Monday, June 30, 2008

Blueberry Nectarine Crisp and an award

I love crisps of any kind. Apple in the fall, strawberry rhubarb in the spring, and any combo of fresh fruit in the summer. They're quick and easy. The hardest part of making a crisp is waiting for it to come out of the oven! This is a basic crisp recipe. You can use any combination of fruit that you'd like or have on hand. Frozen fruit works equally as well. I used nectarines, blueberries and blackberries in my crisp.
2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pan
3 oz. (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. table salt
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
3 cups (about 1 lb.) room-temperature blueberries, washed and drained on paper towels (I used half blackberries and half blueberries)
3 medium peaches (about 1 lb.), halved, pitted, and sliced 1/2 inch thick (I substituted nectarines)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

how to make

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch square metal or ceramic baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp. of the salt. With your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture readily clumps together when pressed. Mix in the pecans.

In a large bowl, toss the blueberries and peaches. In a small bowl, combine the granulated sugar with the cornstarch, nutmeg, and the remaining 1/8 tsp. salt and toss this mixture with the fruit.

Spread the fruit into the prepared baking pan. Pressing the streusel into small lumps, sprinkle it over the fruit. Bake until the fruit is bubbling in the center and the topping is crisp and well browned, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool slightly and serve warm.

serving suggestions:
I love this crisp served with vanilla ice cream.

From Fine Cooking

And now an award...

A couple of weeks ago Loulou of the wonderful Chez Loulou nominated me for the Arte Y Pico award. I was so flattered! My very first award woohoo. Thanks Loulou! Your blog always inspires me and makes me wish I lived in the South of France.

The terms of the award are:

1. You pick five blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also contribute to the blogging community, no matter what language.

2.Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and the link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.

4. Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of Arte y Pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of the award.

There are so many talented people out there with such amazing blogs how do I pick just 5? In the end I decided to go with the blogs that inspire and challenge me to be more creative. So here goes...

Susan at Wild Yeast because I admire her bread making skills and she helps demystify working with yeast. I can't think of anything I like better than freshly baked bread!

Helen at Tartlette because she's a pasrty goddess. Every time I think she can't make a more beautiful confection, she blows me away with a new creation, each with equally beautiful photography.

Dhanddit of Dhanggit Kitchen is somewhere I can always go to find inspiration or just to drool. Her Friday's Dose of Chocolate posts make me want to lick my computer screen:)

Stephanie of a Whisk and a Spoon. Every delicious recipe is accompanied by a magazine cover worthy photo.

Katy at Sugar Laws because I love her writing,her posts usually make me laugh, and her recipes are inventive and fun.

Thanks again Loulou:)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Danish Debacle

Danish Braid was the Daring Baker's challenge this month. This is something I've always wanted to try but have never made. Everything started out really well. I made all my turns with no problems. Wow that was an upper body workout! The dough looked beautiful. I left mine in the refrigerator until the next morning so that I'd have fresh danish for breakfast. I rolled out the dough on my silicon mat cut the slits and filled the danish with Julia Childs triple berry jam and confectioner's cream. I braided the dough and everything looked really nice.
Then I realized that my braid was on the silicon mat and needed to be on the baking tray. !@#$%@#!!! I'd have to pick up my braid and move it! I put my silpat on the baking tray, slid a spatula under the braid and carefully transferred it to the baking tray to finish the rising process. It still looked okay at this point but the braid was not holding very well. Then it went into the hot oven...
*Note to self* Never move a braided danish stuffed full with berry and cream filling! This is what happens...

It still tasted incredibly delicious, but it looked like danish roadkill. The dough was perfect with hundreds of buttery layers and the filling OMG, amazing. So despite looking like it got hit by a car, the danish was really good. I learned a lot from this challenge, and got in quite the upper body workout! Check out all the other Daring Baker's danishes. Thanks Kelly and Ben for a great challenge! The recipe is long. You can find it here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Blueberry Ice Cream

This is the blueberry ice cream we had at our last farm dinner. I used blueberries from our farm. They are small but very flavorful. This makes a very creamy ice cream. A full fat yogurt can be substituted for the half and half to make an equally delicious frozen yogurt.

2 cups fresh blueberries or frozen blueberries (See Note)

3/4 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 cup half and half

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp vodka (optional)

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the fresh blueberries, water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes to steep.

Transfer the blueberry mixture to a food processor and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and stir in vodka. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Add the cream and lemon juice to the blueberry puree and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. Makes about 1 quart.

Note: If using frozen blueberries, make the sugar syrup by combining the water and sugar in a saucepan, bringing the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, and cooking it until clear, about 1 minute. Put the frozen blueberries in a heatproof bowl and pour the syrup over them. Let cool and then transfer to the food processor. Proceed with the recipe.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More from the Farmer's Table dinner

Here is a little more about the farm dinner we hosted last Saturday. We held it outside, on our family farm. When we decided to hold one of our farm dinner's in the summer, we knew that we'd be tempting Mother Nature. Here in south Alabama in the summer, you never know what the weather will do. Tropical storms, 100 degree temps, 99% get the idea. So the week before our dinner we watched the weather, held our breath, and said more than a few prayer's, that the weather would participate. As the week-end neared we had a 50% chance of scattered showers in the forecast. Around here that means it may rain at your house but half a mile away the sun may be shinning. Would it rain or not? It was any ones guess. Our back-up plan was to put all the tables on the wrap around porch of my parent's house.
With our guests arriving at 5:30, at about 4:00 we decided to go ahead and set up outside. It would be nearly impossible to move everything if it did start to rain. Lots more prayer's were said!
At 5:30 our 22 diner's began to arrive. We had a table with various cheeses, homemade cherry chutney, and a tomato, basil, and garlic salsa, for them to munch on while they mingled. Our famous mint tea and a strawberry lemon-aid were on offer to drink.
Just before we planned to have everyone sit down for dinner, Splat! Some fat raindrops began to fall! NO! was the collective cry, and God listened. The rain stopped, the clouds right above us parted and opened to a patch of blue sky. The dinner was wonderful, featuring fresh local ingredients, with as many as possible coming from our farm. Here's what was on the menu:
Farmer’s Table Menu
Summer Solstice

Artisan Cheese Table

Grilled Flank Steak with Portabella Mushrooms
Grilled Alabama Shrimp Skewers

Blue Cheese Potato Salad with Apple wood Smoked Bacon
Grilled Slocomb Corn on the Cob with Basil Butter
Summer Grilled Vegetables with Picnic Vinaigrette
Waterberry Farm Green Salad with Purple Radish and White French Dressing

Blue Ribbon Dessert Table

For dessert, we had a friendly competition. Mom, my sister, a family friend and I, all made fruit desserts. Then we let the guest tell us their favorite. Everyone had a great time tasting and retasting all the desserts, but we never did come up with a clear winner. Maybe that's because all the choices were delicious. We had quite the spread. There was old fashioned apple pie with sour cream topping, a mixed berry crisp, freshly fried peach hand pies, mini blueberry tarts, rhubarb cake, cherry cobbler and strawberry and blueberry ice cream. With choices like those it's no wonder we never could pick a winner!
The pictures in this post were taken by Angela Davidson.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Farmer's Table Summer Solstice

Here is just a glimpse of last night's Farmer's Table at Waterberry Farm. It was a wonderful way to welcome in the summer season.

This is just a sneak peek from last night. I'll write more about it later, but I need to recuperate first!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Apricot, Almond, Cream Cheese Crostata

This week marks the offical arrival of summer and brings with it the arrival of fresh apricots. Even their beautiful orange hue reminds me of a sunny day. When I saw them in the market this week, I couldn't wait to bake them into a tart. The season for the fresh apricots is short, so get them while you can.

I came across this recipe for an apricot, almond, cream cheese crostata. I love it's free form rustic look and thought the flavors sounded delicious.
This great summery tart doesn't require a special pan.
Bon Appetit (slightly adapted)
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 1 1/2 Hours (includes baking and cooling time)

Servings: Makes 8 servings.

2 oz log almond paste
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pie crust, room temperature
5 to 6 large apricots, quartered, pitted
1/4 cup apricot jam, heat
Preheat oven to 400°F. Blend almond paste and 3 tablespoons sugar in processor until finely chopped. Add cream cheese, egg yolk, and vanilla and blend until filling is smooth. Unroll crust on heavy rimmed baking sheet. Spread filling over crust, leaving 1 1/2-inch plain border. Arrange apricot quarters, rounded side down, in spoke pattern in 2 concentric circles atop filling. Fold dough border up over edge of filling. Brush exposed apricots with warm jam. Sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar.

Bake crostata until crust is golden brown and apricots are tender and slightly browned, about 43 minutes. Cool 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The recipe originally called for topping the tart with crushed amaretti cookies. I wanted to replace the cookies with toasted almonds. When I made the tart however, I forgot the almonds...oh well I guess I'll just have to make it again:) I used a homemade pie crust in place of the store bought one called for in the recipe. I think that made what would have been a good tart into a truly superb tart.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rhubarb and Strawberry Clafoutis

When I think of french desserts, I tend to think of something along the lines of our last Daring Baker's challenge. We made L'Opera cake, which consisted of numerous time consuming steps, resulting in a very rich, very decadent, cake. Clafoutis on the other hand, is nothing like L'Opera cake. It's a simple french country dessert with only a few ingredients, more like something your grandmother would make. It's comfort food at it's best. Clafoutis (pronounced kla-foo-Tee) consists of a custard like batter baked over fresh fruit, traditionally cherries.
I came across a recipe for rhubarb and raspberry clafoutis, on Bea's blog La Tartine Gourmande . If you've never visited her site, you're in for a treat. Grab your favorite beverage, go to her blog, and be prepared to stay awhile. Bea is not only a very talented cook, but an amazing photographer as well.
Here in southern Alabama, cherries are not readily available. So inspired by Bea's recipe, I decided to use the rhubarb and strawberries that are in abundance on the farm right now, in my clafoutis.


1 cup cleaned rhubarb, cut in small sticks
6 oz strawberries
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp sour cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar for the rhubarb
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 teaspoon light rum (or vanilla)
1/4 cup blanched almonds (optional)
Confectioner’s sugar, to sprinkle


Place the rhubarb in a colander and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar. Let rest for 1 hour so that it releases some juice.
Preheat your oven at 400 F. Butter an oven safe baking dish or pie pan.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the cornstarch and flour and mix together.
Mix the sour cream in with the milk and slowly add the milk to batter.
Arrange the fruit, in a buttered oven safe dish, and pour the batter over and sprinkle nuts over top.
Cook for about 30 to 35 min, or until golden in color. Remove from the oven and let cool a little before eating. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. Best when eaten while still warm.