September Honey-Balsamic Roasted Pears and Climate Change

It is still extremely hot here in Nashville..call it Climate Change. You would pretty much have to be living under a bushel basket to not have caught on to this. It’s science, it’s real and it’s with us right now. Think about it, read about it, talk amongst your family and friends about it. If you know a farmer or two, ask them what they think. How is climate change affecting them?

While I was making this very simple dessert, I was thinking about the future and food. These pears are as good as any I have ever tasted. Will they always be readily available? Will they be “special” and only for a select group of people in the future? I do not have the answer, but I do know that good, healthy, fresh foods can nourish both the body and mind.  A delicious pear is one of those things.

No peeling necessary! Cut in half and the center scooped out with a melon-baller and then drizzled with raw sugar, lemon-flavored olive oil and honey-balsamic vinegar…ready for the oven.

15 minutes later…roasted and caramelized and ready to eat. Quick and easy….now turn off that oven…it’s hot out there!

You can find more easy pear recipes here: Aromatic Roasted Pears and Plums with Star Anise, Vanilla, Balsamic and Maple Syrup E.A.T #34 ;  Cream Baked Cardamom-Vanilla Bean Pears and Pear, Maple and Nutmeg Cornmeal Cake + Kitchen Tools #1

Honey-Balsamic Roasted Pears

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 firm, but ripe pears, cut in half and core scooped out
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup citrus flavored olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey-balsamic vinegar (you can make your own by whisking together honey and balsamic vinegar until emulsified)
  • Ice Cream for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Roast pear halves, cut side up, for 12-15 minutes or until caramelized and a little charred on the edges. Remove from oven. Let cool in pan for a few minutes.
  3. Serve with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and drizzle any “pan drippings” over dessert.

Note: I choose pears with the stems still attached when I find them. I like how the stems look so much.

teresablackburnfoodstyling.com     foodonfifth.com

Frozen Blackberries and Ice Cream Snowballs…in Hell E.A.T.#38

Sunday, Nashville, 99 degrees hot!

We have a saying….when asked just how hot something is…we often say “hotter than hell”. Meaning, really, really, really hot. We have another saying when something is extremely odd or unlikely. We say something is “like a snowball in hell”.

The pooling of these two sayings made me think of snowballs…which made we think of ice cream…which made me want an ice cream treat because it is truly hotter than hell today in Nashville…I am pretty sure.

Vanilla Ice Cream softened,  fresh blackberries, finely chopped candied ginger is all you need.

All stirred together……

….then refrozen in a plastic box for a few hours or overnight. Scooped and formed using your hands into balls and then refrozen for a bit. They look like snowballs studded with lots of fruit and ginger. They are a bit crunchy and icy, spicy and creamy, cooling and delicious.

A little listen while you make your own snowballs. Enjoy and Chill. It’s as easy-as-that.

Frozen Blackberries and Ice Cream Snowballs in Hell

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint of vanilla ice cream softened to where you can stir it
  • 1 cup of fresh blackberries (or blueberries or raspberries)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped candied ginger

Directions:

  1. Stir together the softened ice cream, fresh blackberries and candied ginger until well blended. Scrape mixture into a glass or plastic box container with a tight fitting lid.
  2. Freeze for a few hours or overnight. Mixture will be very hard when you pull it out of the freezer. Let it sit on counter for at least 10 minutes before scooping.
  3. Scoop out and form into “snowballs” using your hands. Don’t worry if they are perfect. Place snow balls on a metal tray.  When all ice cream is scooped and formed into snowballs re-freeze for an hour or so before eating.

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

Just Chop It Fresh and Easy Pesto

Certain foods are ubiquitous. One such food is Pesto. Of course you can buy jars of it in supermarkets and specialty food markets, but there is none to compare to what you make at home. Most pre-made pestos are too oily, too smooth without any character and with little flavor. One of the easiest things to make at home is pesto.  This is a version that doesn’t even call for a food processor. I just chopped it!

I want my pesto to have texture and lots of flavor. I want the olive oil to enhance the pesto, not be the main ingredient.  I often use greens other than basil such as kale or parsley. Hardly ever do I use pine nuts as I feel they are too oily. Walnuts, pecans, pistachios and pepitas are some of my favorite nuts to use. The constants in my pestos are good fresh garlic, the best olive oil I can afford and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Paired with a good short pasta noodle such as Campanelle, this pesto is divine and delicious.

First I smashed two garlic cloves using the flat side of my knife and then finely chopped them, adding toasted walnuts to my board and giving them a medium to fine chop together with the garlic. Grated parmesan was added and chopped into the garlic-walnut mix.

I harvested my first basil of the 2019 season and gave it a medium to fine chop as well. All the ingredients I then put into a bowl, adding a generous sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

All the ingredients I then drizzled with a good olive oil and smushed it all together with a wooden spatula.

I cooked some Campanelle noodles, topped them with a few spoonfuls of this chopped pesto. Bon Appetit.

Just Chop It Fresh and Easy Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 2 large fresh garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano – 1 cup or more divided
  • 2 cups or more fresh basil leaves
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1 lb Campanelle pasta noodles or other short noodle

Directions:

  1. Put a pot of water on to boil for the noodles.
  2. Meanwhile working on a cutting board, smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and then chop. Add walnuts and give them a medium to fine chop along with the garlic. Every now and then smush it all with the side of you knife. This releases the oils from the garlic and walnuts.
  3. Add half of the grated Parmigiano and chop into the garlic-walnut mix and scrape all into a mixing bowl.
  4. On the same board chop the basil medium to fine and add to the bowl tossing with other ingredients. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle olive oil over all and toss together well. Taste and adjust to suit your palate.
  5. When you pasta water boils add the noodles and cook al dente. Drain well.
  6. Serve pasta topped with a generous serving of chopped pesto and more Parmigiano, sea salt and black pepper. Drizzle with additional olive oil if you like. Enjoy.

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

 

Roasted Strawberry-Lemon Dessert Topping

Strawberries. Most local berries are gone for the season unless you are growing your own. The weather has been testy and now it is summer-hot. Strawberries don’t like that very much.

Here is a deliciously easy recipe I made using the the last of the local strawberries from the Farmer’s Market Downtown Nashville. “Roasted Strawberry-Lemon Dessert Topping” can be put into glass jars and frozen for enjoying later.  The results are not cloyingly sweet. This topping has a hint of lemon which brightens up things and the color is a deep crimson. This quick recipe (although lots of passive time) could be used for making other berry toppings. Blueberry, raspberry and blackberry topping would all be scrumptious, maybe even peach or plum?

I was inspired by a recipe I found in an early issue of “Sweet Paul Magazine”. Do you know this magazine? For many years now it has been an inspiration and delight for me with lots of doable good food and craft ideas, just wonderful stories of people and travel. I don’t know Paul, “Sweet Paul, Lowe, but I wish I did.3 lbs of fresh berries, lemon zest and sugar.

After 24 hours just sitting around in a bowl of sugar….this is what you have (above)….

…after a few hours in a low heat oven this is what you have (above). The berry juice cooks down and thickens to a perfect topping consistency.

Spoon into clean glass jars. Freeze or refrigerate for a few weeks. Eating some immediately over ice cream is a good idea as well. Good Eating.

Roasted Strawberry Lemon Dessert Topping

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Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs fresh strawberries, hulled, large berries cut in half, small ones left whole
  • 3 lemons zested + juice from the lemons
  • 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Put prepped berries in a large bowl. Add lemon zest and juice and toss well.
  2. Sprinkle sugar over berries and toss again. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 12 hours.
  3. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Put berry mixture into a large non-reactive baking dish (enamel, glass, stainless steel or ceramic).
  4. Bake berries, uncovered, stirring every now and then for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Remove pan from oven. As mixture cools it will thicken up somewhat but not as thick as jam. It will be a more “juicy” topping.
  5. Fill small (1/2 pint) glass jars with roasted berries, leaving about 1/2 headroom and seal with tight-fitting lids. Let cool completely and then store in refrigerator for a couple of weeks or freeze for using later in the summer or fall.
  6. Serve topping over vanilla ice cream or your favorite pound cake. Also good on top of pancakes or waffles.

Recipe based on “Slow Roasted Strawberry Jam” from Sweet Paul Magazine.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Between Chapters….Spring Green Gazpacho Escape

I have always used books to escape or to avoid things or to soothe my bothered brow. I realized a few days ago that I  have never, ever read so much in my life as since mr. Trump has been president. Most days I just need to tune out his vitriolic hatred for all things good in this world as much as possible. I tune out by reading. Magazines, newspapers, recipes and books.  I have, in fact,  taken my reading to an entirely new level in the past few years. More than read, I devour pages, upon pages of novels….thousands of ideas and words. No quicker than I finish one, I am on to the next. On the other hand, one cannot live off books alone….one has to eat  real food…so a few days ago, between chapters, I tossed a few ingredients to my blender for this  batch of green gazpacho. A drinkable lunch while moving to the next chapter. (Dare I say, thank you mr. president? Hmmmm…probably not.)

A few small Persian cucumbers, fresh arugula, garlic, basil, mint, a splash of vinegar and olive oil with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. No particular amounts of each, just whatever you have. Blend until smooth, taste and adjust flavors, drink while reading.

No recipe is needed for this refreshing summer soup, but I will share a list of some of books I have read recently for your own little summer escape. Bon Appetite while reading.

BookList

  • “The Flying Troutmans”, “Summer of My Amazing Luck”, “Irma Voth” all by Miriam Toews
  • “The River” – Peter Heller
  • “The Dark Road to Mercy” – Wiley Cash
  • “The Island of Sea Women” – Lisa See
  • “The House at the Edge of the World” – Julia Rochester
  • “A Terrible Country” – Keith Gessen
  • “Voices from Chernobyl” – Svetlana Alexievich
  • “Peacekeeping” – Mischa Berlinski
  • “Delicate Edible Birds”, “Florida” – Lauren Groff
  • “There, There” – Tommy Orange
  • “Only Thieves and Killers” – Paul Howarth
  • “The Witch Elm” – Tana French
  • “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” – Ottessa Moshfegh
  • “Improvement” , “Lucky Us” – Joan Silber
  • “Motherland” – Paul Theroux
  • “The Widows of Malabar Hills” – Sujata Massey
  • “A Victim of the Aurora” – Thomas Keneally

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

 

 

Sugared Strawberries with Easy Homemade Labnah E.A.T. #37

 

Bright crimson to deep carmine local strawberries are at their peak.  Please do yourself a favor and stop by your local farmer’s market or roadside stand or pick-your-own farm to get your own berries before they are all gone. It is a sweet short season not to be missed.

Have you ever made labnah, or yogurt cheese?  If you have then you will know what I am talking about when I say it is the easiest cheese to make requiring no special skills or ingredients other than a good plain Greek yogurt and sea salt. I first encountered Labnah in Mexico years ago and have loved it ever since. Tart and just a bit salty it is the perfect foil for sugared fresh strawberries.

Cheesecloth, string and a bowl are all the tools needed and 24 hours to drain. The liquid drips out leaving a firm creamy, spreadable cheese. I have, in the past, added fresh herbs for a savory spread or raw sugar for sweetness.

Labnah ready to eat along with berries and baguette slices which I like toasted.

I didn’t sugar the berries ahead of time as I did not want them to “water out” and lose their firmness. I also really enjoy the crunch of raw sugar. You can use as much or as little sugar as you like.

Toasted baguette slices smeared with labnah and topped with fresh Tennessee strawberry slices and raw sugar is either the perfect dessert, snack or lunch. Textural, crunchy, just sweet enough with the tart-saltiness of the labnah. Treat yourself. It’s as Easy-As-This.

Spring Strawberries and Yogurt Cheese (Labnah) on Toasted Baguette

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Ingredients:

  • I quart of plain Greek Yogurt
  • Sea salt flakes such as Maldon
  • 3 cups of fresh, local strawberries preferably
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • Baguette slices
  • You will need cheesecloth and kitchen string

Directions:

  1. Fold a length of cheesecloth to make three layers. Cut into a large square about 16-18 inches. Fit layered cheesecloth square down into a bowl large enough to hold 1 quart of yogurt.
  2. Stir 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes into the yogurt mixing well.
  3. Scrape the yogurt into the bowl lined with cheesecloth. Gather up the edges, twist the cloth and tie with kitchen string. You will want to have enough of a “tail” of cheesecloth to suspend over the bowl in the refrigerator for 24 hours to allow all the liquid to drip out of the yogurt creating a spreadable “cheese”.  (You may have to be inventive in figuring a way to suspend cheesecloth over bowl as I had to be. I wedged the fabric at the top between two refrigerator trays and set the bowl underneath. You will figure out your own way.)
  4. Store yogurt cheese/labnah in an airtight container. It will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks.
  5. Toast baguette slices. Set aside.
  6. Rinse and drain fresh berries. Remove the cap and slice. Sprinkle with raw sugar to suit your taste.
  7. Smear baguette toast with labnah, top with sugared berries, adding more sugar for crunch if you like. Eat. Enjoy. It is as easy-as-that.

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

 

Just Peachy Blueberry Peach Pecan Scones

There are peaches, and there are peaches. There are the ones you buy at the supermarket with no taste, or the ones you buy and have to wait for 4 or 5 days for them to ripen before eating them,  and there are just picked, juicy, ripe, let’s-eat-them-today peaches that taste like summer sweetness. I have met few folks who do not like a good, ripe peach that you can eat in hand while the juice runs down your arm, which is one of life’s simple joys. This post is an ode to those kind of peaches.

In a few days there will be a new peach cookbook released by Gibbs-Smith Publishers that I had the pleasure of working on. “Just Peachy” by Belinda Smith-Sullivan. She is a person extraordinaire. Not only do her familial roots run deep in the South, she is a woman-of-the-world in both a culinary and travel sense.

Here is one of my favorite pics of Belinda amongst all those ready-to-pick South Carolina peaches. The granddaughter of Mississippi sharecroppers, Belinda is also a chef, food writer, creator of her on line of spice blends and a commercially-rated pilot who resides in South Carolina where some of the best peaches in the world grow which are the inspiration for this book.

photograph of Belinda by Mark Boughton Photography

The lovely photography in this book is by Mark Boughton. Check out his work on line. I had the rare chance to both style the food and do all the tabletop photo-prop styling for this cookbook and it was a great, just peachy time! Thanks Belinda and Mark.

Cover Image by Mark Boughton Photography “

This recipe, “Blueberry Peach Pecan Scones”, is easy to make and bake in less than 45 minutes total time. Serve them warm from the oven with homemade peach preserves (another recipe in the book you will love) and a smear of softened butter.

Because of all the peaches and blueberries, these scones are not as dry as some and were still good a few days after I baked them.

You can add the lemon glaze that is part of the recipe, or as I did, just sprinkle them with decorating sugar for the crunch.

Here, have a bite. Enjoy.

Blueberry Peach Pecan Scones

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I used half white and half raw sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom (I love this spice so I used a bit more)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, or heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup of peeled and chopped ripe peaches
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries (I frozen fresh berries on a flat tray and used instead of grocery store frozen, which you can use)
  • 1/4 cup milk, for wash
  • (My addition – 1/2 cup plain decorating sugar)
  • Glaze recipe: 1/4 cup fresh squeeze lemon juice + 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom. Cut butter into flour mixture using a pastry blender or your fingers until it resembles coarse meal. This step can also be done in the food processor.
  3. Combine buttermilk, egg, lemon zest and almond extract. Stir into the flour mixture along with the chopped peached, pecans and blueberries just until combined.
  4. On a lightly floured work surface, gather dough into a loose ball and flatten somewhat. Dust with flour, dough will be sticky, and roll out to about 3/4 inch thick. Cut dough into 4 inch square and then cut squares diagonally to make triangles. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with milk. (Dust with decorating sugar if you are using.) Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  5. For the glaze mix together lemon juice and sugar until sugar dissolves.  Drizzle over warm scones if desired.

Based on original recipe by Belinda Smith-Sullivan from her cookbook “Just Peachy” published by Gibbs-Smith Publishers.

Teresa Blackburn      teresablackburnfoodstyling.com