Tag Archives: raspberries

Pierre Hermé’s Traveling “Tango”

<img alt="Pierre Herme Pastry"/>

I thought I’d take a break from posting photos of our trip to Paris to give those who would rather look at food a break.  It’s only fair, I guess, after holding everyone captive with my vacation photos. But I will warn you this is still connected to Paris in a six degrees of separation sort of way.  It’s about dessert, and it’s about French dessert in particular.  French pastry from the French “Picasso of Pastry,” Pierre Hermé.  I thought my sampling of beautiful pastry in Paris was lacking so ordered his book, Pastries  as soon as we arrived home.

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Fruity Ice Cream Smoothie Pie

"picnic flowers"

Twice this past week, I’ve been asked about our July 4 weekend plans and each time, I felt a bit awkward before responding we had none.  The feeling of awkwardness is more uncharacteristic than any worry of not having plans, because plans are easy to make if I’m interested, or prodded by those who are challenged in this area which is most often the case.

The feeling of awkwardness makes no sense.

It’s been forever since we’ve made a big hoo-haw over July 4th.  Having a child with a birthday on the 2nd has put the focus more on that for 18 years, and this year he’s at school, so we’re without that as well to have an excuse to party.  My extended family feels a bit strung about the country right now, my older boys always seem to work on busy holidays, and my husband’s family is in need of a cheerleader to rally them into one big get together for these occasions.

Before you have any thought of my gearing up for an all out whine, you have to know I’m the last person to feel badly about not having plans, which gets me back to the awkwardness.  I don’t get it.  But I’ve written a list for my husband of what we might do this holiday weekend because he loves having plans for any reason whatsoever.  Call him the original Party Man.

Party Man’s Fourth of July Weekend To-Do List:

  1. Take the beach umbrella & book/iPad/beverage/munchies to the water either this afternoon, tomorrow afternoon, or Sunday afternoon. (Check — Friday evening)
  2. Shopping.  There are lots of great sales on this kind of weekend, and maybe we can find a killer deal on something.  You know, because you always need something, right? (Party Man went by himself Saturday.  Check.)
  3. Picnic dinner (packed in the picnic bag we never use) somewhere for the 4th.  Choose a spot we’ve never been depending on where the fireworks are — like the Embarcadero or something.  We could walk to the Cove again which would be fine with me.  Either pack the picnic bag, or pick a place in town to eat, then walk to see fireworks. (Looks like an impromptu BBQ with family on the 4th.  Check.)
  4. You could rent a beach cruiser and I could finally use the bike Mom gave me to cruise all the way around Mission Bay from Crown Point Drive at the end. I need to figure out how to get that bike in my car anyhoo. (Does renting a sailboat count? Saturday with friends. Check.)
  5. Do the “make like a tourismo thing” on Coronado, in Encinitas, Ocean Beach, or you name it which means “goose necking” in the shops, having lunch,  and enjoying the sunshine.
  6. Choose a place tonight and go on an impromptu road trip up the coast like Malibu or something.  Stay one night.  Nothing fancy.  So, Saturday and Sunday.  It would be fun! (Not — Catsitting my brother’s cat)
  7. Help me figure out how to build a fence for the patio, because I’m pretty sure I can do it.  Maybe. (Check — consulted with someone who had good ideas)
  8. Choose a place in San Diego — like downtown — so I can walk around and take photos.  Balboa Park would even be okay. You can hold the camera stuff. (Does Mission Bay count?  Saturday with friends.  Check.)
  9. Want to see the Padres?  Not high on my list, but relaxing.  I like the ball park. (Not — they’re in Seattle this weekend.)
  10. Walk to the boardwalk when the holiday is in full gear just to gawk at all the crazy beach people.

This is what you get to do when your kids are grown and there are no invitations.  Make your own party.  Freeing, to some extent, and certainly nothing to feel awkward about.  Just different.  We’re not very good at it yet, but we’re working on it.  No sooner had I sent this list to him than he remembered Tour de France begins tomorrow.  Nice.

Because a summer holiday weekend calls for ice cream at some point, I say make it a smoothie instead — or an ice cream smoothie pie.  This one isn’t complicated, but does take a bit of planning ahead.

Happy Independence Day!

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Raspberry Heart Scones

Raspberry Heart Scones

It’s Saturday morning after a busy week and the slightest hint of Fall is in the air, taunting me.  Condensation dots the leaves of the plants on the patio outside the kitchen window and the occasional web of a familiar orange garden spider wafts lazily between the trees.  I know the cool air coming through the window needs to be appreciated because in a day or so, we’re expecting blistering temperatures even though the calendar is edging toward the autumnal equinox.

Flipping through the small stack of food magazines and cookbooks that seem to be a permanent fixture on my counter, I sip my coffee and talk about nothing in particular to my husband who is already perched in front of his laptop.  He’s usually the one in the kitchen on weekend mornings, but I remember the small container of raspberries in the fridge that were destined for yet another Bittman salad and ask, “Muffins or scones, honey?”

“Mmmm…scones,” is his quick response and I smile because I feel an experiment coming on.  Do I have to mix the raspberries in the batter?

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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!

Toasted Brioche with Lemon Cream and Raspberries


I love “last bite,” the very last page in Food & Wine each month, and often look there first, wondering what I’ll find.  Most of the time, it’s something I can’t wait to try myself, and have with great results.  Other times, I’m fascinated, and just keep the page open, wondering if I should give it a try, and whether the work will be worth it, waiting until I’m brave enough, or just forget about it.

Last month, a “Blackberries with Lemon Cream & Toasted Brioche” was featured, and not being one to jump in my car to purchase a brioche even though there’s a French Bakery right down the street that I’ve never set foot in, I decided that if I was going to find out what this particular “last bite” was really like, I’d have to make my own brioche.

Funny how I just happened to have some of my very own brioche…

If you plan this dessert carefully, most of it is ready to go ahead of time.

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