Peach Pecan Crisp

IMG_2339Hi all– Peaches.  They are the best right now.  We’ve been eating them in everything–in salads, with yogurt, baked for breakfast.  So here is the old apple crisp recipe that I’ve been making for 40 years– minus the apples and filled with juicy ripe peaches.    I hoping you think it’s luscious too.

PEACH PECAN CRISP

topping:
1 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

filling:
2 pounds peaches (4 large), cut into wedges
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

First prepare the topping.  In a mixing bowl stir together the flour, 2/3 cup brown sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Then with a pastry blender or a food processor cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sir in the pecans.

Cut the peaches into wedges.  In a large mixing bowl coat them with the 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt.

Spoon the peaches into a 9″ to 10″ baking dish.  Sprinkle the crumbly topping over the peaches.

Put the peach crisp into the oven at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s lovely brown and bubbling around the edges.

Serve it happily with a generous scoop of ice cream.  Summer!

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Whole Wheat Raspberry Muffins

IMG_2435Hey there– I can’t walk through the market nowadays without picking up a carton of some kind of berries– knowing that summer will soon be over and I’ll be moving on to apple and pumpkin kind of baking.

But for now there are peaches and berries and watermelon in the fridge.  Sweet summer.

WHOLE WHEAT RASPBERRY MUFFINS
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cup white unbleached flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2 cup raspberries (about 8 oz.)

topping:
4 tab. butter, melted
6 tab. brown sugar
2 tab. white sugar
6 tab. flour
6 tab. slivered almonds

I like to make the topping first– in a small bowl stir together the melted butter, 6 tab. brown sugar, 2 tab. white sugar and 6 tab. flour.  Then carefully fold in the almonds.  Set it all aside for a couple minutes.

Then mix together the 1 cup wheat flour, 1 cup white flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the oil, milk and egg.  And finally, gently fold in those raspberries.

Spoon the raspberry batter into 12 muffin cups lined with muffin papers.  With your fingers break up and sprinkle the topping on over the muffins– and pop them into a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until they are nicely browned and springy to the touch.

Cup of tea, hot muffin with a bit of butter.  Just about perfect.

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Blackberry Almond Galette

IMG_2062Hi all– When I saw this luscious dessert on the cover of the Bon Apetit magazine as I pulled it out of my mailbox, I knew this had to be on my “to-bake” list!  The crust was tender and crisp around the edges– and the berries sweet and juicy.  Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it’s the perfect summer dessert to pass around the table to friends.

BLACKBERRY ALMOND GALETTE

Crust:
1/2 cup almond meal*
1 cup plus 2 tab. flour
1 tab. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2  cup cold butter (1 stick), cut into chunks
4 tab. ice water

Berry filling:
12 oz. blackberries, about 2 /12 cup
1 tab. cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
more sugar for sprinkling
2 tab. milk or cream

IMG_2082In a food processor pulse together the almond meal, flour, 1 tab. sugar, salt and butter until it is in coarse “pebbles” about the size of peas.  Then pour in the water and continue until it forms a ball.

note: You can do this by hand with a pastry blender, but it seems like the food processor makes a better dough for me.

Wrap the dough in saran wrap and store it in the fridge for an hour.  Or if you make it ahead it can sit up to 24 hours in the fridge.

Pour the berries in a large bowl.  Mix the cornstarch and sugar together in another bowl and then pour them over the berries, turning them gently to cover the berries all with sugar.

Roll out the crust to a 12″ circle on a counter that has been well sprinkled with flour–so it doesn’t stick.

Then carefully (really carefully!) fold the dough into quarters and lift it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Mound the berries in the middle of the crust and fold the outside 2″ of the crust up over the berries.

Brush the folded over crust with milk or cream and sprinkle it with a little more sugar.

Pop the whole thing into the over for 40-45 minutes until the crust is perfectly golden.

Warning:  It will smell delicious when you take it out of the oven!!  Best eaten warm with ice cream!!  so dig in!

Lemon Nut Shortbread Cookies

DSC02273Hello Cookie Lovers– When Larry and I were first married, we lived in a tiny student housing apartment.  Every Saturday I would grocery shop first things with a carful of other student wives.  We’d drive to the market, sharing meal ideas and making our lists. Then back home, I’d clean the small apartment, which took about an hour top to bottom.  And in the afternoon, bake cookies– a big batch, every week.

After 40 years, we are off our weekly cookie diet.  But now and then, friends coming in does call for a big plateful of cookies.  And here’s a cookie, not too sweet, with a sprinkle of sugar, the crunch of walnuts and lots of tart lemon flavor.  Cookie time!

LEMON NUT SHORTBREAD COOKIES

1  1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped fine
1/4 cup sugar
2 tab. grated lemon peel (1 large lemon)
1/2 cup butter
2 tab. lemon juice
a couple more spoons of sugar to top the cookies

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Stir together the flour, sugar, nuts and grated lemon peel.  Cut the butter into bits and beat it in with an electric mixer long with the lemon juice.  This will take several minutes.

When the dough turns to coarse crumbs, pat it into a ball and roll it out on a floured counter with a rolling pin.  Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter or knife and place the cookies onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.

Pop them into a 350 degree oven for 20-22 minutes until they are browned around the edges.  Makes about 2 dozen 2″ cookies.

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Blackberry Cheesecake

IMG_0970Hi friends– We have some fledgling blackberry vines tentatively pushing up in our side yard, thanks to our “farmer” neighbor Mr. Wicks.  (thanks Bob!)  But it will be a good while before we harvest any berries off of those things.

So when I saw some beautiful berries on sale at the grocer’s this week, I scooped them up!  And here’s where they landed –on a birthday cake for Betty’s birthday surprise party.  I’m happily sampling a leftover slice as I type this up.  Creamy, berry good.

IMG_0985BLACKBERRY CHEESECAKE

crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tab. sugar
1/3 cup margarine (2/3 stick), melted

filling:
2 cups blackberries (2 6oz. containers)
24 oz. cream cheese (3 packages), at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup sour cream

topping:
1 cup sour cream
2 tab. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups blackberries (2 6 oz. containers)
1 tab. sugar
mint leaves (optional)

To make the crust, crush the graham crackers in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin (takes about 8 crackers).  Then in a springform pan, mix together the cracker crumbs, 2 tab. sugar and the melted butter.  Press it down into the bottom of the pan and set aside.

For the filling, first cut the blackberries in half (if they are nice large berries) and set aside.  Then with an electric mixer beat together the cream cheese and sugar.  When they are well blended, mix in the eggs and 1 1/2 cup sour cream.

Finally carefully fold in the berries with a wooden spoon.  Then spoon the whole mixture into the pan over the crust.

Put the cheese cake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes (it will still be pretty “jiggly”).

For the topping, mix the 1 cup sour cream, 2 tab. sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla together and carefully spoon it over the hot cheesecake.  Pop it back into the 350 oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese cake is a little more set — It will still be a little jiggly, but will firm up as it cools. I like to let it cool a couple hours at room temperature and then pop it into the fridge for a couple hours to get cold.

Just before you are ready to serve it up, mix the blackberries with 1 tab. sugar.  Then mound them over the cooled cheese cake and decorate with mint or any garnish-y leaves you might have around.

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Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

DSC00388Hello there– Fresh warm muffins–a little post Christmas breakfast with the kids, crumbly, fruity muffins, not too sweet and nice and hot from the oven.  I hope your breakfast includes muffins on your table these days too.

WHOLE WHEAT BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar + a little for topping
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1  1/2 up blueberries*

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the 2 flours, 1/2 cup brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the oil, milk and egg.  Finally, gently fold in the blueberries.

Spoon the stiff batter into 10 to 12 muffin pans lined with paper liners– And sprinkle a bit of brown sugar onto the top  of each one.

Pop them into a 375 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes until they are browned and firm to the touch.  Scrumptious hot from the oven with a smear of sweet butter and a mug of tea.

*I used the small organic frozen berries from Trader Joe’s– don’t defrost them ahead.  Just stir them in frozen, so they don’t color the batter.  Fresh berries would be grand if it were summer!

Cream Cheese Pecan Bars

IMG_2584Hello there–  I’m saying right up front that pecans are my favorite kind of nut– and I am pretty nuts about all nuts in general.  (does that make sense?)  So take a pan full of pecans and layer them over a little cheese cake and a graham cracker crust and you’ve go a delectable winner.

Made these bars for friends last week, and I’m reluctant to admit that I kept nibbling away at the leftovers and ate most of them right out from under Larry’s nose.  They were THAT good.  (sorry Larry).  All that to say– I think you should try them.  I loved, loved them!

CREAM CHEESE PECAN BARS

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 4)
1/4 cup sugar
4 tab. butter, melted

Cream cheese filling:
8 oz. cream cheese*
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup whole milk (0r half & half)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tab. flour

Pecan layer:
1 cup chopped pecans (or a little handful more if you love nuts like I do!)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tab. butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
pinch of salt

IMG_2588Crush the graham cracker crumbs in a bag with a rolling pin or in your food processor.  Then in a bowl, stir them up with the sugar and 4 tab. melted butter.

Spread the moist crumbs over the bottom of a 7″x11″ pan (or a 9″ square) that has been sprayed with cooking spray to make a even thin layer.  Then put it in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes while you whip up the cream cheese layer.

With an electric mixer beat the cream cheese and sugar to a smooth paste.  Then beat in the eggs, milk, vanilla and flour.  Pour the mixture over the crust gently (so you don’t disturb the crust) when it comes out of the oven.

Pop it back into the oven for 25 minutes just until the cream cheese is set.  Then take it out and let the cream cheese layer cool for 20 minutes.

Next stir together the pecans, corn syrup, 2 tab. melted butter. brown sugar, 1 egg and salt.
Carefully spoon the pecan mixture over the cream cheese layer and send it back to the oven for another 20 to 25 minutes until the pecan layer is firm.

Let it cool an hour or so and then put it in the fridge to set up so you can cut it into neat little squares. (they do taste better chilled right out of the fridge)

A little whipped cream would turn it from cookie bar to full fledged dessert!!