Simple Spring Salad

Hi all– This was the salad on our Easter table–bright and fruity and just right with ham and Aunt Lu’s marvelous potatoes!  It was a good day with grand-girls and their great grandparents around the table.  Hope you have a lovely Easter with people you hold dear.

SIMPLE SRPING SALAD

Salad:
6 cups greens
3 cups strawberries, sliced
2 cups blackberries
2 cups mandarine oranges, peeled and sliced
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon vinegar (or your favorite mild vinegar)
1 tab. honey
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Layer the greens on a platter.  Then pile on the strawberries, blackberries and oranges.  Sprinkle on the feta.

Pour the olive oil, vinegar, honey, salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid and shake until it’s thoroughly combined.  Drizzle over the salad.

Mixed Berry Cobbler

Hello all–  Wonderful time with friends last night– went to dinner at IL Amerikano for dinner, sort of Mexicanish-American food.  I took full advantage of their spiced French fries with cilantro ranch dressing!!  And then we all headed back to our house for this berry cobbler– warmed in the oven with a plop of vanilla ice cream — accompanied by good conversation.  The best kind of Saturday night!


MIXED BERRY COBBLER

Berries:
6 cups mixed berries
(I used blueberries, blackberries & strawberries)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tab. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt

Biscuits:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tab. cornmeal
2  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup buttermilk*
6 tab. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla


In a large mixing bowl stir together the berries, 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Nestle the berries into a 9″ square (or deep round) baking dish.  Pop them in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.

While they are baking, make the cobbler (biscuits) to set on top.  Mix together the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.  Then stir in the buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla.  Mix it up to make a stiff dough.

Drop the the dough by spoonfuls onto the hot berries and turn up the oven to 400 degrees.  Bake for 15 to 17 minutes until the cobbler is golden.  Serve it warm with ice cream.  Perfect!

*If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, pour a tablespoon of cider vinegar in a measuring cup and fill to 1/3 with milk.  Let it sit a couple minutes to thicken.

Blackberry Avocado Salad

Hello there– We had another important celebration at our house last week– Larry’s folks came in to celebrate their 69th anniversary!!  It’s a joy to watch them together.

So we made toasts and ate lasagna (Stu’s favorite) and Larry’s cheery sister brought in a magnificent cake. It was a great time together.  Stu & Helen, you’re the best!!

Oh, and with our supper, we dug into this bright salad– sweet berries, creamy avocado, crunchy almonds, salty feta– tossed with a mustard & maple dressing.  Just fine on the plate with our lasagna.

BLACKBERRY AVOCADO SALAD

Salad:
6 cups salad greens
2 small Persian cucumbers, sliced
2 avocados, cut into chunks
6 oz. carton of blackberries (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup roasted salted almonds, coarsely chopped
1/3 cut feta, crumbled

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon veingar
2 tab. maple syrup
1 tsp. seedy Dijon mustard
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Layer the salad ingredients in a shallow bowl.  When you are ready to serve it up, shake together the dressing ingredients in a container with a tightly closing lid until they are all blended and drizzle over the salad.

Chocolate Cream Cake with Ganache Frosting

Hello there–  We are gliding into Christmas here.  Ani sent out an all family spread sheet– with arrival, exit dates for everyone.  Larry is off to do his shepherd part in the church’s Bethlehem walk for the next four nights.  Charlotte just came in the door from shopping with her dad, clutching a bag of Christmas gifts.  And I’m baking (of course!).

We had this cake with friends recently.  And I’m here to convince you to give it a try if you are responsible for dessert at a Christmas gathering ahead.  It’s deeply richly chocolate.  And the the cream filling is heavenly!  The berries are a nice little sweet touch on top– a cake fit for a Christmas celebration!!

CHOCOLATE CREAM CAKE WITH GANACE FROSTING

Cake:
1 chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
water
1/2 cup canola oil
1 packet instant coffee

Filling:
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup powdered sugar

Frosting:
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tab. butter
1 1/3 cup chocolate chips
4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 package), room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Garnish:
blackberries
mint leaves

Make the chocolate cake according to the directions on the box (mine used 3 eggs, water & 1/2 cup oil).  Add the instant coffee as you mix it up (for a little richness). Bake the cake in three 8″ or 9″ cake pans.  Cool them completely before adding filling or frosting!

To make the filling, whip the 2 cups of whipping cream, pudding mix and 1 cup powdered sugar with an electric mixer until it forms stiff peaks.  Set it into the fridge to set up firm for about 15 minutes (0r more).

To make the frosting,  pour the 1/2 cup whipping cream and butter into a saucepan.  Heat it on the stove top until it starts to simmer and the butter is melted. Take it off the heat.  Drop in the chocolate chips and whisk it all together until the chocolate chips melt.  Set it aside to cool completely.

Then take the cooled chocolate mixture (ganache) and use an electric mixer to beat it together the cream cheese, 2 cups powdered sugar and vanilla.

To put the cake all together– Set one of the cake layers on a pretty plate.  Top it with half of the whipped cream filling.  Add the second later and top with the rest of the filling.  Add the third cake layer and the frost the top and sides with the chocolate frosting.

Set it into the fridge until to set it all up.  Take it out about 30 minutes before you want to serve it and garnish with berries and greenery (I used mint leaves because it grows like a weed in our yard).  So pretty!!

Blackberry Shortcake

Hello all– Is is summer where you are??  School ended here yesterday.  The grand-girls and I had a water squirting adventure in the front yard this evening.  We’ve been eating dinner out back under the maple trees.  And there are mounds of berries at the market here.  We’ve made it to summer!

So Monday night when friends came in for dinner, this is what we had for desert.  Sweet tender little cakes, just a bit crispy around the edges — with cream and ripe black berries.  What’s more summery than that?!

BLACK BERRY SHORTCAKE

Shortcake:
1  1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2/3 cup buttermilk*
1 tsp. vanilla

Toppings:
12 oz. blackberries (2 small cartons)
2 tab. sugar
1 point heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. powdered sugar
2 tsp. instant vanilla pudding mix**

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, 1/3 cu sugar, baking powder and salt.  With a pastry blender (or 2 forks), cut in the butter until it resembles pea size lumps.  Then stir in the buttermilk and vanilla.

Drop mounds of dough onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray (makes about 8 medium shortcakes).  Bake them in a 400 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes until they’re nicely browned and crispy around the edges.

While they are baking, wash the berries and mix them with the 2 tab. of sugar.

With an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla pudding mix.  Set it into the fridge to firm up until your ready to serve the shortcake.

Set each shortcake on a pretty place and top with berries & cream.

*If you don’t have buttermilk on hand (like me), pour a tablespoon of cider vinegar in with whole milk  to make 2/3 cup.  Let it sit a couple minutes to thicken.
**The instant pudding stabilizes the cream, so it will stay firm when you serve it.

 

Blackberry Up Side Down Cake

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Hello Cake Lovers–  We have blackberry vines on the side of the house, out the kitchen door.  But they are far from yielding any fruit this year. So when I saw boxes of blackberries on sale, piled high at the market, I had to bring some home, anticipating summer berries yet to come.

I love this old fashioned cake.  Simple to slip into the oven and the juicy fruit and tender cake served up still warm are the best!  There are crispy sugared edges and with a scoop of ice cream, you can pretend it’s summer outside.  I hope you try it!

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BLACKBERRY UP SIDE DOWN CAKE
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup brown sugar
12 oz. blackberries (about 3 cups)
1  1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

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Spray a 9″ or 10″ cake pan with cooking spray.  Melt the butter in the microwave and pour evenly to cover the bottom of the cake pan.  Sprinkle the brown sugar to cover the butter.  And then place the blackberries evenly over the brown sugar.  Set that all aside.

In a mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the milk, oil, egg and vanilla.  Pour this in the baking dish to cover all the blackberries.

Pop the cake into a 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes.

While the cake it still hot from the oven, invert it on to a plate large enough to hold the cake.  If some of the topping/berries stick in the baking dish, scrape them out onto the hot cake.

Here’s the cake hot from the oven, waiting to be flipped upside down onto a plate.
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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!