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Blackberry Lime Crumb Bars
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blackberry lime crumb bars

Well, we missed picking blueberries again this summer.  I seriously don’t know how we’ve managed to do this for the third summer in a row but somehow, July and early August just sneak by without a spare Saturday to hit up the local blueberry patches.

blackberry lime crumb bars

We did, however, stumble upon a blackberry u-pick field while we were cruising around the north shore of my old stomping grounds early last week.  What a day it was!  The night before was filled with a fun family wedding at an aquarium (such a great place!) and we took Monday off to get in some sun and relaxation before heading home.  Windows down.  Music up.  Long Island’s farm and wine country.  Sea air creating those never-ceasing and uncontrollable ringlets with my not-tightly-enough pony-tailed hair.  We had an inkling of what vacation feels like.

blackberry lime crumb bars

Our intention was to pick blueberries but we filled up 3 pint baskets with gorgeous blackberries instead.  No complaints here, especially considering we got this dessert out of the deal.  A quick stir together of blackberries, sugar, cornstarch, and lime juice (to help the blackberries break down) is sandwiched between a crumb mixture that acts as both the bar base and topping.   So simple.  So amazing.  And yep, so versatile too – strawberries, peaches, blueberries, apples, raspberries (you get the point) all work beautifully here so you can’t possibly choose the wrong fruit!

Blackberry Lime Crumb Bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield: 12 bars

The original recipe calls for lemon zest and juice but lime seems to be a more natural choice to use with blackberries. If you use other fruits, choose your citrus according to what works best with that fruit.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided into 1/2 and 1/4 cups
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1 stick (8 oz or 1/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Grease a 8x8-inch pan with butter or cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the sugar with the baking powder and flour. Lightly whisk in the salt and the lemon zest. Cut in the butter and half of the beaten egg with a pastry blender (or two knives or your fingers) until the butter is about pea-sized - the mixture should be crumbly without much loose flour. Spread a little more than half of the dough mixture in an even layer over the bottom of the prepared pan and press down firmly to form the bottom crust.
  3. In another medium bowl, stir the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch and lime juice together. Gently mix in the blackberries with a rubber spatula until combined. Spread the berry mixture evenly over the bottom crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the berries. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is slightly golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares and serving. These bars keep well refrigerated for 2-3 days.

Source

source: adapted from these strawberry crumb bars

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2012/08/blackberry-limecrumb-bars/

Apricot and Strawberry Tart
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I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten fresh apricots.  I realize this sounds completely ridiculous but it’s true.  Actually, it was true up until a few weeks ago when I made this apricot and strawberry tart…which was supposed to be an apple galette but since apples are out of season and the King Arthur Flour kitchens ended up with a crate full of the most luscious apricots ever, we made apricot and strawberry tarts instead.  And boy, after scones, jammy bits muffins, pain au chocolate, sweet potato gnocchi, endless amounts of Vermont cheddar cheese, and so much more fabulous food than I can describe, a perfectly ripened apricot hit the spot for all of us.

Well, I guess I should preface that by saying that whatever was leftover after we made these tarts with more butter, sugar, and flour really hit the spot.  The tarts though, are pretty spectacular pieces of work.  We did actually make our own puff pastry dough which I’m sure took them to another level (and I do plan on sharing this recipe after I make it again because I didn’t get very many photos when I made it at Blog and Bake, thank you floured hands) but I know frozen puff pastry will work just as well here.  Baking this tart at 400 degrees allows for the apricots and strawberries to break down, soften, and intensify in flavor and this was, aside from the homemade puff pastry dough, what makes this tart so special.  It’s the contrast between juicy fruit and flaky crust that I love so much and I’m so thrilled to have been able to share my proud achievement with Kyle the night I returned home.  Though, I’m sure he only took it as being anything homemade after 3 days of grubbing from the fridge and pantry on his own. :)

Apricot and Strawberry Tart

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough, thawed
  • 2 apricots, washed, pitted and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • Ground cinnamon (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. On a lightly floured board, roll out the puff pastry dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Trim the edges to form a 14x14-inch square, reserving the scraps to create an extra-tall border on the tart, if desired. You can also twist the scraps into spirals and roll them in cinnamon-sugar before baking on the same baking sheet as the tart.
  3. Transfer the square to the baking sheet and layer the apricots and strawberries out over the dough, in any design you choose, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Sprinkle on all of the sugar then lightly sprinkle the cinnamon over the fruit. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are nicely browned and the fruit is well-softened. Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of ice cream, a dollop of whipped cream, or by itself because it's so good that you really don't need any accompaniments for it.

Source

source: a loose adaptation of the King Arthur Flour Apple Galette (published with permission)

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2012/06/apricot-and-strawberry-tart/

Rhubarb Strawberry Jam
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rhubarb strawberry jam

When Kyle and I moved into our first house together 9 years ago, we had three neighbors.  One family was an absolute nightmare.  The man who lived in the house across the street offered to plow our driveway each winter – we liked him. And the third house was the home of an older couple who had the most fantastic yard full of mature flowers, plants, and fruit bushes…and they shared.  The first time Ruth sent Kyle home with an armful of rhubarb, I was overwhelmed.  I had no idea what to do with it – no idea what it tasted like, for that matter.  I chopped it up and boiled it down with some sugar; I wasn’t impressed.

rhubarb strawberry jam

And in the years since living in that little old house on Horton Hill Road (to which I still fondly refer to as Horton Hears a Who Hill Road), I’ve encountered rhubarb only on a few occasions and even fewer in my own kitchen.  But I’ve always been intrigued with it and after making a strawberry rhubarb pie last summer, not only has my confidence in cooking and baking with rhubarb soared, but I’ve developed a love for this tart plant.

rhubarb strawberry jam

This rhubarb strawberry jam is the perfect example of how awesome rhubarb can be.  Cooked down with sweet strawberries and a little bit of sugar, the fruit’s natural pectin releases and allows the jam to thicken without ClearJel or other pectin additives.  Just enough sugar and the cooked strawberries reduces the tart effect of rhubarb and the blend of these two springtime fruits is one that has come to be such a favorite of mine.  Of course, jam-topped English muffins couldn’t make a nicer light breakfast for me, but how about dolloping this jam on some homemade vanilla ice cream or spooning some into thumbprint cookies?  Yes, I’ll take either of them.

Rhubarb Strawberry Jam

Yield: 5 pint jars (8oz each)

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs fresh rhubarb, trimmed of green or soft areas, cubed into 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
  • 1 lbs fresh strawberries, hulled and diced (about 3 cups)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

  1. To prepare for canning: Sterilize 5 half-pint (8oz) jars and keep them hot in the canning pot while you make the jam. Jar sterilization instructions can be found on www.freshpreserving.com (by Ball).
  2. To make the jam: Place a small freezer-safe plate in the freezer.
  3. Cook the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and 1/2 cup water in a wide, 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, stirring frequently until the juices cover the fruit, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Pour the mixture into a colander set over a large bowl, gently stirring the fruit to drain off the juice - do not mash the fruit. Return the juice to the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally until the syrup has reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes.
  5. Add the fruit and any accumulated juice back to the pot and stir in the lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently for about 15 minutes. To test when the jam is finished, spoon a few drops of the jam onto the chilled plate and return the plate to the freezer for 1 minute; the jam should become somewhat firm but not gelled. In the meantime, skim off as much foam from the jam in the pot then remove the pot from the heat and gently stir the jam for a few seconds to evenly distribute the fruit.
  6. Ladle the hot jam into the sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4-inch of headspace between the top of the jam and the top of the jar. Use a hot damp cloth to wipe the rim of the jars clean, then place a flat lid and ring on the top of each jar, tightening the ring to just finger-tight.
  7. Return the jars to the boiling canning pot, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring the water back to a boil (it will have stopped boiling after you placed the jars in it) and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the jars from the pot and place them on a dish towel - do not touch them or press down on the lids. After about 1 hour, all of the lids should have popped/sealed. If any of the lids are able to make a popping sound when lightly pushed on, keep them refrigerated as they have not been processed properly for room temperature storage. Allow the sealed jars to remain untouched for 24 hours before storing.

Source

source: adapted from Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2012/06/rhubarb-strawberry-jam/

Lemon Cupcakes with Fresh Raspberry Curd Filling
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I love it when an idea comes together.  When what I’ve been dreaming up in my head turns out just how I pictured it.  That was these lemon cupcakes.  I had made this recipe as full-on lemon poppy cake a few years back for a girlfriend’s baby shower and have since wanted to remake the recipe not only to share with all of you (because it’s pretty awesome) but also because I’ve always thought a cupcake version would be perfectly delightful.

And I was right.  The lemon cupcakes are soft-crumbed clouds with a dollop of fresh raspberry curd running through the center, topped with a billowy mound of the fluffiest lemon buttercream I’ve ever eaten.  The cupcakes themselves are sturdy and soft at the same time, a cupcake trait not always easy to achieve, and they were able to withstand a hollowed-out the center for the curd and the frosting on top without falling into pieces after the first couple of bites.  Of course flavor-wise, berries and citrus are a match made in heaven and even though you’d like to think that these cupcakes would be too lemony and tart between the cake and the frosting, the bright raspberry curd keeps perfect balance.  Of course, some sugar helps with this balance as well. ;)

You’ll cone-out the center of each cupcake and add some of your very own, homemade raspberry curd (don’t cut corners and buy it!), a treat worth licking the spoon for in and of itself.  If you’ve never made curd before, it’s quite a simple process which involves straining out all of the seeds so you’re left with a thick and silky sweet condiment that can be spread onto biscuits or scones, drizzled over ice cream, or used however else you can dream up.  It’s a lovely and necessary component to these cupcakes and I wouldn’t skip making it.

The verdict from Kyle, the non-lemon-loving heathen that he is, was clearly indicated by the random wrappers I’ve found around the kitchen.  One or two before I get home from work…another one while I’m making dinner…you get the point.  We both adore these lemon cupcakes and I know you will too.  In fact, I love them so much that I’m contributing them to Celebrations.com Memorial Day Virtual Blogger Potluck Party that I’ve been invited to.  Have a look on Celebrations (link below) to see the party as a whole and be sure to stop by the other awesome bloggers’ blogs to see what they brought to the party as well.

Lemon Cupcakes with Fresh Raspberry Curd Filling

Yield: about 2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the raspberry curd:
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 pint ripe raspberries or 1 12-oz. package frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • For the lemon cupcakes:
  • 2 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 2 ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • For the lemon buttercream frosting:
  • 16 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • For garnish:
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries

Instructions

  1. To make the raspberry curd: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the raspberries, egg yolks, sugar and salt, and cook, mashing the berries. Stir frequently at first and then constantly at the end, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Pour the mixture through a coarse strainer set over a bowl, pressing hard on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Cool to room temperature; the curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Stir in lemon juice to taste. Cover and refrigerate until fully chilled. The curd can be made 2-3 days in advance.
  2. To make the cupcakes: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. In the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and increase the speed to medium-high. Beat just until stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted. Transfer the egg whites to a separate bowl (not plastic), clean and dry the mixer bowl and reattach it with the paddle attachment.
  4. Add the butter to the mixer bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat until incorporated. Mix in the lemon zest. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in ¼ cup of the milk until just blended. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the remaining milk in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour; scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat until just blended. Using a rubber spatula, fold one quarter of the egg whites into the batter, being careful not to deflate the mixture. Once incorporated, add in the rest of the whites (including any liquid that may have accumulated on the bottom of the bowl) and gently fold in until well combined; no white should remain.
  5. Using a large cookie/ice cream scoop, divide the batter between the cupcake liners, filling each liner about 2/3 full. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-22 minutes, turning the pans around halfway through the baking time. Cool the cupcakes in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes then remove them from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.
  6. To make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and zest on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until smooth. Add the heavy cream and lemon juice and beat for one minute longer; the frosting should be light and fluffy.
  7. To assemble: Once the cupcakes have cooled, hollow out the center of each cupcake using the cone method and spoon about 1 tsp of raspberry curd in to each hollowed-out cupcake. The filling should sit just shy of the top of the cupcake. Frost as desired, taking care not to push the curd out of the cupcake with the weight of the frosting. Garnish with fresh raspberries.
  8. Serve and store at room temperature, though the frosting will soften significantly at temperatures above 75° F.

Source

source: adapted from Annie’s Eats

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2012/05/lemon-cupcakes-with-fresh-raspberry-curd-filling/

Red Velvet and Strawberry Trifles with Cheesecake Filling
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Red Velvet and Strawberry Trifles with Cheesecake Filling

For the most part, Kyle and I agree on pretty much everything that comes out of our kitchen.  It makes for pretty easy living in this house and loads of fun when I menu plan and decide on what kind of sweets to bake.  The only recent exception to this lovely mutually agreeable relationship is cream cheese frosting.  While I can eat the tangy frosting with a spoon, Kyle can take it or leave it.  And yet I keep making it not because I forget how he feels about it, but because I think I can change his mind with different recipes.  It never works.

Red Velvet and Strawberry Trifles with Cheesecake Filling

So when I made red velvet cupcakes last weekend, I ended up with a few extra frosted cupcakes and a moment of panic about what to do with them since I knew Kyle wasn’t about to bring Valentine’s cupcakes to his construction site at work.  It took me all of about .2 seconds to decide what needed to be done: repurpose them!  I scraped off the frosting (did you really just question what happened to it?), cubed up the cupcakes, sliced some fresh strawberries, and pulled together a no-bake cheesecake filling for some Valentine’s Day trifles.  And when I tell you that we both swooned with the first bite, I’m not kidding.  The silky filling has a touch of lemon that blends perfectly with the strawberries and soaks into the cake layers after a day-long refrigeration, resulting in a decadent and brightly-flavored dessert that would make the perfect ending to any sort of Valentine’s Day celebration.  We were hoping to celebrate this year in our new home but after another delay (?!*$), these trifles will be the perfect way to be celebrate how happy we are together, regardless of the situation.

Peach Vanilla Bean Jam
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Peach Vanilla Bean Jam

I’m not going to lie to you.  I’m not yet sick of all the peach recipes going on in my kitchen this summer.  In fact, after this peach vanilla bean jam, there may be one more recipe I’ll share before the end of the month (think pie).   Peach jam, however, is something I’ve been dying to make for as long as I can remember and I decided that it was time to finally step up to the plate and make some.  Flecked with tiny vanilla bean seeds, this jam lived up to every imaginable expectation I had for what a homemade peach jam should be.  It’s rich with juicy ripe peaches suspended in their own juices that, when cooked down for over an hour with some sugar, thicken into a glorious and sticky jam.  Seriously, could this jam not be a more luxurious compliment to some fresh croissants?  I’d say it was the perfect breakfast for this birthday girl this morning.

Peach Vanilla Bean Jam

As far as canning this jam goes, it helps that this week has been the perfect time to work on my canning skills since I’ve had some time off but if you’re uneasy about canning, you can make the jam and store it in the fridge.  However, canning in general is a very simple process and if you’ve never tried it, this recipe is the perfect way to get you started.

Blueberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake
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Blueberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake

This is the cake of family secrets.  It’s the cake that will make all of the old bitties at the church fair nudge each other out of the way with oversized handbags in order to buy the sole one remaining from the cakes and pies table.  It’s the cake I can picture being baked up in a tiny southern Georgia kitchen when the thermometer is crossing 90 degrees at 8am so that it’s ready for tea at 4pm.

Blueberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake

Maybe it’s the buttermilk that induces these visions…the buttermilk that tends to be that secret ingredient that no one can put their finger on.  But needless to say, I’ve found the perfect white cake that I’ve been searching for.  It’s a tender (thanks to the cake flour and buttermilk) and delightful cake that when made into a layer cake (as it should have been for the original recipe) would be a complete show-stopper.

Blueberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake

Beth of The Powdered Plum chose the original recipe (a 3-layer with Jack Daniels’ buttercream cake) for Project Pastry Queen but I changed it substantially recipe because I honestly couldn’t bear the thought of having to resist a buttercream encased layer cake sitting on my counter this week.

Blueberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake

Blueberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • A heavy/slightly rounded 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried (enough to almost cover the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan)
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. Place one of the oven racks to the center position of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking or baking spray, place a circle of parchment paper over the bottom of the pan (on the spray), then lightly spray the parchment paper with more cooking or baking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder together; set aside. Stir the lemon zest into the buttermilk, set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg white and vanilla and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the batter and beat on medium speed until just incorporated. Add about half of the buttermilk and beat on medium speed until just incorporated. Continue adding dry and wet ingredients alternately, scraping the bowl down and beating until incorporated after each addition. End with the dry ingredients; the batter should be thick and glossy.
  4. Spread the blueberries out in the bottom of the pan. Spoon the batter evenly over the blueberries and using an offset spatula, smooth the batter out to the sides of the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out mostly clean with just a few crumbs on the toothpick and the top is flat and lightly browned.
  5. Set the cake pan on a wire rack to cool for 10-15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and allow to cool completely before transferring it to a cake plate, dusting with powdered sugar, and serving.

Source

source: heavily adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2011/07/blueberry-buttermilk-upside-down-cake/

Watermelon Feta Mixed Greens Salad
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IMG_0442

For the past 2 or 3 summers, all I’ve heard about is how divine the watermelon and feta combination is.  And yet every rave has swept passed my radar.  It essentially wasn’t until this year that my love for feta has fully consumed me so when I stumbled across Alice’s post yesterday, I dropped what I was doing and did a mental check of the contents in my fridge – being at work all day isn’t easy when it comes to important things like this, you know.  Thankfully, a trip across the scorching grocery store parking lot on a 95 degree day wouldn’t be in my cards as all of the ingredients for this watermelon feta mixed greens salad were safely tucked away at home.  Really though, the ingredients are so basic that I’d bet in the middle of the summer you’ve probably got most, if not all, of them in your fridge too.

If you haven’t tried watermelon with feta yet and love the two foods independently like I do, get.on.it.  A quick citrus squeeze of a lemon over the top of this salad will bring the bold flavors of the red onion and salty feta together with the sweet juicy watermelon in a way you could not imagine.  It’s a truly incredible combination of flavors.  Now, while I haven’t salted my watermelon yet, I can understand why Shawnda has been raving about salted watermelon recently – the feta and watermelon together are simple and perfect, especially with a burst of citrus mixed in.  I served the salad for dinner alongside grilled chicken breast but I know this salad would make a great light lunch (as I intend to have today) or a brilliant side salad to throw together for a summer bbq.

Roasted Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches
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IMG_0447

Are you as excited as I am that it’s July 1st?!  Not only are we kicking off the official start of summer this weekend, but it’s also the start of National Ice Cream Month!  31 days dedicated to cold and creamy ice cream running down from cones to elbows in the blazing summer heat…it’s the food of the American childhood.  Standard flavors aside, I wanted a flavor to really celebrate all that’s great about summer and as I’ve mentioned in a few of my recent posts, summer fruit is certainly one of the things that excites me the most about this season.

I had been dreaming up these roasted peach ice cream sandwiches for a few weeks now and they finally came together this week.  If you’re familiar with The Perfect Scoop, you’ll already know that there is a [likely] very good peach ice cream recipe I could have used but it didn’t contain any eggs…but when I make ice cream, I want a smooth and creamy ice cream that you can usually only get from using egg yolks.  So, working with a vanilla ice cream base I’ve used a few times before, I roasted a few peaches sprinkled with brown sugar and let them steep in the milk and custard mixtures to allow the flavors to blend together.  After the ice cream was finished churning I mixed in the diced roasted peaches and let it freeze…though not without a few spoonfuls of the freshly churned stuff first.

Roasted Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches

The roasted peaches really do add quite a bit of a flavor boost to this already amazing vanilla ice cream and sandwiched between toffee cookies, you’ve got yourself a handful of heaven.   And, if you can manage to wait a few minutes for the ice cream to soften before diving into these sandwiches, you’ll get the full effect of the peachy ice cream because as it softens and warms slightly, your taste buds will be better able to taste the ice cream (true story!).  Toffee cookies aren’t a necessity here, though they were pretty amazing, so you can use any crispy cookie you want.  I imagine even the Toll House recipe cookies without chocolate chips would be excellent as well.  The key to making the sandwiches is to allow them to set up in the freezer for at least 6 hours (overnight would be better) to allow the ice cream to soften the cookie.  And while it seems counter-intuitive to not use soft cookies for ice cream sandwiches, I firmly believe that crisp cookies have more flavor and hold up better overall to freezing that soft ones do.  Regardless of the cookie you choose to accompany this roasted peach ice cream, I’m confident that you’ll love it as much as we both did.  Did I forget to mention that in spite of the fact that Kyle continues to say that he isn’t a big fan of peaches (though he seemed to gobble up this recent dessert), he was blown away by these ice cream sandwiches — and frankly, who wouldn’t be?

Need a few other ideas for some rockin’ ice cream this summer?

Milk Chocolate Brownie Chunk Ice Cream

Tin Roof Ice Cream

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Ice Cream

 

 

 

Roasted Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches

Yield: about 1 ½ quarts ice cream | about 12 ice cream sandwiches

Roasting the peaches for this ice cream deepens the flavor of the peaches and adding a splash of bourbon to the custard base before it's churned lends another level of flavor to an already amazing ice cream base. Alternatively to roasting, you could blanch the peach for 30 seconds in a pot of boiling water and immerse them in a bowl of ice water to remove the skins. Slice them in half, remove the pit, and carefully drop them into the warming milk-sugar-cream mixture to steep away.

Ingredients

  • 4 large peaches (about 1 1/2 lbs), cut in half and pits removed
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup lightly packed brown sugar + 2 tbsp, separated
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 6 egg yolks
  • Splash of bourbon (optional)
  • Crispy Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and grease with butter or cooking spray. Lay the peaches on the sheet pan, skin-side down, and sprinkle 2 tbsp of brown sugar over the peaches. Roast the peaches for 30-40 minutes until they begin to brown and start to soften. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes before removing the skins.
  2. While the peaches cool, warm the milk, sugars, 1 cup of the cream, and salt in a medium saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the warm milk and add the bean and peaches into the warm milk. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Carefully remove the peaches from the milk mixture and set aside in a medium bowl. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Put the vanilla bean into the custard and stir until cool over an ice bath. Once the custard has cooled, carefully add the peaches to the custard.
  5. Cover and chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (overnight works best to allow the flavors to blend together). When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, rinsing and reserving it for another use. Remove the peaches and again set them aside in a medium bowl, taking care to remove as much of the custard from the peaches as you can. If you're using it, stir in the splash of bourbon to the custard at this point. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Dice the peaches into approximately 1/2-inch pieces and stir into the ice cream to evenly distribute once it has finished churning. Freeze the ice cream for at least 4 hours before eating or adding to cookies for ice cream sandwiches.

Source

source: adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2011/07/roasted-peach-ice-cream-sandwiches/
Blueberry Scones
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Blueberry Scones

I have a strategy when it comes to choosing recipes from my to-make list.  In the summer months, said strategy is mainly focused around what fruits or vegetables are in season.  As you may well know, the New England growing season isn’t a long one, and for some fruits, we wait sometimes upwards of 2 months for arrival at the farm stands.  Luckily, blueberries arrive fairly early on in the NE growing season and they peak in July.  It’s really no wonder why they show up in so many 4th of July desserts — aside from the obvious use of their blue color, of course.  Our plan this year is to pick a hot July morning next month to do some pickin’ and it’s quite possible that I end up with an army of blueberries as I did with strawberries a few years back.  Next year, our plan is to plant blueberry bushes and I can’t tell you how excited I already am about this!

Before we hit the fields, I’ll satisfy my blueberry cravings with these scones.  Dare I say they are the best scones I’ve ever eaten?  I realize that’s kind of a big thing to say but I won’t lie to you, you know that.  These are the melt-in-your-mouth kind of scones you dream of eating.  The kind of scones most recipes only promise to give you.  These are the real deal.  Flaky, tender, buttery, and not a bit guilt-free.  These are my kind of scones.  And to sweeten the deal a little further, since blueberries really are available year-round, there should be nothing holding you back from baking up a batch on a cold wintery morning as opposed to a hot July morning when you have a house chock full of visitors…like say, this weekend?  I’d venture to say that if you threw in a few strawberries to this recipe, you would also have quite the patriotic breakfast on your hands.  I certainly wouldn’t argue with a breakfast like this one!

Whole Lemon Muffins
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Whole Lemon Muffins

When I set out to make muffins, I want a muffin. Not some wimpy, under-flavored piece of cake trying to be a muffin.  My ideal muffin has got to be to boldly flavored.  It’s got to have a soft crumb.  And Lord knows, it’s got to have a meaty muffin top.  Essentially, The Pastry Queen has got my ideal muffin covered and it was just my luck to be able to choose this recipe this week.  With the addition of an entire lemon (yes, skin, pith, juice, and pulp), these aptly named Whole Lemon Muffins have got the boldly flavored requirement covered while miraculously not being overly tart, as I feared they might be.  With little pieces of lemon floating around the muffin, they are the perfectly flavored lemon muffin.  The addition of yogurt yields a soft crumb, and the fact that you’ll fill the batter up to the top of the muffin cup will leave you with a great big muffin top (my favorite part!) even though I made the muffins in a standard-size muffin tin.  There were very few changes I made to the recipe aside from halving it (which yielded 9 muffins):

  1. I omitted the nuts from the recipe
  2. I added 3 tsp of poppy seeds [to the halved recipe]
  3. Next time, I would consider adding some coarse sugar to the muffin tops for a little sparkle and crunch in place of the glaze

Whole Lemon Muffins

Hill Country Peach and Strawberry Cobbler
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When the air is dripping with humidity and we’re too naïve to turn on the air conditioning thinking that, at some point, there’s got to be a breeze, there’s nothing I like more than throwing together a dessert in 10 minutes of prep time.  Well, I guess there’s one thing better than that: a dessert with gorgeous summer fruit.  Juicy unpeeled (yay!) peaches are combined with some luscious in-season strawberries and set atop layers of browned butter and cobbler batter.  A sprinkle of brown sugar tops everything and while baking, a little magic happens.  Since the cobbler is made backwards with the fruit on top and the batter on the bottom, you’d never think this recipe would work correctly…but it does!  The batter rises to the top with the help of some baking powder, covers the fruit, mixes with the brown sugar, browns up to crunchy sugar edges, and the result is a divine and not overly sweet dessert.  If you really want push it to the next level, add a scoop of ice cream – mine was homemade Cinnamon-Vanilla Bean and it almost overshadowed the cobbler.  Almost.  This Peach and Strawberry Cobbler was by far the high point of my day yesterday and since I can use virtually any kind of fruit in place of the peaches and strawberries (fresh or frozen!), you can hedge your bets that I’ll be making this cobbler even into the fall after we go apple picking and pears are back in-season.

My pal, Josie, chose this recipe as her choice for Project Pastry Queen this week so make sure you head on over to Pink Parsley to check out her version!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
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I’ve had a prejudice against pies for years.  Admittedly, a pie maker I’m not.  I can’t pinpoint the reason for this prejudice but it’s been lurking around my kitchen.  Lurking like your slightly off-kilter college roommate does when your suite is brimming with friends.  And like this college roommate situation, it’s unnerving.  I want to make pies.  I’ve seen some jaw-droppingly gorgeous pies around the blogs for years and yet each summer passes by without the sign of a pie on Smells Like Home.  I’m sorry that I’ve been a wimp.  I’m working on it.

This strawberry rhubarb pie is the first plunge I’ve taken into pie making this summer.  I hope you like it.  I loved it.  I pulled the strawberry rhubarb filling together in about 5 minutes and the dough took even less time to make.  Shockingly easy.  Not ever having had rhubarb, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the flavor but it blended so beautifully together with the strawberries – a little tart and a little sweet with a pie crust that made me burst with pride when I took my first taste.  Judging by my 92-year-old grandmother’s ecstatic reaction this pie, and considering she has vivid memories of slimy rhubarb that her mother used to boil to all hell, I’d say that this pie is a resounding success.  I’ve invested in a pie cookbook to assist me through the summer and after this strawberry rhubarb triumph, there will definitely be more pies to come soon.

Strawberry Crumb Bars
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Strawberry Crumb Bars

Please don’t yell at me for posting another delightful dessert recipe this week – I just can’t help myself!  First the blackberry oatmeal pie bars, now these strawberry crumb bars.  Either of the two would be an outstanding choice for your next reason to make dessert but let me tell you a little secret behind these here bars…it’s not strawberry season yet here in New England. In fact, we’ve got another month to go before any picking goes on but the great thing about strawberries shipped in from Florida in the middle of April is that in spite of the fact that you know they’re not local and thus don’t taste nearly as fantastic as local strawberries do, they’re still damn good in these crumb bars.  The strawberries are baked into the form of a buttery hand-held crumble and are truly irresistible.  They soften and sweeten into everything you long for in a summer strawberry – need I say more?  I made a half-batch and brought them to a meeting with some of my staff at work and there may have been a couple of people who took a few extra bars in napkins just in case they went before seconds could be claimed.  Not that I was watching or anything…but doesn’t every food blogger have an eye on the food to see how quickly it disappears? Gosh, I hope I’m not the only one.

Strawberry Crumb Bars

Yield: 9-12 bars

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 sticks (½ lb) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 4 tsp cornstarch
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Grease a 13×9 inch pan; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder and flour. Mix in the salt and the lemon zest, and stir together with a fork. Cut in the butter and egg with a pastry blender (or two knives if you don’t have one) until the largest chunks are about pea-sized. The mixture should be crumbly without much loose flour. Spread about half of the dough mixture in an even layer over the bottom of the prepared pan and press down firmly to form the bottom crust.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the remaining sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the strawberries with a rubber spatula until combined. Spread the berry mixture evenly over the bottom crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the berries. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is slightly golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.

Source

source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Annie’s Eats

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2011/05/strawberry-crumb-bars/

Fresh Ginger-Pear Quick Bread
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Sometimes things really surprise me.  This here ginger-pear quick bread is one of those such things.  I had considered choosing it a few months back for one of my Project Pastry Queen choices but was a little nervous about the recipe.  A pear quick bread sounded great but I was a little leery about the fresh ginger.  So I passed it over and went with the Brie and Brisket Quesadillas instead.  But this week, this recipe came up as Aliza’s choice and I’m so SO glad I made it over the weekend!

The fresh ginger and pears bake up beautifully in this quick bread (really quick – 10 minutes to prep!) and with a hint of sweetness, they combine into a lovely flavor that I didn’t expect to fall for as much as I did.  And I definitely didn’t expect Kyle to love this bread as much as he did!  I considered serving the bread with a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream but found that it was just so moist and tender that no accompaniments were needed.  Lucky for me, I baked up the batter in two 8″ loaf pans rather than one 9″ so I’ve got an extra loaf in the freezer for another day.  I love being able to just pull out a loaf of quick bread from the freezer in the morning before work and have it ready to eat for dessert that night!

As mentioned, Aliza from Baker by Night chose this recipe and she has the full recipe posted.  Next week we’re making Emergency Fruit Crostatas!