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28 Aug 2020 Blueberry Upside-Down Coffee Cake

Just a reminder, there’s no coffee in coffee cake. Coffee cake is cake to be eaten with a perfect cup of coffee.  And that, my friends, is what a weekend quarantine breakfast is all about.  Throw in a good book or a good companion and you’re in heaven.

I’ve been making this cake for decades, except that I had forgotten all about it for the past five or six years. Somehow this recipe went missing from one of my 13 recipe binders.  I didn’t even notice. Then my daughter Hannah brought this coffee cake over as a first day of on-line school snack during the 2020 pandemic. I asked her for the recipe. To which she responded, with a disbelieving eye roll, “Mommmm, it’s YOUR recipe”.  Ooops.

So here it is, the replacement for the missing recipe, the best blueberry coffee cake on the planet, Blueberry Upside-Down Coffee Cake.

Hint #1: If there’s no need for a fancy display, then there’s no need to actually turn the whole cake upside down. Just carve out a slice and turn upside down onto your plate.  You can add whipped cream, or not, depending on your breakfast/brunch rules. 

Hint #2: Don’t skimp on the lemon zest. The lemon zest (and butter) is what makes this cake sing!

I like this cake much better than any cake cooked with blueberries mixed into the batter. Cooked blueberries mess with the texture of any cake. In this cake, the blueberries shine as a layer, and the buttery cake also shines as a layer. You get to enjoy both the cake and the blueberries without one interfering with the other. Win-win! Oh, and it’s supposed to be served warm, win-win-win!

Blueberry Upside-Down Coffee Cake

For the Blueberry Layer

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 3-4 cups fresh blueberries (18-24 oz)
  • 1 ½ tsp grated lemon zest
  1. Get out your best 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter.
  3. Stir in brown sugar and boil gently for 3 full minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Pour the mixture into the bottom of the 9×13 pan, spreading carefully to make an even layer.
  5. Pour fresh blueberries on top of butter/brown sugar mixture.
  6. Sprinkle lemon zest evenly over the blueberry layer.

For the Cake

  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (310 grams)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon zest
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With an electric mixer beat together butter and sugar. Continue to beat until light and fluffy, approx. 3-5 minutes.
  3. Gradually add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Stir in vanilla.
  5. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
  6. Add 1/3rd of dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and beat well.
  • Add half of the milk and beat until all of the milk has been incorporated,
  • Add another 1/3 of dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and beat well.
  • Add remaining milk and beat until all of the milk has been incorporated.
  • Add remaining flour mixture and beat well.
  • Stir in lemon zest
  • Pour batter over blueberries in 9×13 pan. Smooth with a spatula.
  • Place pan in a 350-degree oven for 45-50 minutes.  The top will be well browned. Use a toothpick to check that cake in the middle of the pan has been cooked.
  • Remove cake from the oven. If inverting, let cool for 3 minutes. Run a knife along all sides to loosen the cake from the pan. Invert onto a large rectangular platter or cutting board. 
  • Serve warm, with or without optional whipped cream or pouring custard.
26 Jul 2020 Homemade Ketchup
-:: Fresh Homemade Ketchup ::-

Every year I plant tomatoes and every year, for a period of a few weeks, I have more tomatoes than any one family could ever use. I have some recipes on this blog that call for a lot of homegrown tomatoes: Fresh Tomato Lasagna and Tomato Tart jump to mind because we make them every summer. This year we have added two wonderful new recipes, Homemade Tomato Ketchup and Tomato Jam.

This is my recipe for Tomato Ketchup. The recipe originated with Saveur Magazine, was adapted by someone, and then adapted again by myself. I switched from using whole spices wrapped in cheesecloth to ground spices stirred in at the beginning. So much easier!

This ketchup is DELICIOUS. We even taste-tested, side-by-side with Heinz ketchup, this ketchup, and McDonald’s fries. Eight testers, and not one chose the Heinz over this ketchup. One tester even complained about the gluey texture of the Heinz ketchup, something she had never noticed before (OK, so that tester was me)… ?

The ketchup is EASY to make, but it does involve a lot of dishes and utensils: cutting board, sharp knife, stockpot, wooden spoon, a blender, a sieve, measuring spoons, and small bowl. But really…, that’s not too much for a six month’s supply of delicious homemade ketchup with no preservatives, no artificial flavourings, and no chemical thickening agents, is it?

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 pounds homegrown tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion peeled and chopped
  • 1-2 Anaheim chilies, seeded and chopped, optional
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon chile flakes, optional
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 oz. (125 grams or 10 tablespoons) light brown sugar

To finish, optional:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place all ingredients, except for the cornstarch and cold water, in a large stockpot.
  2. Simmer mixture over medium heat until tomatoes and chiles are soft and onions are translucent and limp, about 45-60 minutes.
  3. Turn off heat, and let mixture cool (because blending hot liquids can be dangerous and messy). Remove bay leaves.
  4. In batches (probably 3 batches, depending on the size of your blender and temperature of tomato mixture), place tomato mixture into a blender and blend until very smooth.
  5. Strain the ketchup through a fine-mesh strainer and return to the cooking pot (straining removes seeds and peels). Press on the solid pieces to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
  6. Once all the pureed liquid has been returned to the pan, cook over medium-low heat for an additional 30-45 minutes or until thickened to your preference.
  7. OPTIONAL: If your ketchup doesn’t thicken to your liking (some tomatoes have more liquid in them than other tomatoes), mix a slurry of cornstarch and cold water. Bring tomato mixture to a rapid boil and, stirring constantly, pour in the cornstarch slurry.  Continue to boil and stir for a full minute.
  8. Remove ketchup from heat and let cool.
  9. Ketchup can be stored in a sealed container (preferably glass) in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks and frozen for 6 months or more.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. Tomato Jam will be up soon!

27 May 2020 Fresh Cherry Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 double crust pie dough

Cherry Filling:

  • 2 red plums
  • 2 pounds (6 cups) sweet cherries, pitted and halved
  • ½ -1 cup sugar, to taste (½ cup sugar usually results in a slightly tart pie)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes
  • 1 large egg + 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)
  • Approx. 1 teaspoon sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Roll out a generous ½ of pie crust dough and place in bottom of 9-inch pie pan. Wrap pie pan containing bottom pastry with plastic wrap in place in refrigerator.
  2. Roll out remaining pastry for top crust. Place flat onto a baking sheet, cover with plastic, and place in refrigerator. Meanwhile, prepare cherry filling.
  3. Pit the cherries, and cut them in half.
  4. Cut plums in half and remove the pit.
  5. Place plum halves and 1 cup of cherries to food processor and process for 1 minute or until smooth.
  6. Strain the plum-cherry mixture through a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. Press down and extract as much liquid as possible, discard the solids and retain the juice in the bowl.
  7. Add the remaining 5 cups of pitted and halved cherries, sugar, salt, lemon juice, bourbon cinnamon and corn starch into bowl containing the puree. Stir to combine. Let mixture stand for 15 minutes to meld flavors.
  8. Remove bottom crust from refrigerator. Pour cherry mixture into to dough-lined pie plate. Scatter 1/4? butter cubes evenly over filling.
  9. Remove the top pie crust from the refrigerator and place on top of pie.  Using thumb and forefinger, flute edges or use the tines of a fork to seal the two pie crusts together.
  10. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg and 1 teaspoon water together. Using a pastry brush, brush egg all over the top pie crust.  Sprinkle a small amount of sugar over the egg wash. Use a sharp knife to make 4-8 evenly spaced vents in top of pie.
  11. Freeze prepared pie for 20 minutes.
  12. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a foil lined baking sheet in oven to preheat.
  13. Remove pie from freezer and transfer to pre-heated baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Then reduce temperature to 350-degrees and continue to bake for another 30-40 minutes or until the juices bubble around the edges and crust is deeply golden brown.
  14. Allow pie to cool on wire rack for 4 hours before serving. Serve with a side of ice cream or sweetened whipped cream, if desired.

Enjoy!

27 May 2020 Fresh Cherry-Limeade
 |  Category: Drinks, Fruits, Seasonal  | Tags: , , ,  | One Comment

I am fortunate to live in an area with some remaining cherry orchards. For a few weeks each year, these orchards are open for U-Pick cherries.  Seeing as how we are in the midst of a pandemic (80 days of Shelter-In-Place and counting), and U-Pick Cherries being a relatively safe outdoor activity (with masks in place), we’ve been twice in two weeks. That’s a lot of cherries!

Caution #1: U-Pick cherries are not cheap, they might even be a bit more than you’d pay in the grocery store, but they’re good, and fresh, and last a surprisingly long time.

Caution #2: If you go cherry picking, you will undoubtedly come home with more cherries than you would if you bought a bag of cherries at the grocery store or farmer’s market. So bookmark a few of our very favorite cherry recipes: Fresh Cherry Salsa, Cherry-Limeaid, and Fresh Cherry Pie!

As a non-drinker of anything alcoholic, compounded by being a non-soda drinker, and not being especially thrilled about water, I am excited when I find something special to drink. This is one of my favorite special drinks, Cherry Limeade! It’s made with fresh cherries and freshly squeezed lime juice, mixed with sparkling water or club soda.

Fresh Cherry Limeaid

  • 2 cups (about 385 g/ 3/4 lb.) fresh cherries, pitted
  • 2/3 cup (133 g) sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 4 limes)
  • 2 cups (473 ml) chilled sparkling water (more or less to taste)
  1. Combine the sugar and the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for approx 5 minutes. Then turn off heat and let sit.
  2. While sugar and water are simmering, pit the cherries and juice the limes.
  3. Place 2 cups pitted cherries into a food processor or blender and whirl until smooth.
  4. Strain the pureed cherries with a mesh strainer. Reserve the juice, and discard the solids. Don’t panic! The cherry juice will be an awful brown color, things will improve with the addition of the lime juice. (Cherry juice is not red! Now you know how much red food coloring goes into commercial cherry juice.)
  5. Combine the sugar-water, the lime juice, and the cherry juice into a large pitcher. Place in refrigerator and chill completely.
  6. Just before serving, stir in the sparkling water or club soda.
  7. To get really fancy, top with a slice of lime and a frilly straw!

Enjoy!