Sharing a seriously fun love for food

Month: July 2017

Gazpacho, a Classic Summer Soup

Gazpacho, a Classic Summer Soup

Summers in the South can be sultry, so finding something cool and refreshing for lunch or dinner provides a welcome respite from the heat. One of my favorites is Gazpacho, a chilled tomato-based soup that celebrates summer’s vegetables. Gazpacho is sometimes referred to as a liquid salad and its history dates back centuries. My Mom would make this wonderful soup for her bridge club, my Grandmother for the ladies in her canasta group.

It is often difficult to get people who are unfamiliar with chilled soups to give them a try. I’m stupefied by folks who claim they dislike something but admit they have never actually tasted it. (I live with one who can frequently be such a skeptic!) Gazpacho has such bright, crisp flavors and it’s ridiculously easy to pull together. Much of the time spent making Gazpacho is in the prep of the vegetables, then it’s just a matter of tossing the ingredients in your blender. The flavors will continue to meld together as the soup chills, which makes this a great recipe when you need to get a head start on entertaining.

For the base of this delightful soup, start with a high quality tomato juice then load up with garden ripe tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, celery, onion and sweet bell pepper. The flavors are rounded with a touch of rich olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Top with freshly grated Parmesan, perhaps some toasted croutons and you’re ready to serve!

Gazpacho

3 cups tomato juice, such as Clamato

1/3 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

1 pound ripe tomatoes, quartered

2 cups cucumbers, peeled and chopped

½ cup celery, chopped

½ cup sweet onion, chopped

1/3 cup red bell pepper, chopped

½ teaspoon garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste

A dash or two of Tabasco, or to taste

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor.

Process in your blender until fairly smooth, about 15-30 seconds. Chill before serving.

Pair with a Havarti and Provolone grilled cheese!

 

Apple Puff Pancake

Apple Puff Pancake

It’s funny how different aspects of cooking bring up such wonderful memories. Whether it’s holding the recipes handed down from beloved family or friends, baking a cake your Mom always made, or the smell of your Grandmother’s hot rolls coming out of the oven. And sometimes it’s a little thing. I never peel an apple that I don’t think of my Dad. He could peel an apple in one long peel and would always take the time to do it for us when we were kids, as a kindness and certainly to amuse us.

My Dad was not a cook. He was born on the ranch and raised by three sets of “parents”- my Grandparents, his Aunt and Uncle and my Great Grandparents. With three women on the ranch, all of them wonderful cooks he certainly had an appreciation for good food.

My Dad as a young boy at the ranch, alongside his Grandmother and his Dad.

I do have one memory of him attempting to make breakfast for us. Mom was in the hospital and he decided to fix breakfast for my brother and me. Pancakes were on the menu. Sadly, they were a little too done on the outside and not so much on the inside. My Grandmother showed up the next day and stayed until Mom came home.

This pancake is not your traditional griddle pancake, it is baked in the oven and has a light, airy custard-like texture.

It is a wonderful brunch recipe and one my Mom loved. The presentation is impressive, rising tall in the pan with golden edges and apples peeking through. The prep takes about 10-15 minutes and bakes in less than 30 minutes. Traditionally made with apples, you can also use any fruit you would bake in a pie.

The pancake batter is made with eggs, half-and-half and ricotta cheese, sweetened with a bit of honey and sugar along with a dash of vanilla and cinnamon to pair with the apples.

This pancake puffs much like a soufflé and will fall slightly when you take it out of the oven. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with warm maple syrup.

Apple Puff Pancake

3 tablespoons butter

2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin

1 cup half-and-half

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 extra large eggs

3 tablespoons honey

½ cup ricotta cheese

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk the half-and-half, vanilla, eggs, honey and ricotta cheese until well blended. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, sugar, baking powder and kosher salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and whisk until well combined; some lumps will remain.

Lightly spray a deep 10” skillet (ovenproof) with a cooking spray, add the butter and melt over medium heat. Toss in the apples, stirring to coat them in the butter and cook for about five minutes.

Pour the egg mixture over the apples, no need to stir.

Place the skillet in the oven and bake at 425 degree for 25 minutes or until puffed and golden. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with warm maple syrup.

The Apple Puff Pancake is dusted with powdered sugar and the maple syrup has been warmed… We’re ready for brunch!
Pasta Carbonara Fusilli

Pasta Carbonara Fusilli

My Mother and Grandmothers taught me well, keep your kitchen stocked with staples. And at our house, you will always find pasta in the pantry and bacon, eggs and Parmesan cheese in the fridge.

We have an abundance of great restaurants in our area but dining at home is often far more comforting and relaxing. Family time over dinner has always been important to us, but spare time seems to be lacking on most days. Pasta Carbonara is a comforting dish and it’s a quick fix on a busy night.

There are many stories as to the origin of this well known pasta dish though the ingredients in most recipes are similar. There is an elegant simplicity to this dish. The classic version starts with eggs and Parmesan cheese blended together to create the sauce. I like the addition of a touch of cream which adds a luscious level. The sauce cooks when tossed together with the hot pasta then crisp bacon finished in a white wine reduction is nestled into the pasta. Finally, more Parmesan cheese is dusted across the top and just enough fresh parsley to brighten those flavors.

Pour a glass of Chardonnay; dinner will be ready in about 30 minutes!

1 pound fusilli

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for the pasta water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1/3 cup dry white wine

3 extra large eggs

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated plus more for dusting

½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for the pasta water

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

In a large skillet over medium heat melt the butter along with the olive oil, then add the bacon and cook until browned and starting to crisp.

Stir in the chopped garlic and cook for about a minute, skim off the extra bacon drippings, leaving about 2-3 tablespoons in the pan. Add the white wine and cook over low heat allowing the wine to reduce down to about 2-3 tablespoons.

While the wine reduces, bring a large stockpot full of heavily salted water to a boil. Add a splash of olive oil to the water and stir in pasta, cook about 9-11 minutes or until tender. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, cream, Parmesan cheese, kosher salt and black pepper.

Drain the pasta (do not rinse) and toss together with the egg mixture, combining well to thoroughly coat the pasta.

Add the bacon and reduced wine to the pasta and toss to combine.

Garnish with extra Parmesan cheese and minced parsley. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

While being a Mom, serving as a Room Mother during Emily’s school years, working as a caterer or my time producing food products, I’ve made dozens and dozens of cookies. I could quickly name my favorites and this is certainly one of them. Chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal cookies have both been around for decades and the blending of these two create something quite delightful. There are many versions of this combination but this one is particularly wonderful.

The foundation of this cookie certainly resembles a classic chocolate chip cookie recipe with a blend of butter, both brown and granulated sugar, chocolate chips and toasted pecans. There are ingredients in this recipe which you would also find in a traditional oatmeal cookie, including oats tossed with cinnamon for a hint of warmth and spice. By using less flour plus adding cloves and nutmeg along with the cinnamon, all come together and create a thin, chewy delicacy that leaves you wanting just one more!

I first found this recipe in Southern Memories, a cookbook published in 1993 and written by Nathalie Dupree, a gifted Southern cook and author. I have a number of her books, all are wonderful. These cookies stay chewy and moist for days, making them great for gifts or when you need to prepare treats in advance.

Repurpose the oatmeal canister into a “gift box”!

Some quick tips:

  • I use dark or bittersweet chocolate chips, if you prefer semisweet by all means, use them.
  • I always toast nuts before cooking with them to bring out their flavor. It’s a simple process. Spread the nuts out in a single layer on a rimmed sheet pan and toast at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. You can toast a batch in advance and keep them in the freezer until you need them.
  • Use high quality pure vanilla extract and almond extract. My favorite is Nielsen-Massey for the pure flavor and consistency. Don’t skimp on key ingredients!
  • Kosher salt is much less bitter than table salt; it’s all I use for cooking.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

¾ cup sugar

1 cup (firmly packed) dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

2 extra large eggs, room temperature

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¾ cup oats (not quick cooking)

2 cups chopped toasted pecans

2 cups dark or bittersweet chocolate chips

Start by creaming the butter until smooth and light in texture, and then add sugars, the kosher salt, the vanilla and almond extract blending well into the butter.

Cream the butter until light and fluffy.
Cream the sugars, kosher salt, vanilla and almond extracts into the butter.

On medium-low speed add the eggs one at a time, blending well after adding each one.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, soda, spices and the oats.

Slowly, using low speed add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, about ½ cup at a time. Add the chocolate chips and the toasted pecans; blend on low until just combined together.

Toasting pecans will enhance their flavor, using dark or bittersweet chocolate provides a great balance of flavors.

Using a small ice cream scoop (about 1” diameter) or a teaspoon, form dough into 1” balls and place on a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.

Ice cream scoops are a great way to portion out cookie dough.

Leave enough room between each, the cookies will spread.

Bake about 10 minutes or until golden in color. Allow to cool slightly on the pan before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies will be very soft when they come out of the oven. Let them cool slightly on the pan before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

If you choose not to bake all the cookies, you can freeze the extra dough. Shape into the 1” balls and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Freeze for about an hour then drop the formed cookie dough into freezer bags. When you’re ready to bake, simply remove from the freezer and pop in the oven for about 11-12 minutes or until golden. No need to thaw first!

 

Something Old, Now Something New

Something Old, Now Something New

I am fortunate to have a number of heirlooms that had belonged to my Mom and my Grandmothers, but none more precious to me than recipes, written in their own hand. Many are stained from years of use, parts somewhat illegible from age. The memories that are packed into those notecards, onto the slips of paper are full of sound, sight and the aroma that filled their kitchens. If I close my eyes for just a moment I’m transported back to those joyous times.

My Mom’s large family about to feast on a meal with sweet tea all around! The meal prepared by Tassie Mae, the matriarch, seated on the left and my Mom with her coal black hair, pictured in the center of all those brothers.

These strong women in my life taught me to cook, to love food and understand how to bring it up from the earth with their bountiful gardens.

My Dad’s Mother, Grace Pearl on the left along with my dear Great Aunt Mary, center. These two made the most amazing food!

I began sharing this passion with my daughter Emily, starting at a very young age just as my Mom had done for me. Cooking binds us together in family, in community and in spirit long after we’ve lost those we love.

My Mom teaching Emily how to make her hot rolls, aka Denver Biscuits.

Emily also learned the joy of cooking from my Mom, spending years in the kitchen together. In doing so, these handwritten recipes passed down through generations mean a great deal to her as well. This past Christmas she gave me a gift, literally bringing me to tears.

Pictured along with the handwritten recipes are two cookbooks belonging to my Grandmothers, a biscuit cutter that my Grandmother used to cut many, many biscuits, a whisk from my Mom and an antique butter press which belonged to my Great Grandmother.

Emily borrowed a number of these recipes and to my surprise turned them into wonderful treasures. I opened the gift box and saw my Mom’s handwritten recipe for her hot rolls, now printed on a delightful kitchen tea towel. In all, she had fashioned two recipes from my Mom and two belonging to her Mother into tea towels. (I don’t cook without a tea towel on my shoulder!) I’ve had so many people ask me how and where Emily had these made, so I asked her to fill me in on the details.

The recipe for my Mom’s Hot Rolls, now always at my fingertips!

Emily discovered Spoonflower, a company based in Durham, North Carolina. It’s a wonderful online marketplace supporting the design of custom fabric. Using the resources offered by Spoonflower here is how Emily created these treasures:

She started by using the “how-to video” Spoonflower has posted on their website: https://blog.spoonflower.com/2012/07/turn-recipes-into-tea-towels/

Then she spent some time cleaning up the scan of each recipe in Photoshop, which she said made a big difference in the quality and clarity. Emily kept the prints in color (where the recipe cards had color) playing off those tones for the borders. She notes they’d also look great in black/neutral/gray tones too and would translate well in a neutral kitchen. To finish the edges of the towels, she took them to the tailor to have the edges sewn.

Other ideas she shared…It would be fun with letters, ticket stubs (do people still have those?) or kids’ art too… She also thinks you could do a more terry cloth/Turkish material and use them for a guest bath, not necessarily with recipes there! The ideas are endless and the hearts touched will be many.

Thanks Emily for a beautiful and thoughtful gift!

https://www.spoonflower.com/about

Pan Roasted Salmon and Summer Salad

Pan Roasted Salmon and Summer Salad

If you are at all familiar with Texas, you are aware we have a beautiful coastline, many gorgeous lakes and rivers; but salmon are not indigenous to our state. Being raised in a small rural town there was no fishmonger within 100 miles and the only salmon you could buy locally came from a can. Now I’m blessed to live in an area where fish and seafood are available in abundance and the options of salmon are plentiful. But knowing how to cook this delectable fish, well it can be a challenge.

Beautiful cuts of sockeye salmon, from the Pacific coastal region.

This is a quick and delicious way to cook salmon and works equally well with Atlantic or Pacific salmon. You start by partially pan searing the salmon then quickly finish it in a hot oven, leaving the fish tender and delicious. The flavors are fresh and rich, enhanced with simple seasonings of kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper and olive oil.

To compliment this beautiful piece of salmon, take advantage of the luscious fresh fruits in season and serve with a Fresh Summer Salad. Start with sweet peaches or nectarines, then add ruby red strawberries, plump blueberries, toasted almonds and a delightful honey goat cheese all tossed with mixed greens. A feast for the eyes and the palate!

This recipe serves two for an entrée and can easily be adjusted for one of more.

Roasted Salmon and Summer Salad

For the roasted salmon:

2 pieces center cut salmon, each piece about 3” wide and about ¾” thick

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste

3-4 tablespoons olive oil, enough to coat all sides of the salmon

Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a dish; add the salmon and turn to completely coat each piece in the olive oil. Turn skin side down and generously sprinkle the kosher salt and black pepper over the flesh of each piece of salmon. Let the salmon rest for about 15 minutes.

Lightly spray a large ovenproof skillet with a cooking spray. Heat the pan over medium high heat until pan is very hot. Quickly add the pieces of salmon to the pan, flesh side down and cook for 3 minutes. Do not move the salmon, let it sear in place.

Resist the urge to move the salmon while it sears in the pan. This is creating that golden layer of flavor.

Turn the salmon over and place in a 400-degree oven for three minutes, 4 minutes if your salmon is thicker. Remove the pan from the oven and let the salmon rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

For the salad:

3 cups fresh mixed greens

10- 12 fresh basil leaves

2 fresh peaches or nectarines, peeled if you prefer and sliced

6-8 fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

1/3 cup fresh blueberries

3-4 tablespoons crumbled honey goat cheese, Montchevre Honey Goat Cheese is a wonderful cheese

2-3 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds

In a large bowl, combine the mixed greens, basil leaves, fresh fruit, goat cheese and almonds; toss together. Dress with your favorite vinaigrette or salad dressing.

Drizzle the salmon and the salad with your favorite vinaigrette or salad dressing.

 

 

 

 

 

Sour Cream Pound Cake

Sour Cream Pound Cake

Pound cake recipes have been around for hundreds of years. Original versions called for a pound of sugar, a pound of flour, a pound of eggs and a pound of butter, hence the name “pound” cake. There have been many variations through the years, flavors added, including lemon and chocolate. For a period of time recipes suggested the use of margarine instead of butter, that was a dark period in food history and luckily we’ve moved past this crazy notion.

Clearly pound cakes are not a Southern creation, though somehow they feel very Southern. Nothing says hospitality quite like a beautiful pound cake. The sweet scent of vanilla wafting from this delicate cake sets up an expectation and you know something wonderful is coming. I’ve made so many pound cakes through the years. Delivered them for celebrations and at times in hopes of providing comfort, as have many Southern bakers. I’ve made my way through pounds of butter and dozens of eggs before finding what I feel to be the perfect recipe.

Pound cakes can be heavy, dry and even gummy in texture with either a very bland or cloyingly sweet flavor. This recipe comes from one of my Mom’s favorite cookbooks Southern Living, The Southern Hospitality Cookbook, by Winifred Green Cheney, originally published in 1976. This is one of the best pound cakes you’ll ever taste, with a wonderful crumb texture and a balance of flavor developed from a blend of pure vanilla extract, almond extract and cognac or brandy.

Some notes that will aid you in making this cake:

  • Set out the butter and eggs so they can be at room temperature, 3-6 hours or overnight.
  • Take the time to whip the butter, you want it to look like whipped cream. Using a stand mixer makes this process easier and less tiring to your arms!
  • The flour is sifted several times to create a lighter cake. This takes a few extra minutes but the results are worth it.
  • Grease and flour your loaf pans, and if it’s humid go ahead and line them with parchment paper to ensure a clean release after baking.
  • Use a high quality cognac or brandy. As the rule goes, don’t cook with anything you wouldn’t drink.
  • This cake bakes at 325 degrees, a bit lower than traditional baking temperatures.

This recipe will make two large 9” x 5” loaves. Enjoy one now and freeze one for later, this cake makes a fabulous trifle.

Sour Cream Pound Cake

1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

3 cups sugar

6 extra large eggs, room temperature

1 cup sour cream

3 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon pure almond extract

2 tablespoons cognac or brandy

Using a large stand mixer beat the butter on low speed until it becomes creamy. Raise the speed to medium and continue beating the butter until it is very light and fluffy, looking much like whipped cream. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to make certain all the butter is whipped thoroughly.

On medium speed, add the sugar, about ¼ cup at a time allowing the sugar to blend into the butter before adding more. Once all the sugar has been combined with the butter add the eggs one at a time, then add the sour cream.

Using separate bowls, sift together the flour, baking soda and kosher salt. Sift the dry ingredients three times. Don’t’ skip this step; it does make a difference in the texture of your cake. On low speed slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter, blending in about 1/3 cup at a time, beating just until the flour disappears. Add the vanilla extract, almond extract and the brandy and stir into the batter on low speed.

Beat on low speed, just until the flour disappears. As with any cake or quick bread, over beating makes the texture tough.

Divide the batter evenly between two large loaf pans, which have been greased and floured. If the weather is humid you can also line with parchment paper, lightly grease and flour the bottom of the parchment as well for a clean release from the pan.

Trim off the excess parchment paper before baking.

Bake on the center rack of your oven at 325 degrees for about 60-65 minutes or until the cakes are golden and they test done with a toothpick.

Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 15 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with fresh fruit, whipped cream and a dusting of powdered sugar!

 

Southern Cosmopolitan

Southern Cosmopolitan

There are so many theories surrounding the origin of the pink drink known as the Cosmopolitan. Some food historians date a predecessor of the modern day Cosmopolitan as far back as the late 19th century. Another theory ties the drink’s roots to the 1960s and a marketing campaign of the cranberry industry. Ocean Spray pushed out a recipe for a cocktail called the “Harpoon” in hopes of selling more cranberry juice to adults. One thing is certain, the Cosmopolitan became quite well known in the late 1980s into the early 1990s.

As with any recipe, keep it interesting and put your twist on it, play with it and make it your own. When Emily and Matthew come home for a visit we frequently try out new cocktail recipes or pull up old classics and update them. This cocktail refresh originated from a cookbook I found in Auburn, Alabama when Emily was in college. “Southern Cocktails” written by Denise Gee is a great book that features classic Southern cocktails with some wonderful appetizers thrown in for fun.

The basics for a Cosmopolitan are cranberry juice, vodka and Cointreau, a lovely French liqueur made with sweet and bitter orange peel. To further enhance the orange flavor and depth, I also use Grand Marnier, a wonderful blend of cognac and oranges. Some recipes call for fresh lime juice, some for lemon, I tend to favor lemon. Then I add a Southern staple, a touch of simple syrup, one infused with mint and lemon to build on the fresh citrus in the cocktail while adding a subtle note of mint.

Now grab the ice and shake, don’t stir!

Southern Cosmopolitan

Start by making the lemon and mint infused simple syrup:

3 cups water

4 cups sugar

1 lemon, sliced

4-5 sprigs fresh mint

In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar, cook over medium-low heat stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the syrup from the heat and add the lemon slices and fresh mint.

Allow the mixture to cool completely. Store the syrup in a container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. You can remove the lemon and mint after a day or two. This makes a large batch and keeps well in the refrigerator.

This simple syrup makes a great gift! Use in cocktails, hot or iced tea.

To make the Cosmopolitan:

1 cup cranberry juice cocktail

3 ounces vodka, Absolut Mandarin works well for this cocktail or use your favorite vodka

2 ounces Grand Marnier

2 ounces Cointreau

2 tablespoons simple syrup, or more to suit your taste

½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup ice

Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice, it does make a difference.

Pour all the ingredients together in a large cocktail shaker. Add the ice to the shaker, cover securely and shake vigorously until the drink is very cold.

Serve in martini or coupe glasses. This will make 3-4 cocktails depending on the size of your cocktail glass.

Pulled Pork Roast

Pulled Pork Roast

I discovered pulled pork later in life while traveling to Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas. Much like with a brisket or roast, cooking low and slow turns a hunk of pork into a flavor-filled, succulent piece of meat, tender enough to fall off the bone. And like brisket or roast, if you don’t season the meat well, it’s really pretty boring.

Emily found this recipe featured in Williams-Sonoma’s catalog several years ago, created by Chef Bryan Voltaggio, and it instantly became a favorite. The blend of spices in the dry rub offer just enough heat balanced by the sweetness of the brown sugar. Garlic cloves tucked into pockets in the meat melt while cooking, creating layers of flavor.

Pulled pork, because you literally “pull” the pork apart, comes from the pork shoulder, sometimes referred to as Boston butt pork roast or pork shoulder butt roast.The original recipe calls for a 3-4 pound roast but I’m usually feeding people and wanting leftovers, so I bump it up to a 7-8 pound roast, which this recipe reflects. The larger cut requires a 7-quart slow cooker. All-Clad makes an excellent large slow cooker with an aluminum insert that’s safe for oven use, which is specifically helpful for this recipe since it calls for it to start in the oven before spending the day in the slow cooker.

Season the meat the day before serving to give the dry rub time to penetrate into the meat, at least 8-10 hours or up to 24 hours. The pork needs about an hour in the oven to crisp the top before moving to the slow cooker. The aroma that fills your house while the pork cooks is absolutely intoxicating!

Pulled Pork Roast

½ cup dark brown sugar, packed

4 tablespoons kosher salt

4 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons fresh cracked black pepper

2 teaspoons dried thyme

4 teaspoons ground coriander

2 tablespoons dry mustard

4 teaspoons crushed fennel seed

4 teaspoons garlic powder

Pork shoulder, 7-8 pounds

10-12 garlic cloves

2-1/2 cups apple juice

Whisk together the brown sugar, kosher salt, paprika, black pepper, thyme, coriander, dry mustard, fennel seed and garlic powder until well blended.

Crush the fennel seed slightly using a mortar and pestle to release the flavor of this aromatic seed.

Place the pork shoulder in a large container and with the fat side up, score the top of the roast, crisscrossing to create a diamond pattern. Generously spread the rub over the entire roast, pressing gently into the meat as you go. Cover the pork and refrigerate for at least 8-10 hours.

If you have any of the dry rub left, save it. You can add some of this seasoning to your barbecue sauce or keep it in a sealed container for your next pork roast. You will probably make this again!

Prior to cooking, cut pockets into the top of the meat allowing for spots to tuck the garlic cloves into the pork.

Transfer the pork to the ovenproof insert of your slow cooker. Cook at 350 degrees until the top of the pork has started to crisp about 45 minutes to an hour.

Place the insert back in your slow cooker and slowly add the apple juice. Cover and cook on low for about 7-8 hours, turning the pork once or twice while cooking. (If you’re not home while the roast is cooking or you forget this step, not to worry-it will still be great.) The roast is cooked when the meat is tender and you can easily pull it apart.

Carefully move the pork roast to a cutting board (preferably one designed to catch the juice). Using two large forks, pull the meat apart, shredding into pieces for serving. Ladle a small portion of the cooking liquid back over the meat.

If you are fortunate enough to have leftovers, place the meat back in the cooking liquid, cover and refrigerate. Reheat in your slow cooker on low for 2-4 hours, wrapped in foil in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until warm, or in the microwave, if you just can’t wait that long.

Pulled Pork Sliders served with a touch of your favorite barbecue sauce!
Rustic Blueberry Tart

Rustic Blueberry Tart

Fresh berries are in abundance in the markets during the summer months and the rainbow of colors is nothing short of inspirational. My excitement often gets away from me at the farmer’s market and I come home with a truckload of fruit. Blueberries are one of my husband’s favorites so and they’re in season, so I loaded up! We ate blueberries on waffles, blueberries on oatmeal, tossed blueberries in salads and still I had blueberries! Before their better days were behind them, I decided blueberries in a tart would make good use of what remained.

Years ago I began making rustic fruit tarts instead of a more rigid fruit pie. The basics for a rustic tart, sometimes called a galette, are the same as a pie. There is something simple but elegant about these tarts, the way the pastry is filled with luscious fruit, then shaped by hand and baked on parchment paper. No pie dishes, no forming fancy pie edges, just the crust and filling, the way it was meant to be.

Pie or pastry dough is intimidating for even the most accomplished bakers. I’ve worked my way through dozens of pastry dough recipes but this method is my favorite. The results are a slightly sweet crust that’s crisp and flaky and provides the perfect vessel for any fruit.

This recipe allows you to make the pastry, then add the fruit and bake, no chilling required before rolling out the dough. The secret to tender pastry crust is very cold butter and a delicate hand, overworking the dough will guarantee a tough crust.

You can replace the blueberries with apples, peaches, blackberries, or any fruit you like. It’s wonderful warm from the oven and every bit as good the next day. This one won’t disappoint!

Rustic Blueberry Tart

For the pastry:

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar

¾ cup unsalted butter, 1-1/2 sticks

1/3 cup cold water

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

Cut the butter into cubes and chill in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Combine the flour, kosher salt and sugar in a food processor, mix for about 5-10 seconds. Scatter the cold butter cubes on top of the flour and pulse about 10 times, just until the butter is the size of peas.

Leaving bits of butter helps to create those layers of flakiness as the crust bakes.

Add the cold water and process about 5-10 seconds, or just until the water is blended into the flour and butter. You’re not looking for the dough to gather into a ball. Don’t over process or your pastry will be tough.

Turn out the mixture on a lightly floured surface and lightly dust your hands with flour.

Using a light hand, gather the dough together into a disc. Dust your hands with flour and add in only flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.

Gently pull the dough together and press into a disc. Roll out the dough into a round about 15”-16”, turning occasionally so the dough doesn’t stick to the surface. Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and unroll onto a parchment lined baking sheet, which has been lightly sprayed with a cooking spray.

Gently roll dough over your rolling pin, ease with a bench scraper and lightly dust with flour if the dough begins to stick.
Your dough doesn’t have to be perfectly round, this is a rustic tart!

For the filling:

2-1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

½ cup sugar, plus extra for glazing the crust

1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the cornstarch and sugar together. Add the blueberries and lemon juice and gently toss together to combine and coat the berries, being careful not to break them. Using your hands is the easiest way to do this.

Pile the berries in the center of the pastry dough. Turn the dough up over the edge of the berries, folding as you go.

Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon milk. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash over the pastry dough, and then sprinkle with sugar.

Brush the pastry with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar before baking.

Bake the tart at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Let it cool slightly before slicing to allow the juices to set.

Let the tart cool slightly before cutting.