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Posts Tagged ‘Berries’

I have always thought that pancakes were the most overrated breakfast food.  There’s nothing objectionable about them, but given the choice between those and other breakfast goodies – waffles, and omelets, and bagels with lox, pancakes just always have seemed boring to me.

I may be coming around though because these were delicious.  Something about the addition of cornmeal in these things made them taste amazing.  They don’t have that weird spongy texture that has always bugged me about pancakes.  They are heartier and have a much nicer flavor.  Complete with sweet, juicy blueberries straight from the farmers market, this made for a really yummy breakfast.

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes
Recipe by Martha Stewart

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for griddle
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups (1 pint) blueberries

Directions
Whisk together flour, cornmeal, 2 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, milk, butter, and egg. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined (mixture will be lumpy).

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Toss blueberries with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Brush griddle with melted butter. Spoon batter onto griddle 1/3 cup at a time. Sprinkle with sugared blueberries, about 2 tablespoons per pancake.

Cook until edges are set, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip, and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter and blueberries, adding more butter to griddle and keeping prepared pancakes warm on a baking sheet in the oven. Serve with maple syrup and fresh blueberries.

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Summer is almost here and there’s finally a wide variety of fruit in season again.  I went to a barbeque last weekend and decided to be brave, and not only make pie crust, but attempt a lattice crust.

I survived and the finished product actually looked pretty good, if I do say so myself.  And, even better, it tasted delicious.  There’s not a lot of ingredients here, so it has a very fresh, summery taste to it.

Blueberry Pie
Adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients
Enough pie crust dough for two crusts (I used a double batch of Martha Stewart’s pate sucree, because I’ve had luck with that in the past, but use whatever recipe you feel most comfortable with)
6 cups of fresh (or frozen) blueberries, rinsed and stems removed (if using frozen, defrost and drain first)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (for thickening)
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (which I forgot to add)
2 Tbsp butter (unsalted), cut into small pieces
Plus 1 egg and 1 tablespoon milk for the egg wash

I found my pie to be a little runny, so next time I’d probably add a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken it up a bit.  If you want a really thick filling that gels, I think its worth a try.

Directions
Prepare the crust.  Roll out half of the dough to 1/8-inch-thick circle on a lightly floured work surface, about 13 inches in diameter.  Mine of course didn’t look like a circle, but this part is going on the bottom so it doesn’t matter if its ugly and a little cracked or weird.  Place the dough over a 9 inch pie pan, rolling around a rolling pin to transfer, if its falling apart or too difficult to move.  Trim the edges so you’ve got 1/2 inch or so hanging over all the way around.  Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Gently mix the blueberries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl.  Pour them in the chilled bottom crust of the pie pan.   Dot with butter pieces.

Roll out remaining dough to the same size and thickness as the first.  If you want to make a lattice crust, cut the crust into one inch thick strips. Place four or five of the strips on top of the pie in vertical rows.  Weave the remaining strips through horizontally.  The crust isn’t really wet or messy so its easy to fix mistakes and work with the dough on top of the filling.   If I can do it, you can do it.  But, if you don’t wan to try it, just place the entire crust on top of the filling.

Seal the edges of the top layer with the bottom layer and crimp with your fingers or the tines of a fork.  Transfer to the refrigerator to chill until the dough is firm, about 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 425°F.

Whisk egg and milk together to make an egg wash.  Brush the top of the pie with the wash.  If you didn’t make a lattice crust, score the pie with a few cuts or prick with a fork so the steam can escape.  Place the pie on the middle rack on the oven with parchment paper or a silpat on the lower rack to catch any filling that bubbles over.

Bake for 20 minutes at 425°. Reduce heat to 350°F.  Cover the edges with tinfoil if they are starting to burn.  Bake for another 30 to 40 minutes until juices are bubbling and have thickened.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Let cool completely before serving.

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I’ve been neglecting my blog for the last few weeks, but I’m back.  The farmers’ market is in full swing with spring produce, so I’ve got a few good recipes lined up for the next couple weeks.  This weekend, my freezer was full of ground meat from Marin Sun Farms and I wanted to try something other than burgers.  I gathered up some good looking spring vegetables at the farmers market and set to work on a shepherd’s pie.  Or, apparently, it’s a cottage pie, since it’s made with beef and not lamb.  Whatever it is called, it was good.  I continued the spring theme with a simple spinach and strawberry salad and served it all up with a bottle of Sonoma zinfandel for a really great dinner.

I cooked the dish in a 8×10 casserole dish and it made about 4 large servings.  I think next time around, I might double the recipe and make it in a 9×13 so that it’s a little thicker and deeper.  Plus, it was good enough that we wanted more leftovers.

Shepherd’s Pie with Spring Vegetables
Loosely inspired by Elise’s version at Simply Recipes

Ingredients
1 lb of ground round beef
3 spring onions, finely minced
2-3 sprigs of green garlic, chopped
2 cups of chopped carrots and peas
About 2 pounds of potatoes – I used about 4 medium ones
A few springs of thyme and a few sage leaves, minced
1 teaspoon chives, finely minced
1/4 cup of milk or cream
Butter and olive oil
Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice

Directions
Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).

While the potatoes are cooking, heat up a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a pan over medium high heat.  Saute the onions and carrots for 5-10 minutes, until the carrots start to soften.  Add the green garlic and mix together.

Add ground beef and herbs, sauteing until just about cooked.  Turn off the heat and add the peas, salt, and pepper, and stir together.

When the potatoes are finished, drain and return to the pot.  Mash them, incorporating the minced chives, salt and pepper, a splash of cream, and a couple pats of butter. 

Spread the beef and vegetable mixture at the bottom of the pan and gently spread the potatoes over it.  Bake at 400 degrees oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes), sticking under the broiler if necessary and serve. 

Strawberry Spinach Salad for Two

Ingredients
3 cups of spinach, washed and chopped up into ribbons
4-5 large strawberries, sliced
an ounce or two of crumbled goat cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used blood orange infused from Stonehouse)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
a drop of honey
salt and pepper

Directions
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and the honey until its emulsified.  Add salt and pepper.  Add the spinach and strawberries, and toss to coat.  Sprinkle on the goat cheese and serve.

 

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I adore cranberry sauce.  It is so simple to make that I don’t understand why people eat that weird stuff in a can.  1 bag of cranberries, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, boil, and done.  You can add spices and fruit to that, substitute juice or wine for the water, and reduce or increase any ingredient to get to the desired consistency.  And it’s pretty much fool-proof.

Last year, I made a pomegranate cranberry sauce.  This year, I decided to use satsuma mandarins.  They really are a perfect citrus for cranberry sauce – very few seeds, and a rind that’s not too thick, but has a lot of flavor.  If you can’t find satsumas, look for another tangerine with a medium-thick rind.  Something thicker than a clementine, but thinner than a regular orange.  I’d err on the side of thick and just add a bit more sugar, rather than use a clementine or something with a papery thin rind.  Whatever you use, expect to need more than the standard 1 cup of sugar – the rinds are bitter and you need a little more to cut through that.

Cranberry Sauce with Satsuma Mandarins

Ingredients
1 12 ounce bag of cranberries
2 satsuma mandarins
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Directions
Carefully cut up the satsumas.  You want some strips of rind with the fruit still attached, but try to remove any big hunks of white membrane.  I basically cut it in quarters, then ran my knife down the tip of each quarter to pull off what I could.  Then sliced each quater into little 1/4 inch strips.  It doesn’t have to be perfect and if you can’t get all the stringy white bits out, don’t worry too much. 

Heat a heavy skillet on medium.  Add the satsumas and 1/2 cup of sugar.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the satsumas have released their juices and the rinds are soft. 

Add the cranberries and the sugar and stir to coat.

Add the water and give it a gentle stir.  Simmer for a few minutes, giving it a gentle stir every now and then.  You want to stir it gently to keep the cranberries as whole as possible.  After about 3 or 4 minutes, taste test a berry.  If it’s too bitter, add a bit more sugar, and stir for another minute or so.  Otherwise remove from the heat and let it cool.

It should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week if you don’t eat it all before then.  To serve, let it come to room temp and enjoy.

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I wanted to make a cranberry dessert for a Thanksgiving potluck.  Martha Stewart had this recipe for a New England Cranberry Duff.

I am from New England and have never heard of a duff before.  After playing around with The Google and learning way more about this dude than I have ever cared to know, I learned that it’s usually made with plums, and better known as plum pudding.

Also, it looks nothing like this recipe.

So between Martha’s screw up, and my changes, I’m calling it a snack cake.  A very delicious, buttery, fruity snack cake.

And if it’s not cranberry season, I think this would be excellent with fresh berries.

Cranberry Snack Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, (2 sticks), softened
1 12 ounce bag of cranberries
1/2 cup ground almonds
2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
 
Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, being careful not to brown., and set aside to cool slightly.

Line a 9X13 glass baking dish with parchment paper and generously butter it, using about 4 tablespoons of the butter.  You don’t want this to stick, so just spread it thick.   Then, pour the cranberries evenly over bottom of dish.

Sprinkle the ground almonds and 2/3 cup of sugar on top and set aside.

 Mix the eggs, the remaining white sugar, and the brown sugar in a bowl, until thoroughly combined and thick.  Add the vanilla extract.  Gradually stir in the flour and salt.

Add the melted butter to the mixture slowly, stirring until smooth.

Slowly pour batter into pan to cover cranberries, making sure that they stay spread out evenly.   Bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes.


Let cool on a wire rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge to loosen, and invert to unmold.  It will be somewhat upside down cake like, so you want to flip it so the cranberries are on top.


I sliced mine into 28 wedges, which made for a perfect size for a party with lots of desserts.  If this was the only dessert you were serving, you would probably want to cut bigger slices.  You can serve it warm or at room temperature, with forks or without. 

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At the farmers market on Saturday, a vendor was selling fresh chamomile.  I had no idea what a person does with fresh chamomile, but it was a $1.50, smelled good, and looked pretty.  I figured at the very least, $1.50 was a small price to pay for something that would look cute on my windowsill for a few days.

I had some time though so I wanted to find something to do with it.  There are a handful of recipes floating around on the internets for chamomile.  Nothing really struck my fancy, so I searched for lavender recipes, thinking that the two would be somewhat interchangeable.

Since I also had a huge bag of strawberries, this recipe for strawberries with lavender syrup on Epicurious intrigued me.  I had to change it up to use things that I actually had in my fridge and because I wanted a cold, not warm, dessert.  I was really pleased with the finished product.  The chamomile adds this wonderfully sweet, floral taste to the syrup and it makes for a nice light, fresh spring dessert.  The original recipe recommends serving it with sour cream or creme fraiche, but I had greek yogurt on hand, which worked really well and made it much healthier.  It would probably be nice over vanilla ice cream as well.

Strawberries with Chamomile Syrup and Lemon Sugar

Ingredients

1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
20 fresh chamomile flowers
1-2 pints of fresh strawberries, hulled, sliced

Greek yogurt, creme fraiche, ice cream, or sour cream to serve.

Mash 1/3 cup sugar and lemon peel in small bowl to blend well. 

Bring 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, honey, and chamomile to boil in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until chamomile flavor is pronounced, about 3 minutes.  Let the syrup cool and strain.  Pour the syrup over the sliced strawberries.

I let the syrup sit for about an hour to macerate the berries a bit in it.  With one pint of strawberries, the mixture is quite syrupy so feel free to add more if you’d like a thicker sauce.

Scoop about a half cup or so of Greek yogurt (or whatever creamy thing you are using) into bowls and spoon a couple spoonfuls of strawberries and syrup over the yogurt.  Sprinkle a bit of lemon sugar on each bowl and serve.

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It’s strawberry season in California and I have been obsessed.  I feel the urge to buy local strawberries whenever I see them at farmer’s markets and produce stands.  I bought so many this week that I couldn’t keep up with eating them them before they went bad.  And, when I realized more strawberries would be coming my way in my Eatwell box this week, I knew I had to do something.

I had flagged this scone recipe from Confessions of a Tart in my blog reader recently, as it looked so easy and so delicious.   I made the batter the night before and it really just took a few minutes.  The next morning, I baked it and yum, yum.  I definitely recommend it to satisfy your strawberry baked good fix.  Or any fruit baked good fix, really.

Strawberry Scones

Ingredients
1 cup strawberries (or other fruit)
3 tablespoons sugar – I used vanilla sugar (threw a scraped out vanilla bean pod in a container of sugar, let it sit indefinitely)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, in cubes, slightly softened
2/3 cup half-and-half or cream or cold buttermilk

Topping:
1 tablespoon sugar (again, I used vanilla sugar)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or cover it in parchment.  Don’t skip this step.  I did and wound up with burnt strawberry bits encrusted on my sheet.

If using larger fruit, cut into bite-sized pieces.  At least quartered, more if needed.  Sprinkle fruit with 1/2 tablespoon sugar; set aside.  Be sure to make the pieces small, or they tend to fall out of the dough.  They’ll still be plenty prominent in your finished scones.

Combine remaining sugar with flour, baking powder and salt. Add butter, using a pastry cutter or your fingers to evenly mix the butter into flour.  Stir in fruit; then add cream/half-and-half/buttermilk all at once.  Gently stir dough until it holds together.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to incorporate dry ingredients.  Be gentle so you don’t break up the berries and don’t overwork the dough.  Sprinkle dough with flour if it gets sticky. 

Pat the dough into a circle 3/4 inch thick.  If any berries peek out, push them into dough.  At this point, I wrapped it up in plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge to bake in the morning.  Scone dough can sit for a couple days in the fridge since it doesn’t have any eggs in it.  But if you want to power through and bake it right away, no need to refridgerate.

Cut circle into 6-8 wedges, then transfer wedges to the cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between them. Bake 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with sugar and bake 5-10 more minutes or until the tops are beginning to brown and spring back when you push them.  (The sprinkling of sugar over the top for the last few minutes of baking creates a simple, sparkly topping.

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