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Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Berry Pie

This pie is amazing!!!  It tastes like the essense of berries!  Definitely best with freshly picked berries. Makes one 9-inch pie.  Adapted from Cooks Illustrated July 2003.

Graham Cracker Crust
9 graham crackers , broken into rough pieces
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and warm

Berry Filling
2 cups fresh raspberries (about 9 ounces)
2 cups fresh blackberries (about 11 ounces)
2 cups fresh blueberries (about 10 ounces)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons red currant jelly (seedless)

Whipped Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (cold)
1 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. FOR THE CRUST: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In food processor, process graham crackers until evenly fine, about 30 seconds (you should have 1 cup crumbs). Add sugar and combine. Then add warm melted butter in steady stream; stirring until mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer crumbs to 9-inch glass pie plate; form crust using 1/2-cup dry measuring cup to help pack down and mold crumbs to the pie plate. Bake crust until fragrant and beginning to brown, 15 to 18 minutes; transfer to wire rack and cool completely while making filling.

3. FOR THE FILLING: Combine berries in large colander and gently rinse (taking care not to bruise them); spread berries on paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet and gently pat dry with additional paper towels.
4. In food processor, puree 2 1/2 cups mixed berries until smooth and fully pureed, about 1 minute. Strain puree through mesh strainer into small nonreactive saucepan, scraping and pressing on seeds to extract as much puree as possible (you should have 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups). Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in small bowl to combine, then whisk mixture into puree. Bring puree to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon; when mixture reaches a boil and is thickened to consistency of pudding, remove from heat, stir in lemon juice, and set aside to cool slightly.
5. While puree is cooling, place remaining berries in medium bowl. Heat jelly in second small saucepan over low heat until fully melted; drizzle melted jelly over berries and toss gently to coat. Pour slightly cooled puree into cooled pie shell; top with fresh berries. Loosely cover pie with plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled and puree has set, about 3 hours (or up to 1 day).  (Note: We found it tasted better when it had chilled at least 5 hours, but best eaten the same day so plan accordingly).

6. FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM: Just before serving, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla with electric mixer on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave trail, about 30 seconds longer. Increase speed to high; continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, nearly doubled in volume, and forms soft peaks, about 30 to 60 seconds.
7. Cut pie into wedges and serve with whipped cream.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Autumn Pear Salad

I look forward for perfectly ripe pears every late summer into fall just so I can make this salad!



5 T olive oil
2 T Balsamic vinegar
1 t honey
1 t Dijon mustard
1 T chopped green onions
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 head green leaf lettuce, washed and torn
1/2 head red leaf lettuce, washed and torn
2 ripe pears, thinly sliced
2 ounces Asiago cheese, shaved with vegetable peeler or grated
1/2 cup unsalted chasews, toasted

Mix dressing ingredients in a jar, shake well and refrigerate.
In salad bowl, combine greens and 3/4 of the dressing.  Arrange pears, cheese, and cashews on top and drizzle on the remaining dressing.

Notes:  I have used baby spinach with green leaf lettuce and thought it tasted good too.  Also spring mixes would be okay with this salad.  I would steer away from Romaine lettuce though.  Also I preferred the salad with only about half of the suggested dressing.  I've toasted the cashews usually, but if I don't have time it still tastes good.  Unsalted cashews can also be hard to find (and/or expensive) so I think the lightly salted ones work great.  And if you don't have time to make the dressing, Newman's Own Light Balsamic Vinegarette works well.  I just added chopped green onions to that.  

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Nadia's Mandarin-Almond Salad

From Favorites and Nadia Richards.

1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tablespoon sugar

1 head green leaf lettuce
1 head iceberg lettuce (or another green if desired)
1 cup finely chopped celery
3 green onions, chopped
1 (11oz) can mandarin oranges, drained

1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (or 1/2 t dried)
dash of pepper
dash of Tabasco

Carmelize slivered almonds by mixing with sugar in a small skillet and stirring constantly over low heat until lightly browned.  Cool on waxed paper and break into small pieces; set aside.  Combine ingredients for dressing and mix well.  Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces and combine with celery, green onions, and mandarin oranges.  Toss with dressing and sprinkle with sugared almonds.

Note:  when in season, pears are a tasty addition too.

Orange and Romaine Toss

from Favorites

1 head romaine lettuce, rinsed and torn
3 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1 (11oz) can mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup halved pecans, toasted
3 ounces Bleu cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons red wine or apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons orange marmalade (or orange juice)
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine lettuce, kiwi, oranges, and red onion in a large salad bowl.  Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well.  Toss the salad with the dressing just before serving and top with croutons, nuts, and Bleu cheese.  (Note I prefer to toss the salad with only half the dressing and then people can add more to taste if desired).