Buckles & Crisps & Crumbles…Oh My! Blueberry Buckle

June 29, 2011

Now lets see…there are Cobblers, Crisps, Crumbles, Buckles, Grunts, Slumps, Brown Bettys and Pandowdies. “Oh my”,  indeed! What do all of the aforementioned things have in common? They are all rustic, regional fruit desserts, made with whatever fresh fruit ingredient is available at the time. There are a few differences however. Please indulge me as I describe each dish as best I can, though I’m sure regional differences abound. What some folks might call a crisp, I’m sure others would know as a crumble. Yet, here we go…

Cobbler: An American deep dish fruit dessert with a pie or biscuit crust. The dish can be either entirely enclosed in pastry on dotted with drops of biscuit, giving it an appearance similar to a cobbled street.

Crisps & Crumbles: A dessert which has fruit on the bottom with a crumbled topping consisting of flour, butter, brown sugar, oatmeal and/or nuts. This dish is baked. What Americans call a crisp is often referred to as a crumble in Britain.

Betty or Brown Betty: This fruit dish, most commonly made with apples, is similar to a crisp. However, instead of placing all of the fruit on the bottom and covering it with a topping, this dessert has layers of the fruit alternating with layers of buttery bread crumbs.

Grunt or Slump: These fruit desserts are very similar. They are both dumpling like puddings. A Slump is cooked on the stove top whereas a Grunt is steam cooked.

Pandowdy: This dessert is like a cobbler, but it’s crust has been broken up and pushed down into the fruit so that it can soak up the fruit juices. The result is that it becomes more like a bread pudding.

Buckle: A buckle is very similar to a coffee cake. It is a cake with berries folded into the batter that has a streusel topping. This topping gives it a buckled appearance.

What we’re dealing with here in this post, as you can clearly see now that all the definitions are out-of-the-way, is a delicious Blueberry Buckle recipe. Blueberries are in season now. Everyone is looking around to see what fabulous tasty treats they can make with all those bushels of blueberries they’ve just picked. I’m telling you…you’ve got to make this buckle! It is literally bursting with blueberries.

The cake merely serves as a thin matrix to hold all those berries together. It is really easy to prepare and every single person you feed it to will go crazy for it. I know all of my various descriptions above indicated that these fruit dishes were desserts. I can definitely see that. However, the Blueberry Buckle, being similar to a coffee cake is great for breakfast, or tea, or a midnight snack even.

Sure if you pop some whipped cream on the top or a scoop of ice cream down next to it, it’s also a most welcome dessert. I’m just saying its very versatile.  Don’t miss out on this one!

Blueberry Buckle

Recipe from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures who found it in Cook’s Illustrated

Makes one 9″ Buckle

Ingredients:

Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, softened

Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup (4 3/4 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries (about 20 oz)

Directions:

To make the streusel: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the flour, both sugars, cinnamon and salt on low to combine and break up any brown sugar lumps.  With the mixer still on low, add the butter and beat until it is completely incorporated into the dry ingredients, about 2-3 minutes – the mixture will resemble wet sand.  Transfer the streusel to another bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F with a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch round pan with a round of parchment, then spray the parchment and the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Dust with flour.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder together then set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, salt and lemon zest at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Beat in the vanilla.  Add the eggs, on at a time, beating well after each addition.  With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture, beating until just about incorporated.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to finish stirring – the batter will be very thick.  Gently fold in the blueberries.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan; spread in an even layer.  To top with the streusel – pick up a handful of streusel and squeeze to form a clump.  Break this large clump into smaller pieces and sprinkle over the batter.  Continue until you’ve used all of the streusel.  Bake for about 55 minutes, or until the streusel is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer pan to a wire rack and cool for 15-20 minutes.  Run a thin knife around the edges of the cake then invert it onto the rack.  Remove the parchment then turn the cake streusel side up and let cool on the wire rack.

Enjoy!


Purple Haze All in My Brain! – Purple Haze Stuffed Strawberries

June 24, 2011

A few weeks ago, Jay, John and I headed out to Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Virginia to see the live version of the radio show A Prairie Home Companion. We’ve been making this pilgrimage to hear Garrison Keillor’s words of wisdom and reports from his home town, Lake Wobegon for many years now. Wolf Trap is a fabulous indoor/outdoor amphitheatre which seats approximately 4,000 people under cover and another 3,000 folks on picnic blankets on their sloping lawn out under the hopefully starry skies.

We always opt for the uncovered lawn seats, willing to take our chances with good old Mother Nature in exchange for the ability to feast on a fabulous picnic meal and enjoy whatever refreshing beverages (and you are definitely right – these are usually adult type beverages) we choose to bring along. Drinking…in a National Park?!  Unheard of, I assure you! But it happens at Wolf Trap. We always have a great time.

Lea & Jay - Eating yummy snacks

John chillin out

Garrison Keillor has recently announced his retirement which will be taking place tentatively in the Spring of 2013. Oh no! Only one more Prairie Home Companion show after this! At least with our beloved Garrison. He is looking for his replacement now. We are happy for him but very saddened to think our annual ritual will be forever altered. I wanted to make some awesome goodies for this year’s Companion. As I’ve mentioned, Jay loves goat cheese and John shares this sentiment. Since the strawberries have been quite tasty this year, I decided to do fresh strawberries, stuffed with Goat Cheese and drizzled with a Balsamic Vinegar Glaze. And not just any goat cheese, but a favourite of ours, Purple Haze goat cheese from the folks at Cypress Grove Chevre.

This particular goat cheese has lavender and fennel pollen mixed in. It has a wonderful fresh taste, a little sweetness from the lavender and fennel followed with the natural tang of goat cheese. The Balsamic Glaze gives it a wonderful savory, sweet finish. They were just perfect for a summer picnic, but would look appropriately fancy at your next dinner soiree. After just one berry you might find yourself haunted by the following words:

Purple Haze, All in my brain,

Lately things just don’t seem the same..

Purple Haze Stuffed Strawberries

Ingredients:

1 pint fresh Strawberries, washed and hulled

4 oz. Purple Haze Goat Cheese

2 Tablespoons Cream, or milk if you prefer

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic Vinegar glaze *

Directions:

Wash and hull strawberries.

In a small bowl, combine Purple Haze goat cheese, lemon zest and enough cream to make the mixture piping consistency.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place goat cheese mixture in piping bag and fill hollowed out portion of each strawberry. If you don’t have a piping bag, I’m sure you could fill the berries with a spoon.

Drizzle balsamic vinegar glaze over the stuffed strawberries and serve.

Bon Appetite!

*I used a store-bought Balsamic Glaze for these strawberries and waited to drizzle it over them right before they were served. If you don’t have a pre-made Glaze, just take about 1/2 Cup of balsamic vinegar and boil it down until it reduces to a glaze consistency.


Oatmeal Pancakes

June 18, 2011

I may have mentioned before that I love oatmeal. I really do. I prefer the steel-cut oats, you know, the “real deal” oatmeal. But I must admit, anything oatmeal will get my attention. So I was very eager to try out these Oatmeal Pancakes that I spotted in the Features section of TasteSpotting. Not only did they have wonderful steel-cut oats in them, but they also have oat flour which I was able to make by myself by simply pulsing rolled oats in my food processor. This gave the pancakes a great texture. Mind you they weren’t those lighter than air pancakes which could conceivably (in my mind anyway…) float right off of your plate if they weren’t weighted down by copious amounts of butter and syrup. These cakes had some body. I think that’s a good thing. (Not that I don’t occasionally like the copious butter and syrup types as well…)

We topped these pancakes with fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries and a wee bit of maple syrup. We really didn’t need much on the syrup front because the fruit has been so incredibly tasty this year.

They were delicious! There you have it. A fantastic breakfast that you can argue is actually good for you…it has the oatmeal and the fruit, right?

Oatmeal Pancakes

recipe from TasteSpotting (the blog)

makes about ten 4-5 inch pancakes

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup oat flour (make it yourself by pulsing rolled oats in your food processor)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1¼ cups whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal (we used steel-cut oats, but rolled oats are fine)
  • fresh fruit of your choice

Directions:

Whisk oat flour, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the butter, milk, and eggs together until thoroughly combined. Stir in cooked oatmeal.

Fold butter/milk/eggs mixture into flour mixture with only a few strokes of a large spoon or spatula.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat until hot (throw a couple of drops of water onto the pan – if they sizzle away, the pan is hot). Melt about ½ tablespoon of butter in the hot pan, swirl to coat, then ladle 2-3 ¼-cup mounds of batter onto the pan.

Cook the pancakes on one side until air bubbles form and edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Turn the pancakes over. Cook the other side of the pancakes about 1-2 minutes, remove from pan.

Wipe pan with a damp paper towel (to pick up the browned pancake bits), and repeat cooking pancakes.

Serve warm, topped with fresh fruit and a tiny drizzle of pure maple syrup.


Jack Daniel’s Chocolate Cake – There really is whiskey in the jar!

June 13, 2011

Whack for my daddy-o

Whack for my daddy-o

There’s whiskey in the jar!

Ever since I saw the recipe for the Jack Daniel’s Chocolate Cake baked in little pint-sized jars, I just couldn’t get this Irish folk song out of my head. Now that I’ve probably managed to get it whirling around in your own noggin, let me tell you, the only thing that will stop it from being in heavy rotation in your brain is actually making these cakes.

Well….that might be a bit of a lie. These pint-sized flourless chocolate whiskey cakes are so utterly decadent and delicious, at the first taste you’ll stop thinking about the song and likely start singing the tune out loud and at the top of your lungs. Maybe it’s the Jack Daniel’s causing all this mayhem. Hmmm…Perhaps it is a contributing factor. I mean you have to sample your sour mash whiskey before adding it to any recipes…just to make sure it hasn’t gone off. Still, these cakes are nothing short of phenomenal. Being flourless, (gluten-free for anyone interested), they have a very fudgy, chewy texture as well as a thin crisp layer just at the top. The chocolate and the Jack Daniel’s are a wonderful match, nearly melting in your mouth. I frosted my cakes with a Jack Daniel’s Buttercream icing and then sprinkled mini chocolate chip morsels on top. YUM!

Strangely, we often think a “pint-sized” thing is small, but this is quite a hefty serving of this incredibly rich cake. You may want to consider making  8 smaller versions in 1/2 pint-sized jars. I think this serving size would be plenty, but then who am I to decide what too much of a good thing is? Yeah…when you need a bit of an indulgence, make these treats. In the big, honking pint sized jar. Good ol Jack will not disappoint!

Jack Daniel’s Chocolate Cake

recipe posted on The Family Kitchen from Angie McGowan at Eclectic Recipes

makes four pint jars of chocolatey, whiskey cake goodness!

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons butter ( 1 stick)
  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Jack Daniel’s whiskey
  • nonstick spray

Frosting:

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Jack Daniel’s whiskey

Directions:

1. In a double boiler, or in the microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir well. Let cool.

2. Add butter and chocolate to a large mixing bowl with sugars. Mix until well combined. Add whiskey and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Mix well. Add salt, baking soda and baking powder. Mix very well. .

3. Pour into 4 pint jars that have been sprayed well with non-stick spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes, or until cakes pass the toothpick test. (And they have risen and fell – and don’t freak out. These cakes rise way up out of the jars when baking. Just when you think there will be a baking catastrophe, they retreat back into the jar.)

For frosting:

1. Cream softened butter in stand mixer with wire attachment.

2. Add sugar. Mix on low until combined. Turn mixer to high. Add a little of the milk or whiskey at a time, until icing is light and fluffy.

3.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes 4 large servings

Note: All the whiskey does NOT cook out of the cake, so it is NOT kiddie-friendly.


Banana Brownie Bites

June 8, 2011

So I’m sure you’re your used to my flimsy excuses about bananas going bad by now. But that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I had two bananas which were a bit too ripe. Today I decided to turn them into delicious little brownie bites. I’m sure something this cute and tiny doesn’t actually have any calories in it to speak of, right? Well, I assure you, I’m certainly not going to be the one talking about it. These brownies are delicious! The banana flavour definitely comes through. And what a great combination, banana and chocolate. And, you not only get the chocolate chocolate, but you get some chunks of white chocolate as well! Yum!!! Keep them in mind when you find some bananas turning on you!

Banana Brownie Bites

recipe from Lemon Drop

makes 66 bites (I cut the recipe in half, so I sadly only got 33 of the little morsels)

Ingredients:

1 pound of dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup of unsalted butter
4 eggs
4 ripe bananas (med size preferred)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 ounces chopped white baking chocolate

Directions:

Preheat oven 325°F
Butter and flour 8″ X 8″ square baking pan
In a medium saucepan, melt butter and dark chocolate. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, mash together eggs, bananas and vanilla extract
With a wooden spoon, stir in flour, cocoa powder, baking powder
Fold in melted chocolate/butter
Fold in chopped white chocolate
Pour into prepared pan
Bake for 1 hr 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean & brownies are firm to the touch.

* I made half of the above recipe (I only had 2 bananas on hand) and baked the brownies in a mini muffin pan. I reduced the baking time to 15 minutes.


“Bon Voyage Fitz!” – We Toasted with Sapphire Con Diablo cocktails!

June 6, 2011

The other evening we had our friend, Fitz, one of our oldest and dearest friends, over for a “Bon Voyage” dinner. He is soon to leave for an approximate 3 month adventure. We are very sad to see him go and know we will definitely miss him, but are very excited for him as well as about his journey. (More on this later…continue past recipe for full story)

Fitz, our Best Man at our wedding.

To get the evening started off right, we began by sampling a new cocktail I’d been dying to try out – the Sapphire Con Diablo. Bombay Sapphire is the only gin my husband will drink, especially if it’s in a Sapphire Gimlet (Bombay Sapphire Gin, lime juice and tonic water). Indeed that particular cocktail is essentially our “house cocktail” and lots of folks have kind of grown to expect one when they come by for a visit. When I saw the recipe for the award-winning Sapphire Con Diablo at the Brave Tart blog (fantastic blog if you haven’t been there yet), I jumped at the chance to try it out! It was really pretty easy to make. You do need to prepare a Spicy Simple Syrup for one of the ingredients, but that came together quite easily. And let me tell you, my “Diablo syrup” had quite a lot of devil in it….whew! SPICY!!! There is also a raw egg involved in this drink which may make some folks nervous about salmonella. However, as was mentioned on Brave Tart’s blog, one should always expect to incur some risk when dealing with the devil. So if you think you’re up to it, give this killer cocktail a shake! “Vaya con Dios” – especially since you’re going to be drinking con Diablo!

Jay & Fitz after merely one sip of the Sapphire con Diablo!

Sapphire Con Diablo

recipe by Paul Borntraeger via Brave Tart

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces Bombay Sapphire Gin
  • 1 1/2 ounces Jalapeno simple syrup, strained (recipe below)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 slice lemon peel
  • 1/4 tsp. corriander
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

Remove the spring from a Hawthorne strainer and have it at the ready. This will be your “whisk” when making the drink.

Fill a shaker 2/3 with ice. Crack the egg into the shaker, then pour in the gin and infused syrup. Add in the spring, and then shake all the ingredients until frothy. Strain into a martini glass.

Dust the lemon peel in the coriander and nutmeg. Then run it around the rim of the martini glass before floating it in the center of the drink.

Paul’s Sweet and Spicy Simple Syrup

  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped finely, seeds included
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients together in a small pot. Turn the heat to medium and stir occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Bottle without filtering and store, refrigerate until chilled. Makes enough syrup to create 8 Sapphire Con Diablo cocktails.

But back to Fitz’s story…Fitz had been working as a web developer for many years. He had a well-paying, secure job. However, he yearned to do something else. He understood that the path of least resistance would be to continue on with his daily existence, merely hoping things would improve. However, he knew he didn’t want to wake up 10 or more years down the road, wishing he had undertaken the effort to turn things around. So, he decided to make a BIG change. He moved against life’s inertia, quit his job, has packed up a few meager belongings and will be hitting the road in his Honda Element to hopefully gain a little perspective and insight into what his next career move will be.

While soul-searching, he will be travelling, first exploring the Southern States and then possibly even moving on to Mexico, Central America and then perhaps even onto Southeast Asia! Along the way he will be continuing to record music while on the road. (Fitz is the singer and bassist with the Mesmers, the band with which my husband plays guitar) These new “road songs” of Fitz’s will be available on Bandcamp. This service is particularly cool because you can pay what you think a song is worth (including nothing if you want to download it for free). You can also find his compositions on iTunes, CDBaby and Amazon.

This life decision certainly did not come easily for him. There are many logistical, social and financial hurdles to be overcome. Fitz is not independently wealthy, so will need to adhere to a strict budget lest his trip be shortened dramatically. Therefore, hotels are right out, and camping in his Element is in. He will also be doing some CouchSurfing.This is not the couch surfing you might have taken advantage of in college where you just call up your friends and ask to sleep on their sofa for a few days. This is a world-wide network which connects travellers in need of accommodation with locals who have a bit of extra room in their homes and are willing to offer strangers hospitality in over 230 countries and territories around the world. Pretty cool huh? Take a look at the CouchSurfing site and be amazed!

No doubt, Fitz’s adventures will be fascinating! He has chosen to take that road less travelled by, and lucky for us, he will be documenting his journey on his site CitizenFitz. Make sure you don’t miss his weekly updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also catch him on Facebook and Twitter. And please don’t forget to support him financially, if you are so moved, by purchasing the new music he will be making along the way. Exciting huh? The adventure starts Friday June 10th. Don’t miss out on the fun!


Scrambled Egg with Goat Cheese & Pancetta Spread on Toast

June 4, 2011

I figure by now you may have made the Goat Cheese, Pancetta & Chive Stuffed Mushrooms  from my previous post – if you haven’t…get crackin! Here is one of the lovely creations I made with the left-over goat cheese stuffing. For those of you who haven’t seen that particular recipe, I urge you to take a look. It is really delicious. But for right now, the goat cheese stuffing I am referring to is goat cheese, cream cheese, pancetta, shallots, garlic and chives all whipped together. How could you go wrong! I toasted an english muffin, though I must admit, I think a nice thick toasted crusty slice of french bread would have been better. Alas, there was no such bread in the kitchen and by the time I went out and found it, breakfast would have been long over! I smeared a healthy dollop of that delicious goat cheese, pancetta filling over it and then topped it with freshly scrambled eggs. Boy was my husband surprized!  Give this one a whirl!

Scrambled Egg, Goat Cheese & Pancetta Spread on Toast

Ingredients:

  • Slice of Bread-anything you have in the house – bagel, french bread, english muffin, etc – toasted
  • 2 eggs-scrambled
  • Goat Cheese, Pancetta and Chives spread (left over from my previous recipe – Goat Cheese, Pancetta & Chives Stuffed Mushrooms)

Directions:

Toast your bread of choice.

Spread left-over Goat Cheese Stuffing over one side. For those of you who are not interested in mushrooms, I will include the goat cheese stuffing part of that recipe below. However, it will make quite a lot of this stuffing, you may want to half the ingredients.

Scramble the eggs.

Place eggs over top of Goat Cheese Stuffing topped toast.

Enjoy!

Goat Cheese, Pancetta & Chive Spread

recipe an excerpt originally from Spoon with Me

  • 1 package (8 0z) cream cheese (leave out of the fridge for 30 minutes to soften)
  • 1 log (6 oz) goat cheese (leave out of the fridge for 30 minutes to soften)
  • 3 oz thinly sliced pancetta – chopped
  • 1/3 cup minced shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small bunch fresh chives, minced (about 1/4 cup)

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese and goat cheese until combined. Set aside.

Heat a medium frying pan over medium-high heat.  Cook the pancetta until golden (about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side) until golden (the pancetta will crisp up as it cools).  Remove to paper towels.  When cool, crumble the pancetta and set aside.

In the same pan, saute the shallots in the pancetta drippings until softened (about 3 minutes).  Add garlic and cook for another minute.

In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese and goat cheese until combined.  Add the crumbled pancetta, shallots and garlic, chives, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.



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