Blackberry Pie

Who doesn’t love pie? There is something comforting and soothing about making pie. The methodical rolling out of the pie crust, the frustrations of daily life easing every time you put your weight into the rolling pin as you turn and re arrange your pie crust is very comforting to me- and of course the ultimate reward is sitting down and savoring a warm slice with a glass of cold milk. The rain was falling the morning I made this pie, and I had the window screens open letting in the morning breeze. The simple pleasures and joys of life are so important, so if that means making pie for your loved ones or maybe just lazing around a rainy Sunday morning sipping coffee- remember to take the time and find your joy.

I always make extra pie crusts and store them in the freezer. I highly encourage this practice of squirreling away pie crusts in your freezer to save time. Every time I make crust- I make a double batch and save the extra crust. Another tip I like to give is write the measurements down for pie crust on a little card or sticky note and secure it to the inside of your cupboard. Once you’ve made the pie crust and you have the technique down you will memorize the ingredients and method. See my recipe for fearless pie crust.

 

blackberry pie

blackberry pie 2

blackberry pie 3

 

Blackberry Pie

yield: one standard 9 inch pie

one recipe of my fearless pie crust

5-6 cups fresh berries or (24 oz. defrosted and drained frozen berries)

1 Cup sugar

3 Tbsp. instant (also known as quick-cooking) tapioca

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. lemon zest

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp. pure almond extract

 

1. Note: before rolling out pie crusts allow pie crust to rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling; this ensures that the crust does not shrink and is also easier to roll out. If making a standard pie top and not lattice make sure to pierce the top of pie crust a few times to allow steam to escape. Prepare one half pie crust in a 9 inch pie plate and set aside.

2. To prepare filling: In a bowl toss all ingredients gently until well coated and pour evenly in prepared pie crust. Dot with filling with about 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. Top filling with second pie crust and crimp as desired.  Brush pie crust with milk, heavy cream, or half and half (whatever you have on hand), and sprinkle granulated sugar, raw sugar or coarse sugar over top of pie. Chill prepared pie for 30-40 minutes before baking.

3. Bake pie at 400° F for 30 minutes, then decrease oven to 350° F and cover edges of pie with a pie shield or tinfoil until crust has browned and filling is bubbly. Remove pie and allow to cool over a wire rack.


Sweet Potato Biscuits with Peach Butter

I cannot deny a biscuit. A good biscuit, that is. A soft fluffy buttery biscuit. Anytime a choice is given for biscuit or toast; it’s biscuit hands down.  How about a biscuit slathered with peach butter. Uhh yeah! These biscuits are moist and tender. The secret is the frozen butter you grate into the flour-it’s a bit time consuming to grate the butter, but worth it. This recipe evokes a definite southern flare. Visions of “Driving Miss Daisy” might dance in your head as you toss back one of these biscuits. All you need is nice weather, a porch, some friends, some sweet tea and perhaps a nice porch swing. They would be amazing if you have some Virginia ham laying around to layer onto a biscuit with a little cheese. Make the peach butter ahead of time or on a rainy day or when you have some extra time as it takes a while to become thickened.

 

peach butter with sweet potato biscuits

biscuit sweet potato

peaches

I used Autumn Red variety peaches for my peach butter; but use any variety you like

Peach Butter

yield: makes a generous 2 Cups

3 1/4 pounds fresh ripe peaches (about 8 -9 large) peeled and pitted, cut into 1 inch pieces

3/4 Cup water

1 1/2 Cups sugar

juice of one lemon

optional: scant 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Note: to avoid peach chunks turning brown while cutting; work fast, toss with fruit fresh powder, or add some lemon juice to the ice water that you use to shock the peaches in. To remove peels quickly from peaches-score a one centimeter x on the bottom of each peach, drop peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds then shock in ice water, peel off skins.

1. Place peach chunks and water in a stock pot or dutch oven. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until they are soft. Place softened peaches in a Vitamix or food processor and process until smooth.

2. Return peach puree into stock pot and add in rest of ingredients. Simmer puree for about 2-3 hours; stirring frequently until thick and when drawing a wooden spoon through mixture it takes about 10 seconds for the peach mixture to cover bottom of pot. Place in a clean jar or jars. Note: I did NOT sterilize and process as canned-since it is a small batch, but rather stored in the refrigerator; you may choose to sterilize and can if you want to store on the shelf. Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

recipe: from chow.com

yield: 16 small biscuits or 8 large

2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 Cup whole or 2 % milk
1 Cup baked, mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium potato) [see note]
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
heavy cream, for brushing tops

[to bake sweet potato in microwave- pierce with a fork a washed and dried potato on a microwave safe plate and heat on full power for 5 minutes, turn over then heat for 5 minutes more. Wrap potato in tinfoil and let sit for a few minutes].

1. Heat the oven to 400° F and arrange rack in middle of oven. Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with a fork. In a glass measuring cup combine the milk and potato and whisk well with a fork. Grate the frozen butter using a box grater with large holes and combine with the dry ingredients. Add milk mixture to the dry and mix with fork until it forms a shaggy mass.

2. Turn out mixture onto a floured board and knead just until it comes together. Pat dough into 3/4 inch thickness. Cut into rounds or squares. I used a 2 inch square cutter and got 16 squares. Place biscuits onto a baking sheet lined with either a Silpat or parchment paper. Bake for about 12-15 minutes.


Raspberry Streusel Bars

You’ve probably figured that raspberries are one of my favorite fruit; since I have many recipes on the blog using them. I had to squeak in one more recipe before summer ends. I’ve been hanging onto this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for a while now, but I tweaked the recipe slightly by using seedless jam instead as I can’t stand a ton of seeds in my filling. I also added a bit of cinnamon-I also do that when I make raspberry linzer tart as I find it adds a nice back note of warmth to the flavor. The third change I made is by using walnuts instead of pecans; so use pecans if you like. The bars are best served the day they are made as the crust and topping remain crunchy. They will soften the following day; but they are still delicious. Store in an airtight container.

raspberry streusel bars

raspberry streusel bars 2

Raspberry Streusel Bars

recipe: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

yield: 24 (2 inch squares) more if cutting into smaller bar shape.
2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
2/3 C sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 Cup) + 2 Tbsp. unsalted softened butter, divided
1/4 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C rolled “old-fashioned” oats
1/2 C finely chopped walnuts
3/4 C seedless raspberry preserves
3/4 C fresh raspberries
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375° F with rack in middle position. Line a 9×13 inch pan with aluminum foil; both sides allowing about 2 inches overhand on all sides. Spray foil with baking spray.

2. In stand mixer mix flour, sugar, and salt a few seconds to combine. With machine running add the 16 tablespoons of butter; one piece at a time on low speed until mixture resembles damp sand. Measure 1 1/4 Cups of the flour mixture into a medium bowl and set aside; distribute remaining flour mixture into bottom of prepared pan and press evenly into bottom of pan. Bake until edges begin to brown; about 14-16 minutes.

3. To make streusel; while crust is baking, add brown sugar, oats, and nuts to reserved flour mixture; toss to combine. Work in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter with a fork and set aside.

4. Combine preserves, raspberries, lemon juice and cinnamon in a small bowl; mash with fork until combined but some berry pieces remain.

5. Spread filling over hot crust and spread evenly using a small offset spatula. Sprinkle the streusel over topping; DO NOT press streusel into filling. Return pan to the oven and bake for about 22-23 minutes until filling is bubbling and topping is golden brown. Cool to room temp on a wire rack; about 1-2 hours.

6. Remove foil sling from pan by lifting with extensions. Use serrated knife to cut into squares or bars.


S’more Martini

Do you ever go blank when your waitress or waiter ask you what do you want to drink? You KNOW you want a cocktail; but you want something different or something fun and special. I love it when restaurants or bars carry a specialty drink list-and especially if they include a picture of the cocktail! It makes it easy to pick something you might not ordinarily order. I recently bought a really fun book with all kinds of specialty drinks; “Candy Cocktails” by Flannery Good and Katherine Good. I’m enjoying looking through the recipes and the pictures. This super fun cocktail is from that book. This would be a great drink to make for a fun girls night in! I even toasted my marshmallow indoors right over the stove.

smore martini 1

S’more Martini

recipe: “Candy Cocktails”

yield: one martini

milk chocolate, melted for rim

graham cracker crumbs, for rim

2 oz. heavy whipping cream

2 oz. marshmallow vodka

1 oz. creme de cacao liquor

1/2 oz. chocolate syrup

pinch of salt

1 toasted marshmallow for garnish

Rim a martini glass with the melted chocolate and graham cracker crumbs, and set aside. In a shaker with ice, pour the cream, vodka, crème de cacao, chocolate syrup, and salt. Shake vigorously and pour the mixture into the martini glass. Garnish with toasted marshmallow.

Note: you may make a larger batch ahead of time (by just mixing all the ingredients) and keep chilled in the fridge until ready to serve.

smore martini 2

smore martini 4


Cheese Sables

I’m a huge fan of slice and bake. These little tasty crackers are the savory cousin to the sweet sable we all are familiar with, such as pecan sandies. Slice and bake is your friend when you need to bring something to a party since you can make the dough ahead of time and they take no time to slice and bake off.  These sables taste even better the next day after baking-they intensify a bit in flavor. You can easily double the recipe and store extra logs in your freezer for an impromptu party snack- just make sure to wrap them well in parchment paper and label them and seal the ends well. You can increase the cayenne in these if you want a really spicy cracker, but the amount I’ve used below also packs a nice subtle after burn.

 

Romano Parmesan Sables

Romano Parmesan Sable Crackers

Romano Parmesan Cheese Sables

yield: ~ 4 1/2-5 dozen

 

13 Tbsp. (1/2 C + 5 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, room temp

1 Cup grated Romano cheese

3/4 Cup Parmesan cheese

1  1/2 Cup all purpose flour

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1. In a food processor combine the softened butter and cheeses to combine. Add the flour, salt, and pepper and pulse to combine. Divide dough in two halves and roll each half into a log about 1 1/4 inch in diameter. Wrap each log in parchment paper and chill for about 40 minutes.

2. Unwrap paper and slice logs into 1/4 inch slices. Place crackers at least 1 inch apart on a parchment lined or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake at 325° F for about 17-19 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Allow to cool over a wire rack. Store leftover crackers in an airtight container.


Raspberry and Rose Muffins

I got the inspiration for this recipe by the leftover rose sugar that collects on the bottom of a bag of Turkish delight. Typically you will see both lemon and rose flavored candy in one bag of Turkish delight, and the rose flavor is what I usually pick out to eat. I love anything rose flavored when it comes to sweets. The powdered sugar that coats the candy gets permeated from the rose flavored candy and usually there is quite a bit of it leftover in the bottom of the bag. It’s like a little present waiting for you once you finish your candy. The smell of the sugar is amazing. I certainly did not want to throw it away so I got inspired when I had some fresh raspberries to make muffins. When I’m coming up with new recipes, it usually comes from something in my daily life that awakens my senses or tastes. If you have access to organic roses you can make your own rose infused sugar. Here is a great link I found on how to do that.

 

 

raspberry and rose muffins 1

raspberry and rose muffins 2

 

Raspberry Rose Muffins

yield: 12 muffins

 

2  3/4 C all purpose flour

1 C sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 Cups (about 12 oz. or 2 pints) fresh raspberries

1 Cup milk

1 Cup sour cream

2 eggs

3/4 Cup melted unsalted butter

1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. rose water

3/4 tsp. vanilla

Rose Sugar (optional)*

*To make “fast” rose sugar in a food processor place 1/3 cup granulated sugar and scant 1/3 cup organic dried small rose buds (you can usually find the rose buds in tea shops that sell loose tea) and process until sugar turns into powder. Store leftover sugar in a ziplock baggie or airtight container.

 

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Spray a non stick muffin tin with baking spray. (I used a tall European style muffin tin for tall muffins- but you can use a standard American muffin tin-adjust the baking time as needed). If you have a mini popover pan that works too.

2. In large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Gently add the raspberries and gently toss with the flour mixture to coat.  In a measuring cup whisk the milk, sour cream, eggs, butter and flavorings. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently fold together being careful not to break the berries. Using a ice cream style scoop divide the batter evenly into each muffin well. If you have any extra berries- top the muffins with a berry. Sprinkle granulated sugar over each muffin.

3. Bake muffins at 375° for 10 minutes then DECREASE the oven to 350° F and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.

4. Let the tin cool over a wire rack and after 5 minutes remove the muffins and let them cool the rest of the way on the rack. Once cool dust over a little rose sugar if you like right before serving.


Glazed Meyer Lemon Shortbread

 

There are days I really miss San Francisco. I miss all the wonderful restaurants.  I miss all the eccentric, diverse weirdos, people. I miss hearing the clang-clang of a distant cable car rolling down a steep hill.  I miss the faint orange of the Golden Gate bridge peeking through the dense fog.  I miss being able to drive up to the wine country at a moments notice. I could go on for hours with all the reasons.

Most of all, I miss my dear friends. Especially my friends with Meyer lemon trees….

and you know who you are… 

I used to get BAGS of them for free willingly dropped off onto my work desk.

Oh, the amazing meyer lemon. How I love thee…

I don’t even know how to describe the scent of a meyer lemon. Sure the taste is amazing- but it’s the smell that borders on exotic. You just have to smell one to experience it- One cannot simply describe how it smells (but I’ll try- It’s sweet, it’s distinctly floral, but at the same time lemony).

I recently found a bag of meyer lemons at the market (albeit-expensive)-insert appropriate child like weeping here)- so I just had to splurge and buy them. I was down right giddy when I spotted them. I admit I sat in my kitchen and snorted the scent coming off of those lemons for several minutes. Some of them I sliced thin and macerated them with sugar for a few hours at room temp until a natural syrup formed and then I added the syrup to my iced tea.

The rest I used to make shortbread. These little gems are packed with flavor- but I didn’t want to stop there- so I used some of the juice to mix with confectioners sugar to make a glaze.

Cheers to the meyer lemon, and more importantly to my friends who I miss. Even without your lemon trees you are forever dear in my heart.

meyer lemon shortbread 1

meyer lemon shortbread 2

glazed meyer lemon shortbread

Glazed Meyer-Lemon Shortbread

 

2 sticks (1 Cup) unsalted butter, room temp

1/2 Cup confectioners sugar

zest (finely grated) of 3 meyer lemons (reserve juice for glaze)

2 Cups all purpose flour

3/4 tsp. fine (table salt)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. lemon extract

1. Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy; about 3 minutes, stopping often to scrape bottom and sides of mixer bowl. Stir in zest and combine. Add extracts and combine well. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Add flour mixture to ingredients and mix on low until combined. Place cookie dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and flatten out into a disk. Wrap well and place in refrigerator to chill for one hour.

2. Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper to about 1/4 inch thickness. Peel off top sheet of paper. Dip desired cookie cutter in flour and cut cookies. (I used a 1 inch x 3 inch long cutter). If dough becomes soft while working- place back in the refrigerator to chill; before attempting to remove cut out cookies; cookies release much easier if dough is very cold. Re-roll any scraps and cut out remaining cookies. Place cookies onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 325° F for about 14-15 minutes or until edges are just turning light brown. Allow cookies to cool on sheets then remove to a wire rack. Once completely cool, glaze with lemon glaze.

 

Lemon Glaze

1 Cup confectioners sugar

2 1/2-3 tsp. meyer lemon juice

In a small bowl whisk together sugar and lemon juice. You are looking for a fairly thick glaze; you don’t want it too runny. Spread glaze onto cookies with a small off set spatula. Let cookies sit for glaze to set; about one hour. Store cookies in an air tight container.

 


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