Thursday, May 26, 2011

berry crisp

I took a mini vacation with my boyfriend this past weekend to Charleston, SC. I love Charleston for so many reasons and one of them is the berry cobbler at Kaminsky's on Market St. My absolute favorite dessert is berry crisp and every time I bake a berry crisp or cobbler I compare it to Kaminsky's. Served in the bowl that it was baked in, it mixes blueberries, blackberries and raspberries with a buttery topping and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It has taken years to find a recipe that is as a good as the Kaminsky's berry cobbler, much less better. This recipe is very similar but the pie crust base paired with a blackberry, raspberry, blueberry filling and crispy, buttery oat topping make this delicious dessert even better than Kaminsky's!

Berry Crisp
makes one pie sized crisp or 8 ramekins

1 refrigerated pie crust

for the berry filling:
5 c. berries
1/8 c. cornstarch
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c.- 1 c. sugar, depending how sweet your berries are

for the crispy topping:
2/3 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. oats
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375°F. 

Line each ramekin with 1/8 of pie crust dough. For the berry filling, mix together berries, cornstarch, lemon zest, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar. Let the berry mixture sit for at least an hour so the berries get a good sugary coating. Spread berry mixture evenly between the 8 ramekins (leaving about 1/2 inch for the topping). For the topping, mix together the sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon and butter until combined. Drop spoonfuls of the topping on top of the berry mixture and bake pie size for 40- 50 minutes and ramekin sized for 20-30 minutes or until the edges start bubbling. Serve with a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

carrot cake cupcakes

This recipe is a family favorite. I know carrot cake is a hit or miss for many because everyone has their own idea of what should be in a carrot cake. Nuts, pineapple, coconut, raisins, chunky carrots or pureed carrots... the list goes on. This is a pineapple, coconut and pureed carrots recipe, no nuts or raisins. These cupcakes are super moist, flavorful and one of my go-to recipes. The frosting begins as a basic cream cheese frosting you find on most carrot cakes but the lemon juice gives it a boost of flavor and works great with the toasted coconut sprinkled on top. 

Carrot Cake Cupcakes
makes 2 cake layers or about 80 mini cupcakes

3 c. all- purpose flour
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 c. oil
4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. shredded coconut (I used sweetened) + 3/4 c. for toasted coconut topping
1 1/3 c. pureed cooked carrots
3/4 c. drained crushed pineapple (in pineapple juice not syrup)
1 1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease or line pans or cupcake tins. Peel and dice carrots and boil for 20 minutes until soft. Puree in food processor or blender, then let cool. Mix dry ingredients and oil, eggs & vanilla. Beat well. Fold in nuts, carrots, coconut and pineapple. Bake cake layers for 30-35 minutes and mini cupcakes for 10-15 minutes until golden brown on top. 

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
3 c. confectioner sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 juice of lemon

Blend cream cheese and butter together until creamy. Slowly add in 10x sugar until smooth. Then add in vanilla and lemon juice. 

*For the toasted coconut, thinly spread 3/4 c. of shredded coconut on baking sheet and bake at 300°F for 20 minutes. Stir coconut every 5 minutes to make sure the coconut browns evenly. Remember, coconut burns really easily so keep an eye on it. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

oatmeal, dark chocolate & peanut butter bars

These bars are rich and delicious. If you are looking for a treat that packs a lot of flavor in one bite this is it. The peanut butter, dark chocolate and oatmeal work great together and these are super easy to make. I used crunchy peanut butter so the topping had an extra crunch. 

Oatmeal, Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter Bars

1 c. softened butter
1 c. brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. oatmeal 
1 c. dark chocolate chips or 1 dark chocolate bar
1 c. peanut butter
1-2 tsp of milk or shortening (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine butter, sugar and vanilla and beat until creamy. Beat in the eggs. Add the flour and oatmeal. Spread into a greased 9x13 pan and bake for 20 minutes. While the oatmeal mixture is baking, use a double boiler to melt the chocolate with the peanut butter. Depending on how thick the chocolate mixture is, you can add in 1-2 tsp of milk or shortening if needed. Let the oatmeal base cool and then spread the warm chocolate, peanut butter mixture over the oatmeal base. Place in fridge to let cool and harden for 30 minutes. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

grapefruit martini

I used to hate grapefruit because I had never tasted a good one until about a year ago. Since then I can't get enough, starting with this grapefruit martini. Truthfully, I rarely drink liquor. I'm more of a beer girl but my mom loves grapefruit martinis and after the first one I was hooked! This drink is the perfect summer cocktail with grapefruits still in season. You can easily juice a grapefruit or use a good grapefruit juice from the store. Oh and please don't buy simple syrup. A few weeks ago I was wandering around William-Sonoma and a man walked in and asked if they carried simple syrup. Simple syrup is simply water and sugar, tricky I know... so please don't buy it! All you have to do is measure out equal parts water and sugar, bring the water to a boil, add the sugar and turn on low and stir until sugar is dissolved. Throw a glass in the freezer for 10 minutes, cut a slice of grapefruit and run it along the edge of the glass. Sprinkle a few spoonfuls of sugar on a small plate and dip the top of the martini glass in the sugar. Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice and serve. 

Grapefruit Martini
serves 1...but you can't have just one!

2 oz vodka
1 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz simple sugar syrup
1 oz triple sec

Monday, May 9, 2011

arugula salad with grapes, fennel, blue cheese & pecans

This is a recipe that has been tried and tested in my family. Since my birthday was this past Friday, I requested this salad be part of dinner because I love it that much (and the options were limitless). The thing about this salad, you can't skip out on any of the ingredients! This salad can be served with or without the puff pastry crust. Cook's Illustrated didn't include the puff pastry crust in their recipe but I think it is a great addition and pie crust or a pizza dough rolled out very thinly would work too!

Arugula Salad with Grapes, Fennel, Blue Cheese & Pecans
Recipe from Cooks Illustrated

4 tsp apricot jam
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp extra- virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, minced very fine (1 tbsp)
1/2 fennel bulb (about 1 cup), cored and trimmed and sliced thin
1/4 c. of fronds (green leafy part of fennel)
8 c. of baby arugula
1 c. of red seedless grapes
3/4 c. gorgonzola or blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 c. chopped pecans, toasted
craisins (optional)
1/2 puff pastry sheet, thawed and rolled thin

Roll out 1/2 of the puff pastry dough and poke holes in it with a fork. Bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and let cool. 

Whisk jam, vinegar, oil, shallot, salt, pepper in bowl. Toss fennel with this vinaigrette and let stand for 15 minutes. Add arugula, fennel fronds and grapes and toss together. Lay salad onto puff pastry and then sprinkle toasted pecans, cheese crumbles and craisins on top.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

asian salad with peanut dressing

About time for a break from desserts! When I was in Atlanta a few weeks ago I went to Bacon Fest and ate bacon until I felt sick. That night, all I wanted for dinner was a light, fresh salad. So this is my take on the salad I had with red, green and napa cabbage, basil, cilantro, green and red onion with a spicy peanut  dressing. This salad came with hanger steak on it but I pushed that to the side after all the bacon I had eaten that day.

Red, Green & Napa Cabbage Salad with Peanut Dressing

for the salad:
1/2 small head of napa cabbage
1 small head of red cabbage
1 small head of green cabbage
1 red onion, diced
3 green onions, diced
bunch of cilantro
bunch of basil

spicy peanut dressing:
1/2 c. peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/8 c. to 1/4 c. water

For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir on low heat until the peanut butter melts. Wait for the dressing to cool and pour over salad immediately before serving.
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