber helps a person feel fuller for longer.
  4. High in potassium. Dates are high in potassium, which is an electrolyte the body needs for good heart health. Potassium also helps to build muscle and proteins in the body.
  5. Great for substitutions. People can replace the sugar, chocolate chips, or candies in baking recipes with dates to ensure they are eating natural sugars instead of refined sugars.

Chocolate Chip Energy Bites (Virginia Willis)

To a food processor, add 1/2 cup dates, 3/4 cup pecans, a pinch of salt, a dash of cinnamon, and a few drops of vanilla. Pulse these ingredients, then remove mixture from processor and transfer to a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds, 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips and stir to combine. Use your hands or a small scoop to form the balls. Makes about 12 energy bites.

Monday, March 6, 2023

My Favorite Irish Soda Bread!

No need to reinvent the wheel, as they say! They also say, when you've got a good thing, go with it, so I am re-upping this post from 2021 with my favorite Irish Soda Bread recipe.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Panera Kitchen Sink Cookies

Greetings, Cook’s Tour Readers!

I hope you are all well. I apologize for the lack of posts in the last couple of months. I’ve been a bit overwhelmed since December; what with somehow contracting Covid right around Christmas, then packing up and moving to a new home at the end of December, and finally, hand/wrist surgery in early January (which, of course, rendered me unable to type or write) - whew! But I am seeing the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, as I am almost finished with my physical therapy and able to type for a little bit at a time. And last week I threw caution to the wind and decided to bake some cookies! I was so missing baking and the act of “bake and release” to friends and co-workers. 

Speaking of co-workers, one of them gifted a bag of these incredible cookies to all of us at Christmas. Please don’t judge, but I am not a huge chocolate chip cookie person. I find most of them “meh.” But not this one. I took one bite and immediately asked John for the recipe. What made this different was the melded flavors of chocolate (of course), caramel, and pretzels! What?! That’s what hooked me - the buttery caramel, and the salty pretzel crunch - wow! Now this was a chocolate chip cookie I could get behind!

When he brought in a copy of the recipe a few days later, I was surprised to see it was the famous Panera Kitchen Sink cookie. I’ve only been to Panera a handful of times for lunch but never ordered the cookies. I guess I really missed out. 

So you may already be on the Panera Kitchen Sink cookie bandwagon, but if not, here is the recipe. I made these a bit smaller than the recipe calls for because I don’t like huge cookies, but you do you. 

As I write this, it’s almost 50 degrees at the Jersey shore in mid-February so I am optimistic (and so hopeful) that spring is right around the corner. I saw daffodils sprouting the other day, always a good sign. 

If you make these cookies (or any other baked good), try Dorie Greenspan’s practice of “bake and release” and spread some joy. Hope you have a great day!

Panera Kitchen Sink Cookies


1 C butter, melted

2 t vanilla extract

1-1/2 C light brown sugar

1/2 C granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2-1/2 C AP flour

2-1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

3/4 C bits of broken pretzels

1 C caramel bits

1 C chocolate chips

Flaky sea salt for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 350°F.

With a stand or hand mixer, beat melted butter, sugar, and vanilla until butter is cooled and mixture has lightened a bit.

Add eggs, one at a time, and mix.

Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt into butter mixture until incorporated.

Fold in broken pretzels, caramel bits, and chocolate chips.

Using a large scoop (3 TB) scoop dough (NOTE: I used 1 TB of dough), and drop onto baking sheet. Leave about 2” between cookies (they spread).

Flatten slightly and top with a sprinkle of sea salt. You can also top with a few additional chocolate chips, pretzels, or caramel bits.

Bake for 10 minutes. Edges should be just starting to take on color and center should still be soft and puffy looking.

Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to rack.

Keep stored in airtight container, or freeze (they freeze very well).

Recipe (as originally written) yields about 30 cookies.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Recipe-in-a-Flash: Potsticker Soup!

This truly is a “recipe-in-a-flash” because most of it comes from ready-to-go ingredients. The recipe is from Trader Joe’s but other than the Gyoza Potstickers, you can get almost all the other components at any store. The recipe serves six, but freezes very well (without the potstickers) so you can do as I did and pack it up in freezer containers for easy dinners in the future. 

The soup is rich, full of veggies (courtesy of fresh spinach and a mirepoix), and oh-so satisfying. The delicious Trader Joe’s gyoza are available in vegetable, chicken, or pork (I chose chicken), and can be pan fried in just about 10 minutes. Then you just add them to the soup (of course, you could eat them on their own as a great, little appetizer, drizzled with a splash of soy sauce). 

After plating the soup, and adding the potstickers, garnish with cilantro and a dollop of crunchy chili onion (or another hot sauce). It really is a terrific weekday dinner or lunch.

Trader Joe’s Potsticker Soup


TJ’s imported olive oil

1 package TJ’s Gyoza potstickers

1 container TJ’s mirepoix (or your own mixture)

2 packages TJ’s chicken broth

1 bag baby spinach

1 TB soy sauce

1 TB toasted sesame oil

Handful of chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

TJ’s crunch chili onion, or your favorite hot sauce


  1. Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with oil (about 2-3 TB) and lightly fry the potstickers over medium-high heat until nicely browned on both sides, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat 2 TB olive oil. Add mirepoix and saute until onions appear translucent. Add broth and bring to a slow simmer. When the soup gets some energy, toss in the spinach and stir in soy sauce and sesame oil.
  3. When the soup is officially simmering, add the potstickers. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro and a heaping spoonful of chili onion crunch or hot sauce.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Pumpkin "Pillow" Cookies

It’s that time again. When every store, restaurant, even gas stations, start pushing pumpkin spice. The aroma of the quintessential fall flavors (cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice) evoke images of cozy nights in front of a warming fireplace, wearing our favorite sweater or hoodie. And who am I to argue with this annual phenomenon? Even though it’s currently 73 degrees and sunny, I am ready for fall baking. Instead of the yearly publishing of my all-time favorite pumpkin bread, I opted for something a bit more portable - a cookie! 

The title of this recipe, from the NY Times cooking site, is pumpkin cookies, but it should really be officially re-named pumpkin “pillows.” These are like little clouds of deliciousness, bursting with those requisite autumn flavors. These have a hefty two teaspoons of ground ginger, giving them a nice bite. The recipe calls for a sprinkle of sanding sugar before baking, but I didn’t have any so I used regular granulated sugar, but next time (yes, these are so good there will be a next time) I will use the sanding sugar for added texture.

They are not the prettiest cookies  (reminding me of the Italian cookie, “brutti ma buoni,” which translates to ugly, but good), but when a cookie is this good, who cares what it looks like?! Seriously, make these cookies for all your fall get-togethers.

Pumpkin Cookies


1-1/2 C AP flour

2 t ground ginger

1-1/2 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t ground nutmeg

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t kosher salt

8 TB unsalted butter, at room temp

1 C packed light or dark brown sugar

1 large egg, at room temp

3/4 C pumpkin puree

1 t vanilla extract

Sanding sugar, for sprinkling (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt.
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract until blended.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and beat just until combined.
  5. Scoop the batter into 2-tablespoon scoops, at least 1 inch apart, onto the prepared sheets. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake one sheet at a time until the cookies are puffed, set and spring back when gently pressed in the center, about 12 minutes. Repeat with second sheet.
  6. Transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.

Because these cookies are moist, it’s best to store them between parchment or wax paper in an airtight container at room temp. You could also freeze them and thaw before serving.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Recipe-in-a-Flash: Pan-Roasted Green Beans with Golden Almonds

This might not be the most summery-type recipe, but I was recently gifted some beautiful, just-picked green beans and didn’t want to just throw them in the oven with the usual suspects of salt, pepper, & EVOO. The ever-reliable NYT Cooking site came to the rescue with this terrific recipe. It’s a bit more work but worth it. Charring the beans gives it a delicious smokiness, and the melding of shallots, parsley, and lemon plays perfectly with the beans.

I served it alongside fresh Sockeye salmon that I pan-seared with a sprinkle of Paradise Powder from the wonderful Paradise Seafood Market on Marco Island, chased down with a crisp white wine from Sicily.

If you’ve got green beans in your summer garden, try it. The recipe says the almond-shallot topping will work with just about any vegetable so you may want to think about this for your Thanksgiving table.

Pan-Roasted Green Beans with Golden Almonds (NYT Cooking)

4 Servings


Kosher salt

8 oz green beans and/or wax beans, trimmed

1/4 C blanched whole almonds, coarsely chopped

3 TB EVOO, plus more as needed

1 large shallot, minced

1 TB fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, thinly sliced

1 lemon

Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add salt (a teaspoon or so, or to taste). Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until bright green but still firm, about 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to the ice water. When cool, drain again. Pat dry with paper towels until completely dry.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the almonds and the oil, adding more oil if needed to just cover the almonds. Cook over medium heat until the almonds are golden, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the shallot. It will cook in the residual heat.
  3. Coat a large skillet with oil. Heat over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the beans and season with salt. Cook, tossing frequently, until charred dark brown in spots and tender-crisp, about 7 minutes.
  4. Top with the almond mixture, then the parsley. Grate the zest from a quarter of the lemon directly over the beans, then cut the lemon into wedges for serving. Season with pepper and serve.