Grow up picking berries: blueberries in New Jersey with one grandfather, raspberries in Connecticut with another grandfather, blackberries at the end of the driveway at home. Eat them fresh all summer, cooked into jams by your grandmothers, baked into pies by your mother.
Serves one; adjust amounts according to taste (and your supplies)
Several handfulls of arugula, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 apricot, sliced thinly
6-8 toasted pecan halves
about half an ounce of sharp cheddar cheese (use a vegetable peeler to get thin shavings)
a drizzle of your favorite vinaigrette
Toss all the ingredients together until nicely dressed. Serve.
I don’t normally buy single-ingredient cookbooks (with an inventory of over 100, I’d be seriously jeopardizing my shelf space if I did), but years ago I found a small, beautiful pear cookbook on a remainder table. For $2, I figured if it had just a couple good recipes, it’d be worth the money. In fact, it has several good recipes, but this one is my favorite, a sweet-savory loaf that’s delicious with a smear of mascarpone or cream cheese. (For another pear bread, without the rosemary, try this recipe).
2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 pound Bartlett, Comice or Anjou pears (about 2 medium), cored, peeled, and chopped
2 t chopped fresh rosemary
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 T lemon juice
6 T buttter
1/3 c plus 1 T sugar
2 large eggs
1 fresh rosemary sprig
Preheat the oven to 350, and butter and flour an 8″ loaf pan.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, then set aside.
Use a food processor or blender to puree the pears with the chopped rosemary, lemon zest and lemon juice.
Beat together the butter and 1/3 c sugar until creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time (don’t worry if it looks a bit curdled). Now add the flour and pear mixtures alternately to the butter mixture, mixing just until the flour is incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. Dip the rosemary sprig in water, roll it in the remaining tablespoon of sugar, and place the sprig on top of the loaf. Continue baking for another 30-40 minutes, until the loaf is brown and springs back to the touch.
Let cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then unmold and cool completely before slicing.
Last week’s CSA fruit share brought us pounds and pounds of Seckel pears, beautiful brown pears ranging in size from a large cherry to a more traditional fist of pear. I’ve never cooked with Seckel pears before and I found lots of recipes that feature them peeled, cored, poached and then crowning a tart, their stems poking up: gorgeous, but way too much effort for me right now.
I considered pear bread, but with my parents in town, I wanted to make something new. So, I poked around some more and eventually found this terrific cobbler recipe, which uses dried blueberries and cornmeal biscuits. A winner! The biscuits are so good, this recipe’s worth saving just for them, but the combination of crunchy cornmeal biscuit, sweet pear and tart dried blueberry is really fabulous.
For the biscuits:
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup stone-ground cornmeal (medium grind)
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
6 pounds firm but ripe Seckel pears, Taylor Gold pears, or Bosc pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces (about 12 cups)
1 cup apple juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon (scant) coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 1/2 cups dried wild blueberries (9 ounces)
Vanilla ice cream
Whisk flour, cornmeal, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in large bowl. Add chilled butter; rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cream; stir just until moistened. Gather dough together; form into 8-inch-long log. Cut log crosswise into eight 1-inch-thick rounds. Spread 3 tablespoons sugar on plate. Dip 1 cut side of each biscuit into melted butter, then dip buttered side in sugar. Place biscuits, sugared side up, on platter; sprinkle any remaining sugar over top. Cover and chill.
For pear filling:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Place pears in large bowl. Add next 5 ingredients; toss. Let stand 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.
Transfer pear filling to prepared dish. Dot with diced butter. Cover dish with foil. Bake until pears are almost tender, about 50 minutes. Remove dish from oven; stir dried blueberries into pear filling. Place biscuits atop filling. Continue to bake uncovered until filling is bubbling thickly, biscuits are pale golden, and tester inserted into biscuits comes out clean, about 35 minutes longer (biscuits may look cracked). Cool 30 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream.
Over the weekend I went on a juicing binge brought on by an unexpected CSA delivery, which brought us an extra melon,which brought our household total to 3 ripe melons. Usually its no chore to eat one in a day, but all three of these beauties weren’t going to wait. So I brought out my Breville juicer, which is the only thing in my life I’ve ever won, and which is a pretty great machine. It’s lightning fast and powerful, and we do use it all during citrus season. But because it takes an awful lot of (often expensive) produce to make juice, and I don’t love cleaning the pulp, I don’t use it regularly. Most days, I’d much rather hand an apple (or plum or carrot) to the kids and just say, “Eat.” But when I met my husband, he drank all sorts of juice and smoothies, and this was long before Kris Carr (who, for the record, I think is pretty terrific. I contributed to her site here.) So in the spirit of economy and nostalgia, I broadened my juicing repertoire.
First, I chopped up the watermelon and passed it to Ella, who had a great time feeding it to the maw of the machine. It happened so fast I didn’t get a picture of the juicing or the juice, but believe me when I say there is nothing more refreshing on a 90 degree day than ice cold watermelon juice.
Then, we went to work on the melon, which I chilled and served after dinner with a spoonful of vanilla yogurt and a strawberry garnish. Kory and I thought it was great. The kids, not so much.. But I saved their portions and the melon soup made a great, drinkable breakfast for me the next morning as I made the kids pancakes. I think the soup would work nicely as an appetizer, too, served in little shot glasses with a garnish of creme fraiche (or greek yogurt) and some cubed, fried pancetta. I will get back to you on that.
For now, if you have any quickly ripening produce, I suggest the juicer. I am going to get to work on those tomatoes soon.