Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fresh Summer Blackberry Margaritas

Why not start the evening with an ice cold blackberry margarita?

Fresh summer blackberries mixed with lime and tequila.  Cocktails don't get better than this in the summertime.

Blackberry Margaritas
Serves 8
Recipe from Cooking Light

Combine 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a dish.  Cut 1 lime into 9 wedges; rub rims of 8 glasses with 1 lime wedge.

Dip rims of glasses in salt mixture.  Combine 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar in a microwave safe glass measuring cup.  Microwave at HIGH 2-1/2 minutes, stirring to dissolve sugar; cool.

Combine syrup, 1 cup 100% agave blanco tequila, 3/4 cup Grand Mariner, 2/3 cup fresh lime juice, and 12 ounces fresh blackberries in a blender; process until smooth.

Strain mixture through a cheesecloth-lined sieve over a pitcher; discard solids.  Serve over ice.

Garnish with remaining lime wedges.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Carol at There is Always Thyme to Cook

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Roasted Tomato Soup

It all begins with the abundance of garden fresh tomatoes, onion and a few cloves of garlic. Drizzled with Olive oil and seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper then roasted to perfection.

What you receive is an oh so good for you bowl of creamy tomato soup.  May you never open a can of Campbell's Tomato Soup again!

Roasted Tomato Soup
Serves 4-6
Recipe from Tyler Florence

2-1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (mix of fresh heirlooms cherry, vine and plum tomatoes)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 small yellow onions (note: I used red onion)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 quart chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, optional
3/4 cup heavy cream optional

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Wash, core and cut the tomatoes in halves.  Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves and onions onto a baking tray.  Drizzle with 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until caramelized.

Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot.  Add 3/4 of the chicken stock, bay leaves, and butter.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.

Wash and dry basil leaves, if using, and add to the pot.  Use and immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.  Return soup to low heat, and add cream and adjust consistency with remaining chicken stock, if necessary.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blueberry Crumble Pie

Blueberry season has come and gone here in North Florida.  The season lasts a little over a month.  What does a food fanatic do?  Pick as many berries as possible!  Our load this year was 22-lbs of organic blueberries.

What do you do with 22-lbs of fresh blueberries?  You get an urge to bake.  In my case, I encourage my husband to get the urge.  We know his wife can't bake to save her life.

He tackled a blueberry crumble pie for our Sunday Supper.

This may simply be the best blueberry pie that you will ever eat.  Trust me.

Blueberry Crumble Pie
Serves 8
Recipe from Bon Appetit


For the crust
1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for surface
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling and Topping
2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly.

Special Equipment: Use a 9"-9 1/2"-diameter glass or metal pie dish.  You will need pie weights or dried beans to bake the crust.


Pulse 1-1/4 cups flour, butter, and salt in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea sized pieces remaining.  Drizzle 3 tablespoons ice water over mixture.  Pulse until moist clumps form, adding more water be teaspoonfuls if mixture is dry.  Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Divide into 4-equal pieces.  Working with 1 piece at a time, use the heel of your hand to smear each portion of dough twice in a forward motion to distribute butter.  Gather all 4 dough pieces into a ball.  Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.  Do ahead: Dough can be made up to 2 days ahead.  Keep chilled.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 13" round.  Transfer to pie dish, gently pressing dough onto bottom and up sides of dish.  Fold overhang under and crimp edges decoratively.  Pierce bottom of crust in several places with fork, then chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Line a large baking sheet with foil and lace on a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375 degrees F.  Line crust with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights.  Bake until crust is set, about 20 minutes.  Carefully remove parchment and pie weights.  Bake until crust is pale golden, about 12 minutes longer.  Transfer crust to a wire rack; let cool.

Filling and Topping
Whisk 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest in a large bowl.  Add blueberries and lemon juice; toss gently to coat and evenly distribute.  Let filling stand, tossing occasionally, until berries release their juices, 20-30 minutes.

Whisk flour, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add melted butter; mix topping with fingertips to blend.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spoon blueberry filling into crust, then sprinkle topping over.  Bake pie until filling is bubbling and topping is golden, about 1 hour 15 minutes.  Cover with foil after 30 minutes if browning too fast.

Let pie cool on a wire rack.  Do ahead: Can be made 8 hours ahead.  Let stand at room temperature.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Croatia- The Real Mediterranean

We traveled with friends to Croatia.  I was often asked, "Why Croatia?" My response was always the same,  "Why not Croatia?"

We discovered Croatia in a way that was spontaneous.  It was often these unplanned moments that we experienced local culture up close and personal.  The fondest memories were produced from these moments.

We rented an apartment off the beaten path in a local neighborhood.  For a few days, we were part of an extended family's daily life.  While my boys were snorkeling, I was resting up with a good book.  I could smell the aroma of the meal rafting up through the open windows, hear the clanking of dishes and pots and pans.  I could feel the hurried pace of getting the mid-afternoon meal on the table.  I listened to the family laugh, and the baby cry.  I could visualize hands moving while talking about the days events, with children fidgeting in their seats. 

In the evening the mother would wave to us and join us for a few minutes.  It was here that I learned from her directly, that the secret to beautiful skin was olive oil.  She had beautiful skin.  

We learned very quickly that if it cannot be grown in your garden, plucked from the sea or made in your home, then perhaps, it is really not a necessity.

She offered to make us meals each day from her garden.

It seemed that everyone made homemade schnapps.  My romantic notions about homemade schnapps quickly evaporated.  Seriously, this was jet fuel!  This was moonshine that you would make in prison.  It was available to you breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The recipe? I know it because I asked....Fruit or nuts placed in a clean jar, with a tight lid.  Ferments for exactly 40 days in direct sunlight. 

Our travel companions inquired about a sheep's milk cheese called pa ski-sir, that is only produced on the Croatian Island of Pag. Within a few minutes we were invited into a family's home to discover a mother's passion for cheesemaking. The family flat was no bigger than a Brooklyn one bedroom apartment.  Yet, five of us stood in her kitchen and enjoyed her lively discussion of cheese making and the importance of family.  We ate her cheese, her fresh fig jam and her brined olives from her tree.   We were strangers, and she invited us into her home with no fear or discomfort.

Like so many Croatians entrepreneurship is a new concept and the she proudly shared with us her patent certificate for her variety of this famous cheese.

 Every country has a drunk Santa to call their own.  Croatia was no different.

Croatia is determined after many years of civil war, to redefine itself and emerge new.  You feel it with everyone you meet.  A people who imagined peace with their neighbors, and made it happen.

Cheers to you Croatia!

Your American Friends

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday