Fresh Cranberry-Pear-Orange Relish E.A.T #40

I must confess I have a weakness for that (kinda gross) jellied cranberry sauce in the can. I am sure it has to do with childhood Holiday memories nested deep in my brain.  On the other hand, I really love this cranberry relish that is quick, easy and fresh. It is a little bit sweet, a little bit tart and very special with a baked ham or a roasted chicken or turkey, not to mention roasted vegetables.. All you need is a food processor and about 10 minutes. It will keep in the fridge for a few days in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid so it is an excellent make-ahead.

There really isn’t any need for an official recipe, but I put a quick one at the end just in case.

About 2 cups of fresh cranberries,  2 firm but ripe pears, 1 orange including the peel and a 1/2 cup raw or turbinado sugar are the 4 ingredients needed. All chopped in a processor, jarred and chilled. It really is “easy-as-this”. What a nice jar of this would be for a food-lover on your Holiday List!

Fresh Cranberry, Pear and Orange Relish

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
  • 2  firm, but ripe pears, cored
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges, seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup raw or turbinado sugar

Directions:

  1. Medium chop cranberries in a food processor. Scrape into a mixing bowl.
  2. Puree pears and add to mixing bowl.
  3. Medium to finely chop orange wedges and add to mixing bowl.
  4. Add sugar and stir ingredients together. Taste and adjust sugar if needed.
  5. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid for up to 4-5 days.

Note: For gift-giving, add a ribbon or tag with the date made and ingredients in a pretty jar. How easy is that?

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

 

 

 

Plain and Simple Sugared Strawberries with Cornmeal Shortcakes, E.A.T. #24

A craving sets in this time of year for the first Spring Tennessee strawberries. This week baskets and baskets arrived at my local, downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market. Juicy and plump with the wonderful variations in shape and size not seen in supermarket berries.

Aren’t they beautiful?

Cut up and gently tossed with raw sugar awaiting a shortcake.

I am not a big fan of store-bought shortcakes when it is so easy to make my own. I enjoy a shortcake with a bit of texture and flavor which I get by adding cornmeal to the mixture. Buttery & barely sweet with a bit of crunch. Soft enough to soak up those berry juices.

Light golden brown right from the oven.

Here….have a bite. Treat yourself…strawberry season doesn’t last long. It’s as Easy-As-This!

Sugared Strawberries with Sweetened Cornmeal Shortcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart of local strawberries, capped, sliced
  • a few tablespoons of raw sugar, to taste for berries + 1 tablespoon for the shortcake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup heavy, cold cream
  • Ice cream or whipped cream, optional

Directions:

  1. Toss sliced berries with a few tablespoons raw sugar to taste. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  3. Whisk together remaining 1 tablespoon raw sugar, the flour, cornmeal, baking powder & salt.
  4. Work cold butter into the flour mix using your fingers or a pastry cutter.
  5. Drizzle heavy cream over the top of the flour and stir to bring together to form a somewhat wet dough. Use your fingers to bring together into a ball. Knead a few times.
  6. Pat dough out into a rectangle about 10-12 inches x 5 inches. Cut into 6 pieces and place on a baking pan lined with parchment.
  7. Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. Remove to cool on a rack.
  8. Serve cornmeal warm or room temperature shortcakes split open and topped with juicy strawberries. Add a scoop of ice cream of a dollop of whipped cream if desired.

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

Plum Yum Almond Cake

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Every summer as The Plum Tree on my street becomes laden with ripening fruit it looks like it is about to topple over. The owner is clever in using large sticks and boards to prop up the limbs that without some intervention would no doubt break off. The Plum Tree needs a bit of trimming here and there, a little bit of pruning love, but, alas, it is not my tree.

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On the other hand, I have been enjoying the fruit of this tree for 10 years this summer. This year has a wonderful crop. I picked a small boxful this weekend…many from the ground and a few from the tree. It is never good to be greedy with another’s fruit!  Here is what they looked like when I got them home…..

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….rinsed & drained…..

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,,,,cut in half & cored….

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….topping off my easy-to-make almond cake batter….

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….Plum Yum…..

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Plum Yum Almond Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: plum easy
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Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe, but firm plums, cut in half & cored
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond flour mixed with 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps almond extract
  • 1/2 cup almonds , slivered or sliced
  • powdered sugar for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a 9″ deep dish pie pan or cake pan melt the 1 stick of butter.
  3. Whisk together eggs, sugar, flours & extract just until blended. Do not over whisk. Scrape batter into pie pan with melted butter.
  4. Arrange the plum halves, cut side down, on top of the batter & scatter the almonds over all.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes until cake is a light golden brown. It is okay if the very center is a bit jiggly. Cool on a wire rack. Serve dusted with powdered sugar.

Notes: This cake is a dense moist cake and best eaten the day it is made. I did heat a slice in the oven the day after I made it and it was delicious with a cup of coffee.

If you prefer you can use more plums to cover the top of the batter more.

Recipe by: Teresa Blackburn         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
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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
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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.)

A Perfectly-Imperfect Golden Polenta & Pear Bundt Cake

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I wanted some cake, I had some polenta & pears. This is what I made.

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Three fresh, ripe red Anjou pears……..

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…and a new Bundt pan…things do not always end up the way you plan…

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…careful greasing, making sure I got into every crook, curve and cranny and the top of my cake still stuck in the pan! I really didn’t mind. I gently perched the pointed tops back on for this photo. The moist, just right sweetness, the fresh pears & golden polenta still tasted fantastic…that was really all I cared about. Life is not perfect, but delicious.

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Perfectly-Imperfect Golden Polenta & Pear Bundt Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup polenta
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 3 firm, but ripe, pears, cored, peeled & cubed
  • 2 tsps lemon zest

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a Bundt pan well.
  2. In a mixing bowl whisk together the polenta, flour, baking soda & salt.
  3. Using an electric mixer beat together the sugar, olive & canola oils, eggs & vanilla extract until pale yellow.
  4. Add dry ingredients to mixture and beat on low just until combined. Fold in the pears & lemon zest.
  5. Scrape batter into the prepared Bundt pan, gently tapping pan on counter to release any air pockets in the batter.
  6. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Turn cake out onto a dish and cool completely. Serve in slices warm or room temp. This cake is so moist that is good for a few days.

Adios, Adieu, Goodbye for Now, “Pear, Blueberry Jam with St. Germain”

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September crept in right on top of the last days of August…it has been tropical…. rainy and humid and hot, windy with bouts of unusually cool days scattered in between. Most of the local fruit is gone…the peaches, berries…plums and now my pears….adieu, adios and goodbye until next year sweet ones.

In the early dark days of fall and winter I will have my consolations on a shelf in my kitchen. A few jars of preserves…peach and plum. Jars of jam…pear and blueberry with a splash of St. Germain will be there, ready to comfort me.

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Ripe and Ready.

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The evening before I made this jam I cored, peeled and roughly chopped the pears and tossed them in a bowl with some raw sugar and lemon juice, covered the bowl and refrigerated the fruit overnight.  The sugar and lemon juice help to pull some of the juices from the fruit, breaking the fruit down naturally which shortens the cooking process.

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Do you know about “Pomona’s Universal Pectin”? I like to use this brand as the recipes for  jams, jellies & preserves can be made with less sugar. I do not like cloying sweet preserved fruit so this pectin is just right. The instructions are easy to follow and there are plenty of recipes inside the package. It is preservative free, kosher, vegan, gluten-free and non-gmo. I usually buy it a Whole Foods, but it is available online at their site as well. DSC_1363

I had la few cartons of fresh blueberries left over from a photo shoot so I tossed them in with the peeled and chunked pears. The blueberries gave the finished jam a lovely soft color. A generous splash of St. Germain elderflower liqueur added another layer of goodness.

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You always want to “test” your jam or jelly after cooking to make sure it “sets up”. I do this by spooning some of the mixture out onto a chilled plate. Leave it to sit a few minutes and then check the consistency. This batch “jammed” to perfection.

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Every time I begin to can I feel like a novice….no matter how many times I have done it. This is where I am my most careful-self in the kitchen. I read the instructions, reread and double-check before starting. I gather all my canning supplies, pans, jars, ladles before hand and get everything cleaned, sterilized & all lined up ready to go. My best advice is just do what the recipe & canning instructions say…verbatim…all will be well.

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Pears, Blueberries Jam with St. Germain

  • Servings: 6-8 half pints
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Ingredients:

  • 6 cups cored, peeled & chopped pears
  • 3 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups raw/turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup Elderflower Liqueur/St. Germain
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • Pkg of Pomona’s Universal Pectin (or other pectin if you prefer, most have easy, simple canning instructions inside the box. I used the directions for canning pears.
  • Equipment: clean 1/2 pint glass canning jars & lids, canning equipment (or if you prefer you can do this jam for the freezer…no hot water bath canning processing required.)

Directions:

  1. The night before you plan to can, mix the pears, sugar & lemon juice in a mixing bowl, cover & refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day put the pear mixture in a large saucepan. Add 1 cup of water. Bring to a low boil. Add the pectin according to the package directions, turn stove to low simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes stirring often.
  3. The last 10 minutes of cook time add the blueberries & St. Germain. Stir gently.
  4. While fruit is cooking, wash & rinse canning jars in hot water. Set aside to drain on a very clean dish towel. Use new lids & rings. Put these in a pan of hot water until ready to use on low heat. There are many, many methods for hot water bath canning  so use one that works for you.
  5. When jam is almost finished cooking test the jell by spooning some jam mixture onto a chilled saucer, refrigerate for a few minutes. Test to see if the jam is the consistency you prefer. If not continue cooking another 15 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  6. Fill glass jars with hot jam mixture to within 1/4 inch from the top of the glass rim for hot water bath canning process, 1/2 inch for freezer jam. Wipe each jar rim clean before adding lids. When all jars are filled & wiped clean, top with lid and ring.
  7. For hot water bath place filled jars into your canner rack, lower into the canning pan, cover jars with warm water covering by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, process for 10-15 minutes. Turn heat off. Raise jar rack out of the water bath & place jars on a cooling rack. As jam cools you should hear a soft “pop” as each jar seals. If some jars do not seal then refrigerate to use immediately.
  8. For freezer jam after #6 let jars cool down completely & store in the freezer until ready to eat. Remove jars from freezer a few hours before using.