Monday, August 24, 2009

Frozen Blackberry Lemonade

Blackberries are back in season and I can't wait to find new ways to use them. We have been down to the blackberry patch in the forest near our house once already and none too soon. The stash we froze last year is down to about a cup left. In July I thawed some of my frozen blackberries and made Frozen Blackberry Lemonade on a hot summer day. . .YUM. I had to do something with that pile of lemons adorning my counter!

Here is what you'll need:

1 1/4 cups plus 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 plus 2Tbs simple syrup*
1 pint fresh blackberries--juiced (about 1/2 cup)
4 1/2 cups ice cubes

Juice your lemons--or make your nephew do it like I did!

Combine 1 1/4 cups of lemon juice with 3/4 cup of simple syrup and set aside.

Heat blackberries over medium heat until very juicy, stirring periodically--10 minutes. Press through sieve. Should produce about 1/2 cup of juice.

Stir together blackberry juice, 1 tsp. of lemon juice and 2 Tbs of simple syrup. Set aside.

Put ice cubes in blender with lemon juice mixture. Crush ice until smooth.

Pour 1 - 2 Tbs of blackberry juice in each of 4 glasses.

Pour frozen lemonade into glasses, dividing evenly. Garnish with mint sprig and blackberries (optional). Serves 4.

*simple syrup is one cup water to one cup sugar--heated on stove top until sugar is dissolved.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Creamy Pesto Dressing

In an effort to get good use out of my garden, I have been coming up with new ways to use what I have growing out there. Early in the summer I was awash in the most tender buttery Buttercrunch lettuce. It was almost good enough to eat alone. But I also had, and still have, loads of basil. So I decided to put the two together and made a Basil Pesto Salad Dressing.

It's simple, its yummy, and you really don't need much else for your salad. . .except maybe some tomatoes.


1/2 cup of basil leaves
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup Parmesan
1 cup mayo
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup of pine nuts
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 pepper

Process in blender of food processor until creamy. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Crab Cakes and Red Pepper Sauce

Something about summer makes seafood seem mandatory. I am sure it helps that I live in the Pacific Northwest where seafood is quick and easy to get fresh. I often buy crab cakes at a little seafood market near my house, but over the fourth of July I decided to make crab cakes from scratch.

For the Crab Cakes:

2 Tbs chopped parsley
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 large eggs--beaten
2 Tbs Mayo
1 tsp lemon juice
1 pound crab meat, flaked
1/2 cup bread crumbs (plus more for coating)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Butter or oil for frying

Combine ingredients gently so as not to break up the crab meat too much. Divide into 6-8 thick patties. coat each patty with bread crumbs. Heat a couple tablespoons of butter and a little olive oil--enough to generously cover the bottom of a large fry pan--over medium heat. Fry patties until golden brown on both sides--about four minutes per side. Remove from pan and serve immediately with Red Pepper Sauce.

Red Pepper Sauce:

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup mayo
1 Tbs minced shallots
2 Tbs minced fresh parsley
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

Combine in blender or food processor until finely chopped. Serve immediately with crab cakes, or refrigerate covered until serving.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tomato Basil Panini

This year I planted six basil plants and four tomato plants that are all thriving. So I am putting them to good use. My favorite lunch these days is a tomato basil panini. It is simple yet divine!

I made them for my 4th of July barbecue as little appetizers. They are cute this way as well as super yummy. I just cut the bread with a round cookie cutter and bought the round mozz.

Here is what you need:

Tomatoes - sliced
Fresh Basil - whole or shredded
Soft Mozzarella - sliced
salt and pepper to taste
Garlic salt (optional, but I love to sprinkle on just a dash)

Assemble and grill in the panini press until cheese is slightly melted and grill marks are on the bread.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Creamy Lemon Tart

I've had a hankering for lemony goodness this week.  It all started when I went out to dinner at Sweet Tomatoes with my family and their were featuring lemon everything for the month.  I had some yummy lemony pasta and a salad with some sort of lemony dressing and finished it off with lemon cobbler topped with a dollop of lemon whipped cream. It. was. divine.  yum.  

So I rushed to the store and bought a bag full of lemons.

My first lemon recipe was a creamy lemon tart.  

There are few desserts as light and refreshing as those with lemon in them.  This is one of my favorite.


1 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter -- cold, cut into squares


5 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about two large lemons)
2 eggs
1 tbs grated lemon zest


1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tbs confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla

For the crust: Combine in a food processor--flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and pulse until pastry starts to form clumps.  

Press dough into tart pan.  Pierce bottom with fork to help prevent bubbles while baking.  Freeze for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F while waiting for dough to chill.
Bake 13 - 15 minutes, until crust is golden.  

For the Filling: In mixer, process cream cheese until smooth.  Add sugar, mix.  Add one egg at a time until combined.  Add remaining ingredients, mix until smooth.  

Pour into tart shell.  Bake 25 - 30 minutes, until filling is set.  Cool on rack, then refrigerate until chilled.

Topping: In mixing bowl, beat whipping cream until peaks form.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla and mix until incorporated.  Either pipe over top of tart, or add a dollop to each individual piece as served.  

I added a little lemon zest to the top for fun. . . while it was still a little warm.   This tart didn't last 24 hours.  Yum.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Blackened Salmon

The approach of summer always brings out a need to eat more fish and fresh produce.  I am sure the salmon is good all winter, but I almost never go to the sea food market during the winter.  I pulled out my favorite blackened salmon recipe today and heated the grill, despite the dreary clouds.  I figured we would invite summer by grilling salmon and making a spring dessert. . .something lemony.  Having eaten blackened salmon a couple times at restaurants, I was determined to find a good recipe for making it at home.  I found one I liked. . .then I tweaked it of course.

For the Spice:

2 tsp paprika
4 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp oregano
3/4 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Mix all the seasons together and store what you don't use in an airtight container.

Traditionally, blackened Salmon is fried in melted butter.  But I decided to grill it today.  To fry it you simply melt a  couple tablespoons of butter  in a pan, coat your fish with it before seasoning and fry it on each side until blackened and cooked through (2-5 minutes on each side).  

To grill it, I didn't even coat with butter first, though you certainly could.  I simply piled on the spices nice and thick and then grilled it on grilling pan set on the barbecue grill for about seven minutes, or until cooked through.  

It is a spicy dish, they way I like it! And easy, which is always a good thing. Enjoy.

**In case you were wondering where I have been for nearly two months--a large part of that time my kitchen was torn out and under construction.  But now I am back baking and cooking in my nearly complete, beautiful kitchen.  To see some of the process I have been going through, feel free to visit my home and garden blog.** 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fried Potato Salad

If you got past the "fried" then let me mention there is also bacon involved in this recipe.  If that doesn't stop you, proceed--I promise it will be worth it.

You will need:

a dozen small red potatoes
2 or 3 green onions
six strips of bacon
a handful of flat leaf parsley (or a 1 - 2 teaspoons of dried parsley)

For the dressing:

1 Tablespoon brown mustard
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes until almost cooked through.  Drain and cool.  Slice into 1/4" rounds.

In the meantime, cook the bacon and crumble it.  Remove on tablespoon of bacon drippings for use in dressing.

In a bowl mix brown mustard, red wine vinegar, the tablespoon of bacon grease, salt and pepper.  Slowly whisk in olive oil.

Use the remaining bacon drippings to fry the potatoes--laying flat in pan and turning once--until browned.  Do in batches if they don't fit in the pan in a single layer.  You must be fair and allow every piece to bath in the bacon juice!

Remove from pan and place in bowl.

Add crumbled bacon. . .

. . . add chopped green onion. . .

. . . add parsley. . .

. . . add dressing.

Toss. . . gently. It will taste good, but not be nearly so pretty if you break all the little potato rounds.

Enjoy.  If it makes you feel better, serve it with steamed veggies and grilled chicken so it feels a little healthier! 

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Winter Salsa

Are you itching to get out there in the garden and put your hands in the dirt?  Tomatoes, and peppers, and herbs. . . I have plans this year.  There is something great about picking food from your garden and bringing it into the kitchen and making delicious dishes with it.  

I love tomatoes.  There is nothing like a freshly picked, garden grown, vine ripened tomato.  And one thing I love to make is fresh salsa.  During the winter it just isn't the same with the anemic tomatoes you can buy at the store and pay a fortune for.   So I have a solution for winter salsa urges.

Instead of fresh tomatoes I use canned tomatoes and everything else fresh.  And it's yummy.  You will need:

2 cans of tomatoes.

Add: a large handful of cilantro--chopped, a small red onion (or half a large one)--chopped, a jalapeno (or half a large one--add the seeds for more kick)--chopped, one clove of garlic--pressed or chopped,  A squeeze of lime juice, and salt to taste.  If you need more kick you can add a little red chili powder.  It's fun, try it.

Enjoy. If you really want to titillate your taste buds, make some guac to go with it.  

Friday, February 13, 2009

Linzer Cookies

Sweet tarts for your Sweetheart.  

This recipe has origins in Austria centuries ago.  And the original Linzer cookie wasn't actually a cookie, it was a torte made with ground almonds in the dough and filled will black currant  preserves.  But despite these differences, this modern variant of the torte is divine to eat and pretty to look at.


1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
2 eggs, separated
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup ground almonds
3/4 cup  preserves (Raspberry Preserve Recipe)

Cream butter in mixing bowl.

Add 2/3 cup sugar.  Beat until light and fluffy.

Add yolks--beating well after each.

Combine flour and salt--gradually add to mixer.  Form a ball and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Dust counter with confectioner's sugar.  Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness--cut shapes (I used hearts but you could use rounds or other shapes--be sure to have a smaller version to cut the "window" out.)  

Be sure you have an equal number of bottoms. . . 

. . . and tops.

Beat egg whites until frothy and brush onto bottom cutouts.  If you are using whole almonds process them in the food processor with the remaining sugar--the sugar keeps the almonds from clumping into paste.  sprinkle the mixture over bottoms--atop the egg white.  

**by not combining the almonds in the dough it allows you to leave it out should you choose not to use nuts.  You may also use ground hazelnuts. I have also seen hazelnut varieties that use Nutella as filling instead of preserves.

Place on greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 
6 - 8 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.

Spread about two teaspoons of preserve on eat bottom cookie. . .

. . . powder the "window" tops with confectioner's sugar. . .

. . . and assemble.

Present to your sweetheart. . . or eat them all yourself.  I won't judge you.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Say "I love you" With Chocolate. . .

Raspberry Filled Chocolate Bars

I have a weakness for chocolate. . .dark chocolate. . . and raspberries.  So let's combine them and enjoy a moment of pure bliss, shall we?

You will need a chocolate mold.  I found this one at Williams Sonoma last week.  It is actually a brownie mold--but hey, it works great for chocolates!  (I have yet to make brownies with it).


Chocolate--to melt (I used Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet chips)
Raspberry filling (see recipe below)

Raspberry Filling:

You will need-

2 cups raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbs corn starch
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine in pot and bring to boil.  Heat and stir until thickens.  

Press through sieve to remove seeds.

Cool completely.

For Chocolates:

Melt chocolate in microwave one minute at a time, stirring until all smooth.
Pour first layer into mold and freeze for five minute.  (Be sure to tap the mold to make sure the air pockets get out.)  

Paint chocolate around edge of mold so the filling won't show through on the sides.  Freeze a couple more minutes.  

Add raspberry filling (or peanut butter or whatever you want).  Freeze for 5 - 10 more minutes.

Pour top layer of chocolate--tap to remove bubbles.  Freeze for 10 - 20 minutes.  

Remove from freezer and dump out chocolates.  Then enjoy. . . or what for it to thaw a little, then enjoy.