Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mixed Berry Buckle

This time of year, on my weekly produce runs to Sprouts, the berries seem to jump into my shopping basket.  (And at 3 pints for $5 this week, I am betting they will again very soon.)  Yes, they are wonderful in smoothies, stirred into yogurt, dropped over ice cream or pound cake.  But there still seems to be plenty leftover. Here's a delicious way to use up a bounty of berries.  As you can see from the photo, it got the office's seal of approval.

Mixed Berry Buckle
Makes 9-inch square cake.

Streusel Topping
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed

Pulse pecans in food processor until roughly chopped. Add the brown sugar, flour, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Pulse several times to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until everything is incorporated and the mixture looks damp and clumpy. Set aside..

Cake Batter

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, cold
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 pints of berries (for the one in the photo, I used a mix of mostly blueberries and blackberries with a few raspberries thrown in for good measure.)

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Butter and flour a 2-inch deep, 9-inch square baking pan.

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

Put melted butter in separate mixing bowl. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla to the bowl, then whisk until combined. Gradually beat in the buttermilk.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir just until the batter is smooth.

Gently fold in the berries.  (Be's all right if a few berries break, but it's nice to have the contrast of the golden cake and the dark berries.)

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle with the streusel topping.

Bake for 45-50  minutes. When done, the top will be golden and a toothpick inserted in the center will emerge clean of batter, although it might have a bit of berry on it.)

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before serving and serve warm or at room temperature.

It's pretty great at any time of the day...breakfast, snack or dessert.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tomato Pie

If you're like me (OK...if you're SMART like me), you're dropping 15-20 bucks at Farmer Lemley's tomato stand at the Dallas Farmer's Market once a week.

And, if you, like me, can't use or share all those beauties soon enough, you look for recipes with tomatoes (lots of them) in the ingredient list.  I have a couple of gazpacho-type cold tomato soup recipes I'll post soon, but here is a hearty tomato recipe that is easily a main course.  If the meat eaters in your house revolt, you could always serve a grilled chicken breast alongside.

Tomato Pie
Makes 6-8 servings.

1 refrigerated pie crust
2 3/4 pounds assorted large tomatoes, divided (It's great if you have a couple different colors i.e. golden and red)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar (or Colby-Jack) cheese
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons fresh dill sprigs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon apple cider (or white or white wine...whatever you have) vinegar
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons plain yellow cornmeal
(If you'd like, you can add 3-4 tablespoons of crumbled cooked bacon to the filling before baking.)

Press pie crust into 9-inch pie plate and set aside.

Cut 2 pounds (2-4 biggies) tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place tomatoes in a single layer on paper towels; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425°. Stir together Cheddar cheese, next 10 ingredients, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl until combined.

Pat tomato slices dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle cornmeal over bottom of crust. Lightly spread 1/2 cup cheese mixture onto crust; layer with half of tomato slices in slightly overlapping rows. Spread with 1/2 cup cheese mixture. Repeat layers, using remaining tomato slices and cheese mixture. Cut remaining 3/4 pound (1 big one) tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and arrange on top of pie.
Bake at 425° for 40 to 45 minutes, shielding edges with foil or a pie shield during the last 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tomato Mozzarella Bliss

This isn't a recipe as much as it is a preparation.  Although with summer tomatoes plentiful at Farmer Lemley's stand at the farmers market, it's really a mandate.

Thickly slice a couple of tomatoes...if they are heirlooms or you have a variety of colors, all the better.

Slice the best-quality mozzarella you can get your hands on.  Although I will confess, when tomatoes are wonderful, I can even settle for the stuff you can easily find at the supermarket.  You'll want one slice of mozzarella for each slice of tomato.  And a serving will be 2-3 slices of each.

Overlap the slices on your plate.  Drizzle with high-quality olive oil and scatter some shredded fresh basil on top.  Season with flake salt and freshly cracked black pepper. If you are so inclined you can add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar...I skip it. I feel like it overwhelms the tomatoes, the stars of this delicious show.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Dilled Tartar Sauce

You don't buy bottled tartar sauce, do you?  All you need to do to make it yourself is mix a little pickle relish (or even better chowchow) into some mayonnaise.  Or a little chopped dill pickle.  Diced onion is a nice add-in.  This recipe kicks it up a notch further with some fresh dill.  Use it on the crispy halibut recipe I posted yesterday. 

Dilled Tartar Sauce
Makes about 1/2 cup.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons chopped dill pickle
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4-6 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (according to your taste)
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste.

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Season with black pepper to taste.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Crispy Panko Halibut

Long time, no see. has been beautiful, but busy.  Still trying lots of recipes and picking up ideas.  Promise to do a better job of sharing them with you.  Starting with this easy delicious dinner.

Got an e-mail from The Other Half yesterday saying "We're having cod for dinner."

Translation: "I bought cod at the grocery store.  Now you need to figure out what to do with it and make it so."

I'm used to this routine, so pulled up recipes tagged "cod" in my Evernote files.  (I haven't told you about Evernote, have I?  Well, I will soon.)  We passed on a couple of interesting poached ideas.  Also set aside one made en papillote for very soon.  Settled on this easy way to make it crispy but keep it light.

Crispy Panko Halibut
Serves 2.

2 portions halibut (5-6 ounces each)
2 egg whites
1 cup panko
3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the egg whites until frothy and set aside.  Season the panko whatever strikes your fancy...salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, thyme, you get the idea.  Dip the halibut into the egg whites and then dredge in the seasoned panko.  If the coating seems light, press a little more panko onto the halibut.

In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering.  Place the halibut in the pan and allow to fry until browned on one side.  Turn fish over and place skillet into preheated oven.  Bake until fish is cooked through and panko browned on top, another 6-8 minutes.

Remove from oven and serve.  You can top it with a little salsa, some sauteed summer veggies, or the tasty dill sauce I will post here tomorrow.