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Monday
Jun262017

Classic Blackberry Crisp

 

 

It's summertime and everyone should know how to make a classic fruit crisp dessert.  They are easy to make and you can make them with so many different fruits.  I'm making this one with blackberries, but you can add blueberries and raspberries for nice mixed berry crisp.  And leftovers are great the next day or even as a sweet treat for breakfast with your coffee.  

 

Making the filling is basically just gently tossing the berries in a big bowl with the other filling ingredients. Making the topping is a cinch if you have a food processor - just place everything in the bowl and pulse. Assemble and bake. Couldn't be easier.  

 

 

Blackberry Crisp

for a printable recipe click here

(I don't like fruit desserts too sweet - if you like them sweeter, bump up the sugar in the fruit mixture to ½ cup or more.)

serves 6

Fruit Mixture:
8 cups fresh blackberries (about six 6-ounce containers) or whatever mix of berries you like
⅓ cup sugar  
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1½ Tablespoons cornstarch

Topping:
1 cup rolled oats (I use regular but you can use quick-cooking if you want)
⅓ cup brown sugar
½ cup whole wheat flour  (I prefer whole wheat for a richer taste, but you can use regular AP flour)
½ cup butter (1 whole stick), cut into slices

Preheat the oven to 350° F. 

 

 

 

Make the fruit mixture:
Place the berries in a large bowl.  Add the sugar, lemon zest, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt and toss gently.  Place the cornstarch and lemon juice in a small jar with a lid and shake well.  Pour over the berry mixture and gently toss again until coated. 

Spray an 8x8 glass baking dish with cooking spray and add the berry mixture.  

Make the crisp topping:
In a food processor, add the oatmeal, sugar and flour and pulse until blended.  Add the sliced butter and pulse until the mixture is well blended.  (If you don't have a food processor, you will have to do this in a bowl and use two knifes, cutting the butter into the oatmeal mixture until it is well blended.)

Assemble and bake:
Scatter the topping over the fruit.  Bake for about 45 - 50 minutes, until the topping is crisp and brown and the fruit is bubbling.  Remove from oven to let cool and set up a bit until just warm.  Serve with vanilla ice cream on top.  

 

Thursday
Jun012017

Whole Roasted Branzino with Lemon Caper Sauce

  

 

 

Branzino, or Mediterranean Sea Bass, is such a popular fish in Italian restaurants and for good reason.  It's a mild, firm delicious fish with hardly any small bones.  So why not make it at home?  If you are afraid of overcooking fish, roasting the fish whole is the way to go - leaving the skin on and the head intact helps keep the fish moist and adds to the flavor.  Branzino can be found more easily now in good grocery stores, as it has gained such popularity.

It really is simple to roast a whole branzino this way.  The fish should be scaled and gutted when you buy it, so there is no prep for you to do when you get home. Simply season the cavity of the fish and stuff it with lemon and herbs.  Roast the fish in a fairly hot oven for about 15 minutes.

There are a few things to look for when selecting a whole fish, to make sure it is fresh.  Look at the eyes of the fish - they should look plump and moist, not sunken, cloudy or dried.  The fish should look shiny and bright, not dull.

 

 

After the fish is cooked, deboning and serving a Branzino is really easy -  you cut away the top filet, exposing the spine. The entire spine will lift out easily by pulling on the tail toward the head.  And there are almost no small bones to deal with.  

I've made a quick little Lemon Caper Sauce to drizzle over the filets.  You can certainly just eat this fish as is, with no sauce.  It's a great fish and I hope you try it. 

 


buy the smallest capers you can find, packed in salt

 

Whole Roasted Branzino with Lemon Caper Sauce

for a printable recipe click here

Make the lemon caper sauce while the fish is in the oven, roasting.  

serves 2

1 whole Branzino (Mediterranean Sea Bass), about 1.5 pounds
1 large lemon, zested
2 teaspoons capers in salt
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons butter (if you don't want to use butter, you can use extra virgin olive oil)
1 Tablespoon minced red onion
¼ cup white wine
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
salt & pepper 

 

 

Preheat the oven to 400° F.   Rinse fish, inside and out.  Pat dry.  Make 3 slits with a very sharp knife in the sides of the fish, about a quarter inch deep.  Place the fish on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment or foil.

Cut the zested lemon in half.  Juice one half and slice the other half into 3 slices. Rinse the salt from the capers.

Season the inside of the fish with some salt and pepper.  Stuff the cavity with the lemon slices and fresh thyme. Place the fish in the oven and roast for 12 minutes.  

While the fish is cooking, make the sauce:
In a small skillet, add the butter and onion.  Saute the onion gently until soft, about 4 - 5 minutes.  Add the white wine and cook for a few seconds, then add the lemon zest and the capers.  Cook on low for about 2 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and parsley, shut off the heat and cover with a lid to keep the sauce warm and moist. 

Turn on broiler and broil the fish for about a minute and a half, til it crisps up a little. 

 

the blue lines are where you are going to cut the fish, so
the top filet can be removed from the fish,
exposing the spine.  Here are step by step photos:

 

 


cut along the backbone, down toward the head

 

 cut across the tail section, down the belly and then below the gills. 
This should allow the whole filet to be lifted up. 

 

 Gently lift the filet off the fish and place on a serving dish.  Now the
spine is exposed.

 

Lift the tail up and pull the spine away from the fish. The head will come off
along with the spine.  See if there are any large bones missing
from the spine. If there are, take them out of the filet. Place the
lower filet on the serving dish.

 

Debone the fish:
Place a serving platter next to the fish.  With a very sharp knife, cut alongside the backbone, across the tail, across the belly and below the gills.  With a spatula, remove the top fillet and place on the serving dish, skin down.  Grab the tail of the fish and pull up.  The spine will come away from the underside of the fish, along with the head.  If any bones are obviously missing from the spine, remove them from the fish. (Branzino doesn't have many small bones, so if you get the spine out with the large bones, that's what counts.)  Remove the top and bottom fins, if they are still attached.  Place the bottom fillet on the serving dish. 

Drizzle the lemon caper sauce over the fish and serve immediately. 

Monday
May082017

Parmesan Garlic Cheese Straws

Why have I never written about these before in a post?  These are a family favorite as an appetizer and are a snap to make.  They are also - bonus - something you can make when you need an appetizer and have nothing available.  Because if you always keep frozen puff pastry sheets in your freezer (you should) and you always have a hard grating cheese in your fridge (I bet you do), you can totally make these in about an hour and a half from start to finish.   You can also make these ahead of time and stick them in the fridge before baking.  They hold all day in the fridge until you're ready to pop them in the oven. 

 

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