So Long Summer Salad – Watermelon, Radishes, Tomatoes & Strawberries

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This is probably it…the last great watermelon until next summer…crisp little colorful radishes, a handful of strawberries that taste like strawberries and meaty baby Roma tomatoes…my So Long Summer Salad. Bye bye for now…see you later…Sayanora sweet friends.

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All cut up in a bowl…..

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drizzled with this sublime Apple Balsamic Vinegar.

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Tossed and chilled. Cold, crunchy, sweet and savory. Delicious piled on a bed of peppery arugula alongside a grilled steak. So long summer…it’s been good to know ya…

The Del McCoury Band – So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You

So Long Summer Salad with Watermelon, Radishes, Tomatoes and Strawberries

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of fresh watermelon cubes
  • 4 small radishes thinly slices
  • a handful of baby Roma, cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • ripe, juicy strawberries, capped & cut in half lengthwise
  • Apple Balsamic Vinegar (or Orange Balsamic or other fruit flavored Balsamic vinegar)
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Put all the fruit in a large mixing or serving bowl. Drizzle with 2 or 3 tablespoons of the Apple Balsamic vinegar. Toss fruit to coat with vinegar. Chill covered for about 20 minutes.
  2. Right before serving, drizzle with additional vinegar, salt & black pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Teresa Blackburn      www.foodonfifth.com       http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

Sugared Strawberry Sponge Cake Stacks

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Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the Tennessee farmers who grow strawberries for all of us non-farmers to enjoy every May. Year by year they are out in their fields early on chilly mornings checking on their fields while we are snug in our beds. They watch the weather reports, day in-day out, trying to judge how each years crop will turn out. Too much rain….not enough. Too many cloudy days or relentless heat.

This year’s Tennessee strawberry crop has been so sweet. It is a short season so do not delay.  Boxes full of tender, ruby-red berries lined up at Farmer’s Market stands just for making recipes such as this, “Sugared (Tennessee) Strawberry Sponge Cake Stacks”.

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I made wee sponge cakes in a muffin tin with just a few ingredients. These cakes are light and airy with just a hint of sweetness. I want to taste the berries first, then the berry juice soaked cake with a quick dusting of powdered sugar.

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Warm sponge cakes……I sprayed the muffin tin with coconut spray which added a very nice hint of coconut to the cakes……

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….berries rinsed, patted dry, cut in half and tossed with raw sugar.

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It would not be May without sugared strawberries and little cakes!

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The berries from Delvin Farms. The wee sponge cakes are based on a recipe by James Tanner from his amazing wonderful and simple cookbook “Take 5 Ingredients”.

Sugared Strawberry Sponge Cake Stacks

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • coconut oil spray (I just discovered this and adore  the hint of coconut it imbues)
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar (if you cannot find then pulse regular sugar in processor until fine)
  • 1 1/4 cups self-rising flour sifted with 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 pints of fresh (local) seasonal  Strawberries, rinsed & patted dry, tops cut off and halved
  • 1/3 cups raw sugar
  • powdered sugar for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 6 cup muffin tin with coconut spray. Set aside.
  2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl until pale & frothy.
  3. In another bowl whisk, or use a hand mixer, the egg whites until stiff. Whisk the egg whites into the egg yolks.
  4. Fold the flour-salt mixture  in small batches until all the flour is blended in.
  5. Divide batter between greased muffin tin cups. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and set in the middle. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove sponge cakes from tin and continue to cool on rack while preparing berries.
  6. In a glass mixing bowl toss together the strawberries & raw sugar. Mash a few of the berries with the back of a fork to release juices. Toss again and leave to sit for about 30 minutes before serving.
  7. To serve use a serrated knife to gently cut each wee sponge cake into 3 slices. Layer cake and berries on a serving plate. Allow about 5 minutes before serving to let cake layers soak up berry juice. Dust cake with powdered sugar and serve.

This is a simple dessert that is not overly sweet. Easy to make. Can be prepped ahead of time and can be made using any seasonal berries, peaches or plums.

A Mother’s Day Tennessee Strawberry Tart

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This week they arrived, plump, sweet and plentiful. Those small, round baby berries. Tennessee Strawberries. Just in time for Mother’s Day. I made this tart with the first ones I purchased after eating half the carton one-by-one.

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I have never been a big fan of cooked strawberries as in strawberry pie or strawberry cobblers. Something about the berries becoming “mushy” during the cooking process just doesn’t appeal to my palate. This tart is different. The berries stay firm and keep their color, they do not get mushy nor discolored.  It has a wonderful crispy crust that doesn’t get soggy on the bottom. With only a few ingredients it is quick and easy, beautifully rustic and will just make you, or your mother, very happy bite-by-bite.

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This is what a really fresh, ripe, just picked locally grown Tennessee Strawberry looks like up close. Not perfect, not dark red and very red inside as well as outside. They are fragrant. Here are some places you can go and pick your own berries in Middle Tennessee if you like. I am pretty happy to let others do the picking for me. These berries came from the Downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market.

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Sliced strawberries &almonds mixed in with sugar and cornstarch is the easiest filling.

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Four ingredients is all that is needed for this crust. If you are in a big hurry you can, of course, use a refrigerator roll-out dough. In a food processor my crust takes about 5 minutes to make. Give it a try.

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Warm from the oven…..

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….come on…get a bit closer…let’s have a bite. Share some with your Mom, or someone else’s Mom. Make this while the local strawberries are available…it is a fleeting season.

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Tennessee Strawberry Tart

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

Strawberry Tart

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour mixed with 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp + 1/4 cup raw sugar divided
  • 4 Tbsp ice water
  • 2 cups rinsed, hulled & halved small strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Sanding sugar for garnish

Directions:

  1. For this easy crust just put butter, flour-salt mixture & 1 Tbsp of the raw sugar in a food processor and pulse just until mixture is blended. Drizzle in ice water while pulsing mixture until a dough ball forms. Remove dough from processor, form into a ball and flatten. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
  2. Place halved berries and sliced almonds in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle cornstarch & remaining 1/4 cup raw sugar over & gently toss to coat berries. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Roll chilled dough out onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper into a rough circle about 15″ across.
  5. Lift dough lined parchment paper and place on a sheet pan. It is okay if the dough hangs over the edges.
  6. Pile strawberry filling in the middle of the dough circle and gently fold the edges up over the filling, leaving the center open. Brush dough with the beaten egg & sprinkle with sanding sugar.
  7. Bake tart for about 40 -50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbly. Remove from oven & cool tart on pan set on a cooling rack. Serve warm or room temperature. This tart was very good for a few days and the bottom crust never got soggy!

(Recipe is based on one that I did for an editorial client earlier this Spring for a photo shoot. I, of course, made a number of changes to make it more user-friendly.)

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

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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  

Saturday, Spring Strawberries, Buttered Toast and My Week in Photos

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Wouter, who is Dutch, introduced me to this style of eating small, sweet strawberries on toasted bread with butter.

Not really a recipe, here is what you do to for the best Saturday, May 17th,  breakfast ever…..

1. Wash 1 pint of small, local, sweet strawberries under cool running water. Remove caps & put into a bowl, cutting larger berries in half. Sprinkle berries with a bit of turbinado/raw sugar. Crush a few berries with a fork. Let sit while you make toast.

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2. Slather toasted bread with softened butter, top with berries & another light dusting of sugar. This simple way of eating berries allows them to retain their flavor without being overwhelmed by other ingredients. It is just magical. Thanks Wouter.

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Get a little closer…..here….have a bite.

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“A Little Gallery of Images from my Week”

Saturday, May 10th, morning with previous week's NYT Corssword puzzle & cinnamon roll from "flour.sugar.eggs" Nashville
Saturday, May 10th, morning with previous week’s NYT crossword puzzle & cinnamon roll from “flour.sugar.eggs” Nashville
Vintage French Linens, Saturday, May 10th, shopping at Antique Mall for Props
Vintage French Linens, Saturday afternoon, May 10th, shopping at Gas Lamp Antique Mall for Props
May 11th, Sunday Mother's Day Brunch
May 11th, Sunday Mother’s Day Brunch
Early Monday morning, May 12th, strawberries from our garden
Early Monday morning, May 12th, strawberries from our garden
Wednesday, May 14, walk  around neighborhood, sign at corner of Monroe & 6th, Historic Germantown, Nashville, TN
Tuesday, May 13, walk around neighborhood, sign at corner of Monroe & 6th, Historic Germantown, Nashville, TN
Thursday, May 15, Prop Shopping after photo shoot with Paul, Ashley & Haley from Chicago. Mexican Silver knives & forks & odd spoons.
Wednesday, May 14, Prop Shopping after photo shoot with Paul, Ashley & Haley from Chicago. Mexican Silver knives & forks & odd spoons.
Thursday, May 15th, Blueberry Lemonade Ice Cubes, Photo Shoot
Thursday, May 15th, Blueberry Lemonade Ice Cubes, Photo Shoot, Relish Magazine
Thursday, May 15th, Photo Shoot Strawberry Tarts for Relish Magazine
Thursday, May 15th, Photo Shoot Strawberry Tarts for Relish Magazine
"Love Corn", Photo Shoot, Cutting Corn from Cob Demo, Relish Magazine
“Love Corn”, Friday, May 16th, Photo Shoot, Cutting Corn from Cob Demo, Relish Magazine
Saturday, May 17th. Strawberries on Buttered Toast with Turbinado Sugar.
Saturday, May 17th. Strawberries on Buttered Toast with Turbinado Sugar.

Life is short, make every day count. Have fun, work hard, sleep well and eat good food.

 

Ruby Red Strawberry Victoria Sponge Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Filling

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I like to make things. I’m pretty sure that is one of the reasons I ended up being a food stylist by trade and a jack-of-all-trades by nature. Making “beauty” is really what all my
“making” obsessions are about. Beauty that is organic & natural, beauty to look at, beauty to use every day, beauty that you can eat, beauty that is often an ode to times past, times in the future, or times that never were.

Such is this cake. A riff on the classic “Victoria Sponge Cake”, an ode to a time of lawn parties, women strolling across green parks in white dresses, croquet games where men wore bowler hats & seersucker suits. To a time when cakes were special, beautiful and meaningful.

Here is how you make my “Ruby Red Strawberry Victoria Sponge Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Filling”

Shopping list: 2 pints of small strawberries, 1 pint of whipping cream, 1 carton of mascarpone cheese, 1 lemon, super-fine sugar or regular granulated sugar, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, self-rising flour, 5 eggs, salt, parchment paper, oil to grease pans

Make it:

1. Preferably use local Spring strawberries, (these ruby red beauties came from the Downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market), 2 pints rinsed & drained, caps removed. Leave berries whole unless they are large, then cut in half. Set aside.

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2. To make this very easy sponge-cake you will need 5 large eggs separated, 3/4 cup superfine sugar (if you don’t have then pulse regular granulated sugar in a food processor for a few seconds to make your own), 1 1/4 cups self-rising flour sifted with a pinch of salt.

3. Grease & line two 8 or 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper. Grease the paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4. Whisk egg yolks & sugar together until a pale yellow.  Using a stand or hand mixer whip egg whites until stiff.  Whisk egg whites into yolks. Gently sprinkle sifted flour over eggs in batches and fold into eggs using a large metal spoon until all the flour is mixed in.

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5. Divide batter between two prepared pan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cake layers are light golden brown  & cooked in the middle. Remove from pans to cool completely on wire racks.

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6. Mix 1 cup or container of marcarpone cheese, which is slightly sweet,  with the juice & zest of half a lemon. Blend well.

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8. Place one cooled cake layer on a cake plate or stand. Spread lemon mascarpone on top. Arrange half the berries over &  gently press them into the cheese. Dust with a bit of powdered sugar.

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9.  Top layer of berries with the second cake layer. Whip one cup of heavy cream with 2 tbsp powdered sugar & 1 tbsp vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Spread on top of second cake layer. Top whipped cream with the remaining berries. Dust with additional powdered sugar if desired.

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11. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.  I made this cake from start to finish in 1 hour. It keeps well lightly covered for a day or two in the fridge.

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Notice the texture of the cake….very sponge-like!

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Making this cake will create a sense of well-being, make you think about the historical context of baking cakes, allow you to use fresh, local, just picked strawberries that taste like berries should.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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“Strawberries Fresh Picked & Put Up!” E.A.T. #3

Do you suffer from fear of canning? When you hear the words “water bath” do you shudder?

Hold on! Help is on its way…there is more than one way to overcome your fear, your trepidation, your absolute mind block about “canning”…come, I will share with you my fool-proof method to overcome your suffering as part of my E.A.T. (easy as that) series.

“E.A.T. #3  Fresh Picked Strawberries – Put Up”

My Grandmother, on my Father’s side of the family, Kenny Mae,  called it “putting up”…as in “we are going to put up some strawberries this morning” or “it’s about time to put up some beans”. So let’s forget the word “canning” for a bit…but we will come back to that a bit later this summer…for now I will share with you my “easy as that” method to “put up” fresh picked strawberries that will calm the fearful,  instill confidence in those who doubt, and give the uncertain certainty.

This April has given us an early bumper crop of Strawberries here in middle Tennessee. We are lucky in that the weather has smiled on us, but the moment will be fleeting as the days get hotter and drier.

At our house at this time Wouter & I  eat fresh strawberries every day. We go to the Farmer’s Markets and try berries from different counties around us. We eat them rinsed just out of the container, we eat them on crusty toasted bread with butter…(Wouter says that is the classic Dutch way to eat Spring strawberries)…we put them in all of our dinner salads, on granola for breakfast and in drinks.

Here is how to “put-up” strawberries to enjoy later in the year.

What you will need:

4 quarts of fresh picked strawberries, rinsed & drained

Turbinado or Raw Sugar, 3/4 cup

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or other interesting fruity vinegar

Glass jars & lids that have been washed in soapy water, rinsed & air-dried

What to do?…it’s e.a.t. !

1. Cap berries. That means take off the green tops & discard. If strawberries are large then cut in half, if small then leave whole. Put all capped berries in a large bowl. Every so often sprinkle a layer of the berries with a few tablespoons of the sugar. Repeat until all berries are capped & sprinkled with sugar. Allow berries to sit for at least 15 minutes.

2. Using a fork smash berries to release juices. Don’t try to smash all the berries, just about half of them.

3. Stir in 2 tablespoons of balsamic or other fruity vinegar.

4. Fill glass jars with strawberries &  juice, leaving about 3/4 of an inch of each jar unfilled. (We are going to put the jars in the freezer. Freezing will make the mixture expand.)

5. Put lids on jars snuggly. Place in freezer until you are ready to use for some fabulous treat.

There…now that wasn’t so hard was it? Berries “put up” using this method is the first step to getting over your “fear of canning”. It is a baby step in the world of canning, but a big step for someone like me who just started canning about 2 years ago. This is how I got started. I don’t have a very large freezer so I have to mix this method with the more traditional (water bath) method for some of my goodies.  Freezing berries keeps their wonderful color and flavor. They will still be savory enough for salad dressing, yet sweet enough for desserts.

Let me know if you have questions…My little email hotline is open. Just get in touch:

teresablackburn1@mac.com

I am here for you. Start out with just a few jars…jump in, don’t be afraid.

A little gallery of how we eat fresh berries & use some of our frozen berries:

Fresh strawberries, no sugar on toasted bread with Kerrygold butter for breakfast.
More fresh berries with turbinado smashed on more toast with butter for lunch.
Nestled in salad greens from our garden & fresh Mozzarella from Lazzaroli’s in Nashville.
I folded some berries into a pint of vanilla ice cream…to make “faux” Strawberry Ice Cream.
Eaten natural.
Strawberry Aqua Fresca..partially frozen berries, fresh lime juice, honey & water blended.

“Crop Circle Tabbouleh / Third Thursday”

“Crop Circle Tabbouleh”

Ingredients:

Gather the following: Fresh, Ripe, Local Peaches & Strawberries, Cilantro, Parsley, Mint, Spring Green Onions, Jalapeno & Sweet Red Bell Pepper, Wheat Berries Cooked, Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Honey, Herbs de Provence, Sea Salt & Black Pepper (Amounts really don’t matter just use whatever amounts you want of each based on your own personal palate.)

1. Chop finely Spring Onions, Parsley, Cilantro & Mint. The onions I used came from the Downtown Farmer’s Market and the mint from my garden.

                                                       2. Carefully peel ripe peaches & cut into a large dice.  I used a combination of Alabama and Georgia peaches                                                              that started showing up at our local Farmer’s Markets last week.

  


                                     3. Let cooked Wheat Berries cool completely. Finely chop a bit of Jalapeno pepper & Red Bell Pepper for garnish.Wash                                                   &  trim Strawberries, let drain. The small sweet berries in this salad came from a farm in Ridgetop, TN.

4. Choose a large round serving dish and place cooked wheat berries in the middle a bit “domed” spreading out to the edges.  Add each prepped ingredient in a circle around the domed center, creating a “crop” circle!

Cover loosely with plastic wrap & refrigerate until ready to serve. 

5. Mix a simple Vinaigrette using the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, herbs de provence, sea salt & black pepper. I make quick vinaigrettes in small canning jars and shake to mix ingredients. Taste and adjust.

To Serve: Remove Crop Circle Tabbouleh from refrigerator anda drizzle Vinaigrette over all, add a large serving spoon.

The destination for my “Crop Circle Tabbouleh” ……………..

“Third Thursday May 2011 at Gigi’s Home”

Third Thursday’s Potluck was held this month at the home of Hat Maker and Gardener Extraordinaire Gigi Gaskins. Also hosted by Nancy Vienneau who invited some out-of-town guests who livened things up for us all.  Third Thursday’s are always much-anticipated by all of us who attend regularly and even more so as a bounty of  seasonal crops  are arriving daily, fresh from farmers all over our area here in Nashville.

Out-of-town guests, Kathi Speller and Lanette Mohr read about Third Thursdays in the current issue of Relish Magazine (check it out online at relish.com) & as they were both nearby on this particular Third Thursday they  joined our pot luck dinner party.

Image Gallery of the evening of food, conversation, laughter………..

                                                             

                 

                                                                                        

                                                                                  

Good food, new & familiar friends, a beautiful May evening.

Bon Apetit.

(My “Crop Circle Tabbouleh” was inspired by a recipe by Nigel Slater in his Tender, Vol II  cooking book. His recipe was for a Peach and Mint Tabbouleh.)

(The styling for”Crop Circle Tabbouleh” was inspired by an article I recently read on Crop Circles and by my good friend, Nancy Vienneau.)

A bit about Crop Circles from Wikipedia:

crop circle is a sizable pattern created by the flattening of a crop such as wheatbarleyryemaize, or rapeseed. Crop circles are also referred to as crop formations, because they are not always circular in shape. While the exact date crop circles began to appear is unknown, the documented cases have substantially increased from the 1970s to current times. 

Since the early 1990s the UK arts collective founded by artists Rod Dickinson and John Lundberg (and subsequently includes artists Wil Russell and Rob Irving), named the Circlemakers, have been creating some crop circles in the UK and around the world both as part of their art practice and for commercial clients.

Using local crops to make circles in food seemed a natural progression. Teresa B.

“Victoria Sponge & Strawberries”

“Old Fashioned Victoria Sponge Cake with Tennessee Strawberries”

This Saturday I bought a few pints of fresh picked Tennessee Strawberries at the Sylvan Park Farmer’s Market. This year’s crop is especially abundant and sweet. These small juicy  berries call out for a light sponge cake &  freshly whipped cream slightly seasoned with vanilla & sugar. I don’t often make desserts but as we were going to a dinner party and I was asked to bring dessert I wanted to make a special treat that would be a take off on the classic strawberry shortcake, but lighter. This dessert is easy to make from start to finish and is a stunner. It’s like eating air with a dash of sweetness.


To make a simple light sponge cake you will need the following:


2 sticks butter softened to room temp, use a little to grease cake pans (JD’s Dairy butter worked great for this cake.)

1 cup superfine sugar

4 eggs

(I used fresh local eggs from McDonalds that I purchased at the Sylvan Park Farmer’s Market as well)

1 3/4 cups self-rising flour & a pinch of salt (White Lily Flour is a good choice)

2 tbsp warm water

1 cup whipping cream + 1 tbsp sugar + 1 tsp vanilla

2 cups local, sweet strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar for dusting top of cake

To Make the Cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grease two 8 inch cake pans with butter & line bottom of each with a circle of wax paper.

3. Using a hand mixer cream together the butter & sugar until well mixed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Sift flour &  salt over the creamed mixture. Add warm water & beat together until well mixed. Batter is a thick, light & creamy texture.


5. Divide cake mixture evenly between the two cake pans. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until cakes are done in the centers. Remove from oven.  Turn cake layer out onto cooling racks until completely cool.

6. Using a serrated knife split each cake into two layers. Use three for this cake. Wrap &  store 4th layer for later in the week when you want to make strawberry shortcakes for two.

7. Whip cream with sugar & vanilla. Place one layer on cake stand or cake plate & cover with half the sweetened whip cream. Top with half of the strawberries.

8. Add 2nd cake layer and press down slightly. Spread remaining half of whipped cream over cake & top with remaining sliced berries.

9. Place 3rd cake layer on top of berries pressing down slightly. Dust top with confectioner’s sugar. Place in refrigerator to chill until ready to serve. This cake is best assembled a couple of hours before serving. Serve cut into wedges with additional dusting of confectioner’s sugar if desired.


This type of cake was originally called a “Victoria Sponge Cake” named for Queen Victoria. It sounds fancy, looks fancy but is one of the easiest desserts to make to show off Spring Strawberries.

A bit about Victoria Sponge Cake & Self-Rising Flour from Wikipedia:

Victoria sponge

The Victoria sponge cake was named after Queen Victoria, who favoured a slice of the sponge cake with her afternoon tea. It is often referred to simply as sponge cake, though it contains additional fat. A traditional Victoria sponge consists of raspberry jam and whipped double cream or vanilla cream, just jam is referred to as a ‘jam sponge’ and most certainly not a Victoria sponge. The jam and cream are sandwiched between two sponge cakes; the top of the cake is not iced or decorated.

Self-Rising Flour

Leavening agents are used with some flours, especially those with significant gluten content, to produce lighter and softer baked products by embedding small gas bubbles. Self-raising (or self-rising) flour is sold premixed with chemical leavening agents. The added ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the flour which aids a consistent and even rise in baked goods. This flour is generally used for preparing scones, biscuits, muffins, etc. This type of flour was invented by Henry Jones and patented in 1845. Plain flour can be used to make a type of self-rising flour although the flour will be more coarse. Self-raising flour is typically composed of the following ratio:

  • 1 cup flour;  1 teaspoon baking powder;  a pinch to ½ teaspoon salt
  • “Pick Your Own”

There are lots of farms in Middle Tennessee where you can pick-your-own berries for freezing, making jams & jellies or for creating your own desserts. Just go to the website listed below to find a farm near you.

http://www.pickyourown.org/TNmiddle.htm

eat more cake…….