Blueberry-Strawberry Shortcake

September 1, 2014

Blueberry-Strawberry Shortcake

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This weekend I signed up to bring dessert to a get-together with friends. I wanted to make peach pie, but couldn’t find ripe peaches. I remembered it’s the height of blueberry season and one of our farmers grows “everbearing” strawberries, so both were in the market at the same time. I searched the web for some ideas and came across an unusual approach I’d never tried – cooking some of the fruit into a compote and serving the shortcakes with a combination of cooked and fresh fruit. I had some trepidation about this, but thought what the heck! It was declared delicious by all, both with and without whipped cream! (I think this could be made with just blueberries, just strawberries, or a combo of blueberries and peaches as well.)

 The Shortcake

We recommend one of two recipes for the shortcake base. One uses butter and cream and one is the Joy of Cooking’s classic cream scones which I like to use when in a hurry – only 4 ingredients, plus heavy cream! Or use your favorite shortcake, biscuit or pound cake.

The Fruit

6 cups total fruit, mixed blueberries and strawberries

4 tablespoons total sugar

juice of 1/2 lime

Make the compote: Place 4 cups fruit (I used 2 cups blueberries and 2 cups strawberries, sliced in half) in a medium saucepan with 3 tablespoons of sugar and the lime juice. Stirring constantly, bring to a low bubble over medium heat, then simmer for 3-4 minutes until fruit is a little soft and juice is slightly thickened. Take off the heat, turn into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Prepare the fresh fruit: Place 2 cups fruit (I used 1 cup each blueberries and sliced strawberries) in a bowl with 1 tablespoon sugar. Let sit at least 30 minutes to macerate.

Final Assembly

Make whipped cream by beating 3/4 cup heavy cream with a mixer on high speed. Just before it’s completely whipped (soft peaks) add 1 tablespoon sugar and whip to moderately stiff peaks. Don’t forget you’re not making butter! Or buy your favorite pre-made whipped cream if you’d like. We won’t tell :-).

Split the shortcakes horizontally. Spoon compote on top of the bottom, top with fresh fruit and then with whipped cream. Place top half of the shortcake on to of the prepared shortcake at an angle. I’m looking at our photo – we were in too big of a hurry to eat this to arrange it all per instructions!

Easy Strawberry Tart

June 26, 2013

Easy Strawberry Tart - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

This was the weekend of getting stuff done.  Actually, every weekend needs to be the weekend of getting stuff done, but somehow that doesn’t happen.  If I haven’t mentioned it before, my husband and I (more my husband, less me) are remodeling our house.  FOREVER remodeling our house.  Right now we’re re-doing our upstairs bedrooms…all three of them.  It’s going slowly, as usual.  Since it’s summer, we’re also trying to make our outdoor spaces more livable so that we go out there more often.  I always feel like we spend more time at Home Depot and Menard’s than we do actually doing any work…but that might just be because I really don’t like those places very much.

IMG_8164

This weekend I got the front yard looking pretty great…mulched, weeded, re-planted a bunch of stuff.  And meanwhile, in the backyard, Jason painted the wicker furniture that I found in the alley a while back.  I love finds like that!  Now all it needs are some cushions and we’re on our way to some outdoor living!

IMG_8167

 

So complicated baking projects were out of the question…but I had two quarts of strawberries that I needed to do something with ASAP.  I saw this recipe on Martha Stewart’s website last week, and thought it would be the perfect quick dessert to use up most of the strawberries with.  I love tarts, but making the pastry cream can be so time consuming and tedious.  This was a great alternative, and who doesn’t like a dessert with cream cheese??  It reminds me of a dessert my Aunt Gigi always made for summer gatherings, especially the Fourth of July, strawberry pizza.  It’s the same idea, with a shortbread-type crust, cream cheese topping and fresh strawberries.  This is even better I think, though, because it has about twice the amount of cream cheese filling…yum!

Easy Strawberry Tart

adapted from Everyday Food

1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for handling dough
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 to 2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved
1/4 cup seedless red currant jelly or apple jelly
1/4 teaspoon salt

Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, blend flour, butter, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt until moist crumbs form (this may take up to 1 minute). Transfer dough to a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom. With floured fingers, press dough evenly into pan and up sides. Dip a dry-measuring cup in flour, and use it to press dough firmly into bottom and against sides of pan. Freeze crust until firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Using a fork, prick crust all over. Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes, pressing down gently once or twice with a spoon during baking if crust puffs up. Cool completely in pan.

Make the filling: In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until smooth; spread mixture evenly in bottom of baked crust (still in tart pan). Starting from outside edge, arrange strawberry halves, stemmed side down, in tight concentric circles on cream cheese. Microwave jelly in a small bowl until liquified, about 30 seconds (keep a close eye so it doesn’t boil). Gently brush strawberries with jelly; let set at least 20 minutes. Chill in pan at least 1 hour (and up to 6 hours); remove from pan just before serving.

Strawberry Shortcake

June 24, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

We’re kind of into strawberries around here. And I’ve been buying them like crazy this year, as usual, even though they’re not that great (all the rain around here made them kind of tasteless). Usually at my house we just eat them fresh with yogurt, or just, well, fresh. But since they don’t have a lot of flavor this year, I’ve been making desserts out of them (add lots of sugar and voila, they taste better!), like strawberry pie, and this amazing strawberry shortcake.

The strawberry shortcake I grew up on was basically a buttermilk biscuit recipe with a little more sugar in it. My husband grew up on angel food cake as the cake part. Both good, but this is so, so much better. The shortcake is so delicious that I’ve been just eating the leftovers plain-ahem-for breakfast. And the recipe is super easy since it’s done in the food processor. I was stressed because I didn’t start making it until after dinner, but it was no problem!

If you don’t have a food processor, you can still make this recipe! But first….you should really invest in a food processor. It’s one of my most-used kitchen tools! Mine is a Cuisinart from the early 90’s that I got from my mom. (She hates to cook, but when I was a kid thought for a minute that she might like it and took a bunch of cooking classes and stocked our kitchen with fancy tools. Lucky for me, I have most of that stuff now.) Anyway, it’s a fantastic machine and if you can find a used one at a garage sale or something, it will most likely work great! But anyway, I’m guessing you’re not going to run out and buy a food processor for this recipe, so in the meantime…I’ll give you instructions below.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

A while back we posted another recipe for Strawberry Shortcake. We might call it the shortcut shortcake because the “cake” is Joy of Cooking cream scones, which have only 4 main ingredients with heavy cream filling in for the butter and eggs. From looking at Margaux’s recipe, these will be much richer and probably more classically “shortcake” as we Americans would think of it for this dessert. I’m going to have to try this once we get strawberries up here in Minnesota. Our winter lasted into mid-May so we are waaaaaaaay behind! Hey, Margaux, how about we make these for breakfast at Wimbledon?

Strawberry Shortcake
adapted from Everyday Food

the shortcake

1/2 cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse flour, baking powder, sugar, and the salt until combined. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal but with some pea-size bits of butter remaining, 10 to 12 times. In a medium bowl, whisk together cream and the eggs; pour over flour mixture, and pulse until some large clumps begin to form, 25 to 30 times.

If using a pastry cutter instead of a food processor: cut the butter into the dry ingredients in a large bowl using a pastry cutter until the mixture is a coarse meal, with some small chunks of butter. Whisk together the cream and eggs, pour into the butter and flour, and using a wooden spoon (or your hands, which is easier), mix together the mixture until large clumps form. Do not overmix.

Using a half-cup measuring cup, gently pack dough, invert, and then tap out onto a baking sheet. Repeat to form 8 biscuits. Bake until lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes.

The strawberries:

Hull and quarter about 6 cups of strawberries. Mix them in a large bowl with about 1/2 cup of sugar. Let is sit for at least an hour, until they get nice and juicy.

The whipped cream:

Beat 1 1/2 cups whipping cream with 2 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla until soft peaks form.

Assembly:

When shortcake has completely cooled, you can carefully cut them in half lengthwise with a serrated bread knife. Add strawberries and whipped cream and serve!

Strawberry Coconut Cake

June 17, 2012

 

Margaux says…

I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud, but I made a boxed cake today.  This is the first boxed cake I have bought since I was in high school, I think!  Ok, let’s start from the beginning: I pinned this cake on Pinterest, not even looking at the recipe first, because it was so pretty.  Who isn’t attracted to a bright pink cake?  Plus, I love coconut.  Then I realized that it was with a white cake mix and a package of jello, and I thought, well, I’ll just do it from scratch instead someday.  Fast forward to today, Father’s Day, and me asking my husband what he wants for his Father’s Day “treat.”  He didn’t really have any idea, so I took him to my “baking” pinboard on Pinterest, and he picked this cake!  (Shows what I know…I thought for sure he would pick a pie, or the ice cream cake that I’ve been dying to make.)  Ok, it’s 85 degrees outside, and I’m 7 months pregnant…boxed cake mix it is!  Plus, I realized that the original recipe is from Joy the Baker‘s website, who I trust for cakes (I’ve made quite a few of hers), so I figured, how bad could it be if she likes it?

The cake mix is seriously doctored, and the frosting is KILLER, so you can’t really tell it’s from a mix.  Well, actually, I could, but everyone else that was scarfing it down said they couldn’t.  I felt a little betrayed, actually.  All the hard work I put into my cakes, and my family loves the doctored-up cake mix just as much.

Strawberry Coconut Cake

adapted from Joy the Baker

1 (18.5 ounce) box white cake mix (without pudding)

1 (3 ounce) package strawberry jello

1 Tablespoon self rising flour

4 teaspoons granulated sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1/2 cup water

1 tsp pure coconut extract

1/3 cup fresh strawberries, finely diced.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the cake, combine to cake mix, Jello, flour and sugar in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Add the oil.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition  Add the water, coconut extract and strawberries and mix well.  Divide the batter evenly into three 8-inch round baking pans that have been oiled and floured.  Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean and the layers pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer the layers from the oven to wire racks.  Let them cool, still in their pans, for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, run a knife around the inside edge of each pan, then unmold each layer onto the racks to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, softened

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

2 (1 pound) boxes powdered sugar

pinch of salt

1 tsp pure coconut extract

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

pink food coloring

4 sliced strawberries

To make the frosting, in a bowl combine the cream cheese and butter.  Beat until soft and pliable and no lumps remain.  Add one box of the powdered sugar, salt and coconut extract.  Beat until incorporated.  Add the second box of sugar and mix until incorporated.  If you would like a smoother consistency, and a slash of milk.  If you would like a thicker consistency, and a bit more powdered sugar until the desired consistency is achieved.

Put the coconut in a small bowl and sprinkle with two or three drops of pink die.  Mix with hands to distribute the color and wash hands immediately.  Once the cake is frosted, decorate the top of the cake with the shredded coconut and sliced strawberries.

Strawberry Cream Cake

July 8, 2011

Margaux says….

I made this for my Granny’s 86th birthday.  The strawberry season is much too short, and this year it seems even shorter (and even non-existent).  All the strawberries I’ve gotten so far have been pretty flavorless, and when my mom went to get some for this cake, she said that they’re already gone from the farmer’s market in Peoria (IL).
Luckily, Aunt Suzy (not knowing of my strawberry troubles) sent me a text on Tuesday asking if I wanted her to pick up a bucket of strawberries at a farmer’s market in Menomonie, WI that she stopped at on the way down for the party.  YES!  I was seriously considering buying supermarket strawberries because I was determined to make this cake!  I’ve made it a few times over the years, and I was NOT going to let a strawberry season go by without making it.  And the strawberries she got were the biggest, most beautiful and sweetest ones I’ve had this year.  So my strawberry season went out with a bang!

Aunt Suzy says . . . 🙂

This cake isn’t the easiest to make, but it’s also not the most difficult. I think more than anything, it’s just time consuming, because you have to hull and slice all the strawberries. Otherwise, the cake is a cinch to make, and the frosting is just as easy! And it’s really fun to build. Adding the cream layer is a little tricky. I found it was easiest to place dollops on and then gently spread them outward to the edges.
Voila! The cake is light and spongy, so the puree soaks in nicely. And the cream cheese/whipped cream topping is so velvety-smooth! It really is a crowning culinary achievement, and your friends will ooh and ahh when you bring it out!

Best Strawberry Cream Cake

from Cook’s Illustrated 2006

If using a cake pan, you will need one with straight sides that are at least 2 inches high; otherwise, use a springform pan. The cake portion can be made ahead of time, wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap, and frozen; thaw the frozen cake, unwrapped, at room temperature for about two hours before proceeding with the recipe.

Cake
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs (2 whole and 3 separated), room temperature
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tbsp water
2 tsp vanilla extract

Strawberry Filling
2 lbs. medium or large strawberries (about 2 qts), washed, dried and stemmed
4-6 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp kirsch
pinch table salt

Whipped Cream
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp table salt
2 cups heavy cream

1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour round 9 x 2-inch cake pan or 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and all but 3 tbsp sugar in mixing bowl. Whisk in 2 whole eggs and 3 yolks (reserving whites), butter, water and vanilla; whisk until smooth.
2. In clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat remaining 3 egg whites at medium-low speed until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. With machine running, gradually add remaining 3 tbsp sugar, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form, 60-90 seconds. Stir one-third of whites into batter to lighten; add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard parchment. Invert cake again; cool completely, about 2 hours.
3. For the strawberry filling: Halve 24 of best-looking berries and reserve. Quarter remaining berries; toss with 4 to 6 tbsp sugar (depending on sweetness of berries) in medium bowl and let sit 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Strain juices from berries and reserve (you should have about 1/2 cup). In workbowl of food processor fitted with metal blade, give macerated berries five 1-second pulses (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). In small saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer reserved juices and Kirsch until syrupy and reduced to about 3 tbsps, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour reduced syrup over macerated berries, add pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Set aside until cake is cooled.
4. For the whipped cream: When cake has cooled, place cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Reduce speed to low and add heavy cream in slow, steady stream; when almost fully combined, increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture holds stiff peaks, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more, scraping bowl as needed (you should have about 4 1/2 cups).
5. To assemble the cake: Using large serrated knife slice cake into three even layers. Place bottom layer on cardboard round or cake plate and arrange ring of 20 strawberry halves, cut sides down and stem ends facing out, around perimeter of cake layer. Pour one half of pureed berry mixture (about 3/4 cup) in center, then spread to cover any exposed cake. Gently spread about one-third of whipped cream (about 1 1/2 cups) over berry layer, leaving 1/2-inch border from edge. Place middle cake layer on top and press down gently (whipped cream layer should become flush with cake edge). Repeat with 20 additional strawberry halves, remaining berry mixture, and half of remaining whipped cream; gently press last cake layer on top. Spread remaining whipped cream over top; decorate with remaining cut strawberries. Serve, or chill for up to 4 hours.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I am declaring this the summer of homemade sodas!  It started with our post for homemade Spicy Ginger sodas.  Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for sodas to make that can be good with or without alcohol.  The rhubarb soda idea was posted by the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market recently when rhubarb was their featured “item of the week”.  And just this week I bought a bunch of strawberries with another use in mind, but they were not very sweet due to the cool and rainy conditions of late.  So I decided to search for a recipe for strawberry soda to use them up.  They are both delicious, but  the rhubarb is my (current) favorite – it has a delicate and unusual flavor and a stunning color!

Rhubarb Sodas

Rhubarb Simple Syrup

1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

2 teaspoons vodka

Place all ingredients, except vodka, in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Turn down the heat and simmer about 15 minutes.

Strain out the fruit using a fine mesh strainer.  Pour into a jar and add the vodka once the syrup cools.  (I read yesterday that adding a little vodka will stretch the refrigerator shelf life of the simple syrup to 3 months.) These quantities make 2 cups of syrup.

Rhubarb Soda

So pretty!  I used 3 tablespoons of the rhubarb syrup with 12 ounces of sparkling water.  You can play around with proportions to get to your desired sweetness.  I tried it with and without a squeeze of lime – delicious both ways.  For a cocktail, I will add vodka and serve on the rocks with a twist of lemon or lime.

Strawberry Sodas

Strawberry Simple Syrup

4 cups strawberries, washed and halved

1 heaping cup sugar (adjust downward if strawberries are sweet)

2 cups water

1 tablespoon vodka

Place all ingredients, except vodka, in a saucepan.  Use a muddler or potato masher to press the berries to release some of their juice.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Turn down the heat and simmer about 10 minutes.  Strain out the fruit using a fine mesh strainer.  Pour into a jar and add the vodka once the syrup cools.  (I read yesterday that adding a little vodka will stretch the refrigerator shelf life of the simple syrup to 3 months.)  These quantities make 3 1/2 cups of syrup.

Strawberry Soda


Also pretty!  I used 3 tablespoons of the strawberry syrup and juice of half a lemon with 12 ounces of sparkling water.  I also tried this without the lemon – also good, but I preferred it with the lemon.  You can play around with proportions to get to your desired sweetness.  For a cocktail, I will add vodka to the strawberry-lemon concoction and serve on the rocks.  I think the strawberry would also lend itself to herbs like mint and basil.  Many possibilities!

Strawberry Season!

June 21, 2010

Aunt Suzy says

Strawberries have been available for a couple of weeks up here in Minnesota and I can’t get enough of them!  There are so many things one can do with them from the simple – on top of a morning bowl of cereal – to more difficult – like fancy jams and preserves.  One of my favorite new things that I discovered last year is this drink which is made for summer.  I’ve served these twice recently and think that more are in my future.  They are a great reason to invite people over to hang out on the deck or the front porch now that it is officially summer!

STRAWBERRY-PROSECCO MUDDLE

Make a simple syrup by placing 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan.  On medium heat, stir till the sugar dissolves.  Turn up heat and bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes.  Cool the syrup.  This will make enough syrup for about 12 drinks.

In double rocks glasses, place about 1/3 cup strawberries that have been hulled and cut in half.   Add 1 tablespoon of the cooled simple syrup and then “muddle” by mashing a little.  Add 1 slice of lemon and press to release the juice.  While the recipe did not call for this, I think it’s good to let this sit for 30-60 minutes  – if you can wait that long, that is.

Add 2-4 ice cubes to each glass and fill with Prosecco – no need to buy the very best quality for this drink.  (Now that I look at the photo, I see that we did not remember the ice cubes!  Delicious either way based on my up-close-and-personal experience. :-))

Aunt Suzy says

Wouldn’t you know it?!  After stating my purist approach to rhubarb desserts  in a previous post – no strawberries please –  this recipe caught my eye.  I made it for my book club gathering last Friday and the entire time I was making it, I had my doubts.  The biggest doubt, besides the adulteration of the rhubarb with strawberries, was about the vanilla.  I had never seen a rhubarb recipe using vanilla.  Cinnamon?  Yes!  Orange zest and juice?  Yes!  But never vanilla.  However . . . I am glad that I persevered because this dessert is really tasty.   So whether you are a rhubarb purist or you already like strawberry-rhubarb desserts, I recommend you give this a whirl.  Strawberries are at peak right now, at least in the Midwest, and rhubarb is plentiful.

A note about the name and ingredients:  The original recipe in Bon Appetit said that “crumble” is the British word for desserts we call “crisp”.  It also called for hazelnuts, which I don’t particularly like, so I substituted walnuts.  I might try it in the future with the hazelnuts, but since I was making it for the first time for company, I felt walnuts were a safer bet.  If you don’t have whole vanilla beans handy, you could add vanilla extract.  I  believe for this recipe to truly be smashing, it needs local, in-season strawberries.

Lastly, I am so happy to have my Hanson Brothers 25lb antique scale when something calls for ingredients in ounces!  I’m not sure of the exact date of manufacture, but it was made in Chicago, IL sometime after 1898 when the company was founded and probably before 1940.  Even though it’s old, it lives up to their promise of “honest spring scales”!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes OR frozen and grated on the large holes in a box grater
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts OR husked and toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise OR 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved (about 4 cups)
  • 12 ounces rhubarb (preferably bright red), ends trimmed, stalks cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces (about 3 cups)
  • Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preparation

Combine flour, 2/3 cup sugar, and salt in medium bowl; whisk to blend. Add butter. I used a technique for adding butter that Randy taught me.  Freeze the butter and grate, then add to the dry ingredients.    

 

Rub in with fingertips until mixture sticks together in clumps. Mix in oats and nuts.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Place 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl and scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; whisk to blend well. Add sugar to strawberries and rhubarb in a large bowl; toss to coat well. If using vanilla extract, add to fruit and sugar mixture after the sugar has been added.  Stir well to distribute.

Scrape fruit filling into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle oat topping evenly over filling.  Bake crumble until the filling bubbles and topping is crisp, about 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Spoon warm into bowls and serve with ice cream.  (oops!  Didn’t get a pic of the finished product with ice cream.  That’s what happens when having company!)

Sour Cherry Pie

July 20, 2014

Tart Cherry Pie ~ Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

My family farm has a couple of cherry trees, and this year we just happened to be in town (its 2.5 hours south of Chicago) when they were ready to pick!  We picked as many as we could in 20 minutes, and got just enough for a pie and some hand pies I made a week later.  Last year we got lucky with cherries, too, and I made this slab pie, which is also fantastic.  It’s always hard to decide what kind of dessert to make when you only get cherries once a year.  Next year, I vow to spend more than 20 minutes picking cherries (someone will have to entertain the children!), so that we have enough to freeze for later.  Then I can make a pie, a slab pie, this sour cherry crumble pie that Aunt Suzy posted about years ago, and this cake that looks really good.

Cherry Picking Cherry Picking Cherry Picking

I found this recipe while reading a Smitten Kitchen blog about a strawberry rhubarb pie recipe that I used recently.  The idea is that you bake the crust before baking the pie, so that the bottom crust isn’t soggy.  I like that idea.  It’s what I do with my single crust baked pies, like peach and custard pies, so why wouldn’t I do it with cherry?  The results were just as I wanted…no soggy bottom crust.  Instead it was nice and crisp, buttery and delicious.  Instead of a traditional lattice top, I used a round cookie cutter to make a decorated top.  I could have layered them and added more, because I didn’t think about the fact that they would shrink during baking.  So I recommend putting more on than you think are needed.

 

Tart Cherry Pie ~ Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Twice-Baked Sour Cherry Pie

adapted from Melissa Clark’s recipe in The New York Times

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, more for rolling out dough

3/8 teaspoon kosher salt

15 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

1 cup sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons instant tapioca

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 pounds sour cherries (about 6 cups), rinsed and pitted

1 tablespoon kirsch or brandy

3 tablespoons heavy cream, or 1 egg yolk lightly whisked with 1 tbsp water

Demerara sugar, for sprinkling.

1. To make dough: in bowl of a food processor pulse together flour and salt just to combine. Add butter and pulse until chickpea-size pieces form. Add 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until mixture just comes together. Separate dough into 2 disks, one using 2/3 dough, the other using the remaining. Wrap disks in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days) before rolling out and baking.

2. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place larger dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12-inch circle, about 3/8-inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Line dough with foil and weigh it down with pie weights. Bake until crust is light golden brown, about 30 minutes.

3. While pie crust is baking, prepare filling. In bowl of a food processor, combine sugar, tapioca and cinnamon (use more tapioca if you prefer a thicker, more solid filling, and less if you like a looser, juicier filling). Run the motor until tapioca is finely ground. Place cherries in a bowl and add sugar and tapioca mixture. Drizzle in kirsch or brandy and toss gently to combine.

4. When pie crust is ready, transfer it to a wire rack to cool slightly and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Remove foil and weights. Scrape cherry filling into pie crust.

5. Place smaller disk of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it 3/8-inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter (or several round cookie cutters of different sizes) to cut out circles of dough. Arrange circles on top of cherry filling in a pattern of your choice.

6. Brush top crust with cream or egg wash and sprinkle generously with Demerara sugar (as you can see in photos, I forgot my sugar. Oops.)  Bake until crust is dark golden brown and filling begins to bubble, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool for at least 2 hours, allowing filling to set before serving.

 

Cobb Salad

June 17, 2012

Margaux says…

In the summer we eat a giant salad for dinner almost every night.  It’s just too hot to cook, and honestly, too hot to eat anything but salad (in my opinion!).  This salad shows up on our table at least once a month every summer.  It started out being a favorite in our house because it was great for our new little eater, who couldn’t chew lettuce yet.  There’s an abundance of toppings that we could pick off for him, and so it was a complete meal for him as well as us.  Two years later, and it’s still a summer favorite!

I made it for our Father’s Day dinner tonight, served with a crusty bread for soaking up extra dressing, and a summery cake for dessert.  When I called my dad , we discussed our dinner plans (Dad and I are the cooks of the family), and he thought the salad sounded great and asked that I post it.  I’m actually shocked that I haven’t yet, as much as I make it, so I guess it’s about time!  So here you go, Dad…  xoxoxo!

Classic Cobb Salad
from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4 to 6

Dressing (you only really need about half of this…I save it and use it on other salads for a few days after)
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Salad
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cored and shredded
1/2 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 bunch watercress, some of the stems trimmed, chopped
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (we used a Stilton)
6 strips cooked bacon, roughly chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium tomatoes, chopped, or 1 pt. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chives, minced

Make the dressing: Combine the canola oil, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire, sugar, and garlic in a blender. Purée the ingredients to make a smooth dressing and season with salt and pepper. Set the dressing aside.

Make the salad: On a (very) large platter, combine the iceberg and romaine lettuces along with the watercress. Arrange the blue cheese, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, chicken, and avocado on top of the greens in neat rows. To serve, drizzle salad with dressing, season with salt and pepper, and top with chives. Alternatively, toss everything together in a bowl.

Do ahead: Salad dressing keeps, covered and refrigerated, for up to one week. Individual ingredients (except the avocado, which is too prone to browning) can be prepped and chopped, and kept in separate containers in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the salad. However, no doubt due to sturdiness of 2/3 of the lettuces, I found that the entire assembled salad kept surprisingly well wrapped in plastic in the fridge for a few hours.