Tag Archives: blackberries

Key Lime Blackberry Swirl Cupcakes

As the rest of the food world in the northern hemisphere is beginning to notice the gold and amber in leaves, refreshing dampness in the air, and hope to soon realize their desires for large pots of savory delicacies or comforting treats made of apples and cinnamon, I’ve decided that a bit of lime and blackberries are in order.  After all, the southern hemisphere is just now packing away flannels and sweaters, perhaps wanting bright flavors that conjure a dreamy afternoon spent in a place perfect to accomplish not much of anything.  I wouldn’t mind that about now, sitting here with slippers and a sweater wrapped about myself, our windows snapped shut earlier than I can remember in years. October will be here in a couple of weeks, and still the warm fall days I expected to make up for a summer that never really was, have still not arrived.  The air here is damp as well, and the salt-tinged breezes blowing in from the ocean tend to be brisk, making my evening walks a good time to breathe deeply, taking it all in.  It’s good weather for taking stock, and thinking about what might be if one can put her mind to it — always a good thing.

Some would say cupcakes are always a good thing as well, but I’m not sure I agree, not completely understanding the semi-maniacal swoon inducing craze  over what amounts to a bite or two of cake.  A sometimes too precious thing that, if you’re not careful, will land frosting side down when you least want it to, spoiling the perfect swirl of creaminess that, when the first big bite is taken, often ends up in your nose.

Not exactly precious, but definitely hilarious.  A redeeming quality.

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Meyer Lemon and Blackberry Chiffon Pie

Meyer Lemon and Blackberry Chiffon Pie

In the months before my youngest was born, my mother suggested to my husband and I that she live with us to care for the baby after I returned to work.  We’d been looking for a larger house since my two older boys were on the verge of their teen years, and adding a third child meant room to stretch would be important for us all.  She knew I wasn’t looking forward to leaving the baby with a caregiver, and was growing tired of her own job, the hours it required, and the physical pain it caused her.  My husband is a far more easy going person than I could ever be, so he agreed and we changed the focus of our search to a home with four or five bedrooms instead of three.

We happened on to the perfect house one day by misreading the directions I’d written down.  An open house was just concluding and the realtors were preparing to leave.  We thought it looked perfect from the outside, but as soon as we entered — all heading in different directions — we were convinced.  It had only one owner in its 40 year history and was unique in so many ways.  Tucked into a hillside on a half acre shaped like a slice of pie, it faced east and overlooked the mature trees in the valley.  The back property hadn’t been cared for in years, but was a wealth of possibilities;  apricot, plum, tangerine, orange, grapefruit, loquat, and nut trees filled the space. It was perfect.

The year we moved in, the winter rains were especially heavy.  Slowly, the parched hillside turned green and bulbs planted years before began to push through layers of fallen leaves.  Sprigs of grape vines and berry bushes also appeared.  Saturday mornings before sunrise, the baby would wake earlier than I wanted, but it allowed us both some time alone.  With a bottle in his hands and coffee in one of mine, we’d walk up the hill in the early quiet of the day to see what new surprise we might find, finally growing after so many years of neglect. I loved that house.

Our trees often produced more than we could enjoy, so after freezer jam had been made, berries frozen, juice made, and sweets baked, we’d pack it up and set it down by the street with a “Free” sign.  It rarely took long for passers by to stop and help themselves to the produce, emptying the buckets we’d carry back up the hill to fill again.

Now, I have to depend on the market for most of what we used to give away, but I have learned recently of many organizations involved in gleaning urban fruit for a variety of purposes.  Whether it’s to gather and donate to those in need, or pluck and enjoy to keep it from rotting on the ground, interest in urban fruit foraging is gathering momentum as we all begin to think more responsibly about food.

I was gifted a big bag of Meyer lemons not too long ago, so had to pair them with the blackberries showing up at the market.  The berries will never compare with those we picked on our hill, but until I find them growing wild in San Diego, I’ll have to be tolerant — or do without.

But then, there is this pie…

76/365:  Blackberries

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Blueberry Cupcakes and Berry Cream Cheese Ice Cream

Blueberry Cupcakes When Lis of Daring Baker fame asked me to do a post for The Daring Kitchen for July 4th, I thought, sure, no problema.  Absolutely. I’ll get right on that. I imagined all the red, white, and blue possibilites available and scrimped time here and there to google and oogle all that I could find in blogs, and websites, food magazines, and cookbooks.  And since this was back before Father’s Day, I knew that whatever I made would be something I could serve in celebration of my father-in-law who has always been a gracious supporter of my adventures in cooking.

I’d never made a red, white, and blue dessert before, so with the color firmly in my mind (talk about priorities…), I began to think about what it would be.  Berries were a must.  It’s summer, right? They’re everywhere.  For a split second I actually considered making three types of whatever the recipe I chose — as in red this, blue that, and — well, you get the idea.  But no matter how great the idea was, I knew I’d fail on delivery because that seems to be my track record in the kitchen these days.

Cupcakes and ice cream seemed simple enough, and they actually were until I decided to put lots and lots of frosting on the cupcakes.  The ice cream involves no cooking whatsoever, so at least the simplicity of that recipe makes up for the buttercream which still isn’t all that bad if you know that you’ll have to whisk the egg whites over simmering water until they reach a particular temperature and then beat them to a marshmallow-like consistency before proceeding with the recipe.  Practice.  It’s all about the practice — or leading a charmed existence.

The result:  Delicious, but not quite red, white, and blue.   Maybe mauve and pink will be the new thing?  Okay, so probably not. But by all means, check out my post and the recipes for July 4th Treats:  Blueberry Cupcakes and Raspberry Cream Cheese Ice Cream at The Daring Kitchen.  And have a safe, happy July 4th!

Blueberry Cupcakes & Raspberry Cream Cheese Ice Cream

Addendum:  Because I never included the process shots I normally do when I post, I’m adding a few to answer a question in my comments.  Pictures paint a thousand words, right?


Blueberries

Fresh blueberries are heated alone…

IMG_4663

…to achieve this simple sauce…

Blueberry Puree

…which a portion of is mixed with milk and vanilla (above) then added with dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-egg mixture.

A dollop of some of the remaining blueberry sauce is dropped on the top of the batter-filled cups…

…then swirled in with a wooden skewer…

Blueberry Swirl Cupcakes

…and end up looking like this after baking.

Here are the directions:

Not Quite Blue Cupcakes with Not Quite Red Ice Cream
Makes 12 standard cupcakes

For the Cupcakes…
2 Cups + 2 tablespoons sifted all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1-1/2 cups of Sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup of whole milk
1/2 cup of blueberry puree (recipe follows)
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For the Blueberry Puree…
Bring one pound of blueberries to a boil in a sauce pan over medium heat and stirring frequently so they don’t burn. Reduce heat to low and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 1/2 hour) and the mixture is thick. Cool the blueberries slightly and place in a food processor or mash with a fork. Mix until smooth. For an extra smooth puree pass mixture through a fine sieve before using.

For the Cake…
Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating
until each is incorporated before adding the next.

Sift dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Mix milk with 1/2 cup of blueberry puree and vanilla in a large measuring cup. Add wet and dry ingredients alternately to butter mixture starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated after each addition. Do not overbeat.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full of batter. Spoon 1 teaspoon of blueberry puree into the center and swirl with a wooden skewer. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until cupcakes spring back to the touch.

Cool 10-15 minutes in the pan then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Frost with Blueberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream (see below) and top with a fresh blueberry. Daring folks will spoon some blueberry puree over the cupcake before taking a big bite.

For the Blueberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream…
5 egg whites
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 c. unsalted butter, room temp.
1/4 cup + 2 T blueberry puree
Pinch of salt

Place sugar and egg whites in the metal bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a
pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are
hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it
should feel completely smooth.

Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high until mixture has cooled completely (feel the bottom of the bowl) and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes. It will appear somewhat like soft marshmallow in consistency. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until well incorporated after each addition. The buttercream may appear curdled after the butter has been added — keep beating and it will become smooth again. Add blueberry puree and salt and beat just until combined. Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes.

If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.

The recipe for these cupcakes was adapted from that of Trophy Cupcakes as seen in seattlepi.com — but I was led to that source by the gorgeous cupcakes at The Casual Baker whose Blueberry beauties are far more purple than mine.  Thanks to both sources for such a great recipe!

Mexican Bread Pudding with Berries: Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen

Mexican Bread Pudding with Berries

I’ve given Rick Bayless a thorough work over and after much consideration can say that he’s good.  Well, his recipes are good. Very.  But everybody probably already knew this.

I always seem to be the last one to arrive at many of my conclusions because I’m not one to hop on the newest cookbook or latest dish, or cuisine du jour.  I am not saying Rick Bayless is new to Mexican cuisine, nor anyone’s latest celebrity chef.  In fact I know he’s been at this for quite some time, and is highly regarded for his work.  But I’m a cooking magazine slacker, so hop from one to the other trying this, and sampling that, smiling all the while, often ignoring my cookbooks, and definitely avoiding purchasing more since I barely have shelf space for the ones I own.

But I made an interesting decision recently.

I purchased Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen a couple of months ago, and since that time have delved into and thoroughly enjoyed at least 15 recipes, some of which have been made twice.  I’ve never focused on one type of cuisine for this length of time before,and it has definitely been an interesting experiment I can’t wait to repeat.  So why do this?

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