Simple Pleasures Homemade Blackberry Liqueur

I am posting this ahead of the upcoming Tennessee blackberry season so when you pick-your-own berries, or purchase at a farmer’s market, you’ll be ready to make a few bottles of Blackberry Liqueur.

It’s really refreshing splashed into a glass and topped with Prosecco or poured over ice with seltzer water. I think a slice of pound cake, a scoop of ice-cream and a trickle of liqueur would be delicious.

How about a cooling (adult) Blackberry Liqueur Snow Cone? Just the thing for a hot summer day and pretty unforgettable.

It only takes a few ingredients……

Fresh, plump, juicy berries……

…a sugar + water simple syrup….all added to a large jar filled with good vodka…

Day 1..this is what it looks like just mixed together…wait a while longer….

dsc_0284

….Day 8….a week later and a few shakes this is what is looks like..continue waiting…and shaking….

dsc_0283

….Day 15..,wait’s over….ready to strain and sip.

There are so many things we have no control over in our lives. Making things gives me just a bit of control over part of my little corner of the world for a bit. That is why I make things and encourage others to give it a try.

Keep a bottle…gift a bottle…make some more. It’s a simple pleasure.

Fresh Blackberry Liqueur

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups good vodka
  • 4-5 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed & drained
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

  1. Bring water & sugar to a low boil over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Turn heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes stirring often. Remove from the heat to cool completely.
  2. Pour vodka into a large glass container with a lid. Add the berries & simple syrup and gently shake.
  3. Infuse berry-vodka mixture for 15 days. The berries will lose most of their color. Every few days gently swirl mixture around.
  4. Pour through a fine mesh strainer twice. Discard the berries. Decant mixture into decorative bottles for gift giving.

For Snow Cones – crush ice and pack into a glass. Drizzle chilled Blackberry Liqueur over the ice. Serve with a spoon and enjoy.

 

Teresa Blackburn      www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

Blackberry Ice….Very Nice!

 

Fresh Blackberries Please

One day they are green and hard and we wait. The next day it seems the drupelets have blackened and we cannot eat them fast enough. Such is blackberry season.

I have made Fourth of July Blackberry Pies in my Food on Fifth kitchen as well as Blackberry-Mango Drinks. I have shared my youthful blackberry picking snake story with you when I made a Blackberry Upside Down Cake and today offer the most simple and easy way to both preserve and cool down with fresh blackberries, A Very Nice Blackberry Ice.

DSC_1268

Plump, ripe Tennessee blackberries……

DSC_0930

….frozen on a parchment lined baking sheet. In the food industry this way of individually freezing product is called “IQF” which means Individually Quick Frozen. This is how it’s done on a “at-home” scale. If you do not want to use the berries immediately just pop them into resealable plastic bags or boxes and store frozen until ready to use for any of your favorite dishes.

DSC_1219

A food processor….some honey or agave nectar…….

DSC_1224DSC_1225

DSC_1226

…plus a splash of balsamic reduction….

DSC_1229

…gives you this….

DSC_1230

….and this……

DSC_1238

…and best of all…this…fresh blackberry ice…very nice!

DSC_1266_2

Blackberry Ice, Very Nice

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Fresh Blackberries PleaseDSC_1266_2

Ingredients:

  • fresh ripe blackberries
  • honey or agave nectar
  • balsamic reduction

Directions:

1. Freeze whole blackberries on a parchment lined sheet pan in a single layer.

2. Put frozen berries in a food processor with 2 tbsps honey or agave nectar & pulse a few times. Add 1 tbsp balsamic reduction and pulse until smooth. Taste & adjust flavors. Immediately scrape into a glass or metal container & freeze for 30 min to 1 hour. Serve.

Borrowed from the British “A Summer Fruit Pudding” for the Fourth of July

summer fruit pudding

“A Summer Fruit Pudding”

This classic British dessert is just the thing to make for the upcoming 4th of July holiday weekend. I do hope the irony of this is not lost on you.

All you need is some fresh berries….blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or strawberries…any combination of these summer berries and a loaf of day old bread. There is no baking so no heating up the kitchen. It is easy to make, a beauty when finished and the taste is like biting into “summer”…very refreshing, not overly sweet and served with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream or whipped mascarpone cheese.

The most important part is allowing the fresh berries to macerate with sugar for about 30 minutes ahead of time.

summer berries with fruitsugared berries

Choose a bread with some body that is a day or two old and just a bit dried out. I used a Brioche but a loaf of plain old white bread works just as well, as does Angel Food Cake.

DSC_8127

After the berries have macerated they are slowing boiled for a few minutes with some water until the berries release most of their juice and get a bit softened. This takes about 5-8 minutes on a low boil.

DSC_8129DSC_8138

I used a glass mixing bowl lined with plastic wrap for the mold, but a metal bowl or plastic will be fine. Later when the pudding is chilled it will be easy to turn it upside down on a serving platter.

DSC_8136DSC_8140

While I am slicing the bread (you can make with or without the crust), and lining the bowl I let the berries drain very well so there is about 3 cups of berry juice to about 4 to six cups of softened sugared fruit.

DSC_8131DSC_8144

Dipping the slices of bread and lining the bowl comes next.

DSC_8147

DSC_8149

Don’t you just love that color? The berries are then scraped into the center of the bread, topped with a couple of more soaked bread slices and covered with a sheet of plastic.

DSC_8150DSC_8157

The pudding needs to have pressure on it so that the bread and the berries become “one”. I do this first with my hands and then place a plate  with a heavy can sitting on top while the pudding is chilling for at least 12 hours or overnight.

DSC_8160

Here is the turned out, chilled, a firm “pudding” (what the British pretty call dessert for the most part….as in “What’s for pudding?”)  topped with additional berries and superfine sugar (caster sugar). I served this with a dollop of whipped mascarpone.

DSC_8368

For a dinner party I recently made this again but this time I used an Angel Food Cake instead of bread. As the cake was already sweet I used less sugar on the berries. This version may be my new favorite. I served it with homemade vanilla ice cream.  Another variation on the theme. Maybe next time I will try pound cake?

DSC_8506

Traditionally this “pudding” was served as a healthy alternative to heavy sugary desserts at health spas in England. If you give this a try let me know how your version turns out.

Summer Berry Pudding

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Print

summer fruit pudding

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of mixed summer berries, rinsed & drained + 1/2 cup mixed for garnishing
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar (superfine sugar) + extra for garnishing
  • 1 loaf of day old bread (White, Brioche or you can use an Angel Food Cake)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup water

Directions:

  1. Toss 6 cups of berries  with 1/2 cup sugar. Leave to sit for about 30 minutes.
  2. Add berries & juice to a saucepan. Add 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil. Turn to simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile cut bread into approximately 1″ slices. You can remove the crust or not.
  4. Line a glass, metal or plastic round mixing bowl (about a 2 qt bowl) with plastic wrap allowing it to hang over the edges of the bowl completely covering the inside.
  5. Pour berries & juice through a strainer sitting over a bowl. Let drain for 10 minutes.
  6. You will need about 3-4 cups of juice. Add more water if need be.
  7. Gently dip each slice of bread into the juice lining the bowl completely with the soaked bread. Place one piece of bread in the bottom of the bowl to cover the center.
  8. Dump the berries in the middle of the bowl & cover them with 2 more slices of juice soaked bread. Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap, pressing down with your hands to make sure all the bread is soaked.
  9. Place a saucer or small plate over the plastic wrap and top with a heavy can to press the mixture together over night in the refrigerator.
  10. When ready to serve, remove the top sheet of plastic wrap & turn the bowl upside down onto a serving plate. Remove the bowl & plastic wrap from the summer pudding.
  11. Garnish with additional fresh berries and a generous dusting of sugar.
  12. Use a spoon to scoop out servings and add a scoop of ice cream or whipped mascarpone if desired. Whipped cream would be good as well.

Notes: You can make this with sliced Angel Food Cake as well for an interesting twist. Try adding some peaches to the berries or plums.                                                                  Tip: If you do not have caster sugar…which is just a finer granulated sugar..you can make quickly by putting regular granulated sugar in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds. Very easy to do.

recipe and photos by Teresa Blackburn      foodonfifth.com     teresablackburnfoodstyling.com  

Blackberries, A Snake and An Upside Down (Gluten Free) Cake

Fresh Blackberries Please

I will bet most of you do not think of Blackberries and immediately think of Snakes…yes real live Snakes! Let me just say I am pretty crazy about freshly picked Blackberries, but not so crazy about snakes (sorry snake lovers). Why, you might ask, do I think of these two things simultaneously? Let me tell share with you a very short vignette….

….West Tennessee on a dry, dusty, hotter-than-Hades kind of day…lots of years ago when I was around 9 or 10…

I loved doing anything with my Grandmother (Granny) no matter if it was work or play.  I always wanted to tag along. The wild blackberries hung heavy & ripe all around so it was time to go berry-picking, the wild kind not the kind of blackberries planted in neat rows.  We were cautioned to wear “real shoes” &  to take care when blackberry picking as snakes liked berry patches.  This caution, along with many others doled out on such occasions, was met with a certain nonchalance on my part. Before this particular day, not after, nor since.

The sun was relentless as we began to pick around the outer edge of the very dense berry patch. At first reaching what was easy. But so very many large juicy black berries were just out of my reach a few feet into the patch. I wanted those berries. I boldly stepped forward with one foot lifted off the ground when I “felt” something move liquid smooth, quietly, directly beneath where I was about to plant my foot. I froze, foot midair.  Looking down I saw the snake slithering, very large & fat right underneath my berries & my foot. I am convinced to this day that I did levitate, backwards, out of the berry patch. There is something very Biblical about levitation isn’t there? And Fruit? And Snakes?

I did not pick anymore berries that summer.  I have picked since, I have bought many berries that others have picked, I am still pretty crazy about blackberries, but still not so much about snakes.

Here is a really easy not-so-sweet upside down cake that I made last Sunday using fresh local Blackberries picked by others, along with a few Pluots.

Cake

Here is what you will need to make this very dense moist gluten-free cake:

Ingredients for Upside Down Cake

1/2 stick Butter, 1 pint of Blackberries, 2 Pluots (or plums or peaches), 1 cup Raw Sugar/Turbinado, 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix, 1 cup Almond Meal Flour, the zest of 1 Lemon, 3 eggs, 2 cups Buttermilk, Sliced Almonds

Here is how you make it:

Skillet with Browned Butter

1. Place a 10-12 inch cast iron skillet with the 1/2 stick of butter over medium high heat until the butter is browned. Remove skillet from heat & set aside to cool somewhat. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Let me take a moment to say that if you do not have an iron skillet get one. A good seasoned cast iron skillet is just the best thing to use for all sorts of cooking. Lodge pre-seasoned cast iron skillets can be purchased very affordably on-line. I have many of their skillets in various sizes that I use daily.  For this recipe I am using my Great Grandmother’s iron skillet which is amazing well seasoned and is one of the reasons this cake will slip right out of the pan after it is cooked with no sticking.

Blackberries & Pluots in Iron Skillet

2. Slice Pluots & arrange in the bottom of the iron skillet over the browned butter. Sprinkle the Blackberries to cover bottom of skillet between & around Pluot slices.

Batter for Upside Down Cake

3. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the cornmeal, almond flour & sugar.  Add eggs & buttermilk & lemon zest.  Blend until batter is smooth. Spread batter over fruit in the skillet. Sprinkle with a generous handful of sliced almonds.

Upside down cake batterUpside down cake batter over fruit

Batter in skilletSliced Almonds over Upside Down Cake Batter

4. Bake in 375 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes until golden brown &  bubbly around the edges & set in the center. Let cake cool in the skillet for about 10 minutes.

Upside Down Cake Baked

5. The “reveal” of an upside down cake is always the fun part. Place a plate or platter larger than the skillet face down over the skillet & then quickly & carefully invert plate & skillet right side up.

Plate

See how easy that was?

Blackberry Upside Down Cake

The crunch of the cornmeal combined with the browned butter, lemon zest & almond flavors & not too much sugar meld to make a very satisfying breakfast cake. Dust with a bit of powdered sugar if desired.

DSC_1653

Have you ever picked wild berries? Have you ever almost stepped on a snake? Do you connect foods you eat to events  from your past?

After I posted this my friend Diane Stopford, a Dubliner, left me a comment and a link to a poem by Seamus Heaney “Blackberry Picking” which I wanted to share with you. Thanks Diane.

Eat more Cake.

Blackberry Pie on the 4th of July

4th of July Blackberry Pie

So far 2012 has been a year of pies for me. Just go over to my Pinterest board “Pie, Pie for the 4th of July” if you don’t believe me. Savory & Sweet pies. Little & Big pies. Free-form pies & fried pies.

Are you aware this is National Pie week? If you have tuned in to NPR at all I am sure you know this by now. Every day this week some wonderful stories & lots of pie history.

My favorite berry, the Blackberry, arrived ripe & juicy at the Downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market  this past week.

My goal? To bake a pie for the simple joy of it. I wanted to honor the history of pie using an antique pie tin I love, fresh local blackberries using very little sweeteners & an easy pie crust recipe. I wanted my pie to look….historical…not fancy, not over filled & embellished. This is my very easy to make recipe for “4th of July Blackberry Pie”.

Ingredients:

Sweet Pie Crust/Pate Sucree pre-made for a bottom & top crust (I used Martha Stewart’s basic recipe for Pate Sucree found in all her books & on-line) or any pre-made pie crust you prefer

1 to 2 quarts ripe, juicy blackberries

1/2 cup sorghum molasses

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp crunchy sanding sugar

Flour for dusting work surface

1 egg yolk + 3 tbsp cream or milk whisked together for glazing crust

Instructions:

1. Here is how easy it is to transfer a rolled out pie crust into a pie pan….first roll dough out into a circle larger than the pie pan, fold in half & then again…

…place point of folded dough in center of pie pan..unfold once & once again. Press dough into pan.  Easy.

2. Rinse & gently pat berries dry with paper towels. Put berries in a mixing bowl. Drizzle sorghum & balsamic vinegar over berries and gently toss to coat.. Pour berries into bottom crust.

3. To make a lattice top, roll 2nd crust out into another circle larger than the pie pan. Cut dough into strips using a decorative cutter or knife about 1″ wide.

4. There are many ways to make a “lattice” pie crust. You can “weave” the strips of dough in and out of each other  making a basket weave,  or just simply lay strips over filling first one direction & then the other. Strips can be close to each other or spaced with larger opening like I did with this pie. I didn’t want to hide the berries under lots of crust.  Trim edges of both bottom & top crusts & turn under edges pressing to seal.

5. Brush dough with the egg-cream mixture generously. Sprinkle sanding sugar over all. Place in refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

6. Bake for about 30 minutes until berries are hot & bubbly and crust in golden brown. Remove & allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving. Very good warm or at room temp. With ice cream or not.

Keep it simple, keep it good. Stay cool. Happy 4th.

“July Fresh Peaches & Cream Corn Ice Cream with Blackberries”

“July Peaches & Cream Corn Ice Cream with Fresh Picked Blackberries”

I first tasted corn ice cream in Quintana Roo, Mexico a few years ago. I have never forgotten the rich, sweet fresh corn flavored frozen dessert and have often tried to recreate it. I have used various recipes that I have found on-line and in cookbooks but I found them all too fussy & too lengthy (it shouldn’t be rocket science). This week while at the Farmer’s Market buying some fresh corn I had a “corn ice cream epiphany” and came up with this recipe that is as good as my first tasting. Try this recipe which is simple and uses Peaches & Cream corn and you will be just as seduced by the taste as I have been.

Fresh Peaches & Cream Corn

To Make Fresh Corn Ice Cream:

1. I used an electric ice cream freezer. Whatever freezer you use prepare it according to the instructions that came with your freezer.

2. Shuck & clean the silk from 4 ears of sweet corn such as Peaches & Cream or Silver Queen. Using a sharp knife, cut corn from ears into a bowl. Then scrape each with the knife to “milk” the corn. Save one ear & cut into smaller pieces and set aside.

“shuck, silk, cut, scrape, milk”

3. Place cut corn & cobs into a pan with 2 cups whole milk. Heat over medium heat until mixture comes to a low boil. Turn heat to low & simmer for about 8 minutes.

4. Remove pan from heat & take cobs out of mixture & throw away. Puree corn mixture in a food processor.

5. Pour pureed mixture through a mesh strainer sitting over a glass bowl. Use a rubber scraper to press liquid out.

6. Into bowl of corn-milk liquid add 3/4 cup turbinado or raw sugar & 2 tsps vanilla extract. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add in 1/2 cup cream & blend. Pour mixture into a measuring cup…you should have about 2 1/2 cups liquid. If you do not then add more cream to make this amount. Cover & chill for at least one hour before making ice cream. The raw sugar & vanilla will give the mixture a caramel color.

7. Freeze corn mixture in ice cream freeze according to directions until creamy-frozen.

8. Serve immediately with fresh picked blackberries scattered over ice cream or cover & place in refrigerator freezer until ready to eat.

Fresh picked Tennessee Blackberries from the West Nashville/Sylvan Park Farmer’s Market

It is very hard to describe the subtle deliciousness of this ice cream. It is unique in the creamy sweet corn flavor with a hint of vanilla which is all rounded out by the raw sugar.

Bon Apetit!