Cooking

Blueberry Cupcakes

Blueberry Cupcakes

I wanted to make dessert for a lunch I had planned with friends. Since they both love blueberries, I thought I might try making blueberry cupcakes. I started by making my classic vanilla cupcakes, then topping them with blueberries just before baking. The berries fell into the batter during baking, just as I had hoped.

The result was moist, tender cupcakes with a pop of fresh blueberries. I also used a simple vanilla buttercream and dressed them up with a few berries on top. I was really pleased at how they came out. My guests were, too.

Blueberry Cupcakes

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup milk

About 1 cup of blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 12paper liners. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan. Top each cupcake with 5 blueberries. Fewer if the berries are really big. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cupcakes are done when they springs back to the touch.  Cool before frosting. Frost with the buttercream- recipe follows-  and top with a few extra fresh blueberries. Makes 12.

Vanilla Butter Cream

½ c. butter

4 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 T. vanilla extract

In a bowl beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in the vanilla. Slowly beat in remaining sugar. Beat in a little  milk, if needed, to make of spreading consistency. Tint with food color, if desired.

Fresh out of the oven

Cherry Almond Sorbet

Cherry Almond Sorbet

I love all sorts of sorbets. I make them all year long, but seem to make more when summer arrives. The basic recipe is simple –  just pureed fruit, some sweetener and usually, some flavoring or herb, to add interest. They are so light and refreshing. The perfect dessert for summer.

So far I have make sorbet from pineapples, mangoes, strawberries, blueberries (with red grapes), peaches, cranberries and coconut. I am sure I have forgotten some of them.

I picked up fresh cherries at the market, so I could make cherry sorbet.

Fresh cherries are one of my favorite fruits of all time. I love both sweet and sour cherries. For the sorbet, I just pitted a pound of cherries, added sugar and some lemon juice. It needed a little something more- so I added almond extract. Really worked well with the cherries.

So here is the recipe. Simple and sweet.

Cherry Almond Sorbet

1 lb. cherries, pitted

3/4 c. sugar, or to taste*

3 T. lemon juice – it helps the cherries retain their color

1 t. almond extract

Place cherries in blender or food processor, with the sugar and extract. Blend until smooth. Adjust sweetener to suit your taste. Place in a container with a lid and freeze. Once mixture is frozen, remove from the freezer, break into chunks and place in food processor. Process until mixture looks creamy and smooth. You might have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your food processor. Eat or return to freezer until ready to use. Makes just over a quart of sorbet.

*Feel free to use other sweeteners you like in place of the sugar. Honey or maple syrup would both work nicely.

Cherry and Blueberry Clafoutis

Cherry and Blueberry Clafoutis

So what is clafoutis? Clafoutis is a sort of pancake, sort of custard, sort of quiche. It is a lovely dessert for fresh fruit, for sure.

You can serve it plain, or topped with powdered sugar or whipped cream. On a hot day, I like to serve it with a scoop of ice cream.

Clafoutis is really simple to make, too. You start by putting the fruit in a prepared pan. The batter is made in a blender, and takes just a couple of minutes to prepare. You pour the batter over the fruit- and bake.

I used cherries and blueberries in this one, but you can use all sorts of fruits- peaches, plums, raspberries…..

Most people enjoy it as a dessert, but it is also nice with that morning cup of coffee.

I used a combination I thought would make a nice dessert for summer. Blueberries and cherries are in season and so fresh.

Cherry and Blueberry Clafoutis

2 c. pitted cherries, I cut them in half, but you can leave whole

1 c. blueberries

3 eggs

1 c. sugar

3 T. melted butter

½ c. flour

2 t. vanilla extract

1 t. almond extract

pinch of salt

1 c. half and half

powdered sugar, optional

Grease a 9×9-inch baking dish or pie pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cherries and blueberries in the prepared pan. In blender, combine eggs, sugar, butter, flour, flavorings and salt.* Blend until smooth. Add half and half and blend again until smooth. Pour batter over the cherries and blueberries. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until clafoutis is browned around edges and puffed up. Allow to cool and dust with powdered sugar, if you like. It will deflate as it cools. Serves 6.

* You can whisk the ingredients together by hand, if you prefer.

Cherry Pie Blintzes

Cherry Pie Blintzes

With cherries in season, I have been using them in all sorts of dishes.  I think these blintzes are one of my favorites.  They make a great dessert. I just dusted them with powdered sugar, but you can also top them with ice cream or whipped cream. They remind me a warm cherry pie.

Blintzes also make a great breakfast or brunch dish.

I didn’t use a lot of sugar in my pie filling because I was using sweet cherries. I also think with the powdered sugar on top, they are sweet enough. Adjust the sugar in the recipe to suit your own taste. If using tart cherries, you might want to add a little more sugar.

They are easy to make, too. We made them in cooking camp this week and the kids loved them.

These are not traditional blintzes. The secret is that the blintzes are made with flour tortillas instead of traditional crepes. I love the texture flour tortillas take on when softened in milk. They really work well, and with a fraction of the work of making crepes.

So here is the recipe. I think you will love them as much as I do.

Cherry Pie Blintzes

Cherry Pie Filling

4 c. pitted sweet cherries- sour cherries can also be used

1½ c. water

½ c. sugar- use a little more if using tart cherries

Pinch of salt

¼ c. cornstarch

Place cherries in a saucepan with 1 cup of the water, sugar and the salt. Bring to a simmer. Mix cornstarch with the ½ cup of water and add to the cherry mixture, cooking until just thickened. Cool. Makes about 4 cups.

Blintzes

8-10 Flour tortillas

½ c. Milk

4 T. Butter

Powdered sugar

Make the pie filling ahead of time, so it is cooled down. Place the tortillas in a shallow pan and pour milk over them. Turn them to make sure they all get covered in the milk. Let the tortillas soften for 5-10 minutes. Place a tortilla on a flat surface and spoon about ½ cup of the pie filling in the middle. Fold sides in until they almost touch in the middle. Roll up from the bottom to form a little bundle. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat and brown the blintzes, turning over as needed to brown on both sides. Start them off seam side down, to keep them from popping open. Place on serving dish and dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm. Makes 8-10.

Browning in the skillet

Fresh Peach Scones

Fresh Peach Scones

I’ve really been in the mood to make scones lately. It has been hot, so I haven’t been baking as much. Scones bake pretty quickly, though. These were well worth heating up the kitchen for a little while. Since I had some beautiful peaches, I decided to use them in the batter.

They worked out even better than I had hoped. I added cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into the dough, for a little extra flavor. Nicely complimented the sweetness of the peaches.

These are wonderful for breakfast, brunch or with tea or coffee. They would also make a nice base for shortcake. I could see them with berries and whipped cream for a perfect summer dessert.

I used a 2 oz. cookie scoop and got 25 scones. You could make them bigger, just increase the baking time a couple of minutes. I also placed only one baking sheet in the oven at a time. You could put both in at once, but reverse the rack you have them on- half way through baking- so they bake more evenly. Also, if both trays are in the oven at once, increase baking time a couple of minutes.

Fresh Peach Scones

3 cups flour

½ c. sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 t. cinnamon

1 t. nutmeg

Pinch of cloves

½ t. salt

10 T. cold butter (1 stick plus two tablespoons)

¾ c. half and half or milk

1 egg

1½ t. vanilla

1½ c. peeled, chopped peaches – about 3-4 peaches

Glaze:

2 c. powdered sugar

About 2-3 T. half and half

1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 425. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or use silicone liners. In a bowl, place the dry ingredients and stir to mix. Cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs.  Make a well in the center and stir in half and half, vanilla and egg. Stir to make a soft dough. Fold in peaches.  Use ice cream scoop to make scones, placing scoops of dough onto baking sheets.  Bake until browned – 14-16 minutes. Cool on a rack. Make glaze and dip tops of scones in glaze  or drizzle it over them.  Makes  22-25 depending on size.

Salad Day in Mentor Cooking Camp

One of two very big fruit salads

It was so hot today, so we decided to make salads in camp. The kids worked so well together to create four different salads. I think they liked the fruit salad best, but the pasta salad, purple potato salad and taco salad were also big hits.

Lucky we weren’t cooking today. Besides the heat (our kitchen has no air conditioning), we had a power outage for part of the class. the kids just kept on chopping and combining and measuring to make their beautiful and tasty creations.

More fruit salad
Pasta salad with Italian dressing, peppers, olives, celery and cheese
Taco Salad
Purple Potato Salad

Peach Chef Salad

Peach Chef Salad

When you think about cooking with peaches, don’t limit yourself to desserts and jam. Peaches can pair well with savory dishes, too. I often use peaches for glazes and sauces for meats.

In this dish, I paired peaches with traditional chef salad ingredients. I tossed the peaches in a homemade honey French dressing, then spooned them over the salad. The result was wonderful- and a great lunch or dinner option for hot weather.

You can top the salad with cheese, meats or both. I like to add some nuts, too. I made it for lunch yesterday and topped the salad with sharp cheddar cheese and bacon. I really liked the combination of the sweet fruit with the smoky bacon. Use what you like- and what you have on hand.

A chef salad is a great way to use up that leftover grilled chicken or that open package of cheese. Add extra veggies, too, if you like. It also makes a wonderful meal when you don’t want to cook. Lovely, cool  meal for a hot day.

Peach Chef Salad

Honey French Dressing:
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 t. paprika
1 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. olive oil

3 cups chopped peaches

Salad:

6 c. torn salad greens
12 oz. cooked chicken, turkey, ham etc, cut into strips
1 c. cubed cheese

1/2 c. cashews, optional

To make the dressing, in blender, combine first five ingredients and start running machine on high. Add oil in a slow stream until mixture becomes thickened. Pour into bowl and stir in peaches and chill, several hours if you can. When ready to serve arrange greens on one large platter or on smaller salad plates. Arrange meat and cheese on platter or plates. Spoon over the peach/dressing mixture, add cashews, then serve. Serves 4-6.

Salad topped with bacon and cheese

Blueberry Sweet Rolls

Blueberry Sweet Rolls

With blueberry season here, I had to make these rolls. These are a favorite recipe of mine. They are not too sweet, even with a powdered sugar glaze. Great for brunch or breakfast. Sweet enough to be dessert, too.

The base of the rolls is a rich, yeast dough. The dough is divided in half, rolled out, then brushed with butter. Then the dough is sprinkled  with cinnamon sugar and topped with blueberries. The dough is rolled up, jelly roll fashion, then sliced into rolls.

The rolls are baked in 2 (9-inch) cake pans. The recipe makes 24 blueberry rolls.

I used fresh berries, but frozen work well, too. A good reason to buy extra berries and freeze them!! 

Blueberry Sweet Rolls

3-3 1/2 c. bread flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/3 c. evaporated milk
6 T. butter
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1 egg
6 T. butter, melted

1/2 c. sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. grated lemon or orange peel
2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

In bowl combine 1 1/2 c. of the flour with the yeast, sugar and salt. Heat together the milk and 2T. of the butter until warm and add to the flour mixture, beating 2 minutes. Add egg and beat 2 minutes longer. By hand stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding flour as needed until dough becomes moderately stiff. Place in greased bowl, turning once to coat and cover. Allow to double in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down, cover, and let rest 10 minutes. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a 14×8 inch rectangle. Brush dough with the melted butter. Combine the remaining sugar, peel and cinnamon and sprinkle over the dough. Top with the blueberries and press the berries into the dough. Starting at the long side roll up dough jelly roll fashion and seal edge by pinching. Repeat with second roll. Cut each roll into 12 slices and place 12 rolls in greased 9 inch round pans. Cover pans and allow to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. While rolls are warm, you can top with a powder sugar glaze, if desired. Makes 24.

Banana Fritters

Banana Fritters, rolled in powdered sugar

I had a class with kids yesterday and we had made doughnuts. We also made fritters. We made several different fritters, including these banana fritters. These are a fun and easy dessert to make if you find yourself with some ripe bananas. Simple to make and a nice change from banana bread.

We started with a couple of bananas, which they peeled and chopped up. The recipe is basically the same one we used for the strawberry and apple fritters. You can experiment with other fruit, too. I think I may make these with peaches next.

The fritters puffed up beautifully when fried. They were just a little crisp on the outside, tender and light in the middle. There is almost no sugar in the batter. The sweetness comes from the bananas and the powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar they are rolled in. I think they would be great with a powdered sugar glaze, too.

So here is the recipe. A fun way to use ripe bananas.

Banana Fritters

2 large ripe bananas- you want 1 cup diced banana

2 eggs, beaten

1 c. milk or half and half

2 T. melted butter or oil

2 c. flour

2 T. baking powder

2 T. sugar

1 T. cinnamon

1/2 t. salt

Oil for frying

powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar

Peel bananas. Cut up into small pieces. You should end up with about a cup of mashed bananas. Combine in a small bowl with the eggs, milk and oil. Combine flour with the baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir into the banana mixture. Heat oil in a pot to 350 degrees. Oil should be at least a couple of inches deep. By rounded tablespoonfuls, drop batter into the hot oil to fry. Only do a few at a time, so you don’t overcrowd them, or bring the temperature of the oil down too much. Fry until golden brown. It will take several minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with all the batter. You will end up with 2-3 dozen fritters.

Once the fritters are cooled down, you can roll them in powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar or even make a powdered sugar glaze.

Banana fritters cooling down

Mentor Cooking Camp- Doughnuts

They love using sprinkles!!!

The kids had a great time making doughnuts and fritters today. I lost count of just how many doughnuts they made. I know it was over 200. They had a lot to take home to share with family. They also made strawberry fritters, banana fritters and apple fritters. Wonderful group of kids looking forward to the rest of the week. Tomorrow- we make calzones!!!

Banana Fritters