Cheers to the Boy Who Lived (On)

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I may have been sitting in a movie theater waiting for Star Trek Beyond to start, but secretly I was counting down the hours until the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the long-awaited (and according to J.K. Rowling) final Potter story.  Like millions of other Potter devotees, I want to know what happens after Harry, Hermione, and Ron wave goodbye to their progeny on Platform 9 3/4 as the Hogwarts Express whisks them off to the magical school.

Since I highly doubt I’ll be jetting off to London anytime soon to catch the London production, I’ll just have to settle for reading the play, which was magically delivered to my Kindle before midnight.   It’s an epic tale, and not unlike the Deathly Hallows, the story has been split into two parts–lucky theatre goers signing on for a double-header.  Now some diehard fans can probably plow through the entire thing in one sitting.  I, on the other hand, need sustenance…and I don’t mean snack food.  So, with this in mind, I came up with a Potteresque menu to carry me through the marathon reading.

To start things off, I thought it would be appropriate to honor the grown up Harry Potter with an adult version of his favorite childhood beverage, butter beer.  Harry’s Grown-Up Butter Beer is a sweet, creamy concoction made with homemade cream soda, dark rum, and Tuaca liqueur, topped off with homemade butterscotch whipped cream and a drizzle of salted caramel sauce.

On a recent trip to London, my friend Karen took her kids to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter exhibit, where they tried the “official” version of butter beer–a drink so painfully sweet that they were inspired to come up with their own less sweet version when they got home.  In my adult version, I decided to up the game by making a vanilla bean-infused caramel syrup as the base for my cream soda, which along with the Tuaca and dark rum amplifies the butterscotch notes.  I used the soda siphon to blend these flavors together.  For the butterscotch whipped cream, I whisked about 1/4 cup brown sugar and 2 tsp. vanilla extract into 1/2 cup warm heavy cream until the sugar dissolved, then chilled it completely before adding it 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream.  The mixture was place into a whipped cream canister injected with NO².  The drizzle of salted caramel sauce over the butterscotch cream takes it over the top.

Harry’s Grown Up Butter Beer

  • 2 oz. Vanilla Caramel Syrup*
  • 1 oz. Dark Rum
  • 1 oz. Tuaca
  • 4 oz. Cold Soda Water
  • 2 oz. Butterscotch Whipped Cream (or a big dollop)
  • Salted Caramel Sauce

*To make the vanilla caramel syrup, combine 1 cup sugar with 1/4 cup water and cook to a medium amber.  Carefully pour in 1 1/2 cups water and add 2 vanilla pods, split and scraped.  Boil the mixture on medium heat for about 4-5 mins. or until the caramel is completely liquified.  Remove from the heat and pour into a mason jar or other heat proof container.

In the play, Harry and the gang are all working parents (save Draco Malfoy perhaps), so I imagine, even with the aid of magic, whipping up an easy family meal can still be a challenge.  My Bang Up Bangers & Mash Pie, a mash up of two classic British comfort foods, and Plum-Cherry Crisp are thoroughly satisfying do-ahead dishes you can pop in the oven and savor at your leisure.

Bang Up Bangers & Mash Pie

  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled, cut into large chunks
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 2/3 cup half & half, warmed
  • 1 package British bangers (about 6 links), cut into thick slices
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 5-6 large button mushrooms, 1/2’d and sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. butter or rendered bacon fat
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Guinness or dark beer
  • 2 cups beef stock/broth
  • 1 Tsbp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. grated white cheddar or parmesan cheese

Place a film of plastic wrap over the bowl of mashed potatoes to keep them warm while you prepare the filling.

Once assembled,  you can either bake it off at 350°F for 25 mins. (or until the top is golden and gravy is bubbling) or cover it with foil, put it in the refrigerator, and bake it the next day for 40-45 mins.

Plum-Cherry Crisp

  • 3 medium plums, pitted and sliced
  • 1 cup pitted dark cherries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of sea or Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • pinch of sea or Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cardamom

Toss together the first 6 ingredients and transfer into a greased oven-proof dish.  Combine the flour, sugar, salt, oats, and spices in a separate bowl, then drizzle in the melted butter.  Mix together with your hands to form the crumble topping, then distribute it evenly over the fruit.  Bake the crisp at 350°F for about 35-40 mins. or until the top is golden brown and the juices are thickened.    Serve warm with whipped cream.

 

In the Cocktail Hour

It’s not often I spend an entire afternoon playing with cocktails (and still remain sober enough to write a post about it), but that’s what I’ve done.  I assure you it’s all for a worthy cause.  A good friend of mine asked if I would be interested in testing out a few products she’s been trying to market. Free gadgets to play with in the kitchen?  I’m in!  Like a kid in a candy store I got to choose the style and color of each item to be tested.  The first item on the roster, a perky purple soda siphon.

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I’ve been obsessed lately with making my own flavored sodas so this was right up my alley.  The thing I noticed first about the soda siphon was that it seemed to keep the water carbonated longer than the soda maker I currently own. Once you inject the CO² cartridge into the ice cold water (this is the key to proper carbonation), you can dispense as much or as little soda as you want without releasing any of the gases and causing the rest of the soda to lose carbonation.  It’s perfect for topping off mixed drinks because the dispenser releases the soda with just enough pressure to force it into the drink, essentially “mixing” it.  Once I got the soda siphon set up, I went to town!

Putting the soda syphon through its paces was a great excuse for me to experiment with my latest Farmer’s Market find–cherry juice extract. It is weird that the first thing I thought of to do with this was to make cocktails??  I doubt it’s what the vendor had in mind…although, you never know.

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Intense in flavor, the syrupy consistency belies it’s tartness–a little goes a long way.

For my first cherry-themed cocktail, which I’m calling Into the (Cherry) Woods, I mixed the cherry juice extract with bourbon, amaretto, orange bitters, lemon juice and a little syrup simple (to offset the acidity), then topped it off with soda.  Almonds and cherries are a classic flavor combination, and the bourbon adds a smokey dark, almost woodsy note to the pairing.  Orange bitters ties all the components together.

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Into the (Cherry) Woods

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 oz. amaretto liqueur
  • 1/2 oz. cherry juice extract
  • 3-4 dashes orange bitters
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 3-4oz. chilled soda or seltzer water
  • mint for garnish

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a cocktail shaker with 3-4 ice cubes and shake vigorously to blend.  Strain mixture into a glass over ice, then top off with soda water and garnish with fresh mint sprig.

Now you know I can’t pass up an opportunity to throw in a movie clip.

So to keep the Brit vibe going, my second offering is a yet another riff on the quintessentially English Pimm’s Cup, which I’m calling….wait for it…Cherriots of Fire!  Okay, Rina actually came up with this one.  Instead of just mixing together lemon-lime soda and Pimm’s No. 1, I’ve upped the flavor (and booze) factor by adding gin, cherry juice extract, and fresh lime syrup, topping off with soda water.  It’s as refreshing on a hot summer day as a brisk race along the water’s edge.

Cherriots of Fire

  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 1/2 oz. Pimm’s No. 1
  • 1/2 oz. cherry juice extract
  • 1/2 oz. lime syrup*
  • 3 oz. chilled soda water
  • cucumber strips, mint, maraschino cherry for garnish

Combine the gin, Pimm’s, cherry juice extract and lime syrup in a cocktail shaker with 3-4 ice cubes, then shake vigorously to blend.  Strain into a glass over ice, then top with soda.  Nestled cucumber strips along the inside of the glass, then garnish with mint sprig and cherry on top.

*for lime syrup, bring to a simmer 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 water, then stir in the juice of 1 lime.  Cool completely before using.

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In honor of “National Tequila Day,” the next cocktail is a scintillating variation on the Tequila Sunrise, which I’m dubbing Tequila Sunset (Under the Cherry Moon).  Like how I managed to get two movie references in there?  I’ve used fresh-squeezed orange juice and substituted cherry juice extract for the grenadine, and added orange liqueur, lime juice, and agave syrup.  If you like your cocktail strong, leave out the soda water.  Either way, it’s a sexy cocktail…just like Prince.

Tequila Sunset (Under the Cherry Moon)

  • 4 oz. fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. tequila reposado
  • 1/2 oz. orange liqueur (e.g. Triple Sec)
  • 1/2 oz. cherry juice extract
  • 1/2 oz. agave syrup
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • chilled soda, optional
  • corkscrew of orange peel for garnish

Combine the orange juice, tequila, 3/4 of the cherry juice extract, agave, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with 3-4 ice cubes and shake vigorously to blend.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, then slowly pour in the remaining cherry juice extract.  Top off with a little soda water and garnish with orange peel.

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My second offering in honor of National Tequila Day, is a spin on the popular Silver Paloma, traditionally made with sliver tequila and grapefruit juice.  I’m calling my version a Ruby Paloma.  This time instead of cherry juice extract I used Campari, which is the ideal compliment to grapefruit.  Like the cherry, it gives the drink a deeper blush of pink, while the tequila reposado imparts complexity and intensity of flavor.  Finished with chilled soda, this is one cocktail you’ll want to have in your arsenal of summer drinks.

Ruby Paloma

  • 4 oz. fresh squeezed ruby grapefruit juice
  • 2 oz. tequila reposado
  • 1/2 oz. Campari
  • 1/2 oz. agave syrup
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 3-4oz. chilled soda
  • mint and lime slice for garnish

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker with 3-4 ice cubes and shake vigorously to blend.  Strain into a glass over ice and top off with soda.  Garnish with mint sprig and slice of lime.

Simply Irresistible Guilty Pleasures

It really doesn’t take much to set me off on a baking project–watching back-to-back episodes of The Great British Bake Off (damn, Paul and Mary are harsh!)…perusing the latest online issues of Delicious or Donna Hay (two of my favorite food magazines).  I was already primed, itching to bake something, when an online Saveur article about the beauty of a well-made eclair caught my eye…and I was off.

I bake pâte à choux pastry at work on occasion, usually in the savory cheesy form of gougères, which are then filled with smoked trout mousse.  Last year I decorated a friend’s “naked” wedding cake with rings of caramel-dipped, custard-filled profiteroles–a cross between a Gateau St. Honoré and an Italian creme cake.  But I very rarely make eclairs.  I’m not sure why.  I’ve loved eating them since I was kid and they’re usually the first thing I gravitate towards at a bakery.  More often than not though, the eclairs are a bit soggy, having sat pre-filled for hours in a moist refrigerated case.  The best eclairs are the ones filled to order, which sadly are hard to find.

So, I set out to satisfy my craving for eclairs by whipping up a batch.  Oh, in case you’re wondering how I don’t weigh 800 lbs. by now, the answer is I don’t eat the entire batch and I work out.  Anyways, back to the eclairs… The process is not particularly difficult, if you stick with the classic vanilla pastry cream filling and dark chocolate ganache frosting, which I favor.  However, I did get fancy this time (for the sake of a great photo op) and turned out a few different flavors.

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The trick is to bake the choux pastry until it is very crispy.  They should feel very light, being mostly hollow in the center.  If you don’t bake them crisp enough they will collapse as they cool and won’t hold up to the filling.  Start off at 425°F for the first 12-15 mins., then reduce the heat to 375°F for the rest of the bake, about another 18-20 mins. depending on the size of the eclairs.  I piped my choux dough with a star tip in short batons, yielding 18 pieces.

Pate a Choux

Yield:  18 – 3″ eclairs or about 1 dozen 4″ eclairs

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 stick or 4 oz. butter
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 egg white

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.   Turn the heat off and add the flour, then stir vigorously to incorporate all of it into the hot liquid.  Turn the heat back on to medium low and continue stirring until the dough forms into a ball.  Transfer the choux base into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed to cool down the dough a little bit before gradually beating in the eggs and white.

Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Filling

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 yolks
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split & scraped
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp. butter

Combine the milk and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Meanwhile whisk together the sugar, yolks, cornstarch and salt until smooth.  Gradually whisk in a little of the hot milk to temper the egg mixture, then whisk the tempered mixture into the rest of the hot milk.  Cook mixture on medium low heat, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream is very thick and almost comes to a simmer.  Remove pan from the heat and whisk in butter.  Take out the vanilla pod and transfer the mixture into a bowl and press a film of plastic onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming while the pastry cream cools.

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Whisk in any flavorings before filling the baked choux pastries

Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting

  • 6 oz. semi sweet chocolate chunks
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • pinch of sea salt

Combine all the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and heat on full power for about 90 seconds.  Stir to fully melt the chocolate.  If you don’t have a microwave, just place the everything in a heatproof bowl over a pot of low simmering water for about 5 mins., stirring occasionally.

To fill the eclairs, make an incision along one side and pipe in the filling using a small pastry tip.  Carefully dip the top half of the eclair into the ganache, shaking off the excess.

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The Classic

To make white or colored and/or flavored icing, whisk together 2 cups sifted powdered sugar with 3 Tbsp. whole milk and a pinch of sea salt to make a thick paste, then add color and flavoring to taste, thinning the mixture out with a little more milk to achieve the desire consistency for glazing.

While we’re on the subject of indulgent cravings, I have to mention another guilty pleasure of mine, the underrated and charming film Simply Irresistible (1999).

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Eclairs play a central role in this romantic comedy about a struggling restaurant owner Amanda (Sarah Michelle Gellar) who falls in love with a department executive Tom (Sean Patrick Flannery) and magically awakens her dormant talent for cooking.

If you can suspend your disbelief of Amanda’s kitchen attire (sparkly sleeveless Todd Oldham designer tops and open-toed shoes!), it’s a delightfully enchanting tale.  Be careful though, you might suddenly find yourself overwhelmed with an irresistible urge to make eclairs!

 

 

Day at the Museum…or Adventures with Vivi and Milton

With everyone’s schedules all over the place this summer, when the planets align and the opportunity to hang out arises, you just have to jump on it.  Such was the case this past weekend for me and Laura (Rina otherwise tied up).  After 15 minutes of messaging back and forth, we decided to pack up the kids (Laura) and a picnic (me) and head to the California Academy of Sciences for (hopefully) a day of fun.   I hadn’t been there in years, probably not since they revamped the exhibits, and certainly longer since I was actually there for my own pleasure–my last memory being of me catering an event and passing hors d’oeuvres of skewered meat to guests in front of a taxidermy tableaux depicting a cheetah hunting down a gazelle!

We decided to go in one car, which gave me just under 90 minutes to pull together a kid-friendly picnic with what I had on hand.  As usual, I went straight to the pantry first to see what I had to bake with, because I knew that would be an easy sell for the kids, not to mention Laura.  I found a bag of sweet dried mandarin orange segments from Trader Joe’s and some dried currants–an inspired flavor combination for scones.  Luckily I also had butter, nonfat Greek yogurt, eggs, and sour cream in the frig, which made whipping up the scone dough a quick task.

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While the scone dough firmed up in the freezer, I rummaged through the frig further to see what I could make for the main course and came up with pasta salad.  I figured I had just enough rainbow radiatore pasta to cook off, which I could then bulk up with cherry tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, red bell peppers, green onion, and a little frozen corn, all prepped while the pasta was cooking.  To add protein, I browned some chopped thick-cut bacon, then used a little of the residual pan drippings to sauté some thawed frozen shrimp.  For the dressing I mixed a little of the rendered bacon fat with mayonnaise and dijon mustard to amplify that savory smokey flavor.

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Picnic Pasta Salad

Once I put together the pasta salad, all I had to do was bake off the scones and mix up a small batch of blackberry Earl Grey iced tea before Laura pulled into my driveway.  With the GPS set for the Academy of Science, we drove off into the fog towards Golden Gate Park.

Not surprisingly, given the weather, the place was packed–locals and tourists alike opting for an indoor adventure.  Bubbling with excitement, Vivi made a beeline to her favorite attraction, the “Shake House” at the Earthquake exhibit.  What is it about kids and simulated earthquakes?  She was mildly discouraged by sight of the long line to get in, though once Vivi and Milton tucked in to a bit of light snacking on freshly baked scones they were all good.

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Vivi road the “Shake House” like a seasoned thrill seeker.  Not sure if Milton was all that impressed.  He did however, seem to enjoy all the sights and sounds of the Rainforest exhibit, from the colorful birds and butterflies to the underwater creatures.

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Maybe just not the slithering variety…

Vivi, on the other hand, was captivated.
Vivi, on the other hand, was captivated.

Like Indiana Jones, Milton does not do snakes.

But give the kid something he can lay his little hands on…well that’s a whole different story.

In fact, the best moments of the day were when Vivi and Milton really engaged themselves in the whole experience, the adventure of it all…and taking us grown-ups along for the ride.

Of course, if Laura and I were to use our imaginations, momentarily ignore the fact that we were pushing around an overloaded stroller and wrangling two little kids inside a crowded museum, Laura would probably fancy herself in the jungle, playing out a scene from Romancing the Stone (1984).

While I’d probably find myself playing hide and seek with the Indominus Rex from Jurassic World (2015).

Or on second thought…maybe I should just stick to the dinosaur bones and imagine myself as Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby (1938).  After all, she does end up with Cary Grant.

Mandarin Orange-Currant Scones

Yield: 12 scones

  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 oz. cold butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2/3 cup chopped dried mandarin orange segments
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (or buttermilk)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream (or 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water) for brushing tops
  • raw turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Whisk together all the dry ingredients, then cut in the cold butter with two forks or a pastry blender.  If using a food processor (with dough blade), pulse the dry ingredients together a few times then pulse in the butter until the butter is broken down into the size of a grain of rice.  Stir in the dried fruit.  Whisk together the wet ingredients, then stir into the dry mixture to form a dough.  Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, then fold over the sides to form a flat rectangular shape about 1″ thick.  Place the dough in the freezer for about 15 mins. to firm up.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place the chilled dough onto a floured surface.  Pat and shape the dough out to about 6″x 10″.  Cut the dough in half horizontally, then into thirds vertically.  Cut each square in half diagonally so that there are 12 triangles.  Transfer the pieces onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and brush the surfaces with heavy cream or egg wash, then sprinkle liberally with turbinado sugar.  Bake the scones for about 18-20 mins., until golden brown and tested done.

Blackberry Earl Grey Tea

Yield: 1 quart

Steep the tea bags in the hot water for about 5-8 mins.   Remove the tea bags and let the tea cool to room temperature.  Stir in the blackberry syrup.  Add a good amount of ice to thoroughly chill down the mixture.  Serve with lime slices.

Oh yes…and I did have flashbacks about that catering job.

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Ribs, Cocktails, Pie and Fireworks–Happy 4th of July!

I’ve got nothing against hot dogs and burgers on the 4th of July, but this year I was in the mood to sink my teeth into some juicy, messy, fall-off-the-bone tender ribs.  I did not, however, feel like playing pit mistress and firing up the grill.  No problem.  I came up with an absolutely  mouthwatering, (relatively) easy alternative–Oven-Baked Pork Spareribs with Bourbon Peach Glaze.  The meaty slab of spareribs are first liberally seasoned with a dry rub, allow to rest for a few hours in the refrigerator, then covered in foil and baked low and slow (280°F) for about 1 1/2 hours.  While the ribs are cooking, I make a thick and chunky glaze by sautéing chopped onion and garlic in a little rendered bacon fat (for smokey flavor), then adding a couple of peaches cut into in chunks, cider vinegar, maple syrup, molasses, dijon mustard, worchestershire sauce, sea salt, black pepper, tomato paste and a few dashes of Louisiana hot sauce.  The mixture simmers for about 5 mins. to thicken, then I add a good splash of bourbon to finish.  After the ribs have bake for 90 mins., take the foil cover off and slather the ribs with about 1/3 of the glaze. Continue baking the ribs for another hour, basting them a couple times with more of the glaze in the process.  When the ribs are tender, transfer them under the broiler for about 3-4 mins. to caramelize the surface.

Oven-Baked Pork Spareribs with Bourbon Peach Glaze

  • 4-4.5 lbs. Pork Spareribs, patted dry

Dry Rub:

  • 3 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried Thyme

Combine the dry ingredients and rub generously throughout surface of the ribs.  Set the spareribs in a foil-lined shallow pan, cover with foil and refrigerate for at least two hours.  Let the ribs stand at room temperature for 20 mins. before baking in a pre-heated 280°F oven.

Bourbon Peach Glaze:

  • 1/2 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1 Garlic Clove, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. Rendered Bacon Fat
  • 2 Ripe Peaches, cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup Molasses
  • 1 tsp. Worchestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
  • 3-4 dashes Hot Sauce (e.g. Crystal)
  • 1/4 cup Bourbon

Since the ribs took a few hours to cook, I had plenty of time to kick back and enjoy a cocktail (or two), while watching the original (no sequels please) Independence Day (1996).

In keeping with the stone fruit and berries vibe of the summer, I whipped up a refreshing Blackberry Peach Sparkler–homemade blackberry syrup, gin, peach liqueur, and lime juice, topped off with chilled sparkling wine.

Blackberry Peach Sparkler

  • 1.5 oz. Gin
  • 2 oz. Blackberry Syrup*
  • 1 oz. Peach Liqueur (e.g Mathilde Peche)
  • 1/2 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 4 oz. Chilled Sparkling Wine
  • Peach Slices, Blackberries and Lime Slice for garnish

Combine the gin, blackberry syrup, peach liqueur and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with 3-4 ice cubes.  Shake and strain into a chilled glass and top with chilled sparkling wine.  Garnish with skewer of peach slices and blackberries and lime slice.

*To make blackberry syrup, simmer a pint of fresh blackberries with 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, and juice of one lemon for about 5 mins.  Puree mixture until smooth and strain.  Keep chilled until ready to use.

No 4th of July celebration is complete without pie and fireworks.  I made Peach-Blackberry Hand Pies…because one should be able to eat pie while looking up at the sky.  Happy 4th of July!

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Peach-Blackberry Hand Pies

Yield:  about 10

  • One Recipe Pate Brisee
  • 3 Ripe Peaches, diced into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 pint Fresh Blackberries
  • 1 Tbsp. Cornstarch or Tapioca Starch
  • pinch of Sea Salt
  • 3 Tbsp. Sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 3 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
  • Turbinado Sugar for sprinkling

Roll the pate brisee dough out to 1/8″ thickness and punch out 4″ disks; keep the disks chilled until ready to use.  In a bowl, gently toss together the peaches, blackberries, starch, salt, sugar and lemon juice.  Place about one tablespoon of the peach-blackberry mixture on the upper half of the dough round.  Dab a little cream along the bottom edge and fold dough over the filling, sealing the edges.  Use a fork to crimp the edges.  Place the formed hand pies on a parchment-lined sheet pan.  Brush the surfaces with cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Pierce each pie in the center with a fork to create vent holes.  Bake the pies at 400°F for about 25-30 mins., until golden brown.

Show your support for Finger in the Pudding by nominating this blog for Best New Voice in Saveur’s 2016 Blog Awards.

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