Huckleberry Hand Pies

Huckleberry Hand Pies RecipeI have a new love in my life, and my husband is completely okay with it.  When I tell you all about that new love, you’ll understand.

This past June a year ago, my Girl temporarily moved back home after living in NY for seven years.  With her education behind her, she wanted to catch her breath before deciding where her next adventure would take her.  It took her to Seattle.  As sad as I was to once again let her go, Seattle was much closer to LA than Manhattan, and I was happy to have a new city to explore.

I am currently on my fifth trip to the Emerald City and completely falling for it.  My earlier visits were mostly about helping J get moved in and settled, so this trip is really the first where I have had free time for taking in some of what Seattle has to offer.  The list of things to see and do is truly endless.  There is Pike Place Market (which  every tourist needs to visit at least once), the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass, another must see for anyone visiting the area.  The expanse of islands that occupy the waters surrounding Seattle could keep you busy well into eternity.  I could go on and on, and in future posts it is certain you will be hearing more about my adventures in Seattle. For now, I will return to the point of this post, which is to tell you about my new love.
Huckleberry Hand Pies RecipeLast weekend, I was casually meandering through a local Seattle farmers market when I spotted what I thought were locally grown blueberries.  I had missed this year’s blueberry picking season in the Northwest and was excited to get my hands on freshly picked blueberries, even if I hadn’t picked them myself.  When making that comment to the grower at that stand, he said ‘oh, those aren’t blueberries, they’re huckleberries.   Whoa!  I squealed with delight!  I had heard much about the infamous huckleberry,  but they don’t grow in my neck of the woods so I was beyond ecstatic to have come across some.  One pop of a huckleberry into my mouth, and it was love at first bite.  I was truly blown away by the depth of flavor in just one tiny berry.  I took my new love home with me to get better acquainted, and to further explore all those sweet-tart little things had to offer.  🙂

Although I could have eaten the whole lot of huckleberries right out of hand, instead, I decided to bake them up into individual hand pies.  The only thing better than a slice of pie, is a personal pie – and they’re perfect for an ‘on the go’ breakfast too.  Yes, I eat pie for breakfast!
Huckleberry Hand Pies RecipeI used this recipe for my pies with just a couple changes.  I made one and half the amount of filling.  I used this recipe for the pastry dough, however, any double crust pastry dough recipe will work.  And, I used a round cutter instead of cutting the dough into squares.  With my changes, the recipe made 8 hand pies.
Huckleberry Hand Pies Recipe

 




Cherry Tomato Crostata with Goat Cheese and Za’atar

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Cherry Tomato Tart with Za'atar RecipeAlthough I wasn’t really aware of it as a young girl, I grew up in an area that offered the best of all worlds.  Ours was a small’ish’ town, nestled between the tall buildings and bustling streets of Cincinnati to the north, and the wide open expanse of  the blue grass hills of Kentucky just to the south.  As a child, our summers stretched wide from Memorial Day all the way through to the other side of Labor Day.  Attending summer school classes or participating in enriching lessons of various sorts just wasn’t heard of.  Instead, my siblings and I slept until our bodies woke naturally, gathered around the TV with a bowls of cereal in hand, and watched cartoons and game shows before heading out just steps from our house to cool off at the public pool.  Summer evenings brought only slightly cooler temperatures as we played under the streetlights way past school night bedtimes.  

My memory is flooded with childhood recollections of evening rides in the country to escape the stifling heat of the city, ten cent ice creams from the Mr. Softie truck, and the sounds and flickering lights of crickets and fireflies as they sang and danced along side us until curfews called us into bed, to replenish our energy so we could do it all again the next day.
Cherry Tomato Tart with Za'atar RecipeI could write a book on the summer days of my childhood, and maybe one day I will.  If I ever do, expect a chapter dedicated solely to food memories.  I would share about our neighbor’s peach tree with limbs that stretched across our shared fence, providing us with perfectly ripe and juicy fruit.  And then there was the produce peddler who pulled down the alley to our back gate.  To this day, I can recall the vegetal and sweet smells I inhaled upon entering the back of his truck.  And in the chapter titled ‘Foods of My Childhood’ there would be copious amounts written on the topic of tomatoes.  To entice you into buying that future book that I may, but likely will never write, I will share just a nibble of one such memory on the subject of tomatoes.

My grandmother, step grandfather, parents, and nine siblings all lived under the same roof.  My step grandfather, who for some unknown reason we called Uncle Bob, had a dear friend named Charles.  Charles was a man of looming stature, with field worn hands, and a deep but gentle voice.  He emanated kindness.  Charles had a farm just outside the city limits of our town, not more than a twenty minute drive away.  Toward the later days of August, bushels of hand picked produce arrived mysteriously at our back porch door.  My Dad and Grandma would work tirelessly to pickle and can for days, stocking our root cellar to the brim with chili sauce, pickles, green beans, sour kraut, and more.  One particular summer evening brought revelation to where all those bushels of brightly colored vegetables had come from.  My parents piled me and my siblings into the family car and drove us the short distance to Charles’ farm.  Upon arrival, we were handed an empty bushel basket and ushered out into the fields.  I only remember picking two different vegetables that evening, green peppers, which we called mangoes (it would be years later before I knew the reason that green peppers were referred to as mangoes), and tomatoes.  My siblings and I found ourselves (salt shakers in hand) squatting between row after row of perfectly ripe and fragrant red tomatoes.  Dusk had set in and we were desperate to pick all we could as quickly as we could.  I’m doubtful of the progress we made, since for every one tomato we plunked into our baskets, another tomato went into our mouths.  All these many years later, I can vividly recall that little girl, crouched between rows of green leaves dotted with ornament sized balls of red, sinking her teeth deep into the most perfect of tomatoes.
Cherry Tomato Tart with Za'atar RecipeThere is plenty of scientific evidence to support the connection between taste and memory, but even in the absence of that evidence,  my experience in the field at Charles’ farm that summer would be convincing enough that taste and memory are inextricably linked.  I will forever long to once again taste a tomato commensurate with those of my childhood, but I hold little hope that I will.  It wasn’t just the outstanding quality alone of those tomatoes that created such a taste memory.  It was my innocence.  It was my unmarred taste buds.  It was my lack of expectation as I bit into those red juicy fruits that enhanced their perfection.  And, although I cannot go back, I can hold out hope that one day, I might once again find a tomato as memorable as those I ate that balmy summer night on Charles’s farm.
Cherry Tomato Tart with Za'atar RecipeAbout this recipe:  Cherry tomatoes abound wherever you look these days, whether at the farmers market, the produce section of your local grocery store, or possibly even in your own vegetable garden.  The true inspiration for this tart however began with a goat cheese I found at my neighborhood Trader Joe’s.  It was packaged as a four ounce log and came seasoned with Za’atar.  I just couldn’t resist!  I realize that everyone doesn’t have a TJs in their neighborhood, so a couple teaspoons of Za’atar added to four ounces of plain goat cheese would be a fine substitute.  

Note:  Za’atar is available online, and in the spice aisle of many markets.  Click here to learn more about Za’atar and for a recipe to make your own.
Cherry Tomato Tart with Za'atar Recipe

 

 

 




Cherry Bomb Quick Bread

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Cherry Bomb Quick Bread RecipeA quick bread recipe based on the ingredients found in a cocktail?  You betcha!  It’s got to be good, right?  And it is!
Cherry Bomb Quick Bread RecipeCherry Bomb Quick Bread RecipeEarlier this summer I dog-eared a recipe for a Cherry Bomb Cocktail I happened upon in one of my favorite cooking magazines.  It sounded so good, fruity and refreshing.  A drink right up my alley.  There is a myriad of Cherry Bomb Cocktail recipes out there, and they differ widely.   But the particular version I had seen in the magazine was similar to two of my favorite cocktails, the Kentucky Mule and a Whiskey Sour – sub rum for bourbon.
Cherry Bomb Quick Bread RecipeThe other day I found myself with an abundance of cherries on my hands.  Scouring my recipes for a way to use them before they went bad, I had a stroke of genius.  I took the cherries, lime, and rum from the Cherry Bomb Cocktail recipe and spun them into a quick bread recipe.  It’s moist, and tangy, and sweet with cherry flavor.  And while the bread is still warm from the oven, it is drizzled with a boozy rum glaze.  What a ‘quick’ way to have my drink and eat it too. 😊  Now go grab yourself some cherries before they are gone for the season!

Inspired by Key Lime Bread – Modern Comfort Magazine

 




Flourless Chocolate Cake

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Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe
There are two kinds of ‘flourless’ Chocolate Cake.  The first is the dense and fudgy type, which I have never liked.  It’s way too intense for me.  The second, which is my preference, is a lighter version, ethereal and tender.

If you are looking for the perfect dessert to make for Valentine’s Day, this is it!  The real beauty of this cake is just how easy it is to make.  Even the chocolate decoration come together in a snap.  It’s meant to impress and it does!  

For a cake that says ‘I Love You’ in the sweetest way possible, it’s the perfect dessert for anytime you want to make something extra special for the chocolate lovers in your life.
Flourless Chocolate Cake RecipePS – Keeping it real, my daughter wanted to name this cake ‘Broken Heart Cake’.  She recently went through a very difficult breakup with her long-time boyfriend.  We had a good laugh, but I’m certain there were tears hidden behind the laughter.  So, wherever your heart rests this Valentine’s Day, I say eat cake! Chocolate cake!!
Flourless Chocolate Cake RecipeNote:  The directions for this cake may seem daunting, but in reality, it is pretty easy to make.  Read through the directions completely before beginning.  Chopping the almonds and chocolate can be done hours, or even days ahead.  

 

 

Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Queen Mother Cake 




Chocolate Banana Bread – Plain and Simple

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Chocolate Banana Bread RecipeBananas represent a kind of edible security blanket for me.  Never a need to feel hungry if there is a bunch of canary yellow bananas sitting on my counter.  A quick and nutritious snack is always at hand.  And although bananas make a constant and predictable appearance in my market basket,  I fade in and out of my love affair with them.  I am fickle that way.  I will eat a banana religiously every morning for months, and then, just like that, I snub them for days.  It’s during those periods that the poor fellows sit forgotten, and ripen past a point of where I would even consider eating one.  For me, a banana has about a one day window of optimal appeal before those little brown freckles begin to dot their skin and send them over the hill.
Chocolate Banana Bread RecipeChocolate Banana Bread RecipeI detest throwing any food away, and see absolutely no reason to dispose of a banana, even those that have lingered beyond their prime.  An overly-ripened banana brings natural sweetness and nutrients to smoothies, muffins, pancakes, ice cream…  and my personal favorite, this chocolate quick bread.  I’ve been making it for years and I think it just might become your favorite too.
Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe

 

 

Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe