Blackberry Crisp

blackberrycrumbleUse blackberries, dewberries, raspberries, or blueberries (or a combination) in this old-fashioned crisp .A crisp is like a cobbler and depending on the fruit used can sometimes be called by names that make us smile –  pandowdy, grunt, slump, buckles, , croustade, bird’s nest pudding or crow’s nest pudding.  They are all simple variations of cobblers, and they are all based on seasonal fruits and berries, in other words, whatever fresh ingredients are readily at hand.  They are all homemade and simple to make and rely more on taste than fancy pastry preparation.

Early settlers of America were very good at improvising. When they first arrived, they brought their recipes with them, such as English steamed puddings.  When they could not find their favorite ingredients, they used what was available. That is how these traditional American dishes came about with such unusual names.

I made this one for a Saturday breakfast, but Joe can eat berry cobbler anytime!  It is tastiest when right out of the oven, and any leftovers never last long.

Blackberry Crisp

6 cups fresh Blackberries

1-2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest.

For Topping:

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oatmeal

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

6 Tablespoons butter cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a deep baking dish. Combine berries, 2 Tablespoons sugar, and lemon zest in a bowl and pour into baking dish. In another bowl, combine flour, remaining sugar, oatmeal, and cinnamon. Add the butter bits and mix with hands until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle on top of berry mixture and bake until lightly browned and crisp, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Serve warm.

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Shawarma

chicken-shwarma

True shawarma is cooked with stacked, spice-marinated meats– lamb, turkey, chicken, beef, or a mix of meats– on a vertical spit. This is an oven roasted dish, chicken shawarma style because of the delicious layers of flavor delivered by the mix of Mideastern spices. A friend shared the recipe from the New York Times on Facebook and I adapted slightly to arrive at this version.  I served this with green beans,  pita chips, tabouleh, and tzatziki. Wonderful!

Chicken Shawarma

  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon turmericshwarmaplate
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 4 large or 6 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (could use boneless thighs)
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or mint

Put the chicken in the oven and roast until it is browned, crisp at the edges and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to rest 2 minutes, then slice into bits.Scatter fresh herbs ( I used mint)  over the top and serve with tomatoes, cucumbers, pita and yogurt sauce plus a vegetable of your choice.

 

Ham and Swiss Quiche with Greek Yogurt

yogurtquiche

This quiche made a lovely Saturday morning breakfast for us, but it is just as good for lunch or a late supper.  I experimented with using a different ingredient and found that a cup of Greek Yogurt works well with other traditional quiche ingredients. I used a heaping cup of chopped ham here, but will try it soon with chopped fresh vegetables instead. Serve with fresh fruit or green salad tossed with a citrus vinaigrette.

Ham and Swiss Quiche with Greek Yogurt

1 9 or 10 inch pie unbaked pie crust

1 generous cup chopped ham

1 cup grated swiss cheese

1 shallot, sliced very thin

3 large eggs

1 cup Greek yogurt

2/3 cup milk

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg. (a pinch!)

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Fit the unbaked pie crust into Quiche baking dish. Sprinkle chopped ham over bottom of crust, top with 3/4 of the grated cheese, reserving 1/4 cup. Scatter thinly sliced shallot over this mixture. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and add yogurt and milk with nutmeg,

In a medium bowl, beat eggs and add yogurt and milk with nutmeg, salt, and pepper..  Blend, then pour slowly over ham and cheese.  Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and sprinkle extra nutmeg over top if desired. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Roasted Cinnamon Spice Cauliflower

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We have prepared beds for our fall garden, planted a few seeds, and as soon as winter vegetables are available at the garden center, we will add a row of cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and some broccoli plus winter greens.  Roasted cauliflower is a favorite in our house so we have tried a variety of recipes.  This was a favorite.

Roasted Cinnamon Spice Cauliflower

  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 3 pounds), cut into florets
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Coarse salt, for sprinkling
  1. Toss florets in melted butter, sprinkle with sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, and cinnamon, and spread on baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt.
  2. Roast at 450° F for 20-25 minutes or until golden, fork tender, and crispy brown on the edges.

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

cookiebaker

Nora is learning to make cookies but she has a distinct preference for chocolate! A recipe found in a cookbook written by my cousin Jane Purtle was just what Nora ordered!  In Food from the Hills, the author recorded family recipes from her family, which happens to be our family, too.  My grandmother, Clyde Curley Terrell, and Jane Purtlle’s father, Russell Hill, were half-siblings.  My great-grandmother Ernestine Augier Hill Curley was married to Jane’s grandfather, James Hill.  After he died, she married my Great Grandfather Curley. These chocolate oatmeal cookies were a favorite in the Hill family.

But there is more to this cookie story.  The original oatmeal cookie (without chocolate) recipe was one found in the Home Economics class cookbook from Bullard High School in Bullard, Texas where Jane Purtle’s mother Ruby and my mother, Opal attended.  So I am certain Nora’s great-grandmother Opal also made these cookies. Nora’s middle name is Opal.  I had fun thinking about all these connections while we made these cookies.

cookbook

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

1 egg

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons buttermilk

1 cup oatmeal  ( recipe says Quick, but regular works great and makes a chewier cookie)

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted (Please note:  I substituted 6 Tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder  plus 2 Tablespoons oil for the melted baking chocolate)

Break egg in mixing bowl and beat in sugar.  Add oil to sugar and eggs. Add milk and oatmeal. Sift flour with salt, baking powder and soda into the first mixture.  Add chocolate and beat well.  Drop by teaspoonfuls on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until firm around edges but soft in center.

If desired, omit chocolate and add 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Remove from baking sheet and cool on rack.

 

 

 

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chocolateoatmealcookies

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

blueberrybreakfastcakeThis recipe is available several places online.  I made it for the first time last week, but it won’t be the last time!  When blueberries are in season and available for good prices, I buy enough to freeze, so I used frozen blueberries which worked great.  Whether using fresh or frozen, be sure to put the berries in a ziploc bag with 1/4 cup flour and toss.  This keeps the berries from sinking to the bottom in a soggy clump. Then, fold the flour-coated fruit into the batter as the very last step before baking. This coating absorbs some of the liquid released by the fruit as it bakes and keeps the fruit in place until the crumb has set. This works for any fruit called for in a recipe as well as any other ingredients, like nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips. You can use this trick when baking muffins, cupcakes, scones, or any quick bread.

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

½ cup butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar, diviided (Save out 1 Tablespoon sugar for topping)

2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 cups fresh blueberries

½ cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and  sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

In a ziploc bag,  toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour and set aside.

Combine the remaining flour, baking powder and salt and add to batter  a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk.  Fold in the blueberries gently.

Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle with another tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness and if necessary, return to oven until toothpick comes out clean..

Pulled Pork with Balsamic Honey Sauce

BalsamicHoneyPulledPork

Pulled pork has become a standby dish for our kitchen.  I like to use the slow cooker for easy preparation, and this is one of the easiest recipes since you only need the pork, some seasoning, and water in the crockpot to begin.  The sauce can be made ahead and preheated before serving, but I like to make it just before table time.  There is alot of balsamic vinegar in the sauce, and as it cooks down and begins to thicken, the fragrant aroma makes your mouth water!  This is my version of a recipe I saw featured on FaceBook. This makes a large batch and freezes well.

Pulled Pork with Balsamic Honey Sauce

2 Pork Tenderloins, 2.5 – 3 lbs. total

1 1/4 cups water

1 teaspoon Tony Cachere’s seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

(For Balsamic Honey Sauce)

1 cup Balsamic Vinegar

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup catsup

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

 

BalsamicHoneySauce

 

Place pork in the bottom of  slow cooker which has been coated with cooking spray. In a bowl, whisk together water, seasoned salt and pepper. Pour mixture over pork.
Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours (or on high for 4-5).

In the last 30 minutes of cooking the pork, combine minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, honey, and Worcestershire sauce in saucepan over medium heat. Stir to blend, then bring to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until thickened.
Remove pork from slow cooker to large platter and shred with 2 forks. Pour about 1/2 cup of balsamic sauce over pulled pork and toss to combine.

Serve on regular size or slider buns. Pass extra sauce!

BalsamicHoneyPulledPorkSandwich

Thai Chicken Salad with Lime and Ginger Vinaigrette

VietnameseChickenSalad

In the heat and humidity of August days, salad suppers are a simple, nutritious and delicious welcome.  The added benefit is no cooking to heat up the kitchen if you use a rotisserie chicken to top this family favorite.  Every time I make this salad I wonder why I don’t do it more often. Most of the ingredients are ones we keep as pantry and frig staples.

There are dozens of similar recipes in cookbooks and online. Some are called Vietnamese, some are called Thai. Most list fish sauce as an ingredient and since we lived in Southeast Asia, I know this is a traditional seasoning.  But we prefer to omit it in most dishes.  The greens can be a combination of almost anything you wish. If you are cooking for several people, increase the amounts and it is beautiful served on a large platter with ingredients layered separately to toss before serving. When I make it for two, I create the salads right on the serving plates.

Thai Chicken Salad with Lime and Ginger Vinaigrette

2  cups shredded or chopped chicken (I use rotisserie chicken!)

4 cups coarsely chopped Romaine lettuce or Napa Cabbage

1 sweet red pepper, chopped

1 small red onion

1 small cucumber, sliced thin

3 carrots, grated

!/2 cup roasted peanuts (more if you like)

 

For Lime and Ginger Vinaigrette

Juice of 2 large limes

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 Tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger (I use Penzey’s)

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

honey to taste

whisk together and drizzle over salad before serving

Layer greens, chopped vegetables, and chicken.  Sprinkle peanuts and dressing on top before serving.

 

 

 

 

 
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No Cook Dill Pickles

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PIckles, pickles, pickles. Our family loves dill pickles. When I have access to fresh pickling cucumbers  and fresh dill, I try to make them .These pickles require no cooking, not even heating vinegar. We decided to experiment with 2 different seasoning mixes. Pickles on left were made with a Knorr packet of seasoning that features vinegar salt and is a German product, with all instructions in German. I Googled the name to get instructions. These pickles got a low rating from my tasters so I am posting only the recipe for those pictured in the right.

No Cook Dill Pickles

8 larger or to 10 smaller firm, fresh pickling cucumbers

3 teaspoons coarse or pickling salt

2 Tablespoons fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill weed

1 Tablespoon Penzy’s Pickling Spice blend

1/2 cup white vinegar

Slice your cucumbers very thin — I used 1/8-inch slices here but usually go even thinner on a mandoline. Place them in a 1-liter or equivalent lidded jar. Add 3 teaspoons salt and dill, then pour in white vinegar. Close the jar and give it a few shakes to begin distributing the ingredients.

You’re going to find the liquid level in the jar worrisomely low as it is well below the pickle pile line, but don’t fret. Within an hour or two, the salt will draw the moisture from the cucumbers and wilt them, while the liquid becomes a perfectly balanced pickle brine.

Place jar in the refrigerator near the front, which should remind you to shake it once or twice more over the new few hours. (Or whenever you’re back at the fridge.) Youcan eat them as little as 1 to 2 hours later, but they become ideal at 6 to 8 hours. They’ll keep in the fridge, submerged in their brine, for 3 weeks, though never around here.

Blackberry Scones

BlackberryScones

Blackberries are best when you can pick them yourself (without chiggers) and eat them at their freshest. But I am very happy when I find them in season at good prices and begin to think of all the ways we will use them.  Favorite choices have always been a bowl of fresh berries, gleaming and popping with juice or baked in a crusty cobbler. Berry pies are not far behind, and we even toss them in salads. Until I made these easy drop scones, I had never mixed them into a heavy batter like this.  But this recipe is a keeper. It produced a baking sheet with a dozen big puffy scones, which disappeared very quickly!

Blackberry  Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 cup butter, cut into small pieces

grated zest of one large lemon 

1 large egg

3/4 cup milk, or the amount necessary to make 1 cup after one large egg has been added to measuring cup.

a big handful of berries

extra sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425F. In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and blend it with a fork,pastry blender or your fingers (or do it all in the food processor, if you have one), leaving some lumps no bigger than a pea.

Crack the egg into a measuring cup and add milk to make it a cup. Stir it together with a fork and add to the flour mixture; mixing until just barely combined. Add the berries and stir gently a couple more times, then drop the sticky dough in large spoonfuls onto a buttered or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with sugar.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or less if you made small scones, until golden. Reduce the oven heat by 25 degrees if baking on a dark baking sheet.