Black and Blue Cobbler

I love this season when farmers’ markets and produce stands are filled with sweet, ripe fruits and vegetables. I usually buy more than I need because I am so happy to have access to such prime produce. This weekend I bought sweet blackberries and made this cobbler. I often make cobbler with a biscuit topping, but I love this cake topping studded with pecans. It pairs so well with the berries. You can eat it plain or top it with cream or ice cream.

Black and Blue Cobbler
4 c. blueberries, rinsed and drained
2 c. blackberries, rinsed and drained
1-1/4 c. white sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1-1/2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Cake Batter
1 c. flour
1/2 c. white granulated sugar
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. milk
3/4 c. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×12 pan. In a large bowl combine the filling ingredients. Stir gently to incorporate, then pour into prepared pan. Make the cake topping by combining the dry ingredients and spices in a large bowl. Mix. Add wet ingredients and stir to mix well. If the batter seems a bit too thick, add a little extra milk. Stir in nuts. Spoon cake batter over fruit and spread to the edges of the pan using a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The cake should be light golden and the fruit should be bubbling. Place on rack. Serve warm or cold. Serves 8-10.


Posted in Cakes, Desserts, Fruit, Thanksgiving | 1 Comment

Peach Cherry Plum Clafoutis 

Clafoutis is a French baked custard and fruit dessert. It is often made with whole cherries, but you can use other fruit as well. I have made it with berries, but my favorite combination is peaches, cherries, and plums. Right now they are all in season, so make this before the cherries have disappeared from fruit stands and farmers’ markets. It can be served warm or chilled, with confectioners sugar sprinkled over the top. I prefer it cold because the flavors meld together. This recipe is adapted from one I learned to make at a Sur La Table cooking class, originally a Julia Child recipe.

Peach Cherry Plum Clafoutis
1 c. pitted sweet cherries
1 c. sliced red plums
1/4 c. light brown sugar
2 c. milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. flour
2/3 c. vanilla granulated sugar
pinch of kosher salt
6 large eggs
1-1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 c. peeled and sliced peaches (3-4 peaches)
2/3 c. granulated sugar
confectioners sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-cup gratin dish or 9×13 baking dish. In a medium bowl combine cherries and plums. Toss fruit with brown sugar, then spoon into prepared pan. In a blender combine milk, cream, flour, vanilla sugar, salt, eggs, and vanilla. Blend until the mixture becomes a smooth, crepe-like batter, about 2 minutes. Pour 1/4 of the batter over the cherry and plum mixture and bake 5-7 minutes until a thin film begins to form on the batter. Remove from oven. Place sliced peaches over the cherry and plum mixture. Sprinkle peaches with remaining 2/3 cup of granulated sugar and pour the rest of the batter over the peaches. Return to the oven and continue baking for 45-50 minutes until the pudding is puffed and set in the middle. Remove from oven and allow to cool on rack. Serve warm or cold, sprinkled with confectioners sugar. Serves 8.


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Pasta with Eggplant

This dish is a great way to use garden-fresh eggplant. It is basically a pasta with garlic and olive oil combined with sautéed eggplant. It is simple but enhances the flavor of sweet eggplant. We grow Ichiban eggplant, a long Japanese variety, that seems more sweet and less seedy to me than some other varieties. It works particularly well in this recipe.

Pasta with Eggplant
3-4 medium Ichiban eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices
fine salt
3 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
pinch of Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
1/2 lb. angel hair pasta
1/2 c. pasta water
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
4 large basil leaves, torn

Begin by bringing a large pot of water to the boil for the pasta. Add some salt once it boils. In a medium frying pan combine canola oil with 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. Turn heat to medium and, when hot, salt the epplant slices and place about 8 slices in the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan; you will probably need to do this in three batches. Sauté 3 minutes, then turn over and continue cooking for about 5 minutes until the eggplant begins to have some golden color. You want the eggplant to be just tender, not mushy. Remove eggplant to a paper towel-lined dish. Repeat, adding a bit more canola and olive oil until the eggplant is sautéed. Once the eggplant is all cooked, cut into bite size pieces and set aside. Boil the pasta after the eggplant has been sautéed, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. While pasta is cooking place garlic in the same frying pan used to sauté eggplant. Add 1/2 cup extra virgin oil, then turn heat to medium low and sauté garlic until fragrant and soft but not brown. It should take about 2 minutes. Add Aleppo pepper, 1 Tbsp. parsley. Stir. Add cooked and drained pasta to the garlic oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add pasta water to moisten. Pour into serving bowl. Toss in the sautéed eggplant. Garnish with remaining parsley and basil. Serves 4-5.


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Apricot Semifreddo

Semifreddo, an Italian frozen mousse, is a great make-ahead summer dessert. I posted a sour cherry version when I first began blogging. This apricot semifreddo is light and refreshing on a hot day, can be made several days in advance, and will keep in the freezer for at least a week.  You can poach good quality fresh apricots or use canned apricots if fresh are not available to you. I recently made this dessert for a family gathering and everyone loved it. If you are concerned about using raw eggs, feel free to use pasteurized egg products or cook the apricot mixture in a double boiler.

Apricot semifreddo
Poached apricots
2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. almond extract
4 large apricots, halved and pitted

In a 2-quart saucepan combine water, sugar, and extract. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar, then lower heat to a simmer and add apricot halves. Let simmer until apricots are soft, depending on the ripeness of the fruit, 3-5 minutes. Remove apricots with a slotted spoon. Discard the poaching liquid. You will need 1-1/4 cups poached apricots for the semifreddo.

Fruit Mousse
1-1/4 c. poached apricots (or canned apricots, drained)
1/3 c. apricot jam
1/2 c. granulated sugar + 3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
pinch of fine salt
3 large eggs, separated
1-1/4 c. heavy cream

Line a loaf pan with parchment or waxed paper, enough to overlap the edges of the pan. In a blender combine apricots, jam, 1/2 cup sugar, extracts, and salt. Blend. Taste and see if it is sweet. Add more sugar if the apricots seem a bit too tart, then add the egg yolks. Blend until smooth. Pour into a large mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Fold whites gently into the apricot fruit mixture. Beat cream to soft peaks with the 3 remaining Tablespoons of sugar. Fold into fruit mixture, then pour into prepared pan. Fold extra parchment or waxed paper over mousse. Place in a large ziplock bag or cover with plastic wrap and freeze. When ready to serve, unfold parchment and cut into slices. Serves 8-10.


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Blueberry Jam

I love anything blueberry, and this jam is like blueberry pie in a jar. It is easy to make and allows you to enjoy fresh blueberry flavor all year long. I like the texture of puréed blueberries, but if you prefer it with more fiber and larger bits of blueberry you can skip using the food processor and mash your berries by hand.

Blueberry Jam
8 c. fresh blueberries, rinsed and stemmed
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
2-1/2 Tbsp. powdered pectin
1 (1-2 inches long) cinnamon stick
6 c. sugar

Begin by bringing a waterbath canner full of water to the boil. Sterilize lids by boiling  in a pot of water and run 8 half-pint jars in the dish washer. In a food processor pulse blueberries to a thick, chunky purée. You may need to do this in two batches if you have a smaller food processor (I find it easiest to grind 4 cups at a time). You need 5 cups of blueberry purée to make the jam. Pour into a large, heavy bottom pot. Stir in fresh lemon juice, pectin, and the cinnamon stick. Turn heat to high and, stirring constantly, bring to a rolling boil. Boil 1 minute then add sugar and return to a rolling boil. Boil 1 more minute. Remove from heat and spoon out cinnamon stick. Pour into jars. Wipe rims with a damp paper towel and screw on lids. Water bath for 10 minutes at sea level and 15 minutes at high altitude. Makes 8 half-pint jars.


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Blueberry Streusel-Topped Muffins

I have been making these blueberry muffins since I was a girl. The recipe came from my mother’s friend Pat in New Jersey. We make them all year long, but they taste best during the summer with fresh ripe blueberries.

Blueberry Streusel-Topped Muffins
Streusel Topping
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. flour
pinch of fine salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. cold unsalted butter or margarine, diced

In a bowl combine sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon. Cut in butter to form crumbs. Chill until muffin batter is ready.

Muffin Batter
1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
1/3 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. milk or more
1/4 tsp. lemon or orange zest (optional)
1-1/2 c. fresh blueberries, rinsed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 muffin pans with liners. You will get about 20 muffins from the batter. In a bowl whisk together melted butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and whisk until creamy, about 1 minute. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternately with milk. You may need a little extra milk. The batter should be thick but moist. Add zest if using. Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. You should fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Sprinkle streusel over each muffin. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool on rack. Makes 20 muffins.


Posted in Breads, Breakfast, Christmas, Fruit | 2 Comments

Zucchini Bread with Demerara Sugar Sprinkle

There are so many zucchini bread recipes out there that readers are probably wondering why I would post another one. But this recipe, a combination of several recipes, is different, and my favorite of all the zucchini bread recipes I have come across. What makes it special is that, halfway through baking, you sprinkle the top with Demerara sugar. The sugar gives it a caramel-like sweet crunch that is a nice textural contrast to the soft bread. You can, of course, adjust the recipe to your liking by adding some mini chocolate chips, coconut, chopped pecans, or walnuts. You can also sprinkle the top and the pan with cinnamon sugar. I usually make two batches of batter at a time. If I am going to make a mess of the kitchen grating zucchini, I may as well have plenty of bread to show for it, and this always disappears quickly!

Zucchini Bread with Demerara Sugar Sprinkle
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. canola or vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2-3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. freshly ground allspice
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 c. grated zucchini
1/4 c. Demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two loaf pans. In a mixing bowl beat together the sugars and oil for 1 minute. Add the eggs and beat 2 minutes until thick. In a separate bowl sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar and egg mixture. It will be thick. Add vanilla, then zucchini. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate pans and sprinkle each loaf with 2 Tablespoons of Demerara sugar. Continue baking 20-30 minutes longer until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove bread pans from oven to a rack and let cool 10 minutes. Run a spatula all around the edges of the pan. Remove bread from pan and let cool completely on rack. Makes 2 loaves.


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Apricot Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is lovely summer dessert. It is light and refreshing, and you can prepare it without turning on the oven. I poach the apricots because I think the texture and flavor of poached fruit works well in this panna cotta. It is an extra step, but can be done a day or two in advance.

Apricot Panna Cotta

Poached Apricots
2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. almond extract
4 large apricots, halved and pitted

In a 2-quart saucepan combine water, sugar, and extract. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar, then lower heat to a simmer and add apricot halves. Let simmer until apricots are soft, 3-5 minutes depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Remove apricots with a slotted spoon. You will need 1 cup poached apricots for the panna cotta.

Apricot Cream
2 Tbsp. water
1-3/4 tsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
1 c. poached apricots
1/2 c. 2% milk
1-1/2 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. vanilla granulated sugar or more to taste
pinch of kosher salt
1 drop vanilla extract
1 drop almond extract

In a small bowl combine water with unflavored gelatin and let sit 5 minutes to soften. In a blender purée apricots with milk. Pour purée into a 2-quart saucepan. Add cream, sugar, and salt to the apricot mixture. Heat on medium until mixture is hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and add gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve. Whisk in extracts. Pour into 4 (8 oz.) ramekins, 8 (4 oz.) ramekins, or 20 (1.75 oz.) tasting glasses as in the photo below. Chill 4-5 hours or until firm. Serves 4 or more.


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Marinated Fava Beans and Pasta with Fava Beans and Ricotta

Each year I look forward to fresh fava beans out of the garden. We have about a two-week time period in June when they are ripe. We remove them from the pod, blanch them for two minutes or so, then skin them. Years ago, when we visited my relatives in Sicily, they served us marinated fresh fava beans from their garden. It was so simple, yet delicious; just oil, garlic, a touch of vinegar and salt and pepper. I have cooked fava beans many different ways, including for pasta with tomatoes and sausage, but they seem to me somewhat starchy when cooked for any length of time. This method of marinating fava beans involves heating oil and garlic together and, when the garlic is fragrant, pouring the oil and garlic over blanched beans, then seasoning to taste with a bit of vinegar, salt, pepper, and some hot pepper flakes. They are just barely cooked, and so have a fresh texture. You can eat them as is or spooned on some bread. They can be part of an antipasto platter as well. If you keep the Fava beans warm and eliminate the vinegar, you can make a delicious pasta dish by just pouring the marinated favas over hot macaroni and topping with parsley and a few dollops of fresh homemade ricotta. It is a lovely, summer pasta dish.

Marinated Fava Beans
2 c. cooked and peeled fava beans
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes

In a small saucepan combine oil and garlic. Turn the heat to medium low and let the garlic cook to become soft and fragrant, but not brown. It should only take 1-2 minutes. Pour over fava beans and toss. Season to taste with vinegar, salt, pepper and Aleppo pepper. Serve warm or refrigerate. Makes 2 cups.

Pasta with Fava Beans and Fresh Ricotta
2 c. marinated fava beans (without vinegar), warmed
1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
1 Tbsp. chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
salt to taste
fresh ricotta to taste

Cook elbow macaroni until al dente. Pour warm marinated Fava beans over hot macaroni. Toss. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve with dollops of fresh ricotta cheese. Serves 4.


Posted in Appetizers, Christmas, Easter, Pasta, Vegetables, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Rhubarb Blackberry Cake (Dairy-free)

This summer cake is light, sweet and moist. It’s perfect to take on a picnic. I make it dairy free using coconut oil and almond milk, but you can use butter and whole milk if you don’t need it to be dairy-free.  The rhubarb from our yard and blackberries are a nice combination. The cake also works with other seasonal fruit. You can use strawberries, raspberries, peaches, blueberries, plums or pears or a combination of them. My family likes this cake served plain so they can enjoy the crunchy sugar topping, but feel free to top it with whipped cream or ice cream if your prefer.

Rhubarb Blackberry Cake
1 c. soft coconut oil (I like Spectrum brand)
2 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1-1/2 tsp. orange zest
1 Tbsp. orange juice
2-3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 c. almond milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 drop almond extract (optional)
1-1/2 c. chopped rhubarb
1 (6 oz.) pkg. fresh blackberries or more to taste
1 tsp. flour
2 Tbsp. Demerara or turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 metal baking pan then line with parchment. In a mixing bowl beat coconut oil and sugar until mixed well, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add orange zest and juice. Mix well. In a separate bowl sift together dry ingredients and spices. Add to wet ingredients alternately with milk. Add extracts. Mix. Fold in rhubarb. Toss blackberries with 1 tsp. flour and fold into cake batter. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, rotate the pan then sprinkle the top with Demerara sugar and bake another 12-15 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool on rack. Serves 10-12.


Posted in Cakes, Dairy-free, Desserts, Fruit | 1 Comment